The Theology of BBQ
God loves barbeque (BBQ), also known as “burnt offerings” (e.g. well-done lambs, rams, bulls, goats, etc.), and we see this clearly throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. In fact, God loves BBQ so much that most people would consider Him completely obsessed with it! Smelling BBQ was the one thing the Bible says He wants all the time. Everything centers around BBQ to God! God commanded His people to make BBQ the way He wanted so He would forgive them for their sins. God was pretty picky with His BBQ – it had to be prepared the right way and He liked it well-done. This is because God couldn’t eat it, He could only smell it. The Bible says the smell of BBQ was “soothing” to God. Eventually, the torture and death of Jesus (the ultimate sacrifice) replaced this BBQ and now we can enjoy BBQ anytime we want. We are made in the image of God so, therefore, we should like BBQ. We can even eat BBQ pork now (thank God!) and the only reason God prohibited the Israelites from eating pork was probably so they wouldn’t get sick from not cooking it right. Ever heard of a Jewish “chef?” Didn’t think so.
We see in the very beginning of the Bible that God made all of the animals and called them “good” (Genesis 1:25). In the next verse, God says “let us make man in our image” (referring to the Trinity) and let them rule and have dominion over all the animals. Adam and Eve then disobey God and eat fruit (Genesis 3:6). God curses the snake and says, “Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals!” Women get cursed with birth pains and ruling husbands (Genesis 3:16). God tells Adam, “Because you listened to your wife…by the sweat of your brow you will eat your food,” so men got cursed with working for food (Genesis 3:17-19). God then kills some animals to give Adam and Eve some clothing (Genesis 3:21) and they probably had a BBQ.
The Ultimate BBQ Showdown
Remember Cain and Abel (Genesis 4)? Well, this is the first recorded BBQ in the Bible and it was the ultimate BBQ showdown! Cain made a vegetarian burnt offering (BBQ) from “fruit of the ground” while Abel brought “fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.” Who do you think won? It’s no surprise that the next verse states, “The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering He did not look with favor” (Genesis 4:4-5). Fat saved the day and we will see how this BBQ changed the rest of history! Well, Cain got really jealous that God liked his BBQ more, so Cain immediately killed Abel. God was so angry that Cain killed His favorite chef, that He cursed Cain and his crops. Adam had another child named Seth to replace Abel, and there became two lines (or families) of people, Cain’s evil line and Seth’s good line, all going back to that BBQ showdown!
BBQ Probably Saved Mankind
Next we have the story of the Flood. After Noah was born, Seth’s family was sleeping around with some of Cain’s family but they weren’t supposed to. God got fed up (Genesis 6:3) and decided people should only live to 120 years old. People were living longer because they didn’t have pollution, diseases, etc. However, everyone started to become really wicked and thought about evil all the time (Genesis 6:5). They probably weren’t having enough BBQs either. God was upset but He liked Noah, and Noah (and his family) knew how to make BBQ. Well, God tells Noah to build an Ark, fill it with animals (so we can have BBQ… and pets!), and then floods the entire earth for 150 days so everything dies except Noah, his family, and the animals, all on the Ark (Genesis 6:14-7:24). God dried up the land with a strong wind (Genesis 8:1) and told Noah and his family to come out of the Ark with the animals. Well, what do you think is the very first thing Noah does? As soon as they get out, Noah builds a BBQ! (Genesis 8:20):
“20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done” (Genesis 8:20-21).
When God “smelled a smoothing aroma,” he “then” decided not to wipe us out again. Thank God Noah knew how to make good BBQ! Noah also had a vineyard and knew how to make good wine, which we will see God likes to have with his BBQ. We then read that God created the rainbow to remind Himself of this first BBQ and the resulting promise not to kill us (Genesis 9:14-16).
Abraham Gets a BBQ Test
God decides to test Abraham and tells him to BBQ his new son Isaac (Genesis 22:2). Abraham must have known it was a trick (he knew God personally) but went along with it because he trusted God. Abraham gets everything ready for the BBQ, even tying up his son and putting him on the wood, but God then stops him and tells him it was a test. Abraham sees a Ram stuck in a bush so he kills it and has a BBQ with his son, and their conversation must have been interesting!
The Passover BBQ
God commands every Israelite to eat BBQ or every firstborn child and animal will die. I don’t think anyone claimed to be a vegetarian or that “going vegan” was best. Remember:
"For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables" (Romans 14:2 NKJV).
BBQ From Heaven
Moses led the Israelites through the desert and during this time, God fed them, but it wasn’t BBQ because God was mad at them. They kept complaining they didn’t have meat for BBQ (they had all the meat they wanted in Egypt and God got sick of their complaining and make quail fall out of the sky (Exodus 16:13).
