What does God want? As Christmas approaches, we can easily focus on what we want. Some of us may compile “Wish Lists” for others to purchase for us. Even when we turn our attention to God, we can quickly zero in on the things we want from God—not simply material things but requests like these: “God, grant us joy. Give us peace. Bring us hope.”
The Bible does indeed teach us to bring our cares and concerns to the Lord in prayer. And I do not want to dissuade requests for joy, peace, and hope. But this passage from Hebrews raises the question, “What does God desire?”
Our reading notes that God does not desire sacrifice and offering. If you have read the books of the law in the Old Testament, this may sound strange. Entire chapters are devoted to the offerings and sacrifices of the Israelites. God goes into great detail about when to bring sacrifices, what constitutes an offering, who is to offer which sacrifice, when to bring your offering. Later, in verse 8, the author of Hebrews even points out that these offerings and sacrifices were required by the law.
Today’s passage opens with Christ himself quoting the words of Psalm 40, which set aside ritual and sacrifice in favor of doing God’s will. The incarnation of Christ (“offering of the body of Christ” in life and death), who lives in complete obedience to God, fulfills God’s intention for humanity.
So what does God desire from us? If it is not sacrifices and offerings, which are commanded, what does God want from us? We will return to this passage tomorrow to see what the writer of Hebrews says, but for today spend some time with this question and see what God is speaking to you.
God, what do you desire from me today?
As Christians we understand that our faith is rooted in the ongoing story of God’s faithfulness to God’s people. Micah celebrates this story, prophesying that the true king of Israel will one day come from the small village of Bethlehem, Jesus’ birthplace. Luke features women prominently throughout his Gospel. The two readings from Luke this week highlight the prophetic insights of Elizabeth and Mary. Mary visits Elizabeth, who is pregnant with John, God’s messenger. After Elizabeth identifies Mary as the mother of the Lord, Mary breaks into song, understanding that her story is tied to the fulfillment of God’s promises going back to Abraham. Little does she know that her son will one day offer his body as a sacrifice for all, as Hebrews tells us.
• Read Micah 5:2-5a. What “small” beginnings have yielded great results in your life?
• Read Psalm 80:1-7. How does this psalm of lament speak to you? When has God restored you and shone the light of divine love on you?
• Read Hebrews 10:5-10. What do you believe God desires from you? In what ways does Jesus’ life of obedience help you understand God’s intention for you and the world?
• Read Luke 1:39-55. When have you been stopped in your tracks by meeting unexpectedly an old acquaintance? How did God speak to you in that encounter?
Respond by posting a prayer.