Chapter 3: The Lord's Death in the Sweet Savour Offerings
by James Paterson, Scotland
Considering the Lord’s death as seen in the Old Testament offerings generally, and in this chapter in the sweet savour offerings in particular, gives to us an appreciation of the multifaceted aspects of the redemptive work of Christ. While the truths regarding His glorious work are revealed in the New Testament, the types contained in the offerings provide a comprehensive view of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. An appreciation of Christ through the types of the Old Testament is like viewing the refraction of light shining through a precious stone; the display of the inherent splendour is majestic to view. The types are a set of pictures or emblems directly from the hand of God, by which He simplifies matters to enable the teaching to be easier to understand. These types can, broadly speaking, be divided into three classifications: people, starting from Adam; objects, the list of which is extensive including not only materials and metals but also complete objects like the furnishings of the tabernacle; and ordinances, including the feasts of Jehovah and the offerings. It is worth repeating that no type fully portrays its anti-type, i.e. the Lord Jesus Christ. While they all point to Him, the fullness of Christ cannot be described in any other way than by and in Himself. Interestingly, the Lord Himself as He speaks to the two with whom He travelled on the road to Emmaus, brings before them from the Old Testament Scriptures, "the things concerning Himself" Lk.24.27. No doubt reminding them of things which they had known so long, but of which, now through Christ, they could have a clearer understanding. "Then He said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself" Lk.24.25-27.
Offerings are Post-Redemption
This chapter is based on the book of Leviticus, which begins after redemption has been experienced by Israel and speaks of the access of God’s people to God Himself, and so as we look at the offerings we will see that Christ and His work is the sum and substance of the types. As those who have experienced the peace of God, we see Christ the Deliverer, who brings joy to those who come to God through Him. Christ is seen as the Priest, the Offerer and the Offering, meeting the need of His people in their access to God.
The Major Offerings
There are five main offerings described in Leviticus: the burnt offering, the meal offering, the peace offering, the sin offering and the trespass offering. Some may argue that the drink offering should be included in this list, but bearing in mind that there is no mention of this particular offering in the detail of Leviticus chapters 1 - 7, we focus our attention on the five offerings as listed.
The five main offerings then are divided into two specific groups: the sweet savour and the non-sweet savour offerings. The significance of this classification is important in our interpretation of the typical teaching of the offerings.
There are three sweet savour offerings, namely, the burnt offering, the meal offering and the peace offering, while the two non-sweet savour offerings are the sin offering and the trespass offering. The sweet savour offerings are those that bring delight to God the Father, for they show unique qualities of the Lord Jesus Christ and His work in fulfilling the will of God. It is stated of the burnt offering, "it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him" Lev.1.4. However, this atonement is with a view to acceptance and is not dealing with atonement for sin. These offerings are but expressions of love and willing devotion and on many occasions were offered voluntarily by the offerer out of his appreciation of God. On the other hand, the non-sweet savour offerings show the aspect of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ in dealing with man’s sin and as such did not give the same nature of pleasure to God the Father, as that derived from the sweet savour offerings. It is interesting to note that in all of the offerings, the laws were directly communicated by Jehovah to Moses, therefore the responsibility to fulfil what was given is great. The non-sweet savour offerings will be dealt with in detail in the following chapter of this book. However, we should note that the sweet savour offerings were burned on the brazen altar, while the non-sweet savour offerings were burned without the camp. No sin is seen in the sweet savour offerings; the individual Israelite gave them completely voluntarily and not because of guilt. Christ does not appear in them as our Sin Bearer, but He is shown offering something so pleasing, so satisfying that it is sweet to God. It symbolises the way in which He lived His life; He was a living sacrifice, in the sense of being fully devoted to His Father regardless of the cost, before His sacrificial death on the cross.
The Sacrificial Animals
While we will look at the typology of the offerings in some little detail shortly, it is worth noting in this introduction the different kinds of sacrificial animals brought as offerings, as the variety is an interesting display of the unique characteristics of the Lord Jesus Christ in relation to His sacrificial work.
The animals brought were specified as being domesticated animals, namely, the bullock, ox, lamb, goat, turtledove and young pigeon. There were no wild animals permitted, for such could not depict the submissive, voluntary character of Christ. The bovines are strong animals, representing Christ as the One Who is faithful, strong and mighty, and yet serving with patient, untiring labour. The goat depicts the Lord Jesus Christ in His substitutionary work, as the One Who stood in the place of judgment and condemnation for sin. "And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness" Lev.16.22. The lamb represents Christ as the One Who was meek and gentle, Who submitted to the Father’s will and Who in His suffering offered no retaliation. "He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth" Isa.53.7. In the turtledove and pigeon there is the expression of His lowliness and poverty. "And if he be poor, and cannot get so much; then he shall take … two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, such as he is able to get; and the one shall be a sin offering, and the other a burnt offering" Lev.14.21,22. No labour is symbolised here, or uncomplaining submission, but rather harmless humility.
