THE MEAT OFFERING. The regulation of the burnt offering as a Levitical institution is immediately followed by a similar regulation of the meat offering, consisting of flour and oil, with salt and frankincense, and usually accompanied by the drink offering of wine. The sacrifice of the animal in the burnt offering had represented the entire surrender of the offerer's will and life to God; the presentation of the fruits and products of the earth in the meat offering represents man's gift of homage, whereby he acknowledges God's sovereignty over all things and over himself, by offering to him a portion of that which he had graciously bestowed in abundance. David's words, "All things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee … all this store cometh of thine hand, and is all thine own" (1 Chronicles 29:14, 1 Chronicles 29:16), express the idea underlying the meat offering. In the acted language of symbolism, it not only recognized the supremacy of God, but made a tender of loyal submission on the part of the offerer; as gifts of homage did in the case of Jacob and Esau (Genesis 32:20), and as they do to this day throughout our Indian empire, and generally in the East.
And when any will offer a meat offering unto the Lord. The word used in the original for "meat offering" (minchah), means, like its Greek equivalent, δῶρον, a gift made by an inferior to a superior. Thus the sacrifices of Cain and Abel were their "minchah" to God (Genesis 4:3, Genesis 4:4), the present sent to Esau by Jacob was his "minchah" (Genesis 32:13), and the present to Joseph was his brethren's "minchah" (Genesis 43:11). It is therefore equivalent to a gift of homage, which recognizes the superiority of him to whom it is offered, and ceremonially promises loyal obedience to him. Owing to its use in this passage, it came gradually to be confined in its signification to vegetable gifts,—unbloody sacrifices, as they are called sometimes, in contrast to animal sacrifices—while the word "corban" crone to be used in the wider acceptation which once belonged to "minchah." The conditions to be fulfilled by the Israelite who offered a meat offering were the following.
1. He must offer either
(1) uncooked flour, with oil, salt, and frankincense, or
2. He must bring his offering to the court of the tabernacle, and give to the priests at least as much as one omer (that is, nearly a gallon), and not more than sixty-one omers.
The priest receiving it from him must:
1. Take a handful of the flour, oil, and salt, or a proportionate part of the cake (each omer generally made ten cakes) in place of the flour, and burn it with all the frankincense as a memorial upon the altar of burnt offering.
2. With his brother priests he must eat the remainder within the precincts of the tabernacle. Here the essentials of the sacrifice are the presentation made by the offerer, and the burning of the memorial on the altar, followed by the consumption of the remainder by the priests. The moral lesson taught to the Israelite completed that of the burnt offering. As the burnt offering taught self-surrender, so the meat offering taught recognition of God's supremacy and submission to it, the first by the surrender of a living creature substituted for the offerer, the second by the gift of a part of the good things bestowed by God on man for the preservation of life which, being given back to God, serve as a recognition of his supremacy. Spiritually the lesson taught the Jew was that of the necessity of a loyal service to God; and mystically he may have learnt a lesson
He shall take there out his handful. This was the task of the priest. The handful that he took and burnt upon the altar has the technical and significative name of the memorial. It acted as a memorial before God, in the same way as Cornelius's prayers and alms—"Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God" (Acts 10:4)—being something which should cause God to think graciously of the offerer. The frankincense is not mixed with the flour and the oil and the salt, as a constituent element of the offering, but is placed upon them, and is all of it burnt in "the memorial," symbolizing the need of adding prayer to sacrifice, that the latter may be acceptable to God.
The remnant of the meat offering shall be Aaron's and his sons'. The meat offerings must have gone far to supply the priests with farinaceous food, as, for every handful of flour burnt on the altar, nearly a gallon went to the priests. They had to eat it within the precincts of the tabernacle, as was the case with all meats that were most holy, viz. the minchahs, the shew-bread, and the flesh of the sin offering and of the trespass offering (Leviticus 10:12). Other meats assigned to the priests might be eaten in any clean place (Leviticus 10:14). The priests' own meat offerings were wholly burnt (Leviticus 6:23).
The second form of meat offering, when the flour and oil were made up into four varieties of cakes. The ritual of offering is not different from that of the first form. The frankincense is not mentioned, but doubtless is understood. The rabbinical rule, that meat offerings, when following upon burnt offerings or peace offerings, had no frankincense burnt with them, rests on no solid foundation.
