Genesis 15:8-9 - "Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old ..."

Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. "Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon." (Genesis 15:8-9)

Why does God ask for this offering?

Here the Supreme Being is requesting that Abraham make a particular offering to him.

Why would the Supreme Being request that Abraham make such animal offerings?

A relationship with the Supreme Being - just as in all relationships - requires an extension of oneself. This includes extending communications and the extension of offerings.

Just consider when a man comes to the door of a woman he intends to take on a date. What does a man bring? Flowers or some candy. Why? Because he wants to extend his care for the woman. The woman doesn't need any flowers. But the man brings them to show her that he cares for her and wants to establish a relationship with her.

The same goes for reviving our lost relationship with the Supreme Being. God doesn't need anything from us. He didn't need any animals from Abraham. He is already in control. He owns everything.

Why animals?

Abraham lived in the desert regions of Judea. This region did not provide plentiful fruits, roots, and nuts growing from trees for Abraham and his followers to eat. Therefore, Abraham and his followers needed to eat meat in order to keep their bodies alive.

But because Abraham and his followers required these animals for survival, they treasured the animals (e.g., 'Abram had become very wealthy in livestock...' (Gen. 13:2)). They kept flocks of animals to ensure their future survival in this barren region.

And it is this reason that the Supreme Being requested Abraham make an offering of these animals to Him. It wasn't that God treasured the animals - or even needed them. But by offering what was treasured by Abraham, Abraham would have the opportunity to increase his devotion and commitment to the Supreme Being.

It is for this very reason that a woman wants a man to buy her an expensive ring for their engagement. She wants him to show his devotion to her by making a big sacrifice for her - by spending his hard earned money - money he'd probably prefer spending on his car or something else.

It is not as if God goes around asking people to kill some animals for Him. In fact, as we find out later, there are specific rules for offering animals to the Supreme Being. And it was not just any animal, but specifically, those animals that were recommended for eating - in order to survive.

Today most of us do not need to herd and slaughter animals to survive. Most of us have plenty of other food options, many of which do not require the slaughter of animals at all. Are we to go ahead and slaughter animals even if we do not need to eat them to survive?

Doesn't God prefer humans don't eat meat?

We find clear evidence that the Supreme Being preferred that humans do not eat meat:
"I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food." (Genesis 1:30)
But we find that after the regional flood of Noah, which left this region increasingly barren, the Supreme Being allowed His worshipers in this region to eat meat if they had to - and under certain conditions:
"Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it." (Genesis 9:3-4)
We should note that during this same time in history, vegetarian lifestyles were flourishing throughout Asia, India and Indonesia. The historical record is clear that among those areas where ancient monotheism flourished, plant-based foods and dairy were the primary diet of these regions, with the exception of marine and fish diets along the coastlines.

And we find from these verses that the Supreme Being allowed these followers to eat meat when they needed to, but the process of slaughter was highly regulated. Why?

Because the Supreme Being prefers that we only slaughter animals and eat meat if absolutely necessary for the survival of the body.

As such, the Supreme Being readily accepts - with few restrictions - any offering that does not require the killing of an animal. This includes fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and so many other foods and other items, such as water, flowers, incense and treasured stones. God also sanctioned these to be offered to Him in many Biblical verses. And amongst other monotheistic cultures, we also find offerings made to God with these items.

What is the purpose of making offerings to God?

Offering to the Supreme Being some treasure, or food prior to our eating it allows us to gradually re-develop our personal relationship with the Supreme Being. We begin to put our relationship with Him in front of our desire for that food or treasure.

From these and many other verses, we know that Cain, Able, and Noah before Abraham also made offerings to God. And Job, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah and other Prophets also made offerings. We must, therefore, conclude that the Supreme Being and His representatives all sanction and advise making personal offerings to the Supreme Being.

This is despite the reality that many sectarian teachers and their institutions have practically ignored this honored activity of making offerings to God.

Yet this activity was also sanctioned by Jesus:
“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering." (Matthew 5:23-24 NASB)

And Jesus *said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” (Matthew 8:4 NASB)

"You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering? (Matthew 23:19 NASB)
The New American Standard Bible (NASB) version was used for the above verses in Matthew, because the translators appropriately translated the Greek word δῶρον (dōron) to "offering" instead of "gift" as most other versions have done. The Greek word δῶρον (dōron) can certainly mean a "gift," but also an "offering" - or "the offering of a gift or of gifts" according to Strong's lexicon. In this context, Jesus is clearly referring to making offerings to the Supreme Being.

This can be done at the Altar, or as Jesus did when he "gave thanks" (a mistranslation), offerings can be made to the Supreme Being any place by utilizing a prayer directed to God.

What are freewill offerings?

Offerings of devotion to God were also called "freewill offerings:"
"I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you; I will praise your Name, O LORD, for it is good." (Psalm 54:6)
As Jesus illustrated when he "gave thanks" (a mistranslation for making an offering), offerings can be made to the Supreme Being any place by praying directly to God from within the heart.

As Jesus illustrated, offerings to God do not have to be formal. We can pick a flower and simply close our eyes and make a silent offering to God at any time and any place. We can silently - as did Jesus many times when he "blessed" food - make an offering of our food to the Supreme Being (prior to eating it) privately even when in a public place. In the privacy of our homes, we can also make offerings to God accompanied by prayer and singing His Holy Names, as did David as stated above, and Abraham:
"...where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the LORD." (Genesis 13:4)
We find many other verses among the scriptures that the prophets made offerings to God as they praised and glorified God and His Holy Names in prayer, chant and song. When this is accompanied by a devotional offering, the person extends their heart, their words, and a small, symbolic gift to the Supreme Being. Over time, this activity gradually re-develops our lost personal relationship with the Supreme Being.