We will see that in addition to the animals to be offered, the meal offering included material things: fine flower, oil, frankincense, and salt which represent some of the qualities of the Man, Christ Jesus.
The offerings of the Old Testament were all fulfilled in the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. We shall see in these offerings that the sinless character of Christ and His glorious work of redemption were adequate to satisfy the justice of God and so now there is no need for further sacrifice to effect either atonement or our acceptance. "And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God" Heb.10.11,12.
Long before the Levitical system of offerings was established, burnt offerings were made to God. The first mention is by Noah after coming through the flood, where it is significant that in an atmosphere tainted with death and decay after the deluge, God smells a sweet savour. "And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the LORD smelled a sweet savour" Gen.8.20,21. It was a burnt offering that Abraham was instructed to offer in relation to Isaac, Gen.22.2. Job offered many, it would seem, due to the waywardness of his children, Job.1.5. We see, therefore, that access to God was ever the desire of the faithful.
As the book of Exodus closes, Moses and therefore all the people, could not enter the tent of the congregation because of the glory of the Lord, "Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle" Ex.40.34,35. However, when God speaks in Lev.1.1, He speaks, "out of the tabernacle" and invites "any man" v.2, to bring an offering, firstly a burnt offering, showing that he was accepted in God’s presence on the grounds of a sacrifice. The sacrifice prefigures that of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who offered Himself without spot to God, to accomplish the will of God and to glorify Him by His death. The sentiment of this is seen in the New Testament, "and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour" Eph.5.2
There were burnt offerings offered in a structured way by statute. These were made at set times as laid down by God in His instruction to Moses and were significant in the sense that at no time when the people were stationary, was there not an offering on the brasen altar. A burnt offering was offered twice every day, both morning and evening. This was a lamb on each occasion, and was offered apart from any other burnt offering. These were continual burnt offerings and the fire of such was never extinguished. Even as the camp slept, the burnt offering continued to produce a sweet savour to God. "Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually. The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning; and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even" Ex.29.38,39.
In addition to this continual offering, two lambs were offered as a burnt offering every Sabbath, Num.28.9,10, and on the first day of each month a further two young bullocks, one ram and seven lambs were offered, Num.28.11. Looking at the seven feasts of Jehovah, we find a variety of burnt offerings required by God which had to be offered, and there were also burnt offerings to be made at other prescribed times of dedication, consecration and cleansing.
The question might be asked as to why so many burnt offerings were ordered by God. Surely the answer must be that God’s desire was that His people should continually seek and enjoy access to Him; ever bringing before Him that which would speak of the perfection of His Son, and so rejoice the heart of the Father. We shall see shortly the voluntary burnt offerings, but while the individual was always welcome before Him, God wanted fellowship and contact with the nation as a whole. To God, they presented a sweet savour, a source of delight. This has never changed, and while Israel approached Him through the burnt offering, we now come to Him through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, of Whom this offering speaks. Such an approach, whether then or now, is a confirmation of the truth that, "he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" Heb.11.6. The first communication has in view the approach of the people in order that they may offer to God that which will be for the delight of His heart. The first thing in which God would interest His people, is to draw near to Him, to offer to Him that in which He finds delight, His own Son. This comes before any instructions as to service for Him, which is a fact that we would do well to remember.
He Shall Bring … He Shall Offer
The burnt offering presented by the individual was brought singularly "unto the LORD" Lev.1.2, and on a voluntary basis, Lev.1.3. God is directing the manner of approach, which is ever by the means of a blood sacrifice, and so the meal offering was always associated with a burnt offering. Cain’s error was that his effort to approach God was by a bloodless sacrifice, Gen.4.3.
The first requirement of the burnt offering was that the animal brought had to be a male, Lev.1.3. This speaks typically of the manhood of the Lord Jesus. It was absolutely necessary that Christ became Man if He was to offer Himself to God. We must guard the eternal Deity of Christ, and so state that in His becoming Man He never ceased to be God, but rather both Deity and humanity resided in Him in perfect harmony. As is stated in the New Testament, "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" Phil.2.6-8.
Secondly, the offering brought must be perfect to be accepted. The expression "without blemish" Lev.1.3, means that it could not exhibit any abnormality or deformity. If there had been a single defect, then the animal could not have been accepted, and therefore neither could the offerer, for it was for his acceptance that the animal was offered. This unblemished offering is a picture of the holy, spotless character of the Lord Jesus Christ. There was no speck of evil or sin ever present in the blessed Son of God. "In Him is no sin" 1Jn.3.5, and Peter describes Him as a "lamb without blemish and without spot" 1Pet.1.19. Therefore, the One Who was ever pure, was an acceptable sacrifice which would bring an aroma of a sweet savour to God.
Thirdly, turning our attention to the offerer, we learn that the offering was made out of the offerer’s free will. It was a voluntary act, which confirms the picture of Christ’s voluntary submission to God’s will. Hence Christ’s voluntary death offered a sweet smelling aroma to God, as Paul records, "an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour" Eph.5.2.
