The third or central offering of the five is the peace offering. Here we must look at the law of the offering given in Leviticus 7 to get a complete picture. Reading there we find that it is the last to be explained when God gives instructions concerning the law of the offerings. So while it is central to the initial giving, it is ultimate in what He is moving toward. Whatever we discover this offering to represent, we will find that this is what God’s great desire is in His relationship with us.
Truth it Portrays
The meaning or teaching of this offering is suggested by the awareness that something results which did not happen in either the burnt offering or the meal offering. When we look at the details of the offering, we find that the offering priest, the priestly family, the offerer, and his family, are all eating together and eating what the offerer brought to the altar. So not only are they feasting together, but they are feasting on what God is feasting. The offerer brought a sacrifice to God; part of it went on the altar, part to the priest, part to the priestly family, and some to the man who brought it and his family.
Thus the offering is suggesting God and man brought into fellowship, and man and man brought into fellowship. Recall that not only did sin alienate us from God, but the result of sin is that by nature we are “hateful and hating one another” (Titus 3:3). Man needed primarily to be reconciled to God, but also needed to be reconciled to each other.
The Peace offering is not the Lord’s Supper. It is a life of fellowship and enjoyment of God. It is man brought into peace with God in its fullest sense; not just the absence of guilt, shame, and burden. It is the enjoyment of all the blessing which God ever intended to give to humankind. “Peace” or shalom is plural and suggests intensity, fullness. It is Luke’s gospel with the Lord Jesus exulting in God showing grace (Luke 15) and sitting seven different times at the table with others, enjoying fellowship with believers.
Types of Animals Permitted
As we look at the animals specified for sacrifice, we find a new allowance as well as a new restriction. In the Burnt offering, only a male was permitted to be sacrificed. But now, in the peace offering, God permits a female as well as a male from the herd or flock to be offered (Lev 3:1, 6). Even further, Leviticus 22:23 allowed a bullock or lamb with a missing or superfluous part to be offered, but only for a freewill offering. Why this sudden expansion of possible sacrificial animals? Is it suggesting that God is so desirous of fellowship that He is broadening the possibilities without compromising His standard – “without blemish” (Lev 1:3)?
But there is one animal missing from the peace offering which was allowed in the burnt offering: there is no bird offered as a peace offering. This may be because there would not be sufficient to “feast” upon for everyone. God did not want anything which would even hint that there was some meagerness in Christ. There would be precious little fat for God and very little food for man from a bird.
The sacrifices offered included one from the herd, one from the flock, or a goat. We have thought about the distinctions and what they suggest in previous articles, but consider them once again in light of the meaning of this offering. Keep in mind, as we look at their meaning, that it is in light of the fellowship which this offering established.
What is the basis of fellowship with God? My work or Christ’s? Of course, your automatic answer is that it is the work of Christ. Yes, all would agree that this is what brought us into fellowship with God. But all are not as clear that this is what I enjoy day by day in my fellowship with God. It is not my success or failure which is the basis or hindrance to enjoying God. It is Christ. I do not enjoy fellowship with God over my service or work for Him; it is His Work for me.
In a similar manner, the lamb from the flock reminds us of One Who yielded His will to God and gave Himself to accomplish another’s will.
When I look at the goat I am reminded of how sure-footed it was. It never missed a step, even on the rocky crags and dangerous precipices. How like our Lord Jesus Who never took a step that was wrong or out of the will of God.
Taking these together we learn that my fellowship and enjoyment of God is based upon His service, submission, and sinlessness. But as well, it is not only the basis, but the very substance I bring to God as I enjoy fellowship with Him. Together we enjoy a life devoted to the work, will, and walk of God. How wonderful that we do not have to bring what we have done and rehash it, full of regrets and the haunting awareness that we have been unprofitable servants at best. We bring and we enjoy Christ!
God is not feasting on me but on His Son. It is not my feeble attempts at holiness but the perfect seamless holiness of the One Who moved here with goat-like stateliness. It is not my submission to His will, but the submission of the ultimate Lamb which gives pleasure to God. It is not my sin-stained service that I enjoy when speaking to God, but the perfect service of One Who labored with all the energy and strength of the son of the herd.
To be continued.