Sweet aroma

Yeshua’s sacrificial death on the cross put an end to the Old Testament sacrificial system, which was a weight. Not only was it a lot of work (priests had to follow strict procedures), an impure offering would jeopardize Israel’s covering.

God commanded the Israelites in Leviticus 1:2 to bring an animal offering to Him. A person could respond two ways: offer the sacrifice with reverence or simply go through the motions. In New Testament times the latter response provoked Yeshua to drive out money changers who were selling blemished animals in the Temple. Some Jews failed to notice the sad condition of their offering or didn’t care.

God regarded sacrificial offerings, offered genuinely, as a sweet aroma. Rabbinic commentary in the ArtScroll Chumash explains: “The aroma of the offering going up in smoke on the altar pleases God because, as the sages express it, ‘I have spoken and My will has been done.’ . . . It is remarkable that the huge animal offering and the tiny bird offered are described identically as a satisfying aroma. It matters not to God whether one brings much or little, so long as one’s heart is directed sincerely to heaven.”

Yeshua taught this principle as he directed His disciples’ attention to a poor widow offering pocket change at the Temple treasury (Mark 12:41-44): “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.”

I love how the Old and New Testaments are in harmony. Look how our gospel passage mirrors this Artscroll reflection on Leviticus: “Of all who bring voluntary offerings, only someone who brings a meal offering is described as a ‘soul.’ Since this very inexpensive offering would be brought only by poor people, God says, “I will regard it as if he had offered his very soul.”

Written by Jeff King

Jeff is a retired newspaper journalist in the United States and follower of Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth

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