Monday, June 5th, 2023
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
Ironside's Notes on Selected Books Ironside's Notes
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Leviticus 1". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ isn/ leviticus-1.html. 1914.
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Leviticus 1". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://studylight.org/
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Lecture I The Burnt Offering
Read carefully Leviticus, chapters 1; 6: 8-13; 7 and 8; Deuteronomy 33:8-10; Psalms 40:0; Ephesians 5:1, Ephesians 5:2.
To many believers the theme of the burnt-offering is very familiar, but there are large numbers of God’s beloved people who have never carefully studied the marvelous types of the Person and work of Christ given us in the early chapters of Leviticus, where we have five distinct offerings, all setting forth various aspects of the work of the Cross and unfolding the glories of the Person who did that work-a Person transcending all the sons of men, for He was both Son of God and Son of Man, divinely human and humanly divine. We shall get great help for our souls if we meditate upon the marvelous pictures here given us of the great and wondrous truths which are unfolded in the New Testament. In coming to the study of the types, we should never found doctrines upon them, but discovering the doctrines in the New Testament, we will find them illustrated in the types of the Old.
The five offerings may be divided in various ways. First we notice that four of them are offerings involving the shedding of blood-the Burnt offering, the Peace offering, the Sin offering, and the Trespass offering. The Meat offering, or, as it should read, the Meal offering or Food offering, was an unbloody offering, and stands in a place by itself. Then again there are sweet savor offerings as distinguished from offerings for sin. The burnt offering, the meal offering and the peace offering are all said to be “for a sweet savor unto the Lord.” This was never true of the sin offering or the trespass offering. The divine reason for this distinction will come out clearly, I trust, as we go on.
The five offerings which are here grouped together present to us a marvelous many-sided picture of the Person and work of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. They show what He is to God, as well as what He has become in grace to sinners for whom He died, and to those who have trusted Him and now stand before God accepted in the Beloved. If there be details, as many there are, which are difficult for us to understand, these should but give occasion for exercise of heart before God and for meditation and prayer. We may be sure of this, that the better acquainted we become with our Saviour and the more we enter into what the Word of God elsewhere reveals as to the details of His work upon the cross, the more readily we shall understand the types.
As we get them here in the first seven chapters of Leviticus we see things from the divine standpoint, that is, God gives us that which means most to Him first; so that we begin with the burnt offering, which is the highest type of the work of the Cross that we have in the Mosaic economy, and we go on down through the meal offering, the peace offering, and the sin offering, to the trespass offering, which is the first aspect of the work of Christ generally apprehended by our souls.
As a rule when a guilty sinner comes to God for salvation he thinks of his own wrong-doing, and the question that arises in his soul is, “How can God forgive my sins and receive me to Himself in peace when I am so conscious of my own trespasses?”
Most of us remember when the grace of God first reached our hearts. We were troubled about our sins which had put us at such a distance from God, and the great questions that exercised us were these: How can our sins be put away? How can we be freed from this sense of guilt? How can we ever feel at home with God when we know we have so grievously trespassed against Him and so wantonly violated His holy law? We shall never forget, many of us, how we were brought to see that what we could never do ourselves, God had done for us through the work of our Lord Jesus on the cross. We remember when we sang with exultation:
“All my iniquities on Him were laid,
All my indebtedness by Him was paid,
All who believe on Him, the Lord hath said,
Have everlasting life.”
This is the truth of the trespass offering, in which sin assumes the aspect of a debt needing to be discharged.
But as we went on we began to get a little higher view of the work of the cross. We saw that sin was not only a debt requiring settlement, but that it was something which in itself was defiling and unclean, something that rendered us utterly unfit for companionship with God, the infinitely Holy One. And little by little the Spirit of God opened up another aspect of the atonement and we saw that our blessed Lord not only made expiation for all our guiltiness but for all our defilement too. “For God hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” It was a wondrous moment in the history of our souls when we saw that we were saved eternally, and made fit for God’s presence because the Holy One had become the great sin offering, was made sin for us on Calvary’s cross.
