Charles Simeon Commentary - Leviticus 2:1 - 2:3

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Charles Simeon Commentary - Leviticus 2:1 - 2:3


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DISCOURSE: 120

THE MEAT-OFFERING

Lev_2:1-3. And when any will offer a meat-offering unto the Lord, his offering shall be of fine flour: and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon: and he shall bring it to Aaron’s sons, the priests: and he shall take thereout his handful of the flour thereof, and of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof; and the priest shall burn the memorial of it upon the altar, to be an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord: 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.

IN order to a judicious exposition of the types, it is necessary that we should have certain canons of interpretation, to which we should adhere: for, without them, we may wander into the regions of fancy, and cast an obscurity over those Scriptures which we undertake to explain. Now it must be remembered, that Christ and his Church, together with the whole work of salvation, whether as wrought by him, or as enjoyed by them, were the subjects of typical exhibition. Sometimes the type pointed more immediately at one part of this subject, and sometimes at another; and sometimes it applied to different parts at the same time. The tabernacle, for instance, certainly represented Christ, “in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily:” and it represented the Church also in which God’s presence is more especially manifested, and his service more eminently performed. The types being expressly instituted for the purpose of pre-figuring spiritual things, have a determinate meaning in their minutest particulars: and it is highly probable that they have always a two-fold accomplishment, one in Christ, and the other in the Church. For instance; every sacrifice undoubtedly directs our views to Christ: yet we ourselves also, together with our services, are frequently represented as sacrifices acceptable to him: which shews, that the sacrifices have a further reference to us also. But here, it is of great importance that we distinguish between those expressions of the New Testament which are merely metaphorical, and those which are direct applications of the types. St. Paul, speaking of the probability of his own martyrdom in the cause of Christ, says, “If I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all.” Here he alludes to the drink-offerings, which were always poured out upon the sacrifices; and intimates that he was willing to have his blood poured out in like manner for the Church’s good. This, as a metaphor, is beautiful; but if we were to make the sacrifices typical of faith, and the drink-offerings typical of martyrdom, and from thence proceed to explain the whole type in like manner, we should bring the whole into contempt. The rule then that we would lay down is this; to follow strictly the apostolic explanations as far as we have them; and, where we have them not, to proceed with extreme caution; adhering rigidly to the analogy of faith, and standing as remote as possible from any thing which may appear fanciful, or give occasion to cavillers to discard typical expositions altogether.

The foregoing observations are particularly applicable to the subject of our present consideration. We apprehend that the meat-offering might be applied in every particular both to Christ and his Church: but in some instances the application would appear forced; and therefore we think it better to omit some things which may possibly belong to the subject, than to obscure the whole by any thing of a doubtful nature. Besides, there are in this type such a multitude of particulars, that it would not be possible to speak satisfactorily upon them all in one sermon, if we were to take them in the most comprehensive view: we shall therefore confine ourselves to such observations as will commend themselves to your judgment, without perplexing you by too great a diversity on the one hand, or by any thing fanciful or doubtful on the other.

That we may prosecute the subject in a way easy to be understood, we shall distinguish the meat-offering by its great leading feature, and consider it in that view only. The burnt-offering typified exclusively the atonement of Christ: the meat-offering typified our sanctification by the Spirit.

As for the meat-offerings which accompanied the stated burnt-offerings, they, together with their attendant drink-offerings, were wholly consumed upon the altar; but those which were offered by themselves, were burnt only in part; the remainder being given to the priests for their support. It is of these that we are now to speak. The different materials of which they consisted, will serve us for an easy and natural distribution of the subject.

The first thing to be noticed is, “The fine flour”—

[Whatever we see burnt upon the brasen altar, we may be sure was typical of the atonement of Christ: whether it were the flesh of beasts, or the fruits of the earth, there was no difference in this respect: it equally typified his sacrifice. This appears not only from the meat-offering being frequently mentioned together with the burnt-offering in this very view [Note: See Psa_40:6-8 and Heb_10:5-8.], but from its being expressly referred to as a means of expiating moral guilt [Note: 1Sa_3:14; 1Sa_26:19. The mincha is the offering spoken of in both these places.]. It is on this account that we number it among the propitiatory sacrifices, notwithstanding its use in other respects was widely different. There is indeed, in the mode of treating this fine flour, something well suited to shadow forth the sufferings of Christ: it was baked (in a pan or oven) or fried, and, when formed into a cake, was broken and burnt upon the altar. Who can contemplate this, and not see in it the temptations, conflicts, and agonies of the Son of God? We cannot but recognize in these things, him, “who was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities;” who himself tells us, that “He was the true bread, of which whosoever ate, should live for ever.”

