CHRIST AS SEEN IN THE OFFERINGS
I. THE BURNT OFFERING
Leviticus 1; 6:8-13
My intention is to take up in a simple way, as the Lord may help me, some of the offerings mentioned in the book of Leviticus, because they set forth in a special manner the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ; and also, we may add, the blessings which have become ours through what He has done. Let us read, therefore, two verses in the last chapter of Exodus (34, 35), the whole of Leviticus 1, and “the law of the burnt offering” in chapter 6:8-13.
Probably most present here are aware that the offerings which are brought before us in the book of Leviticus are, as I have intimated, types or pictures given by the Holy Ghost of the Lord Jesus Christ's Person and work, of what results to us through that work too, thank God. But some one might say, “Are you sure that they are really types? Or is it only in the imagination of man that they are such?”
In answering this inquiry we will turn to the New Testament, where we shall learn from the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, as well as from the inspired words of an apostle, that the offerings of the Old Testament are indeed types of the Saviour and His work.
First then we will read a passage in Luke 24. The Lord Jesus, speaking to those two going to Emmaus, said,
“O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” v.25-27.
The expression, “Moses and all the prophets,” really comprehends the whole of the Old Testament. “Beginning at Moses”; that is, the five books of Moses – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy – and then “all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures ” (that is, the Old Testament Scriptures) “the things concerning Himself .”
Have you, dear friends, ever read the book of Leviticus, and learned from it the things concerning the Lord Jesus? Or have you done as many of the Lord's people to this day do? They commence to read through the Bible, but when they come to Leviticus they pass it over. They do not read it at all, because they think it is only a book of Jewish forms and ceremonies – a ritual that has nothing to do with Christians at all. But we learn from this passage in Luke that the Lord expounded to those two travellers “in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”
A little further down in this chapter of Luke we read,
“He said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you , that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses , and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning Me.” v.44.
“The law of Moses” does not mean merely the ten commandments, but the first five books of the Bible.
“Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.” v.45,46.
Oh, what a wonderful exposition that must have been! It was from the Old Testament Scriptures – the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms – that He expounded unto them the things concerning Himself. How wonderful then does this book of Leviticus become in our eyes, when we find that, instead of its being only some Jewish ritual, we have precious things in it concerning the Lord Jesus Himself, And when we find that each one of the offerings gives us a picture of the Lord Jesus, either in His Person or His work, how interesting does it become! It is indeed very gracious of God to teach us in this way, by means of types or pictures; for our poor, narrow minds could not apprehend at once the glory of the Person of the Lord Jesus, or the value of His work. Therefore, God gives us these types in order that we may, so to speak, consider one aspect of the Person or work of the Lord Jesus at a time. Then, having looked at one type, we turn to another, which gives us a different aspect Thus, putting all together, our hearts are filled with wonder, worship, and praise; while we learn, in a way we could not otherwise have learned, what the glory of His Person is, and what the value of His work.
We find in this book of Leviticus that there were four chief offerings. The first chapter presents the burnt offering; the second chapter, the meat offering; the third chapter, the peace offering; and the fourth chapter, the sin offering. Four offerings are brought before us by the Holy Ghost, in order to make clear to our minds four different aspects of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as, in the New Testament, the Holy Ghost has given us, in the four gospels, four different views of the Lord's Person.
Now if you turn to Hebrews 10, you will find all these four offerings mentioned:
“Wherefore, when He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou prepared Me: in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast had no pleasure.” v.5,6.
“Sacrifice and offering,” in verse 5, would answer to the peace offering and the meat offering; and in verse 6 we have “burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin.” So we find all these four offerings mentioned. Then in verse 7 the Lord Jesus is seen coming to accomplish the will of God.
It is very clear from these verses that the offerings are types of Him who said, “Lo, I come ... to do Thy will, O God”; that is, of the Lord Jesus.
Another scripture that may be referred to is in Hebrews 9:
“Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: the Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing.” v.6-8.
So, by Aaron's going only once a year into the holy of holies, the Holy Ghost signifies something. In fact, the act was typical; the whole ritual was so. We find indeed, from Hebrews 9:23, that the tabernacle and the things in it were called “patterns of things in the heavens.”
I think we have now seen enough from the New Testament to show us very clearly that all these sacrifices are really types given us by the Holy Ghost of the Lord Jesus Himself. We will therefore return to our subject.
It is very helpful to connect the end of Exodus with the beginning of Leviticus. This is not often done; but I think we may lose by not doing it, and that is why I read those closing verses.
Twice over in them we find this expression: “The glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle” (v.34,35). “And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle” (v.35). Moses dared not go in because of the glory there.
Now read Leviticus 1:1: “And the LORD called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying.” It was from within the tabernacle that the Lord spoke. He did not speak from Mount Sinai , where He gave the law. No. The glory of Jehovah filled the tabernacle, and out of that glory He spoke to Moses, and said, “Speak unto the children of Israel , and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the LORD,” etc. He gave out all those instructions, not about law-keeping, but about the sacrifices. Is that not significant? First, we find glory filling the tabernacle, and then God speaking out of that glory as to the way a sinner, like you and me, could be made fit for all eternity to dwell in that glory. How simply, how beautifully, it is brought out in this chapter! The burnt offering stands first, because it shows how a sinner by nature can be accepted before a holy God on the ground of sacrifice. It brings out clearly and blessedly how a sinner that is away from God, alienated from Him by wicked works, who hates God in his heart, who has a rebellious will, and is full of sin; how that sinner could be accepted before God on the ground of the value, in His eyes, of the sacrifice of Christ. That is what we have brought out in the burnt offering. I do not say that it is the first thought, but it is what we do find brought out.
Now, of what does this burnt offering speak? “The work of Christ,” you say. But what aspect of the work of Christ? Well, the sin offering, which comes last in order, speaks for itself. That is a type of Christ bearing our sins, what we have done, putting them away forever. But what is the burnt offering? The burnt offering is that which typifies Christ coming to do the will of God, at all cost to Himself, in spite of all that awful suffering and agony of the cross. He came to accomplish the will of God and to glorify Him, even in death. Thank God, it was for us too. God's will was our salvation; and thus the Lord Jesus, in coming to accomplish the will of God, came to accomplish our salvation also. Supposing I were to ask this question of the Lord's people generally, “What do you think was the first object of the Lord Jesus Christ in coming into this world?” What answer do you think they would give? Nine out of ten would say, that the first object was to save sinners, of course. Yet that was not the first object. It was an object. But what was the Lord's first object in coming into this world? Have we not just read from Hebrews 10?
“Wherefore, when He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou prepared Me: in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come ... to do Thy will, O God.” v.5-7.
The first object the Lord Jesus had in coming into this world was to accomplish the will of God and to glorify Him. And when was this perfect obedience to the will of God more perfectly expressed than when He was made sin for us on the cross? when He, to do the will of God, went down into death, and that for us? It was when He took our sins upon Him, and was made sin, that God acquired His highest and greatest glory ( John 13 :31,32). It is most important to see that.
Very naturally, therefore, the burnt offering comes first, because it presents Christ, not so much as taking our sins, but as offering Himself without spot to God, to accomplish the will of God, and to glorify Him, and that in death.
