Daily Bible Reading: Ezra 3

In early autumn, when the Israelites had settled in their towns, all the people assembled in Jerusalem with a unified purpose. Then Jeshua son of Jehozadak joined his fellow priests and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel with his family in rebuilding the altar of the God of Israel. They wanted to sacrifice burnt offerings on it, as instructed in the Law of Moses, the man of God. Even though the people were afraid of the local residents, they rebuilt the altar at its old site. Then they began to sacrifice burnt offerings on the altar to the LORD each morning and evening. Ezra 3:1-3 NLT
This chapter is part of the story of the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem when the people were returning from exile. Upon returning, one of the first things they did was rebuild the altar upon which they could make sacrifices to God. They did this because worship mattered to them.
The whole idea of offering sacrifices seems strange to ‘us moderns.’ We struggle to imagine why people would do such a thing. Why would you take a perfectly good animal from your herd of livestock and give it to God? Why would you burn it completely, so you get no benefit, so all the value is lost?
When I think about offering sacrifices to God, I think about how this is giving something completely to God. We are giving God something that is valuable to us, and we are giving it in such a way that we cannot take it back. To do this is a true response to recognizing that everything we have, we have because God has given it to us. It is worship.
How do we worship today? I think about some of the excuses I have heard about worship on Sunday morning. I am really busy. Sunday is my only day to sleep in. Worship at 8:45 is just too early. What these excuses have in common is they are reminders that attending worship would cost us something we cannot take back. To do so would be a sacrifice, a true act of worship.
When we choose only worship that easily fits within our schedule, worship that requires no sacrifice, worship that costs us nothing, we are expressing how much (or little) we value God.
Yet worship is not a ‘once a week’s thing. How will you worship God today? What will you give God that cost you something? That you cannot take back?
Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44 NLT