In the close of the chapter we are told, that, notwithstanding the first-fruits, when offered as the first-fruits, might not be burnt upon the altar [Note: 2.], yet, if offered as a meat-offering, they would be accepted [Note: 4–16.] ; and that in that case the ears must be dried by the fire, and the corn be beaten out, to be used instead of flour. The mystery in either case was the same: the excellency of Christ was marked in the quality of the corn, and his sufferings in the disposal of it.]

The next thing that calls for our attention is, “The oil”—

[Though the sacrifice of Christ is the foundation of all our hopes, yet it will not avail for our final acceptance with God, unless we be “renewed in the spirit of our minds,” and be rendered “meet for the heavenly inheritance.” But to effect this, is the work of the Holy Spirit, by whose gracious operations alone we can “mortify the deeds of the body,” and attain the divine image on our souls. Hence, in approaching God with their meat-offering, they were to mingle oil with the flour, or to anoint it with oil, after having previously made it into a cake. We do not deny but that this part of the ordinance might represent, in some respect, the endowments of Christ, who was anointed to his work, and fitted for it, by a superabundant measure of the Holy Ghost [Note: Luk_4:18 and Joh_3:34.]: but, as it seems designed more particularly to mark the sanctification of our souls, we the rather confine it to that sense. And in this we have the sanction of two inspired persons, a Prophet, and an Apostle, both of whom, refer to the mincha as expressive of this very idea. Isaiah, speaking of the conversion of the Gentiles in the latter days, says, “Men shall bring them for an offering (a mincha) unto the Lord, as the children of Israel bring an offering (a mincha) in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord [Note: Isa_66:20.].” And St. Paul, speaking of that event as actually fulfilled under his ministry, goes yet further into the explanation of it, and says, that the sanctification of their souls by the Holy Ghost corresponded with the unction wherewith that offering was anointed: “I am,” says he, “the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost [Note: Rom_15:16.].”

Here then we are warranted in saying, that all who would find acceptance with God, must “have an unction of the Holy One, even that anointing which shall abide with them and teach them all things [Note: 1Jn_2:20; 1Jn_2:27.].” We should “be filled with the Spirit,” and “live and walk under” his gracious influences [Note: Eph_5:18; Gal_5:25.].]

In a subsequent part of this chapter there is an especial command to add to this, and indeed to every sacrifice, a portion of “Salt,”—

[Here we have no difficulty; for the very terms in which the command is given, sufficiently mark its import: “Thou shalt not suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat-offering [Note: 3.].” Had salt been mentioned alone, we might have doubted what meaning to affix to it; but, being annexed to the covenant of God, we do not hesitate to explain it as designating the perpetuity of that covenant. It is the property of salt to keep things from corruption: and the Scriptures frequently apply it to the covenant, in order to intimate its unchangeable nature, and duration [Note: See Num_18:19; 2Ch_13:5.]. In this view of it, we are at no loss to account for the extreme energy with which the command is given, or the injunction to use salt in every sacrifice: for we cannot hope for pardon through the sacrifice of Christ, nor for sanctification by the Spirit, but according to the tenour of the everlasting covenant. Nay, neither the one nor the other of these, nor both together, would have availed for our salvation, if God had not covenanted with his Son to accept his sacrifice for us, and to accept us also as renewed and sanctified by his Spirit. We must never therefore approach our God without having a distinct reference to that covenant, as the ground and measure, the pledge and earnest, of all the blessings that we hope for. Even Christ himself owed his exaltation to glory to this covenant: it was “through the blood of the everlasting covenant that his God and Father brought him up again from the dead [Note: Heb_13:20.].” And it is because “that covenant is ordered in all things and sure,” that we can look up with confidence for all the blessings both of grace and glory.]

Together with these things that are enjoined, we find some expressly prohibited: there must be “No leaven, nor honey [Note: 1.] ”—

[Leaven, according to our Lord’s own explanation of it, was considered as an emblem of corruption either in doctrine or in principle [Note: Mat_16:12; Luk_12:1.]: and honey seems to have denoted sensuality. Now these were forbidden to be blended with the meat-offering.

