Obedience is Better than Sacrifice

What is more pleasing to a parent, a child who continually rebels and then apologizes, or one that is obedient? Children have to be taught what is expected of them, and they will often challenge instruction, causing the need for correction. As a parent, it is pleasing to see a child learn what is expected through teaching and correction. Sometimes children will knowingly disobey, then say they are sorry. After a while, the cycle of doing the same things wrong and apologizing becomes tiresome to a parent, and they would prefer the child to obey and not have to apologize or be continually corrected. This was the way it was with the children of Israel. Their way of apologizing for breaking Yahweh’s commandments was to sacrifice certain animals. Thankfully, after the coming of the Messiah, Jesus, that sacrificial system is not applicable to believers. However, we can offer a sacrifice of praise, thanksgiving, and ourselves as a living sacrifice.

Heb 13:15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

Rom 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Yahweh preferred obedience over sacrifice because if there was obedience, there was no need for sacrifice. This becomes apparent when King Saul was disobedient. The whole premise of Israel having a king was not in Yahweh’s plan. Yahweh was supposed be the King of Israel. Yet the people wanted to be like the other nations and have an earthly king over them.

1Sa 8:4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah
1Sa 8:5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.”
1Sa 8:6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the LORD.
1Sa 8:7 And the LORD said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.
1Sa 8:8 According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you.
1Sa 8:9 Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”

Yahweh God viewed Israel’s desire to have a king as a flat out rejection of Him as King. This was not a surprise to God because He told Moses and His people this would happen. They were continually on a roller coaster of obedience and disobedience. Why do His people today think they are different from His people then? Malachi 3:6 says, “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”

Moses spoke to the people and told them they will be scattered throughout the earth for their disobedience. At some point in the future, they will also return to the ways of Yahweh and be regathered. This theme is found throughout the Old Testament.

Deu 30:1 “And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God has driven you,
Deu 30:2 and return to the LORD your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul,
Deu 30:3 then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you.

Deu 30:4 If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there he will take you.
Deu 30:5 And the LORD your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. And he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers.

Israel wasn’t scattered until much later than the time of Moses, after they continually bounced back and forth between obedience and disobedience, after King Saul, David and Solomon. It was not until Assyria took the northern kingdom captive and Babylon conquered the southern kingdom, that God’s people were completely scattered. Yahweh spared a remnant from the two tribes of the southern kingdom for his servant David’s sake who eventually returned and rebuilt the temple. Yet the prophecy in Deuteronomy still has not been fulfilled. Yahweh’s people never returned to do all that he commanded as a whole. When Judah returned from Babylonian captivity they brought volumes of commandments with them they picked up in Babylon, namely the Talmud. Jesus continually was at odds with the teachings of the Talmud, which many in the church today confuse with the Torah, Yahweh God’s instruction to His people. Even in 1948, when Israel became a nation again, the Deuteronomy prophecy was not fulfilled. The closest fulfillment we have seen was at the feast of Shavuot, in Acts chapter two, where many from the tribes were gathered for the feast and thousands were saved.

Continuing with Saul, we see he foolishly breaks Yahweh’s commandment by not waiting for the priest, Samuel to sacrifice.

1Sa 13:8 He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him.
1Sa 13:9 So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering.
1Sa 13:10 As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him.
1Sa 13:11 Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash,
1Sa 13:12 I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the LORD.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.”
1Sa 13:13 And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the LORD your God, with which he commanded you. For then the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.
1Sa 13:14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”

The next time Saul does not obey the words of Yahweh, Samuel has to correct him again. Yahweh prefers obedience over sacrifice, and he likens rebellion to divination and idolatry.

