Mercy Not Sacrifice

 

Mercy entails compassionate treatment, especially of those under one's power; clemency. Itís a disposition to be kind and forgiving. Acting with love and concern. Mercy can be given and received.

 

Sacrifice is the act of offering something to a deity to appease or to show respect and honor.

 

*†† (Hosea 5:14-15 NIV)For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, like a great lion to Judah. I will tear them to pieces and go away; I will carry them off, with no one to rescue them. {15} Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me."

*†† (Hosea 6:1-6 NIV)"Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. {2} After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. {3} Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth." {4} "What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears. {5} Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth; my judgments flashed like lightning upon you. {6} For I desire mercy (RSV & ESV: Steadfast love), not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

*†† (Hosea 6:6 RSV)For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings.

This mercy or steadfast love is a two way street. God has mercy on us because of His steadfast love. And we need to have steadfast love for him. It is in this way we show mercy to God. For God desires that none should perish. As Iíve said before God is not interested in sending us to hell although some will be sent to hell. God is interested in seeing each of us in His kingdom. There are a few requirements and those requirements are wrapped up in the word, ďLove.Ē

*†† (1 Pet 4:8 NIV)Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

We ought to do our best to live our lives in a way that pleases God. God is interested in our hearts not in our ability to perform rituals without understanding or love. Consider this.

*†† (Mat 12:1-8 NIV)At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. {2} When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, "Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath." {3} He answered, "Haven't you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? {4} He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread--which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. {5} Or haven't you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? {6} I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. {7} If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent. {8} For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

Will striving to become perfect without love save you? Is sacrifice sufficient? Was there something wrong with picking food to eat from a strangerís field?

*†† (Deu 23:24-25 NIV)If you enter your neighbor's vineyard, you may eat all the grapes you want, but do not put any in your basket. {25} If you enter your neighbor's grainfield, you may pick kernels with your hands, but you must not put a sickle to his standing grain.

*†† (Exo 34:21 NIV)"Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.

What we see here are Pharisees making overly strict interpretations, narrow-minded interpretations, and heartless interpretations of Godís commands. Actually they are self-serving interpretations such that the Pharisees can glorify themselves in their own eyes and in the eyes of some people that are gullible. That is why we so often see Jesus denouncing the Pharisees. The Pharisees had a habit of trying to lift themselves up by putting other people down.

*†† (Mark 7:9-13 NIV)And he said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! {10} For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' {11} But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban' (that is, a gift devoted to God), {12} then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. {13} Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that."

God gave us rules to live by. But those rules sometimes needed to be understood by casting the light of love upon them. We see a number of exceptions in the Bible of violating the strict interpretation of the Law. Doing good or saving a life of for example.

*†† (Mark 3:1-6 NIV)Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. {2} Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. {3} Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, "Stand up in front of everyone." {4} Then Jesus asked them, "Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" But they remained silent. {5} He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. {6} Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

*†† (James 2:25-26 NIV)In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? {26} As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Do not think your righteousness counts for much if it has not love. You can sin by doing what is normally OK but in a particular case causes another to lose faith or stumble.

*†† (Rom 14:21-22 NIV)It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall. {22} So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.

God doesnít want to be mean to us. He loves us deeply. But sometimes mean is all we understand. It may be the only thing that will put us on track. Be merciful to God. Do what is right. Repentance is available but itís better to avoid the need for repentance.

*†† (Hosea 6:6 RSV)For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings.