Jan — June 1961
THE BURNT OFFERING
In seeking to answer the request for a little help on the offerings, it may help to point out first of all the setting of the book of Leviticus in which these details are given. In the book of Exodus, from chapter 25 to chapter 40, the construction of the tabernacle is recorded for us. Moses, according to the light God had given to him, had carefully carried out the making of the building and all the vessels and, at the end, when he erected the structure, the cloud of glory covered the tent, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. This was the visible mark of divine approval and of the fact that God was pleased to dwell with His people.
It is from that standpoint that the book of Leviticus opens. In verse 1 we read,
"And the LORD called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying."
This first communication has in view the approach of the people in order that they may offer to God that which will be for the delight of His heart. That God dwells with His redeemed people today by the Spirit is well known to all of us, and it may be of interest to point out in answer to these types that the first thing God would interest His people in, is to draw near to Him to offer to Him that which He finds delight in. This precedes any instructions as to service for Him, a fact we do well to remember.
In Exodus 19:3, God called Moses "out of the mountain," but here in Leviticus it is "out of the tabernacle." In the first incident God was speaking in government, but here He is speaking in grace. His people had failed in regard to the speaking from the mountain, and hence God brought in a mediatorial system whereby the failure might be met, and He enabled to remain with His people in the dwelling. This seems to be the setting of Leviticus, and the reason for this instruction concerning the offerings.
These major offerings, as they have been rightly called, all set forth in some way the greatness and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, and the work He has accomplished for the glory and delight of God. This we hope to show.
"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," verse 2.
Notice this communication is to all, from the highest to the lowest; it expects that all will have some desire to draw near to God. I do hope this is true of each one of us.
God Himself instructs the people as to what kind of an offering He would accept from them. Wild animals such as lions or wolves were never to be offered, because these offerings are to speak in some way of Christ. Domesticated animals, those subject to man, were to be used always. Wild animals are used typically of kings and kingdoms, as in Daniel; but these set forth the wild sinful nature of man and the character of the kings typified. No such animal is used where a type of Christ is in view. Clean animals, marked by subjection, were to be used as typifying the sinless Son of God, who ever moved through this world subject to the will of God. There were some animals, undomesticated, which the people could eat in their gates (Deut. 12:15), but these not being marked by subjection could not be used as an offering to God. We have to learn the difference between what is suitable in the home circle and that which is in accord with what we may call God's circle.
The first offering on the list is "a burnt sacrifice of the herd," verse 3. This word "burnt" is a word which means "to ascend," for this offering was to ascend as incense for the pleasure of God; such was its character.
The paramount thought in the death of Christ is that which gives glory and pleasure to the heart of God. This ascending offering was for the glory of God (the need of man is in mind later in the book), and we do well to see that the accomplishment of the will of God takes precedence in the work of Christ upon the cross. This is the outstanding thought of the burnt offering — the death of Christ establishing the will and pleasure of God.
Considering this offering further we first read it was to be "a male without blemish," verse 3. This obviously is a reference to the sinless Manhood of our Lord Jesus Christ. God had said in the garden of Eden that the seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent, and we know that seed was the Son of God coming into Manhood in sinless perfection — "a male without blemish." When a "male" is mentioned the work of Christ Godward is in view, but when a "female" the work of Christ manward seems to be in mind. This will be seen more clearly as we proceed, but we call attention to it now, for we do not read of a female in the burnt offering; the burnt offering is entirely for God, and does not refer so much to the need of man.
The thought contained in the word "blemish" is defect; there was no defect in Christ; Manhood perfect and complete was seen in Him. Another negative is later introduced concerning the offerings, and that is "without spot." It is striking that this is not mentioned before Numbers chapter 19, where the account of the red heifer is given. This word "spot" really means "a stain," something external; whilst "blemish" means "a defect," something lacking. The first time "without blemish" is used is in Ex. 12 in regard to the passover lamb (v. 5). It is significant that "without spot" is not used prior to Numbers 19, where the wilderness is in view with all its defilements and corruption. The Lord Jesus was the only Man who lived in this world and was never affected by the evils which were around Him on every hand; He left this world as stainless as when He entered it. But that is in Numbers where the wilderness is in view. Here in Leviticus it is His perfect, complete Manhood in which He has glorified God; Manhood without a defect. Notice how the apostle Peter puts these things in their right order, "but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot", 1 Peter 1:19.
We then read, "he shall offer it of his own voluntary will," rendered in the New translation as "for his acceptance." This I venture to say, is a little beyond forgiveness; not excluding it, of course, but a little beyond it. The forgiveness of sins which is related to the sin offering sets me at liberty, but the thought in the word "for his acceptance" has in view my fitness before God. Had man not sinned Christ would not have needed to die, but it is wonderful to contemplate that in dying the Lord had in view our being made fit for the presence of God. This would not lessen the value we have of the knowledge that our sins are forgiven.
"Acceptance" is the force of this verse. Think for a moment of the younger son in Luke 15. The forgiveness of his father and a place of servitude would have met his need, and no doubt would have made him happy; but the father had in mind his own delight in his son; hence the robe, the ring and the shoes. We learn that the desire of God was not only to forgive us our sins, but also to bring us into a place of favour, and such favour as we read of in Eph. 1, "accepted in (taken into favour in) the Beloved." "Nearer we could not be," as the hymn says. Such is the bearing of the burnt offering — "for his acceptance." It is an advance in our souls when we realize that we are in the Christian company not only because God has forgiven us, but also because He Himself desired to bless us, and so to form us that He can find His own delight in us. To this end He has lavished upon us the favour which we now enjoy at His hand. "The door of the tabernacle" really means "the entrance of the tent of meeting." God would have us before Him in the sense of all the favour He has bestowed upon us "in Christ." The burnt offering should fill us with holy confidence to draw near to God.
