Laws for Offerings
Open Your Bible
Leviticus 6:8-30, Leviticus 7:1-38, Isaiah 53:5, Isaiah 53:7, Isaiah 53:10, Galatians 2:20
Recipes are available for everything from cuisine to concrete. Ingredients and processes matter when a significant outcome is desired—and needed. The word translated law (CSB) is torah, which means “instruction.” This inviting term describes the guidelines the Lord gave to enable the Israelite people to flourish. In the context of approaching the radiant and holy presence of God, these instructions are of utmost value.
In today’s instructions for the offerings, the labels “sin offering” and “guilt offering” tell the story of our persistent need. While details of these individual instructions vary, the ingredients in Leviticus always include the offering, sacred space, the priest(s), and fire. First, the sacrifice was costly; that is what the word “sacrifice” means when we use it in other contexts. Second, the Lord’s presence made the space “holy ground.” Third, as priests, Aaron and his sons had the task of sprinkling the blood of the sacrifice on the altar. Finally, the fire was constantly burning; it consumed the portions of the sacrifices given up to the Lord, a reminder that the presence of God is a consuming fire.
There were some recipe variations depending on each individual sacrifice. Yeast (leaven) was prohibited from the grain and fellowship offerings; later it came to symbolize sin, a most powerful pollutant. It seems, however, that occasionally leavened cakes accompanied the fellowship thanksgiving offering (Leviticus 7:13), possibly because leaven made it tastier, and gratitude is sweet.
The fellowship sacrifice (“peace offering”) is at the end of the list in today’s reading. It drew together the community—the person bringing it, the priests, and the Lord. The human participants were communing together as they ate the sacrifice. The root meaning of the word translated fellowship is related to shalom, a word that points to the right order of everything—wrongs set right, reconciliation, restoration.
So what are the key themes from today? Above all, we are deeply needy. That shatters self-presentations often ordered to make us look like pretty decent human beings. Add to that the glory and holiness of the Lord God Almighty, who dwells in unapproachable light. We tend to reduce this reality to something we can “manage,” but that is an ill-advised coping mechanism. Into the gaping chasm between our sinful selves and the unapproachable light came the incarnate Son of God, Jesus, as both the perfect sacrifice and our Great High Priest.