We now come to the Meat-offering, which gives us another aspect of the perfect offering of Jesus. We may consider it, first, in its contrasts to the other offerings; that is, as giving us one definite and particular aspect of His offering: and then, secondly, in its several varieties; that is, as bringing out the different apprehensions of this one aspect.
I. And first, In its contrast to the other Offerings. Five points here at once present themselves, which bring out what is distinctive in this offering. The apprehension of these will enable us to see the particular relation which Jesus filled for man as Meat-offering.
(1.) The first point is that the Meat-offering was a sweet savour (Lev. 2:2, 9). In this particular it stands in contrast to the Sin-offering, but in exact accordance with the Burnt-offering. For this latter reason I need not dwell upon the purport of it, as I have already sufficiently considered it in the Burnt-offering. Suffice it to say, that the thought of sin never comes into any of the sweet savour offerings: they represent man in perfect obedience yielding to God an offering which He accepts as pleasing to Him. The Sin-offerings, on the contrary, are not a sweet savour: they represent man as a sinner receiving the penalty due to his offences. But I have already sufficiently pointed out this distinction. I do not therefore here further dwell upon it.
(2.) The second point in which the Meat-offering differed from the others, is seen in the materials of which it was composed. These were “flour, oil, and frankincense” (Lev. 2:1): there is no giving up of life here. It is in this particular, especially, that the Meat-offering differs from the Burnt-offering. The question is, does the Scripture supply us with a key by which to discover what is intended by this distinction? That it does so, not on this point alone, but on every other, I do not entertain a doubt. The Scripture is a key to itself. Besides, we have the Holy Ghost to open it to us: and especially is this His office where Jesus is the subject of our inquiries. God is His own interpreter. We fail in understanding the Scripture because we so little use Him. This I feel assured is the reason we are so often in ignorance. It is not that the truth sought for is not in the Word, but that through lack of communion with Him who gave that Word, we have not enough of His mind to apprehend His meaning, even where He has fully expressed it.
But to return. I said that the great distinction between the Burnt-offering and the Meat-offering was, that life was offered in the one case, fruits in the other. The key to this I believe may be found in more than one place in Scripture. Thus in the first chapter of Genesis we read of God thus allotting to man that part of creation which He intended to satisfy him:—“Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat” (Gen. 1:29). Thus the fruit of the herb and of the tree was man’s allotted portion. But life was reserved as God’s portion, and wholly belonged to Him. It was only after the flood, (and this too I believe is typical,) that man was permitted to eat the flesh of animals. Yet even then the life was God’s part: as it is written, “The life, which is the blood, ye shall not eat” (Gen. 9:4).
The import of this difference between the Burnt and Meat-offerings may now be surely and easily gathered. Life is that which from the beginning God claimed as His part in creation: as an emblem, therefore, it represents what the creature owes to God. Corn, the fruit of the earth, on the other hand, is man’s part in creation; as such, it stands the emblem of man’s claim, or of what we owe to man. What we owe to God or to man is respectively our duty to either. Thus in the Burnt-offering the surrender of life to God represents the fulfilment of man’s duty to God; man yielding to God His portion to satisfy all His claim. In the Meat-offering the gift of corn and oil represents the fulfilment of man’s duty to his neighbour: man in his offering surrendering himself to God, but doing so that he may give to man his portion. Thus the Burnt-offering is the perfect fulfilment of the laws of the first table; the Meat-offering the perfect fulfilment of the second. Of course, in both cases the offering is but one,—that offering is “the body” of Jesus; but that body is seen offered in different aspects: here in the Meat-offering as fulfilling man’s duty to man. The one case is man satisfying God, giving Him His portion, and receiving testimony that it is acceptable. The other is man satisfying his neighbour, giving man his portion as an offering to the Lord.
And how exactly do the emblems here chosen represent the perfect fulness of this blessed offering. God’s claim met perfectly in the Burnt-offering: man’s claim as perfectly satisfied here. Had the Burnt-offering alone been offered, man would have lacked his portion and been unsatisfied: and again, had the Meat-offering been offered to the exclusion of the Burnt-offering, God would have been unsatisfied; it would have been imperfect. But it could not be so; therefore after the law came in, the Meat-offering was regarded as an adjunct of the Burnt-offering. Thus the book of Numbers always speaks of the Meat-offering as in use and practice connected with the Burnt-offering. Having first regulated the amount of flour for the Meat-offering, which was to accompany the different classes of the Burnt-offering (Numb. 28:12, 13), the law proceeds to speak of “the Burnt-offering and its Meat-offering,” “the Burnt-offering and the Meat-offering thereof” (Numb. 29 passim). So again in Ezra the offerings for the altar are summed up as “bullocks, rams, lambs, with their Meat-offerings” (Ezra 7:17; see also Judges 13:19).