But there were other lessons we had to learn. We soon saw that because of their sins men are at enmity with God, that there could be no com munion with God until a righteous basis for fellowship was procured. Something had to take place before God and man could meet together in perfect enjoyment and happy complacency. And thus we began to enter into the peace offering aspect of the work of Christ. We saw that it was God’s desire to bring us into fellowship with Himself, and this could only be as redeemed sinners who had been reconciled to God through the death of our Lord Jesus.
As we learned to value more the work the Saviour did, we found ourselves increasingly occupied with the Person who did that work. In the beginning it was the value of the blood that gave us peace in regard to our sin, but after we went on we learned to enjoy Him for what He is in Himself. And this is the meal offering; for it is here that we see Christ in all His perfection, God and Man in one glorious Person, and our hearts become ravished with His beauty and we feed with delight upon Himself.
We can understand now what the poetess meant when she sang:
“They speak to me of music rare,
Of anthems soft and low,
Of harps, and viols, and angel-choirs,
All these I can forego;
But the music of the Shepherd’s voice
That won my wayward heart
Is the only strain I ever heard
With which I cannot part.”
“For, ah, the Master is so fair,
His smile’s so sweet to banished men,
That they who meet Him unaware
Can never rest on earth again.
And they who see Him risen afar
At-God’s right hand, to welcome them,
Forgetful are of home and land,
Desiring fair Jerusalem.”
To the cold formalist all this seems mystical and extravagant, but to the true lover of Christ it is the soberest reality.
And now there remains one other aspect of the Person and work of our Lord to be considered, and it is this which is set forth in the burnt offering. As the years went on some of us began to apprehend, feebly at first, and then perhaps in more glorious fulness, something that in the beginning had never even dawned upon our souls, and that is, that even if we had never been saved through the work of Christ upon the cross there was something in that work of tremendous importance which meant even more to God than the salvation of sinners.
He created man for His own glory. The catechism is right when it tells us that “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” But, alas, nowhere had any man been found who had not dishonored God in some way. The charge that Daniel brought against Belshazzar, the Babylonian king, was true of us all: “The God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified.” God must find a man in this world who would fully glorify Him in all things. He had been so terribly dishonored down here; He had been so continually misrepresented by the first man to whom He had committed lordship over the earth, and by all his descendants, that it was necessary that some man should be found who would live in this scene wholly to His glory. God’s character must be vindicated; and the Lord Jesus Christ, the Second Man, the Lord from heaven, was the only one who could do that. And in His perfect obedience unto death we see that which fully meets all the requirements of the divine nature and glorifies God completely in the scene where He had been so sadly misrepresented. This is the burnt offering aspect of the Cross. By means of that cross more glory accrued to God than He had ever lost by the fall. So that we may say that even if not one sinner had ever been saved through the sacrifice of our Lord upon the tree, yet God had been fully glorified in respect of sin, and no stain could be imputed to His character, nor could any question ever be raised through all eternity as to His abhorrence of sin and His delight in holiness.
So in the book of Leviticus the burnt offering comes first, for it is that which is most precious to God and should therefore be most precious to us.
Others have pointed out how the four Gospels connect in a very wonderful way with the four bloody offerings. Matthew sets forth the trespass offering aspect of the work of Christ, meeting the sinner at the moment of His need when he first realizes his indebtedness to God. It is noticeable throughout what a large place the thought of sin as debt and as an offence to the orderliness of the divine government occupies in that book.
In Mark’s Gospel the aspect of sin as uncleanness and defilement is more emphasized, and so we have the sin offering view of the Cross. Then in Luke we have the peace offering as the basis of communion between God and man. In chapters 14, 15, and 16 we are shown the way that God in infinite grace has come out to guilty man to bring him into fellowship with Himself, and yet how many there are who refuse that mercy and so can never know peace with God. In John’s Gospel our Lord Jesus Christ is seen as the burnt offering, offering Himself without spot unto God, a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savor, and that is why in John there is no mention made of the awful cry of anguish, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me!” This really belongs to the trespass and sin offering aspects of His work; but it does not come in where His death is seen as that which fully glorifies God in the world where He has been so dishonored. The meal offering is seen in all the four Gospels where we have the Person of Christ presented in various ways; as the Messiah of Israel in Mat -thew; the suffering Servant of Jehovah in Mark; the perfect Man in Luke; and the Son of God become flesh in John.
