Our Grain Offering - God Expects Our Best
“‘When anyone brings a grain offering to the Lord, their offering is to be of the finest flour. They are to pour olive oil on it, put incense on it and take it to Aaron's sons the priests. The priest shall take a handful of the flour and oil, together with all the incense, and burn this as a memorial portion on the altar, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord. The rest of the grain offering belongs to Aaron and his sons; it is a most holy part of the food offerings presented to the Lord.’” (Leviticus 2:1-3 NIV)
“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Mark 14:6-9 NIV)
There are some similarities between Mark 14:6-9 and Leviticus 2:1-3. The way the woman anointed Jesus with perfume in some way mirrored the grain offering. The “memorial portion” was not for the atonement of sin, but an expression of thanksgiving to God. Jesus said that what the woman has done will be told in memory and praise of her.
Jesus recognised the 'grain offering'. This second offering, after burnt offering, is also a freewill offering. What are the things we do for the love of Jesus? Jesus will remember them. Loving one another, and following the example of Christ, are memorial portions of our offering to God. How can we do more to express our thanksgiving and love for God?
“‘If you bring a grain offering baked in an oven, it is to consist of the finest flour: either thick loaves made without yeast and with olive oil mixed in or thin loaves made without yeast and brushed with olive oil.’” (Leviticus 2:4 NIV)
The grain offering “is to consist of the finest flour”. We would be wrong to assume that grain offering was much simpler than burnt offering. During those days, they couldn’t buy fine flour like we do from the supermarket but had to grind the flour themselves. Grains were first threshed on the threshing floor and then winnowed in the wind to separate them from the chaff. The flour would be coarse at the first grind and it took hours of grinding before they became fine. God expected the finest flour for the grain offering.
Even though the grain offering was freewill, God still expected the best. God desires us to come to Him at our freewill. Jesus didn’t beg for attendance, in fact, he walked away from people who were not seeking God wholeheartedly. Jesus demonstrated the full nature of God in human form; he doesn’t have to persuade us to come to worship him. Jesus alone is sufficient to convince me that he is God and I need to come before him and worship him.
Like the expectation of the finest flour for the grain offering, Jesus expects the finest from us as well. As God’s stewards, looking after His people, we need to be mindful that people are giving their best, and not superficially. That is what discipling should be – expecting the best from each other when giving ‘our offerings’ to God, in our walk with God and in the way we love, just as Christ loved us.
Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV)
The offerings were to be “made without yeast”, which is also used as an imagery for sin in the Bible. God expects us to be pure and untainted with sin when we give our ‘offerings’ to Him. Daily confession of our sins to God is an act of worship to God. Also, as disciples of Christ, coming together to confess our sins to each other, with love for each other, is a pleasant aroma to God.
“‘Every grain offering you bring to the Lord must be made without yeast, for you are not to burn any yeast or honey in a food offering presented to the Lord. You may bring them to the Lord as an offering of the firstfruits, but they are not to be offered on the altar as a pleasing aroma. Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings.’” (Leviticus 2:11-13 NIV)
The offerings are not to be burned with honey as well. The aroma that God desires is not the sweetness of the bread but the sweetness that comes from our hearts. We don’t sugarcoat our relationship with God, as what He desires is a pure heart that seeks Him. In our giving to one another in church, we don’t give ‘honey’ like money or gifts; the pure desire to love one another is the sweetest enjoyment we can experience. God desires us to be pure at heart when we love one another.
“Season all your offerings with salt.” Salt is a preservative and a taste enhancer. As Christians, we are nothing if we lose our saltiness, as we are supposed to improve the world and show them who our God is and what God can do. We preserve the honesty and integrity of people around us.
“‘If you bring a grain offering of firstfruits to the Lord, offer crushed heads of new grain roasted in the fire. Put oil and incense on it; it is a grain offering. The priest shall burn the memorial portion of the crushed grain and the oil, together with all the incense, as a food offering presented to the Lord. (Leviticus 2:14-16 NIV)
The offerings of firstfruits are offered with crushed heads of new grains. Who has been crushed? I think of Jesus. He was crushed because of our sins. We are to have crushed and humble hearts too.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. (Psalm 51:17 NIV)
Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord. “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word. (Isaiah 66:2 NIV)
God desires a contrite and broken heart. No matter how we strive to be suave on the outside, we are sinners and there is nothing to show off, what matters is what’s deep in our hearts.
The olive oil is used as an imagery of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised (Luke 4:18)
The burnt offering was an inward submission by the person offering the sacrifice, as he had to totally give up the flawless young male animal. The grain offering was an outward submission.
We become the light of the world by loving one another genuinely, without sugarcoating. We should be crushed in humility towards one another, preserving one another with the salt of holiness and righteousness. We stay away from the yeast of sin, and lead one another to the Holy Spirit.
Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit.