Sacrifices Can be Meaningless

Many years ago, a young mother was making her way on foot across the hills of South Wales, carrying her infant son. A blinding blizzard overtook the pair, and the mother never reached her destination. Searchers found her lifeless body, with the baby snuggled beneath her, wa … More

Sacrifice

The people of Judah offered all the correct sacrifices, but they failed to obey God and to walk in His ways (vv. 21-29). Verse 22 is not to be understood as a denial that God commanded the sacrifices to be made. Rather it is an argument against substituting sacrifice for obedience. Sacrifices were not God’s major concern. The people thought they were pleasing God when they offered sacrifices, but they did not obey God in their general way of living. God rejects such sacrifice (v. 21); (1 Sam. 15:22). God on a daily basis sent His prophets to His people with the message, “Hearken unto me:”

(vv. 23-25). The people’s response was, “we will not hearken unto you: we will go our way , in our own counsel” (v. 24). With unbent ears and stiff necks they rejected God (vv. 24-26). They would not listen to Jeremiah any more than their fathers had listened to earlier prophets (vv. 27-28).

The cutting of the hair was a symbol of grief (v. 29); (Job 1:20). Their “lamentation” was because of God’s rejection and His forsaking of them. The basis of God’s anger is twofold: (1) they have set “abominations” in the temple and polluted it (v. 30); and (2) they have committed child sacrifice in the Valley of Hinnon (v. 31). This valley was the site of the worship of Molech, the pagan deity to which children were sacrificed (v. 32). So many would die there that the valley of Hinnon would come to be called the valley of Slaughter. Burial places for all the corpses would be impossible to find. The unburied bodies would be ravished by beasts and birds. The entire land of Judah would become a ruin, a place of gloom and sadness (vv. 33-34).

Application

Just as Jeremiah told the people of his day, sacrifices are meaningless unless I obey God in all areas of life. I want to be a person who obeys Him in every area?

Jeremiah 7:21-34 (English Standard Version)

Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices, and eat the flesh. For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this command I gave them: 'Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.' But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day. Yet they did not listen to me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers. "So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall call to them, but they will not answer you. And you shall say to them, 'This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the LORD their God, and did not accept discipline; truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips. "'Cut off your hair and cast it away; raise a lamentation on the bare heights, for the LORD has rejected and forsaken the generation of his wrath.' "For the sons of Judah have done evil in my sight, declares the LORD. They have set their detestable things in the house that is called by my name, to defile it. And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind. Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when it will no more be called Topheth, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter; for they will bury in Topheth, because there is no room elsewhere. And the dead bodies of this people will be food for the birds of the air, and for the beasts of the earth, and none will frighten them away. And I will silence in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, for the land shall become a waste."

View this passage in NIV (Bible Gateway) »