Verse 11 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.
There must be a total lack of leaven in the meal offering. There is no difficulty in seeing the significance of leaven for the apostle Paul speaks of the leaven of malice and wickedness in 1 Corinthians 5:8. There was total lack of these things in Christ. In fact He was the reverse, benevolent and righteous. He loved righteousness with a perfect love, and hated iniquity with an equally perfect hatred.
Leaven is that which works and spreads until a lump of dough is permeated with it. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump, wrote the apostle, once in connection with moral evil at Corinth, 1 Corinthians 5:6, and again in connection with doctrinal error in Galatia, Galatians 5:9. There was only moral purity in Christ, and He only spoke and taught the truth.
Leaven itself is produced from breadflour kneaded without salt, and kept until it passes into a state of fermentation, which would symbolise corruption. It is interesting to notice that it is not until near the end of Leviticus 2 that leaven is mentioned, and it not until near the end of Luke’s gospel that leaven is referred to.
THE LEAVEN OF THE PHARISEES
There was the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy, accompanied by covetousness, Luke 12:1. Covetousness on the part of one professing to know God is indeed hypocrisy, for an essential part of knowing God is disowning self’s rights and interests in favour of His. A “hypocritos” was a mask worn by an actor, who appeared in public differently to how he appeared privately. Yet “there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, neither hid that shall not be known”, Luke 12:2. So the mask will one day be torn away from the hypocrite, and what he really was shall be clearly seen. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them”, Luke 11:44. Such were the Lord’s scathing words concerning those of His day. In this statement the idea is that because the Pharisees put on such an appearance of piety, others were totally unaware of their evil, and were polluted by it. Thus the leading features of the leaven were found in them, seeming to have a useful purpose, but in fact corrupting that which it was mixed with.
When speaking of leaven in 1 Corinthians 5:8, Paul contrasted it with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, the direct opposites of hypocrisy. This is what marked Christ, and contributes to the fact that His life was a sweet savour to His God.
THE LEAVEN OF THE SADDUCEES
Then there was the leaven of the Sadducees, Matthew 16:6. This was infidelity, for they were marked by unbelief. They did not believe in resurrection, angels or spirits, Acts 23:8. Because of this the Lord said they erred, not knowing the scripture nor the power of God, Matthew 22:29. Their scorn for the idea of resurrection was very effectively dealt with by Christ. They were ignorant of the scriptures, for in them God had said, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Not was, but am. Physical death had not destroyed their spiritual life, and they lived on. But if this is the case, it means that all that God promised to them will be realised, which implies they will be raised from the dead by the power of God. There is much that was promised to Abraham that he has not yet received, as Hebrews 11:13,39 makes clear. This being the case, Abraham and the other patriarchs will rise from the dead to inherit the promises in full.
May the Lord deliver us from doubt; the doubt that rejects God’s word in favour of the lies of the enemy. We see the sad consequences of Adam’s doubting of God’s word in the world around us. Let us learn the lesson, trust His word, and beware of the leaven of the Sadducees.
THE LEAVEN OF THE HERODIANS
Then there was the leaven of the Herodians. Christ was completely free from this, too, for the evil of the Herodians was political scheming, and the attempt to gain control for Israel through Herod. His response to Pilate in John 18:33-37 on the matter of government is revealing. When asked if He was the King of the Jews, “My kingdom is not of this world”, was the dignified response. Meaning the authority for His kingdom was not sourced in the world, but from the very throne of heaven. This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that He had restrained His followers from the use of the sword in Gethsemane, and had in fact been delivered to the Jews. “But now is My kingdom not from hence” means that far from being of this world, (and He had given proof that this was so), His kingdom is now proved to be not of this world. Does Christ mean to renounce any future government of the world by these statements? Far from it, for He has been speaking of the source of the authority of His kingdom, not its location. He will one day rule “from the river unto the ends of the earth”, Psalm 72:8, and will do so with heaven’s authority. Meanwhile, He asserts the genuuinness of His claim to kingship, (“Thou sayest that I am a king” is the polite way for a refined Jew to say “Yes”), and also gives the underlying principle of His reign, namely truth. He came into the world for the sake of truth; He bears witness to the truth; and all who believe the truth listen to His voice of kingly authority.
