Next to the burnt-offering comes the meat or food-offering, especially called most holy. "It is," we read, "a thing most holy of the offerings of the Lord made by fire." (Lev. 2:3.) In this it had a feature in common with the sin-offering, and with the trespassoffering; whilst in common with the burnt-offering and the peace-offering it spoke of something about the Lord Jesus Christ apart from a delineation of anything that He was made for us. The burnt-offering, as we have seen, spoke of His death. The meat-offering spoke of His life, though not without a distinct reference to His death, and to that divine judgment, because of sin, which He in His grace stooped to bear. For no offering which the Israelite was permitted by the law to bring, if typical of the Lord Jesus Christ, passed over as of no moment the truth of His death. The offerer could never bring one which did not in some way or another testify of it. The wave-sheaf, typical of Him as risen, necessarily reminds us of His death. But whilst the wave-sheaf typifies Him as alive in resurrection, the meat-offering views Him as alive before death - of His life before the cross - all of which was a sweet savour to Jehovah.
A perfect man then this offering prefigured - one holy, harmless, undefiled; tempted in all points like us, sin apart, and in whom there is no sin (Heb. 7:26; Heb. 4:15; 1 John 3:5); one, too, whose delight it was to do God's will, and who always did the things which pleased the Father, setting the Lord Jehovah always before His face (Ps. 40:8; John 8:29; Ps. 16:8); speaking what He had heard of the Father, and doing what He had seen the Father do (John 8:26, 49; John 5:19); and at last becoming obedient unto death, the death of the cross. (Phil. 2:8.) Till the Lord Jesus appeared, no such man had been known; since His departure to heaven, no similar person has been seen. So when the meat-offering was prescribed in the law, no man had ever been known in whose life on earth its lineaments could be traced. But since the advent of the Lord Jesus in humiliation we do know one, though only one, of whom it certainly was and could be a type.
Composed of fine flour, whether dry or cooked, it typified the Lord as a man; mingled with oil, and presented with frankincense as often as that was the case, it spoke of His conception by the Holy Ghost, and of His life on earth, being a sweet savour to God. And when the anointing with oil is spoken of, we are reminded of Him who was anointed with the Holy Ghost after His baptism by John the Baptist. Under various conditions could meat-offerings be brought. They might be voluntary or compulsory. Of the voluntary, we read in Leviticus 2; as to those commanded, we have the directions in different parts of the law. After the people had entered the land, whensoever they, or the stranger that sojourned with them, brought a voluntary burnt-offering or a peace-offering to God, a meat-offering was to accompany it (Num. 15:1-16); and the same rule held good for Israel at all their solemn feasts (Num. 28:29), and on special occasions as well (Lev. 9:14; Num. 6:8), besides the daily meat-offering that accompanied the morning and evening burnt-offering (Ex. 29:40), and the weekly sabbatic-offering. (Num. 28:9.) In all these Israel individually or nationally had part. But whereas in the case of the voluntary meat-offering no measure defining its size or quality was mentioned, for those which the people were commanded to provide, a regular measure was laid down, according as the animal sacrificed was a bullock, a ram, or a lamb. Another meat-offering which was also commanded by God to be brought had its measure prescribed, and its daily offering was enjoined. We allude to that presented daily for the priests by the high priest, commencing from the day of his consecration. (Lev. 6:19-23.) All these were typical of the Lord Jesus Christ. There remains, however, one other offering, called in Hebrew by the common term minghah, and translated in the authorized version a meat-offering, and that was the special offering on the feast of weeks of the two wave loaves, typical really of those from Jews and Gentiles who together form the Church of God. Dismissing all consideration of this, since no part of it was offered on the altar of burnt-offering, we shall confine our attention throughout this article to those meat-offerings which were really typical of the Lord Jesus Christ, a portion therefore of which was burnt on the brazen altar; only adding, that as minghah means a present, and meat-offering is simply food-offering, the reader may understand how the wave-loaves could be thus designated.
