“‘These are the regulations for the guilt offering, which is most holy: 2 The guilt offering is to be slaughtered in the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered, and its blood is to be splashed against the sides of the altar. 3 All its fat shall be offered: the fat tail and the fat that covers the internal organs, 4 both kidneys with the fat on them near the loins, and the long lobe of the liver, which is to be removed with the kidneys. 5 The priest shall burn them on the altar as a food offering presented to the Lord. It is a guilt offering. 6 Any male in a priest’s family may eat it, but it must be eaten in the sanctuary area; it is most holy. (Read the rest of the chapter, here.)
Forbidden Fat, Forbidden Blood
Let’s start with a word about the latter half of the chapter, where the blood and fat of the animal are yet again expressly forbidden. Actually, it’s not much of a word, but more of a pointing you in a direction of where I and others have talked at more length about this specific restriction. First, the work of Mary Douglas informed most of my thinking of fat as a metaphorical covering: a protective barrier between mundane humanity and the dangerously powerful divinity of God. You would not want to consume something with that much symbolism, that much power, but rather, dedicate it to God. You can read more about that in my post on Leviticus 03. As to the special sanctity of blood, I wrote about that while discussing Romans 03, and have to once more give a shout-out to Almost Heretical for informing these ideas.
7:1 “which is most holy”
I want to spend today talking about the first part of the chapter, specifically verses 7:1 and 7:15, because they truly emphasize God’s desire to be reconciled to us and in communion with us.
7:1 reads “These are the regulations for the guilt offering, which is most holy:” (emphasis my own). Let’s refresh our memories: The guilt offering is made after someone intentionally commits a sin or a crime. This is slightly different than the sin offering, which seems to apply mostly when someone sins unintentionally. There is some mention of unintentional sins in stipulations regarding the guilt offering, but by and large it applies to: restoring property that has been stolen or extorted (see 6:4-5), breaking faith with a community member (6:1-3), or providing restitution for holy articles that have somehow been carelessly treated (5:16).
The guilt offering is being made by someone who has committed the gravest of errors: an intentional sin against God, and now is looking to make right. Whoever is offering a guilt offering has broken a divine covenant, violated a divine agreement, and, quite likely, is in danger of execution: Nadab and Abihu presented the wrong fire to God (in violation of their contracts as priests) and were literally burned to death, as just one example of such violations from here in Leviticus.
But look what we are told: this offering, the offering that restores said sinner to God, that restores them to life, is the most holy offering. The thanksgiving and fellowship offerings, that thank God for Xyr gifts to us, are not the most holy. The sin offering, which is, in comparison to the guilt offering, just a little expression of mea culpa, is not the most holy. No, the offering that restores a sinner to God is the most holy. Of course it is nice to be thanked for your gifts, or apologized to if someone steps on your toe, but what is really soul-healing is to have someone who has wronged you offer a heartfelt apology (and restitution). And we see that reflected in the fact that the guilt offering is the most holy of all the offerings. God leaves that doorway to forgiveness open for us, even here in the book of rules that modern Christians like to deride so often. The guilt offering is the most holy, because it restores our communion with God.
7:15 “leave none of it till morning”
7:15 falls in the Fellowship Offering Recap section. It reads, “The meat of his fellowship offering of thanksgiving must be eaten on the day it is offered; he must leave none of it till morning.” Now, certainly this is partially a practical consideration: in an era without refrigeration, meat only lasts so long. But I’m here to tell you, it can last til morning. Maybe I’m a lazy housewife, but I often leave a chili or roast on the stove overnight and just reheat it at lunch the next day. No one has gotten food poisoning yet. So that practical consideration only goes so far.
I think it again shows God’s eagerness to be in communion with us. When you are presented with a gift, who wants to wait to open it? Waiting to open your gift is the hardest part of Christmas as little kid, right? Well, God, being in charge, can say “no waiting on these thank you gifts, we’re going to enjoy them right now!” When we come bearing gifts and thanks to God, God receives them graciously and effusively, because God enjoys being in communion with Xyr creation.
God delights in you
“The Church,” however you conceive that to be historically or institutionally, has done a good job of making people feel unworthy of God’s forgiveness. The Church as done a good job of hiding God’s joy in us and God’s desire to be with us. The church would often have you believing that you are scum, and nothing you could do would bring pleasure to God, that we can only bring God anger and sorrow and then repent in whatever pathetic way possible in the hopes that we won’t be thrown into hell. I will agree with them on one thing: that our actions can bring God sorrow, and probably anger, too. When we turn against each other, when we abuse God’s creation, even when we fail to take joy in what is given to us (take a look at Ecclesiastes to see how God wants us to be joyful) – that is an affront to God.
But I hope that these two verses discussed today help highlight exactly how much God loves us, and loves being with us. When we recognize the error of our ways and turn to God (and whomever else necessary) and say sorry, and work to do better, we are restored in God’s eyes, and God is delighted. When we say “thank you” for the gifts God has given us, God is there to hear it, and is delighted.
One last thing I want to point out: there are no stipulations on who can bring a guilt offering. You do not have to be white, rich, straight, employed, sober, college-educated, skinny, and with all your shit together. No matter what anyone else tells you, you are not an irredeemable sinner. You may perhaps need to make a proverbial guilt offering or two…or maybe you just need to say thank you more. Or maybe you’ve already done all of that. (Or maybe those things need to be said and done to you by some offending party.) Whatever the case, God loves you, and loves when you turn to Xyr. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. One more time, in case it wasn’t clear: God loves you. Thanks be to God.
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