The Meat Offering (Published 1980)

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Leviticus 2. 1-16; 6. 14-18; 7. 9, 10

This offering, which is the most common of all the bloodless offerings mentioned in the Scriptures, is called in Hebrew “Minchah”, meaning “a gift”. The A.V. translates it “Meat Offering”, that is “Food Offering”; while the R.V. gives “Meal Offering”, and the New Translation simply “Oblation”. No flesh ever formed even a part of this offering. It was principally of flour, or of cakes prepared in a variety of ways, or of firstfruits. Before considering the details of the Meat Offering, it may be helpful to state briefly what its typical significance is. How does this offering foreshadow Christ? The answer is, we believe, that it primarily sets forth the perfections of Christ’s life of suffering. This is not meant to imply that His life of suffering in any way atones for sin, but what it does mean is that such a life as His inevitably led to the cross, and that He alone, who in life was able and always ready to obey God, exhibit God, and bear reproaches, gainsaying and man’s hatred towards God, could give His life in death so as bring us back to God.

We believe that each of the offerings in which an animal was slain is stamped with the character of Christ as portrayed in one of the four Gospels. If this suggestion promotes a more careful examination of the four Gospels, in the light of the four offerings, omitting the Meat Offering, we believe that it will fully demonstrate the truth of what is here stated. The Trespass Offering and the Sin Offering are not said to be sweet savour offerings. These correspond with Matthew’s and Mark’s Gospels, in both of which the only recorded cry of the Saviour on the cross is, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me”, Matt. 27. 46;

Mark 15. 34. In the former, what Israel had taken away from Jehovah is restored by the rejected King of the Jews; and in the latter, Jehovah’s Servant bears the sin of many. The Peace Offering, and the Burnt Offering are said to be sweet savour offerings. These correspond with Luke’s and John’s Gospels, the one establishing an abiding basis for fellowship between God and man, and the other setting forth the utter devotion of the Son to the Father.

It will be noticed that Leviticus 2 forms part of a single communication by the Lord to Moses, which includes chapters 1-3. The Meat Offering therefore would have been brought to the Lord, together with the Burnt and Peace Offerings, as a voluntary expression of the offerer’s desire to please his God, and for his acceptance. Five kinds of Meat Offering were specified:

  1. “Of fine flour”, 2. 1-3;
  2. “Baken in the oven”, v. 4;
  3. “Baken in a pan”, or, on a flat plate, vv. 5, 6;
  4. “Baken in the frying pan”, vv. 7-10;
  5. “of thy firstfruits”, vv. 14-16.

Attention may well be directed to Him who was perfect in His responsibility by the fact that there were five categories, not four or six, since, among other things, five is the number connected symbolically with man exercised under responsibility. Four and six, respectively, are connected with what is universal, and with sin fully developed in man. From these five kinds of Meat Offering we may learn how to appreciate what God saw in the life of His Holy One when He was here on earth among perverse and wicked men.

“Of fine flour” tells of a character that was without a single coarse ingredient. No rough or dark bits spoiled the smooth white flour which formed the first category, and from which the second, third and fourth were prepared. “In him is no sin”, 1 John 3. 5, nothing which, if passed through the finest sieve, would be left behind as an evidence that His nature was like ours, full of imperfections, flaws and foreign bodies.

“Baken in the oven”. In this category the Meat Offering was prepared by fire, as in the next two. But note that the fire was not the fire of the altar; it was the fire of the home. So that we are not to think in terms of the sufferings Christ endured at the hand of God upon the cross, but of the sufferings which He bore in His life from the people who despised and rejected Him. As the batch in the oven was prepared out of sight, so the Lord Jesus first passed through thirty years in obscurity, while, nevertheless, He was made to feel during that time even from His family and kinsfolk how unappreciative they were of the kind of Man He was.

