The Berean Expositor
Volume 33 - Page 136 of 253
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when Israel made it clear by their worship of the golden calf that they would never attain
to righteousness by the keeping of the law of Sinai.
Earlier in Jer. 7: we have the ominous repetition "The temple of the Lord, The
temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord" (Jer. 7: 4), reiteration that savours more of
the idolatrous repetition of the worshippers of Diana at Ephesus than of worship of the
true God. In this connection it is noteworthy that the structure of Acts 19: 21 - 21: 39,
given in  Volume XXX, page 98,  places the "uproar" at the temple of Diana in
correspondence with the "tumult" at the temple of Jerusalem, reducing the temple at
Jerusalem to the level of that of Ephesus, and showing the force of the Lord's words
when He said "Your" house is left unto you desolate.
It was to those who used mere ceremonial as a screen for iniquity that the prophets so
spoke. It is in the light of such moral necessity that we must interpret the words of
Hosea: "I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt
offerings" (Hosea 6: 6).
On two occasions the Saviour used these words to correct a ceremonial and
mechanical use of the law of sacrifice:
"But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am
come not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Matt. 9: 13).
"But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye
would not have condemned the guiltless" (Matt. 12: 7).
It is only by the context that we can gather what this text "means". It is in contrast
with the narrow self-righteousness that would rather elevate and enlarge the law that
prohibited certain occasions of fellowship with Gentiles, than see a poor outcast gathered
into the fold of salvation. It was quoted in direct opposition to that narrow scrupulosity
that condemned the disciples for plucking ears of corn on the Sabbath and elevated the
unfeeling tradition of the Elders above the spirit of mercy resident in the law.
We, too, must learn what this twice-quoted passage from Hosea "meaneth". We must
not read it, "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice", as though sacrifice was repudiated.
The words kai ou, "and not", denote a "comparative negative", as for example, "Rend
your hearts, and not your garments", or as the parallelism of Prov. 8: 10 makes clear:
"Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold", for the
Lord did not say that the Pharisees should not tithe "mint and anise and cumin"; these He
said should not be left undone, but to omit the weightier matters of the law, such as
"judgment, mercy, and faith" was to empty the law of its true "meaning" (Matt. 23: 23).
With such correctives ministered by the Psalmist, the Prophets and the Saviour, we
can and should realize that the Mosaic sacrificial system was a divinely given, typical
foreshadowing of the one great Sacrifice offered by the Lord, which indeed was no mere
ceremonial, but involved the identification of the believer both with his Substitute's death
to sin, and in newness of life to God. The sacrifices of the law never touched the
conscience; they were but shadows, but on the other hand they gave no premium to sin,