For those of us who do not live under the ceremonial law, for whom animal sacrifices seem strange and foreign, and who have the once-for-all atoning sacrifice of Christ to cover over our sins, there's a lot that we don't understand about the offerings that Israel was instructed to bring to God under the Old Testament law. It's tempting and easy for us to believe that you bring your sacrifice to the priest, he offers it for you, you eat it together, and then, it's done. That's it. Finito.
But that wasn't always the case.
For example, if you brought a fellowship offering to the Lord, you could eat off of it for two days. But if you ate any of it on the third day, the whole thing would be rejected and worthless. Though you might have thought for two days that you were fellowshipping with the Lord, you can find out on the third day that you never actually were, by the mere fact that you were disobedient two days after your sacrifice.
Well, now, that changes things, doesn't it? It challenges and then dismisses this image we get of a God who is pleased with simple gifts, of a God whose disappointment is abated by giving Him something. Our God is not a God at whom we can simply direct an offering and give to Him whatever our sin cost us and then go on about our merry way. He demands more, much more, from us.
Even under the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ, our God remains the same.
It's tough for us. We'd like a God who is quick and easy, to put it bluntly. We'd like a God to whom we apologize and it's over. We'd like a God who only asks us to confess, and then we're done. For most of us, holiness works this way. Forgiveness works this way. Atonement works this way. I repented, so it's over. Done with. God's forgiven me. Let's move on.
But what God wants from us is sustained motion in a Godward direction. What He wants from us is right living that isn't just an attempt to get things right. What He wants from us...is day three.
He wants us to continue in our humble posture, continue in our fellowship. What He wants is for us to get it right consistently, day after day after day (you think there's a reason that rolls so easily off the tongue in a three?). He wants us to demonstrate that we understand that it's not just about what we bring; it's about how we bring it. It's not about what we give; it's about how we give it. It's not about our sacrifice; it's about our offering.
We have to get this right.
So the question to ask yourself is not what happens on day one. It's not. It's not about what happens at the moment of repentance, when you cry out to God, when you confess to Him, when you recommit yourself to Him, when you ask for forgiveness. It's not even about what happens on day two, when the fire is still fresh and the smoke's still in the air.
The question is what you're doing on day three. When God says, this is the day - what day is it for you? How do you live?
Because the fellowship offering you bring can be rejected if you don't get this right. And then everything you poured your heart into is wasted; it's worth nothing. It hasn't brought you closer to God. You're still far away from Him.
Honestly, then, what are you doing on day three?