November 24, 2014
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
The Meal Offering
“When any will offer a meat offering unto the Lord …”
It is called in the Authorized Version a “meat offering.” It is actually a “meal” or grain offering and not a meat offering. There is, also, the absence of blood. Scripture links the sacrifice of life with blood being shed. The meal offering was rarely ever offered alone. It was normally linked with the burnt offering. This association will help us to not only explain this bloodless sacrifice, but to also grasp its meaning.
Why would a man bring a meal offering? Its link with the burnt offering suggests that, as the latter was brought by an offerer, conscious of an inability to love the Lord with all one’s heart, the meal offering was brought with an awareness of a failure to “love my neighbor as myself.”
Notice the Fineness of the Flour: The fine flour of the meal offering would speak of an evenness and balance in every moral virtue or trait. Our interactions with others display how “uneven” we are. He stands in contrast to us. He was the only “normal Man” who ever lived.
Then there was the Freshness of the Oil: To this fine flour was added oil to remind us that the virtues displayed were in the power of the Spirit of God.
Notice as well the Fragrance of the Frankincense: No one appreciated what He was to men; but God appreciated and delighted in seeing a Man Who always “esteemed others better than self.” That life ascended as a fragrance to God. Not only was nothing evil present, but nothing virtuous or beautiful was lacking. Every virtue, in all its fullness, was displayed every moment to the eye and heart of God.
Notice the Fires to which it was Exposed: Verses 4-9 tell us of three other ways in which the meal offering could be presented to God: in a flat plan, in a frying pan, or having been baked in an oven. These remind us of the experiences of Christ which served to reveal the fineness of the flour. All three offerings show the meal offering exposed to the fire; however, it is not the fire of Calvary at first, but the fire of the hearth and home. In this we see the pressures Christ endured in home life and in society. Yet He was still the fine flour.
The “oven” experiences would suggest what was intense and not seen by men. The flat plate would be what was observed by all; the frying pan might tell of the beauties expressed to those who were nearest to Him.
The meal offering speaks of Christ in the fullness of His moral virtues, rendering to man all that God desired a man to be to other men. He possessed every beauty. Not only did His life bring pleasure to God, and not only did God find in Christ everything to please Him, but there is nothing which could please God which was not found in Christ.
Notice what was Forbidden: Two things were never to be found in a meal offering – honey and leaven. Throughout Scripture, leaven is emblematic of evil. It puffs up and, while increasing size, does not add weight. It permeates everything. There was to be nothing symbolic of sin in the offering. In fact, this is one of the offerings to which God appends the pronouncement:”It is most holy,” a reminder of the sinless, holy character of Christ in His manhood.
Honey represents sweetness, but it is a sweetness which sours when exposed to the heat. If leaven speaks of the worst of nature, honey would speak of the best of nature. Neither were to be part of the offering. If leaven reminds us of pride and puffing up, honey speaks of what is “put on.” There was nothing artificial or insincere in Christ.
- Consider the different times the meal offering was brought to God and different circumstances which hindered meal offerings (Joel 2:14; Neh 13:5, 9; Mal 1:10; 2:12; 3:3). It was offered continually or daily (Num 28), at ceremonial occasions (Num 5, 6, Lev 8, 14), at the Feasts (Num 28; Lev 23), during crisis days (Ezra), and in the coming Millennial days (Ezek).