Leviticus 2:11, Leviticus 2:12
Ye shall burn no leaven nor any honey, in any offering of the Lord made by fire. Leaven and honey are not forbidden to be offered to the Lord; on the contrary, in the next verse they are commanded to be offered. The prohibition only extends to their being burnt on the altar, owing, no doubt, to the effect of fire upon them in making them swell and froth, thus creating a repulsive appearance which, as we shall see, throughout the Mosaic legislation, represents moral evil. The firstfruits of honey are to be offered (cf. Exodus 22:29), and leaven is to be used in the two wave loaves offered at the Feast of Pentecost as firstfruits (Leviticus 23:17). the words translated, As for the oblation of the firstfruits, ye shall offer them unto the Lord, should be rendered, As an oblation of firstfruits ye shall offer them (that is, leaven and honey), but they shall not be burnt on the altar. The mark in A.V. denoting a new paragraph at the beginning of Leviticus 2:12, should be removed.
Every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt. Salt is commanded as symbolizing in things spiritual, because preserving in things physical, incorruption. It is an emblem of an established and enduring covenant, such as God's covenant with his people, which is never to wax old and be destroyed, and it is therefore termed the salt of the covenant of thy God. Hence "a covenant of salt" came to mean a covenant that should not be broken (Numbers 18:19; 2 Chronicles 13:5). The use of salt is not confined to the meat offering. With all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt. Accordingly we find in Ezekiel 43:24, "The priest shall cast salt upon them, and they shall offer them up for a burnt offering."
The third form of meat offering, parched grains of corn, with oil, salt, and frankincense. The mark of a new paragraph should be transferred from Leviticus 2:12 to the beginning of Leviticus 2:14.
The meat offering.
It consisted of a gift to God of the products of the earth most needed for the support of life—flour and oil, to which were added salt and frankincense, and it was generally accompanied by the drink offering of wine. It was offered to God in token of the recognition of his almighty power which gave the corn, the olive, and the vine, and of the submission of the creature to him, the merciful Creator.
I. IT WAS A GIFT OF HOMAGE. As such, it had a meaning well defined and well understood in the East, that meaning being an acknowledgment of the sovereignty of God, and a promise of loyal obedience on the part of the offerer.
II. SCRIPTURAL EXAMPLES OF THE GIFT OF HOMAGE.
1. The sacrifices of Cain and Abel. Whether the sacrifice was of the fruits of the ground or of the flock made no difference. Each was the "minchah," or "gift," of the offerer, acknowledging God as his God—one, however, offered loyally, the other hypocritically (Genesis 4:3, Genesis 4:4).
2. The present sent to Esau by Jacob (Genesis 32:1-32; Genesis 33:1-20). Jacob had sent a humble message to his brother (Genesis 32:3), but this was not enough, "The messenger's returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him" (Genesis 32:6). Then Jacob, terror-stricken, sent his gift of homage (Genesis 32:13), which symbolically acknowledged Esau as his suzerain lord. Esau, by accepting it (Jacob "urged him and he took it"), bound himself to give protection to his brother as to an inferior, and offered to leave some of his soldiers with him for the purpose (Genesis 33:15).
3. The present carried by Jacob's sons to Joseph when they went down into Egypt (Genesis 43:11).
4. The present without which Saul felt that he could not appear before Samuel (1 Samuel 9:7).
5. The gifts presented to the young Child by the Wise Men of the East (Matthew 2:11).
III. EXAMPLES OF THE GIFT OF HOMAGE IN THE PRESENT DAY.
1. At an Indian durbar, every one of the dependent princes brings his present, and offers it to the representative of the Empress of India.
2. Presents are always brought by natives of India to British officials set over them, when they have a request to make, and ceremonially accepted by the latter by a touch of the hand.
3. In the Abyssinian war a present of a thousand oxen and five hundred sheep was sent by King Theodore of Abyssinia to Lord Napier of Magdala, in token of submission at the last moment, and rejected by the English general. Had he accepted it, he would have been bound to give the king protection.
IV. LESSONS TO US FROM THE MEAT OFFERING.
1. To give to God of the worldly goods which God has given to us
Our motive must not be self-ostentation, nor the praise of men, nor our own gratification. By our offering to God we must recognize God's claims over us, and openly profess our loving submission to them. This throws a new light on the practice of almsgiving in the weekly offertory of the Church.
2. To give a hearty and loyal service to God in other respects besides almsgiving, such as obedience to his commandments, doing his will on earth.
