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…
I. 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." In this particular it stands in contrast to the sin-offering, but in exact accordance with the burnt-offering.
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"; there is no giving up of life here. It is in this particular, especially, that the meat-offering differs from the burnt-offering. 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.
3. The meat-offering was "not wholly burnt." 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 h s 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. The law is that the priests should be fed at 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") 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."
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." 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. 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.
5. In the last place, the contrast between the meat-offering and "the offering of firstfruits at Pentecost." The distinction is stated in the twelfth verse — "As for the oblation of the firstfruits, 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 firstfruits, though very like the meat-offering, was not so. For the key to this we must turn to chap. Leviticus 23., where the law respecting "the oblation of firstfruits" 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; then the wave-sheaf of firstfruits, on the morrow after the Sabbath; and then, fifty days after, the oblation of the firstfruits on the day of Pentecost. The "sheaf of firstfruits," on the morrow after the Sabbath, might be burnt to the Lord as a sweet savour; but "the oblation of the firstfruits" at Pent cost might not be burnt on the altar. The reason for this distinction is found in the fact that "the sheaf of firstfruits" was unleavened, while "the oblation of firstfruits" at Pentecost was mixed and made with leaven. 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. Then "on the morrow after the Sabbath," the next ensuing Sabbath, that is, on the appointed "first day of the week," Christ "rose from the dead, and became the firstfruits of them that slept." 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. But fifty days after this, "when the day of Pentecost was fully come," the Church, typified by the leavened oblation of firstfruits, is offered unto the Lord: for we, as well as Jesus, are firstfruits; "we are," says James, "a kind of firstfruits of His creatures." 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." And why, and how, was this leavened cake accepted? Something was offered "with it," for the sake of which the leavened firstfruits were accepted. They offered with the leavened bread a burnt-offering, a meat-offering, a peace-offering, and a sin-offering; for leaven being found in the oblation of firstfruits, a sin-offering was needed with it. And the priest waved all together: "the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits 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.
II. IN ITS DIFFERENT GRADES OR VARIETIES. These are three in number, and represent the different measures of apprehension with which a saint may see Jesus in any of His relations.
1. The first contrast is, that while in the first grade each article of the materials is enumerated, the second describes the offering more generally as "unleavened wafers anointed." 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 anti 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; in the second, the priest is said to take it; while in the last class — "in the dried ears" — no mention is made who takes it. The difference is obvious and instructive. The one view shows 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." 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 "firstfruits," 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.
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: