Follow these instructions with each offering you present. All of you native-born Israelites must follow these instructions when you offer a special gift as a pleasing aroma to the Lord. And if any foreigners visit you or live among you and want to present a special gift as a pleasing aroma to the Lord, they must follow these same procedures. (Numbers 15:12-14)
Relate: Are you doing Lent? If so, what have you given up? How many days are we in it? Even though I am not from a traditional high church background, for the past few years (ten or fifteen give or take) I have been following Lent… sort of. I have given up computer games… but I still play Clash of Clans on my phone. Hey, it’s not a computer, right? I have given up meat… unless its in my soup at school during lunch, or if I forgot when I am eating out for dinner. I have given up sweets… just don’t touch my caramel macchiato from Starbucks, or the occasional mocha, or chai tea latte, or…
I could say that the little I am doing is better than nothing, right? Well, today I was talking during lunchtime (tomato soup and some noodles) with another English teacher. He is a Muslim from Iran and our conversation came around to the differences between fasting in Islam and Christianity. More specifically, we were talking about the difference between Catholic Lent and Muslim Ramadan. He asked if I was celebrating Lent and I kind of shrugged and said, “sort of”. After my defensive and hesitating explanation he said, “So really you’re not celebrating it. You’re just on a diet for a few weeks.” Yup. Oops.
React: The offerings that this verse is talking about are actually gift offerings. These aren’t required. There is no set day or time or reason to give these offerings. If someone wanted to just worship God a little extra, this is how they do it. I couldn’t just grab any random animal, bring it to the Temple and say, “I’ve decided to use this as my gift offering.” If a well meaning Hebrew tried this, one of the Levites would put their hands on his shoulders, turn him around, and walk him right out the door.
Some ecumenically minded people would like to say that we are all worshipping God in our own way. The best thing a Jewish person could do in their pursuit of God is to be the most devout Jew they can. The best thing a Muslim could do in following God is to follow the Qu’ran and live their lives after the exemplary model the Muhammad laid down. The best thing a Buddhist can do in their spiritual pursuit is…
Life isn’t a multiple choice test where any answer will do. The best way, and the only way any and all of us can follow after God is to listen and obey the Word that He gave to us. That Word became flesh and lived among us. Are we following His Word? Are we pursuing Him through obedience? Anything else is just our delusional lifestyle that might be well ordered and disciplined but is still hell bound.
Please forgive me for the ways I have tried to dictate to You the terms of how I will worship You. Forgive me for the arrogance of thinking I am in control of this heavenly pursuit. Help me to understand that my job is only to learn truth and then apply it. Help me to understand deep down that what You have called me to is obedience. Keep my feet straight and my walk steady as I walk in the only path that gets me to where You are.