V. THE GIFT OF HOMAGE CALLS FORTH A REQUITING GIFT. Esau gave protection in return for cattle. Joseph gave sacks of corn in return for "a little balm and a little honey, spices and myrrh, nuts and almonds." The representative of the Crown of England gives back to each prince at a durbar a present greater than he has received. So we give to God repentance, and receive back from him forgiveness; we give faith, and receive grace; we give obedience, and receive righteousness; we give thanksgiving, and receive enduring favour; we give, in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the "creatures of bread and wine," and we receive back "the strengthening and refreshing of our souls by the Body and Blood of Christ."
Salt was to be used with all the sacrifices. Cf. Ezekiel 43:24; Mark 9:49.
I. WHAT IT RECALLED TO THE MIND OF THE OFFERER. The eating of bread and salt together being the ceremony which finally ratified an agreement or covenant (as it still is in Arabia), salt was associated in the mind of the Israelite with the thought of a firmly established covenant. Each time, therefore, that the priest strewed the salt on the offering there would have been a reminder to all concerned of the peculiar blessing enjoyed by the nation and all members of it, of being in covenant with God, without which they would not have been in a state to offer acceptable sacrifices at all.
II. WHAT IT SYMBOLIZED. The effect of salt being to preserve from corruption, its being sprinkled on the sacrifice taught the offerer the necessity of purity and constancy in his devotion of himself to God.
III. THE SYMBOL TAKEN UP AND APPLIED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.
1. The Christian's speech is not to be corrupting, but edifying. "Let your speech be always seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man" (Colossians 4:6). "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, hut that which is good for the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers" (Ephesians 4:29).
2. Christian men are to be salted with fire, as the sacrifices are salted with salt (Mark 9:49), and the life of the collective body of Christians, the Church, is to be, in its effects upon the world, as salt. "Ye are the salt of the earth" (Matthew 5:13). "Have salt in yourselves" (Mark 9:50). Men influenced by the Spirit of Christ, having been themselves salted with fire, have now become the salt which saves the world from perishing in its own corruption.
IV. THE SALT MAY LOSE ITS SAVOUR. This is the case when "doctrine" being no longer characterized by "uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity" (Titus 2:7), religion becomes changed into superstition, thenceforward debasing instead of elevating mankind; or when it stirs men to acts of fanaticism, or rebellion, or cruelty; or when the spiritual life becomes so dead within it that it abets instead of counteracting the wickedness of the world.
V. SALT SYMBOLIZES PERMANENCY AS WELL AS PURITY. Our love for Christ must be, St. Paul teaches us (Ephesians 6:24), a love "in sincerity," or rather, as the word should be translated, "in incorruption," that is, an abiding love, without human caprice or changeableness; and our obedience to God must be constant, without breaks in its even course, and lasting to the end of life. "Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (Matthew 24:12, Matthew 24:13). "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Revelation 2:10).
HOMILIES BY R.M. EDGAR
Consecrated life-work, as brought out in the meat offering.
cf. John 4:34; Acts 10:4; Philippians 4:18; John 6:27. The idea prominently presented in the burnt offering is, we have seen, personal consecration, on the ground of expiation and acceptance through a substitute. In the meat offering, to which we now address ourselves, we find the further and supplementary idea of consecrated life-work. For the fine flour presented was the product of labour, the actual outcome of the consecrated person, and consequently a beautiful representative of that whole life-work which results from a person consciously consecrated. Moreover, as in the case of the burnt offering there was a daily celebration, so in the case of this meat offering there was a perpetual dedication in the shew-bread. What we have in this chapter, therefore, is a voluntary dedication on the part of an individual, corresponding to the perpetual dedication on the part of the people. The covenant people are to realize the idea of consecration in their whole life-work. Lange has noticed that here it is the soul ( נֶפֶשׁ ) which is said to present the meat offering, something more spiritual, as an act, than the presentation of the burnt offering by the man ( אָדָם ). We assume, then, that the leading thought of this meat offering is consecrated life-work, such as was brought out in all its perfection when our Lord declared, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work" (John 4:34).
I. WORK DONE FOR GOD SHOULD BE THE BEST OF ITS KIND. The meat offering, whether prepared in a sumptuous oven ( תַנּוּר ) such as would be found with the wealthy, or baken in a pan ( מַחְבַת ) such as middle-class people would employ, or seethed in a common dish ( מַרְחֶשֶׁת ) the utensil of the poor,—was always to be of fine flour ( סֹלֶת ), that is, flour separated from the bran. It matters not what our station in life may be, we may still present to God a thorough piece of work. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might" (Ecclesiastes 9:10) is an exhortation applicable to all. The microscopic thoroughness of God's work in nature, which leads him to clothe even the grass, which is tomorrow to be cast into the oven, with more glory than Solomon (Matthew 6:28-30), is surely fitted to stimulate every consecrated person to the most painstaking work.