The Meat-offering was in fact Cain’s offering, but offered by one who had first offered as Abel did. Cain’s offering was “the fruit of the ground,” offered to God without bloodshedding. How could this, the mere acknowledgment of man’s claim, satisfy Him who had His own claim also on His creatures? And this was Cain’s error. Here was a fallen man, through the fall an exile from Eden, despising the sprinkled blood, that is, the acknowledgment of God’s claim upon him; and presuming to approach and satisfy God with the fruit of the earth, that is, man’s claim. Yet how many, even now, are thinking to render Cain’s offering, deceiving themselves with the idea that of itself it will be accepted. Had any man’s service to his fellow-creatures been such as to justify him before God, that one would have been our blessed Lord; yet even He came not without a Burnt-offering. Christ’s perfect fulfilment of every duty to man was not enough without entire devotedness, even to death, to God-ward. Nor could all this perfectness avail for sinners, had not the Perfect One further been judged for sin.
The Meat-offering, then, to speak of it generally, is Christ presenting Himself to God as man’s meat. Most sweet it is, most precious to the soul of the believer who can thus see Jesus. We shall see this preciousness as we examine particularly the typical import of each of the materials of the Meat-offering.
[i.] The first is “flour;” and the type is significant, in exact accordance with the word, “Bread corn must be bruised” (Isa. 28:28). Bread is the staff of life, and Christ our staff of life is here represented as the bruised One. The emblem, corn ground to powder, is one of the deepest suffering. It is not the blade springing up in beauty, green and flourishing with the rain of heaven, or ripening into full maturity under the influence of the summer sun. The thought is one of bruising and grinding; of pressing, wearing trial. Jesus was not only tried by “fire;” God’s holiness was not the only thing that consumed Him. In meeting the wants of man, His blessed soul was grieved, and pressed and bruised continually. And the bruising here was from those to whom He was ministering, for whom He daily gave Himself. Who can read the Gospels without seeing this? Jesus lays Himself out for others; He spends Himself for others; but they cannot understand Him. His soul is grieved, His spirit bruised with the blindness and hardness of their hearts.
Oh, what a picture of devotedness does His lowly service present to us! Look at Him beginning His course, knowing each sorrow that was to befall Him; foreseeing the whole course of rejection, and the shameful end of His pilgrimage: rejected when He would minister blessing; misunderstood when He gave instruction; suffering not merely at the hands of enemies, but more acutely from those around Him;—to them alone He said, “How long shall I suffer you?” (Mark 9:19)—rejected, misunderstood, suffering, He goes forward without the slightest faltering; He never stops for a moment in His devoted service to all around Him. To the very end of His course, as at the beginning, He is the meat of all who need and will accept Him. We think when trouble or sorrow comes on us, that it is time to care for ourselves. Not so Jesus. We think there must be a limit to our self-sacrifice. Not so our blessed Lord. We think that our interests, our credit, or at least our life, must not be touched or endangered. We think when our kindness is rejected we need not repeat it; we think our times of rest and relaxation are our own. Oh, how unlike to us in all was our blessed, lowly Master! Oh, how far above us in all things! Nothing moved His steadfast heart, or turned Him from doing good. In vain was the stupidity of His disciples, the rage of His enemies, or the craft of Satan. Jesus never wavered nor hesitated; His course of self-surrender was complete.
But are we to suppose He did not feel all this? God only knows the measure of His sufferings, or how deeply He was bruised and broken. As a man He was “in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin;” this aggravated His sufferings. The Psalms here and there give us a glance of His sorrows, though no murmur ever escaped His lips. “Reproach,” He says, “has broken my heart. They lay to my charge things I know not. It was not an enemy that did this, for then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me, for then I would have hid myself from him; but it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked to the house of God in company” (Psalm 69:20; 35:11; 55:12, 13). It may be, some of God’s children cannot enter into this; they know not as yet the trials of service. Only let them follow Jesus in spending and being spent for others, and the emblem of this type, “bruised corn,” will not be altogether strange to them. And, indeed, how much is there of Christ’s suffering which we have no idea of until through grace we are in measure brought into His circumstances, and feel the bruising which our brethren, oft unconsciously, inflict on us, while we would minister to, and be spent for them.
I have just glanced at some of the bruising of Christ’s spirit, but as respects His body also how much was He bruised! What labours, what pains, what weaknesses did He suffer to feed others! (Psalm 22:15; 102:4, 5). So much was He worn by labour, that He could not even bear His cross. Another was compelled to bear it for Him (Mark 15:21). Doubtless this was not kindness but necessity. Jesus was already ground and broken. He was now ready to be put upon the altar.
And what a lesson is there here for the believer who wishes to give himself in service to his brethren! This scripture, as in fact all Scripture, testifies that service is self-surrender, self-sacrifice. Christ, to satisfy others, was broken: and bread corn must still be bruised: and the nearer our ministry approaches the measure of His ministry,—immeasurably far as we shall ever be behind Him,—the more shall we resemble Him, the bruised, the oppressed, the broken One.
