The Grain Offering

Leviticus 2:1-16, 6:14-23

    DIG: What was significant about the grain offering? How was it like and unlike the burnt offering? As a bloodless offering, was it ever sufficient in itself (Numbers 6:14-13)? Why do you think these regulations were mandatory? What did they imply? Why grill it? Why without yeast or honey? Why the specific amounts? Why so fine? Why salt? How are these laws part of the reconciliation between the LORD and His people?

    REFLECT: How would you describe your offering to God? How is it like or unlike the grain offering described here? How does your offering help the reconciliation process? How do you feel about the offering plate at your church? About the sermons on stewardship? In what ways are they related to the grain offering? What can you do to ensure a proper attitude toward giving to your messianic synagogue or church?

    The grain offering was comprised of grain, fine flour, olive oil, incense, baked bread (cakes of wafers), and salt, but no yeast or honey. It accompanied the burnt offering (Numbers 28:7-15, Joshua 22:23 and 29; Judges 13:19 and 23; First Kings 8:64; Second Kings 16:13), and the fellowship offering (along with the drink offering). It was a voluntary act of worship and devotion, in recognition of God’s goodness and His provisions. It was unique in that it was the only offering of the five that was presented without the shedding of blood.

    The priests had communion with God, feeding upon the same food as that which satisfied the Father’s heart. Likewise, as believer priests we feed upon the Bread of Life, Jesus Himself. He is manna to our souls and He satisfies His Father’s heart. Therefore, we fellowship with our heavenly Father through the merits of His beloved Son and our Savior (John 6:22-66). ADONAI spoke to Moses saying: I have given the grain offering to the priests as their share of the offerings made to me by fire (Leviticus 6:17). And to us He has given His one and only Son (John 3:16), to be food for our souls. The priests ate their portion of the grain offering in the courtyard. We enter by faith into the greater and more perfect Tabernacle that is not man-made; there, our great Meal Offering satisfies our hungry hearts (Hebrews 9:11-12). Jesus Himself said: I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry (John 6:35a).547

    The Hebrew word for the grain offering is minchah, which is often combined with the word corban, to be corban minchah, meaning to give a gift. The same concept is used in Genesis 32:13 and 18 where we see Jacob presenting a gift to his brother Esau. Jacob instructed his lead servant to say: When my brother Esau meets you and asks, “To whom do you belong, and where are you going, and who owns all these animals in front of you?” Then you are to say: They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift sent to my lord Esau. Jacob gave a gift to gain the favor of his superior. That is what the grain offering came to be, a tribute of a faithful worshiper to his or her God.

    When the worshiper brought his grain offering of wheat or barley to God, it was to be of fine flour, literally the finest and purest wheat flour. He took a handful of fine flour (a token that the whole grain offering was given to God), poured oil on it, put incense on it and then molded it into a doughy cake before he took it to the priest. This cake was not cooked when the worshiper brought it to the priest, who would then burn it as a token of the whole grain offering on the altar, an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to ADONAI (Leviticus 2:1-2, 6:14-15).

    In contrast with the burnt offering that was totally consumed on the altar, the rest of the grain offering belonged to Aaron and his sons. It was to be eaten without yeast in a holy place. They are to eat it in the courtyard of the Tabernacle. It must not be baked with yeast, and the fact that this is repeated shows how important it was in the mind of God. I have given it to the priests as their share of the offerings made to me by fire. Any male descendant of Aaron could eat it. It was his regular share of the offerings made to ADONAI by fire for the generations to come, as long as the Torah was in effect. And as a warning to laymen, God warned them not to touch any of the grain offering, or they would become holy themselves. As a result, they would have to undergo an extensive purification ceremony, something similar to the Nazirite vow. It was a most holy part of the offerings made to God by fire, and therefore, had to be eaten in the courtyard of the Tabernacle (Leviticus 2:3; 6:16-18).

    There was also a special grain offering for the ordination of the priest. This was the offering Aaron and his sons were to bring to God on the day they were anointed: a tenth of an ephah, or two dry quarts, of fine flour as a regular grain offering, half of it in the morning, in conjunction with the morning sacrifice, and half in the evening, in conjunction with the evening sacrifice. The offering of the priest was to be mixed with oil prior to baking on a griddle; he brought it well mixed and presented the grain offering broken in pieces as an aroma pleasing to ADONAI. The heir of the high priest was commanded to continue this practice. Since a priest was not to eat his own offering, it was to be burned completely on the altar (Leviticus 6:19-23).

    If they brought a grain offering baked in an oven, it was to consist of fine flour, cakes or wafers, made without yeast and spread with oil after baking. If the grain offering was baked on a griddle, it was to be made of fine flour mixed with oil before baking, and without yeast. The worshiper crumbled it and poured oil on it after it was baked. If, however, their grain offering was cooked in a pan, it was to be made of fine flour and oil mixed together before frying. Then they brought the grain offering made of these things to God. The worshiper would then present the grain offering to the priest, who took it to the bronze altar regardless if it was baked or fried. He then tore off a handful from the grain offering as a token of the whole and burned it on the bronze altar. The variety in the ways of cooking was apparently designed to encourage worshipers to bring their offerings whatever their economic or social circumstances.548 The rest of the grain offering belonged to Aaron and his sons to eat. It was a most holy part of the offerings made to God by fire, and as such, needed to be eaten within the Tabernacle courtyard (Leviticus 2:4-10).

    There were several other instructions and restrictions regarding the grain offering. Every grain offering brought to God had to be made without yeast, for they were not to burn any yeast or honey in an offering made to ADONAI by fire. Yeast is a symbol of sin in the Bible. They could bring the grain offering to God as an offering of the firstfruits (Leviticus 23:9-14), but it could not be offered as a grain offering on the altar as a pleasing aroma. Stated positively, all their grain offerings were to be seasoned with salt. Stated negatively, they were not to leave the Covenant of salt out of their grain offerings. Salt was a symbol of God’s Covenant with Moses (Numbers 18:19) and God’s Covenant with David (Second Chronicles 13:5). Therefore, God said: Add salt to all five of your offerings (Leviticus 2:11-13; Mark 9:49-50). Salt does two things, it seasons and it preserves, in contrast with yeast and honey that spoils and decays.

    When the worshiper brought a grain offering of firstfruits to God (not that spoken of in Leviticus 2:12), he offered crushed heads of new grain roasted in the fire. After it was roasted, oil and incense were put on it because it was a grain offering, unlike those mentioned above. Then the priest burned a handful of it, together with all the incense, as an offering made to ADONAI by fire (Leviticus 2:14-16).

    Therefore, as the grain offering was a tribute of a faithful worshiper to his God, today we can pay tribute to our God by acknowledging: For it is by grace that we have been saved, through faith – and this is not from ourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so we can not boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

 

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