And here we are led of necessity to the life-work of Jesus Christ, as embodying this idea perfectly. How thoroughly he did everything! His life was an exquisite piece of moral mosaic. Every detail may be subjected to the most microscopic criticism, only to reveal its marvelous and matchless beauty.
II. WORK DONE FOR GOD SHOULD BE PERMEATED BY HIS SPIRIT AND GRACE. The fine flour, be it ever so pure, would not be accepted dry; it required oil to make it bakeable. Oil has been from time immemorial the symbol of Divine unction, in other words, of the Holy Spirit's gracious operation. Hence we infer that work done for God must be done in cooperation with the Spirit. It is when we realize that we are fellow-workers with God, that he is our Partner, that he is working in us and by us, and when, in consequence, we become spiritually minded, walking in the Spirit, living in the Spirit,—it is then that our work becomes a spiritual thing.
And here, again, would we direct attention to the life-work of Christ, as spiritually perfect. The gift of the Spirit at his baptism, the descending dove, an organic whole (Luke 3:22), signalizes the complete spirituality of Jesus. He was "filled with the Spirit," it was "in the power of the Spirit" he did all his work. Herein he is our perfect Example.
III. WORK CAN ONLY BE DONE FOR GOD IN A PRAYERFUL SPIRIT. This follows naturally from what has been already stated, but it requires to be emphasized in view of the frankincense which had in every case to accompany the meat offering. This is admittedly the symbol of devotion (cf. Kalisch, in loco). A life-work, to be consecrated, be steeped in prayer; its Godward object must be kept constantly in view, and stated and circulatory prayer must envelop it like a cloud of incense.
It is, again, worth while to notice how the perfect life-work of Christ was pervaded by prayer. If any one since the world began had a right to excuse himself from the formality of prayer in consequence of his internal state of illumination, it was Jesus Christ. And yet we may safely say that his was the most prayerful life ever spent on earth. As Dr. Guthrie once said, "The sun as it sank in the western sea often left him, and as it rose behind the hills of Moab returned to find him, on his knees." We need not wonder why he spent whole nights in supplication, for he was bringing every detail of his work into Divine review in the exercise of prayer. There is consequently a most significant appeal issuing out of his holy life, to work prayerfully at all times if we would work for God.
IV. WORK FOR GOD MUST BE DIVORCED FROM MALICE AND FROM PASSION, AND DONE IN CALM PURITY AND STRENGTH. Much of the world's work has malice passion for its sources. These motives seem to be symbolized by the leaven and honey, which were forbidden as elements in the meat offering. Care should be taken in work for God that we do not impart into it worldly and selfish motives. Such are sure to vitiate the whole effort. The Lord with whom we have to do looks upon the heart and weighs the motives along with the work.
What a commentary, again, was the perfect life of Jesus upon this! Malice and passion never mixed with his pure motives. He sought not his own will, nor did he speak his own words, but calmly kept the Father's will and glory before him, all through.
V. WORK FOR GOD SHOULD BE COMMITTED TO HIS PRESERVING CARE. For it is to be feared we often forget to season our sacrifices with salt. We work for God in a consecrated spirit, but we do not universally commit our work to his preserving grace, and expect its permanency and purity. Work for God should endure. It is our own fault if it do not.
Our blessed Lord committed his work to the preserving care of the Father. He was, if we may judge from Isaiah 49:4, as well as from the Gospel, sometimes discouraged, yet when constrained to say, "I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for naught, and in vain," he could add, "Yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God."
VI. WORK DONE FOR GOD IS SURE TO BENEFIT OUR FELLOW-MEN. The meat offering was only partially burnt on the altar—a handful, containing, however, all the frankincense, was placed in the sacred fire, and thus accepted; the rest became the property of the priest. How beautifully this indicated the truth that when one tries to please God, his fellow-men, and especially those of the household of faith, are sure to participate in the blessing! The monastic idea was an imperfect one, suggesting the possibility of devotion to God and indifference to man coexisting in the same breast We deceive ourselves so long as we suppose so.
