Grain and Peace Offerings
Let's briefly look at our outline for the purpose of review:
Outline: Leviticus: Training in Holiness
- Attaining Holiness – (Leviticus 1-16)
- Through Offerings (1-7)
- Through a Consecrated Priesthood (8-10)
- By Distinguishing Between the Clean and the Unclean (11-15)
- By Observing the Day of Atonement (16)
- Practicing Holiness – (Leviticus 17-27)
- Individual Responsibility to Keep God's Moral and Ritual laws (17-20)
- Priestly Responsibilities (21-22)
- The Nation's Responsibility to Promote Holiness (23-25)
- Reasons for Practicing Holiness: Blessings and curses (26)
- Evidence of Holiness: Vows and Valuations (27)
We noted that there were 5 types of offerings:
- Burnt offerings – 1:1-17 (previous lesson)
- Grain offerings – 2:1-16
- Peace offerings 3:1-17
- Sin offerings
- Guilt offerings
I showed you that both the one making the offering and the priest presenting the offering to God had a role to play and tasks to perform in order to make what was being offered acceptable (Holy) before God. The book of Leviticus is the manual or book of instructions for the acceptable way of presenting offerings, keeping special days and maintaining one's personal state of holiness. Why was this important?
In choosing the Israelites to be His people God made this condition – they were to be holy because He, their God, was holy (Leviticus 11:44a). The book of Leviticus contained the information and instructions to both attain and maintain this holiness – something no other nation could aspire to even if they desired it.
I. The Grain Offering – 2:1-16
The second kind of offering was the grain offering of wheat and barley. The Hebrew term for this offering literally meant gift and was often used as a general term for offerings, however it eventually came to be used as a term for cereal or meal offerings. The term suggested an offering of thanksgiving.
The grain offering was like the burnt offering in that it was brought to the priest (however, prepared by the offeror) and a portion was burned on the altar by the priest and was pleasing to God (a soothing aroma). However, it was different than a burnt offering in two ways:
- It did not result in the atonement of the offeror's sins (Why? No blood/life offered).
- Only a small amount of grain was burned on the altar, what remained was given to the priest for the burnt sacrifice of an animal, the entire animal (except hide) was burned to ashes – nothing was left for the priest.
The chapter on grain offerings has three sections:
- Rules about offering uncooked grain.
- Instructions about offering grain that had been cooked.
- Instructions about how the first fruits of the grain must be offered.
A. Offering Uncooked Grain – Leviticus 2:1-3
1'Now when anyone presents a grain offering as an offering to the Lord, his offering shall be of fine flour, and he shall pour oil on it and put frankincense on it. 2He shall then bring it to Aaron's sons the priests; and shall take from it his handful of its fine flour and of its oil with all of its frankincense. And the priest shall offer it up in smoke as its memorial portion on the altar, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the Lord. 3The remainder of the grain offering belongs to Aaron and his sons: a thing most holy, of the offerings to the Lord by fire.
- Leviticus 2:1-3
Details concerning instructions:
- Grain offering was a voluntary gift to the Lord – vs. 1
- It served as a less expensive burnt offering for the poor or those who farmed and owned no sheep or cattle.
- The grain offering was enhanced by adding to the fine flour some olive oil and perfume (Frankincense) which were expensive, making the grain offering something that cost the offeror something (It wasn't without cost to give, just like the burnt offering of an animal).
- As always, the priest placed the portion to be burned on the altar and this portion was referred to as the "memorial portion."
- Some scholars think that since this was a "thanksgiving" offering the memorial portion referred to the original liberation of the Jews from Egyptian slavery by God's hand.
- Since the grain offering was holy, the part left was given to the priests who were holy and were required to eat it at a holy place – the Tabernacle.
- The portion of the grain sacrifice eventually became an important source of support for the priests and their families that qualified if they were ceremonially clean.
B. Offering Cooked Grain – Leviticus 2:4-10
There were also instructions for those who offered grain that had been cooked in some way.
- Baked in an oven.
- Prepared on a griddle (fried).
- Cooked in a pan.
Offering the grain uncooked or cooked in various ways was left up to the one offering the grain sacrifice. Whether cooked or uncooked, these offering had 4 things in common:
- All were to be made into/with fine flour.
- All to include oil in the mixture.
- A memorial portion was to be burned as a pleasing aroma (acceptable) to the Lord.
- Remainder given to the priest as a thing most holy.
C. Special Rules – Grain Offerings – Leviticus 2:11-16
11'No grain offering, which you bring to the Lord, shall be made with leaven, for you shall not offer up in smoke any leaven or any honey as an offering by fire to the Lord. 12As an offering of first fruits you shall bring them to the Lord, but they shall not ascend for a soothing aroma on the altar. 13Every grain offering of yours, moreover, you shall season with salt, so that the salt of the covenant of your God shall not be lacking from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt. 14'Also if you bring a grain offering of early ripened things to the Lord, you shall bring fresh heads of grain roasted in the fire, grits of new growth, for the grain offering of your early ripened things. 15You shall then put oil on it and lay incense on it; it is a grain offering. 16The priest shall offer up in smoke its memorial portion, part of its grits and its oil with all its incense as an offering by fire to the Lord.
