In our brief study on how the different laws and regulations regarding the old covenant sacrifices can be applicable to us today, we saw on Tuesday that our sacrifices must be covered by His Spirit, and that this outpouring of God’s Spirit on our sacrifices will only happen when they are ordained by God and God-driven.
Today’s study takes us to a totally different type of regulation: To eat or not to eat? And if you eat, how quickly?
Some of the offerings specified in Leviticus were to be completely burned, either on the altar or outside the camp (the burnt offering – Lev 1, Lev 6:8-13; the sin offering — Lev 4:1-5:13, Lev 6:24-30), while some were to be eaten. They were to be eaten either by the priests (The guilt offering — Lev 5:14-6:7, Lev 7:1-10; the grain offering — Lev 2, Lev 6:14-23) or were to be shared by the priests and the one making the offering. This final offering was called the fellowship offering, or sometimes, the peace offering (See Lev 3, Lev 7:11-35).
The burnt offering and the sin offering were specifically designed to remove sin. They were considered to have carried the sin of the people: “Lay your hand on the animal’s head, and the Lord will accept its death in your place to purify you, making you right with him.” (Lev. 1:4 NLT), and thus, no part of these sacrifices were to be eaten.
By contrast, only choice parts of the other offerings were to be burned on the altar, and the rest was to be eaten. This was because the offerings did not actually bear the sin of the people. The remaining meat from the guilt offering, given for unintentional sin, and from the grain offering, which didn’t contain blood and therefore was not intended for the remission of sin, were to be eaten by the priests. The meat from the fellowship offering, which was actually a voluntary offering used either for thanksgiving (Lev. 7:12; 22:29-30), to fulfill a special vow (Lev. 7:16; 22:21) or as a freewill offering (Lev. 7:16; 22:18, 21, 23), was to be shared by the priests and by the giver of the sacrifice.
I don’t know about you, but I have always thought that a sacrifice should be something that will benefit someone. When we look closely at the sacrifices of the Old Covenant, however, we clearly see that some of them are for the Lord and Him alone. What this means for us is that sometimes God just wants us to put aside some of our time for Him and Him alone. He wants us to fast and pray sometimes for no other reason than to draw closer to Him, to know Him more. He wants us to sing to Him, to write for Him, to use our talents and resources for the purpose of worship.
Just like some of the offerings of old were to be shared, however, some of our sacrifices are to be for the purpose of helping others.
Just like some of the offerings were for the priests, some of our sacrifices can be for the purpose of helping out ministries: Paying salaries, building/repairing churches and church grounds, sponsoring missionaries, etc. Some of our sacrifices of our time, talent, resources and worship, however, are also to be a blessing to others around us.
Deuteronomy gives us more information: “You must eat these in the presence of the LORD your God at the place he will choose. Eat them there with your children, your servants, and the Levites who live in your towns, celebrating in the presence of the LORD your God in all you do.” (Deut. 12:18 NLT). Of note is also the admonition that these meat offerings were to be eaten the same day or the day after, and if any meat was left over, it was to be disposed of: “… the meat must be eaten on the same day the sacrifice is offered, but whatever is left over may be eaten on the second day. Any meat left over until the third day must be completely burned up.” (Lev. 7:16-17 NLT)
I suspect that one of the reasons the meat was to be eaten within the first two days is that there was no way to refrigerate meat in the wilderness. It simply would not have been good on the third day. In addition to this, Bible commentaries suggest that the time limit was designed to encourage liberal gifts to the poor, as well as to impress upon those eating it that this was a sacrifice, a sacred feast, and not engage in excessive joviality. Thus, when God gives us back blessings from our sacrifices, these blessings are not to be kept for ourselves, but to be liberally shared with the poor, and they are not to be used in a self-serving, boastful manner.
Let’s say, for example, that the Lord places it on your heart to give of our talent and time to write a book to His glory. The book is published, and you make several thousand dollars from the sale. God is giving you back some of your sacrifice. We learn from Leviticus, however, that this extra money is to be used to bless others as well as yourself!
In summary, then, some of our sacrifices of time, talent, resources and worship are for the Lord and Him alone. Others are to help sustain the work of the Lord; while we, ourselves, are encouraged to partake of some of our sacrifices. When we do, however, we are also to share this liberally and with all humility, with those less fortunate than we are.
The Bible also specifies that our offerings are to be “without blemish”… Join us on Tuesday to see how this applies to our modern-day sacrifices in “Perfect? Did You Say Perfect? What Is in YOUR Sacrifice? Part 5
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two adult boys, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, The Illustrator, a four-times-a-week internet newsletter, and the Sermon Illustrator website, all with Answers2Prayer Ministries.
(To access the entire “What’s in YOUR Sacrifice?” miniseries, please click here!)