In the final act in bringing the animal, and just before it was killed, the offerer was identified with the sacrifice, "he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering" Lev.1.4, this was no casual, fleeting touch; the Hebrew word ‘samak’ means ‘to lean’. This was not an insignificant action by the offerer, but signifies that the offering and the offerer became one in their acceptability before God. All the qualities of this spotless, perfect animal became that of the offerer, and as a result God was pleased, and so accepted the sacrifice. Interestingly, in both the burnt offering and the sin offering, the offerer laid his hand on the offering. Leckie1 makes an interesting contrast on this point: "the hands that were placed on the burnt offering were different in character from the hands that were placed on the head of the sin offering. The hands that were placed on the burnt offering were worshipping hands, but the hands placed on the sin offering were guilty hands, hands that had just sinned. When the hand was placed on the head of the burnt offering it was the thought of identification, but when the hand was placed on the head of the sin offering it was the thought of transference of guilt."
- 1 Leckie, Albert. “The Tabernacle and The Offerings”. Precious Seed Publications. 2012.
For us, identification with Christ is of paramount importance. To be identified with Him in His death places us in Christ, and being in such a position we have eternal life, "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life" 1Jn.5.11,12.
Identification with Him shows that the person who is in Christ is one with Christ, "he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit" 1Cor.6.17. Furthermore, we are united to Christ as He is the head and we the members, "for we are members of His body" Eph.5.30. Conversely, those not in Christ have no acceptance before a holy God. A person is either in Christ, which enables the enjoyment of the blessings of redemption, or outside of Christ awaiting God’s judgment. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" Jn.3.36.
He Shall Kill
The offerer then "shall offer it of his own voluntary will ... put his hand upon the head ... [shall] kill the bullock before the LORD" Lev.1.3-5. We have noted that the offering was ‘brought unto the Lord’, Lev.1.2, but now see that the action is done before the Lord. While there would be many people around the gate and the court, it is only ever recorded that it was killed before [in the sight of] the Lord. God’s own eyes were on it. This is also seen in the sacrifice of Christ. He was ever before the eyes of men, the majority of whom scrutinised Him to find fault, which of course was futile. Christ offered Himself before God to satisfy His heart, and while He received no praise from man, He was the object of His Father’s satisfaction.
And the Priests Shall Bring
It is the responsibility now for the priests to bring the shed blood from the sacrifice to the altar. Dealing with the blood is the responsibility and the function of the priest, not the offerer. This was the life of the sacrifice that was brought before God. The blood of the burnt offering was not taken into either the holy place or the holy of holies. It was all sprinkled on the altar. Bonar2 helpfully points out that the Hebrew word used, ‘zaraq’, means ‘to scatter in large drops’, so there was a profusion of blood. All the blood is used and the fact that it was scattered on all sides of the altar makes it highly visible; the volume used points to the complete animal being on the altar for God. The skin became the property of the priest, Lev.7.8.
- 2Bonar, Andrew. “Leviticus”. Banner of Truth Trust. Edinburgh. 1972
And He Shall Flay
Flaying is the action of removing the skin that returns to the offerer. The significance of this flaying is that in doing so the inwards were exposed. This exposure highlights the inward purity and suitability of the offering. The more we view the inner life of Christ, the more we realise that His devotion to God was pure and holy. It was no mere outward show, but sprung from deep-seated roots. No matter how closely we examine the Lord Jesus Christ, we will always find absolute purity.
And the Priests … Shall Lay the Parts
The detail of the separate parts of the animal and their laying on the altar are clearly recorded. There is nothing haphazard or jumbled in the order in which the pieces are laid out. This is seen in the word used; lay in order, v.8, ‘which translated from the Hebrew ‘arak’ means ‘set in a row; arrange; place in order’; for there is distinct orderliness in every aspect of the person, life and service of Christ.
The head and the fat are first mentioned in the list of composite parts. The head speaks of the mind, the will and the thoughts. The mind of Christ and every thought He had were surrendered totally to the Father, "I do always those things that please Him" Jn.8.29. Whether we think of His Deity or humanity, it was not possible that His will was ever in opposition to that of His Father, for He was ever in subjection to His Father’s will.
Out of the 130 references to fat in the Old Testament, the word ‘peder’ employed in relation to the burnt offering is used only three times, Lev.1.8,12; 8.20 and would seem to be the most basic usage of the word, and means just fat.
Bonar3 suggests that the two parts, head and fat, representing the outward and inward, states, "Christ’s whole manhood, body and soul, was placed on the altar, in the fire, and endured the wrath of God."
- 3 Bonar, ibid.
