Friday, December 11, 2015

“Acceptable Offerings” Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Adult Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday Dec. 13, 2015

Purpose: To commit to giving our obedience to God as a reflection of our inner spiritual condition

Bible Lesson: Leviticus 22:17-25, 31-32 The Scripture for this lesson is printed below.

Background Scripture: Leviticus 22:17-33; 23:9-14, 31-32; Deuteronomy 22:6-7; Isaiah 1:10-20; Micah 6:6-8; Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 10:14-22

Key Verse : So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. (Romans 12:1)

Leviticus 22:17-25 (CEB)
(17) The Lord said to Moses: (18) Tell Aaron, his sons, and all the Israelites: Whenever someone from Israel’s house or from the immigrants in Israel presents their offering to the Lord as an entirely burned offering—whether it is payment for a solemn promise or a spontaneous gift— (19) for it to be acceptable on your behalf, it must be a flawless male from the herd, the sheep, or the goats. (20) You must not present anything that has an imperfection, because it will not be acceptable on your behalf. (21) Whenever someone presents a communal sacrifice of well-being to the Lord from the herd or flock—whether it is payment for a solemn promise or a spontaneous gift—it must be flawless to be acceptable; it must not have any imperfection. (22) You must not present to the Lord anything that is blind or that has an injury, mutilation, warts, a rash, or scabs. You must not put any such animal on the altar as a food gift for the Lord. (23) You can, however, offer an ox or sheep that is deformed or stunted as a spontaneous gift, but it will not be acceptable as payment for a solemn promise. (24) You must not offer to the Lord anything with bruised, crushed, torn, or cut-off testicles. You must not do that in your land. (25) You are not allowed to offer such animals as your God’s food even if they come from a foreigner. Because these animals have blemishes and imperfections in them, they will not be acceptable on your behalf.

Leviticus 22: 31-32 (CEB)
(31) You must keep my commands and do them; I am the Lord. (32) You must not make my holy name impure so that I will be treated as holy by the Israelites. I am the Lord—the one who makes you holy.

Some Comments by Burgess Walter
Last week we talked about the Sabbath, today we concentrate on acceptable sacrifices.

The Book of Leviticus has been called the Gospel of the Old Testament. It is the book that pointed the Jews to a relationship with their creator. It taught them how to conduct a service that would be pleasing and acceptable to Jehovah God.

In most eastern countries of that era sacrificing of animals was a way of appeasing their gods, and some cultures sacrificed humans as well. In fact, the Jewish people began sacrificing babies in the groves near Jerusalem during the 8th & 9th centuries B.C. The practice was one of the reasons God allowed the nations of Israel and Judah to be overrun by the Assyrians and the Babylonians.

Interestingly the ceremony for sacrificing was to be applied to all, both Jews and aliens alike. If you lived in a Jewish community, you were expected to follow the Jewish laws. Not sure we could apply that to today’s social standards, since America is not a religious state, as Israel was. God’s plan was for Israel to become a pattern and an example for other nations.

There were two kinds of offerings mentioned in verse 18 One (a neder) is an offering that is given in payment of a solemn promise or vow. The second (a nedevah) is a spontaneous gift or “freewill offering,” which is a voluntary contribution that “expresses gratitude to God and is often mentioned together with the neder.” Both of these sacrifices reflect God’s nature: God is one who keeps vows and is the one who gives freely to God’s people.

The offering had to be perfect and flawless in order to be acceptable. The word for “flawless” is the same as that used to describe Noah and Abraham and related to the word used to describe the integrity of Jacob and Job. A sacrifice was given as a sort of stand-in for the one giving the offering. By offering a “blameless” or “flawless” animal, the one making the offering was, in a sense, asking God to accept him as blameless. Of course this also foreshadows the perfection of Jesus, the sacrifice offered by God on behalf of the people.

The same thing is true for a “communal sacrifice of well-being” (called a “peace offering” in other translations). This was an offering that cemented relationships in the community and between the community and God. It could be for a communal vow or as a spontaneous gift on behalf of the community. This sacrifice also had to be of an animal with no blemishes of any kind. This kind of sacrifice prefigures the Communion meal. Just as sharing in the body and blood of Christ brings us together with God and with the community of faith, so the sacrifice of well-being brought shalom into the community.

My hymn for this week is an old one, we do not sing much anymore, “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus”.

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