Sacrifice and Prayer
A. The Sacrifice of the Wicked
1. The sacrifice of the WICKED. (Who are the wicked?)
a. Wicked: a criminal; a guilty one, one guilty of crime against man or sin against God; unrighteous, i.e., pertaining to being evil, with a focus on the guilt of violating a standard.
b. The man or woman described here as wicked would refer to any unsaved person.
• a sinner; unrighteous; guilty before God.
• This would be the most natural understanding of the term.
c. It could also refer to a true believer who is behaving like a wicked person…
• And that occurs all too often!
• A believer can also be guilty of sinning against God… or violating God’s standard… or of committing a crime against a man.
• The fallen heart of the believer is STILL desperately wicked. It does not improve with time.
d. Thus, the wicked here could refer to any person (saved or unsaved) whose heart is not right with God and/or man.
2. The SACRIFICE of the wicked.
• Strong’s: an offering or a sacrifice to God; the covenant sacrifice; annual sacrifice; thank offering.
• Dict. of Bib. Lang.: an offering killed and presented as an act of worship or propitiation to any deity.
b. Sacrifices are offered to the true God and to false deities every day!
• For many centuries pagans have been offering sacrifices to their idols in hopes of appeasing the wrath of their false deities and in hopes of avoiding judgment… or “bad luck.”
• For centuries pagans have been offering sacrifices to the TRUE God too… in hopes of appeasing His wrath.
» The pagan Philistines offered sacrifices to Jehovah God in hopes of removing His wrath and judgment from them. (I Sam. 6:4,17)
» The Roman Catholic Church has been offering what they call the “perpetual sacrifice of the Mass” to God every week… in hopes of expiating their sins.
• Israel has also offered sacrifices to God throughout the centuries.
B. An Abomination to the Lord
1. NOT every sacrifice is acceptable to the Lord. Some are an abomination!
a. Strong’s: a disgusting thing.
b. Dict. of Bib Lang.: detestable thing, repulsion, i.e., an object which is loathsome and abhorrent.
3. Here is a strange but common occurrence Solomon describes for us: men sacrifice and present to God their offerings in hopes of pleasing Him, but God HATES it—and He SAYS so!
a. This does not often occur among men.
b. If you sacrifice your own time, effort, and money to purchase a present for someone, NORMALLY the one on the receiving end is pleased and appreciates the effort, even if they don’t like the item offered to them. (Men usually PRETEND to like it!)
c. But God is not man that He should lie. God is painfully honest!
d. When people offer worship and sacrifice to Him, He SAYS what He thinks about it!
• Isa. 1:11 – To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.
• Isa. 1:14 – Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.
• Amos 5:21-23 – I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. 22Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. 23Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.
e. Strange occurrence: Men offer worship and sacrifice to God and God HATES it… it nauseates Him! It is an abomination.
4. God appointed those feast days, offerings, and sacrifices in Israel… and then when they were kept and offered to God, God said it was an abomination! How can that be?
a. God hated their feast days and their sacrifices because of the HEART ATTITUDE that offered them.
b. God wasn’t really interested in receiving a dead goat or the blood of bulls. His concern was not for the offering.
c. God WAS interested in the HEART of the offerer.
d. The offering was to be a heart felt expression of love, gratitude, submission, obedience, dependence, and reverence, and faith in God.
e. But not every sacrifice WAS such an expression. Very often the heart of the offerer was filled with other things… and God can see the heart!
f. Men only see the outward appearance (two men offering the same sacrifice; two people singing special music; two Sunday school teachers teaching a class; two men passing out tracts; two women sitting in the worship service.) All look quite equal from man’s perspective. It seems unfair almost that one should be accepted and the other rejected, when they do or offer the very same thing!
g. But God sees the heart. He knows the motive; the intent of the heart; the attitude;
• And where men hear a lovely solo—God may see sickening pride!
• When men hear a helpful sermon—God may see laziness and sloppy workmanship on the part of the preacher.
• When the treasurer records the offerings of the Smiths and the Joneses, he may record the very same amount on the line… but God sees in one offering generosity and sacrifice… and in the other offering He sees stinginess, pride, or a grudging spirit.
• When the heart is not right… nothing that comes from that heart is acceptable to the Lord.
5. Could OUR worship and sacrifices be an abomination to the Lord?
a. Could it be that we sit through an entire worship service, thinking we are pleasing God, and yet He is nauseated by us?
b. Could it be that we sing in the choir, teach a Sunday school class, preach from the pulpit, or offer some other form of sacrificial service to the Lord… only to discover that it is repulsive to Him?
c. The answer is YES! NOT every sacrifice or expression of worship is acceptable to God.
• Gen. 4:4-5 – And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.
• Rev.3:16 – God was nauseated with the religious activities occurring in the church of Laodicea—and was about to vomit them out of His mouth!
d. John 4:24 – our worship and sacrifices MUST be offered “in spirit and in truth” to be acceptable to the Lord.
• If our spirit isn’t right—no matter WHAT we offer to God, it is unacceptable!
• And it doesn’t matter how hard we try to please God… how much we give… how long we work… how many good deeds we do… how many worship services we attend…
• If our spirit isn’t right—whatever we offer is an abomination to God.
• It is HYPOCRISY! We are PRETENDING to love and honor God—when in reality our heart is cold towards God… and there is no honor or reverence!
• We are pretending to obey Him outwardly, when inwardly there is rebellion and not a submissive spirit.
• God SEES the heart! What folly to pretend He doesn’t!
• That’s why every effort of the lost to please God is doomed to failure! They that are in the flesh CANNOT please God—no matter how hard they try—and no matter how MUCH they offer to Him.
• Our worship is to be in accordance with TRUTH.
• The Mormon billionaire can offer many millions to his church—but it is an abomination to the Lord.
• The Roman Catholic priest or monk can dedicate his whole life to his church… and offer sacrifices… do penance… go to Mass… fast… beat his body… take a vow of poverty… but it is all an abomination to God—it is not in harmony with God’s Word.
• It is all based upon a lie… not the truth. The truth has been rejected and replaced with traditions of men!
• God only accepts worship in spirit and in truth.
• Matt. 15:7-8 – Their hearts were far from God (wrong spirit) and their doctrines were of men (no truth). Jesus rejected their worship (vs.9)
6. The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord because of the SOURCE of the sacrifice.
a. If there is no faith… no repentance… then the sacrifice or worship is merely outward show… ritualism… self righteousness… hypocrisy. (Without faith it is impossible to please God!)
b. Without faith the heart is a polluted well—and no good water can come from a polluted well.
c. It is a corrupt tree—and no good fruit can come from a corrupt tree.
d. Prov. 15:26 – The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD:
• Even if their outward DEEDS look good to men… if their thought life is not right, their deeds are rejected!
• It MATTERS to God what is going on in a man’s mind and heart AS he offers the sacrifice.
e. I Sam. 15:22 – And Samuel said, Hath 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 hearken than the fat of rams.
• In Israel they walked in their own ways all week long—but then kept the holy days and offered the proper sacrifices and assumed all was well before God!
• Men do that today too. They live in the world with no thought for God all week long—and then come to church on Sunday, put money in the plate, and think that that will make up for it.
• We can fool men with our sacrifices and worship—but we can NEVER fool God.