Leviticus 6: 14-18
The Priest's Place and Portion
These verses show us three things in connection with “the law of the meat offering” — the priest, his place and his portion.
1. The priest. All the sons of Aaron were priests. They became such by birth. They were born into this highly-privileged position. They did not reach it by effort, but simply by birth. Being sons of Aaron, they were priests. They might be disqualified for the discharge of the functions of their position through bodily blemish or ceremonial defilement (Lev. 21-22), but as to the position itself, it was a necessary result of their being sons of Aaron. Position is one thing; ability to discharge the functions or capacity to enjoy the privileges thereof, is quite another.
A dwarf among the sons of Aaron was deprived of many of the higher priestly dignities, but a dwarf was to “eat the bread of his God, of the most holy, and of the holy.” God would not leave the feeblest or most diminutive member of the priestly household without a holy portion. “Only he shall not go in unto the veil, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish, that he profane not My sanctuaries: for I the Lord do sanctify them.” A dwarf could not attend the altar of God, but the God of the altar took care of the dwarf. The two things are divinely perfect. God's claims have been perfectly answered and the need of His priestly family perfectly met.
2. The place. The place where the priest was to partake of his portion teaches us a most valuable lesson of practical holiness. “With unleavened bread shall it be eaten in the holy place, in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation they shall eat it.” That is to say, it is only in the power of personal holiness and in the immediate presence of God that we can really partake of our priestly portion. The way in which we get the place exhibits absolute grace. The place which we get demands personal holiness. To speak of effort in reaching the place is the fallacy of legalism. To think of unholiness in the place is the blasphemy of lawlessness. I reach the position only through grace. I occupy the position only in holiness.
The pathway to the sanctuary has been thrown open by free grace, but it is to the sanctuary of God that grace has opened the pathway. These things must never be forgotten. We want to have them graven on the tablets of the conscience and hidden in the chambers of the heart.
3. The portion. And now as to the portion. “This is the law of the meat offering: the sons of Aaron shall offer it before the Lord, before the altar. And he shall take of it his handful, of the flour of the meat offering and of the oil thereof, and all the frankincense thereof, and shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savor, even the memorial of it unto the Lord. And the remainder thereof shall Aaron and his sons eat.” The fine flour and oil typify Christ's perfect manhood, conceived and anointed by the Holy Spirit. This is the portion of God's priests to be enjoyed in the sanctuary of the divine presence, in separation of heart unto God. It is utterly impossible that we can enjoy Christ anywhere else but in the presence of God or in any other way than personal holiness. To speak of enjoying Christ while living in worldliness, indulging in pride, gratifying our lusts, giving a loose reign to our temper and passions, is a fatal delusion. “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth” (1 John 1: 6). The two things are wholly incompatible. “Fellowship with God” and “walking in darkness” are as diametrically opposed as heaven and hell.
Thus the place of all true priests — all believers, all members of the priestly household — is to be within the sacred precincts of the sanctuary in the immediate presence of God, feeding upon Christ in the power of personal holiness. All this we are taught in “the law of the meat offering.”
Let the reader note particularly that “all the frankincense” was consumed on the altar. Why was this? Because frankincense typified the fragrance of Christ's manhood as enjoyed exclusively by God Himself. There was that in Christ as a Man down here, which only God could duly appreciate. Every thought, every look, every word, every movement, every act of “the Man Christ Jesus” emitted a fragrance which went up directly to the throne of God and refreshed the heart of Him who sat thereon. Not a single atom of Christ's perfectness or preciousness was ever lost. It might be lost on a cold, heartless world and even upon carnal and earthly-minded disciples, but it was not lost upon God. It all went up to Him according to its true value.
This is a spring of joy and comfort to the spiritual mind. When we think of how the blessed Lord Jesus was not appreciated in this world, how little even His own disciples understood or valued Him, how the rarest and most exquisite touches and traits of His perfect humanity were lost upon a rude and unbelieving world and even upon His own people, what a comfort to remember that He was perfectly understood and appreciated by the One who sat on the throne! There was an unbroken line of communication kept up between the heart of Jesus and the heart of God. The cloud of incense was continually ascending to the throne from the only perfect Man who ever trod this cursed and groaning earth.
Not a grain of the incense was lost because not a grain was entrusted even into the hands of the priests. All went up to God. Nothing was lost. The world might despise and hate, the disciples might fail to understand or appreciate; what then? Was a single ray of Christ's moral glory to go for nothing? Surely not; all was duly estimated by Him for whom it was designed and who alone could value it aright. This was true in every stage of Christ's precious life down here. And when we reach the end of that life and see the climax when one disciple sold Him for thirty pieces of silver, another cursed and swore he knew Him not, all forsook Him and fled, the world nailed Him to a cross between two thieves, God showed to the universe how much He differed from all the thoughts of men by placing the crucified One on the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.
Thus much as to the primary application of the incense which, unquestionably, is to Christ. We may also observe that it has a secondary application to the believer which he should seek to understand. True Christianity is the outflow of the life of Christ in the believer's practical ways and this is most precious to God, though it may be lost upon an unbelieving world and even upon a professing Church. There is not a movement of the life of Christ in the believer, not an expression of what He is, not the smallest manifestation of His grace that does not ascend directly as sweet incense to the throne of God. It may not attract the notice or elicit the applause of this world. It may not get a place in the records of men, but it goes up to God. This is enough for the faithful heart. God values all that is of Christ, nothing more, nothing else. There may be much that looks like service — much show, much noise, much that men make a great ado about — but nothing goes up to the throne, nothing is entered into the imperishable records of eternity but that which is the fruit of the life of Christ in the soul.
May God the Holy Spirit lead us into the experimental understanding of these things and bring forth in us, day by day, a brighter and fuller manifestation of Christ to the glory of God the Father!