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The Meal Offering

Leviticus 2

George Davison

Leviticus 1-7


While the burnt offering speaks of some of the features of our Lord Jesus Christ having primarily in view the establishment of the will and the pleasure of God, the meal offering speaks, not so much of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, but of the perfection of His Manhood. From the moment He was born into this world until He left by way of death, that is, His perfect pathway in Manhood, He ever gave delight in every movement to the heart of God. While we emphasise the fact of His life, it is not that we think He has changed in the glory, but it is more that which came out down here in testimony in the sphere of responsibility that is before us in this meal offering in Leviticus 2.

There came a time (Num.15:1-16) when God brought in through Moses another commandment, that no burnt offering was ever to be offered without a meal offering, and its inclusion in Numbers (the book where the pathway and the wilderness, with all its testings are detailed) is striking. The teaching would seem to be that the Son of God could never have been the true burnt offering had the features of the meal offering not constantly underlied it. That is, had He not been in every step of His pathway perfect in His subject, dependent, obedient Manhood, He never could have been the great sacrifice that has brought eternal delight and glory to the heart of God. While we know that only by His death could God have been glorified and carry out his pleasure in relation to man, we must remember that in the life of Christ there is the setting forth of all that man should be for the praise and for the glory of God.

Historically, we might have thought that the meal offering would come first, His life before His death, but man's approach to God can only begin by the death of Christ. It is not until we do stand in acceptance with God on the ground of the burnt offering that we can understand in any way the perfection of the life of Christ. Unfortunately, some try to get the gain of His life without any idea of the effect of His death, but this can never be done. But for those of us now accepted in the Beloved, as the fruit of His death, we are capable of turning back to the record in the gospels and witnessing that perfect life in His perfect Manhood that led up to His all sufficient death when He died upon the cross. So the meal offering (or oblation or food offering) speaks of the perfect Manhood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Four ingredients: 1. Wheat (Leviticus 2:1)

There were four ingredients that had to compose every meal offering, they were fine flour, oil, frankincense (all v.1) and salt (v.13).

The fine flour is the finest of wheaten flour. In the typical teaching there is a difference between barley and wheat. In John's gospel, the five loaves were of barley (6:9), but in John 12:24 it says "Except a grain of wheat.....", both of these are only found in John's gospel, the barley typifies the resurrection of Christ in many figures and types in the Old Testament, whereas the wheat speaks of Him more as the Second Man, out of heaven, and the One who having come out of heaven has gone back to heaven, and accompanied with Him many grains. Again, the barley has to do with the recovery of Israel, but the wheat has to do with the establishment of the Assembly. The barley harvest comes seven weeks before the wheat, the resurrection of Christ as preceding His ascension.

Right from the outset of the meal offering therefore, Christ is presented as the Second Man, out of heaven (1 Cor.15:47). The finest of wheat and flour typifies that new order of Manhood in all its sinless perfection.

The Four ingredients: 2. Oil (Leviticus 2:1)

The oil is typical of the Holy Spirit of God in power. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit is typified by several things. Firstly, living water, along the line of refreshment; sometimes He is typified by fire in judicially maintaining the rights of God; sometimes He is portrayed by light (as seen in the lampstand in the tabernacle), and there are others. However, oil typifies the Spirit in divine power operating in this world for God. When He came upon people it was to give them spiritual power to carry out the will of God. This was perfectly performed in the Lord.

The Four ingredients: 3. Frankincense (Leviticus 2:1)

The frankincense, which always went wholly to God, carries this thought, 'that everything that Christ did in this world, He did it first of all for the pleasure of God' [J.N.D.].

The Four ingredients: 4. Salt (Leviticus 2:13)

Salt speaks of the preservative element of righteousness. For example Col.4:6, "Let your conversation be always of grace, seasoned with salt". However gracious we should be (and we always should be if moving rightly), we must never surrender the claims of God in divine righteousness. Christ said "Ye are the salt of the earth" (Matt.5:13), that is, the antidote to corruption. We are always expected to be speaking right things and doing right things as an antidote to the corruption around us. Thus salt speaks of the preservative element of what is right in the sight of God. Here it is expressed as "the salt of the covenant of thy God". All that is right Godward and manward is expressed here. Christ could say "Thy law is within My heart" (Ps.40:8), in all that He said and did, whether Godward or manward, the salt of the covenant of His God was never lacking. He perfectly gave to God that which was right in His sight. So in every meal offering the salt of the covenant of God had to be included as setting forth the Lord Jesus Christ in responsible Manhood, right in His love to God and to man (compare John 14:31 and 15:13 - love to the Father and love to His friends respectively).

Summary of the Four ingredients

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

The Offering (Leviticus 2:2-3)

The offering was to be brought firstly to Aaron's sons, the priests. The priest was to take his handful of the flour and of the oil and all the frankincense, and burn it for a memorial upon the altar to be an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.

