“Then Hezekiah answered and said, ‘Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto the Lord, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the Lord.’ And the congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and as many as were of a free heart burnt offerings.” – 2 Chronicles 29:31 (KJV)
All offerings are not the same. In Old Testament times, each type of offering had a different cost and purpose. Some offerings were quite inexpensive, while others could cost as much as an entire year’s wages. Some were made to atone for specific sins whereas others were offered as acts of gratitude to God. Some offerings allowed for the priests and even the family of the giver to partake in the offering as food after the ceremony was over. This was not so with a burnt offering, however. A burnt offering consisted of an entire animal being sacrificed and consumed in fire before the Lord as an extravagant act of worship. It was expensive and nothing was left over to be consumed by any individual. God took it all for himself.
2 Chronicles 29 recounts the reign of King Hezekiah and his decision to rededicate the Temple to the Lord. It was an impressive feat in that the priests were able to cleanse the Temple in just sixteen days. The king then called the people together to rededicate and consecrate themselves to the Lord. Afterwards, he commanded them to come near to God and to bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the Temple. The scripture says the people brought these things to the Temple. But I love the end of this verse where it says, “and as many as were of a free heart” brought burnt offerings.
The free heart is extravagant. The free heart doesn’t worry about what it will receive in return when it gives. The free heart gives wholly and completely. The Hebrew word translated as “free” in this scripture is nadiyb and it can be translated to mean voluntary, magnanimous, liberal and willing-hearted. Those whose hearts are willing have the ability to give to God in this way – extravagantly, without desire of something in return.
In New Testament times, we have come to understand that the fullest offering we can make to the Lord – this age’s “burnt offering” – is a willing heart. What used to be the impetus for the bringing of a burnt offering has now become “enough” in and of itself, all because of the blood of Jesus. Because of his sacrifice, we no longer have to kill an animal and burn it before the Lord in an act of worship. We can offer ourselves – the whole of ourselves – each day as a living sacrifice to God. But this requires a free heart. One willing to leave itself wholly on the altar to be consumed by God. One that doesn’t get to keep anything for itself.