Grain Offerings (Leviticus 2)
The King James Version of the Bible labels these as "meat" offerings. However, this Elizabethan English word simply means "food." Sometimes also called "meal" offerings, they consisted of grain. This all makes sense when we consider that man's most consistent source of sustenance, the "staff of life," has been bread. In this symbolism, we may perhaps observe that the grain offering symbolized worship of God through providing for fellow man. Christ has done this perfectly as the "bread of life" that came down from heaven, which we are to eat of as our food (see John 6; Matthew 4:4). Indeed, this offering provided a major portion of the food for God's priests. It was not wholly burned upon the altar as the burnt offering was. For rather than symbolizing total devotion to God, it, again, included the service of fellow man as part of that devotion. And yet, though it was not wholly burnt, it was totally consumedby the fire of God as well as by the priestswith nothing left for the offerer. The offerer, as in the burnt offering, was to give of himself completely.
Let us examine, then, some of the ingredients of the grain offering. First is flour. "Bread flour must be ground" (Isaiah 28:28)or "bruised," as the King James has it. "Christ our staff of life is here represented as the bruised One. The emblem, [grain] ground to powder, is one of the deepest suffering.... The thought is one of bruising and grinding; of pressing, wearing trial. Jesus was not only tried by 'fire'; God's holiness was not the only thing that consumed Him. In meeting the wants of man, His blessed soul was grieved, and pressed and bruised continually. And the bruising here was from those to whom He was ministering, for whom He daily gave Himself" (Jukes, p. 80). And, of course, there was His actual physical bruising as a service to mankind. "And what a lesson is there here for the believer who wishes to give himself in service to his brethren! [to be a food offering!] This scripture, as in fact all Scripture, testifies that service is self-surrender, self-sacrifice. Christ, to satisfy others, was broken: and bread [grain] must still be bruised: and the nearer our ministry approaches the measure of His ministryimmeasurably far as we shall ever be behind Himthe more we shall resemble Him, the bruised, the oppressed, the broken One" (p. 83). Jukes also brings out the fact that fine flour, as it was supposed to be, has no unevennessjust as with Christ, who was consistent in being fully godly in all areas.
He goes on to explain the oil in the grain offering as symbolic of God's Holy Spirit, which, in the burnt offering, was represented as water (Leviticus 1:9). "The third ingredient of the [Grain]-offering is frankincense'he shall put frankincense thereon'; in connexion with which, and yet in contrast, it is commanded'ye shall burn no honey unto the Lord.' These emblems, like all the others, are at once simple yet most significant. Frankincense is the most precious of perfumes, of enduring and delightful fragrance: fit emblem of the sweetness and fragrance of the offering of our blessed Lord. Honey, on the other hand, though sweet, is corruptible; soon fermented, and easily turned sour. In frankincense the full fragrance is not brought out until the perfume is submitted to the action of fire. In honey it is just the reverse; the heat ferments and spoils it. The bearing of this on the offering of Jesus is too obvious to comment. The fire of God's holiness tried Him, but all was precious fragrance. The holiness of God only brought out graces which would have escaped our notice had He never suffered. Yea, much of the precious odour of His offering was the very result of His fiery trial" (p. 88).
The fourth and last ingredient of the grain offering was saltin contrast to leaven, which was forbidden to be offered on the altar. "The import of these emblems is obvious: the one positively, the other negatively.... 'Salt,' the well-known preservative against corruption, is the emblem of perpetuity and incorruptness; while 'leaven,' on the other hand, composed of sour and corrupting dough, is the as well-known emblem of corruption" (pp. 89-90). A case in which leaven could be offered was that of the "offering of the firstfruits" (2:12)that is, in the leavened loaves offered at Pentecost (23:15-21). But it could not be burned on the altar for a sweet aroma (2:12). These leavened loaves represented the Church, still beset with sin (compare 1 John 1:8-10) yet finding acceptance through Christ's sacrifice and His living within its members. Just as Christ did, we are to offer ourselves as food for the world around usserving our fellow man as an offering to God (compare Matthew 25:31-46).
Also, the sacrifice mentioned in Leviticus 7:13, which is called, "the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offering" was made with leaven. Here again, this sacrifice was not burned on the altar.