By these words He showed Himself to be completely free from the scheming politics of men, or in other words, the leaven of the Herodians. And if He is, so should we be. Christ’s servants were rebuked for trying to advance His cause by the use of weapons of carnal warfare. “Put up thy sword into the sheath, the cup My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?” John 18:11. So the use of the sword even to prevent the most terrible of ills is denounced. How much more, therefore, is it denounced for trying to bring in good! And if the weapon of the sword is denounced, so is the weapon of the democratic vote.
Since Romans 13:2 declares that to resist the power that God has installed in government is to resist the ordinance of God, then unless believers know precisely what God’s mind is, they cannot vote. If they do so, and vote for the party that does not form the government, then they have in fact resisted the ordinance of God.
HONEY TO BE EXCLUDED
The other substance to be rigorously excluded from the meal offering was honey. Now honey is not evil, for God promised Israel a land flowing with it, Exodus 3:8, and Christ ate a piece of honeycomb in Luke 24:42, (thus showing that His resurrction body was not a shell, but a real body able to handle food). Scripture says “Hast thou found honey, eat so much as is sufficient for thee”, Proverbs 25:16. Perhaps the word “found” is the key. A person can grow and grind corn, grow and crush olives, but honey can neither be grown nor ground; it is the work of others. A pot of honey represents the labours of thousands of bees. Christ’s ministry was entirely original, however. Nothing depended on the labours of others; all was solely His work. He could say to His own that other men had laboured, and they were entered into their labours, John 4:38, but this was not true of Himself. If an Israelite was to bring an acceptable meal offering, therefore, he must exclude that which spoke of the labours of others, since only so could there be a fit type of Christ. Like the psalmist, he must speak of the things which he had made, touching the king, Psalm 45:1.
We are also told in Proverbs 25:27 that “It is not good to each much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory”. There was a total lack of searching for glory with Christ. In fact, He made Himself of no reputation, Philippians 2:7.
Another feature of honey was that it fed leaven. There was nothing in Christ that encouraged evil; His life, words and works were a constant rebuke to it. He could say, “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin”, John 15:22.
There are instances in the gospels when men came to the Lord with what can only be described as honeyed words. A classic case is found in Matthew 22:16, “Master, we know that Thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest Thou for any man: for Thou regardest not the peron of men”. And this from the Pharisees and Herodians combining together. If they sincerely believed what they were saying, then the obvious question for them is, why did you not believe such a trustworthy person? The fact is they were trying to “entangle Him in His talk”, as verse 15 informs us.
The apostle warns us of those who come with “good words and fair speeches”, Romans 16:18, and we should take note. It is the content of what is said, and the attitude of the one who says it, that matters. And any form of flattery should certainly be absent from the lives and talk of believers. It is said that the word flattery is based on the Greek word for slippery!
Verse 12 “As for the oblation of the firstfruits, ye shall offer them unto the Lord: but they shall not be burnt on the altar for a sweet savour.”
SUITABLE FOR RESURRECTION
We come in verses 12-16 to a further view of the manhood of the Lord Jesus, where the idea of firstfruits comes to the fore. This introduces the idea of resurrection, for the apostle Paul makes it clear that the Levitical firstfruits is fulfilled in Christ’s resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15:23. As He moved amongst men, the Lord Jesus displayed those features which can be taken over into resurrection.
There are two words for firstfruit used in these verses, suggesting two different views of the resurrection of Christ. In verse 12 the word is “reeshith”, meaning “first, in place, time or rank; beginning, chief. Connected with the word rosh, meaning head”, Strong’s Concordance. The other word, found in verse 14, is “bicurim”, meaning “the firstfruits of the crop, from bakar, to bear fruit (either a child or fruit of a tree), also to give the birthright, make firstborn”, Strong’s Concordance.
How significant are these meanings when considered in the light of the New Testament. The following scriptures will make this clear: “And that He should be the first that should rise from the dead”, Acts 26:23. “Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the pre-eminence” Colossians 1:18.
RESURRECTION FROM AMONG THE DEAD
In Mark 9:10 the disciples were perplexed over the idea of the resurrection from among the dead, (which is the meaning of “risen from the dead” in that verse), a resurrection of a just person that left other just persons in the grave. They would be used to the idea of a resurrection in which all the just dead were raised, and all the unjust dead were left in the grave, for that is what Daniel 12:2 had taught them would happen. But the idea of a single person, the Son of Man, raised from among the dead, leaving the righteous dead still in the grave, was new to them.
It is important to realise that the word “some” as found in Daniel 12:2 is never used in the Hebrew scriptures to divide up what has been mentioned before. That is, it is not “the many” divided up into some and some, but rather the first some is the whole of those who awake; the second some refers to those who do not awake at that time. The rabbis understood the verse in this way, so it is not a particularly Christian idea. There is no support in the verse for the idea of a general resurrection of all the dead at the same time, nor is there in the verse the idea of one man rising alone- that was a revelation the Lord Jesus gave to His disciples.
Christ has been selected from the grave by His Father, since He is the only one who is worthy to be raised in His own right. Romans 6:4 puts it like this: “raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father”. In other words, the glory of the Father demanded that such a person should be raised from the dead. As the one first raised from the dead, He is instated as the administrator of all that comes over into resurrection conditions, His people included. He was already firstborn in regard to creation, for the reason given, namely that by Him were all things created. (Those who deny the Deity of Christ try to suggest that Colossians 1:15 makes Christ the first creature that God made. Such a blasphemous notion is disposed of by noticing the word “for” that begins verse 16. He is firstborn for this reason, writes the apostle, that He is the creator of all things). It is very probable that Lucifer was the first creature God made, for he is called “son of the morning”, Isaiah 14:12, which possibly means the product of the dawn of God’s creative day, and so we can see why he would want to suggest that Christ is the first creature, in order to displace Him. God had given His verdict on such a notion by raising Christ from the dead, and giving Him the highest place in heaven, far above all angelic beings.
THE NATIONAL OFFERING
It is interesting to notice that the “if thou” formula is dropped temporarily in verse 12, and the phrase “ye shall offer” replaces it. This indicates that the reference is to the national offering of the wave sheaf on the morrow after the sabbath, Leviticus 23:10,11, where the word “reeshith” is used. The apostle Paul is clear that this represents Christ in resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15:23, the waving of the sheaf from side to side having its counterpart in the appearances of the Lord to His own in resurrection. A very important principle is being established in this verse, with its prohibition of the burning of these particular firstfruits on the altar. The truth is that once in resurrection conditions, Christ lives to die no more. The scripture is clear- “Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him. For in that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God, Romans 6:8-10. Again He Himself said, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death”, Revelation 1:18. It would be quite inappropriate, therefore, to put that which signifies Christ risen onto the altar and burn it. The resurrection of Christ is the token that God has approved of what He did in death, for He was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification; in other words, if we ask why He died, then the answer is because of our offences; if we ask why He was raised again, then the answer is because His work on the cross is enough to justify, and so meets the approval of God, Romans 4:25.
Furthermore it is also a token that His work will never need to be repeated. The progress from death to resurrection cannot be reversed- the waters of Jordan have resumed their flow, cutting off from any reverse journey, and so also the waters of the Red Sea have returned to block the way back. This is not only true for Christ, it is true for all those identified with Him by faith, their resurrection is assured, and also their continuance in that state.
Verse 13 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 thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SALT
We are here introduced to the fourth ingredient of the meal offering. It is interesting to notice that the requirement that salt be added to all offerings is not mentioned until we reach the middle of that part of the meal offering that speaks of resurrection. Salt is that which preserves from corruption, having the ability to halt the working of leaven, in contrast to honey which assists it. The fact that salt was added to the flour and the cakes emphasises that the Lord Jesus was free from corruption in nature and in practice. He did not need to be kept from corrupting, for He was the Holy One of God. The salt is added simply to remind us of this.