But there is another thought brought out in this emblem. The Meat-offering was not only flour; it was to be “fine flour” (Lev. 2:1). In fine flour there is no unevenness, fit emblem of what Jesus was. In Him there was no unevenness. Perhaps in no one respect does He stand out more in contrast to His best and most beloved servants. Jesus was always even, always the same, unchanged by circumstances. In Him one day’s walk never contradicted another, one hour’s service never clashed with another. In Him every grace was in its perfectness, none in excess, none out of place, none wanting. Firm, unmoved, elevated, He was yet the meek, the gentle, the humble One. In Him firmness never degenerated into obstinacy, or calmness into stoical indifference. His gentleness never became a weakness, or His elevation of soul forgetfulness of others. With us our very graces are uneven, and clash and jostle with each other. Our very attempts to live and die for Him who loved us only shew how unlike Him we are.
Take His most devoted followers, a Paul, a John, a Peter. In each of them there is unevenness, one grace preponderates; in Paul energy, in Peter zeal, in John affection. And even in their very graces we see their failings. Paul’s energy leads him to Macedonia when a door is opened in Troas (2 Cor. 2:12, 13): he repents of his letter to Corinth, and then again he does not repent (2 Cor. 7:8). Peter too, through zeal, once and again takes a place he has not grace to occupy: he steps out on the water and sinks (Matt. 14:28-31); he follows Jesus but to deny Him (Matt. 26:58, &c.). So, too, in the beloved disciple, his very affection to his Master does but bring out his unlikeness to Him: he would be the highest, next to His Lord, in the kingdom (Matt. 20:20-24); he would call down fire on all who dared to reject Him (Luke 9:54).
And to turn from apostles to ourselves, we need not, I think, be shewn our unevenness. One thing when alone before God, we are quite another thing before our brethren. In solitude striving and praying against the very folly we commit in public. In one circumstance backward, in another hasty; in this place steadfast, in that wavering. Nor is it our sins alone which shew our unevenness: our very graces are uneven: and our possessing one more than another only shews our deficiency. Why is it that in Paul, John, and Peter, we mark one grace peculiarly, while such a thought never so much as occurs to us in considering our blessed Lord? Is it that His servants surpassed Him in energy, or zeal, or tenderness? The reason is, Jesus was perfect. In His devotedness there was no unevenness. No one grace to be singled out where everything and all were perfect.
[ii.] The next material in the Meat-offering is oil. “He shall pour oil upon it” (Lev. 2:1); this was a necessary ingredient: without it the offering was incomplete. The typical signification of this will be familiar to many, for the New Testament is full of allusions to it. Oil, in its nature nourishing and healing, is the constant emblem of the Spirit’s actings. Jesus as the obedient man was filled with the Holy Ghost, and His oblation of Himself as Meat-offering was in the unction and power of the Spirit. Luke, the Gospel of the Son of Man, gives abundant information on this point. Accordingly we read,—when His public ministry commenced, when, to speak typically, He began to bring His Meat-offering,—“the Holy Ghost descended on Him visibly” (Luke 3:22), the oil was poured on the flour. Immediately after (Luke 4:1), we read again, “Jesus, full of the Holy Ghost, returned from Jordan.” Again, in the fourteenth verse, “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee.” Then immediately (Luke 4:16), in the synagogue of Nazareth, when the book of the prophet Esaias is delivered to Him, He finds the place which describes His anointing and its consequences: and whether He heals the sick, teaches the poor, or feeds the hungry, it is all done in the power of the anointing. “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, and to heal the broken-hearted.” “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and power; and He went about doing good” (Acts 10:38); this is exactly the Meat-offering. And the Gospels from one end to the other in every page are full of it. To take one example from the chapter referred to: no sooner had our Lord commenced His ministry, than they rose up and thrust Him out of the city (Luke 4:29). Go where He would, He was still the Meat-offering; the bruised corn and the oil are always together.
What a contrast to us in all this is Jesus our blessed Master! In Him, viewed simply as a man, the bruised corn is fully anointed. For this reason, bruised as He may be, He never lacks power. How different with us! We are not bruised, we are not broken, but we are powerless: and what little is attempted or done for others is too often in the energy of our flesh rather than in the power of the Spirit. It is this which so ruins our efforts; the power we use for God is our power, not the Spirit. If “we go about doing good,” is it, I ask, in the power of the anointing from above, or in the power derived from some earthly advantage of circumstance, or station, or natural ability? Is it not thought right to seek these things to give power where we feel power is wanting? But this is not the strength Christ walked in: the Meat-offering was “anointed with oil.”
The truth is, that the greatest zeal and knowledge are useless towards others without the Spirit. Look at Christ’s last interview with His disciples! (Luke 24:44-49). We read, “He opened their understandings that they might understand the Scriptures:” He then shewed them “what was written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms concerning Him.” He tells them further, that of these very truths they are the constituted “witnesses.” He then “lifts up His hands and blesses them.” Are they then fitly equipped for the work appointed them? No:—He says, “Tarry till ye be endued with power.” They have knowledge of Christ, they have His commission, they have His blessing; but they lack power, and the word is, “Tarry.” They must wait for “power from on high,” and that power is the Spirit. When shall we learn that we require not only truth but power: and that the only power which avails in ministry is the power of the Holy Ghost?
I have one other remark to make here. The “oil” is in the Meat-offering, not in the Burnt-offering. In the Burnt-offering we have the Spirit as “water” (Lev. 1:9): in the Meat-offering it is seen as “oil.” It is in relation to man, in service to our neighbour, that the Spirit is specially needed in grace and power. There is the flesh in our brethren to try us, and the thousand difficulties of intercourse with evil. How is this to be met aright, save in the grace and unction of the Spirit? But could Jesus in His offering of Himself be so dependent as to need this anointing? Could He require the Spirit of power for His walk and service to those around Him? Yes, He humbled Himself even to this, to take, as a lowly dependent man, the grace which He manifested to others. Blessed Jesus! May we learn more and more to be dependent like Thee.
[iii.] The third ingredient of the Meat-offering is frankincense:—“he shall put frankincense thereon” (Lev. 2:1); in connexion with which, and yet in contrast, it is commanded,—“ye shall burn no honey unto the Lord” (Lev. 2:11). These emblems, like all the others, are at once simple yet most significant. Frankincense is the most precious of perfumes, of enduring and delightful fragrance: fit emblem of the sweetness and fragrance of the offering of our blessed Lord. Honey, on the other hand, though sweet, is corruptible; soon fermented, and easily turned sour. In frankincense the full fragrance is not brought out until the perfume is submitted to the action of fire. In honey it is just the reverse; the heat ferments and spoils it.
The bearing of this on the offering of Jesus is too obvious to require comment. The fire of God’s holiness tried Him, but all was precious fragrance. The holiness of God only brought out graces which would have escaped our notice had He never suffered. Yea, much of the precious odour of His offering was the very result of His fiery trial. How different is it in believers! There is in many a sweetness of nature,—very sweet for a while it may seem to our taste,—which yet will not stand the test of fire: the first trial is enough to sour it. Who is there that has been cast into sifting circumstances, where God’s holiness and our ease or interests have come into collision, without feeling how much there is in us which could not be a sweet savour on the altar? And have we never found, in setting even before saints some plain but neglected command of our Master, that much of the sweetness in them, which we have taken to be frankincense, has at once shewn itself to be fermenting honey. It was not so with the blessed Jesus:—“Anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows, all His garments smell of myrrh, aloes, and cassia” (Psalm 45:7, 8). “Because of the savour of His good ointments, His name is like ointment poured forth” (Canticles 1:3). Sweetness there is in abundance, but the sweetness of frankincense, not honey. Well might the bride exclaim, “My beloved is a bundle of myrrh; my beloved is to me as clusters of camphire” (Canticles 1:13, 14). And not to her alone: for her He has been a sweet savour unto Jehovah.
[iv.] The fourth and last ingredient of the Meat-offering is salt:—“Every oblation of the meat-offering shalt thou season with salt” (Lev. 2:13). And to bring out the typical import more clearly, another emblem by way of contrast is added:—“No meat-offering shall be made with leaven” (Lev. 2:11): there must be salt; there must be no leaven.
The import of these emblems is obvious: the one positively, the other negatively, bringing but one and the same thought before us. “Salt,” the well-known preservative against corruption, is the emblem of perpetuity and incorruptness; while “leaven,” on the other hand, composed of sour and corrupting dough, is the as well-known emblem of corruption. Thus, when the Apostle would sum up in a word “the incorruptness, gravity, and sincerity,” befitting a Christian, he says, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt” (Col. 4:6). Thus again, when a covenant is described as perpetual, it is spoken of as “a covenant of salt” (Numb. 18:19; 2 Chron. 13:5). The use of the word “leaven” is even more familiar. We read of “the leaven of the Pharisees” (Luke 12:1), “the leaven of the Sadducees” (Matt. 16:6), and “the leaven of Herod” (Mark 8:15). So, too, in the Epistles, we are enjoined to “purge out the old leaven” (1 Cor. 5:7). (Note: The parable of the leaven, Matt. 13:33, may perhaps be quoted as giving to leaven another meaning. I am satisfied, however, that there, as in every other place, leaven is the emblem of evil and corruption. Of course, the great thought in the parable is the spread of nominal Christianity, while it is left for spiritual apprehension to discern whether what is actually spread is good or evil. But the Church is so blind to her own state, that she can neither see it as foretold in Scripture or existing in fact. As with the disciples at the sepulchre, a fact is before us which but few have eyes or heart to apprehend.) Here we have a key to these emblems. Jesus in His blessed offering brought that with it which not only secured its own incorruption, but which supplied a preservative against corruption to whatever He might come in contact with. It might not always be sweet to man’s taste, but it was the seasoning of the offering to the Lord.
How different is it with the most devoted Christians! Leaven is mixed with their choicest offerings. But our God has foreseen and provided for it. Thus at the offering at Pentecost, and the oblation with the Peace-offering, (appointed emblems of the Church’s offering,) leavened cakes were offered to the Lord, but though accepted, they could not be burnt as a sweet savour. These offerings I shall notice as I proceed; I do not therefore here enter into them, further than to observe, that no measure of oil, that is, the Spirit, could counteract the effect of leaven. A cake might be anointed again and again, but if there had been leaven in its composition, it could not be put upon the altar. What a lesson for those who are looking to the Spirit in them rather than to Christ for them as the ground of acceptance! The Spirit’s operations in the greatest power will never alter or destroy the old nature. As soon may we expect the nettle to yield us olives as for sinful flesh to be ought but sinful. Salt water cannot be washed sweet: you may pour oil on it, but they will not mingle; “that which is born of the flesh is flesh; that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). The flesh is still in Paul, after he has been caught up to Paradise; he therefore needs the thorn in it to humble him (2 Cor. 12:4, 7). The power of the flesh in us may be controlled, and its active energy restrained or weakened, but the leaven is still within us, only waiting its opportunity to rise. “The root of bitterness” is there, though it may be out of sight and kept from budding.
It was not so with the blessed Jesus. Even by natural birth He was born of God. His nature, as well as His walk, was sinless; for “He was conceived by the Holy Ghost.” Thus, when, after a trial of centuries, both Burnt-offering and Meat-offering had failed in man’s hand, Jesus in “the body prepared for Him” came to do His Father’s will. These offerings in type shew us how He did it. And He was accepted for us.
(3.) But it is time that we pass on to consider the third particular in which the Meat-offering stood in contrast to the other offerings.
The Meat-offering was not wholly burnt (Lev. 2:2, 3). In this it differed from the Burnt-offering. Christ as performing man’s duty to God,—that is, the Burnt-offering,—was wholly the food of God, wholly put upon His altar, wholly consumed by Him. But Christ as performing His duty to man,—that is, the Meat-offering,—is also man’s meat, the food of the priests:—“The remnant of the meat-offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons’; it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the Lord made by fire.” Yet even here He satisfies God. “A handful, the memorial of the offering,” is put upon the altar, to teach us, that even in fulfilling man’s duty to his neighbour, Christ fulfilled it as “an offering unto the Lord.”
But though God had thus a portion in the Meat-offering, it is nevertheless specially the food of man; primarily to be viewed as offered for us to God, but also as given to us, as priests, to feed on. For us, as Meat-offering, Jesus fulfilled what was due to man. He did this as our representative, as the substitute of those who trust Him:—in this aspect of the offering our souls find peace; here is our acceptance:—but this, though securing peace, is but a part of our blessed portion. If Jesus did all this for us, will He not do it to us? As righteous in Him, we still have wants, we need daily food and anointing; and for these as much as for righteousness, we are debtors to His abounding grace. We need Him, and we have Him as our brother to fulfil His part of the law to us, “for He came not to destroy, but to fulfil” (Matt. 5:17). The law is, that the priests should be fed of the altar; they may not work for their bread as others. The faithful Israelite is the appointed channel of their subsistence: on his faithfulness, under God, do they depend for their food. Jesus, as the faithful Israelite, will not fail the priests who wait at the altar. Let His priests (“ye are a royal priesthood,” 1 Pet. 2:9) be but found where they should be, and His offering will be there to feed them. “He will abundantly bless the provision, He will satisfy His poor with bread” (Psalm 132:15).
We do not sufficiently think of Jesus in this aspect, as presenting Himself to God as man’s meat. The Gospels, however, are full of it: it shines out in every page. Jesus, with all His devotedness to God, was still ever the devoted servant of all around Him. Who ever drew upon His love or power, and went away without being satisfied? He opened His hand wide unto His brother, to the poor and the needy in the land. What sorrow was there, what need, what trial, to which Jesus refused to minister?
How precious, then, is Jesus, viewed as Meat-offering! We often want one to fulfil toward us those acts of love and sympathy which our lonely hearts yearn after. Around us there is a heartless world, or brethren, it may be, who can neither sympathise with, nor help us. We think, perhaps, if Jesus were here on earth, we would go to Him and tell Him our sorrows. We are sure, if He were still “the man of sorrows,” that we should have a claim on His loving heart. But is He not the same now as in His humiliation, “the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever?” (Heb. 13:8). Surely He is the same to those who come to Him. Oh, may we learn thus to use Him, that He may satisfy us in every difficulty; when poor to give us bread, when mourning to dry our tears! Weary pilgrim, Jesus is the Meat-offering, to meet your claim as well as God’s. You have a claim on Him; it is your necessity. He must, as a brother, answer it. Come to Him, then, as the One to feed you: it is more blessed for Him to give than for you to receive. Know Him as the One who, when all else fail, has a Meat-offering already provided to satisfy you.
I said that the Meat-offering was not all burnt; but though not all burnt, all was consumed. In this offering the offerer had nothing for himself. God and His priests had the whole between them. How simple, how instructive the lesson! If we could fulfil every duty to God and man according to the standard God has given,—if our bodies were really a living sacrifice,—if we were offered on the sacrifice and service of faith, as Jesus set us an example, what should we have left for self? Just what was left of the Burnt and Meat-offering;—nothing. Between God and man all would be consumed. A holy God and a needy world would require everything.
I would that they, who think to earn heaven by their fulfilment of the law, might learn here what fulfilling the law comes to, and how far it is above and beyond them! The Burnt-offering and the Meat-offering together are God’s standard of full obedience: and what a picture do they give us! The first, the Burnt-offering, requiring perfectness in every member, and then the entire surrender of every member; the head, the inwards, the legs, all yielded up upon the altar. The next, the Meat-offering, though giving another aspect of devotedness, not a whit behind the Burnt-offering in entire self-surrender; witness the bruised corn, the oil, the frankincense, and the salt to savour it all. This is God’s measure of devotedness; that is what satisfies Him. One, and but one, has thus satisfied Him; and in Him, and in Him alone, we may rejoice.
(4.) The fourth point I notice in the Meat-offering is, that, though intended for, and for the most part consumed by, man, it was, nevertheless, “offered unto the Lord” (Lev. 2:1). In this particular, as in every other, the Meat-offering has something well worth our notice. In the Meat-offering the offerer gives himself as man’s meat; yet this is yielded as “an offering unto Jehovah.” The offering indeed fed the priests; but it was offered, not to them, but to the Lord. The first Adam took for man not only what was given him, but what God had reserved for Himself. The second Adam gave to God not only God’s portion, but even of man’s part God had the first memorial. Jesus as man, in satisfying man’s claim on Him, did it as “an offering unto the Lord.”
With us how much even of our graces is offered to man rather than to God. Even in our most devoted service, what a seeking there is, perhaps unconsciously, to be something in the estimation of others: some secret desire, some undetected wish, even by our very service to be greater here. The very gifts of God and the power of His Spirit are sought the better to give us a place in this world. Thus are our very graces used to obtain for us glory, not of God, but of those around us. Surely this is one of the reasons why God can trust us with so little, for with His gifts we build up our own name, instead of His name. But how unlike all this to our Master; yea, how unlike even to His apostles! “Neither of men,” says Paul, “sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others” (1 Thess. 2:16). This is our calling, not only to be nothing in the world, but to be willing to be nothing even among our brethren; to take the nearest place to Him who has indeed taken the lowest.
And in these last days, when through abounding iniquity the love of many is waxing cold,—when the service which the time demands is the only service the Church will not accept,—Christ’s example, as here seen in the Meat-offering, is one most precious to us. His service to His neighbour was always “an offering unto the Lord.” Thus He gladly was spent for others, though the more He loved them, the less He was loved. May we be thus like Him, that so through grace we may be steadfast. If, on the other hand, our labour of love is offered for man’s acceptance, when man rejects us our labour will cease. And surely this is the secret of much of our half-hearted service. But let us when ministering to others, offer ourselves, like Jesus, “unto the Lord,” and not unto man; then, though our love is here slighted, it will be accepted by Him to whom we offer it.
We have thus marked four particulars in which the Meat-offering differed from the other offerings. First, it was of a sweet savour; here it differed from the Sin and Trespass-offerings. Next, it was fed upon by the priests; here, as well as in its materials, it differed from the Burnt-offering. Then again it left nothing for the offerer; here it differed from the Peace-offering. It now remains for me to point out,
(5.) In the last place, the contrast between the Meat-offering and the offering of first-fruits at Pentecost. The distinction is stated in the twelfth verse:—“As for the oblation of the first-fruits, ye shall offer them unto the Lord, but they shall not be burnt on the altar for a sweet savour.” The contrast is this:—the Meat-offering was a sweet savour: the oblation of first-fruits, though very like the Meat-offering, was not so. For the key to this we must turn to Leviticus 23, where the law respecting “the oblation of first-fruits” is given to us. In that chapter we have a list of the Feasts. First in order comes the Passover, on the fourteenth day at even (Lev. 23:5): then the wave-sheaf of first-fruits, on the morrow after the sabbath (Lev. 23:11): and then, fifty days after, the oblation of the first-fruits on the day of Pentecost (Lev. 23:15-17). The “sheaf of first-fruits,” on the morrow after the sabbath, might be burnt to the Lord as a sweet savour (Lev. 2:14-16); but “the oblation of the first-fruits” at Pentecost might not be burnt on the altar (Lev. 2:12). The reason for this distinction is found in the fact, that “the sheaf of first-fruits” was unleavened, while “the oblation of first-fruits” at Pentecost was mixed and made with leaven (Lev. 23:17).
