Taken from The Bible Treasury Number 311 - April 1882
In the burnt-offering we had the way in which Christ, sin being in the world,, offered Himself without spot to God. Here we have more His perfectness in detail brought down to us.. The priests ate part of the meat offering, they ate nothing of the burnt-offering. We have what Christ was in His perfectness down here, all the characters and traits of that perfectness, but brought to us. The burnt-offering was not brought to us, but was burned entirely before God. Sin was there, atonement made—not sins, but sin—and it was a perfect sweet savour to God. Here it is more the detail of what He was as a man, but burned with fire—the test of His perfectness.
Verse 1. Here I have the general character of the Lord: fine flour, perfect humanity—" this man hath done nothing amiss," as the poor thief said on the cross; then the oil (the Spirit) and frankincense put upon it. Perfect in Himself, without sin, in every sense, He was given the Holy Ghost, sent in bodily shape like a dove, and abiding on Him. He could not join Himself with Israel, for they were sinners and unbelieving but there was a remnant called out of God by the ministry of John the Baptist, and He goes with them in their first right step. When He thus came out publicly, the Holy Ghost came upon Him. He takes His place, in a public way, among this remnant who were going right, under the testimony of John the Baptist; and so, blessed be His Name, He does with us in our first right step. We need redemption to bring us into the place where He stood by reason of His own perfectness. He was sealed with the Holy Ghost; we are sealed because of the blood. The leper was first washed, then sprinkled with blood and then anointed with oil. Christ made the place into which we are brought by redemption. Heaven opened on the Man on earth, upon whom the Holy Ghost descends and abides; and the Father's voice came, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased;" but He must die to bring us into it. The gift of the Holy Ghost was confined to Him until redemption was accomplished. He had to finish the work and take His place on high for us to receive the Holy Spirit.
Here we see the fine flour, and the oil, and the frankincense upon it, the perfect sweet savour of His life to God; the sweet savour, not of the sacrifice, but of all His life, His words and works: a sinless Man, passing through this world, all He said and did was by the Holy Ghost. He was the Anointed Man, which is what the name Messiah or Christ means. "He whom God bath sent speaketh the words of God, for God giveth not the Spirit by measure."
Verse 2. Here we have whet was very sweet as to the path of Christ, in which we have to seek to follow Him. The handful was all burned to God, Christ, looked at as Man, was offered to God;: " the fipur thereof, the oil thereof, and all the frankincense thereof." Here I find the perfectness of Christ in His path—that He never did anything to be seen of men; it all went entirely tip to God. The savour of it was sweet to the priests; but it all was addressed to God. Serving man, the Holy Ghost was in all His ways; but all the effect of the grace that was in Him was in m5 own mint always toward God; even if for man, it was to God., And so with us; nothing should come in, no motive, except what is to God. We see in Ephesians (iv. 82; v. 1, 2) the grace towards man, and the perfectness of man towards God as the, object, "Be ye imitators of trod as dear children." In all our service as following Christ here we get these two principles: our affection, towards God and' our Father,, and the operation of His love in our hearts towards those in need. The more wretched the object of, service in the latter case, the truer the love and the more simply the motive is to God. We may love down and love up; and the more wretched and unworthy the pigeons are, for whom I lay myself out for blessing, tee more grace there is in it. " God commendeth His loge towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." But while this is true, yet as to the stets of my heart, the higher the object the more elevated the affection. With Christ it was perfect., How can' a poor creature like me be an imitator of God? Was not Christ an example, God seen in a men? And we are to "walk in love, as Christ also loved us, and gave Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God," He gave Himself for us, but to God; it was God's grace towards poor wretched sinners.
If we look at ourselves, we shall soon see how motives get mixed up, and things come in, even where there is right true-hearted purpose; and that is where we have to watch. In Christ all was perfect; all, every bit of it, as to spring and motive, was for God's glory in this world. No thought of men, as to pleasing them, but that singleness of eye which looked to God alone, though full of kindness to man—loving down, in that sense, but ever looking up with His God and Father before His eye, which made Him perfect in everything. He was perfect of course, He could .not be anything else.
