If . . . he cannot afford enough for a sheep, then he must bring . . . two turtledoves.—Lev. 5:7.
Offering sacrifices in ancient Israel was the basis for receiving forgiveness of sins. Sacrifices were necessary for the people to enjoy Jehovah’s favor. Some of these were required; others were voluntary. Whole burnt offerings could be made as voluntary offerings, or gifts, to Jehovah. He lovingly understood that not everyone could give the same amount, and he required from each one only according to the individual’s ability. Jehovah’s law stipulated that the blood of the animal be shed, which was to be “a shadow of the good things to come” through his Son, Jesus. However, Jehovah was not rigid in the application of that law. For example, God would accept an offering of turtledoves if the person could not afford an offering from the flock or the herd. Thus, even the poor could joyfully sacrifice to Jehovah.
It is true, the Law covenant required that the Israelites offer sacrifices and gifts to God. That was a central feature of that ancient form of worship.
However, burnt sacrifice was not really what God wanted from his people, even before the Law covenant was abolished. What Jehovah really wanted, then and now, is heartfelt devotion.
Here are a few verses that put things in perspective: “Sacrifice the sacrifices of righteousness, and trust in Jehovah.” – Psalms 4:5
“‘Sacrifice and offering you did not delight in; these ears of mine you opened up. Burnt offering and sin offering you did not ask for. In view of that, I said: ‘Here I have come, in the roll of the book it being written about me. To do your will, O my God, I have delighted, and your law is within my inward parts.’” – Psalms 40:6-8
“Offer thanksgiving as your sacrifice to God, and pay to the Most High your vows; and call me in the day of distress. I shall rescue you, and you will glorify me.” – Psalm 50:14-15
“The one offering thanksgiving as his sacrifice is the one that glorifies me; and as for the one keeping a set way, I will cause him to see salvation by God.” – Psalms 50:23
“For you do not take delight in sacrifice—otherwise I would give it; in whole burnt offering you do not find pleasure. The sacrifices to God are a broken spirit; a heart broken and crushed, O God, you will not despise.” – Psalms 51:16-17
At this year’s Annual Meeting (2015) of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society a three-part symposium was presented offering the latest revisions of their understanding of prophecy. The notion that Christians went into captivity to Babylon the Great back in the second century has already been considered in the October 31st Daily Commentary.
However, in the last talk (Link for video of the Annual Meeting) an interesting “adjustment” was made concerning the modern application of the “marking” for survival recorded in the ninth chapter of Ezekiel.
Previously, the Watchtower taught that the preaching work of Jehovah’s Witnesses facilitated the “marking,” as persons who accepted the truth became marked for survival by dedicating themselves to God and becoming preachers themselves. Now, though, the “adjusted understanding” points to a future “marking” — not by Jehovah’s Witnesses, but by Christ. This is said to parallel the separation of the sheep and goats, which about 20 years ago was also adjusted to a point in the future.
But there is a gaping flaw in their latest revision. In ancient times Jerusalem was the place where Jehovah had caused his name to reside. Solomon’s temple was the center of the worship of Jehovah. Those who were marked with the secretary’s inkhorn were those who were “sighing and groaning over all the detestable things being done in the city.”
If the prophecy of Ezekiel has any meaning it must be in connection with what is called the spiritual temple associated with Christ as the cornerstone of a symbolic sacred structure. That is apparent from the fact that in keeping with the principle established by the apostle Peter — that judgment begins with the house of God first, with anointed Christians, so too, Jehovah commanded the destroyers” to “start from my sanctuary.”
So, if the prophecy has a modern application, which it most assuredly does, then those who are “sighing and groaning” must be those who are sickened by the detestable hypocrisy from the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Ironically, it was Geoffrey Jackson who delivered the talk on the new meaning of the “marking” and it was just two months prior that he sat before the Australian Royal Commission and told them that Jehovah’s Witness elders would be happy to set aside their Bible principles that supposedly prevented them from reporting the crimes committed by other Jehovah’s Witnesses in raping and molesting children in the congregations they oversee, if only the authorities required them to do so. (The Geoffrey Jackson debacle was discussed in a previous commentary.)
According to Jackson elders are only obligated to obey God so long as they are not required to break with Jehovah when required to do so by the law of the land. If the Australian authorities would simply pass a law it would solve the Governing Body’s “dilemma,” as Jackson called it.
Of course, many thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses have gone to prisons, concentration camps, gulags, lost all of their citizens’ rights (Malawi) and even been put to death, because they refused to break God’s laws for any reason.
This is just a sampling of the detestable things for which Christ will enter into judgment when he comes to cleanse the temple and over which Jehovah’s Witnesses have every reason to offer Jehovah the sacrifices of the brokenhearted and those crushed in spirit.