The Prevention of Religious Fraud
Deuteronomy 17:1
You shall not sacrifice to the LORD your God any bullock, or sheep, wherein is blemish, or any bad reputation…

Men who pride themselves on honesty towards their fellows are often dishonest in dealing with God. They are punctual in observing appointments with men; they are unpunctual in reaching the house of God. When the principle of piety in a man is weakened, he will stoop to many artifices to deprive God of his due.

I. AN IMPERFECT SACRIFICE SPRINGS FROM BLIND PARSIMONY. When piety declines, a man becomes the slave of his senses. He is moved or terrified only by what is visible. He is afraid of a human frown; he is impervious to the Divine displeasure. The lamb which is unfit for barter, and which is scarce fit for food, will be deemed good enough for sacrifice. Yet how mentally blind is the man! What thick scales he has manufactured for his eyes! Yet, "he that formed the eye, shall he not see?" And cannot God, with a breath, blast that man's prosperity, and cage his soul in bondage? He had thought to snatch from God a dollar, and lo! he loses everything!

II. AN IMPERFECT SACRIFICE VITIATES ITS SYMBOLIC EFFICACY. These animal sacrifices had many moral uses. They developed the sentiment of gratitude for gifts bestowed. They expressed the penitence of the offerer, who thereby confessed that for his sins he had deserved to die. And inasmuch as a lamb or a heifer was immeasurably inferior to man, the sacrifice betokened the offering of a better Sacrifice, which should be a real atonement. Now, if men were permitted to bring a blemished victim, it would no longer prefigure him who is the "Lamb without blemish and without spot." In such a case, the faith of the offerer was dead.

III. Such RELIGIOUS FRAUD WAS INCIPIENT ATHEISM. Here was the budding of blackest sin - the first step on a slippery decline, which would land one in death. If I can set aside God's plain commands, as my selfishness desires; if I can treat God as my equal or my inferior, and devote to him only what is useless for myself; - I am on the very borders of utter atheism, and to-minnow shall be ready to say, "There is no God." Rankest unbelief often springs from practical disobedience. There is no neglect of God without self-injury. - D.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Thou shalt not sacrifice unto the LORD thy God any bullock, or sheep, wherein is blemish, or any evilfavouredness: for that is an abomination unto the LORD thy God.

WEB: You shall not sacrifice to Yahweh your God an ox, or a sheep, in which is a blemish, [or] anything evil; for that is an abomination to Yahweh your God.

The Blemished
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