If you turn to Ephesians 5 you will find that there are two sides of the work of Christ presented to us in one verse:
“Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us.” v.2;
that is our side:
“an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor”;
that is the other side, and is the aspect that is presented in this burnt offering – an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor. I am sure we lose very much in our own souls through not looking at that aspect of the sacrifice of Christ – what it is to God , and not merely what it is for us. We get far deeper peace by looking at it in that way. We gain immensely by it. Let me ask you, Have you ever contemplated that aspect of the death of the Lord Jesus? I trust that every one here is able to say from the heart, “The Lord Jesus died for me; in the love of His heart He gave Himself for me.” Wondrous and blessed fact! We shall never forget it through all eternity. But let me ask you, Have you ever dwelt upon what that work of Christ was to God? Have you ever considered what were God's thoughts concerning that blessed One when He thus offered up Himself without spot? Returning to Leviticus 1 we read:
“If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it for his acceptance” (this is the correct reading) “at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD.” v.3.
Mark, the animal is not killed yet. It is first brought, or presented, without blemish, for the offerer's acceptance before the Lord. An imperfect animal could not be accepted. Just turn to a passage in chapter 22.
“Speak unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them, Whatsoever he be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers in Israel, that will offer his oblation for all his vows, and for all his freewill offerings, which they will offer unto the LORD for a burnt offering; ye shall offer for your acceptance” or, that ye may be accepted (see the Revised Version) “a male without blemish, of the beeves, of the sheep, or of the goats. But whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer: for it shall not be acceptable for you. And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD to accomplish his vow, or a freewill offering in beeves or sheep, it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein. ” v.18-21.
It must be perfect to be accepted, to begin with. If there had been a single spot, a single blemish, upon that bullock, it could not have been accepted; and if the bullock had not been accepted, the offerer would not have been accepted, for it was for his acceptance that the animal was offered. What does that point to? To the holy, spotless Person of the blessed Lord Jesus, born into this world, made of a woman, made under the law, the One who thought it not robbery to be equal with God (Phil.2), but who made Himself of no reputation, emptying Himself, coming into this world, not a full-grown man as Adam, but a newborn babe, and then passing through this world as the holy, sinless One, and offering Himself without spot to God. The whole of that blessed, spotless life (which I do not dwell on now, because it is typified in the meat offering), the whole of that life, every word He spoke, every action He performed, ascended to God as a sweet savor. And then we find that He went into death.
The obedience that characterized Him in His life was only perfected, so to speak, in His death. Or, as we read in Philippians 2, He was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. We know the Father's thoughts of that blessed One. Twice over, the heavens were opened, and the Father's voice was heard, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” or, “in whom I have found My delight” (JND Trans.). Every thought of His heart was to God a sweet savor. Then came the dreadful hour in the garden of Gethsemane, when there was brought before the Lord Jesus all that He would have to go through if He persisted in this blessed path of obedience – what He would have to go through if He carried out the will of God perfectly. It was all brought before Him in such wise that the Lord said, “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matt.26:39). So He goes on to the cross in perfect and blessed obedience, and there offers Himself up, a willing victim, to accomplish the will of God.
I ask you, beloved friends, not what your thought is about that wondrous work, that act of blessed obedience and devotedness to the Father's glory, but, Have you ever considered what is God's thought about that blessed One and His obedience unto death? If the Father could say of Him during His life here, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” how much more now that He has gone even into death itself, out of obedience and love to the Father. In John 14:31 we find the two things, His love and His obedience to the Father, both shown in His going on to death. “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.” He rose from the supper to go to the cross.
Supposing a friend whom we loved very much went through great trouble and suffering to do something we wished to be done, should we not appreciate his devotedness to us? Think then of the Lord Jesus Christ, at all cost to Himself, at the expense of that awful agony of the cross, in perfect obedience coming to do the will of God; as He said, “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4:34). The Father ever delighted in Him. But now He was going to lay down His life in love and obedience to the Father, and He says, “Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again” (John 10:17). Therefore ! Did not the Father always love the Son? To be sure He did. Yet He says, “ Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life.” There was a fresh cause, a new motive, so to speak, for the Father's love to flow out toward the Son; and when on the cross the Lord was made sin, never was He personally more the object of the Father's delight. His being made sin was the perfection of His obedience. He went into death out of obedience to God. He was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. O beloved friends, what does God think of that? It is expressed in our chapter in these words:
“But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water” (that is, the sacrifice was made clean to show what Christ was by nature – perfect, pure, holy) : “and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor unto the LORD. ” v.9.
“An offering made by fire, of a sweet savor unto the LORD.” What idea do those words convey to your minds? Is not a sweet savor something in which we delight, something that is pleasing to us? These are the words the Holy Ghost uses to make known to us God's thoughts of that blessed One and His sacrifice. “An offering made by fire, of a sweet savor unto the LORD.” What does “fire” mean in Scripture? Fire signifies generally God's testing judgment. Fire and the sweet savor go together. Look at that blessed One on the cross. When He was there, all the waves and the billows of the judgment of God rolled over His head. When He was made sin for us, who knew no sin; when He was there, bearing the whole weight of our judgment, in His infinite grace, what came out? Nothing but infinite perfection, nothing but a sweet savor to God, nothing but what God found infinite delight in. Tested to the utmost, and the more tested the more sweet savor came out. The more we are tested, very often, the more our imperfections come out. The more He was tested, the more His perfections came out – the more the sweet savor came out before God. How blessed to look back and see the Lord Jesus made sin for us, and yet the sweet savor of what He was going up to God! In that sweet savor we find ourselves accepted, as we shall see further on.
Up to this time we have been thinking of what Christ is to God; and if we ask, “What does God think of the wondrous sacrifice of the Lord Jesus? What does He think of that blessed One who went to the cross to accomplish His glory at all cost to Himself?” the subject is so great that we can never know it in its fullness. But the Holy Ghost has expressed it for us in these words: “An offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savor” (Eph.5:2).
Now, what is our part in the burnt offering? Where do we come in? It has been truly said, that the burnt offering was all for God; the priest was to “burn all on the altar.” But we must remember that atonement is spoken of, bloodshedding is spoken of; and in verse 4 it says,
“And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.”
That is our part – our getting the benefit of it, so to speak. It is the sin offering that tells us how Christ “bore our sins in His own body on the tree.” That relates to what we have done. The burnt offering deals more with the question of what we are – our state before God as sinners, as in Romans 5:19: “By one man's disobedience many were made sinners” – what we are by nature. That is really the question to be settled, and how a sinner by nature can be accepted before a holy God. This is a difficulty to thousands of the Lord's people. Many say, “I have no difficulty about my sins; I know the Lord bore them all. Yet I cannot say that I have settled peace before God.” How is that? You say, “I see my sins are forgiven, but I feel I come far short of what I ought to be as a Christian. I seem to have so little love for the Lord and for His Word.”
I believe the burnt offering represents that which fully meets this question, because it deals more with our state by nature, and how we are accepted before God. This is not the first time we read of a burnt offering in Scripture. Abel's offering bore the character of a burnt offering; and by it he obtained witness that he, a sinner by nature, was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; that is, bearing witness to the value of the sacrifice (Heb.11:4).
Noah also offered a burnt offering after the deluge. And the Lord smelled a sweet savor there, and said in His heart, “I will not again curse the ground,” although “the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth” (Gen.8:21). Again, Job offered burnt offerings for his sons. “For Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts” (Job 1:5).
You will notice that verse 4 of our chapter says, “He shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering.” That action means that the offerer was identified with all the value of the sacrifice. In other words, if God accepted the sacrifice, He accepted the one who brought it; but if God rejected the sacrifice, He likewise rejected the one who came with it. If God found the sacrifice a sweet savor, and found delight in it, He found the same delight in the one who came with it. The offerer was fully identified with the value of the sacrifice before God. As we read, “And it shall be accepted for him,” instead of him. Oh, how simple and how blessed that is! The sacrifice of Christ accepted by God for us, according to all the value that He puts upon it – Christ accepted instead of us. Instead of being before God with our sins and hatred to Him, instead of our disobedience and lack of devotedness, we are accepted according to all the value of that work on the cross, where our sins were all atoned for, and where Christ's obedience, devotedness, and love to the Father were fully manifested. “It shall be accepted for him.”
