Growing up, I attended a small, private school. Each class was small — no more than 15 to 20 students — and the majority of classmates remained together through school, all the way from Kindergarten to the senior year of high school. After nine weeks of first grade, someone decided that I knew enough to be advanced into second grade, and away I went. Entering second grade in the middle of the year wasn’t easy. I was the youngest kid in the class, and — what’s worse — my older brother was already there.
I wanted to get along with my classmates, but it was never a particularly good fit. I had friends on and off through school, but given my abrupt entrance into the class and the fact that I was a bit further behind in social development due to my younger age, I was a shoe-in for the "odd girl out" role. Consequently, I have a heart for anyone who just wants to be included. Being on the "outside looking in" isn’t a fun place to be.
God loves you. He doesn’t want to be on the "outside looking in" at your life. He wants to be included. He wants to be in the inner circle. That’s one of the major messages in Leviticus 17: "Any Israelite who sacrifices an ox, a lamb or a goat in the camp or outside of it instead of bringing it to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting to present it as an offering to the Lord in front of the tabernacle of the Lord — that man shall be considered guilty of bloodshed; he has shed blood and must be cut off from his people. This is so the Israelites will bring to the Lord the sacrifices they are now making in the open fields." (vs 3-5)
This is interesting, isn’t it? For anyone who thought it was God who established the practice of slaughtering animals, read Leviticus 17:5. The people were already making these sacrifices in the fields! To whom were they offering sacrifices? That’s debatable, but having just left a country where they worshiped more gods than you could count, chances are they weren’t approaching the God of Israel with their offerings.
Isn’t it wonderful that God took something they were already doing and made it a meaningful symbol in their relationship? That is so like Him! He always begins with us where we are, and He takes the responsibility upon Himself of leading and guiding us into truth. Where we are is not a problem for Him. He will come to us where we are.
God wants to be included in our lives. He wants this inclusion, not just for His benefit (although it brings Him pleasure), but for our best good. He knows that it is only in inviting Him to be the Lord of our life that we will find true contentment, happiness, and joy. He wants to give us these things... and a whole host of other wonderful gifts!
Sacrificing to other gods in other places is going to get us nowhere, and God knows it. He will do whatever it takes to get our attention and let us know that He wants to be in our personal, inner circle.