1Sa 15:10 The word of the LORD came to Samuel:
1Sa 15:11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the LORD all night.
1Sa 15:12 And Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning. And it was told Samuel, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself and turned and passed on and went down to Gilgal.”
1Sa 15:13 And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed be you to the LORD. I have performed the commandment of the LORD.”
1Sa 15:14 And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?”
1Sa 15:15 Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the LORD your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.”
1Sa 15:16 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! I will tell you what the LORD said to me this night.” And he said to him, “Speak.”
1Sa 15:17 And Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel.
1Sa 15:18 And the LORD sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’
1Sa 15:19 Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the LORD?”
1Sa 15:20 And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the LORD. I have gone on the mission on which the LORD sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction.
1Sa 15:21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal.”
1Sa 15:22 And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.
1Sa 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king.”
Jesus says something similar, quoting Hosea 6:6.

Mat 9:13  Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” 

The people of God will be gathered again. Jeremiah speaks of this gathering which will be greater than being delivered from Egypt. This clearly has not happened yet.

Jer 16:14 “Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when it shall no longer be said, ‘As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’
Jer 16:15 but ‘As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ For I will bring them back to their own land that I gave to their fathers.

Another prophesy by Isaiah has also not been fully realized.

Isa 11:1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
Isa 11:2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
Isa 11:3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
Isa 11:4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Isa 11:5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

Isa 11:6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.
Isa 11:7 The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
Isa 11:8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
Isa 11:9 They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
Isa 11:10 In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.
Isa 11:11 In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea.
Isa 11:12 He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

Isa 11:13 The jealousy of Ephraim shall depart, and those who harass Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah, and Judah shall not harass Ephraim.
Isa 11:14 But they shall swoop down on the shoulder of the Philistines in the west, and together they shall plunder the people of the east. They shall put out their hand against Edom and Moab, and the Ammonites shall obey them.
Isa 11:15 And the LORD will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt, and will wave his hand over the River with his scorching breath, and strike it into seven channels, and he will lead people across in sandals.
Isa 11:16 And there will be a highway from Assyria for the remnant that remains of his people, as there was for Israel when they came up from the land of Egypt.

Many things have not happened in these verses of Isaiah. His people must return to Him and His ways, because we will see these prophesies fulfilled. If you are one of Yahweh God’s people, these things apply to you. Paul told us that there is no longer Jew or Greek, we are one in Christ. That must mean that we his people, are the ones being spoken of in the future.

Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Gal 3:29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Jesus speaks of this gathering Isaiah spoke of, taking place at the time of his second coming.

Mat 24:29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
Mat 24:30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Mat 24:31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Paul reaffirms this in his letters to the Thessalonians. How many people are under this strong delusion today? Paul said people will reject the truth, have pleasure in unrighteousness, and believe lies. Where is truth and righteousness found except in the living Word of God?

2Th 2:1 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers,
2Th 2:2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.
2Th 2:3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,
2Th 2:4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.

2Th 2:5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?
2Th 2:6 And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time.
2Th 2:7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.
2Th 2:8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.
2Th 2:9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders,
2Th 2:10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
2Th 2:11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false,
2Th 2:12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Another verse in Deuteronomy speaks of the latter days, which is now, or sometime in the future. It is speaking to the people of God, not some future remnant of one tribe, because we are all one in Jesus now, grafted into the Commonwealth of Israel.

Deu 4:27 And the LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD will drive you.
Deu 4:28 And there you will serve gods of wood and stone, the work of human hands, that neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.
Deu 4:29 But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deu 4:30 When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the LORD your God and obey his voice.
Deu 4:31 For the LORD your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.

Jeremiah speaks of an awakening in the future where the people of the nations will realize they have been led into sun worship idolatry, images of jealousy polluting the holy things of God, and have inherited lies. Don’t be in that group, “But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Jer 16:19 O LORD, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble, to you shall the nations come from the ends of the earth and say: “Our fathers have inherited nothing but lies, worthless things in which there is no profit.
Jer 16:20 Can man make for himself gods? Such are not gods!”
Jer 16:21 “Therefore, behold, I will make them know, this once I will make them know my power and my might, and they shall know that my name is the LORD.”

