What’s your love language? How do you prefer to receive love? What makes you feel loved? It’s an important question because so much of our life is about relationship – the relationships we have with family, friends, significant others, spouses, coworkers, church members – the list goes on and on. What about the relationship we have with God? How do we receive love from God? What about God’s love language? How do we give love to Him?
Love somehow seems far away from the animal sacrifices the Israelites are learning to offer. Blood and guts is no one’s love language. Yet in this chapter, God describes the third type of offering He’d like the Israelites to make to Him – the fellowship offering. For an offering with such a pleasant name, the details are somehow even grosser than the other offerings. After a goat or sheep or bird is killed, its blood is splashed on the altar and then its fat and internal organs are removed from the carcass and burned. Again the phrase “pleasing aroma” is used to describe the burning flesh. And again Moses, the Israelites, and all of us look closer at this offering in an attempt to understand what’s so pleasing about something so grisly.
The Treasures Within:
So many offerings, so few (apparent) reasons. What was this new fellowship offering for? Why was it necessary to add this one to the two perfectly good offerings God had already established? This chapter doesn’t give us much to answer that question. Verse 17 describes the fellowship offering as a “lasting ordinance”, a reminder that the Israelites are not to eat the fat or the blood that comes from a sacrifice. That’s cool, I guess, but why does a whole sheep or goat need to be sacrificed to get that point across?
Another answer might be found in the name of the offering itself: “fellowship”. The name reminds you of warm things, things that make you smile. When I hear the word “fellowship” I think of meals with friends, hugs, and long, deep conversations. Did God mean to add animal sacrifices to that list? Was making an offering a way for the Israelites to fellowship with their God? It’s unorthodox to us and strange and foreign, but perhaps it’s true. This solemn, painful event led the Israelites a step closer to God, no matter how far away from Him they’d been throughout the day. As the sacrifice went on, perhaps they thought of God. They thought of how He would one day be sacrificed. They thought of His laws for them and His mercy in loving them even when they broke those laws. Participating in the sacrifice was almost like looking God in the eyes. It was like saying “I see what You’ve done and what You will do. Thank you.”
God’s Message To Us:
“Spend time with me.” So much of the Israelites’ service to God required spending time at His feet. Making sacrifices, throwing festivals (later on), and building the tabernacle were all ways the Israelites spent time with God. What about you and me? How do we give love to God? Do we spend quality time with Him? Maybe we pray, sing, and praise Him, loving Him with words of affirmation. Or do we perform acts of service for Him by reaching out to our brothers and sisters in Christ? We could also give Him gifts – our money in offering or our items to someone in need. It doesn’t matter what we pick because bottom line is that God’s love language is us. He wants us near Him; talking to Him; doing with Him. It’s not an obligation, either; or a bore, or a chore. Just like any good relationship, as we get to know God, we want to show Him more love. And just like any good relationship, He shows us love right back.
What do you think? How do you show love to God? What did God want to say to you with this chapter?