I was sixteen and still... um... fresh from the suburbs when I took a babysitting job in my new rural hometown. I spent the summer watching the kids of a hardworking pig farmer.
The mother wasn't really in the picture at the time, and you could tell- the house was missing "womanly touches," like pictures on the walls and coordinating furniture.
But for all the bare walls and outdated fabrics, this dad was doing an amazing job raising his four children. I was just there for the summer, mostly to be sure that the kids ate during the day, didn't pick on the little sister too much, and to drive them to and from baseball practice. The kids were great- it was an easy job.
Making matters even easier, the dad came home as often as he could to check in on his children, driving heavy machinery up to the house on his way to and from the hog barns.
He smelled to high heaven. He was always super sweaty. But his eyes would light up at the sight of his kids playing catch in the front yard.
Once, he came by with a dead hog in the bucket of his skid loader.
"What happened to that pig?" I asked.
He looked at me with amusement before mumbling his reply...
"It quit breathin'."
What my employer was so eloquently saying, although in not so many words, was the fundamental truth that defines farming and agriculture.
We can only do what we can do- the rest is up to God.
Farming families are some of the most trusting people in this country. Even with the many, many advances in agricultural technology, the truth is, they can put in all the work possible, but ultimately, the outcome is in God's hands.
The Israelites knew this truth, too. They knew that their daily bread was provided by God Himself.
We see them giving thanks, and being reminded of this fact through the next offering in Leviticus- the Grain Offering.
Head on over to Leviticus 2-- you can click here to see it online-- and read through the passage.
The grain offering could be done two ways- either by giving unbaked flour and oil mixed with frankincense, or by baking it (in a number of different methods) and presenting it that way.
No matter if they were giving a baked or unbaked offering, we see that the flour was supposed to be really fine- meaning that it took some major grinding to make. This offering is work.
Only part of the grain offering is offered on the altar- the rest was given to the priests.
Also interestingly, there are requirements about what can and can't be included in the recipe- honey and yeast both fostered fermentation and decay, so they could not be included in the offering. Salt, however, is required. Salt was commonly used for preservation, and also as a symbol of a binding covenant.
This offering was made as a part of daily living, as a way to remember that humanity depends on God for daily provisions. A grain offering is sometimes seen like a tribute- a way to pay part of the "spoils" of the land.
God gave the instructions for offerings when the Israelites were still living in the desert. Grain doesn't just come about in the desert. The grain that the Israelites were offering to God was the direct result of two things- human labor and God's provision.
Without a combination of a lot of work and the water, sun, and soil to grow the grain, it wouldn't exist. Without the human cultivation of the grain, and the hard work in grinding it into flour, it would be difficult to use the grain.
God Provides A Way to Be Filled
God had another plan in mind.
In the grain offering, the Israelites were asked to bring bread that wouldn't decay quickly- without yeast and without honey. But eventually. the bread or flour would rot, no matter how much salt they included.
God's provision of our Daily Bread is everlasting.
The Israelites were hands-on, fully involved, working hard to provide for their families and for this offering.
God's provision of all we need has nothing to do with me.
The Israelites were given physical sustenance through hard work and the land.
God's provides not just the physical bread, but the Bread of Life. Not just physical provisions, but the very Word of God. (Deuteronomy 8:3)
While God showed His power in the Old Testament through providing the practical, bodily, human needs, He longs for us to have relationship with Him. God wants us to be filled with more than flour and meat, but with Himself.
I can only do what I can do. I can try, I can work, I can strive... but ultimately, I cannot save myself. I cannot be my own salvation.
I will mess up. I will fail. I will forget.
I can try as best I can, but it's really up to God to provide me with the Bread I need.
"And 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." - Luke 22:19
The bread is his body, given for me. I can't provide salvation for myself. Only through the sacrifice of Christ can I have what my soul truly hungers for.
Other Posts in this Series:
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