Leviticus in Hebrews is V'yekra, or 'And Yahweh Called'. Leviticus 2:1:
"When anyone presents a grain offering as an offering to the Lord, his offering shall be of fine flour.
He shall pour oil on it and shall put frankincense upon it. He shall then bring it to Aaron's sons the priests, and shall take from it his handful of its fine flour, and its oil with all of its frankincense. And the priests shall offer it up in smoke as its memorial portion on the altar, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the Lord.
"And the remainder of the grain offering belongs to Aaron and his sons, a thing most holy of the offerings to the Lord by fire. When you bring an offering of the grain offering baked in an oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mixed with oil, or unleavened wafers spread with oil. And if your offering is a grain offering made on the griddle, it shall be of fine flour, unleavened, mixed with oil. You shall break it into bits and pour oil on it; it is a grain offering. Now, if your offering is a grain offering made in a skillet, it shall be made with fine flour and with oil. And when you bring in the grain offering, which is made of these things to the Lord, it shall be presented to the Lord by way of the priest, and he shall bring it to the altar. The priest shall then take it up from the grain offering its memorial portion, and shall offer it up in smoke on the altar as an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the Lord. And the remainder of the grain offering belongs to Aaron and his sons, a thing most holy of the offerings to the Lord by fire.
"No grain offering which you bring to the Lord shall be made with leaven, for you shall not offer up in smoke any leaven or any honey as an offering by fire to the Lord. As an offering of firstfruits you shall bring them to the Lord, but they shall not ascend for a soothing aroma on the altar.
"Every grain offering of yours, moreover, you shall season with salt, so that the salt of the covenant of your God shall not be lacking from your grain offering. With all of your offerings, you shall offer salt. Also, if you bring a grain offering of early-ripened things to the Lord, you shall bring fresh heads of roasted grain in the fire, grits of new growth, for the grain offering of your early-ripened things. You shall then put oil on it, and lay incense on it; it is a grain offering. And the priest shall offer up in smoke its memorial portion, a portion of its grits, of its oil, and all of its incense as an offering by fire to the Lord."
Most Christians have some kind of an idea that the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament -- what Jewish people call the Tenakh -- are symbols of Jesus. They might know that the Passover lamb, the lamb without blemish, is a picture of what Jesus would be; that to God, one man without sin is worth more than all the men with sin, and that is how one Man could die for us all. Some people might also know about the Yom Kippur scapegoat on the Day of Atonement; we read about this in the epistle to the Hebrews chapters 9 - 11. The high priest would actually put his hands on two goats, and put the sin in symbol upon their heads. They would then take the goats through the streets, where the people would spit on them, kick them, throw rocks at them, beat them with sticks and curse them for their sin. The goats would then be escorted outside the city, where one would be slaughtered and the other taken to a precipice. It was a symbol of what would happen to Jesus: God would put our sin on Him; He would be paraded through the streets of Jerusalem, taken outside the city and executed. Most Christians have an idea that the blood sacrifices of these animals were symbols of Jesus; however, most Christians do not think about the grain offering.
Paul, whose real name was Rabbi Shaul of Tarsus, tells us that we establish the Torah -- the five books of Moses, which are fulfilled in Jesus. All of these things point to Him. You can understand the Gospel and know how to be saved just in reading the New Testament. But to understand it on a deeper level, to understand the fullness of the Gospel, you must understand it in light of its Old Testament background. We have to understand how Jesus fulfilled the Law.
The grain offering here is what we call in Hebrew 'matzoth' -- unleavened. Perhaps you have seen matzoth; some churches use matzoth for communion. It is striped and it is pierced; the Talmud decrees that the unleavened bread used at Passover has to be so. This corresponds, the rabbis tell us, with the flesh of the Passover lamb. This is exactly what Jesus speaks about in John chapter 6; it is a picture of His body. So the bread was striped, and then pierced, and then broken. "By His stripes we are healed",and "He was pierced for our transgressions", the Hebrew prophet Isaiah tells us. The grain offering is a symbol of the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins.
The grain could be offered in three ways: First, it would be offered on an open fire, on a griddle. Second, it would be offered in a skillet -- a kind of pan with a long handle. The third way would be what we call in Hebrewb'tanur; inside an oven. The grain would be offered on an open fire, in a skillet, and in an oven. We are three-dimensional beings, because we are made in the image and likeness of God; Imago Dei. We have a body, a soul, and a spirit. That is one of the things about our nature that teaches how we are made in the image and likeness of a tri-une God. The threeness in us expresses something about the threeness in our Creator. We are what people would call 'theopomorphic'; in the image and likeness of God.
Given that fact, we can see that when Jesus died for our sin, He had to suffer in body, in soul, and in spirit. Sin contaminates every aspect of our being: it contaminates our flesh, or our body; it contaminates our soul, or our mind, emotions, and intellect; and it contaminates our spirit. Every aspect of our being is fallen because of sin. Therefore, in order to take away our sin, Jesus had to atone for it in body, in soul, and in spirit.
So: the first sacrifice of the grain is that which is offered on the open fire. When the grain was offered on the griddle, everyone could see it being consumed. This corresponds to the physical suffering of the Lord Jesus. There HH He was, enduring a Roman execution, hanging nearly naked in public; everyone could see Him being tortured physically. When they nailed Him to the cross, He was nailed there for my sin. When the Romans flogged Him and put the crown of thorns on His head, it was because He took my sin. Jesus got the nails; I got salvation. The just for the unjust.
There is a big problem in the American Bible belt, and here is what that problem is: cultural Protestantism. In other words, you have people who will go to churches that preach the Gospel and believe the Gospel only because they have grown up in it; they've always done it. Yet they have never come to be saved. This is a big problem, which I have seen all over the world where there are Bible belts: I've seen it in South Africa, in Northern Ireland, and certainly in the American South. The doctrines are there; the beliefs are there; but some of the people may know the Lord, while others may not. When Jesus went to that cross, He went for you. God took your sin and put it on Jesus; He took His righteousness and put it on you. You must accept this personally, or you are not a Christian, no matter how many times you come to church.
He suffered in body; everyone could see the grain being burned up. His torture was unspeakable. I once read an autopsy report done by some Christian pathologists who did post-mortems on cadavers which had been crucified in the Roman style, and it was incredibly horrible. Even with modern technology, we would be hard put to find a more cruel way to kill somebody than the way in which the Romans killed Jesus.
The grain was also offered up, however, in a skillet. When the grain was consumed in the skillet, what was happening was only partially visible. You could see some of what was going on, but you could not see all of it. This grain being burned up in the skillet, as per Leviticus chapter 2, corresponds to the emotional/psychological suffering of Jesus; what the Bible calls 'the travail of His soul'.
When someone is suffering emotionally or psychologically -- if someone is perhaps in depression, or bereaved, or being oppressed in some way -- other people can see some of what is going on with that person, but not all of it. You could only see some of the grain being consumed in the skillet at a distance. In order to see the totality of its being burned up, you would have had to stand directly above it and look down. So it is when someone is suffering emotionally, whether they are in a depression or bereaved or perhaps grieving the lostness of an unsaved loved one, other people can see some of what that person is going through, but only He who looks down from above can see all of it. The Lord knows everything; other people can only appreciate some of it, and perhaps empathize; but God sees it all.
You see, Jesus took our griefs; He suffered psychologically. He was emotionally and mentally tortured.
But then there was a third way in which the grain was consumed: this is again in Hebrew, b'tanur, or 'inside the oven'. This was not visible to anybody.
