The eating of meals can be meaningful. Too often, of course, we must eat on the run – grabbing a Big Mac in the McDonald’s drive-through lane. The burger is half-gone by the time the light finally turns green on Highway 82 as we’re headed for home.
Not all meals, of course, are the same. The Israelites had some meals that meant a great deal to them.
The priests ate one of these meals. After a guilt offering, the priests ate from the sacrificed animal, presumably in the presence of the person who made the offering. That person had discovered some sin and sought to make atonement and restitution. The priests were God’s representatives among the people. It was their sacred duty to assure the worshipper that his or her offering had been accepted. This meal the priests ate was designed to do just that.
This was a holy meal that was eaten in a holy place by men who were declared by God to be his holy representatives among his people. In some way, perhaps, the worshipper could watch that meal and know God had accepted the offering – that all now was well.
Many Christians today struggle with feelings that God is not pleased with them, that they haven’t done enough to warrant a good standing with God. Of course, it’s all by grace. That’s the point. But they walk through life wondering whether they really are saved. They just aren’t sure.
God always has wanted his people to be sure of their standing with him. He doesn’t want us to be confused. The holy meal eaten by the priests was one way for God to assure his people he had accepted them, that they were moving along with him in the right direction.
What is that “meal” for us today? Have you ever read the Book of 1 John, from beginning to end, and paid attention to how many times the assurance of our salvation is laid out in that book? Do that when you have an opportunity. Notice how we can “know” we are saved.
In some ways, God’s Word – the Bible – now fulfills the role of the old sacrificial system. Jesus Christ, of course, died as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. But he also is our priest. The Word he has given us is our assurance of his grace and goodness toward us – of his acceptance of us.
Other meals are mentioned in Leviticus 7. The meal that followed the peace offering was eaten by the worshipping community. This was a communal meal that people enjoyed together. A person offered the sacrifice, offering his or her praise to God for something God had done, and then people sat down to eat. It was a happy meal.
This ties into the Lord’s Supper as we eat together in praise and gratitude toward God. It also ties into our sharing of praise reports during our worship services. We ask for “prayer requests and praises” each Sunday. Did you know this is practice that has its roots in Leviticus?
I think we only fall short in that we don’t make a big enough deal of our praises – of our “peace offerings.” And we definitely don’t eat enough meals together!
Other meals, or ways of eating, are mentioned in Leviticus 7. One key point here is the “fat” was God’s. God deserves the best of what we have. It is not for us or the “priests.” It is only for him.
Another key point is the priests were cared for by the gifts of the people. Their living was supported by the sacrifices and offerings of the people. This is important to keep in mind as we live out our lives in the church.
I really am wary of saying anything about this for fear someone would call me self-seeking. But I’m supposed to teach God’s Word. That’s why I’m here. It is my calling. You can read the Scriptures for yourselves about God’s provision for his ministers. You see it here in Leviticus 7:28-38. You can also find it affirmed in the New Testament – applied to the church. Christians have an obligation to share what they have. Meanwhile, ministers are due their “wages,” but they also should refuse them if they find it spiritually beneficial for those whom they are serving. Read Luke 10:7; Acts 20:32-35; 2 Corinthians 8-9; and Philippians 4:10-18.