This Sunday at White Fields I taught 1 Samuel 2 and the story of Hophni and Phineas, the priests who were doing shameful things in the Tabernacle. (Click here for audio of that sermon: “Messed-Up Ministry”). There was a detail of that story that at first seems a bit odd and obscure, but is worth serious consideration.
In 1 Samuel 2:15-17 we read about how the Law required that the fat be burned off the meat before it was eaten. The law about this is found in the Book of Leviticus – and as I mentioned on Sunday, the reason for this is because at that time, the fat of the meat was considered the best, most luxurious part. But God required that when a sacrifice was made as an act of worship, the fat be burned, which would create a lot of smoke and it would be a “fragrant offering” unto the Lord. Any of you who like the smell of bacon cooking know what I’m talking about. Those of you who are vegans, well, you can eat your tofu bacon and pretend you know what I’m talking about!
But the idea that the fat belonged to the Lord represented a fundamental belief that we should give the best to God. Many people are in the habit of doing just the opposite – keeping the best for themselves, and giving the rest (the left-overs) to God. Rather than making their offering check the first check they write every month, they wait until the end of the month to see if they have anything left over. God asks that we give him the best, not the rest.
But there’s something else worth taking note of here: when the people in those days gave the fat of the meat to the Lord, they thought they were really giving up a lot – they were really “sacrificing” something, in obedience to God. They were giving up luxury and “the good life”. However, what we now know is that fat kills. At our last men’s prayer breakfast, one man brought a creation called the “bacon explosion” made of various lard extracts which I am convinced reduced my life span by 2 months per bite!
But here’s the point: by telling them to sacrifice the fat on the altar, not only was God teaching them an important values lesson, but he was also sparing them from something which was bad for them, even though they couldn’t possibly know that yet! It would only be thousands of years later that people would realize that God wasn’t only asking them to give something up, he was actually protecting them – even though they didn’t understand it yet, much like all of us parents do with our children.
God is good and all his ordinances – the things he tells you to do and what he tells you to steer clear of – each and every one flows out of his love and care for you.
6 thoughts on “The Fat Belongs to the Lord”
I agree about giving to God first.
Thanks for reading and commenting!
On the topic of giving to God first – I wrote this follow-up post about the question of whether a person should still tithe if they are in debt: https://longmontpastor.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/should-i-tithe-if-im-in-debt/
The fat is the best part for me. i would rather enjoy it and die earlier.
so good man!!
I would argue that the whole fat thing in the Bible revolves around God’s desire to bring back the vegan/vegetarian diet He started out with in the beginning (Genesis 1:29-30) and plans to end with as described in Isaiah 11:6-9. You’re not going to be slaughtering animals for food in the Kingdom of God (run by Jesus Christ) on earth as is made clear in Isaiah 11:6-9. It’s my “suspicion” that the food God did not want Adam and Eve to eat was, in fact, meat and not a fruit or an apple from a “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” which is obviously a symbolic gesture on God’s part. Notice how God made clothes from the skins of animals for Adam and Eve after they ate the forbidden food. Again, my “suspicion” is that God didn’t kill those animals, but Adam and Eve did.
From then on, God has been on a mission to teach man how to eat meat in the healthiest way possible and to eventually teach man to not eat meat due to its unhealthy properties and disease-causing side effects. In comes the laws forbidding the eating of fat and blood (Leviticus 3:17), animals found dead (Leviticus 7:24) and the eating of the clean animals as opposed to unclean ones which were more prone to disease. Leviticus 11. Unclean animals like swine, for instance, the fat is marbled into the meat making it very difficult to remove. The fat is where the toxins accumulate. See “Animal Fat”, below. The first time we see the fat removed and given to God as an offering is with Adam and Eve’s son Abel. Genesis 4:4. This is also evidence of meat-eating.
Today, many can now see how crazy and deadly meat eating has become. Zoonotic diseases are rampant, and more are predicted for the future due to meat markets and factory farming. And, there’s always the risk of creating dangerous flesh-eating bacteria that’s resistant to antibiotics due to the excessive use of antibiotics in humans and in animal feed on factory farms. There’s also the threat of global warming and pollution created by factory farming. Below are links to more information on the problems created by meat eating.
Tough Questions For Tulsi Over Biden Support (at 15:25 into the video Tulsi Gabbard agrees the world has to change its meat eating habits to prevent future pandemics)
Dr. Greger Told Us About Coronavirus Risk In 2008
Dr John McDougall Explains Food And Climate Change — The Political Vigilante
Journalist goes undercover at “wet markets”, where the Coronavirus started | 60 Minutes Australia
Why COVID-19 is hitting us now — and how to prepare for the next outbreak | Alanna Shaikh
The Coronavirus Could Finally Kill the Wild Animal Trade, at https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/02/25/virus-bats-pangolins-wild-animals-coronavirus-zoonotic-diseases/
Report of the WHO/FAO/OIEjoint consultation on emerging zoonotic diseases
Click to access WHO_CDS_CPE_ZFK_2004.9.pdf
Neal Barnard, MD | Where Many Viruses Originate
Dr. McDougall’s Self-Help Approach to Saving Yourself from COVID-19
What Determines Coronavirus Survival?
Asthma and Coronavirus: How a Plant-Based Diet Could Help | Exam Room Podcast
Interesting, but incredibly anachronistic approach. If God was on a mission to get people to return to a vegan diet, why prescribe animal sacrifices (most of which included the eating of the meat by the worshiper) at all? Why not only prescribe grain offerings? Furthermore, remember that most people at this time did not regularly eat meat. It was reserved for special occasions because of the difficulty of preserving it and the importance of livestock to a person’s bottom line. So it would have been quite easy for God to make his people vegan, yet he prescribed animal sacrifice which included consumption of meat.
I wholeheartedly respect your viewpoint on the benefits of vegan eating, and I do think there might be something to the idea of God wanting to teach them to eat meat in healthy ways.