When Jesus went to the cross, something happened within the tri-unity of the Godhead itself: the Father turned His back on the Son. Now, we must be careful; there is a terrible heresy that originated in the American South, which is propagated by the money preachers on so-called "Christian" television. They call it "Jesus Died Spiritually". It is an absolute blasphemous lie, which says that Satan got the victory at the cross, and that when Jesus died, although He Himself said, "It is finished", and "Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit", it didn't happen. That instead, He became a satanic being of one nature with Satan in hell, where He was then tortured for three days and three nights, until He was born again -- still in hell. This is what the money preachers believe. So, because the cross of Jesus is not central to their view of the Christian life, neither do they view the cross of Jesus as central to salvation. Instead of "Pick up your cross and follow Me, and put your trust in a better world," their beliefs consist of "Name it and claim it, you're a King's kid, God wants you rich", and Kingdom now, etc. This is a terrible heresy; Jesus got the victory on the cross, not the devil. However, something did happen in that oven. Something did happen within the Godhead. The Father turned His back on the Son; God could not look upon sin. We do not fully understand what happened.
We cannot for one second diminish the physical suffering of Jesus; His agony was excruciating. Neither can we diminish His emotional and mental suffering; Scripture speaks plainly of the 'travail of His soul', that is also true. But the deeper suffering of Jesus was what happened within the Trinity; the Father turning His back on the Son. Something happened in that oven. How can God have a crisis in Himself, where the Father turns His back on the Son because the Son took our sin in order to give us His righteousness? Terrible as His physical suffering was, excruciating as his emotional torment was, what happened spiritually was even worse. Jesus was cut off at that moment from His Father, for my sin and for your sin.
He suffered in body, in soul, and in spirit. Thus the grain had to be offered: in the griddle, where everyone could see it; in the skillet, where it could partially be seen and only fully observed from above; and in the oven, where no one could see it.
Now, this grain had to be anointed. It had to have oil poured upon it. The basic Hebrew word for 'oil' is shemen; it speaks of anointing. The word 'Christ' comes from the Greek word christos, and is the Greek way of saying the Hebrew term ha Mashiach, or 'the Anointed One', or the Messiah. Jesus was anointed for burial before He was anointed for dominion. When Paul speaks of the proof for his anointing and his ministry in 2 Corinthians, he does not speak first of the miracles or of the signs of an apostle. He first speaks of having been abandoned, shipwrecked, stoned, etc, etc. The first and foremost proof of a real anointing, an anointing that comes from Christ, is a crucified life. It is a life lived without trust in this world. It is certainly not a Mercedes limousine, nor the kind of material extravagance which we see on the so-called "Christian" television, which the world looks at and mocks. That is not anointing; anointing is a crucified life, lived by someone who does not trust in this life or this world, but who will trust God for the grace to suffer anything that they need to if it is in God's will; someone who does not love their life in this world, even if it should come to death. That is the true proof of anointing.
Jesus was anointed for burial; the oil was poured on the grain. Oil and frankincense; when Jesus was born, the Magi brought gold because He was a King, myrrh because He would die (myrrh, you remember, is what dead bodies were anointed with for burial, as we read in John 19:39), and also frankincense because incense, we are told in Revelation, is the prayers of the saints.
To understand what this means, let us look very briefly at the Song of Solomon chapter four verse six. We call the Song of Solomon in HebrewHashir Hashirim, and it is an allegory. Solomon's romance with Shulammite is a picture of Christ's romance with His bride. We are told this in chapter four verse six:
"Until the cool of the day comes,
When the shadows flee away,
I will go my way to the mountain of myrrh,
To the hill of frankincense."
The bridegroom is anointed for burial to die for the bride, to bring the acceptable sacrifice on the mountain of myrrh, the mountain that we would call Mount Calvary. So He is anointed for burial in order to bring the acceptable sacrifice. You see, you can pray and pray and pray, sing hymn after hymn after hymn, and it does not matter. Unless it is in Christ, unless you are born again, God cannot accept your worship. It is only what is done in Christ that matters. You can go to church all you want, and that is good; but it is not good enough. Only in Christ does it matter. But let us continue.
