Wonderful shadows: the grain offering

Leviticus 2:4 “When you bring a grain offering baked in the oven as an offering, it shall be unleavened loaves of fine flour mixed with oil or unleavened wafers smeared with oil.”

Old Testament shadows are such wonderful things for they point to far greater realities from which those shadows are cast. One such shadow is the grain offering.  It was a voluntary memorial to God showing gratitude for the wonderful provision He has given to us of our daily bread. But in the grain, and the bread made from that grain, there are multiple shadows of Jesus, the very Bread of Life (John 6:46).

The grain offering involved a sacrifice to God burned on the altar with fire, while the rest was given to Aaron and his sons, i.e., the priests.  In this way we see a picture of Jesus offering Himself as a sacrifice to God by the way in which He gave Himself to us.  Jesus, that One “Who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8).”  What a picture of the One who gave Himself wholly to the Father by obedience even unto death in the act of giving His life as the very source of eternal life for all who will believe. 

But then there are other shadows in the grain offering that are wonderful aspects of what Jesus, in His sacrifice for us, has provided for us.  For one, the grain was to be made of fine flour, i.e., crushed very fine.  And that flour was not to be mixed with leaven – a symbol of corruption and sin throughout scripture.  This is a picture of the depth of the suffering of the One Who was without sin, Who suffered for us, for “He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5).”  It’s called “the great exchange” by some, as “For our sake He (i.e., God the Father) made Him (i.e., God the Son) to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 

Another shadow: the flour was to be mixed with both oil and frankincense.  Oil, a symbol of the Holy Spirit – which Jesus, in His death and resurrection, made provision for us to be given.  Recall how He said “I tell you the truth, it is for your benefit that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you (John 16:7).”  And frankincense, a shadow of prayerJesus, who died, but rose again, and ascended to heaven, where he constantly prays for us, assuring that those who know Him will be secure until the end, as we are told with these words, “He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25).”

But more than that, it was by Jesus’ death that we have personal access to God, the privilege to enter the Holy of Holies with our prayers before the throne of grace.  It was because Jesus died for us that the veil between the outer court and the holy altar of God was rent (Matthew 27:51).  It is because of what Jesus did for us that we now “have access in one Spirit to the Father (Ephesians 2:17).” 

Security, eternal hope, a sure inheritance, and access to the Father, all provided for us by the bread of life, Who provides so much more for us than our daily bread (which He also provides us, just the same).

Another shadow – the grain offering was to be mixed with salt – a preservative meant to purify.  No leaven – i.e., no corruption or sin, but with salt – i.e., purity, incorruption.  What wonderful realities these point to, as Jesus has provided cleansing from sin, and in its place His very righteousness, given to us as a most holy gift. 

And finally, one other symbol that comes to mind. The grain offering was not to be mixed with honey.  Throughout the Scriptures honey points to that which is sweet to the taste, wonderful blessings, e.g., Canaan, “the land flowing with milk and honey.” Ultimately, it’s a symbol of the eternal blessings of heaven.  But, for us, Jesus left that place to taste the bitterness of suffering in this world for us.  What a picture of what Jesus has done for us.  He left the place where He was exalted and worshiped to come to this earth where “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faceshe was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:3-5).”

The grain offering: what a wonderful picture of the Bread of Life, the One Who gave His all for us, so that we might become the joint-heirs of all the wonderful things that are His.  How thankful we should be to the One who gives us each day our daily bread, but with that gives us so much more, for surely “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him (1 Corinthians 2:9).”  Maybe something to think about at your next communion service, when you eat the bread, a New Testament shadow of our Savior, for we are told that “He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me (Luke 22:19).’”

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