I took my grandson round a museum of mining a couple of days ago. We saw a big boulder of ironstone. You could see the orangey iron in deposits running through it. A lot of heat and energy has to go into that stuff before it’s of any use. So much so that it’s not often used as a source of iron these days.
The service of consecration of Aaron and his sons involved a lot of sacrifice. First there was the bull which was mostly burned outside the camp, then there were the two rams. After laying their hands on the first ram, it was slaughtered and entirely burned on the altar – an offering to God, simply for his glory (Exodus 29:15-18). The second (Exodus 29:19–28) was shared between God and the priests. It was a sign of the covenant between God and man, that God wants to share his love and his work with those who will receive and respond. Each receiving priest had the blood applied to his right ear lobe – a sign that he was submitted to God, to listen to his word, his commands and his ways. Likewise the blood was applied to his right thumb and big toe – that his actions and directions would always be submitted to God, partnering with him in the work of bringing his love and his salvation to a needy world. The sacrifice of the ram symbolised the sacrifice of a life laid down in service of God. The meat was then shared between God and his workers, to meet their needs, and to be a blessing to them.
In Luke 18:29–30 Jesus promised that those who had sacrificed or laid down anything would be recompensed over and over again on this earth, in addition to eternal life. He always gives back far more than he ever takes.
That rock we saw, would go through the harshest breaking, melting and moulding to prepare it for usefulness. Sometimes we feel like life is coming at us like that. You might see it as a curse, and struggle and moan and suffer. Or you can see it as a calling: a difficulty that God will give you the strength to cope with, an obstacle to overcome, a place to find his grace.
Sacrifice is hard, hard, hard. But God is no man’s debtor and he knows how to reward.