For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
In reading Hosea this morning, I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to meditate on this verse more intently. It looked familiar, “desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Indeed, it shows up twice in the Old Testament and three times in the New Testament. The word in the Hebrew (found in Psalm 40:6 and Hosea 6:6) for “sacrifice” is zebach, which describes the Old Testament animal sacrifice for sin. In Matthew 9:13 and 12:7, and Hebrews 10:5, the Greek translation is thysia, which refers to victim, Jesus was a “victim”, a sacrifice for my sins.
God was reminding me that Jesus is my sacrifice. Therefore no matter what I do, what I offer to Him is of no value compared to the sacrifice that was already offered for me at Calvary. I try to “sacrifice” and please God all the time. I read your Word, pray, witness, serve, tithe, stay physically pure, surely that’s enough for you Lord? God replies through His Spirit through these verses, “Tina, it’s not enough, it will never be enough because “enough” is done.” God took care of everything at the cross when He sacrificed His pure, perfect, sinless, Son for me. Nothing can compare so stop trying! Side note, when I read His Word, pray or serve Him, it should come from a heart of gratitude and a desire to love Him as He has loved me not of expectation in trying to “earn” forgiveness or righteousness.
The other half of that truth is that He desires mercy. The word eleos in the Greek means to show “kindness or good will towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them.” Showing kindness and good will toward others is what God wants me to do but most importantly offer to help them by telling them of the greatest gift, salvation in Jesus Christ.
Especially during this Christmas season, as we celebrate the birth of this Perfect Sacrifice, we should not focus on “doing good” to achieve righteousness because that has already been accomplished through Christ crucified. Instead let us focus on mercy and show the same kindness and love we have received to the “miserable and afflicted” so they too may receive what I have, mercy though salvation in Jesus Christ.
Psalm 40:6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire— but my ears you have opened— burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.
Matthew 9:13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Matthew 12:7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.
Hebrews 10:5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me;