A critical spirit infects the world we live in. Instead of expressing gratitude, we are prone to grumble and complain. We complain about the school board, politicians, or the way people parent or spend their money. Our inner voice tempts us to think we could do things better in their shoes. The Israelites had an offering to counter such negative attitudes. It was called the Meal Offering (or “Grain Offering”).
The Meal Offering (Leviticus 2) was the second most common offering an Israelite worshiper would bring to the Tabernacle or Temple. The Hebrew word translated “meal”, outside of its use here, referred to the tribute offering a vassal gave to his overlord. In a culture of vassals and overlords, vassals would bring tribute offerings to their overlord. If the overlord was a good overlord, the tribute was given to express gratitude for the land and protection the overlord provided the vassal. If the overlord was cruel and oppressive, it was given out of fear. The Meal Offering in the Old Testament represented a type of tribute given to the gracious Lord of the Universe, who delivered Israel out of slavery in Egypt.
The Meal Offering was made of grain. It could be offered in various forms, from raw flour to something resembling a pancake. Every form had to contain oil, representing consecration to the Lord. Many forms included frankincense, representing joy.
The Meal Offering was an opportunity for the Israelite to give thanks to the Lord for the land, food, protection, and guidance he provided Israel. It often followed the Whole Burnt Offering, which dealt with the worshiper’s general sinfulness. So, the Meal Offering also gave thanks to God for his gracious provision, which made communion between God and humans possible.
Since bringing the Meal Offering was a way of thanking God for all he provided, it also served as a dedication offering. By giving this portion of their grain to the Lord, the Israelite was dedicating everything he or she possessed to the Lord.
Christ was the ultimate Meal Offering. He offered to God a life fully dedicated to God, giving even his life on the cross for us.
Though church goers today no longer need to bring their baked goods to church, Christ gives us a reason to resist the infection of critical spirits. He withheld nothing, giving it all to God, so that we might be with him. All that’s left for us to offer is praise and thanksgiving.