Is it not foolish to presume we can give God what in actual fact belongs to him in the first place?
Through the prophetic ministry of Jeremiah, God denies having anything to do with the sacrificial system established by Moses: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat meat. For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices.’” (Jeremiah 7:21-22)
If men have to give sacrifices to God, how can we ensure that he gets them? God is spirit, so how can we possibly give him physical things? What is he supposed to do with the sacrifices we claim to give him? Is it not foolish to presume we can give God what in actual fact belongs to him in the first place?
God himself pours scorn on the entire sacrificial system: “I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.” (Psalm 50:9-10)
But there is an ungodly way out of this cul-de-sac. Since God has no need of the sacrifices of men, they can be given to pastors instead. Pastors claim to be God’s chief representatives here on earth. So once they give the gifts to us, we insist, God takes it personally. But the true prophets of God are emphatic: God does not desire any sacrifice whatsoever. They say it again and again and again, but pastors make sure men do not hear.
God raises fundamental objections to the emphasis on tithes and offering as a cardinal aspect of faith or worship. When David grew in the knowledge of God, he wrote in the Psalms: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire; my ears you have opened; burnt offering and sin offering you did not require.” (Psalm 40:6) The problem here is that, unlike David, the ears of so many pastors have yet to be opened. Our deafness would appear to be a chronic medical disorder.
For this reason, God spoke through Isaiah and asked the children of Israel to make no more sacrifices and bring no more offerings: “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to me?” says the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats. When you come to appear before me, who has required this from your hand, to trample my courts? Bring no more futile sacrifices.” (Isaiah 1:11-13)
Micah observes that it is ridiculous for man to think he can give gifts to God. He wonders what we could possibly give that would satisfy him: “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (Micah 6:6-7)
On his part, Isaiah mocks man. He asks what sacrifice man could possibly give that would measure up to the greatness and majesty of God. He points out that even if we were to give the whole of Lebanon as a burnt offering, it would be grossly inadequate: “Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor its beasts sufficient for a burnt offering.” (Isaiah 40:16)
He does not stop there but goes further to reveal not only that God neither needs nor desires our sacrifices but that he actually hates them: “He who kills a bull is as if he slays a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, as if he breaks a dog’s neck; he who offers a grain offering, as if he offers swine’s blood; he who burns incense, as if he blesses an idol.” (Isaiah 66:3)
When God finally sent his Son Jesus as his one true and faithful witness, he validated the message of the prophets. He says to us: “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’” (Matthew 9:13) Today’s pastors have refused to learn what that means. Sacrifice is another word for tithes and offerings. God says: I desire mercy and not tithes and offerings. I want you to love me. I don’t want you to give me tithes and offerings.