There were occasions, as we shall see hereafter, whereon leaven at least might be offered; but in this offering not the smallest measure of either of them was to be mixed. This certainly intimated, that, when we come before God for mercy, we must harbour no sin in our hearts. We must put away evil of every kind, and offer him only “the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” The retaining “a right hand or a right eye,” contrary to his commands, will be as effectual a bar to our acceptance with God, as the indulgence of the grossest lusts. If we would obtain favour in his sight, we must be “Israelites indeed, and without guile.”]

There was however one more thing to be added to this offering, namely, “Frankincense”—

[The directions respecting this were singularly precise and strong. This was not to be mixed with the offering, or strewed upon it, but to be put on one part of it, that, while a small portion only of the other materials was put upon the altar, the whole of this was to be consumed by fire [Note:, 16. “all, all.”]. Shall we say, that this was enjoined, because, being unfit for food, it was not to be kept for mere gratification to the priests, lest it should be brought into contempt? This by no means accounts sufficiently for the strictness of the injunction. We doubt not but that its meaning was of peculiar importance: that it was intended to intimate “the delight” which God takes in the services of his upright worshippers [Note: Pro_15:8.], of those especially who come to him under the influences of his Spirit, trusting in the Saviour’s merits, and in the blood of the everlasting covenant. Yes, their every prayer, their every tear, their every sigh and groan, comes up with acceptance before him, and is to him “an odour of a sweet smell,” “a sacrifice pleasing and acceptable unto him through Jesus Christ.” As the sacrifice of Christ himself was most pleasing unto God, so are the services of all his people for Christ’s sake [Note: Compare Eph_5:2 with Heb_13:16; Php_4:18 and 1Pe_2:5.].]

There is yet one thing more which we must notice, namely, that a part only of this offering was burnt, and that

“The remnant” was given to the priests [Note:, 10.] —

[The handful which was burnt upon the altar, is repeatedly called “a memorial:” and it was justly called so, especially by those who had an insight into the nature of the offering which they presented: for it was a memorial of God’s covenant-engagements, and of their affiance in them. Such also is, in fact, every prayer which we present to God: we remind God (so to speak) of his promises made to us in his word; and we plead them as the grounds of our hope, and the measure of our expectations.

“The remnant was given to Aaron and his sons.” This, to the Israelites, would intimate, that all who would obtain salvation for themselves, must at the same time be active in upholding the interests of religion, and promoting the glory of their God. To us, it unfolds a deeper mystery. We are frequently spoken of in the New Testament as being ourselves “made priests unto God [Note: Isa_66:21 with 1Pe_2:5 and Rev_1:6; Rev_20:6.].” Since the veil of the temple was rent in twain, there is a way, “a new and living way, opened for us into the Holy of Holies [Note: Heb_10:19-22.] ;” and all of us, as “a kingdom of priests,” have free and continual “access thither with boldness and with confidence [Note: Eph_3:12.]:” and we also have a right to all the provisions of God’s house. It is our blessed privilege to feed upon that bread of life, the Lord Jesus, who has emphatically said, “My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed [Note: Joh_6:51-57.].” We may richly participate all the influences of the Spirit, and claim all the blessings of the everlasting covenant. Indeed, “if we feed not on these things, there is no life in us; but if we live upon them by faith, then have we eternal life.”

Behold then, Brethren, “the remnant” of the offering: here it is, reserved for us in this sacred treasury, the book of God. Take of it; divide it among yourselves; eat of it; “eat and drink abundantly, O beloved [Note: Son_5:1.] ;” eat of it, and live forever. It is that “feast of fat things,” spoken of by the prophet, which all of you are invited to partake of [Note: Isa_25:6.]. Only let not any hidden abomination turn it into a curse. If the bread be received even from the Saviour’s hands, and you partake of it with an unsanctified heart, it will only prove an occasion of your more entire bondage to Satan, and your heavier condemnation at the last [Note: Joh_13:26-27.]. But, if you “draw nigh to God with a true heart, and full assurance of faith,” “he will abundantly bless your provision [Note: Psa_132:15.],” and “your soul shall delight itself in fatness [Note: Isa_55:2.].”]