Whatever the offerer was, whether he was devoted or not; whatever were his feelings, his experiences, or his thoughts as to the value of the sacrifice – all this had nothing to do with his acceptance. The question was, what the value of the offering was in the sight of God. The offerer might have said, “If God accepts the sacrifice, I am accepted; if He rejects the sacrifice, I am rejected too. If God finds delight in the sacrifice I bring, He finds delight in me too.” How simple when we apply that to our case! In other words, it is Christ and His work accepted by God instead of me. That is really it. Thank God, if we have once come as lost sinners, and taken our true place before Him, we find ourselves accepted, in spite of all that we are – our unworthiness, our lack of devotion, and our hatred and rebellion against God; accepted on the ground of what Christ was to God when He offered Himself a willing sacrifice – when He was made sin for us, who knew no sin.
Does not that make it plain? I am sure we lose a great deal by not dwelling more on what that work was to God. We must remember that these things give only different aspects of the same work. It was when the Lord was made sin for us, bearing our judgment, that the sweet savor of His sacrifice rose up to God. Has the value of that sacrifice before God changed? Thank God, it has not. The value of that sacrifice is as fresh before God today as on the day upon which it was offered.
We will just look at “the law of the burnt offering” in Leviticus 6 before we close.
“Command Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the law of the burnt offering: It is the burnt offering, because of the burning upon the altar” (mark the following expression) “ all night unto the morning. ” v.9.
I think that is so beautiful! It was burning “all night unto the morning.” In the darkness of the night, when Israel were asleep, or perhaps murmuring in their tents; in the midst of the darkness there was the sweet savor of the sacrifice going up before God. Is it not the night now? “The night is far spent, the day is at hand” (Rom.13:12). Is it not night during the absence of the Lord Jesus, till He come as the bright and morning Star? It is blessed to think that, during the long, dark night, when the ruin of the professing church is becoming more and more manifest, and in the midst of all the failure of the Lord's people on every hand, the sweet savor of the sacrifice, when Christ offered up Himself, is as fresh before God as at the moment when it was offered. May we not also apply it individually? Yes. If we get away from the Lord in heart, and drift back into this world, and the things of the world – right away from the Lord – is our acceptance before God changed? No; for the sweet savor of the sacrifice of Christ before God is as fresh as ever, and in that we are accepted. Does that sweet savor ever alter? Never. Therefore the believer's acceptance never alters. Our appreciation of it may; alas! it does. As we often sing –
“My love is ofttimes low, My joy still ebbs and flows; But peace with Him remains the same: No change Jehovah knows.”
There is another blessed point brought out in this chapter 6, and that is, the eternal efficacy and value of Christ's work. “The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out” (v.13). Never go out. What does that imply? When we have been in the glory of God for innumerable ages, we shall be there on the same ground as that upon which we are now accepted; namely, the value of the work of Christ before God. When God brings in the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, the foundation on which all that scene of blessedness will rest will be the sweet savor of the sacrifice of Christ, when He offered Himself without spot to God.
I do not know a more peace-giving truth than this that we are dwelling on. If anyone ask, “What are you building on? What are you resting on for your eternal salvation?” we can answer, “The value God puts upon the work of His beloved Son.” What a sure, solid foundation for our souls! I was only lately saying to some Christians, “It is a great thing to see that you and I are as fit for heaven now as we ever shall be through all eternity.” At first they could not see it, and did not quite believe it. They could not endorse that statement. I then asked the question, “What makes us fit to dwell with Christ in glory?” They said, “Why, of course, the work of Christ.” But will the work of Christ be of any more value in God's sight when we are in glory than it is today? Not one atom. Therefore, if we are believers, the blessed truth is this, that on the ground of that work we are as fit for the glory now as we ever shall be when we are actually in it, although then free from the presence of sin, and with a glorified body like Christ's. And although we may fail, and get away from the Lord, and our hearts become as cold as a stone; though the whole professing church have gone wrong, how blessed it is to think of the burnt offering burning all night; the sweet savor of it as fresh before God at this moment as on the day when the sacrifice was offered. And throughout all the countless ages of eternity it will be still the same – what Christ was to God when He offered Himself without spot through the eternal Spirit.
May the Lord give us, beloved friends, to know more of that wondrous work of the Lord Jesus on the cross – what it is to God, and what it has done for us. It will be our theme of praise in glory, when we shall know as we are known. The same blessed Saviour will occupy us then, and will bring out the thanksgiving of our lips, and the adoration of our hearts. May God grant that it may be more and more so now.
II. THE MEAT OFFERING
Leviticus 2: 6:14-18
We were saying last week that the burnt offering, which comes first in the book of Leviticus, is a type of the Lord Jesus offering Himself to accomplish the will of God, at all cost, even to death. We have bloodshedding and atonement in that offering, because, although the Lord Jesus went into death in obedience to God, it was on account of what we are by nature, on account of our condition as lost children of Adam.
The case of the meat offering is quite different. There is no bloodshedding here. This offering was composed of fine flour, or it might be of green ears of corn. There was no death connected with it. The fine flour was to be mingled or anointed with oil, and frankincense put upon it. Part of the meat offering – “the memorial of it,” as it is called – with all the frankincense, was offered on the altar for a sweet savor to God. Thus it was quite unlike the burnt offering, all of which went up to God, excepting only the skin, which the priest had for himself. The remainder of the meat offering Aaron and his sons ate.
Now, while the burnt offering typifies Christ offering Himself to God for a sweet savor in His death – obedient unto death, the meat offering speaks to us of the perfect, sinless humanity of the Lord Jesus – what He was as a man here on earth, but as offered to God; “an offering,” as it states here in chapter 2, “made by fire.” This fire, as you know, represents testing judgment; and surely the blessed Lord was tested in all His path through this world, as also on the cross, and by death itself. But the more He was tested, the more was brought out His infinite perfection before God. Every thought, every word, every action was a sweet savor to God. The Lord was perfect in every step of His way through this world – perfect in obedience, perfect in dependence, perfect in meekness, perfect in kindness, perfect in sympathy, perfect in humility; in fact, there is not a single grace you can think of that the Lord Jesus did not exhibit in all its perfection during His life upon earth. This the meat offering typifies. All the frankincense was to be burnt with the meat offering, and the sweet perfume of that frankincense speaks to us of all the graces of the Lord Jesus, every thing being perfectly acceptable to God – a sweet-smelling savor.
Some might wonder why the burnt offering comes first, since the Lord's life, as a matter of time, came before His death. But divine wisdom is shown in giving us the burnt offering before the meat offering; for had the Lord stopped short of death, and the bearing of judgment as made sin for us; had He failed when the last test came – when, in the garden of Gethsemane, there was brought before the Lord all the awful suffering He would have to go through in bearing the judgment of God if He took up our case – if then He had said, “It is too much; I cannot go on to that in obedience to God,” His obedience would not have been perfect. Therefore, we get in Philippians 2, He “became obedient unto death.” The perfection of His obedience reached even to death . The obedience that characterized Him throughout His life was brought to its severest trial in His death. Then that obedience was perfected in His giving up His life in atonement. Thus we find, first of all, the Lord's death brought out in the burnt offering, as that was the foundation of everything. Then, in the meat offering, we find what He was as a man here on earth – His life here, but as offered to God.
