In the introduction to this series, we saw that sacrifices were not only for the Old Covenant era; rather we are also expected to bring our sacrifices — our praise and worship, our obedience and our time, talent and resources — to the Lord. Throughout the rest of this 8 part series, we will be taking a look at some of the unusual requirements of the Old Covenant sacrifices, in order to better understand how to make our modern-day sacrifices more pleasing to the Lord. To begin, we see in the second chapter of Leviticus a rather strange command for the grain offerings:
“If your offering is a grain offering baked in an oven, it must be made of choice flour, but without any yeast….If your grain offering is cooked on a griddle, it must be made of choice flour mixed with olive oil but without any yeast…Do not use yeast in preparing any of the grain offerings you present to the Lord…Season all your grain offerings with salt … Never forget to add salt to your grain offerings.” (Lev. 2:4a 5, 11, 13a,c NLT)
Have you ever been reading through a recipe and found something that surprised you? Take, for example, a dill pickle recipe that calls for sugar, or perhaps a recipe for chocolate cake that calls for avocado. By the very nature of the fact that it is a recipe, it usually doesn’t explain why these things are important.
I find that Leviticus 2 reads somewhat like a recipe: Don’t add yeast…Don’t forget to add salt… There are some vague ideas about why: “because no yeast or honey may be burned as a special gift presented to the Lord…” (vs. 11b) and “season all your grain offerings with salt to remind you of God’s eternal covenant…” (Vs. 13b). Even this, however, leaves you scratching your head and wondering why yeast must be burned as a special gift and what salt has to do with covenant…
This prompted me to do a bit of research as to the biblical metaphoric meanings of salt and yeast:
Salt — Salt is used to preserve and to slow decay. Salt is also a taste enhancer. From a Biblical perspective, salt is mentioned as part of a covenant relationship in several parts of the Bible. Numbers 18:19 talks about the covenant of salt made with the priests. 2 Chronicles 13:5 make reference to a covenant of salt with King David, etc. Thus salt is a symbol of the fact that the covenant relationship we have with God will never decay!
— In His earthly ministry, Jesus tells us that we are to be, “the salt of the earth.” (Matt. 5:13a NLT). This means that we are to be used to preserve the world. As part of our covenant with the Lord, we are to influence our culture for the Kingdom. But Jesus goes on to say, “But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.” (13b NLT) Thus, if we lose our influence for Christ in this world, then we can no longer preserve the world for God’s kingdom, and we are no longer of value to God.
Yeast — Yeast is used to cause bread to rise. One little bit of yeast will infuse throughout the entire dough: “Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.” (Luke 13:21 NLT).
— Yeast is of high metaphoric value in the Bible. First mentioned as part of the Passover, the people were admonished to eat bread without yeast for seven days (See Ex. 12:17-20). The bread used in the temple services was also made without yeast, and interestingly, it is referred to as “The Bread of the presence” (See Ex. 25:30). Thus, it represented the presence of God, which is, of course, completely without sin. Jesus referred to Himself as the “Bread of Life” (Jn 6:22-59), and He, too, is completely without sin. At the last supper, Jesus gave us a special covenant involving bread: “On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’” (1 Cor. 11:23-24 NLT). Thus, when we partake of this bread that Jesus broke for us, we are, in essence, inviting His presence within ourselves!
— To shed a bit more light on the subject of yeast, Jesus warned us to, “Watch out!…Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (Matt. 16:6 NLT). We know that the Pharisees were known for their legalism (See Luke 11:37-54) and for their tendency to flaunt themselves (See Matt. 23:5).
In summary then, salt is good, because it is a preservative and represents how we are to influence our world for the Kingdom of God. Meanwhile, yeast is bad, because it represents sin, legalism and arrogance, and because even a tiny bit of these things, if allowed in our lives, will permeate throughout everything and influence everything we think and do.
This is all very interesting, but what does this have to do with sacrifice? We don’t, after all, bring grain and animal sacrifices to the Lord anymore, so how is this relevant to us?
We may not make grain and animal sacrifices, but we are still told to offer our bodies as living sacrifices: “Dear friends, God is good. So I beg you to offer your bodies to him as a living sacrifice, pure and pleasing.” (Romans 12:1 CEV)
How do we make our bodies pure and pleasing? Leviticus 2 tells us how: We are to avoid yeast and include salt! This means that when we make a sacrifice by offering up our time, our talents, our resources and ultimately, our worship, we are to do so with a pure heart, without selfish ambition or conceit. We are to do so out of love for God, and not because we are trying to earn something from Him. We are not to be filled up without ourselves or our own self-importance; rather, we are to be a reflection of Him in all that we do, for in so doing, we will influence our world for God’s Kingdom!
What kind of a sacrifice has God called you to do? Be sure to avoid the yeast but add plenty of salt!
Join us on Thursday for What Is in YOUR Sacrifice? Part 2: What’s All the Hype About…Fat?
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!)