Meditations in the Law : No.29 : What is a Grain Offering?
Lev 2:1-3 When someone brings a grain offering to the LORD, his offering is to be of fine flour. He is to pour oil on it, put incense on it and take it to Aaron’s sons the priests. The priest shall take a handful of the fine flour and oil, together with all the incense, and burn this as a memorial portion on the altar, an offering made by fire, 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 offerings made to the LORD by fire.
We can see elsewhere that this particular offering was to be offered alongside the burnt offering (see Num 28:3-6), the Sin Offering (Num 6:14,16) and the Fellowship Offering (Lev 9:4, Num 6:17). As with the Burnt Offering, it appears to have been presented to God purely as a heart expression of love to God, desiring to bless Him, hence the expression used, “an aroma pleasing to the Lord” (2:2c).
Whereas the Burnt Offering considered so far has been all about the giving up of a life to God, because of the nature of flour and the cakes produced from it, it is suggested that this offering represents the giving of human work or endeavour over to God. Flour and cakes are both formed as a result of human effort. Thus where it is just flour being offered, it is to be ‘fine’ flour (2:1), flour that has been severely worked. In the same way that each of the burnt offerings had a condition or requirement attached to them that required obedience, so this is the requirement of this particular offering.
Whereas the Burnt Offering was a life given over completely to God and totally burnt, the Grain Offering has only a token handful burnt (2:2) and the rest given to the priest (2:3). The suggestion here is that whereas the Christian life has to be totally surrendered to God, when it comes to work, that has to be surrendered to God but at the same time used to bless others. The flour is to have oil poured over it, a picture of the Holy Spirit covering or anointing our work. It was also to have incense or frankincense added which, many suggest, speaks of God’s holiness, something that brings a beautiful perfume when the offering is burnt
Perhaps for personal reflection we might consider, do we submit our work as well as our general lives to the Lord? Is our work anointed by the Holy Spirit? Is there a holy aspect about our work that is revealed under pressure (or fire), where we are seen to be different, of God?
The grain offerings covered in chapter 2 are from the same basic materials but the variation comes in the way they are cooked. This may be by an oven (2:4), on a griddle (2:5) or in a pan (2:7). The ingredients already mentioned are simply mixed together and cooked using the different utensils and then the cooked product is offered. Why? Presumably this would most likely be a task performed by the women of the household allowing them to feel they can contribute something specifically to the offering system. Remember it is a freewill offering to show devotion to God.
In addition to the instructions of verses 1-3 there is also a further prohibition added. Yeast and honey are not to be added (2:11). Whereas incense gives off flavour in fire, honey and yeast simply melt and are ruined. Yeast was omitted from bread at the Passover and its absence now is a constant reminder of that time of totally relying upon God in the haste of the Exodus. Yeast is a life ingredient that puffs up the bread. Jesus warned, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees,” (Mt16:6) suggesting beware of the pride that puffs up. The apostle Paul, continuing to use the same analogy said, “let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Cor 5:8). Yeast, in other words, typifies pride or sin generally. When you surrender your work to God there shall be not an element of pride in even doing that. Similarly honey is that which adds a sweet taste to disguise what is bitter. Avoid anything which disguises the truth. Yet salt was to be added (2:13) as seasoning. Seasoning brings out the flavour, reveals what is really there. These are important ingredients.
In surrendering my work to the Lord, can I do it with humility and without any sense of pride or pretence? Am I aware that my gifts and abilities come from Him to start with, so I have no grounds for pride? Do I let Him purify my word, revealing His work? (see Mt 5:16)