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Chapters 8 and 9
Chapters 13 and 14
Chapters 19 and 20
Chapters 21 and 22
The humanity of Christ contrasted with ours
I now turn to the meat-offering. This presents to us the
humanity of Christ; His grace and perfectness as a living man,
but still as offered to God and fully tested. It was of fine
flour without leaven, mingled with oil and frankincense. The oil
was used in two ways; it was mingled with the flour, and the cake
was anointed with it. The presenting (Christ's presenting Himself
as an offering to God) even unto death, and His actually
undergoing death, and shedding blood,* must have come first;
for, without the perfectness of this will even unto death, and
that shedding of blood by which God was perfectly glorified where
sin was, nothing could have been accepted; yet Christ's
perfectness as a man down here had to be proved, and that by the
test of death and the fire of God. But the atoning work being
wrought, and His obedience perfect from the beginning (He came to
do His Father's will), all the life was perfect and acceptable as
man, a sweet savour under the trial of God — His nature as man.** Abel was accepted by blood; Cain, who came in the way of
nature, offering the fruit of his toil and labour, was
rejected. All that we can offer of our natural hearts is "the
sacrifice of fools," and is founded on what is failure in the
spring of any good, on the sin of hardness of heart, which does
not recognise our condition — our sin and estrangement from our
God. What could be a greater evidence of hardness of heart than,
under the effects and consequences of sin, driven from Eden, to
come and offer offerings, and these offerings the fruit of the
judicial toil of the curse consequent on sin, as if nothing at
all had happened? It was the perfection of blind hardness of
Man's will and Christ's perfect obedience to His Father's will
But, on the other hand, as Adam's first act, when in blessing, was to seek his own will (and hence by disobedience he was, with his posterity such as he, in this world of misery, alienated from God in state and will), Christ was in this world of misery, devoting Himself in love, devoting Himself to do His Father's will. He came here emptying Himself. He came here by an act of devotedness to His Father, at all cost to Himself, that God might be glorified. He was in the world, the obedient man, whose will was to do His Father's will, the first grand act and source of all human obedience, and of divine glory by it. This will of obedience and devotedness to His Father's glory, stamped a sweet savour on all that He did: all He did partook of this fragrance.
It is impossible to read John's,* or indeed any of the
Gospels, where what He was, His Person, specially shines forth,
without meeting, at every moment, this blessed fragrance of loving
obedience and self-renouncement. It is not a history — it is
Himself, whom one cannot avoid seeing, — and also the wickedness of
man, which violently forced its way through the coverture and holy
hiding-place which love had wrought around Him, and forced into view
Him who was clothed with humility — the divine Person that passed
in meekness through the world that rejected Him: but it was only to
give all its force and blessedness to the self-abasement, which
never faltered, even when forced to confess His divinity. It was "I
am," but in the lowliness and loneliness, of the most perfect and
self-abased obedience; no secret desire to hold His place in His
humiliation, and by His humiliation: His Father's glory was the
perfect desire of His heart. It was, indeed, "I am" that was there,
but in the perfectness of human obedience. This reveals itself
everywhere. "It is written," was His reply to the enemy, "Man shall
not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of
the mouth of God." "It is written" was His constant reply. "Suffer
it thus far," says He to John the Baptist, "thus it becometh us to
fulfil all righteousness." "That give," says He to Peter, though
the children be free, "for me and for thee." This
historically. In John, where, as we have said, His Person shines
more forth, it is more directly expressed by His mouth: "This
commandment have I received of my Father," "and I know that his
commandment is life eternal." "As the Father has given me
commandment, so I do." "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what
he sees the Father do." "I have kept," says He, "my Father's
commandments, and abide in his love." "If a man walk in the day, he
The Lord's blessed humiliation revealing Him as God's Son
Many of these citations are on occasions where the careful eye sees through the blessed humiliation of the Lord, the divine nature — God — the Son, only more bright and blessed, because thus hidden; as the sun, on which man's eyes cannot gaze, proves the power of its rays in giving full light through the clouds which hide and soften its power. If God humbles Himself, He still is God; it is always He who does it. "He could not be hid." This absolute obedience gave perfect grace and savour to all He did. He appeared ever as one sent. He sought the glory of the Father that sent Him. He saved whoever came to Him, because He came not to do His own will, but the will of Him that sent Him: and as they would not come without the Father's drawing, their coming was His warrant for saving them, for He was to do implicitly the Father's will. But what a spirit of obedience is here! He saves whom? whomsoever the Father gives Him — the servant of His will. Does He promise glory? "It is not mine to give, but to those for whom it is prepared of my Father." He must reward according to the Father's will. He is nothing, but to do all, to accomplish all, His Father pleased. But who could have done this, save He who could, and He who at the same time would, in such obedience, undertake to do whatever the Father would have done? The infiniteness of the work, and capacity for it, identify themselves with the perfectness of obedience, which had no will but to do that of another. Yet was He a simple, humble, lowly man, but God's Son, in whom the Father was well pleased.