"He shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering," (v. 4). This speaks of identification, as we read in the New Translation, "and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him." We have not far to look in the New Testament for the answer to this, for in Eph. 1:6, we read, "He hath made us accepted in the Beloved." John also writes in his epistle "as He is, so are we in this world" (1 John 4:17). In our acceptance in the Beloved, as typified by the laying on of hands, all that is true of Christ in Manhood at the right hand of God is true also of all who have laid their hands on Him, thus identifying themselves with Him by faith. Our Lord, in dealing with our sins and removing them, has brought us into a place of favour before the face of God. The sacrifice being accepted, all who are in Christ are in acceptance. This is the teaching of Leviticus 1:1-4.
"He shall kill the bullock before the LORD," (v. 5). The words "before the LORD" would indicate that the offerer had the consciousness that what he was doing was for the pleasure of the LORD; that His eyes were upon this offering and that He was finding His delight in this foreshadowing of His well-beloved Son. Then, the offering being killed, the priests were to sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar. The altar represents the claims of God, and the blood being sprinkled upon the altar indicates that every claim of God has been met, and that God is eternally satisfied with the work of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we come to the sin offering we shall see that the blood was also poured out at the bottom of the altar, but there it was on our account. There is no instruction to pour out the blood of the burnt offering at the bottom of the altar, for the burnt offering is primarily for the pleasure and glory of God; in it He has been glorified by the work His beloved Son has accomplished in regard to every outstanding question which sin had brought in.
We then read "And he shall flay the burnt offering, and cut it into his pieces" (v. 6). In the law of the offerings we learn that the skin was given to the priest who offered the burnt offering (ch. 7:8). Without doubt the answer to this is found in "the best robe" of Luke 15. We are clothed in the righteousness of God, and appear before God in all the acceptability of the perfection of Christ. His eye rests upon us with the same delight as it rests upon His Son, for we are in Him before the face of God, clothed as it were in all His beauty. These are stupendous statements to make, but many Scriptures assure us that they are true. "He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one", (Heb. 2:11).
The bullock was then cut into his pieces so that each distinctive part might be exposed, and all as far as an offering could be, seen to be perfect. It would remind us that every feature of Christ was perfect, not one defect in any one part, but as Peter assures us, "without blemish and without spot," (1 Peter 1:19). The parts were then laid upon the wood which was on the fire of the altar, and were thus offered up to God. The wood suggests the Manhood of our Lord, that into which He came in order that He might die. We read that when Abraham took Isaac in order to offer him up, he laid the wood "upon Isaac his son," (Gen. 22:6). This was a foreshadowing of the Son of God coming into Manhood in order that He might die. Then the fire which consumed the wood, and in doing so consumed the offering, is indicative of the testing of the Holy Spirit of God. All these features of the precious work of Christ are seen in one verse in Heb. 9;14, "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God".
The first two pieces regarding which instruction is given are "the head, and the fat," (v. 8). It is striking that this word for "fat" is used only of the burnt offering, and is referred to in the concordance as "suet." It would speak of the excellence of the offering, and thus of the energy of our Lord in doing the will of God. The head would speak of intelligence, for who but He could have known what that will entailed, and who but He could so devotedly and energetically have accomplished that will? Thus the head and the fat are placed together; the Lord Jesus knew what that will was, and knowing it, He did it. "I do always those things that please Him," (John 8:29).
"But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water" (verse 9). The inwards would speak of internal desires and the legs of external movement. The Lord Jesus not only had right desires towards God, but He gave expression to those desires in all His movements here. Just as the head and the fat were presented together, so also are the inwards and the legs presented together. Having always the desire to walk here pleasing to God, He did so walk before God, and thus He ever gave delight to the heart of God in all that He did. An interesting feature concerning these pieces has been pointed out in the fact that Paul records. "Who knew no sin" (2 Cor. 5:21) — the answer to the head. John records, "in Him is no sin" (1 John 3:5) — the answer to the inwards. Peter records, "Who did no sin" (1 Pet 2:22) — the answer to the legs. The inwards and the legs being washed in water would suggest that every desire and every movement which our Lord made was governed by the Word of God; they were morally right in the sight of God. Did He not say prophetically, "Thy law is within my heart"? (Ps. 40:8). When tempted by Satan in the wilderness He resisted the tempter each time with the Word of God. He was always governed in His subject, perfect Manhood, by the known and publicly expressed Word of God.
When the inwards and the legs had been washed in water, the priest burnt all the pieces upon the altar. There are two words used for "burn" in Hebrew, Quater and Saraph. The words used at all times for the burnt offering is Quater, which means "to burn as incense," alternatively "to cause to ascend." The other word, Saraph, is a consuming fire, expressing the judgment of God upon sin. It is used in relation to the sin offering as we shall see, but with the burnt offering the word is Quater, a causing to ascend to God that which gives Him pleasure. It has been carefully and guardedly pointed out by intelligent brethren that, while we read of the Son being abandoned by God when He was made sin (Ps. 22), we do not read that He was abandoned by the Father. Indeed, there is another Psalm where we hear Jehovah saying, "I will be with Him in trouble" (Psm. 91:15); and our Lord said Himself, "Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me" (John 16:32). It is difficult for us to hold these two things together in our minds at one and the same time, but the fact remains. That the burning as of incense and the consuming fire because of sin should both be seen at the cross may baffle our understanding, but it does not our acceptance of the truth in faith. It is the burning of what is pleasurable to God which is in view in the burnt offering, speaking without doubt of who He was, and yet as drinking the cup which His Father had given Him with all its dreadful implications because of sin.
We must never forget that of the burnt offering it is stated, "a sweet savour unto the LORD." Here we have in type the work of our Lord Jesus Christ satisfying every claim of God and, in so doing, giving delight to the heart of God. As a result of this work we have been brought into the enjoyment of divine favour, for we know the blessedness of being "accepted in the Beloved." It is this very offering which is referred to again in Eph. 5:2, "And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour." It is our privilege, beloved brethren, to enjoy this favour as the fruit of what Christ has done.
It remains now to look briefly at the other aspect of the burnt offering. The bullock which we have been considering came from the herd, but we read in verse 10 of the flock from which either a sheep or a goat could be brought; then in verse 14 we read of fowls, turtledoves or pigeons. Doubtless we are well acquainted with the sheep character of the work of our Lord, particularly the Lamb of God, but we hear only a few references to the goat. Yet in Exodus, chapter 12, we read that the passover could have been either a sheep or a goat (v. 5). This aspect of the work of our Lord seems largely to have slipped from our teaching, but it is referred to in the Scriptures time after time. The sheep would typify the willingness of the Lord Jesus to die as seen in that touching account recorded in Isaiah 53:7, "He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth." The goat would speak of the Lord as having ability to die in this way. We have at least two cases in the history of Israel when a man would have died for their salvation, but was unable to do so. Moses, in that memorable encounter with God when he pleaded for the people, asked God to blot him out of His book as a substitute for Israel (Exodus 32:32). Again in the New Testament we learn that the apostle Paul had similar thoughts when he writes, "I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren" (Romans 9:3). These men were willing to give their lives for the salvation of the nation, but were utterly unable to do so; but the Lord Jesus was not only willing to die in order to accomplish the will of God, but He was also able to accomplish all that was involved in that death, and has glorified God in it all.
The bringing of a sheep or a goat would not appear to be indicative of poverty; we do not get any suggestion of that here. It speaks rather of the various apprehensions which the saints have of the varied glories of the One whose every action was pleasing to the Father, even when upon the cross. Would it not be well for us if we had a more comprehensive grasp of all that came to light in Him for the glory of God? We should not then be limited in our apprehension, but we should have ability to approach God with richer thoughts of Christ, and be able to give expression of His deep perfections in a fuller way. This is what these varied offerings would typify, the vastness of the many glories of Christ as made known to us in the Scriptures.
We read that both the sheep and the goat were to be killed "on the side of the altar northward before the LORD" (v. 11). The north speaks of the place of testing, the place of suffering; and how skilfully the Spirit has linked this northward aspect with both the sheep and the goat. Who can fully tell what suffering the Lord endured when, in those hours of darkness, He glorified the Father as He drank of the cup which the Father had given Him? If in the bullock we learn something of the greatness of what our Lord accomplished, in the sheep and in the goat we learn something of the suffering He endured in doing it. We read too that the blood of the sheep or of the goat was used in exactly the same manner as the blood of the bullock, it was "sprinkled round about upon the altar." Further, it was all "a sweet savour unto the LORD" (v. 13).
A third kind of burnt offering is referred to in verse 14, "of turtledoves, or of young pigeons." This though less in size, is still said to be "a sweet savour unto the LORD." Perhaps these birds would set forth the heavenly character of our Lord, as seen in the way in which Paul presents Him to us as "the Second Man out of heaven" (1 Cor. 15:47 New Trans.). We may be engaged with the fullness of the work which Christ has done for the glory and the pleasure of God; again we may be engaged with the sufferings of our Lord in doing that work; while yet again we may be engaged with the thought of the One who did that work as a Man of another order, "the Second Man, out of heaven." These various aspects are not contradictory, but complementary.
John in his gospel speaks of the Lamb of God, but he also gives us the antitype to the bullock as he presents the Son wholly devoted to the Father's will and as giving effect to the counsel of grace in relation to the children of God. It is the greatness of what the Son has done which is the main theme of his Gospel. Peter, on the other hand, is occupied with the sufferings of Christ, as a reference to his epistles will show; while Paul in his epistles constantly refers to the new order of Manhood introduced into this world by the coming of the Lord Jesus, and the completely new order of things which has been established in Him. These are but suggestions as to the various aspects of this offering; doubtless there are other aspects to be found also.
We note in regard to the offering of the fowls that the blood is wrung out at the side of the altar; not sprinkled upon it as in the other two cases, nor poured out at the foot as in the case of the sin offering. "On the altar" would have reference to the meeting of the claims of God; at the foot of the altar would suggest the meeting of our need; but perhaps the side of the altar would speak of the death of our Lord, not exactly as meeting the claims of God, or the bearing of our sins, but as put to death by wicked hands and so cast out of this world. While all may not agree with this application, it does yet remain that two things met at the cross; the Lord's submission to the will of God, and His suffering and rejection at the hands of men. Peter puts both of these together in that remarkable Scripture, "Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain," (Acts 2:23).
We also read in connection with this offering that the crop and the feathers were not to be put on the altar. The margin of some Bibles gives "filth" for feathers, and J.N.D.'s translation in a footnote gives "refuse," and it is evident that the word has this force. The crop would not form part of the bird, for it was not digested, and the filth would be taken away so as to give the birds a clean appearance, for they were to typify One who was ever intrinsically and ceremonially clean. Hence they were cast out "beside the altar … in the place of the ashes," suggesting that which had been judged; and so this offering appears as a type of One in whom there was absolutely nothing which was offensive to God. How careful we need to be in every thought of the Lord as to His dealing with sin! Scripture clearly shows that He personally "knew no sin," and we read too "in Him is no sin"; "Who did no sin." Perfection and purity are ever seen in Him.
Then we read that the offering was to be cleaved "with the wings thereof" (v. 17), and as the wings gave the bird power to rise above the earth, it may suggest the heavenly character of the Lord Jesus which ever marked Him in His movements in this world. He was not only the Second Man out of heaven, He was heavenly, (1 Cor. 15:48).
May we covet to have an increasingly wider apprehension of the glories of our Lord. He whose every movement in life and in death ever ascended as a sweet savour to God.
THE MEAT OFFERING
In the burnt offering we saw some of the typical features of the work of our Lord Jesus Christ, which had primarily in view the establishment of the will of God. We come now to the consideration of the meat, or meal offering. It is strictly an oblation, or a food offering, where it is not so much the death of our Lord Jesus Christ which is in view, but the perfection of His Manhood, from the moment He was born right on until He went out of this world. The meat offering sets forth that perfect pathway and Manhood of Christ, he who ever gave delight to the heart of God. Whilst emphasizing the fact of His life here, we do not suggest that He has changed as now in the glory; but the meat offering is connected more with that which came out in testimony down here in the sphere of responsibility.
It is recorded in the 15th chapter of Numbers that no burnt offering was to be offered without a meat offering. It is striking that this is recorded in Numbers, where the wilderness with all its testings is in view, and it would seem to carry the suggestion that with the Son of God as the true Burnt Offering, the underlying features of the true Meat Offering were also seen. Had he not been perfect in every step of His subject dependent Manhood, He could not have been the perfect Burnt Offering which has brought eternal delight and glory to the heart of God. Whilst we know that it is only through His death that God has been glorified, and the basis laid for the carrying out of His pleasure in relation to man, we must ever remember that in the life of Christ there was the setting forth of all that man should be for the praise and glory of God. Historically we might have thought that the meat offering would have come first, His life before His death; but we see in the burnt offering that man's approach to God can be only through the death of Christ. It is not until we stand in conscious acceptance with God on the ground of the burnt offering that we can understand in any way the perfection of the life of Christ. Unfortunately men have sought to get some gain from His life without seeing the necessity of His death, but that can never be. As "accepted in the Beloved," as the fruit of His death, we can appreciate the record in the gospels of that perfect life in His perfect Manhood, a life that led on to His all-sufficient death upon the cross.
This oblation or food offering comes before us then as setting forth the perfect Manhood of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are many precious details, but those specially before us are seen in the four ingredients of which this offering is composed. We have fine flour, oil, frankincense, and in verse 13, salt. "Neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering; with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt." We are told in a footnote in Mr. Darby's translation that this fine flour is strictly the finest of wheaten flour. We have often heard that there is a distinction to be noted between barley and wheat as used in these types. In John's gospel, chapter 6, we read that the five loaves were made of barley but in the 12th chapter the Lord speaks of "a corn of wheat"; these expressions are found only in John's gospel. In the Old Testament the barley is seen as a type of the resurrection of Christ; but the wheat refers to Him as the Second Man out of heaven, and as the One who, having come out of heaven, has gone back to heaven, and has secured a company who are associated with Him. There are references to the barley where it obviously has in mind the recovery of Israel, but the wheat has in view the establishment of the assembly; thus we read that the barley harvest comes seven weeks before the wheat harvest — speaking of the resurrection of Christ as preceding His ascension. Thus this finest of wheaten flour would present our Lord Jesus Christ as the Second Man out of heaven. There came into this world a Man of another order entirely, as characteristically heavenly as Adam was characteristically earthly. "The first man is of the earth, earthy: the Second Man is the Lord from heaven," (1 Cor. 15:47). The finest of wheaten flour would typify that new order of Manhood in all its sinless perfection as seen in the Second man out of heaven.
The oil, as we all are happily aware, is a type of the Holy Spirit of God in power. In the Old Testament we have the Spirit in the figure of running water; seen there as indicative of refreshment; again we have the Spirit as fire in maintaining judicially the rights of God. There are many other figurative references to the Spirit, but the typical bearing of "oil" is the Spirit in divine power operating in this world for God. As coming upon persons, it is in order to give them spiritual power to carry out the will of God; a feature seen in perfection in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Then we have a third ingredient, frankincense. Mr. Darby, in his writings, says that the frankincense, which always went up to God, carries the thought that everything Christ did in this world He did first of all for the pleasure of God. We are perhaps prone to make ourselves presentable to our brethren, and the more we do so the better; but if that is our only motive, with the flattery that sometimes attends it, it is not worth very much. Every movement of the Lord Jesus Christ as Man was made consciously under the eye of God; all that He did was primarily for the delight of the heart of God. That is the frankincense, every bit of which ascended to God, and was entirely for His pleasure.
The fourth ingredient in verse 13 is salt, the outstanding feature of which is the preservative element of righteousness. For instance, "Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt," (Col. 4:6). We should be always gracious, but as moving rightly we should never surrender the claims of God in divine righteousness. Again, "Ye are the salt of the earth," (Math. 5:13), a suggestion of the antidote to corruption. As Christians we should ever be found speaking right things and doing right things, a most powerful antidote to the corruption around us on every hand in this world. There are other passages which would also demonstrate the truth that the salt is the preservative element of that which is right in the sight of God. It is wonderful the way it is put in our chapter, "The salt of the covenant of thy God." We may regard those ten commandments as setting forth all that is right Godward and all that is right manward; and we observe in the Lord Jesus a Man who could say, "Yea, Thy law is within My heart." In all that He said and in all that He did, whether Godward or manward, the salt of the covenant of His God was never lacking. Perfectly did He give to God what was right in His sight; and perfectly did He minister to His neighbour that which was also right in the sight of God. Hence we read that in every meat offering the salt of the covenant of God must be included, as setting forth the Lord Jesus Christ in responsible Manhood, perfect in His love to God and in His love to man. Just one reference in relation to that. In the last verse of John 14, we hear the Lord saying, "That the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave Me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence." We know where He was going, He was going to the cross. In John 15:13, we read, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." In John 14 we have His love to the Father; in John 15 His love to His friends. The salt of the covenant of His God was present in all His movements right on to the cross.
Thus in the fine flour we have His perfect Manhood; heavenly and so distinctive in character. In the oil we have the power of the Spirit of God energizing Him in all that He did here. "Justified in the Spirit," (1 Tim. 3:16). The frankincense sets forth that all He did was done first of all for the delight of the heart of God; and the salt speaks of a pathway in every step of which He rendered what was right to God and to man.
