There were some meat-offerings that were only appendices to the burnt-offerings, as that which was offered with the daily sacrifice (Exod. 29:38, 39) and with the peace-offerings; these had drink-offerings joined with them (see Num. 15:4, 7, 9, 10), and in these the quantity was appointed. But the law of this chapter concerns those meat-offerings that were offered by themselves, whenever a man saw cause thus to express his devotion. The first offering we read of in scripture was of this kind (Gen. 4:3): Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering.
I. This sort of offerings was appointed, 1. In condescension to the poor, and their ability, that those who themselves lived only upon bread and cakes might offer an acceptable offering to God out of that which was their own coarse and homely fare, and by making for God’s altar, as the widow of Sarepta for his prophet, a little cake first, might procure such a blessing upon the handful of meal in the barrel, and the oil in the cruse, as that it should not fail. 2. As a proper acknowledgment of the mercy of God to them in their food. This was like a quitrent, by which they testified their dependence upon God, their thankfulness to him, and their expectations from him as their owner and bountiful benefactor, who giveth to all life, and breath, and food convenient. Thus must they honour the Lord with their substance, and, in token of their eating and drinking to his glory, must consecrate some of their meat and drink to his immediate service. Those that now, with a grateful charitable heart, deal out their bread to the hungry, and provide for the necessities of those that are destitute of daily food, and when they eat the fat and drink the sweet themselves send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared, offer unto God an acceptable meat-offering. The prophet laments it as one of the direful effects of famine that thereby the meat-offering and drink-offering were cut off from the house of the Lord (Joel 1:9), and reckoned it the greatest blessing of plenty that it would be the revival of them, Joel 2:14.
II. The laws of the meat-offerings were these:—1. The ingredients must always be fine flour and oil, two staple commodities of the land of Canaan, Deut. 8:8. Oil was to them then in their food what butter is now to us. If it was undressed, the oil must be poured upon the flour (Lev. 2:1); if cooked, it must be mingled with the flour, Lev. 2:4 2. If it was flour unbaked, besides the oil it must have frankincense put upon it, which was to be burnt with it (Lev. 2:1, 2), for the perfuming of the altar; in allusion to this, gospel ministers are said to be a sweet savour unto God, 2 Cor. 2:15. 3. If it was prepared, this might be done in various ways; the offerer might bake it, or fry it, or mix the flour and oil upon a plate, for the doing of which conveniences were provided about the tabernacle. The law was very exact even about those offerings that were least costly, to intimate the cognizance God takes of the religious services performed with a devout mind, even by the poor of his people. 4. It was to be presented by the offerer to the priest, which is called bringing it to the Lord (Lev. 2:8), for the priests were God’s receivers, and were ordained to offer gifts. 5. Part of it was to be burnt upon the altar, for a memorial, that is, in token of their mindfulness of God’s bounty to them, in giving them all things richly to enjoy. It was an offering made by fire, Lev. 2:2, 9. The consuming of it by fire might remind them that they deserved to have all the fruits of the earth thus burnt up, and that it was of the Lord’s mercies that they were not. They might also learn that as meats are for the belly, and the belly for meats, so God shall destroy both it and them (1 Cor. 6:13), and that man lives not by bread alone. This offering made by fire is here said to be of a sweet savour unto the Lord; and so are our spiritual offerings, which are made by the fire of holy love, particularly that of almsgiving, which is said to be an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God (Phil. 4:18), and with such sacrifices God is well pleased, Heb. 13:16. 6. The remainder of the meat-offering was to be given to the priests, Lev. 2:3, 10. It is a thing most holy, not to be eaten by the offerers, as the peace-offerings (which, though holy, were not most holy), but by the priests only, and their families. Thus God provided that those who served at the altar should live upon the altar, and live comfortably.