Now, it is not that the priests could not smell the sweet savour of the sacrifice; but it was not offered to them, it was all burned to God. As regards His own path, not a feeling that was not entirely td God for us, but to God. It was that which was perfectly acceptable to God.
Verse 3. Here is where we are brought, looked at as priests, 'our eye opened. It was the food of the offering of Jehovah, but it is our food too. We must be priests to have it: it is most holy to the Lord. I may see external beauties in Christ, I might write a book on the beautiful traits in His character, but that ‚is not Christ's life. It is an entirely different thing when the priest gets it as God's food. (I am bold to use the word, for scripture does so.) The priests ate it, while as to the frankincense everything was burned wholly to God. In the burnt-offering the priest did not eat anything; it was the absolute offering of Himself to God. There was a sustaining power, a perfectly holy power, and all perfectly acceptable to God but then at the same time, it is what we feed upon as priests. We get oar souls formed into delighting in Christ, by realising in our spirits what God Himself, the Father, takes such delight in: It is a blessed place; we need and have to seek spiritual apprehension to find what it is that makes Christ the delight of the Father—what was the expression of that grace, always well pleasing to Him.
We follow His path in the Gospels, and we see always perfect love-to us poor things, but everything perfectly and absolutely done to the Father. Turn to Matthew xvii. where we have a bright example of the condescending grace with which He associates us with Himself, while showing Himself to be the Son of the Father, in divine knowledge and power. It was just after the trans. figuration, where the heavenly glory of the kingdom was revealed: His ministry as come into the midst of Israel, according to promise, closed, so that He strictly forbad them to say that He was the Christ. But what does He give them instead, if not yet in the glory revealed on the mount? This tribute was not to the heathen emperors, but what had been ordained in Ezra's time for the expenses of the temple services. They come and ask Peter, Does not bin Master pay it '—in fact, was He a good Jew? Peter says, Yes, he does not look farther. But when he comes into the house, the Lord anticipates him. He shows who He is, He knows all divinely, the Son of the great King, Jehovah, and He joins Peter with Himself; children of the great King of the temple. Then He shows His divine power over creation, and makes the fish bring Him the money, even the exact sum,1 and again puts Peter with Himself; "that take and give them for thee and Me." We find the place He took in lowliness down here, but, while taking the low place, bringing us into the high place with Himself. We are changed from glory to glory as we gaze upon Him; but it is the humiliation side, as in Philippians ii., which wins our affections.
Satan sought to take Him out of that absolute singleness of eye, in which He was perfect: "command that these stones be made bread;" but He had no orders to do it, no word out of the mouth of God: that was His manna, and He came as a servant. In Philippians iii. you see the other side—Christ glorified, and Paul running after to win Christ; the energy which hinders other things getting possession of the heart. Bat it is the humiliation side we have here—Christ humbling Himself, making Himself of no reputation, that I may run in the same path and spirit, for the glory of the Father. Was He ever impatient? Did He ever do a single thing for Himself? It was always God His Father, in one sense, His disciples and the poor world, in another. And where the affections are drawn out, it is always on this humbled side. It is touching to go through the Gospels, and to become sufficiently intimate with Christ, to see His motives in everything; yet this is much to say, and requires to life much with Him; but this is blessing. When I hear "thee and Me," what a strange putting together that is! And He does it with us too. Knowing who He is, the Son of the Father down here, He says, "thee and Me." If you get to trace Him through all the path, you never get anything but perfectness.
When I think of the death of Christ, His love to the Father, taking the cup the Father gave Him to drink, I find my delight, my soul bowed down at the thought of all the love and obedience that was in it. And He says, "Therefore doth my Father love Me." It is God's food tool We shall soon see how far He is beyond our thoughts.