The typical application of all this is too obvious to need any comment. Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us, and sacrificed on the predetermined day (John 18:28; 1 Cor. 5:7). Then “on the morrow after the sabbath,” the next ensuing sabbath, that is, on the appointed “first day of the week” (Mark 16:1, 2), Christ “rose from the dead, and became the first-fruits of them that slept” (1 Cor. 15:20). In Him there was no sin, no leaven; He was in Himself a sweet savour to Jehovah. With this offering, therefore, no Sin-offering was coupled; it was offered only with a Burnt-offering and Meat-offering (Lev. 23:12, 13). But fifty days after this, “when the day of Pentecost was fully come,” the Church, typified by the leavened oblation of first-fruits, is offered unto the Lord: for we, as well as Jesus, are first-fruits; “we are,” says James, “a kind of first-fruits of His creatures” (James 1:18). But this offering, having sin in it, being “mixed with leaven,” could neither stand the test of the fire of the altar, nor be an offering made by fire of a sweet savour unto the Lord. Yet it was to be both offered and accepted:—“Ye shall offer it, but it shall not be burnt” (Lev. 2:12). And why, and how, was this leavened cake accepted? Something was offered “with it,” for the sake of which the leavened first-fruits were accepted. They offered with the leavened bread a Burnt-offering, a Meat-offering, a Peace-offering, and a Sin-offering (Lev. 23:18, 19); for leaven being found in the oblation of first-fruits, a Sin-offering was needed with it. And the priest waved all together: “the priest shall wave them with the bread of the first-fruits for a wave-offering before the Lord.” The Church comes with Christ before God; it is offered with all the value of His work attached to it. In itself it cannot stand the trial of God’s holiness, for no measure of oil can naturalise the leaven; but in Christ, and with Christ, and for Christ, it is accepted even as He is. Thus when the Church is presented to God, it comes not alone into His presence, but with the sweet savour of all that Christ has been for it, and with the witness that He has met its sin.
It may be asked, perhaps, why the offering of the Church is represented by a Meat-offering, seeing this offering has such special reference to the second table of the Decalogue? I answer, the Church is not always seen as a Meat-offering. It is on Pentecost that it appears in this aspect. There are in the law many types of the Church. She is seen as daughter in the father’s house, as wife in the husband’s (Numb. 30); and further, she shares with Christ in many of His relations, as offering, as priest, as prophet, or as candlestick. But on Pentecost she is specially seen as a Meat-offering, that is, as man’s portion, in active service towards a lost and needy world; because on that day she first stood forth in such service toward man, as taking her part with Christ in loving service to the sons of Adam. Then, “Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, strangers from Rome, Jews, Proselytes, Cretes, and Arabians,” were fed by the service of those, who, though leavened, were yet an appointed and accepted Meat-offering.
Such is the general character of the Meat-offering, as collected from the points in which it differs from the other offerings. I proceed now very briefly to examine it,
II. In its different grades or varieties. These are three in number, and represent (as we have already seen,) the different measures of apprehension with which a saint may see Jesus in any of His relations. The first class or grade is unbaked flour (Lev. 2:1); this is the most perfect type of the Meat-offering: the second is baked loaves or cakes (Lev. 2:4-7); in this emblem one or two particulars are lost sight of: the third, green ears dried by the fire (Lev. 2:14), is lower still than either of the others. Each gives us Jesus as Meat-offering, that is, as meeting and fulfilling man’s claim on Him: in all He is equally “a sweet savour” (Lev. 2:2, 9, 12, 16), in all equally acceptable to God: but the second class gives a higher view of His perfectness in this relation than the third; and again the first class is higher than either. The first class shews us an offering like that of the princes (Compare Lev. 2:1, and Numb. 7:13, 19, 25, &c.); the next gives us something lower; (Note: Here, too, there is within this class a measure of variety, as the Meat-offering baked in the oven and in the pan. The difference, however, I believe, is merely connected with the size of the offering. A large loaf could not be baked in a frying-pan.) the last class shews us the offering in its rudest form, “ears of corn dried by the fire.” The Lord lead us to see Jesus more fully, according to the measure of the first class, that our joy and strength may increase. We must rejoice in proportion as we see His perfectness; for His offering is all ours; it was “offered for us.”