It is as we meditate upon all these precious things that we really enjoy communion with the Father. At one time in my early Christian life, I had an idea that communion consisted in very-pious feelings and frames of mind, and in order to have these emotions I would read every devotional book I could find, and would often jot down in a diary my thoughts when I had, what seemed to me, a distinct sense of piety that was very delightful and solemn. In after years I came across this book and could hardly believe that I had ever had such strange, conceited thoughts and supposed them to be the result of communion with God. I realize now that I thought communion consisted in having God find delight in my pious feelings. But that is not it at all. Communion with God is when my soul enters into His thoughts concerning His Son.
Did you ever go into a home where a dear mother had been entrusted with a new baby? How did you get into heart communion with that mother? You talked perhaps about various things, but you could not strike a responsive chord in her heart until you said something about the little one. All at once she brightened up and began to tell you what a wonderful baby it really was, and soon you and she were completely en rapport, for you were both occupied with the same little personality. The illustration is a very feeble one. That child of hers is entrusted to her for but a brief period, but the God of the universe has been finding His delight in His blessed Son throughout all the ages of eternity, and now He says, as it were, “I want to take you into fellowship with Me in My thoughts about My Son. I want to tell you about Him. I want you to understand better the delight that I find in Him and to see more fully what His work and devotion mean to Me.”
And so this book of Leviticus opens with the voice of the Lord calling to Moses out of the sanctuary. It was from the excellent glory that the voice came saying, “This is My beloved Son in whom I have found all My delight.” And so from the inner tabernacle where the glory of God abode above the mercy-seat, the voice of Jehovah called unto Moses saying, “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock.” Notice there is not a word about man’s sinfulness. This is addressed to those who are already in covenant relation with God, and whose hearts are overflowing with gratitude for what He has done for them, and who now voluntarily desire to bring to God something which He can approve of; and everything that they bring speaks of Christ. For there is nothing that any of us can bring to God that will give Him joy un- less it speaks in some way of His blessed Son. It is the very voluntariness of the burnt offering that gives it such value. There is here no question of legality, no “must,” nor any demand, but it is the heart filled with gratitude desiring to express itself in some way before God that leads to the presentation of the offering. And notice the universality of it. It says, “any man.” It was something of which any one could avail himself. All may come to God bringing the work of His Son.
Three distinct kinds of offerings are mentioned. The burnt offering might be a sacrifice of the herd, that is, a bullock or young ox, as in verses 3-9; or it might be out of the flocks, a sheep or a goat, as in verses 10-13; or again it might be fowls, as turtle-doves or young pigeons, as in verses 14-17. These grades of offerings had to do with the ability of the offerer. He who could afford a bullock brought it; if unable to bring a bullock, a sheep or a goat; and the poorer people brought the fowls. But all alike spoke of Christ. It is a question, I take it, of spiritual apprehension. Some of us have a very feeble apprehension of Christ, but we do value Him, we love Him, we trust Him, and so we come to God bringing our offering of fowls. We know Him as the Heavenly One, and the bird speaks of that which belongs to the heavens. It flies above the earth. Others have a little fuller understanding, and so we bring our offering of the flocks. We see in Him the devoted One who “was led as a lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb.” Or He is represented by the goat, the picture of the sinner whose place He in grace has taken. Others again have a still higher and fuller apprehension of His Person and His work. We see in Him the strong, patient ox whose delight was to do the will of God in all things.
