The name for what in the English version of the Old Testament Scripture is called meat offerings is minchah, the meaning of which is gift. Though all the offerings for the sanctuary bore this name, it is nevertheless a word that was selected by the Spirit as the proper and distinctive name for the meat offerings, which consisted not in the flesh of an animal, as might be erroneously inferred from the name that this offering bears in our English Bible, but in a portion of flour or cakes always prepared with salt, oil, and frankincense but never with leaven or honey. Further, it was presented never as something separate and independent but always with the burnt offering and peace offering; and with it was connected a quantity of wine, that is, this flour or these cakes as prepared with the oil, salt, and frankincense were added, together with the wine, to the carcass of the animal sacrifice and with it burnt upon the altar. And in its state of consumption, this offering, too, was a sweet savor unto the Lord. The remnant of it, that is, what remained of the flour or of the cakes, was Aaron’s and his sons, and theirs only. Thus these materials might not be eaten by the common members of the theocracy, for they were things “most holy of the offerings unto the Lord made by fire.”
The above data is contained in the following Scriptures:
“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: and with the one lamb a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of a hin of beaten oil; and the fourth part of a hin of wine for a drink offering. And the other lamb thou shalt offer at even, and shalt do thereto according to the meat offering of the morning, and according to the drink offering thereof, for a sweet savor, an offering made by fire unto the Lord” (Ex. 29:38-41).
The meat offering, as was said, had to be prepared with oil, frankincense, and salt, but never with honey and leaven, “And when any will offer a meat offering unto the Lord, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon; and he shall bring it to Aaron’s sons, the priests: and he shall take thereout his handfuls of flour thereof, and of the oil thereof: and the priest shall burn the memorial of it upon the altar, to be an offering made by fire, a sweet savour unto the Lord: and the remnant of the meat offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons’: it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the Lord made by fire” (Lev. 2:1-3). And 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 offerings of the Lord made by fire. . . .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: with all the offerings shalt thou offer salt” (Lev. 2:11-12).
Finally. What was left of these materials went to the priests, “That which is left of the meat offerings shall be Aaron’s and his sons” (Lev. 2:9).
Let us now have regard to the meaning and significance of the peace offering. This offering was not, as were the sacrifices by blood, expiatory, that is, it had not the power to (symbolically) recompense for sin. This follows from the circumstance that the expiatory sacrifices had to consist of creatures of flesh and blood, as is evident from such Scriptures as, “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission”. (Heb. 9:22). True it is that in cases of extreme poverty, the law permitted the worshipper to bring for his sin offering a portion of fine flour; yet in the light of the Scripture just quoted, the view that this material by itself could serve as a covering for sin is not allowable. The only reason that it could be received at the altar as a substitute for a creature of flesh and blood is that the ancient worshipper was taught to regard this blood in its shed state as the only proper covering.
As to the meat offering, from the above-cited Scriptures we learn that it was not an independent offering but belonged to the burnt and peace offering with which it was also presented. This is especially clear from Lev. 23:12-13, “And ye shall offer that day. . . . an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the Lord. And the meat thereof shall be two tenths deals of fine flour mingled with oil. . . .” The text in the original reads not “and the meat offering thereof” but “and his, (namely, the burnt offering’s) meat offering. That the antecedent of the pronoun his is not the name Lord of the 12th verse but the name burnt offering of the 13th verse is plain from what the 13th verse asserts, namely, that the meat offering thereof shall be an offering made by fire unto the Lord. If the pronoun his refers back to the name Lord of the 12th verse, there is repetition in the 13th verse of the idea that the meat offering is to the Lord. As such a repetition is needless, the proper thing to do is to regard the name burnt offering of the 12th verse as the antecedent of the pronoun his and thus to allow the passage under consideration to set forth the thought, “His (not its. The Hebrew has no neuter gender) meat offering, that is, the offering that belongs to the burnt offering (and the peace offering) shall be an offering made unto the Lord for a sweet savour.”