This memorial burning upon the altar was in recognition of the claims of God, but it was with a view to meeting those claims that Christ moved here. The rest of the offering was to be Aaron's and His sons (v.3). The offering must firstly be offered to God, and the memorial with all the frankincense ascend to God, before ever there could be anything here as food for the priests who offered that offering. Not until His work for God was completed, until He had reached the end of His pathway in all His subjection and dependence upon the will of God could there be any thought of any one of us finding food for our soul in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. It also needed the descent of the Spirit, but it was there first of all for God Himself before anything became available for Aaron and his sons. This is true, not only historically, but morally and spiritually in our lives. We must first of all take up this matter of what Christ was to the delight of the heart of God before we can realise what that same blessed Man is to our hearts as food to sustain us in wilderness conditions (c.f. John 6:30-65, the memorial goes to God first of all {v.57a} with all the frankincense before the remnant is left for Aaron and his sons to sustain them. The very food that sustained the joy, the delight of the heart of God is now given to sustain the priesthood in their priestly service for God {v.57b}).

The Three Different Preparations of the Meal Offering: 1. Baked in an Oven (Leviticus 2:4)

Firstly, a meal offering could be baked in an oven. The oven typifies the unseen testings of our Lord Jesus Christ. But what did it cover in the life of Christ? It speaks of the thirty years of His Manhood in this world of which we know so very little. We do not know what was happening as He grew up from a babe through youth to manhood. The testings during this time were altogether under the eye of God, and were answered to for His pleasure. The oven covers the thirty years of His secret life here in this world for the pleasure of God. We have only one vision of this time after His birth and His return from Egypt recorded for us. When He was twelve years of age He was found in the temple (Luke 2:41-50), and could say "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?". As early as that date, He was moving in this world in the accomplishment of the will of His Father.

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

Further over in Luke (3:22) we see the 'anointing with oil' (Lev.2:4), the public anointing when the Spirit descended upon Him and the Father's voice was heard saying "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased". The word for pouring here means 'to pour as molten metal into a given shape'. It may have reference to the Spirit coming down like a dove upon this particular Man, the Lord Jesus Christ in all His perfection. In the pouring of the oil upon the unleavened wafers (the descent of the Spirit) we see the One who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, was anointed by the Holy Spirit, and the mark of God's delight of those thirty years of secret history is given "My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased." Thus the oven suggests these testings, although it cannot be limited to just this application, for there are others.

The Three Different Preparations of the Meal Offering: 2. Baked in a Pan (Leviticus 2:5-6)

The second possible meal offering was "baked in a pan..... mingled with oil. Thou shalt part it in pieces and pour oil thereon" (vv.5-6). Again, the meal offering was to be mingled with oil. This offering would speak of the short section of Christ's public life of three years or a little more, the time of His public testimony.

It begins with the mingling of oil with the offering, the One who came in this way is the One who moved publicly in this world for God, but it was now to be parted in pieces (this is unique to this particular offering). Christ's first thirty years could not be parted, but this one, which covers His public ministry as recorded in the gospels can be looked at in many ways. We are not told how many pieces, we can part and part again, examining in minute details His public testimony. The Spirit of God has parted His public life into at least four portions for us - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. We can cut Matthew into five sections, the sections into chapters, the chapters into verses. This only brings out more clearly the perfection of Christ, whose every movement in this world was for the pleasure of God.

The Three Different Preparations of the Meal Offering: 3. Baked in an Frying Pan (Leviticus 2:7)

In the third offering, the meal offering was baked in a frying pan (or 'cauldron') and was to consist of fine flour with oil. We neither have the mingling nor the anointing here. The thought is that the offering was not presented mingled nor anointed with oil, but together. The Lord is viewed in all His distinctive Manhood, distinct from, but not apart from, the Spirit of God. This third possible meal offering gives us perhaps just the last few hours of our Lord's history in this world, probably from the moment of His apprehension until His last word - "Finished". This period occupied somewhere around fifteen hours.

In the conflict, in relation to sin, of our Lord while in the garden, we see the fine flour with oil. He had the feelings and sensitivities of a man, the cross with all its dreadful horror passed upon His soul, and we see Him there in all His agony. As He prayed to God we see a man who knew what sin was, and what bearing sin was going to mean. Experimentally, He touched it upon the cross, but in anticipation it pressed His soul in the garden causing Him to speak that agony.

This third preparation of the meal offering was the apprehension of the last great testing when His public ministry was now accomplished. The one last great thing which lay before Him in the accomplishment of the will of God was His obedience unto death, even the death of the cross.

