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The Offerings (9)

J Paton

THE MEAL OFFERING (Leviticus 2 - cont)

Two things were forbidden in the meal offering: leaven, and honey. Speaking broadly, the admirable things seen in Christ are often absent in us, and the viler things seen too often in us were never seen in Him, but the two things mentioned here, leaven and honey, are two almost opposite things continually evident in our lives. Leaven in the New Testament is linked with malice and wickedness. Honey is that amiableness that only lasts as long as there is not too much to irritate. When tested by fire honey can be even more distasteful than leaven. Human amiableness is no substitute for divine grace.

No leaven

The Lord clearly states what leaven signifies. He warns against the leaven of the Pharisees "which is hypocrisy" (Lk 12.1). Paul links it with malice and wickedness (1 Cor 5.8). There was no hypocrisy in Christ. There was no play-acting, pretence, or deception. He could stand scrutiny in the sunlight for there were no dark corners. There was no hidden shame and no shady deals. His mind was as pure as His acts were righteous. There was no malice in His heart or attitude; no wickedness in His actions. His miracles were acts of helping and healing, except one of cursing and judgment and that one was not performed on a person but was demonstrated on a tree. Misery and destruction were not in His way, and His feet were not swift to shed blood. He left behind Him broken humanity made whole, broken hearts healed, dead ones raised, sorrowing ones comforted, and pain, sickness and weakness were removed. There was no leaven of hypocrisy, of malice, or wickedness in Him. He was not out to deceive, to hurt, or to grieve, destroy, or kill.

No honey

He moved in true compassion in sincerity and purest grace. His actions stemmed from that true root. He was not merely nice. He was full of grace and of tender compassion that failed not, no matter how strenuous the test. There was no danger of Him turning sour or bitter. He spoke not only gracious words, but words of grace. I notice the absence of honey, but trace fullness in the Lord Jesus when Mary finds Him after searching three days. Said Mary, "Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing" (Lk 2.48). His reply had no honey, neither was there disrespect. It was just rightly balanced: "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business" (Lk 2.49). What follows is lovely to behold in Christ and a lesson for every son and daughter, especially in days of arrogance and disrespect for parents. He spoke correctly of His Father, but note v.51: "And he went down to Nazareth and was subject unto them" - not to Mary only but to Joseph also. He had just come from sitting amongst the doctors and had astonished them by His understanding and answers; not only by His questions but by His answers as well. From scenes like that He goes down to a country cottage home and was subject to a carpenter and his wife.

What a lesson for us all, but particularly to families, not to despise humble beginnings! Some forget that the plain speech and homes, the well-worn clothes, of which they are so ashamed, was the price paid to put them where they are. Remember Joseph! I see Jacob arriving at the luxurious palace, with a stick, a limp, a bent back, and Joseph leading him into Pharaoh’s presence and with respect and almost pride saying to Pharaoh, "My father".

I found it interesting to note the offerings that are said to be most holy: not the burnt offering and peace offering, but the meal offering, sin offering, and trespass offering. The sin offering and the trespass offering, are non sweet savour offerings, so we will take them together and lift a lovely lesson from all three.

Men say of the Lord that He was born of a woman, therefore He must be unclean, a sinner. To Mary the angel spoke of "that holy thing which shall be born of thee" (Lk 1.35); the demons said He was Jesus of Nazareth and still the Holy One of God (Mk 1.24). Notice there was a time when Adam had not sinned, but he was capable of sinning and did sin. The Lord was holy; He had not sinned, He did not sin, and He could not sin.

Again, the sin and trespass offerings are said to be most holy. Men will say, "If He was not born in sin then surely when He was made sin for us on the cross He was a sinner". The Spirit speaks of iniquities laid on Him (Is 53.6), but not of sin in Him. Indeed John says He was manifested to take away sin and quickly adds, "In him is no sin" (1 Jn 3.5). Perish the thought that He could have sinned but did not.

Note the three places where the meal offerings were baked.

The Oven

I would not dispute that this speaks of the more intense sufferings of the Lord Jesus, but it also signifies the suffering that God His Father saw: that which no human eye saw and no heart could know, and which is perhaps more often highlighted in the Psalms. Only the Father heard the strong cries, saw the troubled soul, the tears, the blood-like sweat, the heart melted in the midst of His bowels. Only the Father knew the feelings of Christ when his own familiar friend lifted up his heel against Him.

The Frying Pan

This was not as enclosed as the oven but not as open as the flat plate. It speaks of the glories and the sufferings of the Lord Jesus witnessed and appreciated by those who were not as remote from Him as the daughters of Jerusalem, but had not the infinite vision of the Father. The disciples knew this and grasped later something of what He had spoken to them as they were alone, when "he began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed" (Mk 8.31).

That which is left

Let us think again of the words "the remnant" (v.3), "that which is left" (v.10), and "the remainder" (6.18). I want to take two lessons from this. First, this was what the priests ate along with their portion of the peace offering. Second, that no matter how large our hand is, no matter how informed our grasp is, and no matter how eloquent our language is, there is always something more about Christ than has been said.

It was that on which the priest fed. It was eaten in the holy place with unleavened bread. Let us very briefly think of the food eaten by Israel and find an answer to God’s people now. In Egypt they fed on Egyptian fare and seemed to enjoy it. Did we not all when in the world and of the world? The Bible speaks of pleasures that can be enjoyed for a season. On the night when Israel was preserved and delivered they got a change of menu; not leeks and garlic, but roast lamb eaten with bitter herbs. The lamb roasted with fire, not sodden at all with water, signifies the intensity of Christ’s sufferings to obtain redemption. We are set free, but at what a price. Bitter herbs: my personal appreciation of these sufferings to pay what I could not pay and do a work I could not do in my bankruptcy and impotent state. A grasp of these things would make the world to us not only a desert place but an evil place.

Next, after being protected by blood and delivered by power, singing the redemption song on the other side of the Red Sea, Israel was sustained by manna from heaven and refreshed by water from the smitten rock. Then Israel left the wilderness behind, crossed Jordan, and came into the land. The manna ceased and they ate of the old corn of the land.

Thus, eating the roast lamb gave energy to leave Egypt; eating the manna gave energy to walk in the wilderness; eating the old corn of the land gave energy to possess their inheritance. Let us leave the world in its every phase and spend the time of our sojourn in this wilderness like Him on whom we feed. He is that small round thing, so we walk humbly with our God and keep ourselves unspotted from the world. Daily feeding on Him will enable us to go in to possess and enjoy our inheritance.

I am fully persuaded of one thing. The theme is greater than can be handled by men. He will remain, that "unspeakable (not yet fully expounded) gift" (2 Cor 9.15). Minds are too dull, words are not adequate to exhaust this exhaustless theme. May we enjoy the little we do know and change the manner of our living until He comes to rapture us, change us to be like Himself, and allow us to behold His glory. Then we will sing His praises with sweeter voice through endless ages.

To be continued.


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