Our Master went about doing good; he was useful as well as holy; and so shall all his followers find themselves, if their consecrated life-work is molded according to the pattern he has shown us. Faithfulness in the first table of the Law secures faithfulness in the second.—R.M.E.
About honouring God with our firstfruits.
cf. Proverbs 3:9; 1 Corinthians 15:23; James 1:18. This arrangement about the firstfruits, though appended to the meat offering, demands a special notice. The meat offering, we have seen, affirms the general principle that our life-work should be dedicated to God. But here in the firstfruits we have a special portion which is to be regarded as too sacred for any but Divine use. This leads us directly to affirm—
I. WHILE GOD HAS A RIGHT TO ALL, HE CLAIMS A SPECIAL RIGHT TO THE FIRSTFRUITS OF ALL OUR INCREASE. The danger is in losing sight of the special claim in asserting the general principle. For instance, we must not deny God a special claim upon the first day of the week, because we acquiesce in the general principle that he has a right to all our time. Again, we must not withhold our tithes, a certain proportion of our substance, through an easy-going statement that he has a right to all our substance. We must condescend to particulars.
II. THE DEDICATION OF THE FIRSTFRUITS EXTENDED TO ANIMALS AS WELL AS TO the VEGETABLE KINGDOM. The dedication of the firstborn of man and beast is manifestly part and parcel of the same principle (Exodus 13:1-16). This leads up to God's right to the Firstborn of the human race, to him of whom the Father said, "I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth" (Psalms 89:27). Jesus is the Firstborn of humanity, the flower and firstfruits of the race. Hence we find the expression used regarding the risen Saviour, "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept" (1 Corinthians 15:23). He is also called "the firstborn from the dead" (Colossians 1:18). Of him, therefore, pre-eminently was the dedication of the firstfruits typical.
If God has a right to the firstfruits of the life-work of the human race, he receives in the perfectly holy life of Jesus Christ. So that, as we found the meat offering to this, so do we find this arrangement about the firstfruits.
III. GOD HAS ALSO A RIGHT TO SERVICE, EVEN THOUGH IT MAY NOT BE PERFECT. This seems to be the principle underlying the "oblation of the firstfruits." This, as we from Le 23:15-21, was presented at Pentecost, and consisted of two tenth-flour baked with leaven. Such an arrangement points to the possibility of imperfection in serving God, which was met by the sin offering accompanying it. If, then, the firstfruits at the Passover, presented with oil and frankincense, typified Christ the Firstfruits in all his perfection; the oblation at Pentecost typified believers, Gentiles and Jews, who are trying, though imperfectly, to realize a consecrated life-work. God does not reject the labours of his people, even though they are very far from perfect. He has provided a sin offering to meet the imperfections of the case and render all acceptable to him. ‹le-1›
IV. THE DEDICATION OF THE FIRSTFRUITS WAS THE EXPRESSION NOT ONLY OF THANKSGIVING BUT ALSO OF FAITH. God's rights first, even before man's need has been met. It was seeking God's kingdom first, in the assurance that all the needful things shall be added (Matthew 6:33). It is most important that we should always act in this trustful spirit. This faith is, in fact, a kind of firstfruits of the spiritual life which the Lord expect s, and in rendering it to him we experience wondrous comfort and blessing.—R.M.E.
HOMILIES BY S.R. ALDRIDGE
Mediate and immediate presentation.
The abrogation by Christianity of the rites and ceremonies of Judaism does not prevent the necessity nor dispel the advantages of becoming acquainted with the laws by which the ancient sacrifices were regulated. The mind of God may be ascertained in the precepts delivered in olden days, and underlying principles recognized that hold good in every age. The very fact that truth has thus to be searched for, and by patient induction applied to present conditions, should prove an incitement rather than a hindrance to investigation. Freeing the kernel from its husk, grasping the essence and neglecting the accidents, preferring the matter to the form, we shall behold in the Law prophecies of the gospel, and admit the likeness that proclaims both to have proceeded from the same God.