It is a very blessed subject indeed, but one feels utterly unable to speak at any length of the perfections of the Lord Jesus in His life here below. Would that one could better! There is, however, a very practical side for us to consider; and we always gain by learning God's thoughts concerning the Person of Christ, whether in His life or in His death.
When we were looking at His death, and the value of it, we saw how infinitely acceptable all was to God. All was a sweet savor. We saw that every believer in Christ is accepted before God in that same sweet savor. That shows how we gain by learning God's thoughts about the Lord's death. So, when the thoughts of God concerning the life of Christ on earth are known by us, we are immense gainers. We see the delight that God finds in Him, and can, as believers, say that we are accepted in that blessed One. Of course, it is only after His death and resurrection that we could be in Him; but the same One in whom we are now accepted was the Object of God's delight here below. The better we know God's thoughts about Christ, the better we know God's thoughts about us, who are in Christ. According to that verse in 1 John 4, “As He is, so are we in this world.” There is not a single grace, not a single beauty, not a single perfection of the Lord Jesus that we see brought out in the gospels respecting which we, as believers, may not say, “That is mine.” Do you ask how this can be? I reply, Is not Christ your life? “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear” (Col.3:4), Do you want to see what your life is in its perfection? You must not look at yourselves, or your fellow-Christians; you must look at Christ here on earth. “For the life was manifested” – shown out ( John 1:2). What life? The eternal life. That is the life you and I possess as believers. How often that blessed yet
simple verse, the last verse of John 3, is quoted and preached from! and how many thousands of souls have got peace from it!
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.”
Many, by believing that verse, have known they are saved; but when we come to inquire, “What is that everlasting life that we possess?” we have touched upon a far deeper question than that of the soul's salvation. Well, I say, You must not look at me to find it out, because very often a great deal that is not the life of Christ comes out; very often the sin, the Adam-nature, shows itself. No; if you wish to see the eternal life that I possess perfectly manifested, you must look at the Lord Jesus Christ as a man on earth.
The meat offering then sets forth the life of Jesus as a man on earth, yet as offered to God. He is our life now as risen from the dead; and was not that life manifested in His Person here on earth? Most of you will remember that verse in 2 Corinthians, where we find the very expression, “life ... of Jesus.” Just turn to it for a moment (ch.4:10).
“Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus.”
Now, this is the part I meant to call your attention to:
“ That the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.”
Scripture furnishes no account of the Lord's life in glory, where He is now. We only know that He is there, and there to make intercession for us. But in the gospels God has given us an account of the life of the Lord Jesus on earth in four distinct aspects, just as there are four great typical offerings in the book of Leviticus, as we noticed when speaking of the burnt offering. And the life of Jesus, that eternal life, which was with the Father, was manifested, or shown out. The Lord having now died, and borne our sins, being made sin for us, there is an end of what we were as children of Adam; and, as risen out of death, the Lord communicates His resurrection life to us. As we read in John 20, He breathed on His disciples and said to them, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost”; that is, He imparted life in resurrection in the power of the Holy Ghost. Does it not make it more interesting when we remember this in looking at the life of the Lord Jesus here on earth? Returning to our chapter, we read:
“And when any will offer a meat offering unto the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour.” v.1.
Fine flour is a type of the spotless, sinless humanity of the Lord Jesus. The Lord speaks of Himself once or twice, at least, in the gospels, as wheat, and also as bread. One instance is in John 6.
“For the bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.” v.33.
There you see that a humbled Christ – the One who came down – is called “the bread of God.” And John 12 says,
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone.” v.24.
There the Lord speaks of Himself as a corn of wheat. In chapter 6, as we saw, He speaks of Himself as the bread of God. Thus it is not very hard to understand the language of the types when we turn with the light of the New Testament to the book of Leviticus. We find that one of the offerings, which we know typifies Christ, is composed of fine flour. This represents the One who came down from heaven, the Man Christ Jesus, in His spotless, sinless humanity here. And how beautiful is fine flour! When we pass our hand through it there is no roughness, no unevenness; all is perfectly smooth. So in the Lord Jesus. There was no unevenness in Him; there was nothing in that blessed One but what was absolutely according to God's mind.
In some cases the fine flour was mingled with oil; in other cases it was anointed with oil.
“And if thy oblation be a meat offering baked in a pan, it shall be of fine flour unleavened, mingled with oil” (v.6).
“ Mingled with oil.” Of what does that speak to us? Well, we know that the blessed Lord Jesus was conceived of the Holy Ghost, as the angel announced to Mary.
“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 1:36.
Thus, in His nature as a man, He was conceived of the Holy Ghost, and everything that He did was by the power of the Holy Ghost. No doubt the mingling of the oil speaks to us of that.
Some of the meat offerings were anointed with oil, which speaks for itself. Most of us are familiar with the verse, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power” (Acts 10:38). The Lord was anointed with the Holy Ghost when He was about thirty years of age. At the baptism of John the Holy Ghost descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove, and abode upon Him. There was the anointing.
There is another thing to be noticed in this offering, and that is the entire absence of leaven. There was to be no leaven in any of the offerings.
“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.” v.11.
Leaven in Scripture is a type or symbol of evil. There is not a single place in Scripture where it typifies any good. I am aware that some people, who cannot deny that it represents evil in many places, say that in one place it means good. The supposed exceptional passage is in Matthew 13.
“The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” v.33.
Those people say that this means the gradual spread of good in the world, until at last the whole world becomes converted. We know, however, that it is not so. In every instance where the word leaven is found, it refers to evil. Two passages will be enough to quote here. In 1 Corinthians 5:8 we read, “The leaven of malice and wickedness ”; and in Luke 12:1 the Lord said, “Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” In this same Gospel of Matthew (ch.16:12) the Lord shows His disciples that, when He bade them beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees, He referred to their doctrine ; and this parable in Matthew 13 no doubt speaks to us of the spread of the Christian religion, so called, in contrast to other religions, but not of true faith and real conversion so much as of propagating doctrines, dogmas, etc. in the world, the result being professing Christendom. Doctrines are held where there is no real conversion, and all mere outward religion must be connected with evil. For instance, Babylon , in the book of Revelation, representing worldly religion, will be judged by God as utterly corrupt and evil. When we understand by God's Word that the professing church here on earth is going to get more and more corrupt, evil men and seducers waxing worse and worse (2 Tim.3:13), we need not seek to alter the significance of the word leaven in Matthew 13. It is all simple and clear. There was to be no leaven in any offering of the Lord. That speaks for itself. In the Person of the blessed Lord Jesus, there was no sin; “that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” And the exception in verse 12 of our chapter only brings out more strikingly the wonderful accuracy of the Spirit of God in using these types, and shows that the records are inspired of God in a most admirable way.
“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 savor.” v.12.
Particulars of the oblation of firstfruits are given in Leviticus 23:16-21. The meat offering referred to there is a type of the Church, of Christians as a body, sanctified by the Spirit of God, and accepted in all the value of the work of Christ. In that instance only was leaven to be present. How beautifully accurate Scripture is! In the one type only, which represents us as believers in Christ, was leaven to be found. Because, although we are before God according to all the value of the work of Christ, we still have sin in us. If an uninspired man had written the book of Leviticus, would he have put in a thing of this kind? Impossible. These are God the Holy Ghost's pictures of the heavenly things and of the One who was coming.
There was also to be no honey in the sacrifice. Honey is understood to typify that which is sweet to us as men here – family affection and such like, right in itself – but when it was a question of being wholly consecrated to God, or offered to Him, as in the language of our type, all this had to be set aside. The blessed Lord when on earth fully recognized natural relationships, but (to use the language of another) He who could say, “Woman, behold thy son!” and to the disciple, “Behold thy mother!” even in the terrible moment of the cross, when all was finished, could also say, “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” when He was in the simplest accomplishment of His service.
There is very little said of the Lord's life before His public ministry. We have just a mention of Him when He was twelve years of age. He was with the doctors in the temple, hearing them, and asking them questions. It was then that He said to His mother, “Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?” He was consciously the Son of the Father; yet the very next verse says that He went back with His parents, and was subject to them. That shows the perfection of what He was, even at twelve years old – a subject Son to His earthly parents. How beautifully the Lord's perfections came out every step of the way! What passed from the time He was twelve years of age till He was thirty, the Holy Ghost does not reveal to us, but all that time the Father's eye rested upon Him; and all His thoughts, acts, words, and prayers were going up as a sweet savor to God.
Concerning the commencement of His public ministry, we read in Matthew 3,
“And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” v.16,17.
Have you ever seen the force of that expression, “Unto Him”? It does not say the heavens were opened upon Him, but “the heavens were opened unto Him,” which means that He Himself was the Object on earth for the heavens to look down upon. “The heavens were opened unto Him, ” and then the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily form, in the form of a dove, and rested upon Him. Never, from the moment Adam sinned and dishonored God, never till this time was there a man here on earth in whom God could find perfect delight. Never before was there a man without sin here on the earth, a man in whom God could find His delight. Never. Therefore the heavens, so to speak, must open, and the Father's voice declare, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
These words were repeated on the mount of transfiguration, further on in the Lord's ministry, nearer His death. Again the voice came from the excellent glory, as the Apostle Peter tells us: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (or, have found My delight). I have found My delight, the Father says, in Him. Wonderful and blessed to think of the delight that the Father found in Him. The world did not know Him; they rejected Him. They saw Him only as the carpenter's son. They called Him Beelzebub. “He hath a devil,” they said; “Why hear ye Him?” They did not know who He was, but the Father knew. “This is My beloved Son, in whom I have found My delight” (JND Trans.).
A great many are not clear about the life of the Lord Jesus on earth. We know that many thousands of Christians think that His perfect, spotless life on earth is reckoned to them for righteousness. Their thought is, that He kept the law for them during His life, and on the cross He bore their sins, and that the righteousness of His life is reckoned to those who believe. But there is no scripture to show that Christ kept the law for us, or that His righteous life on earth is imputed to the believer. God has made Him righteousness unto us (1 Cor.1:30), and we are made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor.5:21); but this is only in resurrection.
On the other hand, we are apt to go to the other extreme, and attach too little importance to the Lord's life. Nevertheless, it is very clear that His life is not for our justification, and we cannot be too clear upon it; for if He had lived down here ten thousand years, and had not died, we could never have gone into the glory of God. Never. Therefore we can say with all confidence, that the Lord's life on earth did not put away sins. His death and bloodshedding alone could do that. If it be asked, “What was the object of His life on earth?” I reply, that in all things we are apt to think of our own side, and the benefits we get from what Christ has done. Have you ever considered that the world's history for 4000 years, from the time that Adam sinned till the Lord came, is a history of sin, of dishonor done to God, of rebellion against Him, of independence and self-will in every conceivable form? We have only to read the Old Testament to find that this was the case, both before the flood and after it. It is all the same story – nothing but a history of man's sin, rebellion, and independence of God, except when there was true faith wrought by the Spirit of God. And is all this to be allowed to pass without any notice being taken of it? No.
It is most interesting to see that the Lord Jesus, in His life down here, took up, and glorified God in, every point in which the first Adam and his race failed. It is very blessed to see that. Adam and all his race are characterized by disobedience. “By one man's disobedience many were made sinners” (Rom.5:19). What characterized the Lord Jesus? Obedience, perfect obedience. Independence characterized the first Adam and all his race all the way down. Look at the tower of Babel , for instance. What an expression of independence that was! They said, “Let us build us a city, and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name.... And the LORD said, ... now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do” (Gen.11:4-6). There was the self-exaltation of man on the earth in independence of God. But what characterized the Lord Jesus? Perfect dependence. In the wilderness He was ahungered; and when the devil came to Him and said, “If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread,” He answered, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Perfect dependence, perfect obedience, characterized the Lord Jesus in every possible way. He brought infinite glory to God in the very place where nothing but dishonor had been brought to Him by the first man and his race. It is most blessed to think of – He was doing the Father's will at all cost to Himself. Do you think that you lose by contemplating God's thoughts of Christ? I will give you an instance of the opposite of this. Just turn to John 6:37,38.
“All that the Father giveth Me shall came to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out. 92
“For I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.”
The beauty of that well-known passage – “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” – is generally missed by not reading the context; for “him that cometh to Me” is only the last half of the verse. The whole verse is seldom quoted. How beautifully Christ's obedience is brought out here! First, “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me.” Then, “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.” How blessedly comforting that is! If I ask any soul that has not peace with God, “Have you come to Christ?” and that soul can answer, “Yes,” I can say, “That shows that you are one whom the Father has given to Christ; for He said, ‘All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me'; and you have come to Him. The Lord says, ‘Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. ' The Father sends these sheep to Christ, and in receiving them He is doing the Father's will. How would He be doing the Father's will if He cast out those whom the Father had given Him? In receiving you and me He is doing the Father's will, because the Father sent us, and we came. We did not know it at the time, but we know it now, thank God. This is an example of how we gain by seeing that the Lord was here doing the Father's will perfectly.
Surely the life of the Lord Jesus on earth was of use, although, as I said, of no use to us as sinners. But now that we are saints of God, how blessed to look back on the spotless life of the Lord Jesus here on earth, to read the gospels in the light of this meat offering, and see the Man Christ Jesus going through this world, altogether a sweet savor to God, leaving us an example that we should follow His steps (1 Pet.1:21).
You may have noticed the different intensity of the trials to which the Lord as man was subject here. This was typified by the different ways in which the meat offering was prepared. In one case it was baked in an oven (v.4). In another case it was baked in a pan – a flat slice or plate (v.5). In a third case it was baked in a frying pan. These different modes of offering the meat offering by fire, no doubt set forth the different degrees of intensity in the trials to which the Lord was subject here. The “oven” may refer to the hidden path of His life, that which men could not see, that which was between Himself and God alone. How blessed to be allowed to enter into all this! It will be the joy of our souls in that day of glory that is coming when we are with Him, to be going over and retracing the pathway of that blessed Lord who so humbled Himself in this world – the One who, in coming to do the will of God, also, in the love and grace of His heart, gave Himself for our sins, becoming a man in order to do it.
In verse 13 we find another thing; namely, that salt was never to be lacking from the meat offering, or indeed from any offering.
“And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with 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.”
Salt, as you know, is a preservative, and may here speak to us of that which is eternal, as we read in Mark 9:49, “For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.” Eternal judgment is the portion of all men who die in their sins. But in the case of the sacrifice, the efficacy of it and its results will endure forever. It is “the salt of the covenant of thy God,” in which God, as it were, binds Himself to bless us according to His own heart on the ground of the everlasting efficacy of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. In connection with this meat offering, the sweet savor of what Christ was to God here as man on earth will be no passing savor, but will abide for all eternity, as will also our joy in feeding upon Him as the humbled Man here on earth.
We will just refer in conclusion to “the law of the meat offering” (ch.6:14-18). This passage brings out our portion in that offering. The memorial of that meat offering was to be burnt upon the altar for a sweet savor unto the Lord.
“And the remainder thereof shall Aaron and his sons eat: with unleavened bread shall it be eaten in the holy place; in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation shall they eat it. It shall not be baked with leaven. I have given it unto them for their portion of My offerings made by fire; it is most holy, as is the sin offering, and as the trespass offering.”
“I have given it unto them.” I think that is beautiful. God says, “I have given it unto them.” Given what? The meat offering. Unto whom? Unto His priests, unto us – “for their portion of My offerings.” It was God's offering, all offered to God, as the life of the Lord Jesus here, but we have our portion in it. We, as God's priests, can feed upon that humbled One; our souls can feed upon and delight in Him in His perfection as a man going through this world. How wonderful that is! And is it not very remarkable that every time these scriptures speak of Aaron and his sons eating of this offering, it is said, “It is most holy”? Read the third verse of chapter 2: “And the remnant of the meat offering shall be Aaron's and his sons': it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the LORD made by fire”. Verse 10 also: “That which is left of the meat offering shall be Aaron's and his sons': it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the LORD made by fire.” And verse 17 in chapter 6: “It shall not be baked with leaven. I have given it unto them for their portion of My offerings made by fire; it is most holy , as is the sin offering, and as the trespass offering.” “With unleavened bread shall it be eaten in the holy place” (v.16). What is the holy place for us? Surely the presence of God. Without leaven the priests' portion was to be eaten in the holy place; with unleavened bread – the absence of all allowed sin. In the presence of God, with the flesh judged and kept in the place of death; only there and thus can we, as God's priests, feed upon the spotless, holy Person of the Lord Jesus Christ in His life as a man here below. The meat offering and the sin offering are characterized alike by “it is most holy.” All the efforts and attacks of Satan against the truth, in almost all false doctrines, are directly or indirectly aimed at the Person or work of the blessed Lord – not so much at what He is now in glory, as what He was as man down here on earth. A humbled Christ seems to be the object of the enemy's attack in all false doctrine. It was so in the beginning. Look at the troubles in the early days of the Church – the Arian doctrine, for instance, aiming a blow at the Person of Christ – and the doctrine of the non-eternity of punishment, in our day, indirectly undermining the truth both as to the Person and the work of Christ.
But we read, first of all, that the priests shall eat of the meat offering. Only a converted person can understand and feed upon the Lord Jesus in His pathway through this world. Second, “with unleavened bread shall it be eaten.” No sin may be allowed in us. If sin were unjudged in us, the Holy Ghost would be grieved, and could not unfold to us the beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ in His humiliation on earth; and it is the Holy Spirit alone who can do that. On the other hand, nothing is more dreadful than an unconverted man's criticizing and judging the life of the Lord Jesus here on earth, or than the exercise of the thoughts of an unrenewed heart as to the Person of the Son of God. The priests of God feed upon a humbled Christ in the holy place.
May the Lord enable us in the power of the Holy Spirit to feed on Himself. Surely that is what the Lord speaks to us of in the message to the church at Pergamos in Revelation 2: “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna.” What is the “hidden manna”? There in glory we shall, in the power of the Holy Ghost, look back and enter fully into God's delight in the perfections of the blessed Lord in His humiliation upon earth; and it is surely our portion now. Surely His humiliation is far more wonderful to us than His exaltation – the humiliation of that blessed One who, being in the form of God, emptied Himself, humbled Himself, went down in perfect obedience “unto death, even the death of the cross.” May the Lord in His grace give us to be feeding upon Himself more and more.
“There on the hidden bread,
On Christ – once humbled here –
God's treasured store, forever fed,
His love my soul shall cheer.”
III. THE PEACE OFFERING
Leviticus 5:1-5, 16, 17; 7:11-18, 22-24
The term “peace offering” conveys a wrong thought concerning the sacrifice spoken of in the scriptures which we have just read. Many persons take it for granted that this offering typifies Christ making our peace with God. But that is not a correct thought. The peace offering is rather an offering of thanksgiving or praise. “Sacrifice of prosperity,” as it is translated in French, better expresses the thought. The peace offering typifies our communion, as saints of God, on the ground of the value of the work and precious blood of Christ before God – our communion with God Himself, our communion with the Lord Jesus, and our communion with one another as priests of God. That is what is set forth in the peace offering. It is really a communion sacrifice, and thanksgiving and praise naturally flow from communion. Consequently, we have that expression, “If he offer it for a thanksgiving” (ch.7:12). Praise and worship necessarily flow from communion. The ground of it all is the value of the work of Christ in the sight of God. That, no doubt, is why we find in chapter 3 that the peace offering is founded, as it were, upon the burnt offering.
“And Aaron's sons shall burn it on the altar upon the burnt sacrifice, which is upon the wood that is on the fire.” v. 6.
How beautiful that is! The burnt offering, you are aware, typifies Christ offering Himself to God in death for a sweet savor, and in the very place where He was made sin for us bringing fullest glory to God. There surely we find the foundation for everything – for all our joys, all our communion, all our worship, and all our praise. The foundation of all is the burnt sacrifice.
We might, in passing, look at an illustration. See 2 Chronicles 7:1-3:
“Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices.”
There was the burnt offering offered up, and God signified His acceptance of it by sending fire down from heaven. That was a picture of Christ offering Himself as the true burnt offering, and God has shown His acceptance of it and delight in it by putting Christ at His own right hand in glory.
“When all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshiped .”
So, when we see that wondrous offering of the Lord Jesus, and know the place in which God has put Him in glory, we worship as those who are accepted in all the infinite value of that one offering. Thus the ground upon which we are worshipers is the offering of Christ to God for a sweet savor. There is another thought connected with the peace offering which we ought to notice, and that is, although this offering typifies communion and thanksgiving and worship, these things are not individual, but collective. It is very blessed to see that they are connected with the Lord's table, and with our place there as worshipers. These things are brought out very clearly and distinctly in the peace offering.
It typifies communion, because all the persons concerned partook of the same sacrifice. God had His portion, the priest had his, Aaron and his sons had theirs, and the rest of the animal was eaten by the one that brought it, and by those with him. We will refer to the verses which speak of this, that it may be impressed upon the mind: “It is the food of the offering made by fire for a sweet savor: all the fat is the LORD's” (ch.3:16). “The fat that covereth the inwards” especially (v.3); but all the fat was offered to God upon the altar. It was God's part of the sacrifice; or, as it is beautifully expressed, “It is the food of the offering made by fire for a sweet savor.” Whose food? God's food. That upon which He could feed, that was God's portion.
Chapter 7:31 gives the connection. We saw in chapter 3 that all the fat was the Lord's. Here we find that “the priest shall burn the fat upon the altar: but the breast shall be Aaron's and his sons.” Aaron and his sons always typify believers – all believers in Christ – not looked at as one body, but looked at as individual priests to God. Aaron, when alone, is a type of Christ. Read verses 32 and 33:
“And the right shoulder shall ye give unto the priest for a heave offering of the sacrifices of your peace offerings. He among the sons of Aaron, that offereth the blood of the peace offerings, and the fat, shall have the right shoulder for his part.”
Connecting these verses together, we find out very clearly, first, that the fat was God's, and was burnt upon the altar for a sweet savor; second, that the breast belonged to Aaron and his sons; and third, that the right shoulder belonged to the offering priest – a type of the Lord Jesus. As I said before, the rest of the animal was eaten by the one who brought it, and by his friends. Thus God, and the offering priest, and Aaron and his sons, and the person who brought the animal in sacrifice, all fed upon the same thing – the same animal. It becomes, therefore, a very simple type of communion with God, and with the Lord Jesus Christ – the offering Priest – and with one another as believers. We might add, with the whole Church; for when we think of our joys, our blessings, our communion, our praise, our worship – if they be really in the power of the Holy Ghost – all saints necessarily are included, for they have a common salvation, a common portion, and common joys.