And first of the voluntary meat-offering. Its composition was defined by the Lord Jehovah; for who, save God, was to say what would be as such acceptable unto Him? It might be either what is called the dry meat-offering, which was composed of fine flour uncooked, or it might be of fine flour previously baked, or boiled, or made into wafers, since the man Christ Jesus could be viewed either simply as a man, or as a man who passed through trials on earth at the hands of His enemies; for in both these aspects He was seen to be perfect, and God could take delight in Him.
In the dry meat-offering oil was only mingled with the flour, typical of His birth who was conceived by the Holy Ghost; and consequently that holy thing which was born of the Virgin Mary was called the Son of God. Son of God by eternal generation,* the only begotten of the Father, as John the evangelist describes Him (John 1:14; John 3:16-18), He is also Son of God as born in time according to the testimony of the second Psalm (v. 7.) Perfect then as a man He always was, and holy from His birth, and by the manner of His conception. As a child He "grew, and waxed strong" (for thus probably Luke wrote), "filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon Him." (Luke 2:40.) Such was He seen to be ere He completed His twelfth year. Then, at Jerusalem, among the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions, but not teaching them; "all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers," who was now about His Father's business, as He told His mother in the temple. Perfect in His position as a child with the doctors, He was as perfect in the home at Nazareth, going down thither with His mother and Joseph, being subject unto them, where "He increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man" (Luke 2:51, 52), and worked at Joseph's trade, as the people at Nazareth years afterwards attested. (Mark 6:3.) Then, at His baptism by John, God's seal was openly put on His life up to that moment when the voice from heaven declared, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matt. 3:17.)
*This distinction is important. Son of God as born into this world, His Eternal Sonship is altogether apart from His conception and birth here. (ED.)
Perfect, too, in His life of service, going about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil (Acts 10:38); approved of God amongst Israel by miracles, signs, and wonders which God did by Him in their midst (Acts 2:22); seen to be the Holy One and the Just (Acts 3:14); borne witness to a second time by the Father as His well-beloved Son, in whom He was well pleased (Matt. 17:5); this was the One of whom the fine flour mingled with oil, and with frankincense placed on it, was the type; His manhood typified by that which came out of the earth, the peculiarity of His conception delineated in the oil which was mingled with it, and His acceptableness as a man to God set forth in the frankincense placed upon it.
The offering brought to the altar, a handful of it was cast into the fire, which was kept alive thereon by the daily burnt-sacrifice; for, until that had been done by the priest, the offering was not completed. Now this point is a most important one. The fire on the altar is the emblem of divine judgment. Hence the offering of that which typified the Lord in His life on earth as a man was not complete without the memorial also of His death. To God His walk on earth, as we have seen, was always acceptable; but no man is allowed to bring that in remembrance before God apart from the recognition of His having borne the divine judgment due to sin. To attempt to speak of His pure and perfect life before God, unless we own what He suffered in His death, is not worship acceptable to the Father. And since the priest at the altar is always the type of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, there was shadowed forth at the altar the offering up of the Lord Jesus Christ by Himself, His voluntary surrender to bear divine judgment - a truth we must always remember, if we would speak in the holy presence of God of the fragrance and acceptableness of His life. How much is this ignored, yet how clearly is it taught us in this offering! Men can admire the even walk of the Son of God across the stage of this world, who refuse to own the need or the results of His death. But God will not accept such homage; He will not allow that to be true worship to Him. How completely then is the fallen creature shut up to the recognition of Christ's atoning death, if he would worship God acceptably! We can only enter the divine presence without judgment overtaking us, as we go through the veil - His flesh. We cannot worship God acceptably if we do not acknowledge before Him the death of His Son on the cross, here symbolized in the memorial of the meat-offering burnt upon the altar.