The fine flour of the meat-offering, the perfect, equal and even humanity of Jesus
Let us now see the fitting of this humanity in grace for this work. This meat-offering of God, taken from the fruit of the earth, was of the finest wheat; that which was pure, separate, and lovely in human nature was in Jesus under all its sorrows, but in all its excellence, and excellent in its sorrows. There was no unevenness in Jesus, no predominant quality to produce the effect of giving Him a distinctive character. He was, though despised and rejected of men, the perfection of human nature. The sensibilities, firmness, decision (though this attached itself also to the principle of obedience), elevation, and calm meekness which belong to human nature, all found their perfect place in Him. In a Paul I find energy and zeal; in a Peter ardent affection; in a John tender sensibilities and abstraction of thought united to a desire to vindicate what he loved, which scarce knew limit. But the quality we have observed in Peter predominates, and characterises him. In a Paul, blessed servant though he was, he does not repent, though he had repented. He had no rest in his spirit when he found not Titus, his brother. He goes off to Macedonia, though a door was opened in Troas. He wist not that it was the high priest. He is compelled to glory of himself. In him, in whom God was mighty towards the circumcision, we find the fear of man break through the faithfulness of his zeal. John, who would have vindicated Jesus in his zeal, knew not what manner of spirit he was of, and would have forbidden the glory of God, if a man walked not with them. Such were Paul, and Peter, and John.
But in Jesus, even as man, there was none of this unevenness. There was nothing salient in His character, because all was in perfect subjection to God in His humanity, and had its place, and did exactly its service, and then disappeared. God was glorified in it, and all was in harmony. When meekness became Him, He was meek; when indignation, who could stand before His overwhelming and withering rebuke? Tender to the chief of sinners in the time of grace; unmoved by the heartless superiority of a cold Pharisee (curious to judge who He was); when the time of judgment is come, no tears of those who wept for Him moved Him to other words than, "Weep for yourselves and your children," — words of deep compassion, but of deep subjection to the due judgment of God. The dry tree prepared itself to be burned. On the cross, when His service was finished, tender to His mother, and entrusting her, in human care, to one who, so to speak, had been His friend, and leant on His bosom; no ear to recognise her word or claim when His service occupied Him for God; putting both blessedly in their place when He would shew that before His public mission He was still the Son of the Father, and though such, in human blessedness, subject to the mother that bare Him, and Joseph His father as under the law; a calmness which disconcerted His adversaries; and, in the moral power which dismayed them by times, a meekness which drew out the hearts of all not steeled by wilful opposition. What keenness of edge to separate between the evil and the good!
Jesus' perfect humanity judging all that it found in man
True, the power of the Spirit did this afterwards in calling men out together in open confession, but the character and Person of Jesus did it morally. There was a vast work done (I speak not of expiation) by Him, who, as to outward result, laboured in vain. Wherever there was an ear to hear, the voice of God spoke, by what Jesus was as a man, to the heart and conscience of His sheep. He came in by the door, and the porter opened, and the sheep heard His voice. The perfect humanity of Jesus, expressed in all His ways, and penetrating by the will of God, judged all that it found in man and in every heart. But this blessed subject has carried us beyond our direct object.
