It all began this weekend when I read the words of Jesus in Mark 9:49-50:
"Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other."
I felt thirsty... thirsty for water and thirsty for enlightenment. What does this mean? And how do I apply it? I am so thankful for my cross-reference Bible, which leads me "further up and further in." This verse directed me to Leviticus 2, which is all about the grain offering...
"When anyone brings a grain offering to the LORD, their offering is to be of the finest flour. They are to pour olive oil on it, put incense on it and take it to Aaron’s sons the priests. The priest shall take a handful of the flour and oil, together with all the incense, and burn this as a memorial portion on the altar, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD. The rest of the grain offering belongs to Aaron and his sons; it is a most holy part of the food offerings presented to the LORD. ...Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings... Every grain offering of a priest shall be burned completely; it must not be eaten." (2:1-3, 13, 6:23)
A few things I learned about the grain offering:
- It is a voluntary act of worship and personal commitment to God.
- There was no yeast in this offering, but it had to be seasoned with salt.
- God received the best portion from the common people's sacrifice, and the rest was a gift to the priests. The salt covenant is in Numbers, and it is God's promise that the priests would always receive a portion of this sacrifice.
- When the priests sacrificed, it was totally burned up, so that the giver never received anything back.
- The sacrifice was made to bring a pleasing aroma to the Lord.
Here is where rabbit trails began, and crazy Old-and-New Testament connections began to click in my mind:
Romans 12:1 -
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship."
** We, as followers of Christ, are the grain offering; our lives are the sacrifice of worship.
2 Corinthians 2:14-15 -
"But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing."
** We are the aroma that is pleasing to God when we become this sacrifice of worship.
Hebrews 7:21-24, 8:6 -
"Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: 'The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever."' Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant. Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. ... But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises."
** Jesus is now the priest forever. When we make this sacrifice, our offering goes to God, and Jesus as our priest receives the salt covenant portion. So our whole offering is a gift to the Lord.
1 Peter 2:9 -
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."
** We are also given priestly positions in the kingdom of God, and our purpose is to praise Him. In the case of the grain (or worship) offering, what we sacrifice as priests is completely burned up or consumed by God.
Ezekiel 46:14 -
"You are also to provide with it morning by morning a grain offering, consisting of a sixth of an ephah with a third of a hin of oil to moisten the flour. The presenting of this grain offering to the LORD is a lasting ordinance."
** We must daily sacrifice our lives to the Lord, continually renewing our commitment to Him.
Colossians 4:6 -
"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."
** If our lives are a worship offering, then that includes our speech and our relations with others. Here is where the salt comes in... Salt is a great ingredient because it preserves, it refines, enhances flavor, and causes us to crave more. It is not burned up in fire, but is purified by it. This takes us back to the original verse in Mark 9, where salt and fire are prevalent, and where Jesus calls us to include salt in our lives and relationships.
Mark 8:15 -
"Be careful," Jesus warned them. "Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod."
** Not only does the grain offering include salt, but it rejects yeast. So also, Jesus includes salt but rejects yeast in our hearts.
1 Corinthians 5:7-8 -
"Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."
** Yeast is like our own righteousness - what we try to add to ourselves and our salvation to be better and more. Jesus just wants us to follow his recipe, to bring who we truly are and not who we try to be in our own efforts. Sincere, true hearts of worship are what he desires most.
And so, after an exciting adventure through word searches, cross-references, cultural research, and personal application, I'm starting to see my need to live like a pretzel... made of grain and oil and salt, without yeast, uniquely woven together, tested in fire and producing a pleasing aroma to the Lord. May my life be an offering of worship to You, O God.