It’s by way of being a national ritual that we don’t turn up at ‘events’ or special occasions empty-handed, but have you ever wondered where such rituals first began? In actuality, Yahweh Himself made the first recorded statement when He said, “No one is to appear before me empty-handed.” (Exodus 34:20 NIV) I’ve always understood this to refer to the worship patterns of the Tabernacle (and Temple), and the complex system of sacrifices and offerings that were required. However, I was more than a little interested to ‘discover’ this scripture recently, “Take words with you and return to [Yahweh]. Say to him: ‘Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips.’” (Hosea 14:2 NIV) In the first instance this speaks to those who are returning to Yahweh looking for repentance and forgiveness. However, it occurs after a prophetic, Messianic moment in Hosea 13:14 KJV, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O death, I will be thy plagues! O grave, I will be thy destruction!” As I realised this it unlocked the instruction for me.
We’re living in the era of the New Covenant, at a time when there is no longer any need of sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 10:26), but even so, we should not come before Yahweh empty-handed. What can we offer to the Almighty? Music and singing? Praise? Monetary offerings? Our lives? I believe all of that is acceptable, together with this golden nugget of understanding from the prophet, Hosea, “Take words…and say to Him…offer the fruit of our lips.” What a delight to ponder on, what variety to consider, what joy to indulge.