There is very little difference in the treatment of the sacrifice of the herd and that of the flock. But of necessity there is considerable difference when we come to that of the fowls. Let us consider a little verses 3 to 9: “If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord,” or, as it reads in the 1911 Version, “that it may be graciously received from him before the Lord.” The bullock, or, more literally, the young ox, speaks, as we have said, of the patient servant. It is written in the law of Moses, “Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn.” The apostle Paul applies this to the ministering servants of God, they who prepare the food for the people of God, and are not to be deprived of that which they need for their own sustenance. Our blessed Lord was like the patient ox treading out the corn. The One who came not to be ministered unto but to minister, He was the perfect Servant come to give His life a ransom for many. And observe, the ox must be a male without blemish. Among the types the female speaks of subjection, whereas the male suggests rather the thought of rightful independence. Our Lord Jesus was the only Man that ever walked this earth who was entitled to a place of independence, and yet He chose to be the subject One, even unto death. And He was the unblemished One. No fault was to be found in Him, no short-coming of any kind, no sin or failure. The offerer when he presented his unblemished burnt sacrifice was practically saying, “I have no worthiness in myself. I am full of sin and failure, but I bring to God that which is without blemish, that which speaks of the worthiness of His own blessed Son.” And the unworthy offerer was accepted in the worthy sacrifice, as we are told in Ephesians 1:6, “He hath made us accepted in the Beloved” or, as it has been translated, “He has taken us into favor in the Beloved.” Observe, not according to our faithfulness, nor according to the measure of our zeal, nor yet according to the measure of our devotedness, but according to His own thoughts of His beloved Son. We who have been brought through grace divine to see that we have no worthiness in ourselves, have all our worthiness in Christ.
This is emphasized in the fourth verse. Man as the offerer stood before the priest with his hand upon the head of the burnt offering. He was really identifying himself with the victim that was about to be slain. It is the hand of faith which rests upon the head of Christ and sees in Him the One who takes my place. All that He is, He is for me! Henceforth God sees me in Him.
But it is not in His life that He does this, but by His death. And so we read, “And he shall kill the bullock before the Lord: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.” We have all had our part in the killing of the bullock. That is, we have all had to do with the death of Christ. Men generally recognize this, but fail to lay hold of it individually. It is when I see that Jesus died for me, that even if there were no other sinner in all the world, still He would have given Himself as the victim in my place, that the value of His precious blood is applied to me, and I am accepted before God in all that He has done, and in all that He is.
In verses 6-9 we read of the flaying, that is, the skinning of the burnt offering, and the cutting of the victim into its parts. Of the skin we shall speak in a moment, and there are precious truths connected with it. The pieces were all to be washed with water and then placed upon the wood of the altar and burnt with fire, to go up to God “an offering made by fire of a sweet savor unto the Lord.” The washing by water typifies the application of the Word of God to every part of Christ’s being; all that He did was in perfect holiness, as under the controlling power of the Word of God in the energy of the Holy Spirit. He could say in the fullest sense, “Thy Word have I hid in My heart that I might not sin against Thee.” He did not need the Word for cleansing, for He was ever the Holy One, and yet He was in everything submissive to the Word, for He was here to glorify God as the dependent Man.
We read, “The priest shall burn all on the altar.” The burnt offering was the only one of the sacrifices of which this was true. In all the rest there was something reserved for the offering priest or for the offerer, but in this one particular case everything went up to God; for there is something in this aspect of the work of the Cross which only God can fully understand and appreciate.
But in chap. 7: 8 we have one apparent exception. While every part of the victim was burnt on the altar the skin was given to the priest. This is indeed precious. It is as though God said to the priest, “I have found My portion in Christ. He is everything to Me, the beloved of My heart, in whom I have found all My delight. Now I want you to take the fleece and wrap yourself in it! Clothe yourself in the skin of the burnt offering.” It is a wonderful picture of acceptance before God in Christ. We are covered with the skin of the burnt offering!
It is scarcely necessary to go into any detail in regard to the offering of the flocks, for, as we have already seen, it was handled in practically the same way as that of the bullock. But there is an added thought or two in connection with the fowls. We read in verses 15, 16 : “And the priest shall bring it unto the altar, and wring off his head, and burn it on the altar; and the blood thereof shall be wrung out at the side of the altar: and he shall pluck away his crop with his feathers, and cast it beside the altar on the east part, by the place of the ashes.” The birds, as we have seen, speak of Christ as the One who belongs to the heavens but who has come down in grace into this scene. There is by no means the same fulness in picturing His work here that there was in connection with the other creatures. But His death is again fully emphasized, and before the offering was placed upon the altar the crop and the feathers are plucked away and cast in the place of the ashes. The taking away of the feathers from the bird suggests, I believe, the parting with all His glory and beauty when He stooped in lowly grace to the death of the Cross, while the plucking away of the crop speaks undoubtedly of His voluntarily giving up all that would minister to natural enjoyment. We sing sometimes, and perhaps but feebly enter into the meaning:
“I surrender all,
I surrender all,
All to Thee, my precious Saviour,
I surrender all.”
