Friday, November 16, 2012

The Meal Offering (Leviticus 2)

The Meal offering stands apart from the other four offerings in that it is a bloodless offering. There is no life given up so in that way it speaks, not so much of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, but of the perfection of His Manhood. There came a time (Numbers 15)  when God told Moses, that no burnt offering was ever to be offered without a meal offering, this is very instructive since Numbers speak of the wilderness experience of the people of God. What we can learn from this is that the Son of God could never have been the true burnt offering if He had not been in every step of His pathway perfect in His subject, dependent, obedient Manhood. He never could have been the great sacrifice that has brought eternal delight and glory to the heart of God. He had to be what He was in order to do what He did!

The Composition of the Meal Offering: 
There were four ingredients that had to compose every meal offering, they were fine flour, oil, frankincense (all v.1) and salt (v.13). 

Wheat (Leviticus 2:1) The fine flour is the finest of wheat flour. Notice it is fine flour, know lumps or sharp corners. In barley there are sharp corners. There is another difference between barley and wheat. In John's gospel, the five loaves were of barley (6:9), but in John 12:24 it says "Except a grain of wheat.....", both of these are only found in John's gospel, the barley typifies the resurrection of Christ in many figures and types in the Old Testament, while the wheat speaks of Him more as the Second Man, out of heaven, and the One who having come out of heaven has gone back to heaven, and accompanied with Him many grains. Again, the barley has to do with the recovery of Israel, but the wheat has to do with the establishment of the Assembly. The barley harvest comes seven weeks before the wheat, the resurrection of Christ as preceding His ascension. Right from the outset of the meal offering therefore, Christ is presented as the Second Man, out of heaven (1 Cor.15:47). The finest of wheat and flour typifies that new order of Manhood in all its sinless perfection. 

Oil (Leviticus 2:1) The oil is often speaks of the Holy Spirit of God in power. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit is typified by several things. First, living water, referring to refreshment; sometimes He is typified by fire in judicially maintaining the rights of God; sometimes He is portrayed by light (as seen in the lamp stand in the tabernacle), and there are others. However, oil typifies the Spirit in divine power operating in this world for God. When He came upon people it was to give them spiritual power to carry out the will of God. This was perfectly performed in the Lord as we read in Acts 10:38. 

Frankincense (Leviticus 2:1) The frankincense, which always went wholly to God, carries this thought, that everything that Christ did in this world, He did it first of all for the pleasure of God. 

Salt (Leviticus 2:13) Salt speaks of the preservative element of righteousness. For example Col.4:6, "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt". Christ said "You are the salt of the earth" (Matt.5:13), that is, the antidote to corruption. We are always expected to be speaking right things and doing right things as an antidote to the corruption around us. Salt speaks of the preservative element of what is right in the sight of God. Here it is expressed as "the salt of the covenant of thy God". All that is right God-ward and man-ward is expressed here. Christ could say "Your law is within My heart" (Psalm.40:8), in all that He said and did, whether God-ward or man-ward, the salt of the covenant of His God was never lacking. He perfectly gave to God that which was right in His sight. So in every meal offering the salt of the covenant of God had to be included as setting forth the Lord Jesus Christ in responsible Manhood, right in His love to God and to man. 

Summary of the Four ingredients
In these four ingredients we have His perfect Manhood presented. It was heavenly in character (fine flour), the energy of the Spirit of God moved Him in all that He did here, He was justified in the Spirit (the oil), all that He did was first of all for the delight of the heart of God (the frankincense), and He never failed to render to God or to man that which was right in all His pathway here in this world (the salt).

The Offering (Leviticus 2:2-3)
The offering was to be brought first to Aaron's sons, the priests. The priest was to take his handful of the flour and of the oil and all the frankincense, and burn it for a memorial upon the altar to be an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord. This was God's food! This memorial was in recognition of the claims of God, and reminds us today that Christ met those claims in every way when He was here. The rest of the offering was to be Aaron's and His sons (v.3). The offering must first be offered to God, and the memorial with all the frankincense ascend to God, before ever there could be anything here as food for the priests who offered that offering. Not until His work for God was completed, could there be any thought of any one of us finding food for our soul in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is also true morally and spiritually in our lives. We must first of all enjoy what Christ was to the delight of the heart of God before we can really appreciate what He is to our hearts as food to sustain us in wilderness conditions. This is elaborated on a bit more in the Law of the meal offering in Leviticus 6:14-18.