So the grain was anointed to bring the acceptable worship. It had oil and it had incense; but the grain could have no honey. It could also have no leaven; this is what 'matzoth' means: "unleavened bread". Why could this bread, which is a picture of the body of Jesus, have no leaven? What is leaven? The New Testament tells us repeatedly what leaven is.
In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul tells us the following: "Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the entire lump of dough? Leave behind the old leaven that you might be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For the Messiah our Pesach, Christ our Passover, has been sacrificed."
Leaven, or yeast, contributes nothing whatsoever to the nutritional value of bread. It only puffs it up; "your boasting is not good". The first thing that leaven speaks of is sin, but especially the sin of pride. Pride is the seminal sin; it is the sin that gives rise to other sin. In Isaiah chapter 14 we are told that the first sin was pride. Satan wanted to be God; in eternity, Satan wanted to usurp God's position. Pride was Satan's first sin, according to Isaiah 14. During the temptation of Adam and Eve, man's first sin was pride. Pride is the kind of sin that leads to other sin. When you see someone who has a problem with greed, pride is underneath that greed. When you see a person who has a problem with uncontrolled lust, underneath that lust is pride. When you see a person who has a problem with unrighteous, unholy anger, underneath that anger is pride. Pride is the seminal sin; it gives rise to other sin.
The only thing I have to be proud of is what Jesus did for me on the cross; that is all. That He took my sin and rose from the dead is the only thing I have to be proud of. Jesus, however, was God, and He had no sin. He had everything to be proud of; yet He who had something to be proud of was not proud. I who have nothing to be proud of have to battle with pride every day; so do you. We battle it every day, but Jesus had none. There was no leaven in that matzoth.
But then he spoke further: "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees." False doctrine. When you see heresy and false doctrine (and all you have to do to see false doctrine is to turn on the so-called "Christian" television; it consists of much more false doctrine than true doctrine), this is the leaven of the Pharisees. It puffs up; there is pride. "God showed me, I can do this, we're going to go forth and conquer" -- spiritual pride. Whenever you see false doctrine and heresy, the source of it is always spiritual pride. Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. Jesus had no false doctrine, no heresy. Every word that He taught was one hundred and ten per cent true. There was no leaven in that matzoth. If there had been, he would not have been able to die for our sins.
Once more: to God, one man without sin was worth more than all men with sin. It doesn't matter how good you are; you're not good enough to go to heaven. On the other hand, it does not matter how bad you are; you're not so bad that God does not love you and Jesus cannot take your sin and give you His life. That is the Gospel.
It is difficult when people have grown up hearing it their whole lives; they go to good churches for 20, 30, 40 years and hear this message -- or variations of it -- some of them probably hundreds of times. Yet they have still never been born again; that is a terrible tragedy. My family are Israeli Jews; Jews are more guilty than other people for rejecting the Gospel, because Jesus was Jewish and because the Gospel came to Israel first. It says in Romans that God holds the Jews accountable first. Because salvation is available to them first, the consequences of rejecting it are on them first, we're told in Romans. So, too, people who have heard the Gospel repeatedly are going to be more accountable than people who do not live in places where it is as readily available. I never knew what a born-again Christian was until I was in university; I had never even heard of such a thing. But many people have grown up hearing about it without accepting it. They know the truth; or at least they have the truth available to them. I go to Africa, India, the Middle East; I go to places where the people have never heard the truth. Yet there are people who go to church and hear it Sunday after Sunday after Sunday, but their lives don't change.
There was no leaven -- no pride, no false doctrine -- in that matzoh. One man with no sin could die for all the men with sin.
But then there could be no honey. Why could there be no honey on that grain? What is the problem with honey? We know what leaven is -- the Scriptures tell us. But what is wrong with honey? Why does God say in Leviticus chapter 2 that there could be no honey on the grain when it was sacrificed?