This last Sunday I got back into my sermon series on the Ten Commandments, picking back up with the Fifth Commandment. As you may note in the outline published a few posts below this one, we traced some of the connotations of the word “honor,” particularly in Exodus.
I need to make one clarification about my assertion that the word “glory/honor” is sometimes translated as “fat,” particularly in connection with the sacrifices. I noted that Eli’s sons steal the fat of the offerings for themselves instead of giving it to the Lord. In 1 Sam. 4:18, when Eli hears the news that his sons are dead and the ark has been captured, he falls backward, breaks his neck and dies. We are told that this is because he was old and “heavy.” In other words, there is a strong “fat” connection running through the Eli narrative. Eli has gotten fat on his sons’ stolen fat.
However, in some of the verses I referenced, the root word for “glory/honor” is not translated “fat” — that’s a different word. The word is actually frequently translated “liver” (Ex. 29:13, 29:22, Lev. 3:4, 3:10, 3:15, 4:9, 7:4, 8:16, 8:25, 9:10, 9:19), all contexts where the fat is being isolated and burned on the altar. So the point still stands: the fatty part of the liver belongs to the Lord, but just in case you’re trying to trace the Hebrew word, you should be aware that the normal word for “fat” is a different word in those verses listed above.
At the beginning of Exodus, the pharaoh was stealing the glory and honor due to the Lord, by heaping burdens upon God’s people, but the Lord intervenes as a faithful Father and delivers His people in order to give them a glory that will give life rather than crush them. By the end of the story, the Israelites are learning to give God the “glory,” pictured in burning the glory-fat on the altar of the Lord.
This is the difference between faithful fathers and tyrannical fathers, pharaohs and shepherds. Pharaohs demand glory and pretend that they are preeminent. But shepherd fathers look to God as the Chief Shepherd Father and seek to call their families to give Him the glory. And when faithful under-shepherds give glory to God and teach their children to do this, they are being given a glory that cannot be taken away and children delight to add to.