Saturday, April 14, 2018

Yes, Let Me Say It -- Some are held to higher standards.

Understanding Why Priests Could Eat a Portion of Some Offerings, But Not Others

Leviticus 6:14-23:
14 ‘Now this is the law of the grain offering: the sons of Aaron shall present it before the Lord in front of the altar. 15 Then one of them shall lift up from it a handful of the fine flour of the grain offering, [a]with its oil and all the incense that is on the grain offering, and he shall offer it up in smoke on the altar, a soothing aroma, as its memorial offering to the Lord. 16 What is left of it Aaron and his sons are to eat. It shall be eaten as unleavened cakes in a holy place; they are to eat it in the court of the tent of meeting. 17 It shall not be baked with leaven. I have given it as their share from My offerings by fire; it is most holy, like the sin offering and the guilt offering. 18 Every male among the sons of Aaron may eat it; it is a permanent ordinance throughout your generations, from the offerings by fire to the Lord. Whoever touches them will become consecrated.’”
19 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 20 “This is the offering which Aaron and his sons are to present to the Lord on the day when he is anointed; the tenth of an ephah of fine flour as a [b]regular grain offering, half of it in the morning and half of it in the evening. 21 It shall be prepared with oil on a griddle. When it is well stirred, you shall bring it. You shall present the grain offering in baked pieces as a soothing aroma to the Lord. 22 The anointed priest who will be in his place [c]among his sons shall [d]offer it. By a permanent ordinance it shall be entirely offered up in smoke to the Lord. 23 So every grain offering of the priest shall be burned entirely. It shall not be eaten.”

Thoughts on the Passage
In this section, we first learn about the law of the grain offering. A portion of the grain belonged to the priests so that they and their family ate it as a holy gift. There was also a particular grain offering that was part of the anointing and the consecration ceremony for a priest and it was not to be eaten, but rather wholly burned before the Lord.
(Although referred to as a grain offering, the offering described here is also labeled a Meat Offering.)
Matthew Henry says, the priests got the greatest part of this offering as their compensation for all their work and efforts.
Again, the priests and their families were to eat unleavened – what was offered to God must have no leaven in it, and the priests must have it as the altar had it – to maintain sincerity and truth.
Verse 16 tells us it must be eaten in the court of the tabernacle (the holy place). Henry tells us it was a great crime to carry any of it out of the court.
The actual words of verse 18 are, “Every male among the sons of Aaron may eat it. . ..” But does that translate to no female members of the priest families may eat it as Henry suggests? Again, the answer must be ‘yes’ since it had to be eaten in the holy-place and if I remember correctly, that was only for the priests themselves.  And furthermore, those eating it became consecrated or holy (vs. 18).
In this section in verses 19-23, we read of the priestly “consecration meat-offering” offered for the priest themselves and of which no part of it was to be eaten and all of it was to be burnt. Henry tells us that the Jewish writers say “that by this law every priest, on the day he first entered upon his ministry, was bound to offer this meat-offering.” He goes on, “the high priest was bound to offer it every day of his life.”
What are we to take away from this section?  Perhaps it is the fact that God has advanced some to be above others in certain aspects of the work or in power.  But those so appointed are to understand that He expects more from them than from others – yes, let me say it – He holds them to higher standards.  Henry says “the meat-offering of the priest was to be baked as it were to be eaten, and yet it must be wholly burnt. Though the priest that ministered was to be paid for serving the people, yet there was no reason that he should be paid for serving the high priest.” Priests were to take pleasure in serving him “pro bono”.
Finally, there is some great significance in the fact that while the priests could eat a portion of the offerings made on behalf of the people, they could not eat any of those offerings made on behalf of the priests.  Why? Henry says because in the former case, the sins of the people were typically transferred to the priests (signified by their eating of their offerings). Likewise, the sins of the priests must be typically transferred to the altar, and it was the altar that had to ‘eat up’ all those offerings.  No one, priests and non-priests alike, could be comforted or have any hope of forgiveness if we were to bear our own iniquities.

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