In a word, then, His humanity was perfect, all subject to God, all in immediate answer to His will, and the expression of it, and so necessarily in harmony. The hand that struck the chord found all in tune: all answered to the mind of Him whose thoughts of grace and holiness, of goodness, yet of judgment of evil, whose fulness of blessing in goodness were sounds of sweetness to every weary ear, and found in Christ their only expression. Every element, every faculty in His humanity, responded to the impulse which the divine will gave to it, and then ceased in a tranquillity in which self had no place. Such was Christ in human nature. While firm where need demanded, meekness was what essentially characterised Him as to contrast with others, because He was in the presence of God, His God, and all that in the midst of evil, — His voice was not heard in the street, — for joy can break forth in louder strains when all shall echo, "Praise his name, his glory."
The unleavened cakes, a sweet savour to God
But this faultlessness of the human nature of our Lord attaches itself to deeper and more important sources, which are presented to us in this type negatively and positively. If every faculty thus obeyed and were the instrument of the divine impulse in its place, it is evident that the will must be right — that the spirit and principle of obedience must be its spring; for it is the action of an independent will which is the principle of sin. Christ, as a divine Person, had the title of an independent will. "The Son quickens whom he will;" but He came to do His Father's will. His will was obedience, sinless therefore, and perfect. Leaven, in the word, is the symbol of corruption — "the leaven of malice and wickedness." In the cake, therefore, which was to be offered as a sweet savour to God, there was no leaven: where leaven was, it could not be offered as a sweet savour to God. This is thrown into relief by the converse: there were cakes made with leaven, and it was forbidden to offer them as sweet savour, an offering made by fire. This occurred in two cases, one of which, the most important and significative, and sufficing to establish the principle, is noticed in this chapter.
The cakes baked with leaven required a sin-offering
When the firstfruits were offered, two cakes were offered baked with leaven, but not for an offering for a sweet savour. Burnt-offerings and meat-offerings were also offered, and for a sweet savour; but the offering of the firstfruits — not (see verse 12 of this chapter, and Lev. 23). And what were these firstfruits? The church, sanctified by the Holy Ghost. For this feast and offering of the firstfruits was the acknowledged and known type of the day of Pentecost — in fact was the day of Pentecost. We are, says the Apostle James, a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. It will be seen (Lev. 23) that, the day of Christ's resurrection, the first of the fruits was offered, ears of corn unbroken, unbruised. Clearly there was no leaven there. He rose, too, without seeing corruption. With this no sin-offering was offered, but with the leavened cakes (which represented the assembly sanctified by the Holy Ghost to God, but still living in corrupted human nature) a sin-offering was offered; for the sacrifice of Christ for us, answered for and puts away in God's sight the leaven of our corrupted nature, overcome (but not ceasing to exist) by the operation of the Holy Ghost; by reason of which nature, in itself corrupt, we could not, in the trial of God's judgment, be a sweet savour, an offering made by fire; but, by means of Christ's sacrifice, which met and answered the evil, could be offered to God, as is said in Romans, a living sacrifice. Hence it is said, not merely that Christ has answered for our sins, but that "what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh." God has condemned sin in the flesh, but it was in Christ as for, that is as a sacrifice for, sin, making atonement, undergoing the judgment due to it, being made sin for us because of it, but dying in doing so, so that we reckon ourselves dead. The condemnation of the sin is passed in His death, but death to it is therein come to us.
It is important for a troubled but tender and faithful
conscience to remember that Christ has died, not merely for our sins,* but for our sin; for surely this troubles a faithful
conscience much more than many sins past.
