In my reading this morning, I came across this passage with one of the most misapplied verses in Scripture. I include a good deal of text below, because I want to show it in its context.
7 “Hear, O my people, and I will speak;
O Israel, I will testify against you.
I am God, your God.
8 Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;
your burnt offerings are continually before me.
9 I will not accept a bull from your house
or goats from your folds.
10 For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know all the birds of the hills,
and all that moves in the field is mine.
12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for the world and its fullness are mine.
13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of goats?
14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and perform your vows to the Most High,
15 and call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
Verse 10 is the misapplied verse: “For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.” Most often, you will hear this verse used by fund raisers and church planters who desire the comfort of knowing that God is rich beyond our wildest imaginings. We want to know that God can and will supply every need that we have. He already has the funds in his account. We have a rich Father, and thus we need not fear financial failure.
By the way, it is most certainly true that God has all the resources we need. He could not possibly lack the ability to provide for us. But, that is not what God is saying in verse 10.
In verse 10, God is talking to the people of Israel who were proud of the sacrifices they were making. God wanted them to know, in no uncertain terms, that he did not need their sacrifices. While sacrificing to God is right, it does not benefit God in any way.
Consider that, in ancient times, people who sacrificed to idols often believed that their sacrifices were food for their gods. The people were feeding their deities. God wants it to be known that he does not need Israel to feed him. He does not eat their meat. Nor would he need them to provide for him if he did. He owns the world and everything in it. No person bringing him a sacrifice is in any way enriching him.
Friends, we should give to God in worship. We should sing his praises, read and obey his word, and give financially to the ministry. These things are right, and they greatly honor God. But do not think for a moment that they enrich God. The Lord is over all. He already owns everything. We do not give because he needs it. We give because we desire to display that God is our God, worthy of our praise and our lives.