I’ve recently started reading through the book of Leviticus from the Hebrew Scriptures. This book lists the standards and expectations of worshiping God in the sanctuary. Reading through the first several chapters was a reminder to me of how much work was involved in bringing burn offerings, grain offerings, and sin offerings to God.
I have a difficult enough time bringing a side dish to an after church potluck, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like, having to bring a bull, sheep, or a goat to the sanctuary. I’m classified as low income, so my offering would be a grain product and some olive oil. This is one of the rare occasions where living below the national poverty line is a benefit.
There are Christians who feel religiously evolved, maybe even superior because we no longer have to bring items to our contemporary place of worship as an offering to God. Weekly sermons often remind us that God wants our hearts, not our sacrifices. I wouldn’t want to return to the practice of bringing offerings to our place of worship, but I can’t help but feel as if something might have been lost when Christians decided at some point to stop the practice of animal and grain offerings; instead, replacing it with financial offerings.
What would happen if we had a modern version of offerings? What would you bring to the sanctuary and place at the altar and into the fire resulting in a “pleasing odor to the LORD” (Leviticus 3:5)? There are weeks when my schedule is filled with too many activities, fatigue sets in and my eating habits become less than ideal. My sacrifice before the LORD would consist of left-over takeout, green smoothies, and kettle popcorn. I’m not a regular meat eater, there would be no sweet fragrance of cooked meat filling the air. The alter at my church would be filled with a typical Alberta diet of steak, various cuts of beef, pork, potatoes, and a representation of every major fast food franchise in the city. I can see why church goers are content with swapping food offerings for financial offerings. Bringing a portion of our food consumption to church as a sacrifice to God could lead to competitive behaviour and unnecessary shame, but something more important and godlier could happen; we might make a lifestyle change and take better inventory of what we consume and how we spend our money.
Do you habitually spend money on unhealthy foods? Are your funds going towards takeout meals or pre-packaged foods?
I don’t want to return to the religious practice of food sacrifice because I believe it does not fit with modern living and our current culture, not to mention, it was bloody, messy, and used costly food that could have been given to those who were poor for a meal. I also don’t believe God wants a literal sacrifice of our food.
What I’ve Learned From Reading About Food Sacrifices (The Positive):
Food consumption is a form of worship.
He has given us enough food on this earth to feed every single human being; lack of food for survival should never have to happen.
Consume what your body needs and share with others.
We have much more freedom about our food choices than previous followers of God; however, let’s not let that be a reason for us to habitually consume unhealthy foods and forget to give God praise and thanksgiving for the good food we are fortunate enough to be able to eat.
QUESTION: If you were bringing a food offering to God that consisted of your meals from the past two weeks, what would your offering look like? Is thanksgiving a regular part of your eating ritual? What do you think about the past practice of animal and grain offerings?
ACTION CHALLENGE: For the next three days create your own practice of thanksgiving for all the foods and beverages you consume. Before you eat something consider what it is you’re thanking God for. (e.g. The ability to be able to purchase the food, thankfulness that you have an accessible food bank, fresh locally grown produce, being healthy enough to have an appetite, etc.)
Consider giving a modern type of food offering to God by sharing with others (e.g. Donating food to a local food bank, having people over for dinner without asking anyone to bring anything, bringing some healthy baked goods to work or a group that you attend, donating food to a local soup kitchen or shelter, etc.)
May you be blessed with a renewed feeling and experience of gratitude and worship as you consume your meals this week. Let us give thanks for all we are provided with. Peace.