Leviticus 2 requires grain offerings. Leviticus 2:9 directs them. “The priest then shall take up from the grain offering its memorial portion, and shall offer it up in smoke on the altar as an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD.” These offerings come from the harvest fields through those who work in the harvest fields.
God also requires the grain offerings to accompany the whole burnt offerings. Notice Leviticus 2:9 once again. “The priest then shall take up from the grain offering its memorial portion, and shall offer it up in smoke on the altar as an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD.” The grain offerings were offered on the altar of burn offering. Numbers 28:31 makes this explicit. “Besides the continual burnt offering and its grain offering, you shall present them with their drink offerings (emphasis added).”
This is essential to see. The grain offerings accompany the whole burnt offerings. Ezra 7:17 also makes this clear. “You shall diligently buy bulls, rams and lambs, with their grain offerings and their drink offerings and offer them on the altar of the house of your God which is in Jerusalem (emphasis added)” These offerings go together.
Why is this important? We’ve seen the whole burnt offerings look forward to and typify Christ’s atonement. Christ’s sacrifice takes the full wrath of God for sin. “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:2). Any presentation of ourselves or our work to God must be on the basis of the sacrifice of Christ. We dare not divorce our work from His work. It is only His work that makes our work acceptable. Failure to present our work to God on the basis of the work of Christ is self-righteousness. This is one of the lessons of the grain offering.
Cain and Able are an example of this principle. “So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering” (Genesis 4:4-5). Why did God reject Cain’s offering? Grain offerings are not inherently evil of bad. God requires them in Leviticus 2. “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous” (Hebrews 11:4).
Able was a man of faith. He found his righteousness before God in God. He was justified by grace through faith. This was his testimony. Able expressed his faith in the Savior to come by bringing a blood sacrifice, a burnt offering. Cain did not join with his brother by trusting in the Savior who was to come. He was not one with his brother with regard to faith. He did not bring his grain offering in association with or on the basis of the burnt offering. Rather, Cain divorced his grain offering from the blood offering. Divorced from Christ, the offering of his own works was self-righteousness. Failure to present our work to God on the basis of the work of Christ is self-righteousness. This is one of the lessons of the grain offering.
All that you do, do with an eye to Christ. He takes the wrath of God due to you for your sins. He is the sole basis for your acceptance before the Father. Your work is through Him, and for Him, and by Him. This is indeed one of the lessons of the grain offering.