Offering and the relationship to God

Higher topic: Divine Principle
Underlying topic(s):

The tabernacle of the old Israelites was the place where believers could bring offerings to God. When we offer something to God, we do it on an altar in a sacred place. That is similar to offering a meal on a dressed table. It's done out of respect to God and it's done in a protected environment with only those who love God.
By John Eagles, June 26, 2012.
This page is part of an ERW course, Divine Principle.

It is through the bringing of offerings that we maintain and develop a good relationship with God. 'The bringing of offerings,' this sounds somewhat loaded, but actually here is meant something entirely normal.

How do we maintain a relationship with other people? It is by the continuous bringing of offerings. Parents build a house for their children. That's an offering. In a family, all members continually bring offerings to each other. We prepare and serve meals, someone does the dishes, someone makes the money for the household, etc. A life without offerings could not exist.

It is by bringing offerings to God that we can get and restore a good relationship to God. In the religious context we use the word 'offering,' probably to emphasize the need we have to give something to God. So easily we forget that God needs our love and the sharing of our lives.

What is the starting point of an offering?

It is the desire to give something to God. When a parent makes a meal for the child, it is done because the child has a need. Also God has needs. Our offerings address needs in God. The first thing that we therefore must find out are what needs God has. Concern for God is the starting point of each religious offering.

What comes next? Let's think of the example of preparing a meal. First we must buy or collect or harvest the necessary ingredients. In terms of offering, this means that we need to have something to offer. It means that we must invest time and effort to bring together the offering to God.

When we prepare a meal, the first thing we do is washing the ingredients, peeling the potatoes, etc. This already begins when we collect the objects for the offering. When you buy the ingredients for the meal, you are going to pick the best quality items. You don't buy what is bad or rotten. When you harvest lettuce from your garden, you remove the snails if they were eating from it.

This, in official terms, is called the 'splitting of the offering.' The splitting of the offering means that you remove what's bad and keep what's good. In the relationship with God, whether the splitting of the offering was well done or not has everything to do with motivation. When you love someone, you make sure that there's nothing bad in the meal that you prepare. In love, you don't want to hurt the other, and you don't want to do something or give something that is bothersome or dangerous.

The splitting of the offering, the cleansing of the offering is essential for bringing an acceptable offering. If well done, it means that the offering can be good. If not performed correctly, the offering becomes unacceptable.

In the religious context an offering that has not been split well, always means that there is a claim on the offering by evil spirits. For example, the offering of money. Suppose you offer money to God. What does it essentially mean? God already possesses the entire cosmos, because God created it. God is not interested in money itself. God is interested in the good use of money. Evil came about when created beings began to misuse God's creation. Goodness means to turn this around, to make again good use of God's creation. 'Creation' this can mean everything that God created, the things, but also the plants and animals, the angels and the humans, and also God's principles.

When money is offered to God, we first must acquire it. It must be acquired in a honest way, because God doesn't like unprincipled actions. Then, this money must be clean. What means clean money? It means that it is free to be used. When you receive money from someone who has ulterior motives, for example who wants to influence your life for his own benefit, that money cannot simply be offered to God. Attached to this money is the claim of the person who gave it, and in a spiritual sense, evil spirits can connect to this money and for what it is used, and make trouble when the money is used for doing what is God's will.

The splitting of the offering in religious terms means that we separate the offering from wrong attachments. We could also say that this money must be free. To this money should only be attached desires to do good.

The splitting of the offering can only be done correctly when we check our own motivation. Do we really wish to offer something to God that God likes? Do we not have hidden selfish motivation ourselves? Do we really only intend to do God's will or are we possibly having our own ideas and make it look like it were God's? The splitting of the offering must be done in prayer and in a mood of self-investigation.

The next stage of the offering is to give it. How do we give something to God? When you prepared a meal, you won't throw it at the person for whom you made it. You put it nicely on a plate, maybe decorate it so it looks attractive, and then you put it on a table. When we offer to God, we bring the offering on an altar. The altar itself also must be clean and must be located in a good and pure place. That good and pure place is the temple. The temple of offering to God, this can be your own house, or a temple that a group of people share, or a room in your house. But always you offer on an altar. It is to make clear to God that what you offer is for God and not for someone else. Therefore, the temple where you offer, the altar on which you offer, also should be clean and pure and dedicated to God.

Sometimes you cannot offer directly to God. This is the case when your offering is not purely personal but has a wider meaning. When you offer something to God for use in a community, there will be needed a person representing God. That representative of God is the priest.

It is the priest's task to mediate the offering. The priest offers on behalf of others. He is responsible to check the offering, whether it is clean and separated and prepared well, whether there are no evil claims on the offering, and whether there are no evil spirits attached to the offering. Then the priest offers on an altar to God. The priest represents the community in front of God, and represents God in front of the community.

You don't need a priest for bringing personal offerings to God. In the personal offering, which is concerning your individual relationship to God, you yourself are the priest. But we need priests when offerings are brought for a larger community or organization.