As the cakes then, which represent the church, were baked with leaven, and could not be offered for a sweet savour, so the cake, which represented Christ, was without leaven, a sweet savour, and offering made by fire unto Jehovah. The trial of the Lord's judgment found a perfect will, and the absence of all evil, or spirit of independence. It was "thy will be done" which characterised the human nature of the Lord, filled with and animated by the fulness of the Godhead, but the man Jesus, the offering of God.
Leavened cakes in the peace-offering the ordained symbol of what is ever in man
There is another example of the converse of this which I may notice in passing — the peace-offerings. There Christ had His part, man also. Hence in this were found cakes made with leaven along with the others which were without it. That offering, which represented the communion of the assembly connected with the sacrifice of Christ, necessarily brought in man, and the leaven was there — ordained symbol of that leaven which is ever found in us. The assembly is called to holiness; the life of Christ in us is holiness to the Lord; but it remains ever true that in us, that is, in our flesh, dwells no good thing.
The cake to be mingled with oil, symbol of the purity of the Spirit
This leads us to another great principle presented to us in
this type: namely, the cake was to be mingled with oil. That which
is born of the flesh is flesh; and in ourselves, born simply of the
flesh, we are naturally nothing but corrupted and fallen flesh — "of the will of the flesh." Though we are born of the Spirit of God,
this does not uncreate the old nature. It may attenuate to any
conceivable degree its active force, and control altogether its
operations;* but the nature remains unchanged. The nature of
Paul was as disposed to be puffed up when he had been in the third
heaven, as when he had the letter of the chief priest in his robe to
destroy the name of Christ if he could. I do not say the disposition
had the same power, but the disposition was as bad or worse, for it
was in the presence of greater good.
But the will of the flesh had no part whatever in the birth of Christ. His human nature flowed as simply from the divine will as the presence of the divine upon earth. Mary, bowing in single-eyed and exquisite obedience, displays with touching beauty the submission and bowing of her heart and understanding to the revelation of God. "Behold the handmaid of the Lord [Jehovah], be it unto me according to thy word." He knew no sin; His human nature itself was conceived of the Holy Ghost. That holy thing which was born of the virgin was to be called the Son of God. He was truly and thoroughly man, born of Mary, but He was man born of God. So I see this title, Son of God, applied to the three several estates of Christ: Son of God, Creator, in Colossians, in Hebrews, and in other passages which allude to it; Son of God, as born in the world; and declared Son of God with power as risen again from the dead.
The cake anointed with oil, the power of the Spirit
The cake* was made mingled with oil, just as the human nature
of Christ had its being and character, its taste, from the Holy Ghost,
of which oil is ever and the known symbol. But purity is not power,
and it is in another form that spiritual power, acting in the human
nature of Jesus, is expressed.
The cakes were to be anointed with oil; and it is written how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power, who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil. It was not that anything was wanting in Jesus. In the first place, as God, He could have done all things, but He had humbled Himself, and was come to obey. Hence, only when called and anointed, He presents Himself in public, although His interview with the doctors in the temple shewed His relation with the Father from the beginning.
The difference between new birth and the Spirit's anointing and sealing
There is a certain analogy in our case. It is a different thing
to be born of God, and sealed and anointed with the Holy Ghost. The
day of Pentecost, Cornelius, the believers of Samaria on whom the
apostle laid their hands — all prove this, as also many passages on
the subject. We are all "the sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus."
But "because ye are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son
into your hearts." "In whom also, after that ye believed, ye were
sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our
inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession." "This
spake he," says John, "of the Spirit, which they that believe on him
should receive." The Holy Ghost may have produced, by a new nature,
holy desires, and the love of Jesus, without the consciousness of
deliverance and power — the joy of His presence in the knowledge of
the finished work of Christ. As to the Lord Jesus, we know that this
second act, of anointing, was accomplished in connection with the
perfectness of His Person, as it could, because He was righteous in
Himself, when, after His baptism by John (in which He who knew no sin
placed Himself with His people, then the remnant of Israel, in the
first movement of grace in their hearts, shewn in going to John, to be
with them in all the path of that grace from beginning to end, its
trials and its sorrows), He, sinless, was anointed by the Holy Ghost,
descending in a bodily shape like a dove, and was led of the Spirit
into the conflict for us, and returned conqueror in its power, in the
power of the Spirit, into Galilee. I say conqueror in its power; for
if Jesus had repulsed Satan simply by divine power as such, firstly,
there evidently could have been no conflict; and secondly, no example
or encouragement for us. But the Lord repulsed him by a principle
which is our duty every day — obedience, intelligent obedience;
employing the word of God, and repulsing Satan with indignation the
moment he openly shews himself such.* If Christ entered into His
course with the testimony and joy of a Son, He entered into a course
of conflict and obedience (He might bind the strong man, but He had
the strong man to bind).
