No meat offering, which you shall bring to the LORD, shall be made with leaven: for you shall burn no leaven, nor any honey…
When the Hebrew worshipper had presented his burnt offering, had sought forgiveness of sin, and had dedicated himself to God in sacred symbolism, he then brought of the produce of the land, of that which constituted his food; and by presenting flour, oil, and wine, with frankincense, he owned his indebtedness to Jehovah. In engaging in this last act of worship, he was to do that which spoke emphatically of purity in approaching the Holy One of Israel. By Divine direction he was -
I. CAREFULLY TO EXCLUDE THAT IN WHICH THERE WAS ANY ELEMENT OF IMPURITY, Leaven is "a substance in a state of putrefaction;" honey "soon turns sour, and even forms vinegar." These were, therefore, expressly interdicted; they might not be laid on the altar of God. But so important was this feature that positive as well as negative rules were laid down. The offerer was -
II. CONSTANTLY TO INTRODUCE THE CORRECTIVE OF IMPURITY, "Neither shalt thou suffer the salt... to be lacking;" "with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt." Salt is the great preservative from putrefaction, fitting type of all that makes pure in symbolic worship. When we come up to the house of the Lord to "offer the sacrifice of praise" or to engage in any act of devotion, we must remember that -
I. GOD LAYS GREAT STRESS ON THE PURITY OF OUR HEART IN WORSHIP. Only the pure in heart can see God (Matthew 5:8). Without holiness no man shall see him (Hebrews 12:14). They must be clean who bear the vessels of the Lord (Isaiah 52:11). None may ascend his holy hill but "he that hath clean hands and a pure heart." "If we regard iniquity in our heart, the Lord will not hear us" (Psalm 66:18). We have not now laid down for us any precise directions as to what words we shall use, what forms we shall adopt, what gifts we shall devote, but we know that the chief thing to bring, that without which all is vain, is a right spirit, a pure heart, a soul that is seeking God and longing for his likeness. The interdiction of the leaven and honey, and the requirement of salt, suggest that -
II. GOD DESIRES A VIGILANT EXCLUSION OF EVERY UNHOLY THOUGHT WHEN WE DRAW NIGH TO HIM. We may be tempted to allow corruption to enter into and our worship or our Christian work, in the form of:
1. An unworthy spirit of rivalry.
2. An ostentation of piety.
3. Self-seeking by securing the favour of man.
4. Sensuous enjoyment (mere artistic appreciation, etc.).
5. A spirit of dislike or resentment towards fellow-worshippers or fellow-workers.
Such spiritual "leaven" must not be brought to the altar; such sentiments must be shut out from the soul. We must strenuously resist when these evil thoughts would enter. We must vigorously and energetically expel them if they find their way within the heart (Proverbs 4:23).
III. GOD DESIRES THE PRESENCE OF THE PURIFYING THOUGHT IN DEVOTION. There must not only be the absence of leaven, but the presence of salt; not only the absence of that which corrupts and spoils, but the presence of that which purifies. There must be the active presence of sanctifying thoughts. Such are:
1. A profound sense of the nearness of God to us.
2. A lively sense of our deep indebtedness to Jesus Christ.
Let these convictions fill the soul, and the lower and ignobler sentiments will fail to enter or will quickly leave. If we feel our own feebleness and incapacity, we may fall back on the truth that -
IV. GOD HAS PROMISED THE AID OF HIS CLEANSING SPIRIT. We must pray for "the renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus 3:5); that he will "cleanse us from our sin;" will give us "truth in the inward parts;" will make us "clean," "whiter than snow;" will "create in us a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within us" (Psalm 51; and see Psalm 19:12-14; Psalm 139:23, 24). - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.