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Leviticus 2:4-10 meaning

Continuing the instructions for a grain offering, Leviticus 2:4-10 begins detailing the various forms this offering may take, emphasizing the care and reverence with which offerings are to be made to the LORD.

Described are three methods of preparing the grain offering: 1) baked in an oven, 2) made on a griddle, and 3) made in a pan. Each method requires the offering to be unleavened, signifying purity and absence of sin or pride, as leaven in the Bible is often a metaphor for sin and pride. (Matthew 16:6, 1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

  • The grain offering can be oven-baked: Now when you bring an offering of a grain offering baked in an oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mixed with oil, or unleavened wafers spread with oil (v 4).
  • The grain offering can be grilled: If your offering is a grain offering made on the griddle, it shall be of fine flour, unleavened, mixed with oil; you shall break it into bits and pour oil on it; it is a grain offering (vv. 5-6).
  • And the grain offering can be fried in a pan: Now if your offering is a grain offering made in a pan, it shall be made of fine flour with oil (v. 7).

The preparation of the grain offering, whether cooked in the oven, on a griddle, or in a pan, was to be done with fine flour and oil, consistent with the offerings described earlier in Leviticus 2:1-3. A bread cooked in this fashion would have been flat and dense like a tortilla or other flatbread and supply a good number of calories and nourishment. God provided latitude and agency for each preparer to choose their own preferred method of showing their devotion.  

Next Moses directs how the offering was to be brought to the priest at the tabernacle: "When you bring in the grain offering which is made of these things to the LORD, it shall be presented to the priest and he shall bring it to the altar"(v. 8).

This reinforces the role of the priest as a mediator between the offeror and the LORD. It also shows that the priest was unnecessary for the making of the grain offering. It was prepared with the prescribed ingredients then presented to the priest at some point later. In this respect, the offeror was presenting both their possession as well as their labor to the Lord of their own volition. It resulted in the benefit of the priest and their family.

This role was bestowed on Jesus in the New Testament as the mediator of a better covenant (Hebrews 8:6). He presented Himself to God as a perfect sacrifice of His own volition (Philippians 2:5-8). He presented Himself in order to please God, for the benefit of the entire world (John 3:16). As high priest over the house of God, He now makes intercession for us to the Father (Hebrews 8:1-2, Romans 8:34)

Now the text directs its attention to the priests, who are the sons of Aaron, and says: "The priest then shall take up from the grain offering its memorial portion, and shall offer it up in smoke on the altar as an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD"(v 9).

This memorial portion symbolizes the portion of the worshipper's grain offering dedicated to God, with the rising smoke representing the gift ascending to God. This represents a soothing aroma to the Lord because of the obedience of the person giving the sacrifice. Of course, God knows the heart, so this is not informative to Him (Hebrews 4:12).

However, God desires that His people put what is in their heart into tangible action (James 1:25). Even more so than with these animal and grain sacrifices, God desires the sacrifice of obedience to His ways over our own ways, and the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart when we contemplate our sins (1 Samuel 15:22, Psalm 51:16-17).

What was not the memorial portion would be retained by the priests for their sustenance, "The remainder of the grain offering belongs to Aaron and his sons: a thing most holy of the offerings to the LORD by fire"(v. 10).

Since the Levites did not receive a land allotment like the other tribes of Israel upon which they could grow crops, they were reliant on the gifts of the worshippers. The law of Moses sets a precedent that the congregation should support those who minister to them in spiritual things, by providing physical things like food to the ministers. This concept continued into the New Testament and beyond, with Paul quoting from Moses’s law to teach a principle:

“For it is written in the Law of Moses, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING.’ God is not concerned about oxen, is He? Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops. If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?”
(1 Corinthians 9:10-11)

In making this argument, Paul quoted from Deuteronomy 25:4, which commands Israel to make animal welfare a priority, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.” Paul argues that the spiritual principle behind this command applies to humans, and the human application is of greater value than the application to animals. This shows that everything God put into His Law was for our instruction, that we might gain benefit and prosper (2 Timothy 3:16).

This portion of the grain offering allotted to the priests is deemed most holy, reflecting its divine purpose and the support it provides for those who serve God in the temple. Holy comes from the Hebrew word “Kadosh” which means set apart or uncommon. This means it was to be treated and prepared specifically for God and His servants, the Levites, according to His instruction.

Leviticus 2:4-10 provides a detailed and structured approach to making a grain offering, ensuring that the offering is respectful, orderly, and holy, aligning with worship and service to the LORD. The grain offering would have been the most frequent of the offerings to the LORD by fire due to it being more affordable for the poorer citizens than a lamb or even doves.

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