The memorial having been burnt thereon, with all the frankincense, the offerer left the remainder with the officiating priest for consumption by all the males of the priesthood, as part of the divine provision for those who ministered to God. For the offerer could not partake of the residue; God's priests alone were to feed on it. Now Christians are a holy priesthood similar in that to the priesthood of Aaron and his sons, so as priests they are to find in the life of Christ food for their souls; and as the remainder of the dry meat-offering was for Aaron and his sons, so the life of Christ is for us now, and is food common to us all. But here again God carefully guarded the truth about the person of Christ; for the fine flour was not to be baked with leaven when prepared for the use of the priests, and it was to be eaten with unleavened bread by Aaron and his sons in the holy place. The perfect purity of Christ, and His separation from the least admixture of, or connection in Himself with evil, is thus traced out, and all undue familiarity and lack of reverence towards Him as a man is distinctly rebuked. This food was holy, and differing from common food, was to be partaken of in a holy place in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation; and everyone that touched it was to be holy. (Lev. 6:14-18.)
But the Lord's life on earth can be viewed in two most distinct aspects - in His walk simply as a man, and His walk through sufferings and trials before the cross. As typical of the Lord Jesus in this second aspect, the cooked meat-offering next comes before us. Until after his baptism by John in Jordan He had not, that we read of in the gospels, ever experienced the world's enmity. His appearance in the synagogue at Nazareth, where He had been brought up, confirms this. What He said there aroused the anger of the congregation, though till He spoke it they appeared to be ready to welcome Him. But with the commencement of His ministry His sufferings from man began. Of such Peter wrote (1 Peter 2:23), and Paul likewise (Heb. 12:3), and to them the Lord referred (John 15:20, 21), and the Holy Ghost had predicted them in the Psalms and the prophets. Hence in the cooked meat-offering we read of anointing with oil as well as mingling with oil, foreshadowing the Lord's anointing with the Spirit at His baptism preparatory to His work of testimony for God, and in service to man upon earth. With His baptism commenced a new chapter in His life. He was henceforth to minister to men, and in the great congregation, till the circumstances immediately connected with the cross should cause that ministry to cease. In harmony with this the directions about the cooked meat-offerings commence a new paragraph.
For the dry meat-offering, as we have remarked, no measure was prescribed. What the offerer could, or was minded to bring, that the Lord was willing to receive. In the cooked meat-offering the same readiness on God's part was manifested - no measure for it was fixed; and three different kinds are mentioned, any of which a person was free to present. No sacrifice but one, and that the most costly, could be accepted on man's behalf, and that the Lord Jehovah provided; for nothing short of the gift of His Son could really meet the requirements of His holiness. But when any one would present a cooked meat-offering to God, the requirements as laid down in the law placed such within the reach of the poorest; and if it were only an oblation in a kettle (not frying-pan, v. 7), it would be, when presented by the priest, an offering made by fire of a sweet savour unto the Lord, though there was lacking in it the full delineation of Christ, which was so carefully portrayed in the other two, in both of which there was the mingling with oil, and the anointing with oil. In the first of these, described in verse 4, the unleavened cakes were to be mingled with oil, and the unleavened wafers to be anointed with oil; for the wafers with the cakes really formed but one offering.* In the second case, when the offering was on a flat slice, or griddle, it was to be of fine flour unleavened, mingled with oil, then parted in pieces, and oil poured upon it. How precise are these directions, typical of what then was only known to God! Yet little as the Israelite could have understood it, when he brought his offering as enjoined by the law, he was presenting in type to God that which was full of fragrance to Him - His own well-beloved Son, a man dependent, obedient, and perfect, and whose life on earth, in all its stages, was fully acceptable to Him.
*This is plain in the Hebrew, which reads, "and [not, or] unleavened wafers." In verse 5 the offering was on a flat slice, or griddle, according to the original; but in verse 7 it is spoken of as brought in a kettle, or pot for boiling.