He Shall Wash in Water
The inwards and legs of the sacrifice were to be washed in water, Lev.1.9. It would seem from the text that while the priest had to lay the parts on the altar and burn them all, the offerer had to wash the inwards and legs in water. The inwards would speak of the feelings and affections of Christ, while the legs speak of His walk. Both parts are washed in water to ensure complete cleansing. This does not mean that the Lord Jesus at any time needed to be cleansed. We know that inwardly He is pure, which is confirmed by John, "in Him is no sin" 1Jn.3.5; and by Peter in respect of His sinless walk, "He did no sin" 1Pet.2.22. Why then was there a requirement to wash these parts of the sacrifice? It is submitted that the washing was necessary to ensure that the type was appropriate to the cleanliness of the anti-type, i.e. the Lord Jesus Christ.
Water in Scripture can represent three great subjects: when described as bubbling or springing up, it speaks of the Holy Spirit, Jn.7.38,39; when confined and still, it is indicative of the Word of God, Ps.23.2; and when seen in great volume, like the sea, it speaks of the judgment of God as in Genesis chapter 7. The water used in washing the inwards and legs of the sacrifice would remind us of the first two of the three, namely the Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures for sanctification. The Lord Jesus prayed for the believer, "Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth ... And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth" Jn.17.17,19.
Also in respect of the Word of God, Paul writes, "Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word" Eph.5.25,26. The presence of both the Holy Spirit and the Word of God are ever present in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The fullness of the indwelling Spirit is confirmation of His absolute sinlessness. This filling was no occasional filling, but ever present, "for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him" Jn.3.34. Likewise the Word was ever present within Him and is seen in the perfect life lived before God, prophetically described by the Psalmist, "Thy law is within my heart" Ps.40.8.
While the writer would hold to the belief that the affordability of the offering to the offerer is the reason for the use of different animals, there is a suggestion that the values would represent the proportion of appreciation by the offerer. Jukes4 notes that there is no reference to the offerer laying his hand on the offerings of the sheep and the goats, only on the bullock, and suggests that this is due to having a lesser appreciation of the significance of what he was doing.
- 4 Jukes, Andrew, “The Law of The Offerings.” James Nesbit & Co, 1883.
The second part of Leviticus chapter 1 deals with the other offerings permitted to be sacrificed for a burnt offering; namely of the sheep, the goats, or the fowls. For the sheep and the goats the procedure is the same as that for the bullock, but for the fowl the priest acts solely. He kills it, sprinkles the blood, plucks away the crop and the feathers, and cleaves the flesh.
We have seen the import of each of the four groups that could be offered, but these are significant points with regard to the turtledoves and young pigeons.
The crop containing undigested food and the feathers of the birds were not burned on the altar. The crop would speak of appetite, and its removal when applied to the Lord Jesus Christ shows that there was nothing of man’s sinful, natural appetite in Him. Likewise, the removal of the feathers indicates the covering over of His glory while He suffered on the cross, and emphasises the stark reality of the barrenness of that scene. Both parts were to be, "cast beside the altar on the east part, by the place of the ashes" Lev.1.16, i.e. out of God’s sight.
It is interesting that the bird, while it was "cleaved with the wings thereof" Lev.1.17, was kept in one piece. Typically, it confirms the statement, "a bone of Him shall not be broken" Jn.19.36. To divide the bird would necessitate breaking some bones, but like the other burnt sacrifices where the limbs were dislocated, the bones were kept intact to preserve the type.
When thinking of the place where the offerings were killed, it is significant that it was done on "the side of the altar northward" Lev.1.11. The north is often seen as the place of death or danger (see for example Josh.18.16-19; Judg.7.1) and as such would typify Golgotha. While this is the only time the Hebrew word ‘tsaphon’ [northward] is used in Leviticus, it would depict the place where all sacrifices were slain, "in the place where the burnt offering is killed" Lev.6.25; see also 7.2; 14.13.
Burned on the Altar
There are two words used for burn in Hebrew, ‘kaw-tar’ and ‘saw-raf’. The word used at all times for the burnt offering is ‘kaw-tar’, which means ‘to burn as incense’ or ‘to cause to ascend’. The other word, ‘saw-raf’ is a consuming fire, expressing the judgment of God upon sin. It will be used with regard to the sin offering, so the burning of the offering caused a sweet savour to ascend to God to give Him pleasure.
In the law of the burnt offering there is a statement made, "The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out" Lev.6.13. The fire on the altar speaks of Christ’s devotion to the Father. Long after His sacrifice was offered there is still a fire burning, there is still a sweet savour exuding from the sacrifice that is continually well-pleasing to God. He has offered Himself without spot to God bringing infinite pleasure to the heart of God. Even in eternity the work of Christ will remain fresh before God, but also ever in our minds, as it is the very thing that grants us acceptability before God.
In the burnt offering we witness the most glorious aspect of the work of Christ. His sacrifice shows His commitment and devotion to the accomplishment of God’s will.
- We linger o’er the lowly place,
- The veiled infinitude,
- The unseen splendour of the grace
- Mid man’s ingratitude.