The Tabernacle Was Built For BBQ
In the Old Testament, they built a “tabernacle” or a sort of tent for God while the Israelites wandered throughout the desert. Some of the highlights were the Ark of the Covenant, as well as the burnt offering altar and incense altar. This is where the BBQ’s went down at least twice a day, morning and night. God wanted the smell of BBQ to constantly filled this place!
We Can BBQ Anything
Leviticus chapter 11 lists the dietary restrictions God gave to the nation of Israel. The dietary laws included prohibitions against eating pork, shrimp, shellfish and many types of seafood, most insects, scavenger birds, and various other animals. The Jews were also not allowed to associate or visit a Gentile (Acts 10:28). They had to BBQ by themselves. God gave the apostle Peter a vision in which He declared that formerly unclean animals could be eaten: “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (Acts 10:15). However, the main purpose of this vision was to get the Jews to eat with Gentiles and tell them about Jesus. The dietary rules were never intended to apply to anyone other than the Israelites and were to make the Israelites distinct from all other nations. After this purpose had ended, Jesus declared all foods clean (Mark 7:19). When Jesus died on the cross, He fulfilled the Old Testament law (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:24-26; Ephesians 2:15). This includes the laws regarding clean and unclean foods.
Romans 14:1-23 further instructs us that not everyone is mature enough in the faith to accept the fact that all foods are clean. As a result, if we are with someone who would be offended by our eating “unclean” food, we should refrain as to not offend the other person.
There’s BBQ In Heaven
Ever heard of the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb” or the “Wedding Feast of the Lamb?” Isaiah described it in detail in Isaiah 25 and 65, as well as John in Revelation 19 and 21. Isaiah says it will be a BBQ:
“On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines” (Isaiah 25:6).
We read in Luke 22:16-18 (and paralleled in Matthew 26:29 and Mark 14:25) the following: 16 “for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
This is called the “Lord's Supper” or “Last Supper,” (a BBQ), which Jesus commanded His followers to practice until His return to get His bride. Christ's promise to not eat or drink again until He does it when the kingdom comes means that He will be celebrating His marriage supper/wedding feast at His second coming. This is also reinforced in verse 29 and 30: "and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Genesis and Revelation also talk about the Tree of Life which bore 12 fruits and we will eat from it.
The BBQ that changed everything
In 2 Chronicles 1, we read that Solomon got everyone (“all of Israel”) together for a BBQ (2 Ch. 1:2-6) of 1,000 burnt offerings and God was so happy, the Bible says “That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, ‘Ask for whatever you want me to give you.’” Have you ever had BBQ so good that you would have done anything for the cook? I have and totally understand where God is coming from! Solomon asked for wisdom and knowledge, and God made him the wisest person (1 Ki. 4:29-34, 2 Ch. 1:12). On top of that, God also gave him what he didn’t ask for but wanted, so Solomon also got wealth, riches and honor (2 Ch. 1:11). God really liked that BBQ!
The Temple of God was built for BBQ
Later in the Bible we see that God got a huge upgrade from a box (“Ark”) to a tent (“Tabernacle”) to a beautiful mansion (“Temple”) on Mt. Zion (aka “Temple Mount”) in Jerusalem. This was built over seven years by Solomon. Although we don’t know the converted size it was measured with (it was in a type of cubit), we know it was huge and absolutely beautiful. Although it had no bedrooms or bathrooms, it had a lot of rooms and was just perfect for God. The main purpose and design of this mansion was around BBQ. In the middle were the incense altar and the burnt offering altar, among other things. It also featured clerestory windows at the top of the temple, which were latticed (had slits) to let the smoke out (1 Ki. 6:4). The wonderful smell of BBQ always filled God’s house!
The Dedication BBQ for the Temple Was Unbelievable!
“When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple” (2 Chronicles 7:1). Then Solomon and all the people offered more sacrifices (v. 4), with Solomon offering 22,000 head of cattle and 120,000 sheep and goats (v. 5).
God was so excited about this BBQ (also described in I Kings 8:62-66) that He wanted to use His own fire to burn it. It’s interesting that after God sends down His fire from heaven and it burns up all the sacrifices and burnt offerings, Solomon gets so excited he kills 22,000 cows and 120,000 sheep and goats! In fact, this party got so out of hand that Solomon opened up the courtyard in front of the temple for more even more BBQ “because the bronze altar [grill] he had made could not hold the burnt offerings, the grain offerings and the fat portions.” Let this be a lesson to always have a grill big enough to hold your BBQ! This went on for 14 days and was definitely a BBQ to remember.
This Temple, called the First Temple (or Solomon’s Temple), was destroyed by Babylon and the Israelites went into captivity for 70 years (Dan. 9:2). They eventually built a Second Temple (also called Herod’s Temple), which took a lot longer to build (46 years) and was eventually much larger. The Romans destroyed this temple in 70 AD, took over Jerusalem, and the Jews haven’t had BBQ since.
