Notes on Leviticus 2 & 3 (Reposted from 3/31/14)

Today we continue look at the chapters from Leviticus found in our Bible Reading Plan. Yesterday, we looked at the burnt offering described in Leviticus 1. Today, we look at two chapters because there are two in the plan, the grain offering (chapter 2) and the peace offering (chapter 3).

Chapter 2
The grain offering in chapter 2 follows the burnt offering in chapter 1. The burnt offering laid the foundation for the other offerings because it most directly represents atonement. The burnt offering was a blood sacrifice of a male animal without any defects because it points to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who is perfect. In contrast, the grain offering does not involve blood and death. This is because the grain offering is not about atonement, but the response of the one who has been atoned for. This order is important, because we can not offer anything acceptable to God until we have been atoned for by Jesus Christ. But, once we are atoned for, we gladly offer up ourselves to God.

The grain offering was an offering of fine flour mixed with oil and frankincense. The flour represents the fruit of the life of the worshipper. The oil signifies the Holy Spirit who sets the flour apart for God. The frankincense signifies that our offering has a pleasing aroma to God.

As with the burnt offering, worshippers could give based on their economic status. The wealthy had ovens, so they could bake cakes or wafers. The middle class could prepare their offerings in griddles. The poor could fry their offerings in pans. In each case, the offering was pleasing to God if it was offered up in faith based on the atonement provided for in the burnt offering.

Instructions were given not to use leaven (like yeast) because leaven represents sin and corruption (v. 11). However, salt was always to be used because of its preservative nature (v. 13) just as the Holy Spirit preserves us.

The sweet fragrance of the frankincense may be what Paul was referring to in Philippians 4:18: “18 But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.”

As you reflect on the grain offering, reflect on Romans 12:1 “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”

Chapter 3
The Peace Offering in chapter 3 has some similarities with the burnt offering. In both cases, the animal was to be without defect. The worshipper laid a hand on the head of the animal, an act representing faith. Finally, the animal was offered up on the altar.

There are some differences as well. In the peace offering the animal could be male or female. This is because the peace offering focusses on the effects of atonement (peace with God) rather than the object of atonement (Jesus death on the cross). Also, while in the burnt offering, the entire animal was burned to ashes to signify the complete judgment in atonement, in the peace offering, only the rich, fatty parts of the animal were burned in smoke, while the other parts of the animal were eaten. The fatty parts symbolize the heart and inner man of the worshipper. It is offered up to God. But, the other parts were eaten to represent fellowship with God just as we often fellowship with each other over a meal.

Finally, these same fatty parts of the animal and the blood were not to be eaten. This instruction was not only for the altar, but at home as well. By having this instruction, the Israelites were reminded every time they cooked an animal about atonement (the blood) and whole devotion to God (the fat) leading to peace.

As you reflect on the peace offering, reflect also on Romans 5:1-2. “1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.”