- We meditate on matchless worth
- That marked His outward ways,
- And told the inner glories forth-
- Too much for mortal gaze
While the A.V. uses the word ‘meat’, which in the seventeenth century meant food, the word has evolved to mean ‘flesh’, so we will use the word ‘meal’, for the reason that the main constituent of the offering was indeed fine flour from grain. Some translations and commentators use the words ‘grain’, ‘food’ or ‘cereal’, rather than ‘meat’. As we will see, there is no flesh at all in this offering. The word that is used in the Hebrew is ‘minchah’ which refers to ‘something given’ or ‘that which is apportioned’.
The meal offering gives yet another aspect of the perfect offering of the Lord Jesus Christ. As we consider this offering it will be reinforced that the greatest sacrifice of all is the sacrifice of self. Of the five offerings presented in the early chapters of Leviticus, this one is unique, in that it is an offering without blood, although it seems to have been closely associated with the burnt offering.
The four ingredient parts of the meal offering were flour, oil, salt and frankincense. We know the number four in Scripture, when used in description, is invariably divided three and one; the three being similar and the one being different from the others. The constituent parts of the meal offering would conform to that division. The flour, oil and salt were all partaken by the offerer and the priest, but never the frankincense. All the frankincense was for God.
This ingredient speaks typically of the holy humanity of the Lord Jesus. We would reiterate the important truth that the sinlessness of the Lord Jesus Christ did not only mean that He did not sin, although that is perfectly true, but that He could not sin, "for in Him is no sin" 1Jn.3.5. Before His birth, the word of the angel to Mary was, "that holy thing which shall be born of thee [that which is begotten holy, Newberry] shall be called the Son of God" Lk.1.35; however, Christ was not only holy at His birth, but all through His earthly life. He lived His life here in absolute holiness and purity. The flour was fine flour and although the adjective ‘fine’ is not a separate word in Hebrew, the word used, ‘solet,’ carries the idea of ‘being finely ground’. This fineness is important when describing the Lord Jesus; while some commentators would speak of the sufferings of Christ being typified in the grinding of the flour, is it not rather that the flour was already fine when brought to the altar, and this fact better typifies One Who was inherently fine? While we may be refined by circumstances, our blessed Lord never was. Whether in persecution, suffering or trial, He only ever displayed what He is. Trials and suffering never refined Him; they only brought out the fineness already there. The texture of fine flour is its smoothness and evenness. There is nothing rough, uneven or jagged. This again speaks strongly of the Lord Jesus; there is no characteristic more prominent than another; each of His attributes is perfect. There are no coarse particles in Him; indeed, we could describe Him in application by the words of the woman in the Song of Solomon, "yea, he is altogether lovely" S of S.5.16. The flour, then, was the base material of the meal offering. The other materials added to it were as follows:
This word is mentioned in eight verses in Leviticus chapter 2, and throughout Scripture is a well-documented type of the Holy Spirit. Interestingly, three verbs are used to describe the addition of the oil to the fine flour:
- ‘pour’ vv.1,6 from Hebrew ‘yaw-tsak’ to pour out
- ‘mingle’ vv.4,5 from Hebrew ‘baw-lal’ to overflow, to mix
- ‘put’ v.15 from Hebrew ‘naw-than’ to add.
Similar to the flour already mentioned, there are no quantities given, because just as the qualities of the Lord Jesus Christ cannot be measured, neither can the filling of the Holy Spirit be quantified. However, the addition of the oil to the flour seems to be voluminous. The Spirit was indwelling Christ without measure, "God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him" Jn.3.34. He was ever filled with the Spirit, "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor …" Lk.4.18, and was ever led by the Spirit, "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: Who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him" Act.10.38. So the addition of oil to the flour for the meal offering speaks of a Man here on earth under the guidance and control of the Holy Spirit.
The main attribute of salt is its preservative quality, and so portrays that which is the opposite of corruption. It may seem strange to add salt to the offering, seeing that it was to be offered immediately, but its inclusion is again a confirmation of the type. The salt would therefore speak of the incorruptible, holy manhood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Salt is to be included in every meal offering regardless of how it was presented. "And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering" Lev.2.13.
This addition is interestingly contrasted to the two prohibitions of leaven and honey, "No meat offering, which ye shall bring unto the LORD, shall be made with leaven: for ye shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of the LORD made by fire" Lev.2.11. Scripture always associates leaven with evil or sin, in the sense that it caused the food to which it was added to swell and be inflated, so that it did not resemble its original state. This is seen in the New Testament when the Lord Himself said, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy" Lk.12.1, and by Paul, "Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" 1Cor.5.8. As it was vitally important to demonstrate the sinlessness of Christ, so that His life would be a sweet savour to the Father, the meal offering requirements specifically ban the addition of leaven to the ingredients. In the same manner, honey is also banned from use in the meal offering. This may seem strange as honey is a sweet natural product with many beneficial qualities, yet it is deemed unfit to be included in the offering. In the perfect manhood of the Lord Jesus, His sincere devotion to His Father was always expressed. This was no mere outward show of devotion, but rather an expression of His Divine character. The attributes of Deity that He expressed were not additions to His character, but were radiating from Him as that which intrinsically belonged to Him, and as such were expressions of Who He is. Therefore, no additional sweetness was ever required.
