"Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
As I read that this morning, my mind went back to Solomon's dedication of the Temple. 1 Kings 8:62-64 says, all Israel offered peace offerings, burnt offerings, and grain offerings to the LORD in such a vast quantity the alter was not large enough. Beginning with the burnt offering of Noah, in Genesis 8:20, we are told these sacrifices were a pleasing aroma to the LORD. Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers repeat this phrase throughout. In my study of Scripture, I have found no offering and sacrifice to compare in magnitude to the dedication of the Temple. If the small offering of Noah was a pleasing aroma to the LORD, what was this massive sacrifice to Him?
But, no quantity of oxen and sheep is sufficient to atone for the sin of man. Hebrews 10:5-7 says, "When Christ came into the world, he said, 'Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.' Then I said, 'Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.'" Jesus became the atoning sacrifice that was the complete and final fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Paul instructs us in Ephesians 5:1 to be imitators of God by following the example of Jesus Christ. We, too, are to walk in sacrificial love. In Romans 12:1, Paul appeals to us "to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 says believers are a fragrant aroma: "For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?"
Isn't that always the question for believers?
God of my salvation, like my Lord and Savior, I want my life to be a fragrant sacrifice to You. Holy Spirit, I am insufficient for such a task without Your moment by moment activity in my life. Please do as You will to make me the aroma of Christ to my God. Lord Jesus, thank You for both the sacrifice and example of One who did the Father's will. I desire to respond obediently to His will as You do.
"But now you have cast off and rejected; you are full of wrath against your anointed."
Ethan the Ezrahite is struggling, isn't he? He knows everything he has prayed for thirty-seven verses is correct, but right now it doesn't appear to be so. God had established an everlasting covenant with David that one of his sons would forever reign over Israel. But now this does not seem to be true. There is no descendant of David's on the throne. Those who rule the nation of Israel are foreigners. "Lord, where is your steadfast love of old, which by your faithfulness you swore to David?" (Psalm 89:49). Pay particular attention to Ethan's closing statement; "Blessed be the LORD forever! Amen and Amen."
When things do not seem to align as I think they should, this is an excellent prayer for me. Just as Ethan does, it is important to remind myself of all I know of God and His promises. In those moments when I can't see, I am reminded I live by faith and not by sight, "Blessed be the LORD forever. May it be. May it be."