So many regulations. So many rules. So many rituals. What is the point? What does this have to do with the heart?
“When you arrive in your own land and go to war against your enemies who attack you, sound the alarm with the trumpets. Then the Lord your God will remember you and rescue you from your enemies. Blow the trumpets in times of gladness, too, sounding them at your annual festivals and at the beginning of each month. And blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and peace offerings. The trumpets will remind your God of his covenant with you. I am the Lord your God.” Numbers 10:9-10
“What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the Lord. “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. Isaiah 1:11
There is a lot of ritual in these books, and if we aren’t careful we can make the same mistake that the Israelites did, and that is thinking that the ritual itself is the point.
Why did God call for a trumpet blast? To remind Himself of His covenant? Or His people? Why ask for offerings He knew could never completely redeem sin, to remind Himself of His children’s need, or remind His children that they needed a Savior?
Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. Isaiah 1:17
We so often get all caught up on making sure we look right before man and God. Dress right, talk right, foster a particular reputation. We can get to feeling that as long as we make sure we check off certain boxes, that other things don’t matter, like attitudes and actions of the heart.
The thing is, ritual can be good, as a tool to draw the heart to God.
I like displaying scripture all over when I can, I like wearing crosses. But I don’t do it to make myself look a certain way or project a certain reputation. I don’t do it to say, “I’m better than you” to those around me who don’t do the same. I do it because I need the reminders myself. I need to put scripture in front of my face constantly so I can get those living words written deep into my heart.
There is one particular jewelry set I have, it is a set with hearts that have crosses written into them. The earrings in particular are heavy and can tire out my ears to wear. I wear them when I desperately need to remember to listen to His voice.
God cares about our actions. But as we read about all the ritual we need to remember something crucial, and that is that He cares about our actions because He cares about the state of our heart.
As we get deeper into Numbers I pray that we each take this truth to our hearts, that God cares about the inner cores of ourselves, the deepest places, that He seeks not outward perfection, but inner transformation. That the trumpet is to remind us of Him.
Joy Aletheia Stevens
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