Also, remember that God’s name is not “the LORD”. That is a substitution the translators used for His real name, יהוה, which I use the transliteration Yahweh, a widely accepted English representation of יהוה. Verse 21 above would be more accurate as such: “Therefore, behold, I will make them know, this once I will make them know my power and my might, and they shall know that my name is יהוה [Yahweh].”

How will the deception come? How has deception come? It has and will continue to come through the false shepherds, priests and prophets. Just as Yahweh speaks through Isaiah, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”

Jer 23:1 “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD.
Jer 23:2 Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the LORD.
Jer 23:3 Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply.
Jer 23:4 I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the LORD.
Jer 23:5 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

Jer 23:9 Concerning the prophets: My heart is broken within me; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, like a man overcome by wine, because of the LORD and because of his holy words.
Jer 23:10 For the land is full of adulterers; because of the curse the land mourns, and the pastures of the wilderness are dried up. Their course is evil, and their might is not right.
Jer 23:11 “Both prophet and priest are ungodly; even in my house I have found their evil, declares the LORD.
Jer 23:12 Therefore their way shall be to them like slippery paths in the darkness, into which they shall be driven and fall, for I will bring disaster upon them in the year of their punishment, declares the LORD.
Jer 23:13 In the prophets of Samaria I saw an unsavory thing: they prophesied by Baal and led my people Israel astray.
Jer 23:14 But in the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his evil; all of them have become like Sodom to me, and its inhabitants like Gomorrah.”
Jer 23:15 Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets: “Behold, I will feed them with bitter food and give them poisoned water to drink, for from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has gone out into all the land.”
Jer 23:16 Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.
Jer 23:17 They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’”

Isa 5:18 Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood, who draw sin as with cart ropes,
Isa 5:19 who say: “Let him be quick, let him speed his work that we may see it; let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near, and let it come, that we may know it!”
Isa 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
Isa 5:21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!
Isa 5:22 Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink,
Isa 5:23 who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right!
Isa 5:24 Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom go up like dust; for they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts, and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

I like exposing people to writings by early church fathers because it shows what the early church was like and what they believed 100 to 300 years after Jesus and the apostles walked the Earth. The following is from the Shepherd of Hermas, which was considered canonical in the early church by some. There is some discrepancy as to who the author is, one possibility being Hermas who Paul greets in one of his letters. Some date it to a later 2nd century writing. Regardless, it has been generally ignored by the modern church. Here the discussion is about fasting, which could be likened to sacrifice. What type of fasting is more advantageous?

Shepherd of Hermas,The Pastor,Chapter 3, Part 1 : While fasting and sitting on a certain mountain, and giving thanks to the Lord for all His dealings with me, I see the Shepherd sitting down beside me, and saying, “Why have you come hither [so] early in the morning?” “Because, sir,” I answered, “I have a station. “What is a station?” he asked. “I am fasting, sir,” I replied. “What is this fasting,” he continued, “which you are observing?” “As I have been accustomed, sir,” I reply, “so I fast.” “You do not know,” he says, “how to fast unto the Lord: this useless fasting which you observe to Him is of no value.” “Why, sir,” I answered, “do you say this?” “I say to you,” he continued, “that the fasting which you think you observe is not a fasting. But I will teach you what is a full and acceptable fasting to the Lord. Listen,” he continued: “God does not desire such an empty fasting. For fasting to God in this way you will do nothing for a righteous life; but offer to God a fasting of the following kind: Do no evil in your life, and serve the Lord with a pure heart: keep His commandments, walking in His precepts, and let no evil desire arise in your heart; and believe in God. If you do these things, and fear Him, and abstain from every evil thing, you will live unto God; and if you do these things, you will keep a great fast, and one acceptable before God.”

Learn Yahweh’s commandments, his ways, sabbaths and feasts. Practice now, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Keep the great fast.

Mat 11:25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;
Mat 11:26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
Mat 11:27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
Mat 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Mat 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Mat 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Featured image taken by Emma Vail at Humarock, Massachusetts.

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