I really love food. I love food so much, I don’t even have a favorite food because I will just eat anything you put in front of me – as long as it’s vegan. I get giddy when I find a new restaurant to try and I am actually jealous of people who post pretty pictures of the food they’re eating – because it should be me digging into that buddha bowl with chickpeas and sweet potato, thank you very much. It’s even a running joke in my family that I won’t share my food with anyone (once I denied my father some veggie chicken nuggets and I will never live that down). But I’m in good company, I know! Shout out to my fellow food lovers!
And shout out to the Israelites, because in this chapter they receive instructions on making grain offerings, which is essentially burning food and sounds awful, at first glance. God even explains that the bread that is to be offered to Him on His altar should be made with the “finest flour” and brushed with olive oil (verse 4). That sounds like pretty good bread to me! Nevertheless, part of it was to be burnt on the altar to God and the rest was to go to the priests for them to eat (verses 3, 10). Sacrifice though it may be, this type of offering was only the second out of five. What was next?
The Treasures Within:
Propose To Me With Food
For bread lovers and bread shunners alike, this particular kind of sacrifice is a bit weird. There’s no direct explanation given for grain offerings, unlike burnt offerings in Leviticus 1. There we learned that the burnt offerings were offered as atonement for sin. But what were grain offerings offered for? Drama? Fun? Or, as so many things in the Bible are, as a symbol?
There are so many specific details involved in preparing the grain offering. There are cooking instructions, detailing how to cook the offering in the oven, over a grill, in a pan, or roasted over a fire (verses 4-5, 7, 14). There’s a guide on how exactly to plate and present the offering (verse 6). And then there’s a strict recipe to follow: the finest flour, plenty of olive oil, no yeast, and don’t forget the salt (verses 5-7, 11, 13). In the Bible, yeast is often a symbol of sin. Olive oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, anointing, and being blessed by God. Salt brings to mind Jesus’ later comments about His children being “the salt of the earth” – an image of Him and His glory to all. Combine these together and what do you get? Well, you and me.
The grain offerings the Israelites made are strikingly similar to the offerings we make every day – that of our heart, our lives, and our very selves to Jesus. A life, prepared with the finest ingredients, purged of yeasty sin, bursting with salty flavor and drizzled with a hearty anointing of olive oil – that’s what God wants from us. Giving that to Him is indeed a sacrifice. It’s a commitment, a promise, a vow to walk with Him forever and ever.
God’s Favorite Snack
We like to call each other snacks, but it’s funny how, in this context, it’s kind of true. The only difference is that this is on a completely different level from a hashtag. The Bible, never shying away from the details, explains the smell of burnt bread and grain, the memorial portion of the offering burning on the altar. The smell of burnt bread has never been a good smell, but here God calls it a pleasing aroma (verse 2). But it’s not the smell that God loves, it’s the sacrifice. It’s the commitment, it’s the setting aside of something precious for Him and only Him. That is pleasing to God. Imagine His smile when we sacrifice ourselves to Him now. It makes His heart soar. It means that He is the happiest Being in heaven because He has us.
God’s Message To Us:
“I want your all.” Maybe you don’t feel like a snack. Maybe you’re looking at your life, your past, and your mistakes and you’re thinking there’s no way you’re a loaf made of the finest flour and brushed with olive oil. Maybe you feel broken. Maybe you feel damaged. Maybe you feel cheap and worthless. We all feel that way. All it takes is one look at our track record of sin and the shame comes flooding in. But God isn’t looking for perfect loaves covered in olive oil. You and me, the cracked, dry, stale, and moldy loaves we are – we are still desired by God. He still calls to us. He still wants to save us. He’s the only One who can. There’s no way for us to become whole, unbroken loaves without Him. God accepts us as we are, but it’s once we give ourselves to Him, accepting His gift with our hearts, and sacrificing our lives to Him that He transforms us into His beautiful children, daily offerings to Him, a pleasing sight on this earth. Let the Savior, the Creator, the Baker do His job. It’s a decision you’ll never regret.
What do you think? What did you find interesting about the grain offerings? What message did God give you through this chapter?