I grew up on a farm in the Midwest. One of my favorite days revolved around butchering time. Aunts, uncles, and cousins would descend on our farm. The kids played while the men took care of the killing and preparing the animals. It was a messy, smelly process that took plenty of time. The butchering, usually two or three steers, took most of a day, and everyone would be tired by the time they went home.
The meat then had to hang in a cooler for a number of days when everyone would return and the work of cutting and packaging the meat began. This was hard work, but still fun. You visited with family, and with my family, there was usually a lot of joking and laughter throughout the day. Once again, another tiring but satisfying day.
In II Chronicles, we see Solomon building the temple for the Lord. For the first time, the Israelites would have a house to go to when they wanted to worship. A place to make sacrifices.
For the consecration of the temple, Solomon made a huge feast, starting with the sacrifices to the Lord. Did he sacrifice the two or three animals that would take us all day to butcher? Not at all.
“Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the LORD. King Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty-two thousand bulls and one hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the people dedicated the house of God.” 2 Chronicles 7:4-5 (NKJV)
Every time I read this passage, I remember butchering day at home. I am astonished at the sheer number of animals sacrificed. I have no idea how many people were involved in the work but there had to be hundreds to be able to do a sacrifice of this magnitude.
There are a few things that stand out to me about Solomon’s sacrifices for the consecration of the temple. And there are some questions I must ask myself.
Abundance: I think we can all agree Solomon’s sacrifice was an abundance. I realize he was a wealthy king, but giving up thousands of bulls and thousands of sheep had to put a dent in his livestock. Am I willing to give with abundance to the Lord even when it hurts, or do I make excuses for hanging on to what I have?
Joyful: Solomon gave with joy. He was excited to consecrate the temple and to dedicate these animals to the Lord. Not only did he sacrifice an abundance of livestock, he put on a full week of feasting for all the people who came. There is sacrifice there too in the amount of food, drink, and time involved. Am I willing to be joyful when sacrificing an abundance, even when it comes at a great cost?
Shared: Solomon didn’t make sacrifices and consecrate the temple by himself even though building the temple had been his project. He invited the people to join him in the celebration. His whole focus was to honor God and worship Him with all he had. He wanted the people to share in this time of worship, to see the wonder of who God is. Do I share the joy of sacrifice with others, or do I just want to “do it myself” with a stomp of my foot like an indulgent two-year-old?
Humble: Solomon was humble in his dedication to God and his worship. He didn’t promote himself or brag about the cost to him. He simply pointed to God and His sovereignty. He didn’t demand the people pay homage to him, but encouraged them to seek the Lord. When I make a sacrifice to the Lord, do I expect praise for what I’ve done, or recognition? Am I trying to steal from God, when I should just be joyful to be in His service and in His presence?
Leviticus 22:17-25 talks about the sacrifice Aaron and his sons are to make to God. How the sheep or bull is to be perfect, without blemishes. They are to examine the sacrifice animal to make sure there are no imperfections.
I believe Solomon’s sacrifice was a perfect one before the Lord and he has set an example there. I can’t give something cast off, or tarnished with greed or pride. I need to make sure my sacrifice is abundant, joyful, shared, and humble. As in those days on the farm, my giving to the Lord should be something I remember with joy in the Lord, not regret in what I gave up.
Photo by Sam Carter on Unsplash