I. A DISTINCTION IS MADE BETWEEN OFFERINGS ACCEPTED BY GOD DIRECTLY, AND THOSE PRESENTED TO HIM INDIRECTLY FOR THE USE OF HIS APPOINTED SERVANTS. The flour being brought to the priests, a handful was taken, and with frankincense was burnt upon the altar, rising to heaven in the form of smoke and perfume. The remainder of the flour was for the consumption of the priests. This distinction is applicable to many Christian offerings. The money given for the erection or support of a place of prayer, the surrender of time and thought for public worship, or for evangelistic work, the acknowledgment of Jesus Christ by baptism and by partaking of the Lord's Supper, the devotion of our strength and influence to God's service,—these may be considered as gifts presented straight to God himself. They are laid upon the altar, enwrapped in the fire of holy love, perfumed with prayer, and are consumed with zeal of God's house. But there are other oblations which must be regarded in the light of mediate presentations to God, such as, supporting the ministry at home and missionaries abroad, ministering to the need of the aged and feeble, and giving the cup of water to the disciples of Christ. This distinction is not meant to glorify the one class in comparison with the other, but to clarify our views, and to lead to the inquiry whether we are doing all we can in both directions. There is an idea in many minds that if the works of benevolence and charity be performed, the other duties of gathering together in the solemn assembly and of avowal of attachment to Christ are of little importance. The burning of a portion of the offering upon the altar rebukes such a conception. And similarly we learn that the punctual attendance upon the means of grace, and the regular offering of praise and prayer, must not exclude the exercise of hospitality and sympathy.
II. Looking at these two classes separately, we remark, respecting the bestowment of the "remnant" upon the priests, that OFFERINGS TO GOD MUST BE PRESENTED IN THEIR ENTIRETY. All the flour brought was considered "most holy," and could not be employed thereafter except for the benefit of "sacred" persons. A man was at liberty to offer or withhold, but once having vowed, he could not withdraw even a portion of his present. God will not be satisfied with a share of a man's heart. If it be given at all, it must be the whole heart. And once having engaged ourselves to be his, there can be no revocation of faculty, affection or time. To look back after taking hold of the plough is to mar religious dedication. The mistake of Ananias was in pretending to give the full price, and attempting to conceal a portion of it. Oh that we could make religion permeate our lives, hallowing even our secular employments by doing all to the glory of God!
III. With respect to the portion burnt for a "memorial," observe that AN OFFERING HAS A DOUBLE INTENT; IT EVINCES A GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE BY THE WORSHIPPER OF GOD'S BOUNTY AND REQUIREMENTS, AND IT ENSURES A GRACIOUS REMEMBRANCE OF the WORSHIPPER ON THE PART OF GOD. The special significance of the "minchah" lay in its expression of thankfulness, and of desire by that expression to secure the favour of the God by whom our needs are supplied. To appreciate past kindness is to show a fitness to receive additional mercies in the future. To remember God is to be remembered in turn by God. At the Communion we take the bread and wine as Christ's memorial, and he, the Master of the feast, approves the spirit and the act, and thinks upon us for good. Self-interest recommends us to honour the Lord. To save a handful of meal would be to lose a coming harvest, and to save ourselves temporally is to lose eternally.
IV. ALL OFFERINGS MADE IN THE APPOINTED WAY ARE WELL PLEASING UNTO GOD. The meal oblation differed from the sacrifice of a lamb or bullock, perhaps was not so expensive, and all of it was not consumed by fire; yet it was also declared to be "of a sweet savour unto the Lord." We should not trouble ourselves because our kind of service is distinct from that which our fellows render, or is treated by the world as less important. The mites of the widow lie side by side in the treasury with the shekels of the wealthy, and will receive quite as much notice from the Lord of the sanctuary. If a niche in the temple of heroes is denied to us, or if the eloquence that sways the wills of men belongs not to our tongue, yet may we with kindly words and manly actions and loving tones do our little part in Christianizing the world, and our efforts will win the commendation of him who "seeth not as man seeth." And further, let us not be sad because at different periods we do not find ourselves able to render the same service. In the winter we may sacrifice from our herds and. flocks, but must wait till the summer for the firstfruits of the field. Youth, manhood, and age have their appropriate labours. Leisure and business, health and sickness, prosperity and adversity, may present to the Lord equally acceptable offerings.—S.R.A.
The salt of the covenant.
It has been thought by some unworthy of the notion of an Infinite Being to consider him as concerned about such petty details as those here laid down for observance. But since the Deity had to deal with uninstructed creatures, with men whose ideas of his greatness and holiness were obscure and imperfect, it was surely wise to act according to the analogy furnished by the customs of earthly monarchs, whose courts require attention to be paid to numberless points of behaviour. Only thus could the august nature of Jehovah, the majesty of his attributes, and the solemnity of religious worship be duly impressed upon the minds of the Israelites. Every rite had a meaning, and to add salt to every offering was a command we shall find it interesting to study.