We will turn now to a passage in 1 Corinthians, in order to get a clearer understanding of the subject (ch.10:15-20) :
“I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of [or, in communion with] that one bread. Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of [or, in communion with] the altar? What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.”
In verse 18 we read,
“Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?”
I think many of the Lord's people read this verse without thinking of what it refers to. It no doubt has reference to the peace offering; so then unless that offering is understood, we cannot understand 1 Corinthians 10:18. Neither can we understand what the Apostle is speaking about in the other verses. Therefore I read them in connection with this offering in Leviticus. We read,
“And Aaron's sons shall burn it an the altar upon the burnt sacrifice” (Lev.3:6).
We have seen that the burnt offering speaks of that wondrous work in which Christ offered Himself to God without spot. In the very place where He was made sin for us, He put away all our sins, so that they are all gone forever from before God; and we, as believers, may add, “And we ourselves, as children of Adam, are gone too.” What remains? Nothing but the sweet savor of what that sacrifice was to God, and in that we find ourselves accepted; in other words, it is not a question of our thoughts, of our appreciation of the work of Christ, of how we value it; but the blessed truth is, that if you are the weakest, feeblest believer in the Lord Jesus Christ – one who has just looked once away from self to Christ as Saviour – it is true of you at this moment that you are accepted before God according to His estimate of all the infinite value of the work of the Lord Jesus on the cross. You and I may little enter into or understand it, yet such is the blessed truth. Does Christ's acceptability ever alter? Does the sweet savor ever change? Never. Neither does your acceptance ever change, dear believer in Christ. The sweet savor is as fresh before God now as it was when Christ offered Himself; and in that sweet savor you and I are found before God. This is the ground of our peace.
I need not say that unless a person has peace with God, unless every question about sin is settled, there can be no communion, no worship in spirit and in truth. The ground of it all is the value of the work of the Lord Jesus – all its efficacy in the sight of God. Perhaps the reason why so many Christians do not seem to have much heart or inclination to look into the Word of God, and search out the precious things contained therein – do not seem very interested in what concerns the Lord's interests, and what the Lord is in His own Person – is, in nine cases out of ten, because they have not really peace with God; the great question of their sins has never been settled. Therefore, when they come into the presence of God, or think about the things of eternity, the question is always rising up in their minds, “Am I after all really accepted? Am I really and truly a child of God? Or have I been deceiving myself all this time?” Such a soul is not free to be occupied with God's thoughts about Christ, is not at liberty to be occupied with the blessed Lord Himself. Such a soul has necessarily to think about himself, his acceptance; and therefore the first great question with him is, “Am I fit to stand in the unclouded light of God's presence, in that glory where not a single trace of sin can be found? Can I stand there? Can I be at home there?” If we, any of us, look at ourselves, we must all confess that we cannot stand there for a moment; but if we look away from ourselves, and see Christ offering Himself up to God, we hear the blessed words, “It shall be accepted for him” We learn that all our sins were dealt with and effaced at the cross, and that now nothing is left but the sweet savor of the sacrifice, and that we are before God according to the infinite value that He sets upon the work of Christ. What peace that gives!
“And the priest shall burn them upon the altar: it is the food of the offering made by fire for a sweet savor: all the fat is the LORD's.” v. 16.
The fat, especially that which covered the inwards, was, as it says in verse 3, the Lord's. Fat signifies the energy of the inward will. When the will is in opposition to God, set up against Him, Scripture calls that sin. The very fact of our having an independent will of our own is sin. That is what it means in 1 John 3:4, which is not correctly translated in our version. I am glad, however, to see it is rightly translated in the Revised Version:
“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”
The proper reading is, “Sin is lawlessness” It is lawlessness to set up our own will in opposition to God. That is why I said if any one of us had a will independent of God's will, that in itself is sin. So God claims all the fat for Himself; for if the will does not belong to God, it is sin; it is not God's will. The Lord Jesus could say, “I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.” “Lo, I come,” He said, “to do Thy will, O God”! He came to accomplish the will of God at all cost to Himself, although it led Him on to death, and that the death of the cross. He did not shrink back even in the garden of Gethsemane , where He prayed, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt”
All the fat then was Jehovah's; all went up to God for a sweet savor. The energy of that will of the Lord Jesus was perfectly in accordance with God's will. That is a lovely expression in verse 16: “It is the food of the offering made by fire for a sweet savor.” How much is involved in these few words! – God's food. Where was the offering made? At the cross. How was it made by fire? The testing judgment of God was there, and the more Christ was tested, the more was brought out the perfection of that blessed One who came to do nothing but the will of God. God found His food in Jesus; He could feed upon Him, He could delight in Him; and we can say, “Never was He personally more the object of His Father's delight than when He went into death for our sins, even when forsaken of God on the cross”; for Scripture never says, as some persons say, the Father forsook Christ. He said, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” I suppose that the only time He used that expression before His resurrection was when He was on the cross, when He took the sinner's place before a holy God; but personally never was He more a sweet savor than at that moment.
The sacrifice of Christ has set us in the glory of God without a fault, and that glory can search us through and through and not find a single spot or stain. Why? Because we are there in all the value of the work of Christ; and if God were to find a spot upon one who was before Him on the ground of the value of the work of Christ, He would have to say that that work was not perfect. He would have to say, “The value of the sacrifice is not sufficient; it has cleansed some sin, but not all.” Could God ever say that? Never. The more we are in the light of the glory, the more does it make manifest how clean we are, because washed in the precious blood of Christ. “It is the food of the offering made by fire for a sweet savor: all the fat is the LORD's.” All belonged to Him. Is it not a very blessed thought for us, that that in which God finds His chief delight – that wondrous sacrifice – is the very work that has set us without spot in the presence of His glory?
Refer now to chapter 7:
“And the priest shall burn the fat upon the altar.” v.31.
As we have seen, this was the food of the offering made by fire for a sweet savor. We will connect this with the Lord's table. There it is that our worship ought to flow out. Our communion ought to be at its height when we are gathered there around the blessed Lord Himself, with the memorials of His death before us – His body given and His poured-out blood showing that redemption is accomplished. Surely if we can worship anywhere, it ought to be there. We read in 1 Corinthians 10, “The bread that we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” Now, I think a great many of the Lord's people read that verse without really thinking what it means. I have heard a brother ask the Lord in prayer that the bread which we break might be the communion of the body of Christ to our souls. The Apostle does not say, “May the bread which we break be the communion of the body of Christ”; it is, he says. “The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?” And then he refers to the offerings under the law: Leviticus 7. He says, “ Behold , Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of [or, in communion with] the altar?” (v.18). The words “communion of” and “partakers of” are two different translations of one expression in the original. The word is also used in connection with the heathen sacrifices; that is what the Apostle is speaking of there – “I would not that ye should have fellowship [communion] with devils” (v.20).
But how blessed to know – do you ever have the thought when you break the bread at the Lord's supper? – that it is the communion of the body of Christ. What does that mean? It means, I believe, this: that by that act of yours you profess before all angels and principalities, intelligences and powers, that you are identified before God with all the value of the work of the Lord Jesus when He offered Himself to God for a sweet savor; that you are identified with the value of the sacrifice upon the altar; that you are in communion with the God to whom it was offered, and with the Lord Jesus who offered Himself. The same thing applies to the cup. Whoever drinks of the cup says, by that act, “I am identified for all eternity with the value in the sight of God of the precious blood of Christ, which was shed for me.” Therefore, although the bread remains bread, and the wine remains wine, it is not like eating a piece of bread or drinking wine at home. If it be not as I say, what is it? Only an empty form, a mere profession, a non-reality; and if you read verse 15 of Leviticus 7 you will see that any worship apart from the sacrifice of Christ is only an abomination to God.