In fine, it is not really correct what Fairbairn avers (Typology of Scripture, Vol. II, p. 311) namely that “it is not expressly said but can only be inferred from the whole character of the Mosaic institutions, and from the analogy of particular parts of them, that it was not the intention of God that the meat offering should ever be presented alone.” Fact is that the Scriptures just examined state as plainly as words can, not merely that the meat offering should never be presented alone, but that it was so closely connected with the offerings with which it was presented that together with these offerings it formed, as it were, one sacrifice.
What was the symbolical-typical import of the meat offering? To know this, regard must be had to the elements of which this offering was comprised. If the earthy is an image of the heavenly, and it is this according to Scripture, then each of these elements was the earthy replica of some heavenly thing.
As to the flour or the cakes, the heavenly thing which it signified is Christ and the believers both individually and in their corporate capacity. This statement is warranted by Christ’s own utterances and by a passage from Paul’s pen contained in his first epistle to the Corinthians. Christ said of Himself that He is bread—the bread of God which came down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world (John 6:33). And as to the believers, they being many are one bread, and one body: for they are all partakers of that one bread (I Cor. 10:17). It need awaken no surprise that the statements which definitely connect the dedicated bread (flour or cakes) with the heavenly things signified by it, are to be found not in the Old but in the New Testament Scriptures. The believing worshipper, whose mind was enlightened by the Spirit, must have intuitively perceived that the declaration “And Jehovah smelled a sweet savour” could apply in the final instance not to the material scent that rose from his burning portion of flour which he had placed upon the altar but to the spiritual fragrance that rose from the fruit that he bore as a good tree. There was really no excuse for the astonishment of the Jews occasioned by the language of Christ, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give him is my flesh. . . .” They, the Jews, should have apprehended that in giving expression to this language, Jesus was occupied with spiritual realities, with faith and with the things that faith appropriates, namely, Christ and the fullness that dwells in Him. But they did not apprehend. They took Christ to mean that the man who would live must partake of the very substance of His body. With that portion of flour in a state of consumption upon the altar before their eye, there was no excuse for their ignorance.
As to the oil, what did it signify? The undisputed implication of the use to which oil was put is that it was a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Persons in Israel who were called by Jehovah to the office of the theocratic kings, priests, and prophets were anointed in token of their being appointed to the office and of their being qualified by the Spirit for the duties which belonged to it. That the anointing oil betokened the Spirit is evident also from this, that the servants of Jehovah were called the anointed of God. So the patriarchs (Ps. 104:15) and often the king of Israel. The name was given to the promised King (Christ Jesus), who was to be the Savior of the people of Israel and the author of their highest bliss. He is the anointed One of God the Father. Anointed is He to be our chief Prophet and Teacher, our only High priest and eternal King. And of His anointing all His people partake. And the anointing which they have received of Him abideth in them (I John 2:27). They all know therefore and have no need that any man teach them.
The frankincense was a sweet-smelling, inflammable vegetable substance exuded by plants. As consecrated to God, it was in its burning state symbolical of the prayers of the believers. This, too, was clearly understood by the ancient worshipper. This is evident from the petition of the psalmist, “Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice” (Ps. 141:2). Then there is that vision of John, described in the book of The Revelations (chapter 8:3), “And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.” In this vision the incense and the believers’ prayers again appear as associated, which can only mean that the former is to be taken as the symbol of the latter.
