We come to the second type of offering that is to be brought by the people. Grain offerings are God’s topic of choice now.
When I started reading this chapter I was gobsmacked by the thought of putting frankincense on things that were going to be ingested. The grain offerings being brought, all but a small “memorial portion” were to be given to the priests to eat. I had to check this out!
I have heard of frankincense as a fragrance or an anointing oil but never as something to eat. Apparently it has MANY very good properties, the most striking one being its anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have found it to be as effective as some prescription medications in this area. Who knew?! Certainly not me.
Let’s look at the rest of the “important ingredients” in the Lord’s recipe for His grain offerings. The first ingredient included in nearly all of the offerings ordained here is “fine flour.” This flour differs from what was used daily to bake for the family. This flour was made from the inner kernel of the wheat and not the outer husk. It was also ground to a uniform consistency with NO impurities in it. It was the BEST flour possible. It was a luxury or used for honored guests.
This flour was then mixed with oil, instead of water, and also frankincense. I imagine that this combination was extremely tasty for the priests. I wanted to find a description of the flavor of frankincense but only came up with a frankincense ice cream recipe.
Frankincense on its own was a costly item. It was one of the gifts given to Jesus at His birth. So to give it AND fine flour was an expensive offering. God didn’t specify how much was to be brought for the offering but it had to be in sufficient quantity to offer some on the altar and still have some to give to the priests. This would make this offering very precious to the giver. It wasn’t an everyday occurrence or a routine one could do weekly. It had to be planned and saved for. A special gift to the Lord. The giver’s heart would have had to be very involved in giving this gift.
God said that the people could bring this gift in several different forms. The first was the fine flour with oil and frankincense, another way was baked in an oven, a third was baked on a griddle, and another was baked in a pan. The first form is the only one requiring the frankincense. Oil was a standard ingredient in each of the recipes as was salt.
ALL of these forms were to be presented WITHOUT leaven. “No grain offering that you bring to the Lord shall be made with leaven, for you shall burn no leaven nor any honey as a food offering to the Lord. As an offering of first fruits you may bring them to the Lord, but they shall not be offered on the altar for a pleasing aroma” (verse 11-12).
I want to take a minute and think about the possible reasons behind the recipes and restrictions God put into this offering. These are just suppositions mind you. I’m wondering if burning honey and leaven left a residue. I read that burned honey is just like burned sugar and it caramelizes and carbonizes. I’ve burnt sugar and it is a mess to clean up. Maybe the leaven leaves microbes when burnt that pose a problem to foods cooked on that same surface. I can’t find any literature for this, just a guess. I’m thinking though that adding the frankincense was a very good health benefit for the priests.
There was a specific spiritual reason God didn’t want leaven on His altar. It was the representation of sin. This was NOT allowed in God’s house as a burnt offering. It could be included ONLY in the first fruits offering, which I’m sure we will get to later.
Father God, You know what a stubborn child I was growing up. I wonder how I would have responded to these dos and don’ts. Would I have bucked them like I did when anyone tried to tell me I couldn’t do something? I have MORE than enough memories of instances of trying to prove I could when others said I couldn’t. I PRAY I don’t take that attitude with You, at least not now. I want to follow Your lead and go where You send me.
You know I’m struggling with this book too Father. I am SO GRATEFUL that You are bringing me new insights or areas to look into when reading. I get a bit sidetracked at times but it also brings the material to life. Thank You Holy Spirit for that gift. I am interested to see what else I will learn along the way.