Observe, then, the chief distinctions between the different grades of the Meat-offering.
(1.) The first contrast is, that while in the first grade each article of the materials is enumerated (Lev. 2:1, 2), the second describes the offering more generally as “unleavened wafers anointed” (Lev. 2:4). The import of this distinction is at once and easily discoverable. How many saints are there, who, in thinking or speaking about Jesus, can fully assert that He is “unleavened,” who know and believe He is sinless, while yet they cannot see all His perfectness. But absence of evil, the being without leaven, is a lower thought than the possession of perfect goodness. We can say, “He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth,” long before we can tell what was in Him, and the way in which He spent it all for others.
(2.) A second point of contrast between the different grades of the Meat-offering is too remarkable to be omitted. In the first class it is observed, that the offerer himself takes the memorial for God out of the offering (Lev. 2:2): in the second, the priest is said to take it (Lev. 2:9): while in the last class,—“in the dried ears,”—no mention is made who takes it (Lev. 2:16). We observed a distinction similar to this in the Burnt-offering: in the first class the offerer killed the victim; in the last, the priest did. The difference is obvious and instructive. The one view shews Christ in His person as offerer; the other in His appointed office as the priest. The first, Christ as offerer personally giving to God, is a higher view than Christ offering as priest officially. The latter view loses, at least, one precious object in the precious offering of Jesus: the office is indeed seen, but the person of the Lord quite lost sight of.
(3.) But there is a third contrast, and one which may be more generally apprehended, between the first class of the Meat-offering and the others. In the first class Christ’s offering is seen as flour: He is “the fine flour” bruised. In the other classes this particular is almost merged: He is rather bread, either “loaves” or “wafers” (Compare Lev. 2:1 and Lev. 2:4). The distinction here is very manifest. We may see Jesus as our “bread,” or even as God’s bread, without entering into the thoughts which are suggested by the emblems of “fine flour” and “frankincense.” The perfect absence of all unevenness, and the deep bruisings which He endured that He might satisfy us; the precious savour also of the offering, only more fragrant when tried by fire; these are not our first views of Jesus: for as they are the most perfect apprehensions, so are they generally the last.
(4.) The difference between the first class of the Meat-offering and the third is even more striking and manifest: this latter offering giving us a thought of Christ as “first-fruits,” the first sheaf of the ripening harvest, rather than the bread already prepared for food, or the fine flour as seen in the first grade (Compare Lev. 2:1 and Lev. 2:14). This distinction I need not dwell upon, as its general bearing is sufficiently clear. Suffice it to say, that here, as in the latter grades of the other offerings, we lose what is distinctive or peculiar in the particular offering, while a thought or view of some other offering is in measure substituted in its place. We have already seen this to be the case in the Burnt-offering: we shall find it again in the Sin-offerings. The fact is, that these classes are measures of apprehension. When the measure of apprehension is small, one view of the offering is confounded with another view. The building, to repeat a former illustration, is seen too indistinctly to observe its different aspects: more than one side of it is seen at once, though neither of these sides is seen very distinctly. This, I doubt not, is the case here. The thought of the Meat-offering is joined with that of the First-fruits. How many true Christians are there whose views of Christ are thus without definiteness; Sin-offering, Meat-offering, Burnt-offering, all mixed together.
Such are some of the Varieties in this Offering; and if they teach no more, they teach us at least what Christians lose from their lack of knowledge: for many a precious truth seen in the first grade, is in the lower grades wholly overlooked. For instance, in the first grade, all the materials are seen, “the flour, the oil, the salt, the frankincense;” while nearly the whole of this is lost in the lower grades, where it is only noticed that the offering is “unleavened.” Is it to be supposed that this mere negative knowledge, this bare knowledge of what Christ was not, can ever have the same effect upon our souls as the full apprehension of what He really was? So again, in the first grade Christ’s person is seen: the offerer is seen himself offering. Need we be told how different is the effect of merely seeing Christ’s office in His atonement? And so of the rest. He who, seeing the first-fruits, confounds or substitutes this thought for that of the Meat-offering, though he sees Christ, does not see Him as fulfilling the Law, but simply as the first sheaf of a promised harvest. There are many who believe that Christ is risen as the first-fruits of them that slept, who by no means see how, by His offering for them, they also are accepted in Him. But I will not pursue the subject. Such as have intelligence will be able to trace it for themselves. Others, I fear, would scarce understand the mere outline, which is all that I could here give of it.
Here I close my remarks on the Meat-offering. More, much more, might be said. What has been said, I trust, may, through grace, lead us, first to bless God for having given us such an offering; and then to desire a greater insight into all that Jesus has been for us. For ever blessed be our God who has thus loved us. May we daily know more of His love.
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