Almost every time I read the old testament, I’m thankful that I was born after Jesus came to redeem us. When he came on the scene he didn’t really change all of the rules, but he did revise them. For one thing, we no longer have to sacrifice animals to God to atone for our sins. Jesus took care of that with his own blood. If you read the first several books of the old testament, you’ll realize that there are several other things that the Israelites had to do that we no longer have to do. But I believe that there are a few that we should still keep in mind. For instance, in the second part of Exodus chapter 23 verse 15 God says:
"No one is to appear before me empty-handed."
There are at least two other times in Exodus and Deuteronomy where God tells his people that they are not to appear before him empty-handed. In context, this is in regards to the annual feasts that they are to attend and celebrate. But I like to also think of it as a theological sentiment that we all should try to maintain. Often times we appear before the Lord in prayer with our hands out, asking him to do something on our behalf. But what if when we came to him, we didn’t come empty handed? I’m not suggesting that every time we pray that we should set aside a dollar for the next offering or anything like that. But what if we came with the intent to praise, worship and adore him before we bring our requests to him? What if when we pray, we think about ways to honor his God-ship before we look to him to satisfy our needs? If you think about the Lord’s prayer that Jesus modeled for us in the New Testament, he does just that. Just something to think about.
God tells the Israelites that no one is to appear before him empty-handed when they come to the annual festivals to celebrate. If we really reflect on what it should look like to literally come before the one and only God; the God of all creation, who personifies holiness, power and love, don’t you think that we should take steps to honor him by at least humbling ourselves and lifting him up? If you do, the next time you pray, I challenge you not to appear before the Lord “empty-handed”.