To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to me? said the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams…
These words are not to be understood absolutely but comparatively, and with respect to the manners of these men. For —
I. GOD COULD NOT ABSOLUTELY REJECT SACRIFICES, because they were of His own appointing, as we are abundantly certified in the Books of Exodus and Leviticus. And they were instituted for very good put. poses.
1. As federal rites between God and His people, that by eating of what was offered upon His altar they might profess their union and communion with Him, that they were of His family, He their Father, and they His children. And this is what made idolatry so odious to Him, and for which He declares Himself a jealous God, that when they sacrificed to idols they made the same acknowledgments to them.
2. Sacrifices were instituted to expiate sins of ignorance and trespasses of an inferior nature. It is true, St. Paul in his Epistle to the Hebrews affirms, that it was impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should purify the conscience, so as to wash away the guilt of sin, which only can be atoned for by the Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world. But yet they availed to the purifying of the flesh, and were accepted of God in lieu of temporal punishments.
3. Sacrifices were designed to teach men that without shedding of blood there could be no remission of sins. They were hereby led to consider that infinite justice properly required the life of the offender, but that infinite mercy accepted of a vicarious life.
4. Peace offerings, or sacrifices of gratitude were offered to God in hope of obtaining some favour, or as a thanksgiving for having received some signal mercy from Him.
5. Sacrifices were instituted for types and representatives of that final sacrifice of the Son of God in whom they all centred and were consummated. (Psalm 40:6; Hebrews 10:5, 6) "He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second," i.e., the sacrifice of Himself; and consequently Paul calls the law our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, and Christ the end of the law, because it was ended in Him and by Him. In this sense it is that our Lord affirms that He came not to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfil them. He fulfilled the moral law by His perfect holiness and virtue, and the law of sacrifices by His death and passion. From all this I infer that God does not reject sacrifices as such, and therefore we must conclude that —
II. HIS AVERSION TO THEM WAS OCCASIONED BY THE ILL MANNERS OF THOSE THAT OFFERED THEM, who had no concern to accomplish the good ends which were intended by them, nor considered that by these sacraments they laid themselves under renewed obligations to be sensible of their own demerits, to repent and reform whatever they found amiss in their lives, and to abound in the love of God, and the fruits of His Holy Spirit. It appears from the characters of these men, especially in their latter and worst times, that they satisfied themselves with the opus operatum, the external duties of religion, and had no regard to the renovation of their hearts and minds.
(W. Reading, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.
WEB: "What are the multitude of your sacrifices to me?," says Yahweh. "I have had enough of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed animals. I don't delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of male goats.