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Leviticus 2:14-16 meaning

Leviticus 2:14-16 describes another variation of the grain offering, this time concerning the "early ripened things," also known as the first harvest.

Leviticus 2:14-16 continue the detailed ordinances for presenting grain offerings to the LORD and ensuring they are in line with His holiness and the covenant established with Israel.

The grain offering of early ripened things is described as follows: "‘Also if you bring a grain offering of early ripened things to the LORD, you shall bring fresh heads of grain roasted in the fire, grits of new growth, for the grain offering of your early ripened things"(v. 14).

This offering involves fresh heads of grain (likely barley ears), which are to be roasted, possibly symbolizing a purification through fire. The term grits of new growth likely refers to crushed corn. The fact that these things are early ripened indicates the first part of the harvest. This enforces a spiritual principle of making generosity toward the Lord a high priority (1 Corinthians 16:2).

Next the preparation of this offering is outlined: "You shall then put oil on it and lay incense on it; it is a grain offering"(v. 15).  

Similar to the previous instructions for grain offerings in Leviticus 2, oil is added, while with the grain offering of early ripened things,  “incense” (frankincense) is also added, which could have signified the prayers and praises of the Israelites ascending to God. It is likely that the adding of oil and salt not only have a role in spiritual training, but also a practical application of making the offerings tasty for the priests and their families.

Finally, the priest's role is described: "The priest shall offer up in smoke its memorial portion, part of its grits and its oil with all its incense as an offering by fire to the LORD" (v 16).

The memorial portion is a portion of the offering that is burned rather than eaten by the priest. The memorial portion is offered up in fire by the priest, and represents the completion of the worshiper's offering to God.

The burning of these offerings produces a fragrance that is called a soothing aroma to the LORD (Leviticus 2:9), reinforcing the theme of sacrifice as a form of connection and communion with God. The picture of the smoke and scent ascending to heaven provides a tangible illustration of their prayers and the praise of their obedience in worship ascending to God.

The offering represents a soothing aroma to the Lord because of the obedience of the person giving the sacrifice. Of course, God knows the heart, so this is not instructive to Him (Hebrews 4:12). However, God desires that His people put what is in their heart into concrete action (James 1:25). Even more so than with these animal and grain sacrifices, God desires the sacrifice of obedience to His ways over our own ways, and the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart when we contemplate our sins (1 Samuel 15:22, Psalm 51:16-17).

Later generations of Israelites will engage in worship while having hardened hearts toward their fellow Israelites. Rabbinic tradition in the Talmud says that the second temple was destroyed because Jews had baseless hatred towards one another (Yoma 9b). They were attempting to manipulate God for their own ends, while ignoring His command to love others (Leviticus 19:18). God stated that He would not accept such worship (see commentary on Amos 5:21-27).

This again illustrates that God’s primary focus was to help the Israelites gain renewed minds and transformed hearts. But a substantial component of God’s command to lead His people to gain renewed minds was to engage them in physical acts of worship. When we take actions we engage our mind in connection with that action.

These verses also highlight the importance of acknowledging God as the source of all provision. By offering the first of the harvest as well as portions of their daily sustenance, the Israelites demonstrate their dependence on and trust in God's ongoing provision. It also reinforces the idea that every aspect of their sustenance is a gift from God, worthy of being honored and given back in worship.

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