Bible Commentary: Leviticus 2

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Leviticus 2

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Grain Offerings 

The King James Version of the Bible labels these as "meat" offerings. However, this Elizabethan English word simply means "food." Sometimes also called "meal" offerings, they consisted of grain. This all makes sense when we consider that man's most consistent source of sustenance, the "staff of life," has been bread. In this symbolism, we may perhaps observe that the grain offering symbolized worship of God through providing for fellow man. Christ has done this perfectly as the "bread of life" that came down from heaven, which we are to eat of as our food (see John 6:22-40 John 6:22-40 [22] The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one into where his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his disciples were gone away alone; [23] (However, there came other boats from Tiberias near to the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:) [24] When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus. [25] And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, Rabbi, when came you here? [26] Jesus answered them and said, Truly, truly, I say to you, You seek me, not because you saw the miracles, but because you did eat of the loaves, and were filled. [27] Labor not for the meat which perishes, but for that meat which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give to you: for him has God the Father sealed. [28] Then said they to him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? [29] Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that you believe on him whom he has sent. [30] They said therefore to him, What sign show you then, that we may see, and believe you? what do you work? [31] Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. [32] Then Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. [33] For the bread of God is he which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world. [34] Then said they to him, Lord, ever more give us this bread. [35] And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger; and he that believes on me shall never thirst. [36] But I said to you, That you also have seen me, and believe not. [37] All that the Father gives me shall come to me; and him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out. [38] For I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me. [39] And this is the Father's will which has sent me, that of all which he has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. [40] And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which sees the Son, and believes on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
American King James Version×
; Matthew 4:4 Matthew 4:4But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
American King James Version×
). Indeed, this offering provided a major portion of the food for God's priests. It was not wholly burned upon the altar as the burnt offering was. For rather than symbolizing total devotion to God, it, again, included the service of fellow man as part of that devotion. And yet, though it was not wholly burnt, it was totally consumed—by the fire of God as well as by the priests—with nothing left for the offerer. The offerer, as in the burnt offering, was to give of himself completely.

Let us examine, then, some of the ingredients of the grain offering. First is flour. "Bread flour must be ground" (Isaiah 28:28 Isaiah 28:28Bread corn is bruised; because he will not ever be threshing it, nor break it with the wheel of his cart, nor bruise it with his horsemen.
American King James Version×
)—or "bruised," as the King James has it. "Christ our staff of life is here represented as the bruised One. The emblem, [grain] ground to powder, is one of the deepest suffering.... The thought is one of bruising and grinding; of pressing, wearing trial. Jesus was not only tried by 'fire'; God's holiness was not the only thing that consumed Him. In meeting the wants of man, His blessed soul was grieved, and pressed and bruised continually. And the bruising here was from those to whom He was ministering, for whom He daily gave Himself" (Jukes, p. 80). And, of course, there was His actual physical bruising as a service to mankind. "And what a lesson is there here for the believer who wishes to give himself in service to his brethren! [—to be a food offering!] This scripture, as in fact all Scripture, testifies that service is self-surrender, self-sacrifice. Christ, to satisfy others, was broken: and bread [grain] must still be bruised: and the nearer our ministry approaches the measure of His ministry—immeasurably far as we shall ever be behind Him—the more we shall resemble Him, the bruised, the oppressed, the broken One" (p. 83). Jukes also brings out the fact that fine flour, as it was supposed to be, has no unevenness—just as with Christ, who was consistent in being fully godly in all areas.

He goes on to explain the oil in the grain offering as symbolic of God's Holy Spirit, which, in the burnt offering, was represented as water (Leviticus 1:9 Leviticus 1:9But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet smell to the LORD.
American King James Version×
). "The third ingredient of the [Grain]-offering is frankincense—'he shall put frankincense thereon'; in connection with which, and yet in contrast, it is commanded—'ye shall burn no honey unto the Lord.' These emblems, like all the others, are at once simple yet most significant. Frankincense is the most precious of perfumes, of enduring and delightful fragrance: fit emblem of the sweetness and fragrance of the offering of our blessed Lord. Honey, on the other hand, though sweet, is corruptible; soon fermented, and easily turned sour. In frankincense the full fragrance is not brought out until the perfume is submitted to the action of fire. In honey it is just the reverse; the heat ferments and spoils it. The bearing of this on the offering of Jesus is too obvious to comment. The fire of God's holiness tried Him, but all was precious fragrance. The holiness of God only brought out graces which would have escaped our notice had He never suffered. Yea, much of the precious odor of His offering was the very result of His fiery trial" (p. 88).

The fourth and last ingredient of the grain offering was salt—in contrast to leaven, which was forbidden to be offered on the altar. "The import of these emblems is obvious: the one positively, the other negatively.... 'Salt,' the well-known preservative against corruption, is the emblem of perpetuity and incorruptness; while 'leaven,' on the other hand, composed of sour and corrupting dough, is the as well-known emblem of corruption" (pp. 89-90). A case in which leaven could be offered was that of the "offering of the firstfruits" (Leviticus 2:12 Leviticus 2:12As for the oblation of the first fruits, you shall offer them to the LORD: but they shall not be burnt on the altar for a sweet smell.
American King James Version×
)—that is, in the leavened loaves offered at Pentecost (Leviticus 23:15-21 Leviticus 23:15-21 [15] And you shall count to you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: [16] Even to the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall you number fifty days; and you shall offer a new meat offering to the LORD. [17] You shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals; they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven; they are the first fruits to the LORD. [18] And you shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering to the LORD, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet smell to the LORD. [19] Then you shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings. [20] And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the first fruits for a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs: they shall be holy to the LORD for the priest. [21] And you shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation to you: you shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.
American King James Version×
). But it could not be burned on the altar for a sweet aroma (Leviticus 2:12 Leviticus 2:12As for the oblation of the first fruits, you shall offer them to the LORD: but they shall not be burnt on the altar for a sweet smell.
American King James Version×
). These leavened loaves represented the Church, still beset with sin (compare 1 John 1:8-10 1 John 1:8-10 [8] If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. [9] If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. [10] If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
American King James Version×
) yet finding acceptance through Christ's sacrifice and His living within its members. Just as Christ did, we are to offer ourselves as food for the world around us—serving our fellow man as an offering to God (compare Matthew 25:31-46 Matthew 25:31-46 [31] When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory: [32] And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats: [33] And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. [34] Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: [35] For I was an hungered, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: [36] Naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. [37] Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we you an hungered, and fed you? or thirsty, and gave you drink? [38] When saw we you a stranger, and took you in? or naked, and clothed you? [39] Or when saw we you sick, or in prison, and came to you? [40] And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me. [41] Then shall he say also to them on the left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: [42] For I was an hungered, and you gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink: [43] I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and you visited me not. [44] Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we you an hungered, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to you? [45] Then shall he answer them, saying, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me. [46] And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
American King James Version×

Also, the sacrifice mentioned in Leviticus 7:13 Leviticus 7:13Besides the cakes, he shall offer for his offering leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offerings.
American King James Version×
, which is called, "the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offering" was made with leaven. Here again, this sacrifice was not burned on the altar.