“Baken in a pan”, or, on a flat plate, would lead us to contemplate that period of His life when He was presented to Israel. From His baptism to His riding into Jerusalem, He was teaching openly. In those years when He was showing Himself to the people, He was daily experiencing suffering as the result of their blindness and hardness of heart. How painful to His tender heart must have been the indifference of the multitudes to the words which His Father gave Him to utter! How much grief must He have been afflicted with when they refused the evidences of His Messiahship in the mighty works which He performed! He was truly “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief”, Isa. 53. 3.

“Baken in the frying pan”.

While not wishing to press the significance of these things beyond what is warranted, may it not be that in this category there is suggested something of the sufferings of the Saviour during the last week before the cross, when “the heat was on”, and, if we may so speak, when things began to “spit and splutter”? It was then that He came to Jerusalem, the centre of all the opposition aroused in the hearts of men by the evil one, and there that He met the full force of the intense hatred of the rulers.

“Of thy firstfruits”. These spoke of the best. If one spoke of the best of mankind, it was the firstborn; or if of animals, it was the firstling; but when it was the produce of the ground, it was firstfruits. Nothing better could be brought. God must have the first and choicest portion, and this of course He has been provided with in Christ, who is the firstfruits as to His life on earth, Lev. 2. 14-16; in resurrection life, 23. 10; and in His glorified life, Deut. 26. 2, 10.

To every Meat Offering oil, frankincense and salt were added, while leaven and honey were always excluded, Lev. 2. 1, 11-13.

Oil was, on occasions, poured on, 2. 1, 6; mingled with, vv. 4, 5; and put on, v. 15, the offering. Again, the offering could be anointed with, v. 4, or made with, v. 7, oil. It will be appreciated how this serves to illustrate the wonderful ways in which the Holy Spirit was identified with the Lord Jesus at His birth, Matt. 1. 18, 20; Luke 1. 35; and in view of His public ministry, Matt. 3. 16; Mark 1. 10; Luke 3. 22; John 1. 32, 33; see also Matt. 12. 18 and Luke 4. 18.

Frankincense, which is said to be the most sweet-smelling of balsams, and which was the ingredient of the sweet incense which gave fragrance to the three sweet spices, Exod. 30. 34, suggests something of the unique character of the meek and gentle Jesus. Friends and foes alike recognized many of those beautiful traits in Him which caused the bride of the Song of Songs to exclaim what the heart of every lover of Christ echoes, “he is altogether lovely”, Song 5. 16.

Salt, with which every Meat Offering was to be seasoned, is a cleansing and preserving agent. When the Saviour said to His disciples, “Ye are the salt of the earth”, Matt. 5. 13, He was telling them that what the salt was in the sea, they were in the earth, that is, among men. Thus it speaks of the power of a holy life to resist the working of sin, and reminds us of Him in whose presence both moral and physical corruption cannot long continue.

Leaven was excluded because, as a symbol, it spoke of what puffed up, and of what was pungent, or sour to the taste. Nothing like this was ever noted in the life of Him who humbled Himself. He was not of the old lump of dough, but was through and through a new lump, 1 Cor. 5. 7.

Honey. As leaven is sour, so honey is most sweet; and as leaven would speak of the sourness of human nature, so honey would speak of that natural niceness, or acquired taste, which is much appreciated in certain worldly circles. But none of this was ever found in the Lord Jesus. He never flattered anyone, and He never cultivated human graces to make Himself acceptable in society.

Finally, when the Lord had been provided with His portion of the Meat Offering, all the remainder was for the priests. It was regarded as most holy, and from it was made their unleavened bread, which they had to eat in a holy place. When the apostle Paul wrote to the carnal Corinthian saints, who, on believing, had been washed, sanctified and justified, 1 Cor. 6. 11, he regarded them as members of Christ, and as having bodies which were holy on account of the indwelling Holy Spirit, vv. 15, 19. This would surely lead them, and us, to recognize that a life lived in communion with God must be sustained by a growing appreciation of the true Antitype of the Meat Offering. Only in feeding on Him who was perfect in every human relationship can one hope to become Christ-like.

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