In verse 2 we read that when the meat offering was presented, it was to be brought to Aaron's sons, the priests. The priest was to "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 savour unto the LORD." This memorial burned upon the altar speaks of the recognition of the claims of God, a matter which was fully met in the movements of Christ in Manhood. Then in verse 3 we read, "The remnant of the meat offering shall be Aaron's and his sons." The offering had first to be presented to God, and the memorial with all the frankincense had to ascend to God, before there could be anything left as food for the priest who offered. So it has been historically; not until the work which was for God had been completed, not until that pathway of holy worth had reached its end in complete subjection to the will of God, could there be any possibility of our finding food for our souls in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. For this the descent of the Spirit was necessary, but all was there first for the delight of God Himself. It is only as I am led to appreciate what Christ is to the delight of the heart God that I am able to realize in some measure what that same blessed Man can be to me as food to sustain me in wilderness conditions. The memorial goes to God first of all, with all the frankincense, and then the remnant is left for Aaron and his sons to sustain them. The very food that satisfies the heart of God is now given to sustain the priesthood in the priestly service of God.
In verse 4, 5, 6 and 7 we have the various ways in which the oblation could be made and presented. It says in verse 4, "If thou bring an oblation of a meat offering baken in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil." The oven would doubtless typify the unseen testings to which the Lord Jesus was subjected. It may perhaps refer especially to those thirty years of His Manhood in this world of which we know so little. What was happening as He grew up from a Babe to a Youth? from a Youth to Manhood? The testings in those years were under the eye of God alone, and they were all answered to for His pleasure. We are given but one view of those years, after the events of His birth and His return from Egypt are recorded for us. At about twelve years of age we hear His voice in the temple saying, "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business"? Early in His life He was moving in this world for the accomplishment of the will of the Father.
"Mingled with oil" would speak of His holy conception; "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God," (Luke 1:35). Then in Luke 3 we have the record of the "anointing with oil"; this time a public matter. The Spirit descended upon Him and the Father's voice was heard saying, "Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased." The word "pour" (v. 6) refers to the pouring of molten metal into a given shape. It may have reference to the fact of the Spirit coming down like a dove upon this particular Man, the Lord Jesus Christ in all His unique perfection. The pouring of the oil upon the meat offering suggests to us One who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, was also anointed by the Holy Ghost, and we have God's own approbation of those thirty years of secret history, in the utterance "My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased."
In verse 5 we read "If thy oblation be a meat offering baken in a pan, it shall be of fine flour unleavened." Again we have the word added, "mingled with oil." This section may refer to the short span of three years or so, which followed the thirty years of secret history. The whole of the Lord's public testimony seems to be typified in this second way in which the meat offering was to be made and presented. It must of necessity be "mingled with oil," for the One who moved publicly in this world for God, is the One who came in uniquely.
But now we have an additional instruction, "Thou shalt part it in pieces." This is not said of the offering in verse 4. Of those thirty years we know but little; but verse 5 seems to cover His public ministry as recorded in the gospels, and we are able to take account of these years in all their wonderful, unmeasured detail. Every separate feature of those years of public ministry; every minute detail would but reveal absolute perfection; fine flour anointed with oil, frankincense and salt. It has been said that the only man that could stand the test of the microscope was the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
Does it not seem as though the Spirit of God has shown to us the meat offering parted in its "pieces" in the four Gospels? We may further part the sections into chapters, and the chapters into verses, but as we thus divide the "pieces" it only brings into greater relief the wonderful perfection of this blessed Man, whose every movement in this world was for the pleasure of God. How precious is this thought of parting in pieces and the oil poured thereon! Wherever we see Him, in every verse, in every word, we see that same absolute perfection of the Man Christ Jesus.
In verse 7 we have "If thy oblation be a meat offering baken in the frying pan (or as the word rightly is, a cauldron, an open pan) it shall be made of fine flour with oil." It is striking that in this verse neither the mingling nor the anointing with oil is mentioned. It would appear that the flour and the oil were presented together, not intermingled. The offering as seen in verse 7 may be suggestive of the last hours of our Lord's pathway in this world, perhaps from the moment of His arrest until He uttered that last word "It is finished"; a period of about fifteen hours. In that awful conflict in the garden we see One who had the feelings and sensibilities of a man. The cross with all its dreadful horror pressed upon His soul, and as we see Him there in that agony, as He prayed to God, we see a Man who knew perfectly what sin was, and the awfulness, too, of what it was to Him to be "made sin" upon the cross. Anticipation of it pressed upon His holy soul, causing Him that agony of which we read, "His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 23:44). Here surely we see the "fine flour with oil." The culmination of His holy movements in the accomplishment of the will of God was His obedience "unto death, even the death of the cross."
Whether we contemplate the Lord as growing up before God; or in His public testimony in this world; or again in the garden of Gethsemane; and ultimately upon the cross, we see the absolute perfection of His Manhood, and His perfect obedience to the will of God. All has brought eternal praise to God, and He Himself is marked out as the one blessed Man who in His unique perfection has glorified Him.
"Thou shalt bring the meat offering that is made of these things unto the LORD; and when it is presented unto the priest, he shall bring it unto the altar," verse 8.
There are three things linked together in this verse, Jehovah, the priest and the altar. The altar was the place of offering; the priest was the sanctified one who offered; and God was the One to whom the offering was made. His holy claims were sustained in the one who was sanctified to draw near, and in that which ascended there was delight to the heart of God.
In verse 11 we read,
"No meat offering, which ye shall bring unto the LORD, shall be made with leaven: for ye shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of the LORD made by fire."
Honey is that which speaks of human sweetness, and has its rightful place in natural circles. "Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee" (Prov. 25:16). We must ever remember that whilst our Lord Jesus Christ moved here in the perfection of His Manhood, manifesting love and compassion and kindness, it was divine love, divine compassion, divine grace, divine kindness which flowed out from Him. When we read "Jesus beholding him loved him" (Mark 10:21), that was the love of God coming out from this wonderful Person, though in Manhood, to that rich young ruler. When we read in Luke 7:13, "He had compassion on her," it was the compassion of God which was shown. It was not sentimentality, it was the love of God, shining out and ministered by Christ in His pathway.
