If anyone offers a grain offering to the Lord, his offering must be of fine flour and he must pour oil on it and put incense on it. Leviticus 2:1
Grain Offering – Here’s an amazing fact. Paul justifies the payment of those who proclaim the good news of God by appealing to the grain offering (see 1 Corinthians 9:13-14), as the Lord commanded. It’s possible that Paul includes Jesus’ remark in Luke 10:7 in this thought. But this much is certainly true. Most of us don’t have a clue what the grain offering was all about! How can we read Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church or listen to Jesus talk about the laborers for the gospel and not pay any attention to the symbolic meaning of the grain offering? Maybe it’s time to get serious about God’s instructions.
First, a few facts. The grain offering always followed the daily burnt offering, but unlike the peace offering and the burnt offering, it did not involve animal sacrifice. Furthermore, only a handful of the grain offering was actually burned. Most was given to the priests for food (thus Paul’s comment).
Second, the Hebrew word for “grain offering” is minchah (the middle “h” is guttural). In secular use, it is often connected to the tribute a servant gives to a master, or the gift from a vassal to a king. It’s not always about grain (Abel’s offering is a minchah), but it is always about the gift from an inferior to a superior. We would call this the “first fruits.” It’s the best that I have to offer to God. Did you notice that it is performed daily, not just once at conversion?
Third, while there are no specific explanations regarding the additional elements of oil and incense, it doesn’t take much reasoning to see that bringing the best I have, and adding a symbol of anointing and an aroma of holy dedication, consecrates my offering without restriction. In other words, I take the best I have, add even more value to it, and present it to God.
So, what does this have to do with us? We are living in the 15th century BC. Notice this: the Septuagint translates minchah with the word thysia, the most common word for sacrifice in the New Testament. It is the same word that Paul uses in Romans 12:1-2. Paul knew perfectly well that the grain offering was a daily tribute to the sovereignty of God. Isn’t that exactly what he suggests by exhorting us to present ourselves as a living sacrifice? It isn’t once; it’s every day. It isn’t just some of my life; it’s the very best I have to give. It isn’t plain vanilla; it’s my best plus symbols of holy consecration. That’s what is “acceptable and perfect.” The grain offering was presented every morning and every evening in Israel, at the beginning of our production and at the end. We might not take a handful of flour to the temple altar today, but if we don’t understand the meaning of the grain offering, we neglect to perform its symbolic representation every day, denying God’s sovereignty over us and ignoring His specific commandment.
You thought the sacrifices were abolished when Jesus died on the cross. You missed the point. The sacrifices were expanded into the hearts of men. That’s the direction of the renewed covenant. So, next time you sit down with your toasted oatmeal, think about the grain offering. Present yourself as grain dedicated to God, sharing with His priests, a tribute to His Lordship over you this one day. And then do it again tomorrow.
Topical Index: Sacrifice