The final ingredient to the meal offering was frankincense. The primary objective of Christ’s life was to fulfil the will of His Father, by constantly providing a sweet savour to the Father’s heart. His life was dedicated to the appreciation and delight of the Father, and the fragrance that came from Him, was for the satisfaction of the Father firstly. There was nothing He did out of His own will but always for the Father. "… I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me" Jn.5.30. This is displayed in the frankincense, for in the meal offering, all the frankincense was for God.
Making the Offering
The variety in the burnt offering was in the animals that could be offered, whereas in respect of the meal offering it was the way in which the offering could be made. Firstly, it could be presented in its uncooked state. Alternatively it could be presented cooked, but in this there is a further sub-division as it could be cooked in an oven, on a flat plate or in a frying pan, and finally it could be offered from beaten green ears which had been dried by the fire, v.14.
Uncooked – Lev.2.2
This was a handful of the mixture that we have looked at previously, with the exception of the frankincense. While the other ingredients were mixed together and a handful placed on the altar, all of the frankincense was laid with the handful on the altar. The handful speaks of the capacity of the offerer. However, when he offered a handful that was the maximum he could offer. So our appreciation of Christ varies as to our capacity to appreciate Him, but as all of the frankincense was placed with it, God received the full portion of the fragrance of Christ. Not only was there a portion for God, but also the rest of the offering became the possession of the priests. This is a lovely picture of the fellowship into which God calls His people, in sharing with Him the pleasure that He has in His Son.
Cooked in an Oven - Lev.2.4
The oven would speak of the hidden years of the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are 30 years of which very little is recorded by man, but during which the perfection of His life was ever visible to God.
Cooked on a Pan (Flat Plate) - Lev.2.5
This would be the opposite of the oven. Everything on a flat plate is visible, and so can be applied to the three and a half years of the public ministry of the Lord Jesus, where He was ever scrutinised by many. They could find no fault, which is summarised by Pilate, "behold, I, having examined Him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse Him" Lk.23.14.
Cooked in a Frying Pan - Lev.2.7
This type of vessel had walls or sides, so that the onlooker could only see part of what was contained. Whereas much of what took place in the life of the Lord Jesus while He was here was unseen by men looking on, everything was visible to God.
Green Ears of Corn Dried by the Fire - Lev.2.14
In this form of the meal offering we have green, unripened ears of corn, which have been cut down before their time. Surely this points to the death of the Lord Jesus Who was cut off in the midst of His days, " I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days" Ps.102.24. It is lovely to see that although the ears of corn were green, they were full. While this would be an unusual thing in plant life, when applied to the Lord Jesus it shows that even being cut off in the midst of His days, His life was full to completion.
Leckie5 shows the decrease of the years of man in Scripture as follows: "Before the flood Methuselah lived longer than any man at 969 years. After the flood Heber lived longest, living 464 years; after Babel, Rue lived longest, and he lived for 239 years. Psalm 90 indicates that the years of our lives are threescore years and ten. Notice how man’s years are continually being halved. Our Lord Jesus was cut off in the midst of His days, when but thirty years and a little more, our Saviour was cut off at Calvary."
- 5 Leckie, ibid.
While the burnt offering vividly illustrates the acceptability of the death of Christ, the meal offering places emphasis on His perfect life. The fine flour symbolises His consistent holy life; the oil speaks of His anointing by the Holy Spirit; the salt speaks of the incorruptibility of His sinless life, and the frankincense represents the sweet aroma that radiated from His life to the Father. It was the perfection of His life that gave value to His death, so the meal offering was always presented along with the burnt offering. Historically, we might have thought that the meal offering would have come first, His life before His death, but we see in the burnt offering that man’s approach to God can only be through the death of Christ.
It is not until we stand in conscious acceptance by God on the ground of the burnt offering that we can understand the perfection of the life of Christ. It is a great pity that some have sought to benefit from His life without seeing the necessity of His death.
- Thy stainless life, Thy lovely walk,
- In every aspect true,
- From the defilement all around,
- No taint of evil drew.
- No broken service, Lord was Thine,
- No change was in Thy way;
- Unsullied in Thy holiness,
- Thy strength knew no decay.
- Morning by morning Thou didst wake,
- Amidst this poisoned air;
- Yet no contagion touched Thy soul,
- No sin disturbed Thy prayer.
- (Wylie MacLeod)
It would seem that of all the offerings, the sin and trespass offerings are the best known and understood. This is because of their clear association with the sacrificial work of Christ in relation to sins. However, at the other end of the spectrum, the peace offering is perhaps the least understood. This may be due to its symbolism, being difficult to experience in practice.