The Three Different Preparations of the Meal Offering:
Baked in an Oven (Leviticus 2:4) First, a meal offering could be baked in an oven. The word for 'cakes' means cakes that had been pierced or pricked and gives the thought of abuse, while wafers that had been rolled also gives the thought of great pressure, and the fact that they were in the oven and enclosed indicates that they were not open to the eyes of men. They were hidden and I think would represent those sufferings which were unknown by man, but known to God alone. The oven typifies the unseen testings of our Lord Jesus Christ. But what did it cover in the life of Christ? It speaks of the thirty years of His Manhood in this world of which we know so very little. We do not know what was happening as He grew up from a babe through youth to manhood. The testings during this time were altogether under the eye of God, and were answered to for His pleasure. The oven covers the thirty years of His private life here in this world for the pleasure of God. We have only one vision of this time after His birth and His return from Egypt recorded for us. When He was twelve years of age He was found in the temple (Luke 2:41-50), and could say "Do you not know that I must be about My Father's business?". As early as that date, He was moving in this world in the accomplishment of the will of His Father.

The mingling of oil that we read of speaks of His holy conception. It was that which underlay all that has been said. 1 Cor.15:47 again comes to mind, He was the Second Man, out of heaven. Mary is told at the Lord's conception "The Holy Spirit shall come upon you..... that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called Son of God" (Luke 1:35).

We also see the 'anointing with oil' (Lev.2:4), at the baptism of the Lord, when the Spirit descended upon Him and the Father's voice was heard saying "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased". The word for pouring here means 'to pour as molten metal into a given shape'. It may have reference to the Spirit coming down like a dove upon the Lord Jesus Christ in all His perfection. In the pouring of the oil upon the unleavened wafers (the descent of the Spirit) we see the One who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, was anointed by the Holy Spirit, and the mark of God's delight of those thirty years of secret history is given "My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased." The oven suggests the private testings, although it cannot be limited to just these, we can't help but think of the Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane, where we know that His sufferings were such that His sweat became blood. Who was aware of this but Himself and God?

Baked in a Pan (Leviticus 2:5-6) The second possible meal offering was "baked in a pan..... mingled with oil. You shalt part it in pieces and pour oil thereon" (v.5-6). Again, the meal offering was to be mingled with oil. This offering would speak of the short section of Christ's public life of three years or a little more, the time of His public testimony. The offering is baked in a pan and that would be a vessel that is open. Here the sufferings of our Lord that were endured could be seen by all and would no doubt come within the embrace of Hebrews 12:3, the One who "endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself". It begins with the mingling of oil with the offering, the One who came in this way is the One who moved publicly in this world for God, but it was now to be parted in pieces (this is unique to this particular offering). Christ's first thirty years could not be parted, but this one, which covers His public ministry as recorded in the gospels can be looked at in many ways. We are not told how many pieces, we can part and part again, examining in minute details His public testimony. The Spirit of God has parted His public life into at least four portions for us - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. 

Baked in an Frying Pan (Lev. 2:7) In the third offering, the meal offering was baked in a frying pan (or 'cauldron' or Kettle) and was to consist of fine flour with oil. We neither have the mingling nor the anointing here, but together. The Lord is viewed in all His distinctive Manhood, distinct from, but not apart from, the Spirit of God. This third possible meal offering gives us perhaps just the last few hours of our Lord's history in this world, probably from the moment of His apprehension until His last word - "Finished". This period occupied somewhere around fifteen hours. In the conflict, in relation to sin, of our Lord while in the garden, we see the fine flour with oil. He had the feelings and sensitivities of a man, the cross with all its dreadful horror passed upon His soul, and we see Him there in all His agony. As He prayed to God we see a man who knew what sin was, and what bearing sin was going to mean. Experimentally, He touched it upon the cross, but in anticipation it pressed His righteous soul in the garden causing Him to speak of that agony. This third preparation of the meal offering was the apprehension of the last great testing when His public ministry was now accomplished. The one last great thing which lay before Him in the accomplishment of the will of God was His obedience unto death, even the death of the cross.