Leaven, too, was to be excluded from the offering. In Scripture leaven is always indicative of evil. It is mentioned six times in the New Testament, four times in the Gospels and twice in the Epistles. In Matthew 13 the leaven which the woman took and hid in three measures of meal is idolatry — Babylonish idolatry — corrupting the meal. "Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees," (Luke 12:1) — that is Hypocrisy; "Beware ye of the leaven of the Sadducees, (Matthew 16:6) — that is Infidelity; "Beware of the leaven of … Herod", (Mark 8:15) — that is Worldliness. Herod represents the political element. "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" (1 Cor. 5:6) would speak of Evil Practice. Again "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" (Gal. 5:9) would refer to Evil Doctrine.
If we look at these Scriptures again, we shall see the absolute contrast in the Lord, the perfect Meal Offering, in which there is no trace of leaven. In Matthew 13 the leaven which the woman took speaks of idolatry. You will remember what the Lord said to Satan, "Thou shall worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve"; the leaven of idolatry could never have marked the Son of God, for God was ever the Object of His service in this world. Secondly, the leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy. when our Lord was asked "Who art Thou?" He replied "Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning" (John 8:25). The Lord was always just what He said He was; the leaven of hypocrisy never marked the Son of God. The leaven of the Sadducees — infidelity. Once again we hear the Lord saying "The Scriptures cannot be broken" (John 10:35). There was no trace of materialist infidelity in Him. Again, the leaven of Herod which was worldliness. The Lord said, "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). The world never overcame Him; He overcame it. Then the leaven in Corinth speaking of evil practice. Did He not say to His enemies, "Which of you convinceth Me of sin?" (John 8:46). His practice was perfect in the sight of God. Then in contrast to the leaven of evil doctrine in Galatia, He could say, "My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me" (John 7:16). Not one trace of leaven was ever found in the Son of God as He moved in holy, sinless Manhood in this world.
In verse 12 of our chapter we have two references to firstfruits. "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." We apprehend that this refers to the new meat offering which is mentioned in the 23rd chapter of this book. The oblation of the firstfruits which speaks of the Christian company, was not offered on the altar. We do get in verse 14, "If thou offer a meat offering of thy firstfruits unto the LORD," where again we have a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. "Thou shalt offer for the meat offering of thy firstfruits green ears of corn dried by the fire, even corn beaten out of full ears." In "the meat offering of thy firstfruits" we have an indication of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ out from among the dead. "Christ the firstfruits" (1 Cor. 15:23). If in His perfect obedience He went right on to the cross, he has been raised again by the glory of the Father; and that is the blessed Man who is now in the glory, at God's right hand. He has come out from among the dead, raised again, and has become the pattern for every one who belongs to Him, for "As we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly" (1 Cor. 15:49). Soon we shall be with Him and like Him in glory for evermore.
That perfect life could never be completely ended. It came to an end in responsibility, as in the accomplishment of the will of God He died upon the cross, but He has been raised, and His life is continued for ever, "Length of days for ever and ever." The first thing said of this firstfruit is "Green ears of corn," that is life in its full vigour. "Dried by the fire" would indicate that that life came to an end in this world under the judgment of God; it was "dried by the fire," but it was "corn beaten out of full ears," — Manhood in all its maturity, yet cut off under the judgment of God. "I said, O my God, take Me not away in the midst of my days," Psalm 102:24. As a man in the full vigour of Manhood, He gave His life in subjection to the will of God, and it is that blessed Man who has come out from among the dead.
In resurrection, we are told in the beginning of the Acts, He has received again the Holy Ghost. "Put oil upon it … frankincense thereon" (v. 15). He lives to the glory of God, and is still serving Him for His pleasure in glorified Manhood at His own right hand. "The priest shall burn the memorial of it, part of the beaten corn thereof, and part of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof; it is an offering made by fire unto the LORD." If the major portion of this chapter gives us a view of the perfect Manhood of our Lord Jesus Christ as He moved through this world, it does not close without reference to His resurrection as out from among the dead. There He lives a Man before the face of God and is still serving God. He is "anointed with the oil of gladness" above His fellows.
In the first verse of the 17th chapter of John we have the Lord's words, "Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may also glorify Thee." Where? In the glory. As He glorified the Father when on earth, so He continues to glorify Him as in the glory; the oil and the frankincense are still in evidence in His present service for the pleasure of the Father as raised again from among the dead.
These are some of the features of the perfect Manhood of our Lord Jesus Christ, the One Who delights the heart of God and who now becomes the food and delight of our hearts as we are occupied with Himself.
THE PEACE OFFERING
Leviticus 7:11, 13, 16, 28-38.
Having considered the details of the burnt offering and of the meat offering, we have now before us the instructions concerning the peace offering. A word of explanation may be called for as to why we have left the sequence of the opening chapters and propose looking at this subject from Lev. 7 and not from Lev 3. In the fourth chapter it would appear that more is said of the sin offering than of the other offerings which occupy the first three chapters. The first three offerings were all voluntary offerings, but the sin and trespass offerings were obligatory. It was left to the spontaneous movement of the offerer to bring any of the sweet savour offerings, but when one had sinned, he must bring a sin offering or else be cut off from his people; there was no alternative. The more lengthy details concerning the sin offering would show the necessity of being well aware of the seriousness of this question of sins, and it may be that we more readily understand the effect of Christ dealing with the question of sins on our account, than of His having dealt with it on God's account as seen typically in the burnt offering. In Lev. 7 more is said of the peace offering than in Lev. 3. The reason for this will become evident as we proceed. This word "law" comes from the Hebrew word "torah," which means teaching; thus the "law of the offerings" would show the teaching of the offerings. Another point to be noted is that, in the opening chapters of this book where the five offerings are given in sequence, the peace offering comes third, while in the law of the offerings the peace offering comes last. Fellowship is the outstanding character of this offering, that is why it is last in this section. As called into fellowship with God through the work which Christ has effected, He would have us to enter into His appreciation of all that Christ has done. What a privilege is ours to be called into the fellowship of His Son, and to have before us in that fellowship all that Christ has effected both for the glory of God and for our blessing. There is a wealth of instruction in this chapter, including that to which we call attention, the richness of what is available to the saints in the circle of Christian fellowship today.