Now (ver. 4) we get some details to bring out Christ more perfectly—" Unleavened cakes." The general truth was there before, but here we find no trace or form of sin in Him, nor indeed employment of mere amiability of nature, or what refreshes nature (neither can be in a sacrifice), unleavened cakes with no honey in them. Leaven is not found in an offering except on the day of Pentecost, when we come in; there consequently there is. Those cakes were offered to God, but not burnt on the altar for a sweet savour, and a sin-offering was offered with them. There are two characters here: Christ, looked at as man, was born of the Holy Ghost, no sin in Him; we are born in sin, and get anew nature. But He was personally perfect, no leaven in Him at all. Instead of leaven, it was fine flour mingled with oil—as to His flesh, He was born of the Spirit. Then it is added, "unleavened wafers anointed with oil:" Christ received the Spirit as man, down here, to walk as man, in the power of the Holy Ghost, in obedience; and then, having gone up on high to the Father, He sends the Spirit down upon us. The Father (John xiv.) sends Him, that we may cry Abba; and on the other hand, Christ sends Him from the Father, as the testimony to what He is at the right hand of God. We cannot get the anointing and the seali υg, that is, the Holy Ghost, till we are washed with water and have faith in the efficacy of Christ's blood.
Verse 6. " Thou shalt part it ill pieces;" every bit of Christ (in figure), every word He said, every thing He did, all was perfect, the expression of what was divine in a man down here. Not only did His general life express the fruits of the Spirit, but every word, every work, was all absolutely perfect. Now we nay in a general way walk in the Spirit, but we often fail. But I can follow Him any day, and every day, and find " nothing amiss." It is a wonderful thing to look round this world of sin and wretchedness, and be able to trace one Person everywhere and every when, and find nothing but what was perfect. No matter what it was— obedience, love, grace, firmness—all that came out was the expression of what was perfect in and for the place where He was. Beloved friends, I am sure I trust you do, but I would exhort you, in that way, to feed on Christ; "he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me." In studying Him down here, the soul gets intimate with Him; we feed on that on which God our Father feeds.
Verses 7-9. Here I get another element. When the fire of God's judgment tested Christ, there was only a sweet savour. Now, if we get tested, alas! often the flesh comes out—I do not say always. He got tested by the evil of man, the terribleness of death, the power of Satan, and finally by the judgment of God (the proper meaning of fire as a figure), and nothing came out but what 'vas absolutely a sweet savour. God says He is the elect and precious stone, and to the believer He is precious too!
Verse 11. "Brought to the Lord," that is the point. I must have a Christ, wholly and entirely giving Himself up to God. " Nor any honey." Mere sweetness of nature cannot come in. There are sweet things which God Himself has established; but Christ was entirely outside all these things, not as condemning them; for when His work was over, He could commit His mother to John. There are things which God graciously gives us here, but you cannot offer them as a sacrifice. They are of God in themselves: only sin has come in and spoiled the whole thing. The honey itself was not wrong. The coming of Titus comforted Paul; he got in the conflict, like Jonathan, a little honey on the top of his rod, so to speak. And the comfort was of God, who comforts them that are cast down. The poor 'woman at the well, the thief on the cross, were Christ's comforters. Honey cannot come into the sacrifice: neither the sin of nature, nor mere natural joy, can come into the sacrifice of Christ. The condemning it is all a mistake: Christ carefully maintained what God had originally established. But now we get a drunken husband beating his wife, children who are a torture to their parents, &c; for sin has come in, though the relationships are of God. But when you come to what is for God, there can be no more honey than leaven. .
Verse 13 shows another principle here. I get "salt." which is not sweetness, but complete separation of hear to God—the salt of the covenant of our God. God in sovereign grace has taken me up, and separated me to Himself. It is the positive side, which preserves me for God and with God; and that, beloved friends, is what we are to desire. It is not merely no leaven and no honey; which is the negative side. There is no separation by ourselves in us; we cannot make holiness. It is holiness to the Lord, the heart separated to God in everything; a separation of heart and spirit with no pretension in it; " for ye were bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body." Through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, the everlasting covenant, we are brought to God. Do I go and leave God to go to some vanity?—I do not say sin; nor de I care what it is:—the savour of Christ, of God, is gone! But in Christ, and walking with Him in the heart, I see a man always separated in heart to God: it stamped everything.
