Lessons from Leviticus – Chapters 2-5

The second in order of the sweet savour offerings was

The Meal Offering, Lev. 2.

In the burnt offering Christ is the perfect sacrifice in absolute obedience to God, whereas in the meal offering He is seen in His perfect service to men. Godward, He alone loved with all His heart, mind, strength and soul; manward, only He could love His neighbour as Himself, and thus fulfil the law of God in its entirety.

The ingredients included in the meal-offering were fine flour, oil, frankincense and salt. In the fine flour Christ is seen in the Perfection of His Manhood, displaying a life of perfect balance which no pressure of life could disturb. Under the pressure of circumstances, even Moses, the meekest of men, spoke unadvisedly with his lips; Peter, filled with zeal, denied his Lord; John, the beloved disciple, was known to be intolerant with those who “followed not” with him, and with James shared in the desire to call down fire from heaven to consume those who would not receive the Saviour, Luke 9. 54. Not so the Lord Jesus, who at all times was meek, zealous for God, and compassionate with men.

The oil of the offering would speak of Christ in the Power of His Ministry. There were “unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil”, Lev. 2. 4. How transcending are the thoughts:

  1. Christ was conceived of the Holy Spirit, for we read, “that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God”, Luke 1. 35;
  2. when entering upon His earthly ministry, at His baptism He was anointed by the Spirit, and “the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased”, 3. 21, 22.

The frankincense placed with the oil upon the offering reveals the Purpose of His Mission. Every thought, word and deed of the Saviour were for the glory of God, for in His words to the Jews who sought to slay Him, He said, “I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me”, John 5. 30. His life was at all times fragrant and well pleasing to the Father.

Salt, the fourth ingredient in the offering, indicates the Pungency of His Message.

We read, “And every oblation of thy meal offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meal offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt”, Lev. 2. 13. How wonderful to remember that the Lord’s words were always words of grace and truth, and that the pungency and purity of His message have in every age arrested the progress of evil in the world. The message to every believer is, “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man”, Col. 4. 6. So may we allow the Lord Jesus to guard our lips and govern our lives.

Leaven and honey were excluded from any offering made by fire, Lev. 2. 11. Leaven, the symbol of pride and self, has no place in God’s reckonings. We remember how the Saviour warned His disciples against the hypocrisy of ritualism in the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the hollowness of rationalism in the leaven of the Sadducees, Matt. 16. 6. Paul, too, exhorted the Corinthian believers to keep the feast “not with old leaven … of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”, 1 Cor. 5. 8. Honey, the symbol of that which is merely attractive and sensuous, was also excluded from the offering. Christ as the meal offering never sought the congratulations or applause of men, for His eye was ever single, and His thoughts had no ulterior motives.

May God enable us by His Spirit to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God, Col. 1. 10.

Third in order of the sweet savour offerings was

The Peace Offering, Lev. 3.

In contrast to the burnt offering, we note here that there was participation, for man is no longer merely a spectator but also a partaker, Lev. 7. 28-34. Part of the sacrifice was to be eaten by Aaron and his family, and not consumed by fire. Further, there was the thought of identification, which was common to all the sacrifices. The priest representing the people “shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it before the tabernacle of the congregation”, 3. 8, identifying himself and the people with the offering he was about to make. In Christ we see the sacrifice which is sufficient for all, but efficient only for those who put their trust in Him. Finally, there was appreciation, for while the breast and the shoulder, symbols of affection and strength, were the portions of Aaron and his sons, it was God alone that could fully appreciate the portion of “the inward parts” which were put upon the altar, it is the privilege of all believers as priests to share in the appreciation of God’s beloved Son, as they feed upon Him, who is “our peace” and who has “made peace through the blood of his cross”, Col. 1. 20.

We now turn from the sweet savour offerings to those of

The Sin and Trespass Offerings, Lev. 4. 1 to 6. 7.

Considering first the sin offering, 4. 1 to 5. 13, we observe the subtlety of sin, as expressed in the sins of ignorance, 4. 2. Sin is more than that of which our conscience convicts us; there is more sin in us than we know. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us”, 1 John 1. 8. Sin has beclouded our vision and stultified our moral sensibilities, but God holds us guilty whether we are aware of it or not.

The seriousness of sin is next emphasized in the fact that God is no respecter of persons. Whether it was the priest who was anointed, the whole congregation, the ruler or one of the common people, the remedy was the same for all; a sacrifice had to be offered. The priest must offer a bullock, while for a ruler a male kid of the goats would suffice, whereas for one of the common people a female kid was acceptable. The priest that was anointed was not said to have sinned through ignorance, thus indicating that there was no excuse for ignorance in one of his position. We should learn that greater privilege means greater responsibility and greater sin.

The subtlety and seriousness of sin demanded an adequate sacrifice for sin. As always, this was to be “without blemish”, and was now to be burnt “without the camp”, in contrast to the burnt offering which was burnt upon the brazen altar. Outside the camp was the place of the defiled, Num. 5. 2, and of the condemned, 15. 35, 36, the place of execution of those on whom judgment without mercy was pronounced. As the sin offering, Christ, who knew no sin, was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him, 2 Cor. 5. 21 for “Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God”, 1 Pet. 3. 18. And again we read that “once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself”, Heb 9. 26. So that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, Christ suffered without the gate, and the exhortation to all believers is to “go forth … unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach”, 13. 12, 13.

The trespass offering is next described in Leviticus 5. 14 to 6. 7. Here are enumerated specific offences concerning which the trespasser had become plainly aware. The offender was required to make amends, before the priest could make atonement and before God’s forgiveness could be enjoyed. A liberal restoration to the wronged person, estimated after the standard shekel of the sanctuary, was demanded, before the priest could accept the ram of the offering.

There are times when it is not enough to ask God’s forgiveness for wrong-doing; if we have spoken evil we must confess it; if we have broken confidence we must restore it. Only as we are reconciled one to another can we enjoy God’s forgiveness. The words of the Saviour to His disciples are just as relevant today: “if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift”, Matt. 5. 23, 24. In Psalm 69. 4 it is recorded of the Lord Jesus, “then I restored that which I took not away”, for through His sacrifice we receive greater blessing and a richer portion as children of God indwelt by His Spirit we are “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ”, Rom. 8. 17.

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