Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 71

VOLUME 11, NUMBER 2 A JOURNAL FOR THE THEOLOGY OF CULTURE competition with you.” This whole situation of disobedience and self-focus at the beginning of the story ends up creating all kinds of barriers for food production and getting enough food for people. Food as a Symbol of Sacrifice A second symbol of food is that food is sacrifice. One of the things you see in the Mosaic law is that it’s an agricultural society based on farming or fishing. One of the things that they do is that they take a percentage of the food that they produce and they give it back to God. It’s a sacrifice for them. They have to give up food they could eat or sell and offer it back to God as an offering. The idea is that God blesses the ground—he blesses the land with rain and fertility. This is an act of love on God’s part even in a fallen world, where things are broken and not the way he originally intended them to be. God still engages graciously and provides a way for the land to provide for his people. And his people then respond by giving part of this blessing back to God in return. God says, “I bless the land. I make it productive for you. Yes, it’s difficult, but it’s going to be life for you.” Scripture sees this as a blessing. The rain falls and whether they are good or evil, God provides a way for them to survive. I think of this in terms of the verse in 1 John where John says, “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 Jn 4:19). I think this is an issue of sacrifice in terms of food. The land that God gives us out of his grace provides for us to live and enjoy life. And as a result of that love, we respond back toward him with our own sacrifice. We also have this issue of animals in a sacrifice. The grain offerings were grain. But animals were items of sacrifice as well. And there is a different symbolism there. What’s the difference between grain as sacrifice versus animal as sacrifice? What is the fundamental difference? Death. I guess you could talk about cell death in grain, but we don’t get too worried about that. Blood is being drained out of these animals. So animals become a symbol of life and death. Scripture talks about life being in the blood. So as the animal’s throat is cut, the blood, representing life, gets drained out. This draining of the blood is representative of the consequences of sin. Going back to the beginning, the consequence of being self-oriented rather than God- and other-oriented is death. And people get hurt. People die because of t his. This other-centeredness is what God is constantly bringing back to his people. Remember what happens when you are self-centered rather than other-centered? Ultimately it leads to death and this part of sacrifice. Animals end up here as a source of life as food and an illustration of death. 68