But if we turn this around, what an appeal it makes to our hearts, and how truly it tells of the place He took in grace:
He surrendered all,
He surrendered all,
All for me, my precious Saviour,
He surrendered all.
In chapter 6: 8-13 we have the law of the burnt offering, that is, instruction to the priest as to how he was to conduct himself when carrying out this part of the ritual. In the first chapter we get what is more objective-God’s picture of the Person and work of His Son. But in the law of the offering we have what is more subjective -the effect all this should have upon us, and how our souls should enter into it. And so here in chapter 6 we see the priest clothed in white raiment) his garments speaking of that righteousness which is now ours in Christ and which should ever characterize us practically), reverently taking up the ashes of the burnt offering and laying them beside the altar; the ashes saying as plainly as anything inanimate could, “It is finished.” For ashes tell of fire burnt out, and so suggest that the work of Christ is finished. He has suffered, never to die again, and God was fully glorified in His work which has gone up as a sweet savor to Him. In Old Testament times the fire was ever to be burning on the altar. It was never to be put out, for one burnt sacrifice followed another continually, and the peace offering and the sin and trespass offerings were also placed upon the same fire. The work was never finished because no victim had yet appeared of sufficient worth to fully meet the claims of God. But now, thank God, the flame of the altar fire has gone out, the work is done, and the effect of that work abides for all eternity. May our souls revel in it. In Psalms 40:0, which is really the psalm of the burnt offering, we hear the voice of praise which results from the soul’s appreciation of this aspect of the work of Christ. May it be ours to enter into it in all its fulness. In Deuteronomy 33:0 we see that the chief business of God’s anointed priests was to offer burnt offerings upon His altar. So may we as holy priests of the new dispensation ever find our first delight in occupation with Christ and this aspect of His work!
Lecture II The Meal Offering
Read Leviticus, chaps. 2; 6:14-23; Psalms 16:0; John 6:33c
We have already noticed that the meal offering stands apart from the other four in that it was a bloodless offering. There was no life given up and yet part of it was burned upon the altar for a sweet savor. The name given to this particular oblation in the Authorized Version is meat offering, but we must remember that our forefathers used fee word “meat” for food, and not necessarily as synonymous with flesh. There was no flesh of any kind in this offering. It was an oblation of food composed of meal and oil, or of green ears of corn dried and oil. It does not speak to us of our Saviour as sacrificed for sinners on the cross, but is God’s wondrous picture of the perfection of His glorious Person. Remember, He had to be who He was in order to do what He did. None but God’s eternal Son become flesh could ever have accomplished the great work that He came to do. It is of inestimable value to the soul to dwell upon God’s estimate of His Son. As intimated in the previous lecture, it is in this way that we enter into communion with the Father.
The psalmist says, “My meditation of Him shall be sweet.” May we indeed prove this as we dwell together upon these marvelous types of His glorious Person.
We should always bear in mind that it was the perfection of the Lord that gave all the efficacy to the work upon the cross. Of all other men it is written: “None of them can redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him, for it costs too much to redeem them, therefore it must be let alone forever.” This is a very literal rendering of that remarkable passage in Psalms 49:7, Psalms 49:8. The 8th verse is very inadequately rendered in our Authorized Version, “The redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth forever.” What ceaseth forever? But the translation I have just given makes it all clear: “Let it alone forever.” That is, there is no use of any one attempting to do anything toward the work of redemption; it is too great to be effected by human power. “It costs too much to redeem the soul, so let it alone forever.” But Christ the Son of God became a little lower than the angels with a view to the suffering of death that He might taste death for every man. He the infinitely Holy One became Man, but Man in perfection, sinless and unde-filed. He alone is competent to redeem His brother and give to God a ransom for him. This is the one for whom Job yearned when he cried, “There is no daysman who can lay his hand upon us both,” and it was of Him Elihu spake when he said, “Deliver him from going down to the pit, for I have found a ransom.” And so we are now to be occupied with Christ Himself, and I trust as we study this wondrous picture of Him who was in very truth the Bread of God, the food upon which God the Father delighted to feed, that we shall have a fuller, clearer conception than ever before of Him who has saved us.
