Scriptural Gem for April 2016

In Genesis 4:3-4a we read: “In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.”

In Leviticus 1:2 we read: “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When anyone among you brings anoffering to the Lord, bring as your offering an animal from either the herd or the flock.” (All Scripture taken from the NIV, emphasis added)

The second reference is taken from the set of instructions God gave His people regarding offerings given at the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle, of course, was established during the time of Moses. However, this is not the first time that we encounter the concept of “offerings” in Scripture. As mentioned in Genesis 4:3-4, Cain and Abel both brought offerings to the Lord, as did Abraham and others long before the Tabernacle existed. Although the word “offering” is used in both translated passages, we discover this is not the case in the original Hebrew language.

The word used in Genesis 4:3 is ‘minchah’, a word meaning ‘gift’ or ‘tribute’. The concept of bringing ‘minchah’ to gods was a familiar one throughout the ancient world— the purpose of such a gift was to appease the gods or to win favour for a good outcome in a particular situation. However, the word used in Leviticus 1:2 is different and it appears here for the very first time in Scripture. The word is ‘korbanot’ which is derived from the root word ‘karab’ which means 'to draw near'. In using this word, God uses language that differentiates Him from other “gods” and underlines that the purpose of an offering is to bring us to Him, for no reason other than to share in His presence. God’s aim, then and ever, is to make us one with Him again!

Of course, Romans 12:1 gives us the New Testament perspective: “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.” The principal of the word, ‘korbanot,’ from Leviticus 1 must be carried into Romans 12. We do not offer ourselves as “living sacrifices” to show our appreciation to Him for what he has done. We do not offer ourselves as living sacrifices because it is the “right” thing to do. And, we certainly do not offer ourselves as living sacrifices because that might appease Him. All of these reasons still miss the point—we offer ourselves to Him desiring nothing but that blessed oneness with Him! Amen.