Like a blazing sunrise, God appears in a fiery storm (Psalm 50:1, 3). But this is not good news. God’s people have misunderstood the agreement they sealed with God at Mt. Sinai (Deuteronomy 30:19). The sacrifices and obedience God prescribed have been misapplied and even forgotten. Two groups of people—moralists and hypocrites—are called to the witness stand, and all of heaven and earth are summoned to witness the hearing (Psalm 50:1, 2, 4).
The moralists sacrifice animals thinking God is somehow in need of their service (Psalm 50:8). They religiously offer bulls and goats, believing they are meeting a need of the Almighty. But they have forgotten that God is a God of abundance. He owns all the animals in the world and has no need for people to feed him (Psalm 50:10-11)! God reminds the moralists that he is not poor or hungry that he should depend on people’s sacrifices of bulls and goat’s blood (Psalm 50:9). He is able to provide a sacrifice for himself if he had need of one (Psalm 50:12).
The hypocrites, on the other hand, sacrifice their integrity by treating God’s words flippantly (Psalm 50:16, 21). They recite God’s laws, but they do the things he hates and claim that God’s leniency and grace are license to do evil (Psalm 50:17-20). They have forgotten that God takes his words seriously (Psalm 50:20-21). God reminds the hypocrites that he will punish those who treat his law insincerely (Psalm 50:22). God is true to his word because he is not flippant (Psalm 50:21-22).
God’s people have misunderstood their agreement with God. It was never God who needed sacrifices or laws, but his people. Both moralists and hypocrites need to rediscover the purpose of sacrifices and laws (Psalm 50:14, 23). They weren’t things to be ignored or ways to fill God’s stomach but used to thank a God of salvation and abundance. Instead, God’s people, both moralists and hypocrites, must offer sacrifices of thanksgiving.
Where is the Gospel?
God always provides for his people. God always generously gives from his abundance so that his people can enjoy their relationship with him. Sacrifices and laws are not how we get things from God, but how we respond to God after he’s given us everything we need. After all, God saved Israel from Egypt before he ever gave them laws on Mt. Sinai.
And in Jesus God has abundantly provided all that we need again. Jesus is the only sacrifice God needs (Romans 8:32). Jesus is also the Word of God who took God’s law seriously and obeyed God’s law perfectly (John 1:1, 14; Romans 8:3-4). Jesus was neither a moralist nor a hypocrite! He knew he was the sacrifice God promised to his people. He obediently offered himself, better than any goat from a pen and more sure than any flippant word spoken by humans (Hebrews 9:12-14). So now, both moralists and hypocrites have good news: offer thanks to God! In Jesus, the sacrifice is provided; there’s nothing left for you to give. And in Jesus, the perfect obedience is provided; there’s nothing left for you to do!
So thank him! Jesus saved you from your sin before he ever asked you to obey or sacrifice (Colossians 3:17)!
See for Yourself
I pray that the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to see the God who gives his people what they need. And may you see Jesus as the sacrifice and obedience with thanksgiving.