The meal offering is always linked up with the burnt offering. God would not allow the Person and the work of His blessed Son to be divorced; the two must go together. But remember this, the holy walk, the devoted life of our Lord Jesus Christ, could not avail to put away sin. His holy behavior was not the means of our salvation; that perfect walk had no atoning efficacy. It was life poured out in death that saved. He said as He held the communion cup in His hand, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you for the remission of sins.” His life apart from His death could only bring out in bold relief our exceeding sinfulness, making the contrast between what He is and what we are all the more vivid. But His blood shed for us was life given up, poured out in death that we might live eternally. His holy life fitted Him to be the sacrifice, and so the two offerings are linked together.
Many of God’s beloved people, I am persuaded, are being led away (for a time at least) into various systems of error, who if they only knew the true character of these systems would turn from them in horror, recognizing that in every one of them there are evil teachings concerning the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. I remember a number of years ago meeting with a young married couple out in California. They were introduced to me as earnest Bible students. They seemed very bright and hearty in their Christian experience, but they soon told me that they were getting a great deal of help and information out of a set of books that had been sold them by a colporteur. Upon inquiring I found it was the set known as “Millennial Dawn.” When I asked if they had read the books they said, “Oh, yes, and we have found some wonderful teachings in them.” I replied that they had in them some teaching that was blessed and true, but it was in reality but the sugar coating to a poisonous pill, for they were thoroughly unsound as to the Person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. I pointed out that these books taught that our blessed Lord before He came into the world was not God, but was the highest created spirit-being in the universe; that in incarnation He became man and relinquished entirely His spirit nature; that when He died upon the cross His manhood was devoted to destruction. The author of the books goes so far as to say: “It was not only necessary that the man Christ Jesus should die, it was just as necessary that He should never live again, but should remain dead through all eternity.” But these books taught that a new Being came out of the tomb who was made a partaker of the divine nature, and is now a god but not the God, and that some day a select group of overcomers will be partakers of the same nature as Himself and will assist Him in completing the work of redemption. They could not believe that I had rightly represented the teaching of this system, but they were honest people and they went home to look up the references I gave them and to compare them with their Bibles. They came to me a few days later, and handing the set to me said, “If you can use these to help deliver others we shall be thankful. We have been down on our knees asking God to forgive us for ever having had anything to do with a system that so blasphemes our Lord Jesus Christ. We had no idea of the real teaching of these books.” Thus they were completely delivered, and they turned with horror from the whole evil system.
“What think ye of Christ?” is the first question that should be asked of every one who comes claiming to have something different to orthodox Christianity. If people are wrong here, depend upon it they are wrong throughout. It is not necessary that we should know all the evil that is in these systems in order to judge them; we need but to know they are false as to our Lord Jesus in order to refuse them entirely if we would be true to Him.
