Sunday, January 22, 2017

Fatty Offering

Fatty Offering
January 23, 2017
Isaiah 43:24 "You have not bought any fragrant calamus for me, or lavished on me the fat of your sacrifices.  But you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your offenses."

Fat, in our culture, is a negative thing, carrying with it a bad connotation.  No one wants to be fat; kids are teased and bullied if they are fat.  As adults, we work hard to get rid of our fat; we have too much of it on our bodies and it is seen as undesirable.  But in the Bible, fat had a completely different definition.  The Israelites didn't deal with obesity; it just didn't happen.   It is doubtful there was ever an obese person wondering in the desert among them.  Back then, only the very wealthy could afford enough food and a lifestyle to have a little extra fat on their bodies.  It was seen as a sign of luxury (but again, it was probably just healthy looking rather than being gaunt from food scarcity). They even viewed the fat from their animals as a luxury item.

The fat of an animal was a sought after item.  First, it was hard to find a fat animal.  If food is scarce, you don't give extra portions to your animal; you keep it for yourself.  Animals didn't have an opportunity to get fat either. Second, not every animal was fattened up. You intentionally fed one or two animals differently to get them fat on purpose, hence the term "fattened calf" found throughout the Bible. You always kept the fattened animal and sold the other ones for revenue.  The fat of an animal was a luxury item, not to mention making the meat more tender when cooking.  Animal fat was used for so many things: oil for lamps, cooking and flavoring, perfumes, facial makeups and skin treatments, leather softening, healing ointments, etc.  If the fat of an animal was scarce, then the previously listed items were luxury items for certain. In short, you wanted fat animals, but it didn't happen very often.  To make matters worse, God wanted fattened animals as offerings to Him.

Why would the Lord want fattened animals?  He specifically asked for the fattened ones, and to make sure that ALL the animal's fat was attached when they made the burnt offering.  The Lord wanted it for himself, to be burned up so no one could consume it except for Him.  It seems rather selfish, especially in a food scarce environment. But the Lord wasn't doing it to be selfish, He requested the fat offering to give the Israelites perspective.  Even the fat belonged to the Lord.  The Lord didn't just want offerings, He wanted fat offerings.  He wanted luxury offerings, offerings that had very significant cost associated to the giver.  If fat was something you tossed away, why would it be a big deal to give it to God.  God wanted sacrifices that were sometimes considered expensive.

Today we think our tithe is expensive, that 10% is a lot, way more than we should maybe be giving God.  But think about your luxury items.  Would you intentionally buy an extremely luxurious item today, then light it on fire in front of the Lord for an offering.  No, of course not, it would be a waste of resources, a senseless and foolish thing. Or would it? Could you do it?  Could you take ten one-hundred dollar bills ($1,000) and light them on fire as an offering to the Lord? Not one of us would consider it, something so expense, then destroy it as an offering to the Lord.  It's easier to consider giving money to the church or a charity than lighting it on fire. There are starving people; burning money is foolish. There were starving people in Biblical times, too, yet the Lord wanted and accepted luxury offerings.  In the Bible, God allowed most of the offerings to be used wisely, but the fat offering was burned in fire so no one could have any of it.  Today we don't do that, but could you?  Could you give the Lord a luxury offering that no one else could benefit from?  Could you give the Lord something so expensive and purposely destroy it as a gift to the Lord, so no one else could benefit from it or enjoy it?

The fat offering was to prove you loved the Lord, that He was first and foremost in your life.  What offerings do you give Him today that prove He is first and foremost in your life? When was the last time you gave Him a luxury offering? When was the last time you gave God your best offering; what was it?

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Lev 3, John 12:3-8

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