It is not that we are to be heroes every day. I may see a person energetic in His service, but it may not come directly from God; it is a totally different thing, as regards our service, when it does. Look at 1 Thessalonians i. 3; Revelation ii. 1, &c. You get here the three things spoken of in 1 Corinthians xiii., faith, hope, love. In 1 Thessalonians i. there is the principle of direct association with God, in each operation of grace, which gives it its power and character. It is work, patience, and labour; work of faith, patience of hope, labour of love. I may go and serve the poor—very right and sweet; but is God's love in it? Patience is a very good thing; but am I waiting for Christ to come? In Revelation ii. there was work and labour and patience; but they had left their first love. The freshness and spring was not as it had been, not coming forth from and in immediate intercourse with God, so as to carry it in the power of God to the person's soul. There should be the salt of the covenant of our God; it is obligatory to have our service right through sovereign grace; always serving in immediate intercourse with God. It is not merely that there is no sin, leaven, or honey, but positive spiritual energy that associates my heart with God in all that I do. Only remember, that with us there is no holiness without an object, "changed into the same image from glory to glory." We cannot hare holiness in ourselves; that is God's prerogative. We cannot do without that which is perfectly blessed before us. Only God has so bound us up with Christ, that while He is the power of the life in which we walk in it, He is the expression of that divine life in a man down here; and, beholding Him in glory, we are delivered from the motives which would have hindered our walking thus, and furnished with those which form us into His likeness.
Verse 14. Here we see Christ as the first-fruits to God. But there is another thing: He has been in the fire. All this blessed grace in His life has been fully and perfectly tried, even to death and judgment—not looking at Christ's death as atonement, but looking at Him in His trials to see whether nothing but a sweet savour would come out. The only time when He asked that the cup might pass from Him, it was piety. When it was the terrible cup of God's wrath, He could not go through it without feeling what it was; it was piety which shrank from the forsaking of God, it was the thing that tested His obedience absolutely. He had been tried by man's hatred, by Satan's power in death and the terror of judgment; but it was a very different thing, when He had to drink that cup, the Holy One of God to be made sin and be before God as such—the One eternally in the bosom of the Father having to say, "My God, my God, why hest Thou forsaken Me? " Bet here was His perfectness: " The cup that my Father hath given me shall I not drink it? " He was tested, and was always perfect. Supposing it had been possible He had not gone on, it would have shown all His obedience to be imperfect, that, when perfectly tested, it would not stand. But there was not a single thing but His own absolute divine pefectness that stood! His disciples forsook Him; all else were against Him; and when He turned to God, it was, "Why hast Thou forsaken Me?" There was absolute testing, and He went through the fire as a sweet savour. "Therefore Both. My Father love Me." Sin, death had come in, Satan's power; and He goes through it all in the power of absolute obedience and love to His lather—the testing to the end. There is the perfection of the thing which we have seen; perfect in its origin, perfect as sealed by the Holy Ghost, and now perfect when tested to the utmost, obedient unto death. Therefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a Name which is above every name. He has gone back there as Man in virtue of what He was down here.
And here, beloved brethren, is what we have got to think of: all Christ's perfectness in His life, and on the other side, perfectness according to the covenant of salt in His death. Not then saying, "I know that Thou hearest me always," but, though doing that which perfectly pleased the Father, of which He could say, "Therefore doth my Father love me," yet as to relief and comfort at the time, none from man, could be none from Satan—none from God! The basis of eternal blessing was laid then according to the glory of God.
I have got Him, in all His life through as the meat-offering, to feed upon, study, get acquainted with—to feed upon that which was perfectly offered to God.
The Lord only give us to do it, and then, when we meet Him, it will be joy.
1) The word translated "piece of money" is Stater, just two. Didrachmas (the name of the coin due for one also found here).