The Meal Offering
Arthur G. Clarke
I. Full Name
'Oblation of a meal (i.e. food) offering' (Heb. 'Qorban minchah'), Lev. 2; 6. 14-18.
II. Relevant Scriptures
Psalms 1 and 16. All four Gospels.
III. Primary Purpose
Accessory to burnt and peace offerings, Exod. 29. 40-41; Num. 15.1-10; chs. 28-295 Ezra 7.17, and always accompanied by a drink offering. These bloodless offerings were never presented alone, for the imputation and removal of sin were not in view.
IV. Typical Significance
Christ's complete consecration in His life. The person of the Saviour is seen in the moral perfection of His manhood wholly untainted by sin. He surrendered Himself to God for the service and 'food' of man. Taken together the burnt offering and the meal offering present the standard of full obedience. In the former Christ is viewed as perfectly fulfilling the laws of the first table of the Decalogue, Matt. 22. 37, to the complete satisfaction of God; in the latter as perfectly fulfilling the laws of the second table, rendering as man His due portion as an offering to the Lord. Christ's perfect life had no atoning efficacy but it demonstrated His fitness to undertake the work of the cross.
V. Appointed Offerings
As with the burnt offering the varieties typically represent differing measures in the apprehension of believers as to the character of Christ's manhood.
1. PURE FLOUR, with olive oil and frankincense. Only the very finest wheaten flour was permitted, Exod. 29. 2. This was twice the value of barley flour, 2 Kings 7. 16. It was obtained by 'bruising' (i.e. pounding) the corn and then sifting it, Isa. 28. 28; cp. Heb. 2.10; Isa. 53. 3 with Mark 3. 5; 9. 19, etc. This was the highest grade of the meal offering; cp. the princes' offerings, Num. 7. 13, 19, 25. The fine flour typically indicates that in Christ every moral quality was found in perfect harmony; there was no inequality, no unevcnness in His character such as is manifested in sinful man. Oil, which in the East commonly takes the place of butter in household use, because of its nourishing and healing proper¬ties, fitly typifies the Holy Spirit throughout Scripture (see note under next paragraph). Frankincense was a white gum resin obtained from the bark of an Indian tree by incision. It needed no preparation. Fire brought out its pleasant and enduring fragrance. This frankincense in the meal offering was all burnt on the altar, for God alone could fully appreciate the excellence of the Saviour's life, Luke 3. 22.
2. BREAD CAKES. (Heb. 'challah' - pierced cakes). These could be prepared in three different ways.
a. Oven-baked - unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or wafers anointed (i.e. smeared or poured on) with oil typically set forth the intensity of trials endured in secret by the Lord. His inmost feelings were constantly wounded in contact with human sin and suffering as well as by Satan's temptations, Heb. 2. 18; John 11. 33-38, etc. In connection with our Lord's manhood the Holy Spirit sustained a double relationship suggested here by the 'mingling' and the 'anointing' with oil. As to His humanity Jesus was begotten of the virgin by the Holy Spirit, Matt. 1. 18, 20; Luke 1. 35; and He was anointed for service by the Spirit, Luke 3.21,22; 4.1,14,18; Acts 10. 38; Isa. 11.1,2.
The oven was a large, portable earthenware jar about three feet high widening toward the bottom with a hole for the removal of the ashes. It was heated with dry twigs and grass.
b. Griddle-baked - unleavened bread cakes of fine flour, mingled with oil, parted in pieces and oil poured thereon, suggest the sufferings of Christ of a more open character and more easily understood by us, Heb. 12. 3; Rom. 15. 3; 1 Pet. 2. 23.
c. Cauldron-cooked, 2. 7. (Authorised Version and Revised Version 'frying pan'). This would seem to be a sort of dumpling of fine flour containing oil and boiled. Note lack of further detail suggesting symbolically our Lord's suffer¬ings understood only in a general way with little discrimination, Heb. 5. 8.
3. PARCHED CORN, 2. 14-16. This is a food much favoured in Near East countries. It consisted of fresh ears of corn 'bruised' (i.e. crushed) and roasted, Deut. 26. 2; Joshua 5. 11; Ruth 2. 14. In this meal offering oil and frankincense were added. Injunctions regarding it are separated from (1) and (2) and would seem to look on to the time of Israel's occupation of Canaan. Christ is here set forth as the First-fruits, pledge of the coming 'harvest' in resurrection, 1 Cor. 15. 20, 23, and 'firstborn among many brethren', Rom. 8. 29.
The reference in Lev. 2. 12 is to the new meal offering at the Feast of Pentecost (see Lev. 23. 15-21), which was not burnt on the altar because it contained leaven and had a different typical significance, the two leavened loaves represent¬ing not Christ but His Church as composed of believing Jews and Gentiles, Jas. 1. 18.
VI. Added Ingredient
Salt was added, 2. 13; Ezek. 43. 24. Leaven and honey were strictly prohibited, v. 11. Salt is preservative and has an action opposing that of leaven and honey and of corrupting substances in general. It became a symbol for hospitality, durability and fidelity. Its pungency reminds us of the power of Christ's word ever manifest in His life, Luke 4. 16-29; 14. 25-35 (cf. Col. 4. 6), and in regard to believers the preserving power of active righteousness in their relationship with the world, Matt. 5. 13; Mark 9. 49, 50. Oil suggest spirituality, salt, sincerity.
Salt is called 'salt of the covenant' because it was a pledge on God's part of His abiding faithfulness to the covenant promises, and on Israel's part a pledge of loyalty in separation from corrupt ways. Leaven and honey both possess fermenting properties. They symbolize nature's evil and nature's sweetness (amiability of temperament, etc.) respectively. Matthew Henry remarks that the New Testament compares pride and hypocrisy to leaven because they swell like leaven, Luke 12. 1, and malice and wickedness to leaven because they sour like leaven, 1 Cor. 5. 8. Not only was the Saviour wholly free from the taint of sin but He was never actuated by mere natural sentiment ('honey'). In His life there was ever a perfect adjustment between the claims of natural relationship and the claims of God (see Luke 2. 49-51; John 2. 4 with 19. 26; Mark 3. 31-35 with 2 Cor. 5. 14-17). It was the Holy Spirit who controlled His every thought, word and deed in devotion to His Father's will. Regarding leaven see also Matt. 16. 6, 11-12; Mark 8. 15. No measure of oil could counteract the working of leaven. Even so the presence of the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer does not destroy the evil Adam nature though victory over it is given, Rom. 8. 9, 13, 14; Gal. 5. 16, 17.
VII. Prescribed Ritual
1. THE OFFERER'S WORK.
a. Preparation at home; obviously necessary before bringing the offering 'unto the Lord'. How many Christians make preparation before attending a gathering for worship?
b. Presentation to the priest, vv. 2, 8. So also the believer's spiritual sacrifices are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ our anointed Priest, 1 Pet. 2, 5; Heb. 13. 15.
2. THE PRIEST'S WORK.
a. Presenting at the altar, 6. 14.
b. Burning the memorial handful, 6. 15.
VIII. Allotted Portions
1. JEHOVAH'S SHARE. The 'memorial' portion with all the frankincense, 2. 16; 6. 15 (cf. Ps. 20. 3. R.V.). Submitted like the burnt offering to the searching test of divine holiness (fire of the altar) only fragrance, an 'odour of rest' was brought forth for God. So the Father's thoughts ever rested with delight upon His Son's pathway on earth.
2. THE PRIESTS' SHARE was all the remainder, 2. 3, 10; 6. 16; 7. 9, 10. Note the difference between the varieties of meal offerings which appertained to the officiating priest and those which were shared by all the sons of Aaron, 10. 12, 13. The dry flour was made up, of course, into unleavened cakes with oil to make them more palatable. The priests fed upon that which had first delighted God and which He gave back to them for their due sustenance. All this typically suggests Christians 'feeding' upon Christ as food to the soul, affording spiritual strength for the exercise of their priestly functions in offering up the 'bread of God', Lev. 21. 6, 8, 17, 21, 22; 22. 25.
3. THE OFFERER'S SHARE. Nothing. Our Lord's life was fully devoted to the service of God and of man. He pleased not Himself, John 8. 29 (Godward); Rom. 15. 1-3 (manward). Believers also, between what is due to God and what is due to their neighbours, have nothing for themselves in a truly surrendered life.
NOTES. It should be remembered that the priests had no portion or inheritance in the land, Num. 18. 20.
The last clause of Lev. 6. 18 is explained by 22. 1-7. For the special meal offering of the priests see Lev. 6. 19-23.
4. THE DRINK OFFERING Like the meal offering this was an appendage to the burnt offering, Exod. 29. 40, 41; Lev. 23. 37; Ezra 7. 17 (compare Gen. 35. 14 for first mention), (Heb. 'nosek'). It consisted of a libation of wine, Num. 28. 7; Lev. 23. 13. For the proportionate quantities of both meal offering and drink offering see Num. 15. 1-12; 28. 1-31. The drink offering typically signifies our Lord's utter outpouring of Himself in joyful surrender to the accomplishment of the will of God. This attitude should characterize believers also (cf. Phil. 2. 17; 2 Tim. 4. 6 where 'offered' in both passages is literally 'poured out as a drink offering').
The only purpose of our life is the glorification of God. Whatever furthers this purpose, is of value; whatever hinders - renounce.