The thought of fellowship in relation to this offering is seen in that God has the first portion, the priest who offered it has his portion, and the offerer has his portion also. The offerer is first mentioned as we read in verses 11-21, but from the later verses it is clear that God's portion was to be first, then the priest's portion, and lastly that of the offerer. These verses would clearly show that all which is brought to God as the answer to the peace offering, leads to the enrichment of the company from which it is offered. We must remember that it is a spiritual matter today, for the shadows have passed, and we have the substance in Christ. It involves our growing in the apprehension of all that Christ has accomplished and, as the fruit of this growth, being enabled to bring an offering to our God. As offerers it is essential that we are those who have accumulated spiritual substance in our souls, which as priests we are privileged to offer to our God. To bring an offering involves that some precious feature of Christ has secured a place in our souls. It was an anointed priest who offered the offering, which would speak to us of the presence in our hearts of the Holy Spirit of God. Truly no one could bring as an offering to God any feature of Christ without being himself enriched in soul as a consequence. "The soul of the diligent shall be made fat," Prov. 13:4. There is gain in the accumulating of substance for offering, and further gain in presenting it, as the details of this chapter clearly show.
There are three reasons given for the presentation of this offering, "a thanksgiving" — verse 12; "a vow," and "a voluntary offering" — verse 16. In each case it would spring from some appreciation of what God is to us through Christ. The word "peace" may be translated "prosperity," and this no doubt gives the true character of this offering. It is a spontaneous movement of affection towards God, born of an increased appreciation of all the blessing into which we have been brought. As meditating upon what has been secured for the glory of God and our blessing, we cannot refrain from opening our lips, and as in the enjoyment of spiritual "prosperity," give back to God in a response of praise, thanksgiving and worship, our appreciation of it all. This is the character of "thanksgiving," perhaps the most simple of the three presentations we have mentioned, and one which is within the reach of each of God's people.
A "vow" would have to do with some act of devotion, involving a definite committal to God to accomplish some work for His glory, and for the blessing of His people. There are occasions in our lives when we experience deep exercise as to matters affecting the divine circle, and we feel the necessity of definitely devoting ourselves to the Lord in order to be available for His interests. There is no element of servility today in our service to God, but rather a spontaneous movement of heart in being available for His pleasure. It may be devoting our time as desiring the blessing of the saints; it may be devoting oneself entirely to the will of God as we are exhorted to do in Romans 12. Are we lacking in these acts of devotion today? Few seem prepared to commit themselves to the service of God as entirely devoted to His will. If one sees a need and takes it up in communion with God, seeking grace to be devoted to the particular service involved, there would be seen the features of a "vow" peace offering. It is not obligatory, but it is a privilege open to any who have a real desire to definitely commit themselves to God in order to be used by Him. All is of the freewill of the offerer; there is nothing of an obligation here.
The third character of this offering is "voluntary." This seems to indicate the desire to supply food for the nourishment of the priestly company, and a desire, too, for the enjoyment of fellowship with God. A "thanksgiving" would be a response to some blessing received, and a "vow" would speak of some interest to which one has devoted oneself, but "voluntary" would suggest a desire for fellowship with God and with His people in the things concerning our Lord Jesus Christ. Mr. Darby was once asked, "Why do the brethren come together as they do?" His simple answer was, "Because they cannot help it." That is the character of "a voluntary offering." It would involve bringing something into the company which would first be for the pleasure of God, and then become food for His people; all springing from a desire to add to the enrichment of the circle of which Christ is the centre. It would involve the telling out from a full heart of all that Christ is to the offerer. The details given in our chapter would assuredly suggest this.
"If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried."
In this chapter we read that it was only in the case of "a thanksgiving" that a meat offering was to be included with it. This would suggest that when we speak to God in appreciation of, and thankfulness for all that Christ has brought us into, we have in mind not His death only, but also His perfect life which led up to the cross. In our consideration of the "meat offering" we saw that the cakes mingled with oil spoke of the holy conception of the body of our Lord in the power of the Spirit of God. We also saw that the anointing with oil pointed on to the moment on the banks of the Jordan when our Lord was publicly anointed in view of His service here for God. In the New Translation we find another feature introduced; the word "fried" (v. 12) is translated "saturated" with oil. The answer to this may be found in such a passage as 1 Timothy 3:16, "Great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit." Every movement made by our Lord when in this world, and every word which He spoke, were all in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is this blessed Person, our Lord Jesus Christ, whose every movement was in the power of the Spirit, who has brought us into fellowship with God as the result of His death. As brought to God we have a spiritual appreciation of the perfect life of the Lord Jesus and can give thanks to God for all that we have been brought to see in Christ.
"And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, He that offereth the sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD shall bring his oblation unto the LORD of the sacrifice of his peace offerings," vv. 28, 29.