THE HOLY ONE DOES NOT SEE CORRUPTION
The special emphasis, however, is on what He was as one fit to be raised from the dead. Having kept Himself completely pure during His lifetime, His body rests in hope in the tomb, not only confident that He would be raised, but also that He would be preserved by God whilst He was in the tomb. And this confidence was rewarded, for God did not allow His Holy One to see corruption, Acts 2:27,31. Instead of His holy body being flung unceremoniously into the common criminal’s grave at the foot of the cross, the prophetic scriptures were fulfilled in that He was with the rich man in His death, Isaiah 53:9. Pious hands lowered His body from the cross, and carefully and reverently laid Him in a new tomb, wherein never man had lain. One, moreover, that was hewn out of the rock, and so was as free from defilement as it was possible to be. Not only this, God overruled the fear of the Jews that His disciples would steal the body, to ensure that the tomb was sealed, and thus preserved from intrusion by animals or lepers. Added to this, the Lord Jesus was only in the sepulchre for a short period, thus ensuring that Joseph of Arimathaea did not die and possibly be buried alongside Him. Everything worked together to preserve the body of the Lord Jesus from physical defilement. Of course, He had no corruption within Himself, but He was preserved from even contacting defilement.
THE SALT OF THE COVENANT
Salt is also a sign of faithfulness to a covenant. In 2 Chronicles 13:5 King Abijah stated, “the Lord God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt”. This clearly shows that a covenant of salt was a covenant that the parties were pledged to preserve from the corruption of default.
The Lord Jesus had come into the world undertaking to do God’s will in the body prepared for Him. He was faithful to that undertaking, as is seen not only in the once-for-all character of His sacrifice, but also that He has returned back to the one to whom He made His promise, Hebrews 10:12.
The Lord referred to the salt-requirement of the meal offering in words recorded in Mark 9:43-50. He warned His followers about allowing their bodies to stumble them in their life as believers. They should take drastic action if hand, foot or eye hindered them in their spiritual progress. Only so could they be a living sacrifice to God. Only so could they follow His example and reproduce His features in their lives. The teaching of Romans 8:13 complements this, where the apostle states that if we by the Spirit mortify the deeds of the body, we shall live.
Verses 14-16 “And if thou offer a meat offering of thy firstfruits unto the Lord, thou shalt offer for the meat offering of thy firstfruits green ears of corn dried by the fire, even corn beaten out of full ears. And thou shalt put oil upon it, and lay frankincense thereon: it is a meat offering. And the priest shall burn the memorial of it, part of the beaten corn thereof, and part of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof: it is an offering made by fire unto the Lord.”
FIRSTFRUITS FOR THE ALTAR
When we come to verses 14-16, however, there is an oblation which may be presented to the Lord. Verse 12 has established the principle that Christ risen shall never go to the altar of Calvary again, for He “ever liveth”. These verses tell us in figurative form that He who lived upon the earth was suitable for resurrection, even though He did not live as long as men expected to live.
The very word “bicurim” that is used suggests, as noted earlier, the idea of firstborn (with its implication that there are others in the family), and children, and the man who brings his offering of green ears of corn represents them. He might have purchased flour from travelling merchantmen, but he could not purchase green ears of corn, but must be in the land where the corn grows. Now to an Israelite, eternal life, (literally “the life of the age”) was life in the kingdom age under the Messiah, and by bringing the ears of corn he is anticipating that. But in the Christian context, the idea is of a realisation that the man Christ Jesus who lived upon the earth is at all times fit to rise from the dead and go to heaven.
CUT OFF OUT OF THE LAND OF THE LIVING
The bringing of green ears of corn denotes an appreciation that Christ “cut off out of the land of the living”, Isaiah 53:8. Or in the language of Daniel 9:26, “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself”. Moses spoke of the life expectation of man as being seventy or eighty years, Psalm 90:10, but Christ died at less than half of seventy years. How hard this must this have been to Christ to bear, especially since the punishment for law-breaking was to be cut off, yet He who “magnified the law and made it honourable” was cut off in His prime of life. This is why Isaiah needs to explain, “for the transgression of My people was He stricken”, thus preserving the character and life of Christ from the aspersions of men, and assuring us it was only because He was on the cross for others that He was cut off.
The fact that it is green ears of corn that are brought would indicate to us that Christ’s death was not the result of natural causes, old age, or illness. It was a supernatural event accompanied by supernatural phenomena, such as the darkness, the earthquake, the rending of the veil, the opening of graves, the emergence of saints from those graves only after His resurrection; these were all out of the ordinary, because His death was out of the ordinary. No wonder the centurion, when he saw the things that were done, exclaimed, “Certainly this was a righteous man”, Luke 23:47. He discerned the difference between Christ and the malefactors.