Summary of the Three Possible Meal Offerings

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

Presentation (Leviticus 2:8-10)

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

Honey (Leviticus 2:11)

No meal offering was to be made with honey or leaven. Honey speaks of human sweetness, it is perfectly right in the circle in which we live ("Hast thou found honey? Eat so much as is sufficient for thee." - Prov.25:16), but while our Lord Jesus Christ moved here, in the perfection of His Manhood, did anyone else show such love or compassion and grace and mercy and kindness as He did in this world? But it was not merely the milk of human kindness, it was divine love, divine compassion, divine grace, divine mercy and divine kindness that flowed out of Him. It was not merely the product of human nature coming to light in our Lord. When He looked upon one, it said "The Lord loved Him" (Mark 10:21), the love of that was the love of God, coming out from this wonderful Person, though in Manhood, toward the rich young ruler. When it said, "He had compassion on her" (Luke 7:13), it was the compassion of God shown toward the widow, and then He touched the bier and restored her son back. The milk of human kindness was not there, there was divine kindness there. The kindness of God was all in its purity, it was right from God, shining out and ministered by Him in His pathway.

Leaven (Leviticus 2:11)

In scripture, leaven always speaks of evil. It is mentioned six times in the New Testament - four times in the gospels and twice in the epistles.

Matt.13:33 speaks of the leaven which the woman hid in three measures of meal, this is idolatry, corrupting that meal. The Lord Jesus Christ warned the disciples to "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees....." (Matt.16:6a), which was hypocrisy; ".....and of the Saducees" (Matt.16:6b), which was infidelity; and warned them also to "Beware of the leaven of Herod" (Mark 8:5), which was worldliness, the political element. We are also warned that "A little leaven leavens the whole lump" (1 Cor.5:6), this is evil practice; and again that "A little leaven leavens the whole lump" (Gal.5:9), this is evil doctrine. All together these are the six references to leaven in the New Testament, and in each case it speaks of it in a bad sense, as typifying evil.

There was to be no leaven in the meal offering. There was no idolatry in Christ's life (Matt.4:10), God only was the object of His service in this world. There was no leaven of the Pharisees (hypocrisy) in Christ's life (John 8:25), Christ was just who He said He was. The leaven of the Saducees was not to be found in Him either, He was no infidel - "The Scriptures cannot be broken" (John 10:35) was His word. He was not worldly, as the Herodians were, "I have overcome the world" (John 16:33), there was no Herodian leaven in Him, nor the leaven of evil practice as at Corinth - "Which of you convincteth Me of sin?" (John 8:46). His practice was perfect in the sight of God. And finally, Gal.5:9, there was no evil doctrine, "The doctrine is not mine, but [the Father's] who sent Me" (John 7:16).

So wherever we look, in whatever sense it is used, not one trace of this leaven was ever seen in the Son of God, in His absolute, holy, sinless perfection in this world.

First Fruits (Leviticus 2:12-16)

Two mentions to first fruits are worth considering here in connection with the meal offering. Firstly, "As for the oblation of the first fruits" (v.12), that is, it was the new meal offering as mentioned in Lev.23:9-14. This was not to be offered upon the altar, it was offered unto the Lord, but not burnt upon the altar for a sweet savour because the oblation of the first fruits speaks of the Christian company. But in verse 14, we get "And if thou offer a meal offering of thy first fruits", not the official one, but their own first fruits. This pictures the Lord Jesus Christ, "green ears of corn [grain] dried by the fire, even corn [grain] beaten out of full ears". There is here an indication of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus out from among the dead. 1 Cor.15 tells us about this (v.20). God has decreed, as it were, that that man is going to abide forever. If in His perfect obedience He goes right on to the cross, He has been raised again by the glory of the Father, and that is the Man who is going to be continued in His Manhood, and is being continued in the glory at God's right hand. He has come out from among the dead, raised again and has become that great standard for everyone who belongs to Him. For as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall bear the image of the heavenly, so we too are soon to be with Him and like Him in glory for ever more. He has come forth from among the dead. How could that life have ever come to an end? It was completely for God. It came to its end in the accomplishment of His will when He died on the cross, but He has been raised again, and it is continued forever.

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

Oil was then put upon it. In resurrection He received again the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:2). Frankincense also was placed upon it, He lives to the glory of God, still serving God for His pleasure in Manhood at God's right hand. The memorial was burnt by the priest, part of the beaten grain, part of the oil, and all of the frankincense. It was an offering made by fire unto the Lord. If the major portion of this chapter gives us a preview of the perfect Manhood and pathway of our Lord Jesus Christ as He moved through this world, it does not close without giving us a preview of His resurrection out from among the dead, that He lives a Man before the face of God, still serving God, anointed with the oil of gladness, above His companions (Heb.1:9), and in the frankincense and His service for God still the meal offering.

"Father, the hour is come, glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may also glorify Thee" (John 17:1) - this is in the glory. Just as He glorified the Father on the earth, He is going to continue to glorify Him in the glory as He does now. The oil and frankincense are still there, all for God in His present service as raised again from among the dead.