Draw Close to God
He Is Considerate of Our Limitations
“I TRIED really hard, but I never felt that it was enough.” So said one woman about her efforts to please God. Does Jehovah God accept the best efforts of his worshippers? Does he take into account their abilities and circumstances? To answer these questions, it is helpful to consider what is said in the Mosaic Law about certain offerings, as found at Leviticus 5:2-11.
Under the Law, God required various sacrifices, or offerings, to atone for sins. In the cases mentioned in this passage, the individual had sinned unintentionally or thoughtlessly. (Verses 2-4) When the matter came to his attention, he was to confess his sin and present a guilt offering—“a female lamb or a female kid of the goats.” (Verses 5, 6) But what if he was poor and did not have a lamb or a goat to offer? Did the Law demand that he borrow such an animal, thus falling into debt? Did he have to work until he could afford one, thereby delaying atonement for his sins?
Reflecting Jehovah’s tender consideration, the Law said: “If, though, he cannot afford enough for a sheep, then he must bring as his guilt offering for the sin that he has committed two turtledoves or two young pigeons to Jehovah.” (Verse 7) The phrase “if . . . he cannot afford” may also be rendered “if . . . his hand cannot reach.” If an Israelite was too poor to afford a sheep, then God was pleased to accept something that was within the offerer’s reach—two turtledoves or two pigeons.
What if the individual did not have the means even for the two birds? “Then he must bring as his offering for the sin he has committed the tenth of an ephah [eight or nine cups] of fine flour for a sin offering,” the Law stated. (Verse 11) For the very poor, Jehovah chose to make an exception and allow a sin offering without blood.* In Israel, poverty denied no one the blessing of atonement or the privilege of making peace with God.
What do we learn about Jehovah from the law regarding guilt offerings? He is a compassionate, understanding God who takes into account the limitations of his worshippers. (Psalm 103:14) He wants us to draw close to him and cultivate a good relationship with him even if we have challenging circumstances, such as advancing age, poor health, family or other obligations. We can find comfort in knowing that Jehovah God is pleased when we do all that is within our reach.
The atoning value of a sacrificial animal was in its blood, which God viewed as sacred. (Leviticus 17:11) Does that mean that the flour offerings of the poor were worthless? No. Jehovah surely valued the humble, willing spirit behind such offerings. Furthermore, the sins of the entire nation—including the poor—were covered by the blood of the animals offered to God on the annual Day of Atonement.—Leviticus 16:29, 30.