Our WORSHIP is an ‘OFFERING of SWEET AROMA’ to GOD: "Command the children of Israel, and say to them, 'My offering, My food for My offerings made by fire as a sweet aroma to Me, you shall be careful to offer to Me at their appointed time.' And you shall say to them, 'This is the offering made by fire which you shall offer to the Lord: two male lambs in their first year without blemish, day by day, as a regular burnt offering…It is a regular burnt offering which was ordained at Mount Sinai for a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the Lord." (Num. 28:2-6)
Leviticus chapter 28 goes into great detail about the Israelites presenting their burnt animal offerings at the beginning of each day (vv. 1–8), at the end of the week (vv. 9–10), and on the first of the month (vv. 11–15). To elaborate this further, the Israelite worship included daily offerings of food and drink (vv. 3–8); weekly offerings on the Sabbath (vv. 9–10); monthly offerings at the beginning of each month (vv. 11–15); and annual feasts, such as Passover, the Feasts of Weeks, of Trumpets, and of Booths, and the Day of Atonement (vv. 16–31; 29:1–38). These offerings were to be presented to God by the Israelites regularly at their appointed time” (v. 3). The word ‘regular’ is used seventeen times in Numbers 28–29, which is a reminder that a regular worship routine for us is very important to God!
The terms for ‘worship’ in both Hebrew and Greek come from words that suggests ‘service’. Thus, worshipers were God’s servants, those who not only carried out His will, but fell down before Him in awe and fear. As for the English term worship, it originally meant ‘worthiness’ and in time came to mean ‘respect or reverence’. It also has the connotation for ‘worth-ship’, which is giving God the worth that He is due. Thus, to worship God means to pay Him the respect that is His due by ascribing worth and honor to Him!
We are well aware that these regular patterns of Israelite worship in the temple changed with the emergence of the early church in the 1st century. The sacrificial system of offering burnt offerings ended when the temple at Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. More importantly, the need for sacrifices—which turned out to be merely a “shadow of the good things to come” (Heb. 10:1)—ended with the supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ, whose death atoned for sins once and for all (Heb. 10:1–18). Nevertheless, the importance of worship has remained since now God’s people had a “new and living way” by which to approach God through Jesus Christ (Heb. 10:19–22).
In the above passage, God reveals to us through the following declaration that our offerings are a ‘sweet aroma’ unto Him. Actually, this aspect of God smelling the burnt offering is known very early in the biblical revelation, with Noah’s offering to God after the flood: "Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Then the Lord said in His heart, 'I will never again curse the ground for man's sake, although the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.'" (Gen. 8:20-21)
How can we offer our worship as a sweet aroma to God? The answer is found in the statement that Jesus made to the Samaritan Woman: "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24). Like in the Old Testament, we should understand that God dwells among us when we gather in His name to worship (Matt. 18:20); we are all sinners in need of forgiveness, and forgiveness of our sins is available freely (1 John 1:9); God offers guidance and instruction for life (Psalm 32:8); we are members of a community of believers (Eph. 2:19); and we have a future hope that rests on the promises of God (John 14:1-3).
As we celebrate these important truths, God desires our heartfelt praise, repentance, love, and honor to Him through our “broken and contrite hearts” (Psalms 51:17), our sincere heartfelt prayers (Prov. 15:8) as we follow after “doing justice, showing mercy, and walking humbly with God” (Micah 6:8). Instead of animal sacrifices, today let us offer our bodies as a “living sacrifice”, which will be truly a sweet aroma to God.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." (Romans 12:1)