Let us then see how His blessed Person is pictured for us in the meal offering. We will read together verses 1-3: “And when any will offer a meal offering unto the Lord, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon: and he shall bring it to Aaron’s sons the priests: and he shall take thereout his handful of the flour thereof, and of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof; and the priest shall burn the memorial of it upon the altar, to be an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor unto the Lord: and the remnant of the meal offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons’: it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the Lord made by fire.” Notice then that the meal offering which was really God’s food, and therefore speaks of Christ Himself, was made of fine flour. You housewives know what that is, fine flour without one coarse grain in it. This was God’s picture of the humanity of Jesus. Everything was in perfect proportion and there was none of the coarseness that sin has brought into our poor, fallen humanity. I have often thought if God wanted to make a picture of my human nature He would ask for a handful of old-fashioned steel-cut oatmeal! That would adequately typify our nature, for there is so much that is coarse and uncouth and cross-grained in everyone of us; but oh, the perfection that was manifested in Him. Then observe, oil was to be poured upon the fine flour and frankincense put over it. The oil is always the type of the Holy Spirit. He is the anointing. And we read that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power, who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38). That anointing took place immediately after the baptism in the Jordan, and the Father declared His satisfaction in Him saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I have found all my delight.” This was the odor of the frankincense. There was the fine flour in all its perfection, and “the Holy Spirit descended like a dove abiding on Him;” that was the oil poured upon the fine flour. Then there was the frankincense with its sweet aroma telling of the ineffable beauty and fragrance which ever characterized all His ways. No wonder the bride in the Song says, “Thy name is as ointment poured forth.” Mary really fulfilled this type when she “took a pound of ointment very precious, and poured it upon His head and upon His feet, and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.”
In the second verse we read that this offering was brought to Aaron’s sons, the priests, and the officiating priest was to take out a handful of the flour, with its oil and frankincense, and burn it as a memorial upon the altar; it was an offering made by fire of a sweet savor unto the Lord. This was God’s food. Then the priests themselves were to feed upon the rest of it, and so God and His redeemed priests enjoy together the perfection of Christ. This is really communion.
Now we have some very interesting details in verses 4-13. I will not quote the passages in full, but will notice the outstanding features as we run down through the chapter. There were various ways in which the offering might be prepared. In verse 4 it is “baken in the oven,” in verse 5 it is “baked in a pan;” in verse 7 it is “baked in a frying-pan,” evidently on the top of the fireplace. In every instance it was exposed to the action of heat, and this may speak of the intense trials to which our blessed Lord was subject, all of which only served to bring out in fuller measure His perfection. Again in verse 4 the meal offering might be composed of unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil. In the first instance we have His incarnation as begotten of the virgin; we have humanity in perfection, humanity united with Deity. He was conceived of the Holy Ghost; the fine flour was mingled with oil. In the other cases we have, as in the verse above, His anointing. And so God emphasized both sides of the truth for us. He was born of the Spirit without a human father; He was anointed of the Spirit when about to enter on His great mission. Then, observe, there were some things that could not be allowed in the meal offering. In two of these verses we are told it must be unleavened, and in verse 11 we read distinctly, “No meal offering, which ye shall bring unto the Lord, shall be made with leaven.” This speaks of the sinlessness of the human nature of our Saviour. Leaven in Scripture is always a type of something evil. This comes out very clearly in the New Testament application of the Old Testament type. We read in 1 Corinthians 5:7, 1 Corinthians 5:8: “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Just as the pious Israelite of old was to search his house diligently and put away all leaven in preparation for the passover feast, so we as believers are called upon to judge every evil thing in our hearts and lives, and put it all away in the light of the work of the cross. Both in 1 Corinthians and in Galatians we read: “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump;” that is, a little sin or a little evil doctrine undetected and unjudged will soon corrupt one’s entire testimony. Then again you will remember how our Lord Himself used this term. He warned His disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees and of Herod. The leaven of the Pharisees was hypocrisy and self-righteousness; the leaven of the Sadducees was evil doctrine or false teaching; the leaven of Herod was worldliness and political corruption. In no place in Scripture is leaven used as a symbol or type of anything good. The woman in the parable of Matthew 13:33 is said to hide the leaven in three measures of meal until the whole is leavened. I know that this has been taken by many as representing the spread of the gospel, but who was ever told to hide the gospel anywhere? There is nothing clandestine about its proclamation; it is to be openly preached everywhere. Jesus said, “In secret have I said nothing,” and the same should be true of His followers. The woman in the parable is the false Church, not the true, and she is not hiding the leaven in the world but in three measures of meal, which seems to be nothing more nor less than the “minchah,” or the meal offering, which we are now considering, and in which there was to be no leaven. In other words, the parable teaches us that every truth concerning Christ would be corrupted by the false Church. As in the type there was no leaven, so in Christ there is no sin; He is the unleavened meal offering; His was humanity in perfection without any tendency toward evil whatever. He could say, “The prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in Me.” You and I cannot say that; we are only too conscious of the fact that when Satan comes to tempt us from the outside there is a traitor within who would open the gate to the citadel of our hearts if we were not constantly on our guard. But with Him it was otherwise; all His temptation came from without. “He was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” And this does not mean “yet without sinning,” merely, but it is “sin apart,” that is, He was never tempted by inbred sin; He was the unleavened meal offering.