So we. Joy, deliverance, love, abounding peace, the Spirit of sonship, the Father known as accepting us: such is the entrance to the christian course, but the course we enter on is conflict and obedience: leave the latter, and we fail in the former. Satan's effort was to separate these in Jesus. If Thou be the Son, use Thy power — make stones into bread — act by Thine own will. The answer of Jesus is, in sense, I am in the place of obedience — of servitude; I have no command. It is written, Man shall live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. I rest in My state of dependence.
The power of the Spirit used by Jesus to display more perfect service
It was power, then, but power used in the state and in the accomplishment of obedience. The only act of disobedience which Adam could commit he did commit; but He, who could have done all things as to power, only used His power to display more perfect service, more perfect subjection. How blessed is the picture of the Lord's ways! and that, in the midst of the sorrows, and enduring the consequences of the disobedience, of man, of the nature He had taken in everything save sin. "For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, [seeing the state we are in,] in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings."
Jesus, then, was in the power of the Spirit in conflict. Jesus was in the power of the Spirit in obedience. Jesus was in the power of the Spirit in casting out devils, and bearing all our infirmities. Jesus was also in the power of the Spirit in offering Himself without spot to God; but this belonged rather to the burnt-offering. In what He did do, and in what He did not do, He acted by the energy of the Spirit of God. Hence it is that He presents an example to us, followed with mingled energies, but by a power by which we may do greater things, if it be His will, than He — not be more perfect, but do greater things; and morally, as the apostle tells us, all things. On earth He was absolutely perfect in obedience, but by that itself He did not, and, in the moral sense, could not, do many things, which He can do, and manifest now, by His apostles and servants. For, exalted at the right hand of God, He was to manifest, even as man, power, not obedience; "Greater things than these shall ye do, because I go to my Father."
The Christian place of obedience as servants to Christ
This puts us in the place of obedience, for by the power of the Spirit we are servants to Christ — diversities of ministrations, but the same Lord. Hence greater works were done by the apostles, but mingled in their personal walk with all sorts of imperfections. With whom did Jesus contend, even if He was in the right? before whom manifest the fear of man? when did He repent of an act which He had done, even if afterwards there was no reason for repentance? No! there was a greater exercise of power in apostolic service, as Jesus had promised; but in vessels whose weakness shewed all the praise to be of Another, and whose obedience was carried on in conflict with another will in themselves. This was the great distinction. Jesus had never need of a thorn in the flesh, lest He should be exalted above measure. Blessed Master! Thou didst speak that Thou knewest, and testifiedst that Thou hadst seen; but to do so Thou hadst emptied, humbled Thyself, made Thyself of no reputation, and taken the form of a servant, in order to our being exalted by it.
The height, the consciousness of the height, from which He came down, the perfectness of the will in which He obeyed where He was, made no exaltation needed to Him. Yet He looked on the joy that was set before Him, and was not ashamed, for He was humbled even to this, to rejoice in having respect to the recompense of reward. And He has been highly exalted. "Because of the savour of thy good ointments, thy name is as ointment poured forth." For there was yet besides, in the meat-offering, the frankincense — the savour of all Christ's graces.
