If one begins to study ancient pagan deities, and what was required for proper worship, it seems a poignant attribute comes to the surface. Pagan gods needed a lot of service from humans, and much was required to appease them. In stark contrast, the Treaty of Sinai set up an agreement, of asking very little of its loyalists, by comparison. Every thing from sacrifices making one ready for priestly participation, to tributes, to honor requirements to their Sovereign were truly turned upside down.
For example, all regional deities had huge temples for themselves, some up to a mile long. God’s temple for many years occupied the size of five car lengths by three car lengths. (puny) It wasn’t made from exotic materials, but worshipers could dismantle the tent structure, and reassemble it at a new spot. Very Convenient. Fit for the God of the universe? God thought so. He’s what you would call the modest type. Regional gods demanded temple prostitutes, infant, toddler, and virgin sacrifices, and that humans degrade themselves in all kinds of ways to secure the god’s position as ruler. God forbade any such things, and protected his people from degrading themselves for him, or with each other. Their clothes were even fashioned with tassels to resemble a priestly class, no matter what their clan or economic status was. This was to honor them as treasures and royalty. Again, a role reversal. Regional gods demanded literally hundreds of sacrifices per day of expensive animals to stay in their good graces. God asked for one per year for the whole nation as a tribute. Most “animal sacrifices” required throughout the year consisted of burning a bit of animal fat, giving a slice of the meat to the priest to enjoy who’s been the butcher, and having the rest for a BBQ picnic with family and friends. Very enjoyable. The list goes on and on.
This really shows us something that should sink in deep, today. The character of God isn’t one that is demanding that we serve him. It may please him when when do, but that’s not at all the point. It seems we are here so he might serve, and honor us. How sweet and gracious! He seems to want us to enjoy life, (working and playing) enjoy “him,” and enjoy each other. We are not slaves to him, like property or indentured servants, and were never suppose to be. It is a relationship of respect and regard, mutually–when we understand it rightly.
He really offers us a life of emotional enjoyment and relaxation in knowing he loves us. Sometimes with this in mind, it makes the perception of a burden, the one we’ve strapped on ourselves, melt away, and we can begin to love and yield our whole lives and heart to God in a new way.