THE GRAIN OR MEAL OFFERING Return to Index

The grain or meal offering is sometimes referred to as the meat offering this comes from the King James Version of the Bible and is some what a misnomer as no meat is offered, in fact this is the offering of the five in which the flesh of an animal is not offered. The reason for using the word meat was that in the days of king James, a person would not be asked out for a meal, he would be asked to meat. Luther renders the term as food offering.

It was a sweet savour offering, like the burnt and the peace offerings, it was something pleasant and sweet to God with no thought of sin-bearing or cleansing of sin in the offering. It was a freewill offering given voluntarily not under compulsion, verses 4 and 14 say 'if' you bring. The meal offerings were either public or private and were either brought with a burnt or peace offerings or by themselves, but never with a sin or trespass offering. The three public meal offerings were the twelve loaves of shewbread, the Omer, or sheaf of wheat, on the second day of the Passover, and the two wave loaves at Pentecost. The four private meal offerings prescribed by law were, the meal offering of the high priest, at the consecration of priests, in substitution for a sin offering in cases of poverty, and that of jealousy. There were four types of offerings, again associated with circumstances or property of the offerer.

The uncooked flour - verse 1
Bread baked in an oven - verse 4
Bread prepared on a griddle - verse 5
Bread cooked in a pan - verse 7

There are two things or meanings expressed by the grain offering. The first draws on the similarity to tithing (first fruit and shewbread), appears to be expressed in the words of David from 1 Chron. 29:10-14 , "for everything in heaven and earth is yours....Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand". It recognises the sovereignty and majesty of God and that in his bounty he bestows all earthly blessings, by dedicating to him the best of these gifts. The second meaning ascribed to these offerings the symbol of the spiritual food for which Israel strove after as the fruit of its spiritual labour, or those good works in which true sanctification must necessarily embody itself. There was a symbolism in the ingredients used for the meal that emphasises the first of the two meanings. Let us look at these ingredients in detail

FLOUR
Flour was the basis of the offering it represented the bread of life as bread was the main support to life. The sacrifices burnt on the altar are called the bread of God, Jesus described himself as the Bread of life. The flour was to be of the finest quality, 'fine flour' fully ground and finely sifted, free from any coarseness, unevenness, and empty husks. The mill stones must grind the wheat to an absolute fineness. Christ's life was one of passing through the grinding millstone of suffering, trial, and temptation. In Christ's perfect life there was no trace of unevenness or coarseness, in public or private he was the same the perfect character, fine flour - finely sifted, fine gold - refined pure metal.

OIL
The oil was poured upon the flour, it is spoken of as being 'anointed' with oil in Lev. 7:12. Oil is of course a symbol of the Holy Spirit. If the fine flour is seen as Christ's perfect life anointed with the Oil of the Holy Spirit, we easily see the sense of the Messiah being the anointed one visible in the offering. The anointing is also for the believer, yet it is necessary for the preparation of the millstones grinding. There was oil on and oil in the cakes (verse 5,6). The anointing was to do with the outward working of the Holy Spirit. While the mingling speaks of the inward working of the Holy Spirit, the indwelling. Just as every part of Christ's life, every thought, every word, every deed, was mingled (saturated) with the holy spirit, so should ours.

FRANKINCENSE
There must be frankincense on the offering, probably burning in a censer, placed on top of cakes emitting fragrant smoke. The twelve shewbread cakes (Lev.24:5-7) arranged in two piles had frankincense on top of each pile in such a way. Christ's perfect life was a sweet smelling savour to God (Ephesians 5:2) and we are to be a sweet savour to God (2 Cor.2:15). There are three things to be remembered about frankincense
1 ) Frankincense was exclusively for God ( verse 2 'all')
2 ) Frankincense gave a sweet fragrance that is pleasing to God
3 ) It was fire that drew forth the fragrance
The thought is that while going through the fiery trials of life, we submit ourselves to God and conduct ourselves in a way that is pleasing to God that He receives as a sweet smelling savour.

SALT
Another necessary ingredient was salt, salt must be added to every sacrifice. Salt has a purifying influence, Christ's influence purified the lives of those he contacted, believers are called to be the salt of the earth. Salt is the emblem of incorruption and Christ's body saw no corruption (Psalm 16:10). Salt is also the emblem of Divine grace and Christ's words are always health-giving and wholesome. Finally it is called 'the salt of the covenant' in verse 13. The offerer was in a covenant relationship with God and salt was seen as the seal of friendship. God has made an everlasting covenant of friendship with us.