Summary of the Three Possible Meal Offerings
So whether we apprehend the Lord growing up before God (little though we know about it), the much more we can speak of it concerning His public testimony in this world, and again the little we can apprehend about the garden of Gethsemane and ultimately, His work upon the cross, there is the perfection of His Manhood in all that He was in His obedience to the will of God, all coming out, and that has given eternal glory to God and marked Him out as the one man in all His unique perfection who ever glorified God.

Presentation (Leviticus 2:8-10)
The meal offering was now presented "unto the Lord". The offerer presented the meal offering to the priest, who was then to bring it "unto the altar". Jehovah, the priest and the altar are all linked together. The altar was the place of offering, the priest was the sanctified one to offer it, and God was the One to whom it was offered. His claims were satisfied in one sanctified to draw near and that was ascending which give joy to God for the delight of His heart of love.

No Honey (Leviticus 2:11)
No meal offering was to be made with honey or leaven. Honey, in Scripture, appears to have two interpretations. For instance we read that the land of Canaan was a land of "milk and honey". Then, in speaking of the Lord prophetically, Isaiah tells us that "butter and honey shall he eat" (Isa. 7:15 ). But in Proverbs 25 we have what appears to be a warning. Verse 16 reads: "Have you found honey? Eat as much as is sufficient for you lest you will be filled, and vomit it"; and again in verse 27 it says: "It is not good to eat much honey". But in connection with the meal offering it would appear that it is the natural sweetness of honey that is being pointed to in type. Natural sweetness, while not offensive, has to be used with discretion. Honey, when exposed to heat will soon sour. The Lord’s ways and words were always gracious, but in John 2:4 we read of Him saying to His mother: "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" This might sound harsh to us today, I am sure that the Lord did not speak to His mother disrespectfully, but on the other hand there was no trait of natural sweetness. There was no honey. But in John 19, when the Lord is upon the cross and His mother and the disciple John are looking on, His words were: "Woman, behold thy son", and to John: "Behold thy mother" (John 19:26-27). It is said of the Lord toward the rich young ruler, "The Lord loved Him" (Mark 10:21), this love was the love of God, coming out from this wonderful Person, though in Manhood. When it said, "He had compassion on her" (Luke 7:13), it was the compassion of God shown toward the widow, and then He touched the coffin and restored her son back. The milk of human kindness was not there, there was divine kindness there. The kindness of God was all in its purity, it was right from God, shining out and ministered by Him in His pathway.

No Leaven (Leviticus 2:11)
In scripture, leaven always speaks of evil. It is mentioned six times in the New Testament - four times in the gospels and twice in the epistles. Matt.13:33 speaks of the leaven which the woman hid in three measures of meal, this is idolatry, corrupting that meal. The Lord Jesus Christ warned the disciples to "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees....." (Matt.16:6), which was hypocrisy; ".....and of the Sadducee's" (Matt.16:6), which was infidelity; and warned them also to "Beware of the leaven of Herod" (Mark 8:5), which was worldliness, the political element. We are also warned that "A little leaven leavens the whole lump" (1 Cor.5:6), this is evil practice; and again that "A little leaven leavens the whole lump" (Gal.5:9), this is evil doctrine. All six references to leaven in the New Testament speaks of it in a bad sense, as typifying evil. There was to be no leaven in the meal offering. There was no idolatry in Christ's life (Matt.4:10), God only was the object of His service in this world. There was no leaven of the Pharisees (hypocrisy) in Christ's life (John 8:25), Christ was just who He said He was. The leaven of the Sadducee's was not to be found in Him either, He was no infidel - "The Scriptures cannot be broken" (John 10:35) was His word. He was not worldly, as the Herodians were, "I have overcome the world" (John 16:33), there was no Herodian leaven in Him, nor the leaven of evil practice as at Corinth - "Which of you convinces Me of sin?" (John 8:46). His practice was perfect in the sight of God. And finally, Gal.5:9, there was no evil doctrine, "The doctrine is not mine, but [the Father's] who sent Me" (John 7:16). So wherever we look, in whatever sense it is used, not one trace of this leaven was ever seen in the Son of God, in His absolute, holy, sinless perfection in this world.

