And when any will offer a meat offering to the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil on it…
The meat-offering (or rather bread-offering, for the word "meat" has changed its meaning since our translation was made) was an accompaniment of the burnt-offering, and therefore must be looked at in its connection with it. It consisted in the offering of fine flour (ver. 1), or bread made of fine flour (vers. 4, 5, 7), with oil and frankincense (ver. 1), and salt (ver. 13). Its symbolic meaning is quite obvious. Just as the burnt-offering symbolised the dedication of the man himself to God, with all his powers and faculties, the bread-offering signified the dedication to God of the fruit of his labours, the produce of his industry. In its fullest sense it symbolised the dedication of his life-energy to God in holy obedience. The close association of bread with, life throughout the Scriptures is quite familiar to us, and perhaps our Lord had this offering in mind when He said: "My meat" (bread) "is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work" (John 4:34). But while in its fullest sense the bread-offering may be understood as symbolising the entire new life which is the result of our dedicating of ourselves to God, its most obvious application is to the dedication of our substance to Him, to whom we have dedicated ourselves. The oil to be poured upon the offering has here its invariable significance of heavenly grace, and the frankincense the devotional spirit in which the offering should be presented. The salt is spoken of as "the salt of the covenant of thy God" (ver. 13); and the caution never to allow it to be lacking seems to guard against the danger of supposing that our gifts to the Lord can find acceptance in any other way than through the provisions of the covenant which He has made with us by sacrifice (Psalm 50:5). The things prohibited are equally suggestive with the things enjoined. They are leaven and honey: leaven, the symbol of corruption, and honey, of a sweetness which was in the Hebrew mind especially associated with fermentation. The disposal of the offering was also significant. Part of it was to be burnt upon the altar "as a memorial" (vers. 2, 6): the rest was set apart for use by the priests (ver. 3). Inasmuch as the priests in these transactions represented the people, while the altar represented God, the idea of fellowship or sharing is here conveyed, as if to suggest the thought that while all our energies and all our substance should be consecrated to God in the first place, the sum is nevertheless in the issue divided between the more sacred and the more personal uses. In the matter of property, for instance, the true idea is not to give a portion to the Lord and to keep the rest for ourselves, but to give all to God; and then, with His approval, to expend so much on personal use, and set aside so much for consumption on the altar. But while The offering is to be thus divided, the frankincense is to be all burnt upon the altar (ver. 2). The devotional element is for God alone. You have heard, perhaps, of the newspaper writer who, referring to the devotional part of the service in one of the churches in Boston, spoke of his having had the privilege of listening to "the most eloquent prayer that was ever addressed to a Boston audience." We are too apt to forget that our prayers are not for Boston audiences or London audiences, but for the audience of Heaven, for the ear of God. The frankincense was all to be burnt upon the altar.
(J. M. Gibson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when any will offer a meat offering unto the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon: