When I read accounts from the Old Testament about offerings it makes me cringe.
There before the Ark, King Solomon and the entire community of Israel sacrificed so many sheep, goats, and cattle that no one could keep count! ~1 Kings 8:5
The the king and all Israel with him offered sacrifices to the LORD. Solomon offered to the LORD a peace offering of 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep and goats. ~1 Kings 8:62
It seems like a waste that so many animals would be slaughtered. Today I went back to Leviticus 7 and read about peace offerings. I’m guessing these for the temple would fall under the heading of voluntary offerings.
If you bring an offering to fulfill a vow or as a voluntary offering, the meat must be eaten on the same day the sacrifice is offered, but whatever is left over may be eaten on the second day. And meat left over until the third day must be completely burned up. ~Leviticus 7:16-17
So really, the dedication of the Temple was a huge tailgate. Over the course of 14 days, all Israel gathered and had the biggest barbeque anyone could imagine in honor of the LORD. They ate some of the meat, parts of it went to the priests, the fat was burned up, the blood was spattered, and anything left over was completely burned.
A two-week national holiday where most of the food is supplied by the government sounds like the Super Bowl on steroids.
Isn’t it just like God to provide for us while we sacrifice to Him?
From now on when I read about animal sacrifices, I won’t see it as a senseless waste. Like tithing, these offerings were meant to support the priests (church) financially while also blessing the givers. A fiscal means to make God a priority in our lives. And like Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice, a means to draw us closer to God.