First Fruits (Leviticus 2:12-16)
Two mentions to first fruits are worth considering in connection with the meal offering. First, "As for the oblation of the first fruits" (v.12), that is, it was the new meal offering as mentioned in Lev. 23:9-14. This was not to be offered upon the altar, it was offered unto the Lord, but not burnt upon the altar for a sweet savour because the oblation of the first fruits speaks of the Christian company. But in verse 14, we get "And if thou offer a meal offering of thy first fruits", not the official one, but their own first fruits. This pictures the Lord Jesus Christ, "green ears of corn [grain] dried by the fire, even corn [grain] beaten out of full ears". There is here an indication of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus out from among the dead. 1 Cor.15 tells us about this (v.20). God has decreed, that that man is going to abide forever. If in His perfect obedience He goes right on to the cross, He has been raised again by the glory of the Father, and continues in Manhood in the glory at God's right hand. He has come out from among the dead, raised again and has become that great standard for everyone who belongs to Him. 

But the character of this first fruit we read of is "green ears of corn". This speaks of life in its full vigour. It is not dry corn for the moment, but green ears of corn. This speaks of all the vigour of manhood and life in this world, but "dried by the fire" would mean 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 that was beaten out of full ears. Manhood in all its maturity, yet come under the judgment of God, cut off in the vigour of Manhood. It is quoted in the psalms "I said, Oh my God, take me not away in the midst of my days" (Ps.102:24), and as a Man in the full vigour of life and of Manhood, He gave His life in full subjection to the will of God, and it is that Man who has come forth out from among the dead. Green ears then speaks of the Lord in his life. His life did not ebb away as ours does with old age, that could never have happened to the sinless Son of God. It was cut off in all maturity - green ears, dried with a fire, corn beaten out of full ears.

Oil and Frankincense were placed upon it, Christ lives to the glory of God, still serving God for His pleasure in Manhood at God's right hand. The memorial was burnt by the priest, part of the beaten grain, part of the oil, and all of the frankincense. It was an offering made by fire unto the Lord. If the major portion of this chapter gives us a preview of the perfect Manhood and pathway of our Lord Jesus Christ as He moved through this world, it does not close without giving us a preview of His resurrection out from among the dead, that He lives a Man before the face of God, still serving God, anointed with the oil of gladness, above His companions (Heb.1:9), and in the frankincense and His service for God still the meal offering.

The law of the meal offering
In Leviticus 6:14-18 we have what is known as the law of the meal offering, which brings out our portion in this offering. The expression "Aaron and his sons" represent Christ and His assembly, and this is where we come in. The priests were to eat the meal offering in the holy place, in the presence of God, and to emphasizes it's holiness it was to be eaten with unleavened bread. Jehovah Himself says: "I have given it to them", and moreover it was most holy. The worshippers had themselves provided the offering, but God says: "I have given it to them". Aaron was of the tribe of Levi, a tribe that was set apart by God specifically for service at the altar. Aaron was the high priest and to him and his sons was given the privilege of leading the worship of the people. Today Christ is our High Priest, but all believers are Levites, all are of the priestly family. There is no special selection of a company who are solely authorised to lead the worship of the saints. The high priest alone was permitted to pass within the veil into the presence of God, and that only once a year. But the veil has been rent and now every blood cleansed child of God is invited to draw near to worship. The way is open for us all, but not all believers are aware of their privileges. The apostle Peter tells us in the 1 Peter 2 that we are both holy priests and royal priests, holy priests to offer up spiritual sacrifices and royal priests to show forth the praises of Him who has called us. 

A new meal offering
Our last consideration of this offering is found in Leviticus 23:15-22, where the children of Israel were commanded to "offer up a new meal offering unto the Lord". What makes this meal offering so significant is that it was to be baked with leaven, which appears to be in total contradiction to what we have been considering already. It will be noticed that this new meal offering is brought in here in connection with the feast of Pentecost, and we only have to turn to Acts 2 to learn of the great event which took place at that time. There we are told that the Holy Spirit descended from heaven and baptized the then company of believers into one Body, and thus the Church was born. Although they were believers they still had that old nature, they were still sinners although saved by grace. And we too are among that number if we are disciples of our Lord Jesus.

Therefore leaven formed part of this meal offering to demonstrate what was prophetically figured. The meal offering offered at the time of Pentecost prefigured features of a then coming day. But baked leaven is rendered inoperative, and so it should be descriptive of those who are members of Christ's body. How marvellous is that minute accuracy, as this demonstrate that the Bible which you and I treasure so much is no ordinary book but the very word of God. 

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