Instead of ripening under the heat of the sun, the ears of corn are cut down. In John 12:24 the Lord likened Himself to a corn of wheat that fell into the ground and died. When such a thing happens in the natural world it means that the farmer has missed his opportunity to harvest his crop. Instead of being reaped and brought into the barn, the corn falls to the ground. John 12 is a transitional chapter, and forms a bridge between Christ’s ministry to “His own”, the nation of Israel in chapters 1-11, and His ministry to “His own”, the apostles, (representing the church), in chapters 13-20. The nation had missed its opportunity to gain the benefit of His presence, and He fell in death and rose again to produce a new company, those who are His own in reality, and not just His own by national profession. They are the much fruit that results from His death and resurrection.
CORN OUT OF FULL EARS
Here in Leviticus 2 however, there is the thought of cutting off before the full process of ripening has been completed. Not that there was any deficiency or lack of maturity in Christ, but the opposite, for the ears are full ears- they may have been cut off, but they are nonetheless suitable to be placed upon the altar for God. Green ears of corn roasted were considered a luxury. We are told that Christ was “full of the Holy Spirit”, Luke 4:1; “full of grace and truth”, John 1:14; and “in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily”, Colossians 2:9.
When green ears are harvested before their time, they are not able to produce another crop, for they are not viable, and will not germinate. So Isaiah asks “Who shall declare His generation? For He was cut off out of the land of the living”, Isaiah 53:8. To die childless was considered a disaster by the Jews, yet this is what happened to Christ. But the prophet goes on to say “He shall see His seed”. What is impossible naturally is easily possible spiritually, and Christ’s death followed by His resurrection has secured a multitude of those who share His life. He shall present them at last to His Father with the words. “Behold I and the children whom thou hast given me”, Hebrews 2:13; Isaiah 8:18.
To signify and reinforce the acceptableness of Christ despite being cut off in the midst of His days, the offerer is to put oil upon the green ears, and lay frankincense thereon, and then we read the significant words “it is a meal offering”. Despite not having gone full term, the green ears are declared by God to be a valid meal offering- they are as acceptable as the flour and the cakes. One of the thieves at Calvary taunted Him with the words, “If Thou be the Christ, save Thyself and us”, Luke 23:39; what he did not know was that it was because He was the Christ that He remained on the cross, for only by dying in accordance with His Father’s will could he fulfil His Messianic mission.
In resurrection the Lord asserted that it behoved (was necessary for) Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead”, Luke 24:46. And Peter repeats this idea when he writes of “the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow”, 1 Peter 1:11. This may be paraphrased as “the sufferings pertaining to the Christ or Messiah, and the glories that should follow”. We learn then that Christ’s sufferings were vitally connected with His mission as the Messiah, and He was forordained to endure them in the purpose of God. No wonder the man put oil on the green ears, for it was the Anointed One Himself who was prefigured thereby.
CHRIST’S PRAYERS ANSWERED
But he laid frankincense on the corn as well, thus associating them together, and then offered all the frankincense on the altar for God. We have already suggested that the frankincense represents Christ’s specialness to the Father, not least because of His utter dependence upon Him, as expressed in His prayer life. At last there was a man upon the earth who had none of the independence that marked Adam; how pleasing that must have been to His God and Father. That pleasure reached its full height when Christ laid down His life willingly. He could say beforehand, “Therefore doth My Father love me, because I lay down My life that I might take it again”, John 10:17. Because of His total surrender to His Father’s interests Christ has given to His Father fresh reason to love Him. The linking of the firstfruits and frankincense reminds us of the words of Hebrews 5:7, “Who in the days of His flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears, unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared”. The latter phrase means “heard for His godly fear”. Because piety marked Him, the prayer of Christ to be saved, (not from death in the sense of not going into it, but saved from it having gone through it), was heard. All that the frankincense represents is carried over into resurrection in answered prayer. Because of this, He is the author of eternal salvation to all them obey Him. He is the captain of their salvation, for He has made His way through this world honourably and gloriously, and has thereby marked out the path for His people to follow, Hebrews 2:10.