Why does God say in Jeremiah 7:22 that He did not command the Israelites to offer sacrifices? He most certainty did.
Jeremiah 7:22 is found in a very serious passage of scripture because it is a warning to the Israelites. The Israelites were indifferent to God and it was obvious in their life and conduct. They believed that they could not disappoint God because they were His chosen people. They trusted in their religious trappings and in their temple.
The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, “Stand in the gate of the LORD’S house and proclaim there this word, and say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, all you of Judah, who enter by these gates to worship the LORD!'” Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.” (NASB) Jeremiah 7:1-4
They were living for themselves and not for God. God was not very important to them. It is unbelievable that they would worship at the temple in Jerusalem and then worship the “queen of heaven” and other gods.
The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out libations to other gods in order to spite Me. (NASB) Jeremiah 7:18
The Queen of Heaven or the Mistress of Heaven was her title in Mesopotamia. She may have also been the Assyro-Babylonian goddess called Ishtar (Jer 44:17-19).
When we come to Jeremiah 7:22, God is now attempting to help them understand that He wants their commitment to Him. He wants their love for Him more than He wants sacrifices and temples.
For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, saying, “Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.” (NASB) Jeremiah 7:22-23
God reminds them that shortly after their departure from Egypt, He had made a conditional promise to their fathers that if they would obey Him and keep His covenant, then they would be His special people. They agreed, but later they did not obey (Jer. 11:7-8).
Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” . . . So Moses came and called the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which the LORD had commanded him. And all the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do!” (NASB) Exodus 18:5-8
God wanted their love and emotion. He wanted their heart. They did not receive God’s instructions about the sacrifices until Moses returned from Mount Sinai in Exodus 24:1-12. God message to them was simply that He did ask for sacrifices first. He asked for their love and commitment first.
The same is true today. God wants your love and commitment more than anything else. It is easy for us to love our religious activities and our comfortable life more than Him. The Israelites worshipped God and other things too! The apostle Paul had a serious love for God and his commitment for God was serious. His commitment is obvious when he encouraged Timothy with these words,
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner; but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, (NASB) 2 Timothy 1:8