God deals with the gifts that the people give to Him in their sacrifices. What is given to Him is holy and is to be treated with respect.
When the people bring a sacrifice, a portion of it is burned on the altar, a portion is given to the priests, and sometimes a portion is given back to the worshiper. ALL of what was given is considered holy. God gives instructions as to how EACH portion is to be treated. Just because the “portion” is given to the priest doesn’t make it any less a gift to God. Likewise, just because the worshiper receives back what he brought, in order to share it and the joy that prompted the sacrifice, doesn’t mean he is free to treat it any way he wishes. These are gifts to God and HE says how they are to be treated.
We read earlier about the peace offerings and how they were to be completely consumed on the first and second day after their offering. Anything left to the third day was to be burned. Not doing so negated the sacrifice and God wouldn’t accept it.
Regulations hold true with the priest’s portions too. We are only reading about one of those regulations today. We already saw stipulations regarding where what was sacrificed and who could eat it. Today we see the condition of those who partake.
I have a feeling that this “holy thing” was the larger portions of meat that was meant for the priest’s family, not the small portions that were to be consumed in the Tabernacle courtyard; although I’m certain that the “clean” requirement was in place for those too.
What God provided for the families of the Levites was a gift from Him. He owned it all but He chose to share. He didn’t occupy physical form, yet, and had no need to consume the meat Himself. But His emissaries needed it. They need to eat and their dedication to Him was their only job. They were not allowed to sell “prayer shawls” on the corner or charge for prayers to God. Their lives were spent in service to their “brothers” in His name.
And as HIS emissaries they were a reflection of Him. They were to be holy when they acted for the Lord or took part in His gifts. We have ALL heard our mothers tell us to wash our hands before dinner. Well, God told the priests to “wash their spirits” before coming to His table. Don’t come if you can’t pass the test of cleanliness.
This wasn’t a permanent cutting off from God, IF they followed His directions. It had a remedy and a time limit. Tomorrow, or evening in the Jewish timetable, was a new day. “I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in Him’” (Lamentations 3:21b-24).
This was the hope of the priest who was “unclean” for whatever reason and for each of us. God doesn’t give up on us. He made a way back to Him from the beginning. But He expects us to come to Him with respect. He is not our “good buddy” out for a night together. He is our Father who wants only the BEST for us at all times. How we come to Him, even today, matters. He hear ALL of our prayers, even the one that goes something like this: “HELP!!!” And He answers those prayers too. But the heart that cries out in earnest gets an answer that is better than the one just going through the motions. He wants hearts that truly seek Him and honor Him, whatever the cost.
When I was looking for the verses I just quoted I took a look at the whole chapter. Jeremiah wrote this book, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In the chapter containing the above verses, Jeremiah is lamenting (crying) over all he is going through. He has stood for God in everything he did. He refused to compromise and yet he was thrown in a cistern. He was threatened with death. He was beaten. EVERYTHING that could go wrong in his life did! And he was nearly ready to give up. But a small voice inside him reminded him of the truth. God still loved him, no matter what it looked like. Good AND bad, God had it all in His hands. THAT was Jeremiah’s security.
That is also our security. YES! There are going to be hard times but God NEVER leaves us to fend for ourselves in those times. LISTEN to His voice. It is calling. Sometimes we just need to stop and be still to hear it. Wait for the “evening” and do the things He has called you to do. The “unclean” and separation ALWAYS ends because of HIS mercy. Wash your hands before dinner and come to the Father’s table with an attitude of gratitude, even if the meal being served isn’t the one you asked for. It is still His gift to you and ME.
Father God, thank You for bringing me back to my “attitude” with Your things. I love how You take me on the EXACT journey I need every time we meet. I’m also SO thankful that You don’t get angry with me when I’m “real” with You. You know my heart better than I even do. You know my struggles and just how to reach me in them. You know when to offer the carrot and when to bring out the stick. Thank You for the carrot today that took me to an unexpected place. A place of gratitude, even for the book I have been struggling with. I want to treat Your word, the WHOLE word, as it deserves; with respect and an attitude of gratitude. Help me keep finding treasures hidden in the strangest places. I love our treasure hunts together!