THE MEAL OFFERING (Leviticus 2)
Those who have read through the five offerings mentioned in these opening chapters of Leviticus, will have noticed that the meal offering is different from the other four offerings. In this offering there are no animal sacrifices; there is, therefore, no death, no blood shed, sprinkled, or poured out. It is rightly called the meal offering, not the meat offering. It is portraying for us what manner of man the Lord Jesus Christ was as He moved toward the cross and perhaps even on the cross. We should constantly remember that it was who and what He was in life that made that death so efficacious, that blood so precious, and that work so complete and God glorifying.
Many died before Calvary, and many have died since, but only One died an atoning death, only One could offer Himself through the eternal Spirit without spot (fault) to God (Heb 9.14). Only His blood was precious blood, "as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Pet 1.19). He alone could take away sin for "in him is no sin" (1 Jn 3.5).
We read about the burnt offering and its meal offering. It is not so much His devotion in death that is before us in this chapter but rather it is He who was lovely, lowly, and holy in life. This offering pictures the One who was not only willing to go to the cross to pay the price demanded to obtain eternal redemption, but who was fit to go to the cross to glorify God, and at the same time put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. We will behold in symbol the Man who was approved of God (Acts 2.22); He to whom the heavens were opened and the voice of approval was heard (Mt 3.16-17; Mk 1.10-11 etc). Every footstep from Bethlehem to Calvary was precious. Every deed performed by His blessed hands was amazing. Every word that left those loving lips was marvellous. He was as holy as He moved in the filth of Nazareth as He was as seen by angels in Isaiah 6, high and lifted up on the throne in the unsullied light of the heavenly temple.
The two forms of offering
These things are highlighted for us in the two forms in which the meal offering was presented. First, it could be offered as cakes (v.4). In his margin, Thomas Newberry points out that these cakes were pierced cakes. This word is found in verb form as "wounded" in Psalm 109.22 and as "sorrow" in Hosea 8.10. Now this is of interest, but even more so did I find it when I noticed how these cakes were pierced. This was carried out by putting pieces of flint on the bottom of the trays on which the cakes were placed. Could any picture be clearer? Leviticus 2 is looking at the Man Christ Jesus as He sojourned here on earth, the Man of sorrows, He who knew griefs daily acquaintance, who was hated without cause, who was rejected, despised, reviled, set at naught, smitten, and scourged in His lowly, lovely path through this wicked world.
Second, it could be offered in the form of wafers. Newberry again points out that the word comes from a root which means "to empty". This surely turns ones mind to Philippians 2.7. Newberry gives the marginal rendering of the words "made himself of no reputation" as "emptied Himself". The Lord Jesus Christ never gave up that which He essentially and eternally was, and ever shall be. He did lay aside, He did not hold on to, that form, that outward manifestation, that visible glory that made Him dwell in the light unapproachable, and He took up servant form, yea, bondservant form, and was found in fashion as a man. He, who in the beginning was, began to be a man. He whose goings forth were from of old, from everlasting (Mic 5.2), was brought forth of the virgin, was brought up, grew and "increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man" (Lk 2.52).
We look at One who was verily God becoming truly human, the Son of God, the Most High, becoming the Son of Mary. He who filled the highest place in heaven touching the lowest place on earth: the greatest becoming the least, the richest becoming the poorest. He who dwelt in the unstained light of heaven moving amidst the filth and squalor of earth, the Word who in the beginning was, becoming flesh and dwelling amongst us. We watch with wonder the gold being joined to the shittim wood. This cannot be explained by the reasoning of the mind but must be accepted and enjoyed by revelation with the help of the Holy Spirit. It is a mystery most amazing, a sight most sacred, sorrow most sweet, worth most wonderful in woe. The Lord of life and glory here to be associated with sorrow, a man weak and lowly of heart, poor, despised, opposed, rejected, reviled, made to suffer, smitten, afflicted, disallowed, and set at naught.
The ingredients of the offering
The Holy Spirit has selected ingredients for the meal offering that so suitably set forth the lovely features found in the man Christ Jesus. The first is that which made up the major part of this offering, namely, fine flour. It goes without saying that the Holy Spirit always makes use of the best and finest things to set forth and foreshadow, even in a limited way, the glories and graces of Him who is endowed with beauty far above the sons of men.
The Spirit portrays Him by the use of fine twined linen, fine and pure gold, refined silver, burnished brass, pure frankincense, precious stones, first fruits, a male of the first year without blemish or spot, a red heifer without one white hair. Here fine flour seems so suitable. Notice that there is no mention of millstones or any other process used to refine the flour. God our Father needs to train us by putting us between the millstones of suffering and sorrow. He has to work in us that which is pleasing to Himself. He works in us patience by sending tribulation, taking away the roughness by the millstones, polishing us by friction, refining us by fire, removing the dead wood by the pruning hook, taking away filth with the snuff tongs, taking out the dross by putting us in the crucible, moulding us on the wheel of circumstance, training us by chastisement, teaching through tears, softening us by sorrow, making us fruitful by sending showers as well as sunshine. He did not, however, need to work these into Christ but found everything that delighted Him there already present in absolute perfection. I know there was a sense in which He was equipped in His sojourn here for His present ministry as Great High Priest but that is an entirely different subject and does not apply here at all.
Solomon says, "It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting the living will lay it to his heart" (Eccl 7.2). The Psalmist in Psalm 119.67 writes, "Before I was afflicted I went astray". Paul states in Romans "tribulation worketh patience" (5.3). God has to work in us that which is acceptable to Himself, but of this man He said, " my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Mt 3.17). Fine flour portrays for us a man of softness, unresisting, without a roughening grain, lovely and pleasant in all His dealings, comely in all His movements, delightful in His disposition, compassionate in His attitude, indeed meek and lowly of heart, with no pride or arrogance, displacing even Moses as the meekest man on earth, more lowly than Gideon or David, John the Baptist, or Paul. There was no need for Him to be humbled like Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 4.1-37), no need for Him to be resisted that pride might be withered.
Fine flour seems to epitomise many of the things the Holy Spirit takes up to present to us the glories of the Lord Jesus. When He goes to the vegetable creation He portrays men in their pride as the tall trees of Lebanon, and in their stubbornness as the unbending oaks (Is 2.13), but He speaks of the Lord as a tender plant (Is 53.2). He speaks of men and their pretence and hypocrisy as bearing leaves but no fruit, but the Lord was a fruitful tree whose leaves do not wither (Ps 1.3). The nations of the world pride themselves in the imagery of a lion, a bear, a leopard, a beast great and terrible (Dan 7), but the Lord is seen as a bullock (Lev 1.5), a goat (Lev 1.10), a lamb (Ex 12.3), even as a worm (Ps 22.6) in contrast to the strong bulls of Bashan.
The Chaldeans are seen as eagles hastening to their prey (Hab 1.8), but He is seen as a hen (Lk 13.34), and as the pigeon (Lev 1.14). I could not think of anything more suitable, more eloquent than fine flour to gather together all these things, and yet after beast, birds, minerals, materials, colours, characters, yea everything available on earth, we have to say,
All are too mean to speak His worth,
Too mean to set the Saviour forth.
- I Watts
To be continued.