I. OBEDIENCE TO THIS COMMAND CONSTITUTES EVERY OFFERING A PART OF THE COVENANT BETWEEN GOD AND HIS PEOPLE. It was by virtue of a special covenant that the nation had been selected as the vehicle of Divine revelation and the repository of Divine favours. The relation of superiority in which God stands to man, places in a strong light his condescension in making an agreement by which he binds himself as well as the people. Every covenant implies mutual obligations. God promised to guide and bless the Israelites if they, in their turn, kept his commandments and held him in proper esteem. To put salt, therefore, in compliance with his behest, was to acknowledge that the covenant remained in force, and the act became a present instance of the existence of the covenant. It was as much as to say, "I present this gift because of the covenanted relationship in which I stand to Jehovah." The covenant of the gospel is ratified in Christ for all his faithful seed, who are made partakers of the blessing promised to Abraham (Galatians 3:16). Hence whatever we do is in the name of Christ, recognizing our sonship, heirship, and co-heirship. The covenant influences, embraces all thoughts and deeds.
II. SALT, AS THE EMBLEM OF HOSPITALITY, SHOWS THAT SERVICE TO GOD IS A FEAST OF FRIENDSHIP. The offering of flour on which oil was poured was itself indicative of a friendly meal, and this view was strengthened by adding salt to the sacrifice. So surprising is the intimacy to which the Most High admits his people, that they may be said to feed daily at his table; all the fruits of the earth are the product of his bounty, which honours men as his guests. We do but render to God what he first bestowed; and in thus approaching we enjoy his presence and favour. It is permitted us to make ready for the Passover, whereat the Lord shall sit down with his disciples.
III. SALT, AS A PRESERVATIVE, REMINDS US OF THE PURITY WHICH SHOULD CHARACTERIZE OUR LIVES. Nothing that partakes of corruption is fit to be brought unto the ever-living God. "Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit." "Flesh and blood" tend to impurity and death, and "cannot inherit the kingdom of God." Our speech must he with grace, seasoned with salt, lest anything destructive of peace or edification should issue from our lips. Apart from the life that is instilled through faith in Christ, man is dead, and decay is loathsome. Without faith our walk and conversation cannot please God, nor are we "the salt of the earth." Christians are salted with the purifying fire of trial (Mark 9:49).
IV. SALT TEACHES US THE PERPETUITY OF OUR FRIENDSHIP WITH GOD. A covenant of salt is for ever. (See Numbers 18:19 and 2 Chronicles 13:5.) It lasts as long as the conditions are observed by us, for God will never change, nor desire on his part to revoke his blessing. Let us rejoice in the truth that he abideth faithful, and in the thought of the indissoluble alliance thereby created. He does not wish to treat us as playthings, invented to amuse him temporarily, and then to be tossed aside. We are put in possession by the great Healer and Life-restorer of imperishable principles, seeds of righteousness, that avert corruption and defy decay. Our devotion is not a hireling service that may soon terminate, but a consecration for the everlasting ages.—S.R.A.
The offering of daily life.
It is interesting to perceive how the instructions here recorded made it possible for all classes of the people to bring sacrifices to Jehovah. None could complain of want of sufficient means or of the necessary cooking utensils. All such objections are forestalled by these inclusive arrangements. Whether consisting of "cakes" or "wafers," whether baked on a fiat iron plate or boiled in a pot, the offering was lawful and acceptable. How, then, can we imagine that Christian work and gifts are so restricted in their nature as to be procurable only by a few?
I. THE MATERIAL OF WHICH THIS OFFERING WAS COMPOSED. "His offering shall be of fine flour." The sacrifice God desires is of what man deems most precious, viz. life. As the animal was killed, giving up its life to God, so now there is presented in this oblation:
1. Something that belongs to daily life.
2. Contributing to its support;
3. and enjoyment.
By bestowing of our substance upon God, all our property is sanctified. To set apart specifically a portion of time in which to worship God, hallows the remainder of the week. See in Jesus the true Meal Oblation, the Bread of Life. We ask the Father to accept his offering on our behalf, and we also live on him as our spiritual food.
4. The sample presented must be of the best of its kind. God will not be slighted with scanty adoration and inferior exercise of our powers. Only wheaten flour is permitted.
II. ACCOMPANIMENTS OF THE OFFERING. Allusions to the Jewish sacrifices are frequent in the New Testament, and we cannot be wrong in guiding ourselves by such an interpretation of these figurative regulations.
