The Burnt Offering seen in Leviticus chapter one describes the manner in which we should come into the presence of God for worship. The Grain Offering seen in Leviticus chapter two deals with a specific element of worship and that is our giving to the Lord. It parallels what we think of as giving of our tithes and offerings. Here in Leviticus chapter two, we find eight basic principles of giving.
Offered from a heart of brokenness. In verse one we read, “And when any will offer a meat offering unto the Lord, his offering shall be of fine flour….” This offering was to come from the very best wheat and was to be broken down to the finest flour. Grinding wheat into flour can be a daunting task. The principle here is that the offering given had to be broken down to reach its finest quality. So, it is with our giving. When we bring an offering to the Lord, it must come from a heart that has been broken. Pride has no place in the heart of the giver. Such brokenness comes when one fully understands their sinful state. Do you have a sense of brokenness over your sin? Does your heart ache when you think of the seriousness of your sin and the suffering that Jesus went through to pay for that sin? In order to present a satisfactory offering to the Lord, it must come from heart that is humble and broken.
Offered from a spirit-filled life. Verse one goes on to say, “….and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon.” Oil, in the Bible, often represents the Holy Spirit. The offering that is given must come from a life that is filled with the Spirit. You cannot expect God to bless your offering unless it comes from a Spirit filled life. To be filled with the Spirit is to be controlled by the Spirit. Such control comes when we submit to the Lordship of Christ in our lives on a daily basis. The evidence of a Spirit-filled life is the fruits of the Spirit as seen in the book of Galatians. Submitting to the Lordship of Christ in order to be filled with the Spirit comes as one practices basic spiritual disciplines. Daily Bible study, prayer, meditation, church attendance, and so forth; are all necessary disciplines in order to live a Spirit filled life.
Offered in and through the local church. Leviticus 2:2 says, “And he shall bring it to Aaron’s sons the priests: and he shall take thereout his handful of flour thereof, and of the oil thereof, and the priests shall burn the memorial of it upon the altar, to be an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor unto the Lord.” Notice how the offering is brought to the priests and the priests had the responsibility of properly handling the offering. This is a parallel, I believe, with the offerings that we give. Malachi 3:10 says, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse….” The book of Acts describes the early church bringing their gifts to the apostles. The apostles had the responsibility of distributing those funds as necessary. The principle here is that our giving should be done in and through the local church that we attend. I believe your tithe (10% of all your income) should be given to the general fund of the local church you attend. Those funds are then used to fulfill the financial obligations of the church, support missions, support pastors and staff, and support the various ministries of the church. Above your regular tithe, you may give to special projects within the church or give to other Gospel-centered ministries. However, all your giving should begin with a basic tithe to your local church.
The first of the offering is given back to the Lord. Verse two of our text describes the priests taking the offering and offering it back to the Lord. This is a parallel of the missions giving of the local church. At the church where I pastor, the very first category in our budget is missions. The first thing we should do is give to support the mission of God around the world. A mission-minded church will have a priority on mission involvement and missions giving. In a sense, the local church should give tithes and offerings to missions. The very minimum that a church should give to missions is a tithe or 10% of receipts or overall budget. I am thankful that the church where I pastor gives over 10% of its overall budget to missions. In addition to this, we have special offerings throughout the year where we give to specific mission organizations and projects. I would love to see the day when 50% of our budget goes to missions. Missions should take priority in our giving.
The second part of the offering goes for work in the Tabernacle. Leviticus 2:3 says, “And the remnant of the meat offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons: it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the Lord made by fire.” The principle here is that once we have met our obligations in supporting missions, we then fulfill our obligations within the church. This may include the salaries of the pastor and staff as well as the funds needed for the basic day to day operations of the church.
The offerings given must be pure. Leviticus 2:11 says, “No meat offering, which ye shall bring unto the Lord, shall be made with leaven: for ye shall burn no leaven, nor honey, in any offering of the Lord made by fire.” There are really two things we see here: the offering must be pure from the world and pure from influence. Leaven represents the world or sin. The offering that is given to the local church should be one that came through honest gain. Suppose a man and his wife is on their way to church on a beautiful Sunday morning. All of a sudden the man slams on his brakes, gets out of his car, and approaches a man he sees walking down the street. The man then proceeds to beat the man walking down the street and takes all his money. When he gets in the car, his wife screams: “What do you think you are doing?” The husband replies: “I was just getting some money for our offering today.” Obviously, this would be absurd and the offering would not be a legitimate pure offering. The offerings we bring should come from honest gain. There was also to be no honey in the offering. This could represent an offering that is sugar-coated. In other words, it is given in order to wield influence and gain power or control. Years ago, I experienced such a thing as a pastor. There was a church member who kept giving me personal monetary gifts. At first, I counted it a blessing and thought the church member really cared about me and my family. As time went on, I realized this particular church member was trying to buy me out. As long as I was in agreement with everything this church member wanted, he continued to give our family personal gifts. However, when the moment came and we had a disagreement, those personal gifts abruptly stopped. It dawned on me that this individual was attempting to gain control in the church and to control the pastor. Such an offering was covered in honey. It was given with strings attached. When we give to the local church it should be done in a way with no strings attached. We should not give in order to gain influence or control. It should be a pure offering, not tainted by the world, and it should be an offering given without any ulterior motive.
The offering given should make a difference and have a purpose. Notice how the entirety of the grain offering was used. A portion was sacrificed to the Lord and a portion kept for the priest. None of the offering was stored way. The entire offering was used for a purpose. When we give to the local church we attend, we should give with the expectation that the offering will be used entirely for the fulfilment of the purpose and mission of the church. Every penny that the church has in the bank should have a purpose. That is why careful church budgeting is necessary. In some cases, there may be savings that a church has. However, those savings should be for a purpose. It should be for specific ministries and projects that the church is saving for. Certainly, funds should be handled wisely, and we should not spend just to spend. However, we also should not hoard funds and allow them to sit in the bank with no purpose. I personally believe that any surplus that a church has at the end of each year should be given to missions or to special projects within the church. For example, if a church has a $300,0000 budget and in the course of a year they bring in $320,000 in tithes and offerings. That extra $20,000 should be given to missions or a special designated project. It should not just sit in the bank with no purpose. I believe that when a church operates in such a way, they will see giving increase as people see the church making good use of the funds given.
The offering should come from the first fruits. Each of these grain offerings are described as coming from the very best. Verse 14 refers to offering of your first fruits. This principle is also seen throughout the Bible. We are to give first. When it comes to the way you handle your personal finances and budget, the very first item on the list should be your tithe to your local church. Before any bills are paid and any personal gains are made, your tithe should come first. Some people say they cannot afford to tithe. I say, I cannot afford not to tithe. When we give, God has a way of blessing us and supplying for our needs. At times in my life when I have been lax in my giving, I struggle financially. When I am faithful to give, there may still be some struggles, but God always provides.
Giving is just as much a part of worship as singing songs of praise to God. It is an intricate part of coming to church to worship. How is your giving? Are you faithful in giving?