- Leviticus 2:11-16
Even though the offeror had many options when bringing a grain offering, there were some limits.
- Grain offerings cooked in advance could not contain honey or leaven.
- One reason for this was because pagan sacrifices often used these elements in their worship.
Newly ripened grain (first fruits) were not burned on the altar, but given to the priests. Only a token portion was burned after oil and incense were added. Every cooked grain offering had to contain salt which symbolized the preservation of the covenant between God and His people. This was done because salt was used as a preservative for food in ancient cultures.
D. Significance of the Grain Offering
It was a "gift" offering used primarily to show gratitude for God's favors and to remain in a favorable relationship with Him. In Numbers 15:4-10 you have instructions as to how much grain was to be offered along with animal sacrifices since grain offerings were rarely presented by themselves. It was usually accompanied by a drink offering when animals were offered (Numbers 15:4-10).
Therefore, an animal was offered as atonement accompanied by a grain offering which served to give thanks and show appreciation. Wine or water were also poured out before the altar (not on it) to signify honor and gratitude. Thus, a single sacrifice with various elements conveyed several meanings and thoughts – acknowledgement of sin, repentance, thanksgiving, faith and praise, solidarity, and permanence (salt).
The sacrificial system was a kind of spiritual language where the offeror learned to communicate with God on God's terms using language given to sinful man by God, mediated by the priests. It was where the person coming before God was sure that what he wanted to say was heard and, more importantly, accepted by God.
Sacrifices were physical actions symbolizing unseen things which were accepted by faith. The acceptance of forgiveness for sins passed on to an animal which was then burned by fire, required faith if one was to experience relief and peace once the sacrifice was offered.
It wasn't any old animal sacrificed in any way. Not just some grain hauled in a sack. Whether it was an animal or farm produce it had to be the "best" of what you had and it needed to be prepared for sacrifice in a very precise manner. Whether you were offering a bull or a lamb, a pigeon or grain from your fields – it cost you time, effort, and a financial sacrifice to be able to come before God and make an acceptable offering.
Compare Cain and Abel's sacrifice in Genesis 4:3-4 and you will see why Abel's was accepted and Cain's was rejected – it wasn't because God liked animal sacrifices better than farm produce, after all Cain was a farmer and Abel was a shepherd – they offered what they had.
Look at the real differences:
- So, it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground (Genesis 4:3)
- Cain brought "some" of his produce. Not the first, best, ripest, but some, a sample, a portion – nothing special.
- Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. The Lord, however, had regard for Abel and for his offering (Genesis 4:4).
- Abel brought the "firstlings," the fat portions of his flock.
- In other words, he offered the firstborn of the flock, but also burned the best parts of the animal (as far as eating and taste are concerned).
- He would have killed the animal and put the head, legs, entrails, liver, and stomach on the fire and kept the edible parts for himself, but he put the best part of the animal on the altar for God's portion.
God didn't simply consider the value of what was on the altar, but the sacrifice required to make that particular offering. The acceptable offering pleasing to God was the one that left you poorer or less wealthy because of what you had given.
The sacrificial system required the same things from each one who offered something, regardless of the type of sacrifice made – Faith, personal sacrifice and…
Piety is an attitude of respect and reverence, not only for God, but also for the things of God – and in this case it was the instructions for the offeror in preparing and offering a sacrifice. A pious person respected the Divine instructions because they were given by God and as such were holy and rendered holy (set apart) those who carefully obeyed and followed His commands. This was not legalism (obedience to rules to make oneself acceptable to God).
Pious men carefully followed God's instructions for offering sacrifices so that God would be pleased with the offering – they wanted to thank and please God, not justify themselves.
Today's worship is no different in what it requires of the worshipper, even if the manner of worship is different and the meaning has changed. Worship still requires:
- Faith – "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6)
- Sacrifice – "For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord." (II Corinthians 8:3).
- Piety – "Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension." (I Timothy 2:8).
Piety today is seen in the church's careful adherence to the instructions given to us in the New Testament about worship as far as who does what, the things we do to worship God according to His instructions, and the proper demonstration of faith, sacrifice and piety in order to offer what pleases Him.
II. Peace Offerings – Leviticus 3:1-17; 7:12; 16
Peace offerings (from the Hebrew root word SHALOM = health, prosperity, peace with God, salvation, wholeness) were offerings meant to strengthen this wholeness. The instructions for the peace offering were similar to those for the burnt offering except for the following:
- The animal sacrificed could be a male or female unlike the burnt offering, which required a male animal.