Note the various phrases used here. "Unto the LORD"; "of the LORD" and "before the LORD," vv. 29, 30. If we desire to bring something into the gathering which is to be first for the pleasure of God, and thus lead to the enrichment of the brethren, we must be sure that what we bring is "of the LORD." There is no place at all for anything of ourselves, but if it has some feature of Christ, however small, if it is "of the LORD" it will result in the further enrichment of the saints. The phrase "of the LORD" would indicate that what is brought is divine in origin. Having been brought, it is then waved "before the LORD," which would give the offerer the sense that the eyes of God were resting appreciatively upon the offering. If our movements are before the brethren only, there will be no positive result, but if these movements are made consciously for the pleasure of God, there is bound to be spiritual gain. It was said of Ishmael before he was born that he would dwell in the presence of all his brethren, and it is later recorded that he died in the presence of all his brethren. He lacked what a servant of the Lord has called "secret history with God." Let us beware of this danger! If our life in the presence of our brethren is in accord with our life in the presence of God, we shall be of great help to them, but we need to beware of the former if lacking in the latter. "Before the LORD" would involve the consciousness of ministering to God that which is pleasurable to Him. Thirdly, in v. 29, we have the phrase "unto the LORD." If we have gained spiritual substance, divine in its origin, and hold it in our affections in relation to the pleasure of God, when the moment comes to offer it "unto the LORD" we shall have the assurance that it is acceptable to Him. We are all capable in measure of offering something, for who cannot give thanks to God? We may not all be able to rise to the "vow," but when it is a question of "a thanksgiving" or "a voluntary offering," there is room for everyone of us to offer.
"He that offereth the sacrifice of his peace offerings unto the LORD shall bring his oblation unto the LORD," v. 29. The word "Oblation" means a "food offering." Whilst it is primarily for the delight of the heart of God, all receive gain from it. A brother may spontaneously give thanks to God by speaking of the greatness and the glory of Christ, and it becomes food for the souls of those who have the privilege of hearing it.
Moreover we read, "His own hands shall bring the offerings of the LORD made by fire," v. 30. We should ever be ready to receive enrichment from that which others bring to God, but we should also be concerned to bring that which will enrich others. It is wonderful to know that what is offered to God as food becomes food for the saints. Consideration of this would raise the question with each of us, Am I bringing that which is able to spiritually enrich the company? It may be something which has been secured at the expense of time or of opportunities, but it will be pleasurable to God and have the effect of bringing blessing to the brethren.
"The fat with the breast" is next spoken of. The fat speaks of the excellence of the offering and is always for God. It must come first. The fat was for God, and the breast was for the priest; we must not reverse this order. The fat was first to be burned and so offered to God, before the priest who waved the offering could partake of the breast. The breast was waved, and the shoulder was heaved, and both became food for the offering priest. It is the offering priest who received this food as his own portion. The breast would speak of the love of Christ, and the shoulder of His power; both expressed in His perfect walk in this world under the eye of God. The breast was waved from side to side, indicating a movement of affection, while the shoulder was raised up and would suggest a movement of ability. The wave breast ever precedes the heave shoulder, suggesting that love underlay every movement which was made for the pleasure of God. No movement of ability which lacks love as underlying and prompting that movement, will ever be acceptable to God or helpful to the brethren. When material for the building of the tabernacle was in view, God said, "Of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take My offering," Exodus 25. The margin assures us the gift was a heave offering, but "with his heart" would suggest the features of the wave offering too. Other two examples are seen in the New Testament. At the end of John 14 we read, "But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave Me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence," v. 31. Here we see the wave offering underlying the heave offering. Then in 1 Cor. 13 we learn that any movement, however great, which is lacking in love as its incentive, is valueless. If these features shone in their perfection in Christ, they ought certainly to be seen also in us. We may refer to yet one more wonderful example, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends," John 15:13. Here again the wave offering is seen as underlying the heave offering.
The wave breast and the heave shoulder became food for the offering priest. As taught by the Holy Spirit we first learn these blessed features in Christ, then as feeding upon them, we become like Him as formed in the same blessed features. Hence the gifts which are brought "unto the LORD" also provide food for the priests to sustain them in their priestly capacity. May we all seek to be helpers in this way, remembering that what we gain in our own souls of the preciousness of Christ and bring into the company as an offering to God, will enrich the whole company.
In closing, we must note the summing up of the law of the offerings.
"This is the portion of the anointing of Aaron, and of the anointing of his sons, out of the offerings of the LORD made by fire … This is the law of the burnt offering, of the meat offering, and of the sin offering, and of the trespass offering, and of the consecrations, and of the sacrifice of the peace offerings." vv. 35, 37
Wherever Aaron and his sons are brought together, Christ and the assembly are typified. We are privileged to take these things up in communion with Christ as associated with Him in the power of the Holy Spirit. All that Christ is in perfect Manhood, all that He did for the pleasure of God, becomes available for us to feed upon in the power of the Holy Spirit, and all is summarized in these verses. God has called us in our day into the spiritual enjoyment of all that delights His own heart in His well-beloved Son. As we learn something of what Christ has done for the pleasure of God as the answer to the burnt offering, and learn too with deep appreciation of the perfection of His pathway which led to the cross, we shall accumulate spiritual substance which will lead to the presentation of a peace offering for the delight of the heart of God, and for the enrichment of the circle of fellowship in which we move. It will lead to the consciousness of reconciliation, and will give us holy liberty in the presence of God, as we feed upon the very food which delights the heart of God Himself. So we note again that the peace offering is put last in this summary. God wants us to be in the enjoyment of every feature seen in His beloved Son which has ever delighted His own heart. How truly we sing together at times,
"Brought to rest within the circle,
Where love's treasures are displayed."
Not only are we brought there but as we also sing,
"In thy grace Thou now hast called us
Sharers of Thy joy to be,
And to know the blessed secret
Of His preciousness to Thee."
This is our portion, the portion of the anointing for it is the normal work of the Holy Spirit as we see in John13, 14, 15 and 16, where we have the confirmation of the Lord's own words, "He shall take of Mine, and shall show it unto you." We have the power to take it in and to enjoy it in our souls, and as the result of appropriating it we are able to present to God a "voluntary offering" and a "thanksgiving," thus giving pleasure to God and ministering food to His people.
This is the answer today to the typical system. The shadows have passed away, and we have the substance in our Lord Jesus Christ. May we feed upon Him more and more so that we may have substance to offer to our God, and be enabled to contribute to the spiritual upbuilding of the brethren.