How much of our graces is presented to the acceptance of man, and consequently the flesh often mistaken for grace, or mixed with it, being judged of according to the judgment of man! But in Jesus all His graces were presented to God. True, man could, or ought to have discerned them as the odour of the frankincense, diffusing itself around, where all was burnt to God; but it was all burnt as a sweet savour to God. And this is perfection.
How few so present their charity to God, and bring God into their charity, exercising it for and towards Him, though in behalf of man, so that they persevere nothing the less in its exercise, though the more they love, the less they be loved! it is for God's sake. So far as this is the case, it is indeed a sweet odour to God; but this is difficult: we must be much before God. This was perfectly the case with Christ; the more faithful He was, the more despised and opposed; the more meek, the less esteemed. But all this altered nothing, because He did all to God alone: with the multitude, with His disciples, or before His unjust judges, nothing altered the perfectness of His ways, because in all the circumstances all was done to God. The incense of His service and His heart, of His affections, went ever and always up, and referred themselves to God; and surely abundant frankincense, and sweet its odour, in the life of Jesus. The Lord smelled a sweet savour, and blessing flowed forth, and not the curse, for us. This was added to the meat-offering, for in truth it was in effect produced in His life by the Spirit, but always this frankincense ascended; so of His intercession, for it was the expression of His gracious love. His prayers, as the holy expression of dependence, infinitely precious and attractive to God, were all sweet odour, as frankincense, before Him. "The house was filled with the odour of the ointment." And just as sin is taking self instead of God, this was taking God instead of self, and this is perfection. And it is power too, because then circumstances have no power over self And this is perfection in going through the world. Jesus was always Himself in all circumstances; yet for that very reason we feel them all according to God — not self. We may add, too, as Satan led to one and so slavery to him, so the other is in the power and leading of the Holy Ghost.
Honey forbidden in the sacrifice
There was yet another thing forbidden, as well as leaven, in the
sacrifice — namely, honey, that which was most sweet to the natural
taste, as the affections of those we love after the flesh, happy
associations, and the like. It is not that these were evil. "Hast thou
found honey?" says the wise man, "eat so much as is sufficient, lest
thou be filled therewith, and vomit it." When Jonathan took a little
he had found in the wood, in the day of service and the energy of
faith for Israel, his eyes were lightened. But it cannot enter into a
sacrifice. He who could say, "Mother, behold thy son," and "Son,
behold thy mother," even in the terrible moment of the cross, when His
service was finished, could also say, "Woman, what have I to do with
thee?"* when He was in the simplest accomplishment of His
service. He was a stranger to His own mother's sons, as Levi, in the
blessing of Moses, the man of God — Levi, who was offered as an
offering to God of the people (Num. 8:11), "who said unto his father
and his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his
brethren, nor knew his own children: for they have observed thy word,
and kept thy covenant."
Christ the food of the priests of God
Yet another thing remains to be observed. In the burnt-offering all was burnt to God, for Christ offered Himself wholly up to God. But the human nature of Christ is the food of the priests of God; Aaron and his sons were to eat what was not burned in the fire, of the meat-offering. Christ was the true bread, come down from heaven, to give life unto the world, that we (through faith, priests and kings) may eat thereof and not die. It was holy, for Aaron and his sons alone to eat; for who indeed ever fed on Christ but those who, sanctified by the Holy Ghost, live the life of faith, and feed on the food of faith? And is not Christ the food of our souls, as sanctified to God, yea, sanctifying us also ever to God? Do not our souls recognise in the meek and humble holy One — in Him who shines as the light of human perfectness and divine grace amongst sinful men — what feeds, nourishes, and sanctifies? Cannot our souls feel what it is to be offered to God, in tracing, by the sympathy of the Spirit of Jesus in us, the life of Jesus toward God, and before men in the world? An example to us, He presents the impress of a man living to God, and draws us after Him, and that by the attraction of what He was — Himself the force which carries on in the way He trod, while our delight and joy are in it. Are not our affections occupied and assimilated in dwelling with delight on what Jesus was here below? We admire, are humbled, and become conformed to Him through grace. Head and source of this life in us, the display of its perfection in Him draws forth and develops its energies and lowliness in us. For who could be proud in fellowship with the humble Jesus? Humble, He would teach us to take the lowest place, but that He had taken it Himself, the privilege of His perfect grace. Blessed Master, may we at least be near to and hidden in Thee!
