The Pulpit Commentary

Leviticus 2:1-16 (Leviticus 2:1-16)

- The Pulpit Commentary

Leviticus 2:4-11 (Leviticus 2:4-11)

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.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Leviticus 2:1-16 (Leviticus 2:1-16)

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."

- The Pulpit Commentary

Leviticus 2:1-11 (Leviticus 2:1-11)

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.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Leviticus 2:7-13 (Leviticus 2:7-13)

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.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Leviticus 2:1-10 (Leviticus 2:1-10)

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 the minchah was God's meat.

2 . The remnant was then eaten by the priests.

III. CHRIST IS THE MEDIUM OF THIS FELLOWSHIP .

1 . Obviously so since the minchah was a type of Christ.

2 . Christ is delectable food to faith.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Leviticus 2:1-16 (Leviticus 2:1-16)

Our recognition of the hand of God in the blessings of life.

The fact that the law of the meat offering follows that of the burnt offering is itself significant. It suggests—

I. THE TRUE ORDER OF THE DIVINE LIFE IN MAN . It is, indeed, a mistake for the human teacher to attempt to lay down precise lines of thought and feeling along which souls must move. "The progress of religion in the soul" varies with individual experience. The action of God's Spirit is not limited, and while we should seek to lead all souls to walk in the road by which we are traveling, we should not be anxious that they should tread in our own steps. On the other hand, there is an order of thought and experience which may not be inverted. First the burnt offering, then the meat offering; first the soul's presentation of itself as a sinner to ask forgive-Hess and to offer itself to God, then the service of recognition of him and gratitude for his gifts. It is a serious, and may be a fatal, spiritual error to attempt to gain God's favour by doing those things which are appropriate to his children, without having first sought and found reconciliation through a crucified Saviour. Start at the starting-point of the Christian course, lest, when the goal is reached, the crown be not placed upon the brow.

II. OUR GRATEFUL RECOGNITION OF GOD 'S CONSTANT GOODNESS TO US . The meat offering was a sacrifice in which the worshipper acknowledged that the various blessings of his life came from God and belonged to him. He brought fine flour ( Leviticus 2:1 ), and oil ( Leviticus 2:1 ), also wine as the accompanying drink offering ( Leviticus 23:13 ). The chief produce of the land, the principal elements of food were, in a sacred hour, at the holy place, and, by a pious action, solemnly recognized as gifts of God, to be gratefully accepted from his hand, to be reverently laid on his altar. We are thankfully to acknowledge:

1 . God's kindness in supplying us with that which we need. Bread (corn) will stand for that food which is requisite, and when we consider the goodness of our Creator,

2 . His goodness in providing us with that which is superfluous. A very large part of the enjoyment of our life is in the use of that which is not necessary but agreeable; in the appropriation of that which is pleasant,—the exquisite, the harmonious, the fragrant, the delicately beautiful, etc. This also is of God. He "makes our cup to run over;" from him come the fruits and the flowers, as well as the corn and the grass. Nay, he has closely associated the superfluous with the necessary in nature as in human life. The common potato does not grow without bearing a beautiful flower, nor the humble bean without yielding a fragrant odour. As the Hebrew brought his oil and his wine to the altar of gratitude, so should we bring our thanksgiving for the delicacies, adornments, and sweetnesses which come from the bountiful hand of Heaven.

III. THE NECESSITY FOR PURITY IN OUR SERVICE , There might not be leaven nor honey ( Leviticus 2:11 ); there must be salt ( Leviticus 2:13 ). Everything associated with corruption must be avoided; that which was antiseptic in its nature should be introduced; "nothing which defileth" before him; the "clean hands and the pure heart" in "the holy place" ( Psalms 24:3 , Psalms 24:4 ). (See "Purity in worship," infra. )

IV. THE ACCEPTABLENESS OF OUR GRATITUDE TO GOD . All the frankincense was to be consumed on the altar, and the burning of the other offerings with this fragrant incense accompanying it betokened that it was, as stated, a "sweet savour unto the Lord" ( Leviticus 2:2 , Leviticus 2:12 ). God is not to be worshipped with men's hands, as though "he needed anything" ( Acts 17:25 ); but he takes delight in his children:

1 . Realizing his presence.

2 . Recognizing his hand in their comforts and their joy.

3 . Responding to his fatherly love with their filial gratitude and praise.

V. THE WHOLESOME INFLUENCE OF GRATEFUL SERVICE ON OUR OWN HEARTS . He who "knows what is in man," warned his people against saying in their heart, "My power and the might of my hand hath gotten me this wealth" ( Deuteronomy 8:17 ). Such a sacrifice as that of the meat offering—a service of grateful acknowledgment of God's hand—is fitted to render us the greatest spiritual benefit, by:

1 . Helping us to keep a humble heart before God.

2 . Causing us to be filled with the pure joy of gratitude instead of being puffed up with the mischievous complacency of pride.—C.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Leviticus 2:3-10 (Leviticus 2:3-10)

Priest and people: reciprocal services.

Two things are stated in the Law concerning the priesthood.