- Only certain parts of the animal were sacrificed leaving the rest to be eaten mainly by the one offering the animal or shared with family and friends – this is why it was sometimes referred to by different terms:
- - Sacrifice of well-being (NRSV)
- - Fellowship offering (NIV)
- - Shared offering (REB)
- - Communion sacrifice (NJB)
The burnt offering required the entire animal reduced to ashes – nothing left to eat.
- These kinds of animals could be used – cattle, lambs, goats – male or female without blemish. The primary goal was to share a meal, so the offering of birds or grain would not be sufficient.
- Certain parts of each animal were always to be placed on the altar to be burned.
1'Now if his offering is a sacrifice of peace offerings, if he is going to offer out of the herd, whether male or female, he shall offer it without defect before the Lord. 2He shall lay his hand on the head of his offering and slay it at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and Aaron's sons the priests shall sprinkle the blood around on the altar. 3From the sacrifice of the peace offerings he shall present an offering by fire to the Lord, the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, 4and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them, which is on the loins, and the lobe of the liver, which he shall remove with the kidneys. 5Then Aaron's sons shall offer it up in smoke on the altar on the burnt offering, which is on the wood that is on the fire; it is an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the Lord.
- Leviticus 3:1-5
In the description of the sacrifice of the lamb and the goat, the same parts are always mentioned:
- Fat covering the entrails, etc.
- Two kidneys with fat on them.
- Lobe of the liver, etc.
Some believe it was God's way of helping Jews eat healthy by avoiding fat. Another idea is that since fat was considered a delicacy, offering the fatty portion was giving God the tithe of the animal (the best part off the top) in sacrifice, and the rest in most offerings (except burnt offerings) were shared by the priest and the worshipper. In other words, God was offered the first and best portion, the priest and worshipper shared what was left.
In verse 17 God confirms that the Israelites were not to eat the blood of the sacrifice (life is in the blood which belongs to God) or the fat of the sacrifice (because it is His portion of the sacrifice).
- Peace offerings were free will offerings not required by God (unlike burnt offerings required each morning and evening). These were offered by one with a generous heart who was at peace with God, others, and himself. This individual wanted to maintain and strengthen his feelings of contentment.
- Chapter 7:12;16 describes three types of peace offerings:
- Thanksgiving – offered in thanks for blessings. Many times a peace offering was made when a family would gather and eat a fellowship meal near the sanctuary.
- Votive offering – this meant that when one had fulfilled a vow made to God, a peace offering was made to celebrate the completion of the commitment in a successful manner.
- Freewill offering – Was made to give thanks and celebrate the fellowship enjoyed with others in the Lord.
- Peace offerings were used to celebrate public occasions.
I Kings 8:63 recounts how Solomon offered 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep in peace offerings at the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem.
62Now the king and all Israel with him offered sacrifice before the Lord. 63Solomon offered for the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered to the Lord, 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. So the king and all the sons of Israel dedicated the house of the Lord. 64On the same day the king consecrated the middle of the court that was before the house of the Lord, because there he offered the burnt offering and the grain offering and the fat of the peace offerings; for the bronze altar that was before the Lord was too small to hold the burnt offering and the grain offering and the fat of the peace offerings.
65So Solomon observed the feast at that time, and all Israel with him, a great assembly from the entrance of Hamath to the brook of Egypt, before the Lord our God, for seven days and seven more days, even fourteen days. 66On the eighth day he sent the people away and they blessed the king. Then they went to their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the Lord had shown to David His servant and to Israel His people.
- 1 Kings 8:62-66
This was the highest point in Israel's history as a people united with their God, their human leader, Solomon, and each other as a nation.
III. Peace Offerings Today
We no longer use animal sacrifice in our pursuit of peace in the Christian age, but we still want/need:
1. Peace with God
We cannot be at peace or ease inwardly unless we know that we are at peace with Him, and that He is not simply waiting to judge and punish us. God knows this and has secured, on our behalf, a peace for us with Him that settles our minds and hearts with a true and lasting peace. "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord, Jesus Christ." Romans 5:1
In other words, our salvation through Christ not only brings us peace with God concerning our salvation, but also maintains our peace of mind as we live in this turbulent world.
2. Peace with Ourselves
Despite the anxiety and fear that is often experienced because we live in a sinful and dark world as believers, as sheep among wolves and outsiders and pilgrims never quite fitting in, Jesus gives us a special kind of peace of mind.
6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
- Philippians 4:6-7
God's peace of mind is not based on logic or things we can see (I'm healthy, solid job, fat savings account, they can't fire me, etc.) this is understanding, logic and what is tangible. God's peace is beyond understanding in that it is spiritual in nature. The peace He gives is based on our access to Him in prayer guaranteed by our faith in Christ. What greater peace can one have than knowing God hears and answers our prayers? This knowledge from above guards our hearts and minds from the fear and anxiety produced by the people, situations and things from below.
3. Peace with Others
When we are at peace with God and ourselves we can have peace with non-believers because we can deal with them on the basis of love as Christ has done with us. We also have peace with believers because we share Christ's love with them in the fellowship of the church.
"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
- John 13:35