Moses and God Throw Some Huge BBQs
God first spoke the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) and Moses wrote everything down. The next day, Moses had some chefs make BBQ (Exodus 24:5), then he went up the sacred mountain with over 70 priests and elders, and they all ate and drank with God (Exodus 24:9-11). Then God commanded Moses to go to the top of the mountain to get tablets of stone on which God wrote His law and commands on how to teach it.
The Bible says, “15 Then Moses went up into the mountain, and a cloud covered the mountain.
16 Now the glory of the LORD rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. 17 The sight of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel. 18 So Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went up into the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights” (Exodus 24:15-18).
So God rested on a mountain and it was covered with smoke for six days, then God calls for Moses. Hmmm. A mountain with a consuming fire on the top and filled with smoke, and God was up there “resting” before the big meeting… I have a theory… God was eating BBQ!
A Column of Smoke During the Day and A Column of Fire At Night
“By day the LORD went ahead of them in a column of smoke to lead them on their way. By night he went ahead of them in a column of fire to give them light so that they could travel by day or by night” (Exodus 13:21).
“Then the LORD appeared in a column of smoke at the entrance to the tent.” (Deuteronomy 31:15). God travelled in His cloud of smoke!
This is an obvious reference to BBQ… God even travelled in a cloud of BBQ smoke! Talk about an obsession!
God Really Likes Burnt Fat With Burnt Bread/Cake
“Also you shall take the fat of the ram, the fat tail, the fat that covers the entrails, the fatty lobe attached to the liver, the two kidneys and the fat on them, the right thigh (for it is a ram of consecration), one loaf of bread, one cake made with oil, and one wafer from the basket of the unleavened bread that is before the LORD; and you shall put all these in the hands of Aaron and in the hands of his sons, and you shall wave them as a wave offering before the LORD. You shall receive them back from their hands and burn them on the altar as a burnt offering, as a sweet aroma before the LORD. It is an offering made by fire to the LORD” (Exodus 29:22-25).
Did you note my “wave offering” highlight? God even likes to be almost teased by having us look up to Him and wave the offering before Him. There are verses throughout the Bible (i.e. Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers) where God commanded them to wave ram parts, including fat (Ex. 29:22, 24), the ram breast (Ex. 29:26, Lev. 8:29), the breast of all of the peace offerings (Lev. 7:30,34; 8:27,29; 9:21), the left shoulder of a ram (Nu. 6:17,19), lamb meat, bread, barley (Lev. 23:10-11,17-20), wheat-bread (Lev. 23:10-14), jewelry, even the Levites! There was even a “heave offering” which once included a bunch of Midionite booty (Numbers 31:25-30, 40-41), including virgins! How they got heaved is uncertain and for another study. So next time you make BBQ, look up to God with thanks and wave your meat, even “heave” it up to God, but don’t let go!
God Details How To Trim It and Cook It... God knows how He likes His BBQ!
3 “Then he shall offer from the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire to the LORD. The fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, 4 the two kidneys and the fat that is on them by the flanks, and the fatty lobe attached to the liver above the kidneys, he shall remove; 5 and Aaron’s sons shall burn it on the altar upon the burnt sacrifice, which is on the wood that is on the fire, as an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD.
6 ‘If his offering as a sacrifice of a peace offering to the LORD is of the flock, whether male or female, he shall offer it without blemish. 7 If he offers a lamb as his offering, then he shall offer it before the LORD. 8 And he shall lay his hand on the head of his offering, and kill it before the tabernacle of meeting; and Aaron’s sons shall sprinkle its blood all around on the altar.
9 ‘Then he shall offer from the sacrifice of the peace offering, as an offering made by fire to the LORD, its fat and the whole fat tail which he shall remove close to the backbone. And the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, 10 the two kidneys and the fat that is on them by the flanks, and the fatty lobe attached to the liver above the kidneys, he shall remove; 11 and the priest shall burn them on the altar as food, an offering made by fire to the LORD.
12 ‘And if his offering is a goat, then he shall offer it before the LORD. 13 He shall lay his hand on its head and kill it before the tabernacle of meeting; and the sons of Aaron shall sprinkle its blood all around on the altar. 14 Then he shall offer from it his offering, as an offering made by fire to the LORD. The fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, 15 the two kidneys and the fat that is on them by the flanks, and the fatty lobe attached to the liver above the kidneys, he shall remove; 16 and the priest shall burn them on the altar as food, an offering made by fire for a sweet aroma; all the fat is the LORD’s” (Leviticus 3:3-16).
This is why God forbid the Israelites to eat the fat from any of His burnt offerings (Leviticus 7:25)… “All the fat is the LORD’s!” Fat is a big deal to God because it smells so good! Even circumcision is symbolic of trimming fat. So make sure you get the right cuts, trim your meat, and cook it right!
