When you and I want to say thank you to someone we may send them a card or flowers or make some other gesture. Instead of just speaking words, we spend a little time, spend a little money and exert a little energy because words aren't enough. The true thankfulness within us compels us to express our thanks in a way that allows the other person to see and experience our thankfulness.
In the old covenant, thankfulness was expressed to God through a grain offering. It's better than a Hallmark card as a homemade card from your child is better than a store bought one. It's an expression of who you truly are. You're giving something of yourself. Leviticus 2:1-3 tells us:
“‘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 it2 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.3 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.
To express thanks to God they would head to the kitchen. They'd take the finest flour and pour some pure olive oil on it. Then they'd put incense on it and take it to Aaron's sons; the priests. They would burn some of it on the altar and God would be pleased with the aroma. Then the priests were allowed to keep the remainder for their own use. As you read further, we find that you could also bake the offering, cook it on a griddle or even in a covered pan which would be more like deep frying a donut. Mmmm. I can almost smell the pleasing aroma now. Me likes me some funnel-cake!
David Guzik writes, "This expression of devotion to God began at home and if offered with the right heart, it was a sweet aroma to the LORD."(footnote 1). Where does your heart for God begin? Where is it cultivated, fostered and prepared? In a very counter-religious way, it is not prepared in the church. It's prepared in the kitchen; the center of your home. Though it is brought to church and presented to God, the selecting of the finest flour is done at home. The heating of the oven is done at home. The tender care to get it right and pleasing to God all happens at home. It's where your life of thankfulness to God is prepared even today. It's were you live every day. It's the central place of the majority of your life and our expression of thankfulness to God starts there.
They would also say thank you to God by bringing the firstfruits; their first and best to God. Firstfruits are risky business. They were then and they are now. To express thanks to God you would give the first from your harvest and the first of your livestock to God. Why is that risky? What if the rest of the crop doesn't come in? What if your baby livestock die? What if there's a drought? What if I don't have enough reserves because I gave the first to God not knowing if the rest will come in? Maybe for you the questions go a bit more like, What if I lose my job? What if the washing machine breaks down? What if I don't save enough for retirement? What if I don't have enough in reserves?
But are these really the questions you and the Jews of old are asking or is there a deeper question behind the What ifs? Might the real question your asking be, "Can I trust God when What if happens?"? Perhaps the more damning question is, "Have we ever really surrendered our past, present and future to Him at all?
Dustin Largent is the Pastor of SonRise Bible Church in Atkinson, IL and the author of "The Christian Marriage Counseling Workbook" and “In Their Own Words: First Person Narratives from the Book of Genesis (Volume 1)
Footnote 1- https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide2017-Lev/Lev-2.cfm