We also learn from verse 11 that there was to be no honey in the meal offering. Honey is the sweetness of nature, but when exposed to heat it soon sours. There was something far more than natural sweetness in the character of Christ. His was a love that was divine and holy; all His affections and emotions were the affections of the Son of God become flesh. There was nothing that was merely of nature; hence His love is unchanging. All the treachery of Judas could not alter it nor the cowardly denial of Peter. “Having loved His own that were in the world He loved them unto the end.” How often are natural friendships sundered and love turned to hatred. It was otherwise with Him.
In verse 13 we are told, “And every oblation of thy meal offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meal offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.” Is it not striking that three times over we should have this insistence upon the use of salt in the offering? You will remember our Saviour said, “Let your speech be always with grace seasoned with salt,” and He referred on another occasion to this very passage, emphasizing it in a very solemn way (Mark 9:49, Mark 9:50). Salt is the preservative power of active righteousness; and this was ever manifested in Him, and should be seen in us who have been born from above.
There are many other details in this precious portion that we might profitably dwell upon, but all that I have omitted will I think become luminous in the light of what we have already noticed if carefully considered in the presence of the Lord. And the more we remember what the New Testament reveals concerning Christ, the more we shall enter into the enjoyment of what we have here. If we become familiar with the truth concerning the Person of the Lord it will preserve us from the danger of falling into error.
The outstanding feature of the meal offering is its composition of fine flour. There was no barley meal. There are lots of little sharp corners in the crushed barley. But it was the finest of wheat meal that composed the meal offering. That is how God pictured the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ, for in His character as a Man there was nothing that ever grated on anybody. What a marvelous picture the four Gospels set before us! If they were not inspired, how inexplainable it would be that four men could ever have imagined such a marvelous character. If the Lord Jesus Christ had never lived, the Gospels themselves would be miraculous. In all the literature of the world there is no other character that can be compared with Him. Think of Him growing up in Nazareth, one of the meanest villages of Galilee, with little opportunity for culture or refinement; and then contemplate Him as He appeared among the men of His time, the most refined and cultured of them all! He was the first gentleman this world has ever seen. Tender, gracious, always considerate of others, and yet ever faithful and true to all. Politeness, the proverb says, is doing the kindest thing in the kindest way, and who ever saw that exemplified anywhere as it was in the Lord Jesus Christ? His was a life the aroma of which fills the world after nineteen hundred years.
And although now ascended to glory He is this same Jesus as He sits upon His Father’s throne, our great High Priest, ever living to make intercession for us. So in verses 14-16 we have an- other aspect of the meal offering; this time it is made of the firstfruits of the green ears of corn dried by the fire, as corn beaten out of full ears. And this is anointed with the oil in company with the frankincense. It speaks of Him as the One who passed through death, but has been raised again in the power of an endless life. And He is gone up to God in all the perfection of His humanity, to be for all eternity the Man in the glory. But of this, too, a memorial was burned upon the altar, for His resurrection must not be separated from His death. The Christ who died is the Christ who lives again.
May we learn to feed upon Him as priests in the sanctuary, rejoicing here on earth as God rejoices in heaven. This is what is specially emphasized in chapter 6:14-23, where we have the law of the meal offering. There we see the priests appropriating their portion and enjoying it in the presence of God. It was to be eaten in the sanctuary. We are all God’s priests today, if numbered among the redeemed, and it is our hallowed privilege to feed upon Christ in God’s courts-delighting in Him, our souls nourished, as we meditate adoringly upon His perfections. We are not called upon to dissect the Person of the Lord, but to reverently worship and enjoy Him, that thus we may become more like Him.