But further, not only were the component parts of this offering defined, but all that was to be carefully kept out of it was as plainly declared. No leaven or honey was to be mixed with it under any pretext, whilst, on the other hand, salt was never to be absent from it; for with all their offerings they were to offer salt. Grace, of which salt is here the emblem, was always displayed in Christ, from whom corruption of the flesh and mere natural sweetness were wholly absent. Whatever then men might think of Him, calling Him the carpenter's son (Matt. 13:55), and forming their estimate of Him from His mother, and brothers and sisters, people like themselves, God distinguishes between Him and us. Grace, which is lacking in the natural man, was always displayed in Him. Corruption, which characterizes the offspring of the first man, was wholly absent from Him, who is the second man. This marked difference is also manifested in the contrast between the treatment of the oblation of first-fruits, which God commanded Israel annually to offer, and the meat-offering of a new harvest, an ear (not a sheaf) of corn parched by fire, corn beaten out of full ear, or, as some would describe it, garden-land grain. The former could not go on God's altar; the latter could. The former typified God's saints; the latter Christ Himself. (Lev. 2:12-14.) Between them and Him how great the difference!
The cooked meat-offering duly dealt with, its residue was removed to be eaten by the priest that offered it (Lev. 7, 9), a regulation the reason of which we can understand. For as this class of offering typified the Lord, who experienced trials on earth previous to His death upon the cross, no one but Himself could know what such were; so to the officiating priest, the type of Christ, and not to all the males of the priesthood, was assigned the residue of such a meat-offering.
Of the compulsory meat-offering the measures were fixed, varying in ordinary cases with the animal offered of the herd or of the flock for a burnt-offering or a peace-offering; viz., a tenth of an ephah for a lamb, two tenths for a ram, and three-tenths for a bullock. This was the rule to guide the offerer who voluntarily offered an animal for a sacrifice of sweet savour, and this rule held good for the daily, the weekly, the monthly, and the annual celebrations.* For Christ in His death and in His life were both to be brought in remembrance before God. His death as a sacrifice of sweet savour was to be foreshadowed, but His life like wise. The former was not to be prefigured without the latter. The order, however, is suggestive. The meat-offering accompanied the burnt-offering or peace-offering; for men can only take up Christ's life before God in connection with His death, reading, as it were, His history in the inverse order. Thank God, we may speak of that holy, spotless life when we own and share in the rich results of His atoning death; for in all these appointed meat-offerings there was typified simply the Lord Jesus as a man without reference to His path of trial upon earth. A dry, not a cooked, meat-offering was therefore presented on such occasions.
*To this rule, however, there were exceptions. With the burnt sacrifice that accompanied the wave-sheaf two-tenths of an ephah of flour was appointed. (Lev. 23:13.) On the occasion of the leper's offering on the eighth day of his cleansing, three-tenths of an ephah was the measure indicated. (Lev. 14:10.)
One other offering must now be noticed, that for the priests. In common with other prescribed meat-offerings its measure was determined by God; but, differing from them all, half of it was offered in the morning, and half in the evening. Daily therefore was it to be presented, and by the high priest himself. Further, it was a baked, not a dry, meat-offering, baked on a flat slice, and brought in pieces to the altar, on which it was wholly burnt; for as this offering did not shadow forth communion, those on whose behalf it was offered being all the priests, there was no one to eat of it.
By this offering then there was daily presented to God, on behalf of the priests, that which spoke of the Lord Jesus in His life of trial as He ministered here among men. How fitting this was we can understand who form part of the holy priesthood. Aaron and his sons were priests unto God, but the One whose life on earth in ministry could be acceptable to Jehovah was not of Aaron's race, and that meat-offering each morning and each evening really proclaimed it. The perfect Man had yet to come. Now He has come; and whilst Christians, as priests, are to find in the life of the Lord, traced out for them in the Word, that which is food for their souls, we have always to remember the immeasurable moral distance there was between His walk in service on earth and our walk down here. No man was ever perfectly acceptable to God in all his ways but One - the man Christ Jesus, whose life God had thus kept continually before Him. The faithful and true witness, His life which gave full satisfaction to God, is the only perfect example for us.
C. E. Stuart.