They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations. (Leviticus 17:7)
Pursuant to what was discussed in the previous devotion, I want to address another aspect of why God insisted sacrifices were to be brought to the Sanctuary. Not only did it centralize worship and discourage people from doing their own thing but it alerted God’s people that, in certain situations, one may not be worshiping God at all. Certain expressions of worship were, in fact, honoring some other god which He equated with demons.
Therefore, He told them they were not to slaughter animals just any where and in any manner they chose lest they be guilty of bloodshed. In other words, if a person were to kill an animal without a legitimate purpose — that is for food or as a sacrifice unto God — that person allowed themselves to be influenced by the same impulse that produces murderous behavior in men. In fact, God made certain to mention the sacrifices they had been “slaughtering in the open field” which, according to rabbinic sources, alludes to the first recorded murder — when Cain killed Abel in a field. A murderous inclination is, in turn, connected to the notion of offering to demons (in the fields) and, consequently, spiritual adultery.
This is why God and His prophets didn’t care much for the “high places” that littered the Israeli countryside. In the fields and on the mountains, those who did what was right in their own eyes would mix the worship of other gods with the God of Israel. Fundamentally, this was no different than the mindset that provoked Cain to do what he did. That same mindset was prevalent in the days of Elijah and is why he confronted the people of Israel on Mount Carmel. In short, He challenged them to make up their minds: either worship God in the proper manner or worship the demon Baal — but don’t mix the two together.
That same challenge and warning is for us today, especially in a time when so many different “expressions” of worship seem to be going around. It may feel good and it may sound good but that doesn’t mean it is God. So then, it is imperative that we know the Word and understand what God has deemed as clean and as unclean. Furthermore, let’s be careful to test the spirits to see if they are of God and discern between the holy and the profane. Remember — because our God is holy (set apart), as His people, we must be holy as well.
Blessings and Shalom,