Wine was not mentioned but was the basis of the drink offering and was symbolic of vigour and refreshment (Psalm 104:15). There were also two substances that were particularly excluded from use in the offering. Leaven was forbidden (verse 11) Where as salt was an emblem of incorruption, a preservative against corruption, leaven is the emblem of corruption. To mix the holy things of God with leaven (evil) is an abomination to the Lord. (Hophi and Phinehas, 1 Sam.2:12)
The leaven of hypocrisy - Luke 12:1
The leaven of pride - 1 Cor. 5:6
The leaven of sin - 1 Cor. 5:7,8
The leaven of false teaching - Gal.5:9
The leaven of self-indulgence - Mark 8:15 (worldliness)

Honey was also forbidden (verse 11). Honey represents things that are sweet and pleasing and attractive to the flesh to the natural man. In fact it often represents that which is natural, in the spiritual sense it is that which is self-pleasing. When honey is burnt it begins to ferment and turns sour, the smell of burning honey is very different to the fragrance of burning incense.

In presenting the offering the offerer simply came to the door of the tabernacle having prepared it as instructed and gave it to the priests. There was no ceremony just simple submission, for there was nothing meritorious in his action only obedience. The priest received the meal offering from him, took a handful of the grain or cakes, with all the frankincense and burned it on the altar. The remainder belonged to the priests. It was eaten by Aaron and his sons in the court of the tabernacle. Only a small portion of this offering belonged to God, but it was a memorial, which means that the handful represented the whole in the sight of God and was accepted by Him as the whole.

We give our gifts and our service to God yet we know that man is the recipient. Our tithe goes into the offering yet it pays the ministers salary or for the building, etc. after a while it is easy to think that God receives nothing from our giving but that which is given is the recognition that all came from God and is the memorial of the whole all we possess. Not only money but also service can be self-centred. We can be so busy with church activities that a comparatively small portion is exclusively Gods. Yet if that handful of our time is spent in worship of Him, spent in adoration he take that part as a memorial of our life. This meal offering symbolises the consecration of gifts and service. We cannot give our gifts or our service if we have not first given ourselves, many people try to do this in the reverse order by giving things or time. These good works the Bible talks of as being worthless in the purchasing of a relationship with God, how can you buy love ? (Song of Songs 8:7). The very first gifts offered to Jesus was by the three wise men yet we read in Matthew 2:11 that they fell down and worshipped before presenting their gifts. They gave themselves so that their gifts may be acceptable to Jesus.

Thoughts for simple sermons:

1/ Fine Flour was used, flour that was ground by the mill stone. There is a sense that in our lives we need to go through the mill of suffering and temptation, so that the husks of pride and the unevenness of prejudice are removed. A man who has not suffered or been tempted can rarely identify with life's victims or the sinner.

The Apostles rejoiced in their suffering because they knew that God was refining them. Acts 5:41 The Apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Rom 5:3 -5 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. We should pray that we are not led into temptation and remember that God does not tempt us, but he does provide a way for us to resist the temptation. James 1:13-14 When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 1 Cor 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

2/ Our study shows that in verse 5 and 6 that the was oil on and oil in the cakes. The Oil is often seen as representing the Holy Spirit. The indwelling Holy Spirit is at work in our lives changing us, by the process referred to as sanctification, to be more and more like Jesus. The fruit of this work or the result of the Holy spirit's presence is seen in Galatians 5:22 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control". Whereas the pouring on of the Holy Spirit can be seen in anointing for God's work. He the Holy Spirit gives supernatural gifts that show his enabling and point to Christ. 1 Cor 12:7 -11 "Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines".

3/ The frankincense was exclusively God's whereas some of the rest of the offering was given to the priest's, all the frankincense was given to God. Frankincense represents prayer and praise. Do we give our praise exclusively to God, do we pray only to him, trusting him alone. It was fire that drew forth the fragrance. The thought is of that while going through the fiery trials of life, we submit ourselves to God and conduct ourselves in a way that is pleasing to God that He receives as a sweet smelling savour. When fire come it brings out not only the fragrance in us but, as Paul discovered, as we turn up the heat snakes begin coming out of the woodwork. Acts 28:3 Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand.

Burnt Offering Return to Index Sin Offering Trespass Offering Peace Offering