Useful Bible Studies > Hebrews Commentary > chapter 10

It is better to obey God than to offer sacrifices

Hebrews 10:8-9

In Hebrews 10:5-7, the author copied Psalm 40:6-8 from the old translation of the Bible in the Greek language. And now he explains that passage in his own words. That is a good way to teach the meaning of the Bible. But teachers of the Bible should do as he did. They should read the Bible passage to their students before they explain it.

Sometimes a Bible translation is not completely accurate. That happened here, too. The Greek translation says that God was not ‘pleased’ with the sacrifices. But the original passage in the Hebrew language says that God did not ‘desire’ them. The author was not trying to impress anyone, and he did not mention his knowledge of the Hebrew. But he had studied the Bible in both languages. We know that because he included both words (‘pleased’ and ‘desired’) in his explanation. Both were true. God was not pleased with the sacrifices, and he did not desire them.

The sacrifices were the animals that people gave to God. And it may surprise us that God was not pleased with them. The Book of Leviticus often says that the sacrifices pleased God (Leviticus 1:13; Leviticus 3:5; Leviticus 3:16). Also, it may surprise us that God did not want sacrifices. His law says that his priests must offer sacrifices. And God’s law tells us what God wants to happen.

Perhaps the explanation is in passages like Isaiah 1:11-13; Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:21-22 and Micah 6:6-8. People were giving sacrifices, but they did not want to obey God. They carried out the sacrifices, but they were doing very many wicked things too. Such sacrifices did not please God. Samuel told Saul that it is better to obey God than to offer sacrifices (1 Samuel 15:22).

God never intended the sacrifices to continue for all time. When Jesus, God’s Son, died as a sacrifice, he was the perfect sacrifice. After that, there was no reason to offer animals as sacrifices. So God ended it. And instead, God established something better. Like Jesus, God’s people would love God with their whole hearts (Mark 12:29-30). So they would genuinely want to obey him.

Next part: God’s plan to make his people holy (Hebrews 10:10)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.