The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him (Proverbs 15:8)

When the Bible uses the word “sacrifice,” it doesn’t mean our modern idea of doing without or giving up something. Instead, it speaks of an offering that we take to the Temple and give to God. It was a very important religious activity in Bible days.

Consequently, we would probably assume that a sacrifice is a better offering to God than just a prayer. But this verse makes it clear that the character of the presenter (wicked vs. righteous) is much more important than the act of presenting (sacrifice vs. offering).
An animal sacrifice at the Temple took a lot more time and effort (let alone expense), but the LORD hates it, if not brought with the right kind of heart. At the same time, just an honest, simple prayer by an upright person really pleases Him. It has never been about the gift or the effort, it has always been about the heart.
I am writing this from Tall el-Hammam, my dig site in Jordan. Our excavation here is testing a number of hypotheses including if this site was Sodom (of Sodom and Gomorrah fame) in the days of Abraham; or Abel Shittim in the days of Moses; or the capital of the 12th administrative district of King Solomon; or the eastern edge of ancient Livias, the capital of Herod Antipas’ Perea in the time of Jesus?
Two years ago we uncovered the foundation of a massive building right in the flat center of the site. We wondered if it might be an ancient temple. Last year, next to that building, we uncovered the circular foundation of structure that was certainly an altar. Found in association with the altar were two stone offering bowls and a small gypsum juglet. This was one of those places where the ancients brought their sacrifices to whatever god they were serving in that temple.
Tomorrow, it will be my responsibility to begin excavating that temple complex. I don’t know what we will find under the ground, but I do know what is important to God. He says forget all the religious activities and offerings. Our prayers, backed up by right attitudes and actions, is all we really need today.
One Day at a Time,

Pastor Gary Byers
Spiritual Life Director