Some time ago you gave an enlightening lesson at church on offerings from Leviticus. I have it on my ipad and listen to it every once and awhile. As a result, my read of exodus 29 this morning was much more exciting than it was a couple years ago.  Here is one of my questions though: The excerpt below is a command for just the priests right? Because I was under the impression the drink offering is an extra, from the heart, inessential offering…this and the lamb seems like a lot for twice a day every day…that’s over 700/ year!   Exodus 29:38-42 (NIV)    [38] “This is what you are to offer on the altar regularly each day: two lambs a year old. [39] Offer one in the morning and the other at twilight. [40] With the first lamb offer a tenth of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with a quarter of a hin of oil from pressed olives, and a quarter of a hin of wine as a drink offering. [41] Sacrifice the other lamb at twilight with the same grain offering and its drink offering as in the morning—a pleasing aroma, a food offering presented to the Lord.   Also, this chapter is all about atonement of the priests and so many of the requirements seem quirky and for lack of a better word pretty anal (blood on the right ear, right thumbs, right big toe…preparing the bread 3 different ways waving it then burning it, extreme specificity of which body parts from ram/bull can be burned inside/outside the courtyard, etc…is there any explanation on any of these details? Obviously there doesn’t need to be..if God tells me I need to pick my nose, jump 3 times, and burn my dog I will have to do it but i’m just curious if there’s a deeper lesson or connection elsewhere in the bible.  Thanks a lot!


The question of the drink offering is more complicated than I present in a simple class. There were drink offerings for the people and there were drink offerings given by individual worshippers. The drink offerings for the people were not voluntary, because how can a group of people volunteer for anything? In general, almost by definition, only personal gifts can be voluntary.

So, there were regular drink offerings from the whole people, offered in their name, by the priests. These were given on a prescribed time scale. There were also personal drink offerings. These were “extra, from the heart, and an ‘inessential’ offering,” which could be given whenever a worshipper chose to do so. It is the personal drink offerings which I mention in my book and which I mentioned in the lesson I gave for the church. I can see how this distinction could be confusing.

About the seemingly “anal” over-the-top detailed requirements, one possible view, like you imply above, is to say ‘God said it, that settles it.’ Another approach is to ask in every single case, what is the spiritual significance or what is the foreshadowed meaning of this particular command. I believe that the second question often has a real answer. For all I know, it might even ALWAYS have an answer, but I cannot say for sure. What I can say is that we may never know precisely the type/antitype meaning of some of these seemingly rather anal detailed regulations. Another line of thinking to consider is that God gave such detailed instructions to draw attention to the seriousness of what the priests were doing. It probably gave the offerings a more solemn feel and might have helped less sophisticated worshippers such as the Jews a better sense of the solemnity of what they were doing.

I cannot explain all these arcane details, but I can explain some. There was a meaning to waving versus burning which we can apply today. When the Jews brought their male sons to the temple to be dedicated, they were, in effect, “waved” before the Lord. Obviously, they could not be burned before the Lord! To “wave” something before the Lord is to dedicate it in our mind to him. It is to set something apart as dedicated to God, rather than to burn it up. A thing which has been waved to the Lord has been dedicated to him. We still have it in our possession, but we have publicly stated that it belongs to the Lord. We only have it on loan. When we become disciples, we give everything up to Jesus. Some things we give up to him, not in the sense of literally not even having it any more. Some things we give up to the Lord in the sense that we dedicate it to him, but we still keep it in our possession. For example, when we become a Christian we do not burn our car, but we dedicate it to God and, in our hearts, devote the car to God to use as he sees fit. On the other hand, some things we literally give up. Perhaps a habit or an activity which is a stumbling block we do not just “wave” before the Lord. No, we “burn it up.” We hand it over, with no intention of taking it to ourselves or using it, ever again.

So, I definitely do see a distinction between waving something before the Lord and offering it to be burned, and do see very practical meaning in the distinction for Christians today. If we look carefully at Leviticus 29:38-42 we will similarly find other arcane specifications which have meaning for us today. However, I do not promise we will find useful lessons in every single detail.

I hope you do not end up burning your dog. Picking you nose…. Maybe….

John Oakes


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