1. Oil must be added. It was the element of consecration, and reminds us of the needful anointing of the Spirit to qualify us for our duties. "Ye have an unction from the Holy One." As used, like butter, to impart a relish to food, it became a symbol of gladness. So the Christian motto is, "Rejoice in the Lord always."
2. Frankincense is required that a pleasant odour may ascend to the skies. So may our service be redolent to earth and heaven of a fragrant savour. In Revelation 8:3, incense is offered with the prayers of the saints, and speaks to us of the intercession of Christ, by which our pleadings are made effectual. Let prayer be the constant attitude of our souls, and let us connect the Saviour with all we do and say.
3. It must be seasoned with salt, a remembrance and an emblem of God's covenant, by which his people are admitted to intimacy and friendship with him. The status of the believer is an indissoluble alliance with the Almighty on the ground of promise and oath. This is his privilege and motive power. Every sacrifice must be salted with the salt of holy obedience, producing peace and purity, and preserving it from corruption.
III. THINGS PROHIBITED.
1. Leaven, the emblem of wickedness, of hypocrisy, of fermenting putridity.
2. Honey, which, though sweet and increasing the delight with which food is partaken of, quickly turns to bitterness and corruption. It is regarded as typical of fleshly lusts which war against the soul, that love of the world which mars Christian character. The warning conveyed by these prohibitions is worthy of being sharply outlined in modern days, when the tendency waxes stronger to obliterate the dividing line between the Church and the world, and attempts are made to purify the impure, or to whiten the outside of sepulchers, and to seduce Christians into the belief that all the pursuits and pleasures of life may be harmlessly indulged in, and even sanctified to the glory of God. The first intention may be good, but the ultimate issue is unbounded license. Christ and Belial, light and darkness, can have no lasting concord. We may, however, take the leaven and honey as indicating the truth that some things lawful in themselves and at certain seasons, are at other times displeasing to God. The mirth and music and demeanour that are innocent as such, may not befit us in the solemnity of special circumstances, for example, the worship of the sanctuary. "To everything there is a season."
CONCLUSION. The perfect realization of every offering is seen in the Lord our Saviour. What a matchless life was his! No stain of malice or lust; grace, beauty, purity, all exemplified in fullest degree; on him the Spirit ever rested; his words and works a continual sacrifice to his Father, evoking the exclamation, "This is my beloved Son: hear him." As the heavenly Manna, he satisfies the wants of his kingdom of priests, and his Body was consumed in the flames of Calvary as our memento before God.—S.R.A.
HOMILIES BY J.A. MACDONALD
Leviticus 2:1, Leviticus 2:2
The minchah, a type of Christ.
Because the minchah was an offering without blood, and therefore was not intended as a sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 9:22), some have supposed that it was in use before the Fall. This opinion, however, has but little to sustain it. We certainly read of the minchah as having been offered by Cain (Genesis 4:3); but then Abel, at the same time, offered the holocaust, or sin offering, which no one dreams of having formed any part of the original worship in Eden. Cain's fault was not in having offered the minchah, but in not associating with it some sin sacrifice. It is questionable whether the minchah, under the Law, was ever offered without such an accompaniment. Yet we may view the minchah as a type of Christ. For—
I. ALL THE HOLY BREAD TYPIFIED CHRIST.
1. The manna was of this class.
(1) It is called "bread from heaven" (see Nehemiah 9:15).
2. The shew-bread also was of this class.
3. So was this bread of the minchah.
So is he destined to nourish the joys of the glorified in the heaven of heavens (Luke 22:30).
II. THIS BREAD HAD THE QUALITY OF EXCELLENCE.
1. As bread it was the staple of food.
2. This bread was of "fine flour."
III. IT HAD NOTICEABLE ADJUNCTS.
1. Oil was poured upon it.
2. It was offered with frankincense.
The feast upon the minchah.
In our remarks upon the two first of these verses, we viewed the minchah, or meat offering, as a type of Christ. Upon this point additional light may be incidentally thrown as we now proceed to consider the feast upon the minchah. For this we hold to be designed to represent our fellowship with God in Christ.
I. FEASTS HAVE EVER BEEN REGARDED AS TOKENS OF FRIENDSHIP.
1. Secular history abounds in examples.
2. Sacred history also furnishes examples.
II. THE FEAST OF THE MEAT OFFERING WAS A SYMBOL OF FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD.
1. The "memorial" of