And when any will offer a meat offering to the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil on it…
cf. John 4:34; Acts 10:4; Philippians 4:18; John 6:27. The idea prominently presented in the burnt offering is, we have seen, personal consecration, on the ground of expiation and acceptance through a substitute. In the meat offering, to which we now address ourselves, we find the further and supplementary idea of consecrated life-work. For the fine flour presented was the product of labour, the actual outcome of the consecrated person, and consequently a beautiful representative of that whole life-work which results from a person consciously consecrated. Moreover, as in the case of the burnt offering there was a daily celebration, so in the case of this meat offering there was a perpetual dedication in the shew-bread. What we have in this chapter, therefore, is a voluntary dedication on the part of an individual, corresponding to the perpetual dedication on the part of the people. The covenant people are to realize the idea of consecration in their whole life-work. Lange has noticed that here it is the soul (נֶפֶשׁ) which is said to present the meat offering, something more spiritual, as an act, than the presentation of the burnt offering by the man (אָדָם). We assume, then, that the leading thought of this meat offering is consecrated life-work, such as was brought out in all its perfection when our Lord declared, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work" (John 4:34).
I. WORK DONE FOR GOD SHOULD BE THE BEST OF ITS KIND. The meat offering, whether prepared in a sumptuous oven (תַנּוּר) such as would be found with the wealthy, or baken in a pan (מַחְבַת) such as middle-class people would employ, or seethed in a common dish (מַרְחֶשֶׁת) the utensil of the poor, - was always to be of fine flour (סֹלֶת), that is, flour separated from the bran. It matters not what our station in life may be, we may still present to God a thorough piece of work. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might" (Ecclesiastes 9:10) is an exhortation applicable to all. The microscopic thoroughness of God's work in nature, which leads him to clothe even the grass, which is tomorrow to be cast into the oven, with more glory than Solomon (Matthew 6:28-30), is surely fitted to stimulate every consecrated person to the most painstaking work. And here we are led of necessity to the life-work of Jesus Christ, as embodying this idea perfectly. How thoroughly he did everything! His life was an exquisite piece of moral mosaic. Every detail may be subjected to the most microscopic criticism, only to reveal its marvelous and matchless beauty.
II. WORK DONE FOR GOD SHOULD BE PERMEATED BY HIS SPIRIT AND GRACE. The fine flour, be it ever so pure, would not be accepted dry; it required oil to make it bakeable. Oil has been from time immemorial the symbol of Divine unction, in other words, of the Holy Spirit's gracious operation. Hence we infer that work done for God must be done in cooperation with the Spirit. It is when we realize that we are fellow-workers with God, that he is our Partner, that he is working in us and by us, and when, in consequence, we become spiritually minded, walking in the Spirit, living in the Spirit, - it is then that our work becomes a spiritual thing. And here, again, would we direct attention to the life-work of Christ, as spiritually perfect. The gift of the Spirit at his baptism, the descending dove, an organic whole (Luke 3:22), signalizes the complete spirituality of Jesus. He was "filled with the Spirit," it was "in the power of the Spirit" he did all his work. Herein he is our perfect Example.
III. WORK CAN ONLY BE DONE FOR GOD IN A PRAYERFUL SPIRIT. This follows naturally from what has been already stated, but it requires to be emphasized in view of the frankincense which had in every case to accompany the meat offering. This is admittedly the symbol of devotion (cf. Kalisch, in loco). A life-work, to be consecrated, be steeped in prayer; its Godward object must be kept constantly in view, and stated and circulatory prayer must envelop it like a cloud of incense. It is, again, worth while to notice how the perfect life-work of Christ was pervaded by prayer. If any one since the world began had a right to excuse himself from the formality of prayer in consequence of his internal state of illumination, it was Jesus Christ. And yet we may safely say that his was the most prayerful life ever spent on earth. As Dr. Guthrie once said, "The sun as it sank in the western sea often left him, and as it rose behind the hills of Moab returned to find him, on his knees." We need not wonder why he spent whole nights in supplication, for he was bringing every detail of his work into Divine review in the exercise of prayer. There is consequently a most significant appeal issuing out of his holy life, to work prayerfully at all times if we would work for God.
IV. WORK FOR GOD MUST BE DIVORCED FROM MALICE AND FROM PASSION, AND DONE IN CALM PURITY AND STRENGTH. Much of the world's work has malice passion for its sources. These motives seem to be symbolized by the leaven and honey, which were forbidden as elements in the meat offering. Care should be taken in work for God that we do not impart into it worldly and selfish motives. Such are sure to vitiate the whole effort. The Lord with whom we have to do looks upon the heart and weighs the motives along with the work. What a commentary, again, was the perfect life of Jesus upon this! Malice and passion never mixed with his pure motives. He sought not his own will, nor did he speak his own words, but calmly kept the Father's will and glory before him, all through.
V. WORK FOR GOD SHOULD BE COMMITTED TO HIS PRESERVING CARE. For it is to be feared we often forget to season our sacrifices with salt. We work for God in a consecrated spirit, but we do not universally commit our work to his preserving grace, and expect its permanency and purity. Work for God should endure. It is our own fault if it do not. Our blessed Lord committed his work to the preserving care of the Father. He was, if we may judge from Isaiah 49:4, as well as from the Gospel, sometimes discouraged, yet when constrained to say, "I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for naught, and in vain," he could add, "Yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God."
VI. WORK DONE FOR GOD IS SURE TO BENEFIT OUR FELLOW-MEN. The meat offering was only partially burnt on the altar - a handful, containing, however, all the frankincense, was placed in the sacred fire, and thus accepted; the rest became the property of the priest. How beautifully this indicated the truth that when one tries to please God, his fellow-men, and especially those of the household of faith, are sure to participate in the blessing! The monastic idea was an imperfect one, suggesting the possibility of devotion to God and indifference to man coexisting in the same breast We deceive ourselves so long as we suppose so. Our Master went about doing good; he was useful as well as holy; and so shall all his followers find themselves, if their consecrated life-work is molded according to the pattern he has shown us. Faithfulness in the first table of the Law secures faithfulness in the second. - R.M.E.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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: