2 Kings 6:24-29
Afterward Ben-hadad king of Syria mustered his entire army and went up and besieged Samaria. And there was a great famine in Samaria, as they besieged it, until a donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and the fourth part of a kab of dove’s dung for five shekels of silver. Now as the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried out to him, saying, “Help, my lord, O king!” And he said, “If the Lord will not help you, how shall I help you? From the threshing floor, or from the winepress?” And the king asked her, “What is your trouble?” She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’ So we boiled my son and ate him. And on the next day I said to her, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him.’ But she has hidden her son.”
I read these verses and was a bit taken back by the matter of fact telling of this story. Try to imagine having to go through something like this. Try to imagine the brutality and inhumanity that is sited in stories like this and others from the Old Testament. It’s quite stunning. Continue reading
But you say, ‘What a weariness this is”, and you snort at it, says the LORD of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the LORD. Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the LORD of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.
I’m just about all the way through the Old Testament on this go round with the Bible.
This verse spoke to me beyond the literal interpretation. Animal sacrifices are obviously an antiquated idea. They existed in Biblical times to drive home the seriousness of sin. Through these sacrifices you atoned or paid for your sin.
The price was steep. You sacrificed your best. You sacrificed your unblemished, your males who could produce quality off spring, the males that could grow your flock and enrich your wealth.
You give your best to God because God comes first. By not giving your best you anger God and hurt yourself. Continue reading
1 Samuel 15:22-23
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.
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.”
Saul has just been anointed the first king of Israel. One of the first things he was instructed to do was pay back the city of Amalek for opposing the Israelites as they made their exodus from Egypt to the promised land. His instructions were to totally destroy everything in the city, men, women, children and livestock.
Saul totally annihilates the residents but keeps the best of the livestock, figuring they would make good sacrifices to God. Continue reading
“With what shall I come before the Lord,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
I made a note about these three verses but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write. Now, as I read them and begin to write this piece, I realize just how simple a message it is, yet so eloquently stated.
In the English Standard Version of the Bible, these verses are titled, “What Does the Lord Require?” Continue reading