The Law of the Cookout, Leviticus 3 and 7

A Chinese student lived with our family for two years. We exposed her to the fine delicacies of southern cuisine such as Chick-Fil-A, cubed steak, Mexican, and casserole. On her last weekend with us, we asked her what meal she would like before heading back to China. She looked at me and said, "I want one of your burgers."

I am pretty good with the grill. I don't want to come across braggadocios, but when someone headed back to the land of hot pots, sweet/sour meats, dumplings, and fried rice requests one of your grilled burgers as her last meal, you sort of get the big head. 

For southerners, grilling isn't just about cooking food; it's about getting together. One of my favorite Saturdays IN MY LIFE was at my friend Rod's lake house grilling out. I'm pretty proud of my burgers, but Rod is a grill master. 

When he opened the hood of the grill, and the savory smoke cleared, it revealed a vast selection of choice cuts of meat. It was like Rod had walked up to the butcher at the meat market, pointed at the left side of the store, and said, "I'll have all of that." 

And "all of that" we had. There was not a chicken, pig, or cow in Central Alabama that did not end up on Rod's grill that day. It was delicious food, and it was time well spent. We were together for hours with the grill, smoking, eating, and talking. We were telling stories and swapping sauces. It was a fantastic day.

The Peace Offering Southern Style

What southerners call the cookout, Leviticus calls the peace offering (Lev. 3, 7:11-34, 19:5-8). In fact, an Israelite could not butcher and cook an animal without making it a peace offering (17:3-4). That's why I call the peace offering the law of the cookout. 

The peace offering is unique. The burnt offering was wholly consumed on the altar (Lev. 1). The grain offering was given to God, with some of it reserved for the priests (Lev. 2). The peace offering is the only offering that the offerer could eat. Part of the meat was burnt on the altar before the Lord. Part of the meat was eaten by the priest. The rest of it - burgers and steaks! 

You gather around the grill with friends. You "shoot the bull" while you cook the bull. 

The Meaning of the Peace Offering

The peace offering was a tangible expression of the forgiveness of God. The offerer usually brought it with the burnt offering. The burnt offering proclaims that your sins are gone. The peace offering meant that you and God were at the grill, and the two of you are "good." 

Pay attention to how carefully the priest cuts the peace offering. There is a lot of time, effort, and attention to separating the pieces and designating the choice cuts.

A grill out isn't fast food. You don't open the grill to reveal Burger King bags. My friend Rod paid the price for choice meats, carefully cut to spend time with friends.

Your Devotional Life, Fast Food or A Cookout?

Is your daily time with God fast food or a cookout? Do you fly through some prepackaged devotional that is the fruit of someone else's time with God, or are you in the Word being careful how you cut it?

2 Timothy 2:15 is a familiar verse. Paul is giving his young protégée Timothy instruction about his approach to the Word of God.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15

The Greek word translated "rightly handling" can also mean to cut it straight. It recalls the work of the butcher preparing the meat. It harkens back to the work of the priest preparing the sacrifice.

Your devotional life should be more like a cookout and less like takeout. Don't rush it. You're not trying to "get something out of it." Your goal is to spend time with God.

Read the Word of God slowly. If you don't understand parts of what you read, separate it. Write down observations about the parts you do understand. Are there commands to be obeyed? Are there principles to be applied? Are there promises to be believed? Who are the prime actors in the text? How did God respond to them? What are the sins the text calls for you to avoid?

Whatever questions you choose to ask, cut the text and lay it on the grill. 

Smoke it slowly. Spend time praying over what you've read. Talk to God about it. One of the best parts of a cookout is the conversations you have while things are cooking. The Bible says in 2 Samuel 7:18 that David "went in and sat before the LORD." And David got a Word from God that day. If you want to hear from God, it's going to be at a cookout, not over cheap takeout. 

Low and Slow

When I read Psalm 1, I smell savory smoke.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 1:1-3

He delights in the law of the Lord. He meditates on it day and night. He cooks it low and slow, and that smoke smells better the longer the Word is on the grill. 

And don't forget. You bring the peace offering with the burnt offering. You are there with a friend. Confess sin. Cleanse your life from the junk of the day. Let God burn it away in the grace of His forgiveness. But bring the peace offering as well. 

You and God are good. 

He wants to spend time with you.

You are no longer enemies. 

Cookouts are best amongst friends.

So, before you go about your day, what do you want from God? I want one of those burgers. I want one of His steaks. I want His Word ruminating in my heart. I want to meditate on it low and slow. I want to hear His voice. I want to sit before my Savior.

I want to bring the peace offering. I want a cookout with God.

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