Grace Before Meat
Leviticus 17:1-16
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,…

cf. 1 Corinthians 10:31. From the perfect atonement God provides, we are invited next to turn to the morality he requires. And no better beginning can be made than the acknowledgment of God in connection with our food. The beautiful way the Lord secured his own recognition as the bountiful Giver was by enacting that blood, since it is the means used in atonement, must be devoted to no meaner use. Hence it was to be carefully put away, either by the priest at the tabernacle, or by the huntsman in the dust of the wilderness, and the animal used as a peace offering before God (verse 5). What we have consequently in this chapter is the religious use of food, or, as we have put it, "Grace before meat." In this connection let us observe -

I. THAT GOD HAS IMPLANTED SOME MEMENTO OF HIMSELF IN ALL OUR FOOD. Vegetable as well as animal life, of which we are reminded at every meal, is the sign manual of the living God. It is worse than stupidity not to recognize in the food we eat the gifts of his bounteous hand. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17). Why personify nature into a giver as a mere subterfuge for gross ingratitude? The Divine hand is behind the whole, and an honest heart can see it and will bless it as the source of all!

II. GOD REMINDS US AT EVERY MEAL OF ATONEMENT AS THE PRELIMINARY TO PEACE AND FELLOWSHIP, For all our food once thrilled with organic life. There is literally the sacrifice of life, vegetable and animal, in every meal. Vegetarians sacrifice microscopic life, after all their efforts to sacrifice nothing but vegetable life. Thus our race is reminded of the first principle of atonement, every time we sit down at the table which a bounteous providence has spread. In fact, it is our own fault if every feast be not in a certain sense sacramental. The Supper of the New Testament, as well as the Passover of the Old, embodies the sacrifice of life in order to the support of man. It is on this principle that the world is constituted. If, then, we listened to the voice of Nature as we ought to do, we would hear her calling in every feast for the grateful recognition of that principle in atonement to which we have referred. Peace and communion arc really based in the order of nature upon the sacrifice of life. "Vicarious sacrifice" is a principle of vast range, and the atonement of Jesus is but a single application of it.

III. THE RECOGNITION OF GOD IN EVERY PLEASURE WILL MAKE IT DOUBLY DELIGHTFUL. It is evident that God contemplated hunting as something which might be enjoyed religiously. The blood of the animal was to be carefully covered with dust in the hunting-field. Such a recognition of God may be carried into all legitimate enjoyment. As Charles Lamb suggests saying grace before entering upon new books, as something more fitting than a formal grace before gluttony, let us by all means carry the good custom into everything. We may develop our muscular powers in a religious spirit. Let us have religion in bodily exercise, religion in our social enjoyments, religion in business, religion in politics, religion in all things. "Whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." We should recognize a "muscular Christianity," and a mercantile Christianity, and a Christianity "which doth not behave itself unseemly" in society; in a word, the adaptability of the religious spirit to all lawful relations. The sooner we recognize and realize this, the better. - R.M.E.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

WEB: Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,

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