The meat offering was mingled also with salt. It is especially the New Testament Bible that enables one to accurately ascertain the symbolical significance of salt. There are the utterances of Christ to which regard must be had. “Ye are the salt of the earth. . . .” (Matt. 5:13). “Salt is good, but if the salt have lost its saltness, wherewith shall ye season it? Have salt in yourselves and have peace with one another” (Mark 9:50). “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Col. 4:6). In these passages salt is the emblem of: 1) the believers again in their corporate capacity (ye are the salt of the earth); 2) a conscious and thus flowering spiritual life (have salt in yourselves); 3) that spiritual wholesomeness of which the fear of the Lord, the life of regeneration, is the principle, and that renders the speech of the believer agreeable to the palate of God and of believing men. The prevalent view seems to be that salt appears in Scripture also as the emblem of the element of preservation in the kingdom of heaven, preventing corruption and preserving nutriment. However, there is not one passage in the whole of Holy Writ which so speaks of salt as to lend support to the view that it has this symbolical significance. Christ says not, “If the salt have lost its preserving properties” but He says, “If the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted. . . .” The usual comment on these words of Christ is to the following effect, “Salt is the great preservative of animal nature, opposing the tendency of putrefaction and decay. . . . When our Lord said to His disciples, “Ye are the salt of the earth,” He wished them to know that it was their part to exercise in a moral aspect the same sanitary, healthful, purifying, and preservative influence which salt did in the things of nature.” This comment raises the question, “In respect to whom is the (true) church to exercise this preservative influence?” Is it the spiritually living or the spiritually dead that the author of the above lines had before his mind? But the living are salt and thus belong to that people from whom the influence must proceed. And as to the dead, they can undergo no influence. There is nothing whole on or in the spiritually dead to be preserved. They are totally corrupt. What then may be the point to the word of Christ under consideration? Solely this, that believers, who, through their becoming unspiritual, lose their palatableness, are, so far as their usefulness in the kingdom is concerned, utterly worthless as is the salt that has lost its savor. Such salt is good for nothing, but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot by men. Hence, the believers are to see to it that, through their being transformed by the renewing of their mind, they retain their savor. For only when they have salt in themselves, do they walk as children of the light in the midst of the world, fight the good fight of faith, witness for the truth, and confess His name.
The meat offering might never be prepared with leaven and honey. The symbolical import of the leaven can be accurately determined from various passages contained in the New Testament Scriptures. In the discourse of Christ, leaven appears as the symbol of the false doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees, “Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. . . .Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” (Matt. 16:6, 12). Wrote Paul to the Corinthians, “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with the old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (I Cor. 5:6-8).
The old leaven which this brotherhood in Corinth was admonished to purge out is the moral evil by which it was being defiled. This the apostle calls the old because it was the remains of their former unregenerate state which, like leaven, was still at work vitiating their character. They are to be a fresh lump wherein there is no leaven, hence a complete whole, morally renewed by purification—a church holy and free from sin, evincing its early love and zeal. Ideally considered, they are unleavened, through the power of divine grace. Let them then remove the existing evil, that they may come up to their true ideal. For their passover also has been sacrificed, namely Christ, by whose blood they have been redeemed from all their sins.
This passage leaves no room to doubt that leaven was understood to symbolize wickedness and malice. On account of its penetrating and expansive qualities, leaven was viewed by Christ also as an emblem of the kingdom of heaven, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened” (Matt. 13:33).
What the honey symbolizes, the Scriptures do not definitely state. It is often referred to in the Old Testament, and in most all these references it appears as of all things most sweet and gratifying to the natural taste. The fear of the Lord, “is sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb” (Ps. 19:10). God’s words are sweet unto the taste, “yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (Ps. 119:103). There need be no doubt that honey represented whatever appealed to the flesh and thus in the final instance symbolized the flesh itself together with all its sinful lusts.
With the portion of flour to be offered up was also connected a quantity of wine. When Christ, referring to the cup of wine which He had taken, said, “This is the blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins,” He had the wine before His mind as the symbol of His blood and of all the blessings of the covenant of God of which His blood as shed was and is the meritorial source. That these blessings are symbolized also by wine has significance. Wine, says the psalmist (104:15) maketh the heart glad. It is thus the figure of the spiritual joy of that man whose portion is Christ.
