Fine Flour and a childhood sandbox
When I was a lad in a town in north central Iowa, back in the corner of our yard there on 16th Street NE, near the space mother had set aside for growing rhubarb, was our childhood sandbox. I vaguely recall its edges were wooden, and various child-appropriate implements were found therein, from a little metal shovel to small buckets. These were pre-plastic days, mind you. Of course this was a good decade or more before a warped zoology professor at a University far away in the Texas panhandle would forever close my door of comfort regarding uncovered sandboxes (something to do with cat waste and parasites). Anyway- back to the childhood & ignorance of such matters-
One implement I was fond of using was not found nor kept in that sandbox, it was mother’s flour sifter. Not many today even know what a flour sifter is, as all flour that I know of bought at the grocery store is pre-sifted. Back then recipes often called for the baker to first sift the flour. I do not recall if it was done with permission or not, but from time to time that flour sifter would make it into my hands for use in that sandbox. And I wasn’t cooking anything.
Perhaps the sifter itself should be explained. It was a half circle thing, with a metal surface that looked and acted much like a firm screen. It was a screen actually. There was a lever on the handle, that as you squeezed it & released, would move a rounded bar of sorts back and forth inside the sifter against the edge of the half-circle screen. Thus the fine flour would be worked out through the screen to fall below into a bowl or what have you... while larger pieces either broken up to allow them to fall through, or they’d be discarded with a tap of the sifter over a trash can.
Well as a little boy of perhaps 4-7 years old, it was quite a pleasure to sift sand with mother’s flour sifter. You would be amazed just how fine sand can be “sifted” with such an implement, and of course the larger pieces were thrown aside. After all they were lumpy and rock-ish, while the sand was delicate and fine. Fine sand you might call it.
Many a year passed, and I had been converted to Christ and was now a man. I was preparing one day to speak in a Church meeting about the typical meaning of the Levitical Offerings, and the matter of the “fine flour” came into view from Leviticus 2.
Leviticus 2:4 -and if you bring as an offering a grain offering baked in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mixed with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil.
As a picture of the perfect humanity of Christ, the fine flour in 2:4 caught my attention and sparked a childhood memory related to my use of the flour sifter.
Somewhere in the sermon preparation, when thinking about this fine flour, my mind was drawn to that little flour sifter that mother had, perhaps in the drawer under the oven, I am don’t recall exactly. And there I was as a little lad sifting away in the sandbox, oblivious to a spiritual truth I would one day draw on when considering the fine flour, in typical teaching from Leviticus 2. Oh that soft sand would fall and you could run your fingers through it, was quite different compared to the roughness of the regular sand. Something similar I suppose takes place when sifting flour.
Of course historically Leviticus 2 speaks of the Grain or “Meal” offering that the Israelites were to bring as a companion offering, usually along with the Burnt Offering. Much typical teaching is there for the spiritual heart to enjoy, beyond the scope of this little memory. It all speaks of the person and work of Christ.
Ah to be a little boy again, with not a care, sifting perhaps the whole sandbox to get at that soft purity. I am not sure if I had Attention Deficit Disorder, as they call it now, but I can picture myself doing some massive sifting. Yet it is now much better to be a man, a converted man at that, and consider the fine flour that pictures One Who never had to be sifted in that sense, for He always was the fine flour of perfect humanity that this offering typifies. I can still feel the softness of that sand in my hand's memory.
Oh to appreciate His perfect humanity as seen in the fine flour. For it took such a perfect and spotless man to be the acceptable offering to God.
I’ve not seen a flour sifter in years, last time at an antique mall. There I lifted it with a wry smile- no one could possibly have guessed why. Should have bought it, in hindsight.
Sifters are no longer needed. What a loss. Ah well, something better remains.
Consider Him, reader.