Commentators have given the offering different titles: the words used being, peace; fellowship; praise and thanksgiving, among others. Keil-Delitzsch6 states that the most correct translation is, ‘saving offering’. Strong (8002) gives the word ‘sheh-lem’, to mean ‘requital, a sacrifice in thanks’. The peace offering consisted of an animal slain, part being given to God in the fire on the altar, part given to the priest for food and the remainder being eaten by the offerer. We must note that this offering was not made to achieve peace with God, but was made out of an enjoyment and appreciation that peace had already been made, and so communion with God could be enjoyed. The word for ‘peace’ in Hebrew is plural, which denotes intensity, variety or, as here, something complete.
- 6Keil-Delitzsch, “Commentary on the Old Testament”, Vol.1. Erdmans, Grand Rapids, 1866.
The sequence of the three sweet savour offerings is important, as we remember that each speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have noted that the burnt offering pictured Christ’s sacrifice of Himself to God. The meal offering portrayed the perfect life of Christ given to God, and finally the peace offering was laid on the altar on top of that which was already being consumed, speaking of the fellowship being enjoyed as a result of the other two offerings made. The closeness of all three offerings is emphasised by Amornt offerings andour meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts." Although God speaks in the verse in a negative sense as a result of broken communion, the link of these three offerings is obvious.
Like the two previous offerings, the peace offering speaks of the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The prophetic description given by Isaiah is that He is the, "Prince of Peace" Isa.9.6, and in relation to His sacrificial work, Paul writes that God has "... made peace through the blood of His [Christ’s] cross ..." Col.1.20.
The Offering Brought
The offering brought could be from the herd, Lev.3.1 or the flock Lev.3.6. However, no doves or young pigeons were to be offered. It may be that no bird would be large enough to be divided in the same manner as the animals. In contrast to the burnt offering, the offerer had a choice of either a male or female animal. However, the important instruction is that regardless of its gender it must be "without blemish before the LORD" Lev.3.1. This unblemished sacrificial animal points to the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is "a lamb without blemish and without spot" 1Pet.1.19. There are no imperfections in Christ; He is all pure, holy and righteous. Interestingly, the animal had to be offered without blemish "before the LORD", suggesting that it had to pass the scrutiny of the Lord. This is the same expression used of the slaying of the burnt offering, Lev.1.3. God’s eyes were on the offerings and He was finding His delight in this foreshadowing of His Son. While it is wonderful to see the display of Christ’s holiness before men, it is of even greater significance that He demonstrated His holy perfection before His Father.
Not only must the sacrifice be unblemished, but the flesh provided after killing must be kept clean, "And the flesh that toucheth any unclean thing shall not be eaten; it shall be burnt with fire: and as for the flesh, all that be clean shall eat thereof. But the soul that eateth of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings, that pertain unto the LORD, having his uncleanness upon him, even that soul shall be cut off from his people. Moreover the soul that shall touch any unclean thing, as the uncleanness of man, or any unclean beast, or any abominable unclean thing, and eat of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which pertain unto the LORD, even that soul shall be cut off from his people" Lev.7.19-21. The importance of the cleanliness of those eating the flesh of the peace offering is seen in these verses. All who ate of it must be ceremonially clean, and any who disobeyed this instruction must be excommunicated and so lose the privileges of God’s people. This is a solemn warning as we seek to continue in communion with our God.
The offerer presented his offering at the door of the tabernacle and laid his hands on its head, which was the acknowledgment of his identification with the offering. There he killed the animal, the priest then taking the blood to sprinkle on the altar. Up until this point, his actions were similar to the procedure for the burnt offering. However, the animal was then divided into portions for God, for the priest, and for the offerer.
The part that was laid on the altar for God consisted mainly of the fat of the animal. We have mentioned the Hebrew word ‘peh-der’ when dealing with the burnt offering, the fat on that occasion was subcutaneous, (just below the skin). However, the word used here, ‘kheh-leb’ means the richest or choice part. These parts are clearly defined, "And he shall offer of the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire unto the LORD; the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away" Lev.3.3,4. These four portions contain practically all the fat that was in the animal. However, one difference is when a lamb was brought, when the additional fat of the tail was added; the R.V. may be clearer in translation, "the fat tail entire" Lev.3.9. The fat given to God in this offering therefore, speaks of the inward excellence of the Lord Jesus Christ. It reminds us of His entire devotion to the will of God, and in this God found great pleasure. God claimed the fat as only He could see the inward perfection and richness of the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition to the internal fat being offered, the kidneys were also included in the part for God. Leckie7 gives the meaning of ‘kidney’ coming from the Hebrew root meaning, ‘that which is perfect or complete’. This would point to the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, the One Who perfected and completed every work to which He put His hand.
- 7 Leckie, ibid.
When we consider the parts of the sacrifice that would be given to the priest and to the offerer, the fat was never to be eaten by them, Lev.7.23, neither from the sacrifices or in their everyday diet, "all the fat is the LORD’S" Lev.3.16.