“And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day that it is offered; he shall not leave any of it until the morning.”
If he did so leave it, what happened? Read verse 18:
“If any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings be eaten at all on the third day, it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be imputed unto him that offereth it: it shall be an abomination, and the soul that eateth of it shall bear his iniquity.”
If any worship or praise to God is not connected with the value of the work of His Son, it is simply an abomination in His sight. In other words, people who have never been washed in the precious blood of Christ are not accepted as worshipers before God. There is nothing God is so jealous about as the way He is worshiped, and that generally is the last thing that Christians think about. “As long as we are saved, and get to heaven,” they say, “it is of very little importance how we worship God; it is a secondary thing altogether.” But when Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire before the Lord, they were struck dead, because they did not approach in the way God had commanded. And what did Moses say?
“This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh Me.” (Lev.10:3)
For an unconverted person to pretend to worship God is, like Cain, to ignore sin and the fact that he is a fallen creature. When we are gathered around the Lord's table, the bread which we break is the communion of the body of Christ. We are there gathered to the Lord's name, identified as true believers in all the value of that one offering, the sweet savor of which is before God in all its freshness, accepted before Him in the light of His presence without a spot. We know that we are fit to be there, and we give “thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (Col.1:12). God finds delight in that wondrous sacrifice; we, in our poor, feeble measure, find our delight in it too. And we see the love that gave the Son, and we see the wondrous efficacy of that sacrifice, and what a sweet savor it was to God; and then we find that the very thing that God finds delight in has set us, without a spot, in His own holy presence. This, surely, will bring praise and worship out of the heart – not prayer to ask the Lord that there may be worship – that is to confess there is none. When we are occupied with Christ and His beauty, thanksgiving and praise must flow out; we cannot help it.
Do you not think – I submit it to those who have had longer experience than I – that it is a mistake to suppose that we go to the Lord's table to worship? **because we get occupied with the worship instead of the Lord. What do we go for? The disciples came together to break bread. They did not come to have a worship meeting, or to have a service; they came to break bread, to remember the Lord in death. “This do,” says the Lord, “in remembrance of Me.” If we remember Him, we think of that work; we think of God's food of the offering, of His delight in it; we think of all its infinite results, and the glory that is coming; and we cannot help rejoicing, in consequence of our blessing. So thanksgiving and praise must flow out. That is God's part; our part is mentioned in verse 31:
“The priest shall burn the fat upon the altar: but the breast shall be Aaron's and his sons'.”
Aaron and his sons typify all believers. The breast was their portion. What does the breast speak to us of? The place of affection, and the unutterable love of the Lord Jesus to us is our portion forever. We must ever remember that the blessed Lord Jesus loves all His people. Individually we say, He “loved me, and gave Himself for me”; but collectively we say, He “loved the church, and gave Himself for it.” It was love that brought Him down from heaven, from that glory which He had with His Father before the world was. Even then His delights were with the sons of men. Love brought Him to the manger, and led Him through this world till He came to the cross, and there to give Himself for us. And it is well to notice that the Lord's words at the last supper, as to the bread and the wine, were more expressive of what His work was for us than the burnt offering aspect of it, what it was to God. “This is My body,” He said, “which is given for you: this do in remembrance of Me.” For at the Lord's supper it is surely not so much doctrine that engages us; it is the exercise of the heart and affections as we remember Him who gave Himself for us. We think of all the love of the Lord Jesus in thus giving Himself, and we shall ever remember it. We shall know it in all its fullness when we see Him as He is, when we behold Him in all His glory and beauty, when we behold Him there, the fullness of the Godhead dwelling in Him bodily, and the glory of God shining out of His face. We shall bow down before Him in worship, and individually we shall be able to say, He “loved me, and gave Himself for me.” “The breast shall be Aaron's and his sons':” Ah! we shall never forget it; on the contrary, the remembrance of it will be intensified when we are in glory – that blessed, blessed reality! – He loved us, He gave Himself for us. Even now we say, “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever;” We say it now; how much more when in the glory, and like Him!
Thus we have seen that God has His part, and that we have our part, in the sacrifice of Christ. But there is Another who will have His part too, and that is the One who brought about all this blessing – the Lord Jesus Himself. We find the type of this in verse 33:
“He among the sons of Aaron, that offereth the blood of the peace offerings, and the fat, shall have the right shoulder for his part.”
The offering priest is a type of the Lord Jesus, who offered Himself without spot to God. He must have His part, surely, in all this blessed communion and joy and worship, because it is through Him it has all come about, as we were singing
“Our every joy on earth, in heaven, We owe it to Thy blood.”
The Lord Jesus – wonderful and blessed to think of it – finds His joy and delight, even now, in seeing of the travail of His soul. How little we think, when we are gathered, for instance, around the Lord's table, of the Lord's joy in having us gathered around Himself; and when we are in eternity, when we shall all be like Himself, and when He will fully see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied, what joy He will have then! If we have done some piece of work that has cost us a great deal of pains and trouble, we have satisfaction in seeing the results of our labor. Do you not think that the Lord Jesus has joy in seeing the results of His work? Are not we the results of His work? What joy He must have in seeing us gathered around Himself to remember Him! And when we are thus gathered, and, indeed, at all times, we ought to see ourselves and our fellow believers as He sees us; that is, in all the value of His work, and acceptance in Himself, before God.
I cannot leave this subject without referring to an illustrative passage in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 26:29. It is connected with the Lord's supper too. The Lord said,
“I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom.”
We read of the Father's kingdom in chapter 13 also: “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (v.43). It is the heavenly side of the kingdom. There will be the earthly side of it; but the heavenly side of it will be the excellent glory, as Peter calls it. Wine is a type of joy. What does the Lord mean when He says He will drink it new in His Father's kingdom? He means that it is not the joy of earth; it is the new joy belonging to that place of blessing into which He has brought us. There are two little wards in this verse that I think very blessed – “ with you .” “ I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom.” He will share the joy with us in that day of glory. And the Father will have His joy as He sees us blessed as His beloved children, holy and without blame before Him in love, according to His own heart, and according to His own counsel before ever sin came in. The Lord will then be able to say, in the language of the Song of Solomon, “I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved” (ch.5:1).
In that day we shall not need to have our loins girded; we shall not need to be on the watch; there will be no danger of being defiled; but we shall share in those eternal joys which the Lord will minister to us with His own hands. He will make us sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve us.
But, beloved brethren, we are not obliged to wait till we get to heaven in order to enjoy these things. We can begin here; and the Lord's table, surely, is intimately connected with all this. When we are gathered around Himself, we think of the body of Christ given for us, the love that it speaks to us of, the shed blood of which the cup reminds us. “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?”
May the Lord give us, when we gather around Himself, to enter into it all in the full, unhindered power of the Holy Ghost. We need not think of worship. We are sure to worship if our hearts are filled with Christ, and with the remembrance of what He has done through that one offering, when He offered Himself without spot for a sweet savor to God.
 Another has said, “All shall be judged – the saints, that they may not be condemned with the world - the rest by final judgment; but salt, separation from evil, belonged to sacrifices thus given to God. ‘And every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.' Those who were consecrated to God, whose life was an offering to Him, should not lack the power of holy grace which binds the soul to God, and inwardly preserves it from evil” (JND).
 This is also seen in the meat offering; but the difference is, that in the burnt offering it is the Lord's death and bloodshedding, and atonement, while in the meat offering it is His life here on earth. Hence in the latter there is no bloodshedding or atonement.