I. THAT EVERY POSSIBLE THING WAS DONE TO IMPART TO THEM PECULIAR SANCTITY . They were separated and sanctified by various ceremonies and services.

II. THAT SPECIAL SANCTITY WAS ASSOCIATED IN THE MINDS OF THE PEOPLE WITH THEIR PERSON AND OFFICE . So much so that offerings given to them were lawfully regarded as presented to Jehovah. In the meat offering "the remnant" (the greater part) was to be "Aaron's and his sons'," and this is declared to be "a thing most holy." To these statements we may add—

III. THAT WHILE THEIR NEARNESS TO GOD CONFERRED SPECIAL PRIVILEGE , IT DID NOT ENSURE PERSONAL HOLINESS ( Leviticus 10:1 ; 1 Samuel 2:17 , 1 Samuel 2:23 ; Malachi 1:6-10 ; Malachi 2:1-9 ).

IV. THAT IN PROPORTION TO THEIR PERSONAL EXCELLENCE WOULD BE THE OFFERINGS OF THE PEOPLE . Few meat offerings would be brought whereby a rapacious, or arrogant, or impure, or unsocial, or irreverent priesthood would be benefited; but free and full offerings would come to the altar where blameless, beloved, and honoured men were ministering.

The Christian ministry is unlike the Jewish priesthood in that:

1 . It is not hereditary; it is (or should be)only entered upon where there is individual fitness for the office.

2 . It offers no sacrifices ( Hebrews 10:11 , Hebrews 10:12 ).

3 . It approaches God with men rather than for them. Yet it is like that ancient priesthood, in that it is a section of God's people set apart for conducting Divine worship and for the service of society in all sacred things. We are reminded—

I. THAT IT IS THE WILL OF CHRIST THAT CHRISTIAN MINISTERS SHOULD BE SUSTAINED BY THE PEOPLE 'S OFFERINGS ( 1 Corinthians 9:11 , 1 Corinthians 9:13 , 1 Corinthians 9:14 ).

II. THAT WHAT IS PRESENTED TO THEM FOR THEIR WORK 'S SAKE , CHRIST COUNTS AS OFFERED TO HIMSELF ( Matthew 10:40 , Matthew 10:41 ; Philippians 4:18 ).

III. THAT IN THE RELATIONS OF MINISTER AND PEOPLE THERE SHOULD BE RECIPROCAL GENEROSITY . On the part of the latter let there be:

1 . Full appreciation of the high nature and the large number of their services.

2 . Generous overlooking of lesser faults, remembering human frailty.

3 . Constant credit for purity of motive.

4 . Active sympathy and cooperation; and

5 . Substantial practical support.

He who has "the burden of the Lord" upon his heart should not be weighed down with temporal anxieties. On the part of the former, let there be:

1 . Complete subordination of temporal to spiritual solicitudes.

2 . Free and generous expenditure of love and strength, both on individual souls in special need, and on the Church and the world. Reciprocal indifference and closeness will end in leanness of soul; reciprocal love and generosity in largeness of heart and nobility of life ( Luke 6:38 ).—C.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Leviticus 2:4-16 (Leviticus 2:4-16)

The various kinds of meat offerings.

Without dwelling on every minute regulation, the following main points may be distinguished as representative.

I. OFFERED FOOD . Acknowledgment of dependence. Praise for life and its gifts. Joys and pleasures should be consecrated. The will of God in them and over them. Family worship a duty. Recognition of God in common life. Firstfruits are God's, not the remnant or gleanings of our faculties and opportunities, but all.

II. OFFERING DIVIDED BETWEEN OFFERER AND PRIESTS . Connection of daily labour and its results with the sanctuary and religious duties. The secular and sacred only nominally distinct. The house of God and the house of man should open into one another. Nothing should be allowed to interfere with the holiness of that which is assigned to God's service in the sanctuary. "It is most holy." Too often Christians fall into a carelessness with respect to sacred appointments which reacts on the spirit and life. Our partnership with God involves responsibility.

III. NO LEAVEN , NO HONEY . In all things purity and humility. There must be no corrupt principle admitted into our service of God. The doctrine must be purified of leaven. The motives must be examined. We ought not to serve God for the sake of filthy lucre, under the influence of mere sensational excitement. Truth and sobriety in worship.

IV. SALT WITH EVERY SACRIFICE . All must be brought to God in the spirit of penitent faith. Salt preserves life, sets forth the dependence of man upon God. The gracious covenant is the source of all. He who commands is himself the giver of all power to fulfill his word. He is the Alpha and the Omega of the spiritual life.

V. FRANKINCENSE AND OIL . Fragrance and brightness. Heaven and earth mingled together. Reconciliation of God and man. The outpoured spirit of light and life. Joy in God and in his gifts. The anointing oil mingled in the fire and increased the flame. The Messiah is the true Anointed One. Every Israelite, in a lower degree, was himself a Messiah, an anointed one, taken up into the Son of God and blessed. The people are a holy, consecrated people, separated unto Jehovah. Every individual act of religion is acceptable as the oil of the Spirit is poured upon it. What a new view of life can thus be obtained! Make all a meat offering to the Lord.—R.

- The Pulpit Commentary