For the Priest
The offerer next gave the officiating priest the right shoulder of the sacrifice, "He among the sons of Aaron, that offereth the blood of the peace offerings, and the fat, shall have the right shoulder for his part" Lev.7.33.
The right shoulder depicts the strength of service, again speaking of the Lord Jesus seen typically in the priest, because only the servant knows the strength that is required to complete service for God.
In addition to the portion given to the officiating priest, the priestly family received the breast of the animal, Lev.7.31; the significance of the breast throughout Scripture always speaks of affection and love. The priestly family represents believers and so we feed on the breast of the sacrifice which portrays the love of Christ, Who, "loved the church and gave Himself for it" Eph.5.25.
For the Offerer
This offering could be made for three reasons:
As an expression of thankfulness, Lev.7.15. Thanksgiving is a spontaneous display of gratitude from the heart for the blessings bestowed by God. In applying the peace offering to believers today, thanksgiving develops from our gratitude for the communion we enjoy as a result of the sacrificial work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
On the occasion of making a vow, Lev.7.16. A vow is a solemn promise in relation to a particular blessing received from God, resulting in commitment to serve Him, and is a token of a grateful heart for the gift of salvation.
As a voluntary sacrifice, Lev.7.16. It also could be given as a result of heartfelt appreciation to God, for that which we have in Christ.
The underlying theme of all three reasons for bringing the peace offering is that they are offered voluntarily and without constraint or expectation of reward. In application, this would correspond to our engagement in the work of the Lord or service to others, purely out of our love for the Lord and our appreciation for what we have through Him.
For the offering made in relation to thankfulness, the flesh had to be eaten on the day of sacrifice; it was not to be eaten the second day. In relation to a vow, or a voluntary offering, the flesh could be kept until the second day, but must not be eaten on the third day, Lev.7.16,17. This would point to the Israelite’s degree of devotion. In the first instance, the offerer was displaying his thankfulness, which is the minimum we can give as our appreciation for the goodness of God, so the period in which the flesh could be eaten is less. In contrast, the vow and voluntary offering are displays of a greater appreciation toward God, therefore giving the Israelite a longer period to enjoy the offering that he had made. However, in all cases the flesh was never to be eaten on the third day; the danger being that the longer the flesh was kept after the sacrifice, the less the appreciation became, with the possible result that the flesh which came into his possession as the result of sacrifice, became just part of the common meal. We must ever guard against the possibility of allowing the things of God to become common, due to over familiarity.
As we look at the peace offering there is application to us as believers. We know that initially it speaks of the Person of Christ Who supplies all God requires to allow Him to delight in His own, beloved Son. As priests, we rejoice to minister to others of the peace found in Christ, and as sharers in the feast, we express our gratitude, not only for our salvation, but also for the communion we enjoy as a benefit of the work of Christ.
The main thought with regard to the peace offering is that of communion. We should emphasise that in this context there is no excuse on the part of the worshipper not to engage in it. It is the responsibility of the individual to engage in communion as is seen in the Israelite who brought the offering, "His own hands shall bring the offerings of the LORD made by fire" Lev.7.30. God does not allow substitutes; communion must be personal. No one can commune with God on behalf of another; it requires a link between our spirit and God. Meditation on Him produces abundant satisfaction and thanksgiving, and in this offering animals of different sizes suggest different comprehensions of His Person, so allowing for the varied appreciation of each person.
We, as believers, find joy in Christ as we appreciate Him as our peace offering. God receives His portion, in that He has appreciated the hidden excellences of Christ. The Lord Himself has a share in seeing of the travail of His soul and being satisfied, Isa.53.11.
The believer should be in the right spiritual condition to partake of the peace offering. To have communion with God, we must not walk in darkness as John expresses, "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth" 1Jn.1.6. Purging from such darkness demands confession of our sins and acknowledgement of the cleansing effect of the blood of Christ, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" 1Jn.1.9; and so communion with Christ is maintained.
- For ever be the glory given
- To Thee, O Lamb of God.
- Our every joy on earth and heaven,
- We owe it to Thy blood.
- (Mary Peters)
While the offerings speak wholly of the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, reference has been made to practical implications for us as believers. While we should ever be ready to receive enrichment from that which others bring to God, we should also be concerned to bring that which will enrich others, as what we offer to God of His Son, becomes the food of others. The responsibility is ours to bring: "His own hands shall bring the offerings of the LORD made by fire" Lev.7.30, so giving pleasure to God and ministering to His people.
These offerings pointed forward to the death, life and perfection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now the shadows have passed away and we have the substance in Him, allowing us to feed on Him more and more so that we might have spiritual matter to offer to God and contribute to the spiritual upbuilding of the believers.
- General Note - All references to Hebrew translations are taken from Zodhiates. The Complete Word Study Old Testament. AGM Publishers, Chattanooga. 1994.