And this is the law of the meat offering: the sons of Aaron shall offer it before the LORD, before the altar.…
As the law of the burnt offering, laid down in the preceding paragraph, viz. in relation to the service of the priest, was before mentioned, more particularly in respect to the offerer, so is the law of the meat, or more properly the bread, offering, here introduced for a similar reason, after being formerly mentioned likewise (see chapter 2). The subject is presented in two aspects, and we have to consider -
I. THE LAW OF THE BREAD OFFERING OF THE PEOPLE, In this case:
1. A memorial of it was burnt upon the altar.
(1) The memorial represented the whole. The bulk consisted of at least an omer, or about three of our quarts, of fine flour, of which a handful was taken for the memorial. There was with the omer of flour, a log, or little more than a half pint, of oil, of which a fitting quantity was added to the handful of flour. The memorial was completed by the addition of all the frankincense. As the name of a thing stands for the thing, so did the memorial stand for the whole offering; it was like a quit rent, a discharge for all demands on the estate.
(2) It was burnt upon the altar for a sweet savour unto the Lord. It could not be that to him in a physical sense; this expression must be morally interpreted.
(a) It was a thank offering, and gratitude from his intelligent offspring is ever pleasing to his goodness (Psalm 27:6; Psalm 50:23; Romans 12:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:18).
(b) It was placed on the altar of burnt offerings, and mingled among the sacrifices offered, to make atonement for sin, and so, coming up as it were "through Jesus Christ" in whom the Father is ever well pleased, it becomes "acceptable" (1 Peter 2:5).
2. The remainder was eaten by Aaron and his sons.
(1) Aaron ate of it, who was the type of Christ; and his sons also, who were types of Christians. So Jesus and his disciples together ate the Passover (Luke 22:15). And he gave to his disciples the bread and wine of his Eucharist.
(2) The bread offering, was to be eaten without leaven. This substance was regarded as an emblem of evil dispositions, malice, wickedness, insincerity (1 Corinthians 5:6-8). These must be absent from those who feast with Jesus.
(3) It was to be eaten in the holy place. This holy place was not the innermost court, which was a type of "heaven itself" (Hebrews 9:24). It is explained to be the "court of the tabernacle of the congregation," which was a figure of the Church in its earthly aspect - the kingdom of heaven upon earth. Those who elect to worship God outside his Church, are not following out his instructions.
(4) The males only must eat of it. The daughters of the priests were permitted to eat of the "holy things," such as might be carried out of the court, such as the tithes and firstfruits, and the shoulder and breast of the peace offerings. But of the "most holy things" eaten in the sanctuary they may not eat. It was the Seed of the woman who is most holy, not the woman herself; the son, not the daughter, therefore, was holy unto God. Now that most holy Seed has come, the distinction between male and female is abolished (Galatians 3:28).
(5) The priest must not eat it unless he be clean. "Every one that toucheth it shall be holy" (verse 18). To eat and drink unworthily of the Christian Eucharist is a serious thing (see 1 Corinthians 11:27-34).
II. THE LAW OF THE BREAD OFFERING OF THE PRIESTS. In this case:
1. The whole was offered upon the altar.
(1) Here was no "memorial," as in the offering of the people. The omer of fine flour was all burnt upon the altar (verse 23). "Had the priests been permitted to live on their own offerings, as they did on those of the people, it would have been as if they had offered nothing, as they would have taken again to themselves what they appeared to give unto the Lord" (A. Clarke).
(2) It was offered in two portions: half in the morning, and the complement at night (verse 20). And as it is called a "meat offering perpetual," it is generally understood that the high priest repeated this offering daily throughout his pontificate.
(3) This he appears to have done not for himself only, but on behalf of the priesthood in general. This seems expressed in the words, "This is the offering of Aaron and of his sons, which they shall offer unto the Lord in the day when he is anointed," etc. (verse 20). Here "they" offer it; but afterwards we read, "And the priest of his sons that is anointed in his stead," viz. as high priest at his demise, "shall offer it" (verse 22). Taken together, these passages show that the high priest offered it for the priesthood in general.
2. None of it was to be eaten by the priests.
(1) It appears to have been of the nature of the sin offering; for there is no frankincense offered with it. This was the case with the poor man's sin offering (see Leviticus 5:11). In sin there is nothing grateful to God.
(2) By his eating of the sin offerings, the typical transfer of the sins of the people to the priest was signified (see chapter Leviticus 10:17). It would not be proper, therefore, for him to eat the sin offering in which he was personally concerned. He must rather see his sin transferred to the altar, and there consumed along with the lamb of the daily sacrifice. So may we see our sins consumed. - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And this is the law of the meat offering: the sons of Aaron shall offer it before the LORD, before the altar.