Such then are the heavenly, spiritual things to which the ingredients of the meat offering pointed. It is plain that this flour (or cakes) as prepared with oil, frankincense, and salt, and as lying upon the altar of the burnt offering in a state of consumption was the emblem of the perfect man of God, of the triumphant and glorified believer by the mercies of God everlastingly presenting his body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God. (Rom. 12:1). That man is in the perfect sense a new lump. He is a man Spirit-filled. The praises of God are in his mouth. He is the salt of the earth. And his joy is complete. And God smells a sweet savor. Rightly considered, the meat offering was firstly a figure of Christ and then of His perfected people.
This meat offering, too, was to the believing worshipper the instrument for the expression of his faith and hope, of his desire to come up to the true ideal symbolized by his meat offering, thus of the longing to be freed from the body of this death. Through the act of placing this offering upon Jehovah’s altar, believers of old declared that they willed to belong to God, to serve, praise, and adore Him.
The meat offering must be viewed in the light of the foundation truth set forth by each of the sacrifices by blood. It will be recalled that there were four such sacrifices: the sin, trespass, burnt, and peace offering. The action with the blood and the flesh of these offerings, though varying with each, was essentially the same. On ordinary occasions, the blood of all four sacrifices was poured around the altar and some of it sprinkled upon its horns,—its prominent points of sacredness. If the sacrifice was a sin offering, presented for the sins of the high priest or of the community, in addition to these actions in the outer court, the blood was to be carried into the sanctuary and sprinkled by the priest seven times before the veil of the holiest place and upon the horns of the altar of incense. And on the great day of atonement the high priest, clad in the insignia of his office and freshly bathed, went with the blood of his own and the people’s sin offering in the inner room of the sanctuary—the holiest place—where he sprinkled with it the mercy seat and the space in front thereof (Num. 15:22-26; Lev. 4:13-21; 22-26).
There was then this variant action with the blood. But whether sprinkled upon the horns of either of the altars (the altar of burnt offering or the altar of incense) or upon the mercy seat of the ark, the blood, as a result of this action, was in the presence of Jehovah before His face; and its presence there bespoke its acceptance by Him as a covering of the sins of the offender.
Closely related to the action with the blood was the action with the flesh of the slain victim. It will be recalled that when the sacrifice presented was a sin, trespass, or peace offering, the choice parts of the slain victim—the fat, kidneys, and the greater lobe of its liver—were placed upon the altar and burnt with fire. But when the sacrifice presented was a burnt offering, the entire carcass of the victim was so dealt with. Now what did the presence of the victim’s carcass (either the whole of it or its choice parts) upon the altar signify? As has been explained in former articles it signified that the victim, through its suffering and death, had in the sight of Jehovah actually expiated (symbolically) sins and that therefore he (or they) in the interest of whom the sacrifice was presented, was truly forgiven if, as Abel, he had offered his sacrifice by faith.
Thus the word or blessed message with which Jehovah, through the instrumentality of the sacrifices by blood, came to the believing worshipper, was: “I, according to my abundant mercy, I, thy redeemer God, forgive thee, condemnable and ill-deserving one, all thy sins for the sake of a sacrifice that I will provide Me. Thus thou art a righteous one. Thy blessed prerogative therefore is to dwell with Me in my house forever to cry out my praises and to be satisfied by My likeness.” This speech the Lord would also cause to dwell rightly in the hearts of the spiritual seed, which means that, in connection with their sacrifices, the true believers, as did Abel, would obtain witness that they were righteous, that thus they were God’s children and His heirs—heirs of life eternal.
Now with this word dwelling in him, the ancient believing worshipper had need of an instrument for the expression of his gratitude. And such an instrument he possessed in the meat offering—an offering that was the embodiment of the truth that the ideal believer is a new creature in Christ, holy, harmless, undefiled, separated from sinners (the meat offering was unmixed with leaven and honey) and full of grace and truth (the meat offering was sprinkled with salt); a creature, a man, anointed with Christ’s Spirit (the meat offering was mingled with oil) and thus praising and adoring God of whom he was born (the meat offering was mixed with frankincense), joying in God’s salvation (the meat offering was presented in connection with a portion of wine), and thus a man altogether agreeable to God’s palate and holy nostrils.
Thus through his presenting this offering, the believing worshipper gave expression to the firm belief to the effect that by the mercies of God he was actually in principle what this offering declared him to be; and to his holy longing that by these same mercies he attain to the ideal which this offering symbolized. But this cannot be all. Through his presenting this offering, the worshipper also gave expression to his willingness to belong to the Lord, bless His name, live by the promise, walk in the way of the Lord’s commands, confess His name, and everlastingly present himself a living sacrifice of thankfulness to God. More must be said. As the offering under consideration symbolized what the believing worshipper had become through grace, as it was thus the emblem of his praise and sanctified walk of life, it follows that the very act of presenting this offering was an act of praise and adoration, done in response to the speech of God uttered by the sacrifices by blood.
Why, so it may still be asked, was the meat offering attached directly not to the sin and trespass, but to the burnt and peace offering? The reason was evidently the following. As has already been explained, the sin and trespass offerings were sacrifices which the worshipper was under the necessity of presenting on account of his having transgressed by word or deed or both, either wittingly or unwittingly, one or more of Jehovah’s commands. The burnt and the peace offering on the other hand were not necessitated by any such infractions of the law. They thus pre-supposed a worshipper who, as impelled by love, was walking in the way of God’s covenant and was thus walking with God. However, whereas the holiest of men have but a small beginning of true obedience, whereas also such men, despite all their striving to attain to the ideal of a perfect life in Christ, continue in this life to lie in the midst of death, do evil—the evil that they would not—and thus daily increase their guilt, the burnt offering also had to be one of blood. Thus also through the instrumentality of this offering, the believers obtained witness that they were righteous. And as coming to them in connection with this sacrifice, this witness was exceptionally plain. For with the exception of the skin, the whole carcass of the victim presented for this offering, was laid upon the altar and burnt; and the ascending of the whole carcass in fire to God, formed the plainest testimony that the sacrifice was being accepted and that thus sins had actually been atoned. And what rendered this testimony the more striking was that when the altar was required for no other use, there always lay upon it day and night, a carcass of the burnt offering in a condition of being burnt.
As to the peace offering, it has already been explained, that this sacrifice was the one and only offering by blood whose flesh was returned to the worshipper for food. With his sins atoned (symbolically), the worshipper sat at this altar (Jehovah’s table), as God’s friend, with the peace of God in his heart and with the praises of God in his mouth (I speak now of the believing worshippers), partaking of nourishment that the Lord through the death of an innocent substitute had prepared for him. In the light of the above observations, it can be readily seen why the meat offering was directly joined not to the sin and the trespass but to the burnt and peace offering.
To say that the meat offering is the emblem of the ideal believer, is to say that in the first instance it pre-figured Christ. For He is our true meat offering. We see Him, through the medium of Scripture, in this world on the altar, the anointed of the Father, full of grace and truth, holy, harmless, separated from sinners as one Who knew no sin, the praying and the praising Savior, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. And he is still upon the altar in the sanctuary above. We see Him there again through the medium of Scripture, a sweet-smelling savor unto God, the Lamb “as it had been slain,” the king of glory. And all fullness dwells in Him. And “of His fullness have we all received, and grace for grace.” And with open face beholding as in a glass, that glory—the glory of the Lord—“we are changed,” says the apostle, “into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” And what is this glory other than the effulgence of His holiness, of that matchless purity of His symbolized by that Old Testament meat offering. And as to the believers, changed are they, conformed according to the same image—the image of Christ glorified. And therefore they, too, by the power of His grace, bring their meat offering, their own bodies, living and holy in Him, their true Meat offering, and therefore acceptable unto God.