Lecture II The Meal Offering

Read Leviticus, chaps. 2; 6:14-23; Psalm 16; 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 Ps. 49: 7, 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 Cor. 5: 7, 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, 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.