The combined offerings in Leviticus 1 and 2 create a well-rounded meal.[1] In essence, through these offerings, the Israelites are preparing a dinner feast for God. This makes sense when we remember that the tabernacle was the dwelling place of God, i.e., the home of God, and, as such, the offerings were part of the Israelites coming into God’s home and bringing Him food.

However, before we move forward with the grain offering, we should not confuse this with the notion that God needs human food (see, for example, Psalm 50:12-13). Rather the significance of these prepared meals is found, not in the food itself, but in the symbolism that it conveys. You see, in the ancient world, table fellowship and eating meals together indicated friendship, peace in relations, and intimacy. So by offering these sacrifices, the Israelites are re-creating a scene of table fellowship in which God and them are brought together or reconciled in a meal, and in which the Israelites give thanks to God by hosting a meal.

Now what’s interesting is the manner in which this meal is consumed – it’s a twofold consumption. First, we see in Leviticus 2:2 that the meal is consumed on the altar by God: “the priest shall burn this as its memorial portion on the altar, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord”; and God’s metaphorical consumption of this food is represented in the smoke that follows. Second, the meal is then consumed by the priest and his family in Leviticus 2:3. As representatives of God, the priests functioned on God’s behalf and in this instance they are specifically eating on His behalf. This was also a way that God provided for the priests. That is, this ensured that the priests and their families would never go hungry, that they would always have something to eat; and it was for all of these reasons that giving leftover offerings to them was considered “a most holy part of the Lord’s food offerings.”

In sum, the chronology that we focused on today was the linking of the burnt offering in Leviticus 1 with the grain offering in Leviticus 2. These two chapters are located back to back for a very specific purpose, namely to paint a greater picture of the Israelites’ offerings being seen as a meal preparation for God in His tabernacle. Furthermore, such a feast allowed the Israelites to be cleansed from their sins, to be protected from God’s wrath, and to grow in greater intimacy with God. This is indeed a beautiful picture.

The focus, as always, in studying any passage in Scripture is on God and this passage is no exception. In glancing through Leviticus 2, what can we learn about God, His disposition and His heart? One thing that becomes immediately apparent is that God desires to dwell with His people. He is not so distant. He is not too grand. He wants to metaphorically break bread with His people and, in doing so, to grow in peace and intimacy with them. We, who are believers, serve a God who desires for us to come to Him, to sit with Him and engage with Him. Shall we not take Him up on His offer?

[1] Numbers 15:1-5 also reinforces this idea when it says that a drink offering should be given as a part of these offerings.

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