Difference between eating of the meat- and peace-offerings
This is true, but there is a difference to be made here. In the peace-offerings there was also an eating of the Hesh of the sacrifice besides what the priests had. Those who ate were Israelites and clean, and they ate together as a convivial feast. There was a common enjoyment, fellowship, founded on the offering of the blood and of the fat to God, that is of Christ as offered to God in death for us — the sin-offerings are assimilated in this last (Lev. 4:10, 26, 31, 35), and the partaking of those who partook of the feast was carefully connected with this. This was common and just joy, thanksgiving for blessings, or voluntarily as rejoicing in the Lord's blessing, it was "Shalom," and was fellowship in it, the fruit of redemption and grace. The case of the meat-offering was that of one, himself consecrated to God, entering into and feeding on the perfectness of Christ Himself as offering Himself to God. The priests alone ate of it as such.
The salt of the covenant of God
How vast too the grace which has introduced us into this intimateness of communion, has made us priests in the power of quickening grace, to partake of that in which God our Father delights; that which is offered to Him as a sweet savour, an offering made by fire to Jehovah; that with which the table of God is supplied! This is sealed by covenant as a perpetual, an eternal, portion. Hence the salt of the covenant of our God was not wanting in the sacrifice, in any sacrifice; the stability, the durability, the preservative energy of that which was divine, not always perhaps to us sweet and agreeable, was there — the seal, on the part of God, that it was no passing savour, no momentary delight, but eternal. For all that is of man passes; all that is of God is eternal; the life, the charity, the nature, and the grace continues. This holy separating power, which keeps us apart from corruption, is of God, partaking of the stability of the divine nature, and binding unto Him, not by what we are in will, but by the security of divine grace. It is active, pure, sanctifying to us, but it is of grace, and the energy of the divine will, and the obligation of the divine promise binds us indeed to Him, but binds by His energy and fidelity, not ours — energy which is mingled with and founded on the sacrifice of Christ, in which the covenant of God is sealed and assured infallibly, or Christ is not honoured. It is the covenant of God. Leaven and honey, our sin and natural affections, cannot find a place in the sacrifice of God, but the energy of His grace (not sparing the evil, but securing the good) is there to seal our infallible enjoyment of its effects and fruits. Salt did not form the offering, but it was never to be wanting in any — could not be in what was of God; it was indeed in every offering.
The essential characterisitic and the substance and essence of the meat-offering
We must remember in this offering, as in the former, that the
essential characteristic, common indeed to all, was its being
offered to God. This could not be said of Adam: in his innocence
he enjoyed much from God; he returned, or should have returned,
thankfulness for it; but it was enjoyment and thankfulness. He
was not himself an offering to God. But this was the essence of
Christ's life — it was offered to God; and hence separated from
all around it, essentially separated.* He was holy,
therefore, and not merely innocent: for innocence is the absence
of — ignorance of — evil, not separation from it. God (who
knows good and evil, but is infinitely above and separated from
the evil, as it is opposite to Him) is holy. Christ was holy, and
not merely innocent, being consecrated in all His will to God,
and separate from the evil, and living in the energy of the
Spirit of God. Also, as offered, the essence of the offering was
the fine flour, oil, and frankincense, representing human nature,
the Holy Ghost, and the perfume of grace. Negatively there was to
be no leaven or honey: so, as to the manner, there was the
mingling with oil and the anointing with oil; also, for every
sacrifice, the salt of the covenant of God: here noticed, because
in what concerned the grace of His human nature, what concerned
man (a man offering Himself to God — not as dying, but as
living, though tested even to death), it might have been supposed
to be wanting, that it was as man's act just as good. But its
being offered on the altar to God, burned as a sweet savour, and
the three things first named, formed the substance and essence of
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