God Liked to Smell BBQ Twice a Day
The Daily Offerings – Exodus 29:38-46
38 “Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs of the first year, day by day continually. 39 One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight. 40 With the one lamb shall be one-tenth of an ephah of flour mixed with one-fourth of a hin of pressed oil, and one-fourth of a hin of wine as a drink offering. 41 And the other lamb you shall offer at twilight; and you shall offer with it the grain offering and the drink offering, as in the morning, for a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the LORD. 42 This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD, where I will meet you to speak with you. 43 And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory. 44 So I will consecrate the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. I will also consecrate both Aaron and his sons to minister to Me as priests. 45 I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God. 46 And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.
As you just saw, God wanted to smell BBQ even when He was talking to the Israelites!
The Fire Was Never Allowed To Go Out
“And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not be put out. And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order on it; and he shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings. A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out” (Leviticus 6:12-13).
This is like keeping your BBQ grill on all the time… definitely a BBQ obsession!
Don’t Forget the Feasts
God loved BBQ so much that he gave the Israelites a bunch of holidays for BBQ called “feasts.” I can’t get into that here, and how food was central to the Bible and Christ’s message, but there were a lot of feasts and they were incredibly important! In fact, the Last Supper was the Passover meal during the "Feast of Unleavened Bread." I love the idea of feasts for different foods! The Jews couldn't eat pork but they certainly could have had a Feast of Lamb, Feast of Veal, Feast of Steak, etc.
God Also Likes the Smell of Incense and Wanted it Continuously
God commanded Israel to make a specific altar (like He did for burnt offerings) just for burning incense. This was probably to give the animals a break and so He wouldn’t get tired of the smell of BBQ. God gave specific instructions on how to build the incense altar (Exodus 30:1-10) and commanded Aaron the priest to burn “sweet incense” in it every morning and evening (Exodus 30:7-8) as “a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations” (Exodus 30:8). God took this smell very seriously too. Leviticus 16:13 says, “And he shall put the incense on the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the Testimony, lest he die.” It was really important to God not to get sick of the smell of BBQ and incense was a nice way to change it up a little. If it wasn’t time for BBQ, they had incense as a backup.
The Grain Offering Had Frankincense Added To It to Make It Smell Better
Again, God is really into smells. God wanted the Israelites to burn stuff that smelled good but He also understood that the Israelites naturally had limitations on what they could obtain. Perhaps God would have asked for well-done sausages or chorizos but they didn’t have a meat grinder or sausage maker. And we all know God would have loved bacon but that’s pork and as we concluded before, God didn’t have any faith in the Israelites ability to cook pork right, so it was completely off the menu. Grains were abundant so he had them burn flour with oil and frankincense (sap from a tree):
The Grain Offering - Leviticus 2:1-3:
1 ‘When anyone offers a grain offering to the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour. And he shall pour oil on it, and put frankincense on it. 2 He shall bring it to Aaron’s sons, the priests, one of whom shall take from it his handful of fine flour and oil with all the frankincense. And the priest shall burn it as a memorial on the altar, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD. 3 The rest of the grain offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons’. It is most holy of the offerings to the LORD made by fire.
The Priests Had BBQ Jackets
“Command Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the law of the burnt offering: The burnt offering shall be on the hearth upon the altar all night until morning, and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning on it. 10 And the priest shall put on his linen garment, and his linen trousers he shall put on his body, and take up the ashes of the burnt offering, which the fire has consumed on the altar, and he shall put them beside the altar. 11 Then he shall take off his garments, put on other garments, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place” (Leviticus 6:9-11).
As you can see, the priests wore aprons made of linen (guayaberas?) and linen pants, which is the most breathable and best for warm environments.
Chicharrones Are In the Bible and God Rewarded the Priest With It
“And the priest who offers anyone’s burnt offering, that priest shall have for himself the skin of the burnt offering which he has offered” (Leviticus 7:8).
God Also Liked Wine With His BBQ
Numbers 28:14 – “Their drink offering shall be half a hin of wine for a bull, one-third of a hin for a ram, and one-fourth of a hin for a lamb; this is the burnt offering for each month throughout the months of the year.”
A hin of wine was about 5 quarts or 6 1/3 bottles of wine. So God basically liked slightly more than 3 bottles of wine with a bull, a little over 2 bottles of wine with a ram, and 1 2/3 bottles of wine with a lamb. The proportions sound good to me! Jesus understood the importance of wine, look at His very first miracle – turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana to avert a tragedy, not having enough wine!
So I believe it is clear that God loves BBQ, and he allows us to enjoy the same things He does such as wine, BBQ (including chicharrones), and incense! So put on your guayabera aprons and make a “sweet aroma” BBQ to the Lord!!!
© Todd Tyszka
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