The peace offering is not merely a matter of having peace about our sins. The word in the original, “shalom,” is actually in the plural and suggests the abundance of blessings which God longs to share with man. It can be linked with the majestic title revealed in the New Testament, “The God of Peace” (Rom 15:33; 16:20; Phil 4:9; 1 Thess 5:23; Heb 13:20).
Likewise, it is not the Lord’s supper, but rather, it points to a life of fellowship enjoyed with the Father and with fellow believers – all resting on the work of Christ. It is not only made possible by His work, but He Himself is the actual food for that fellowship.
The Times Presented
There were three occasions when a peace offering could be brought: at a time of thanksgiving (Lev 7:12), when linked with a vow (v 16), or as a voluntary offering.
Luke 2 reminds us of a man who gave thanks and enjoyed fellowship with God. Simeon held the Child in his arms and worshiped God, feasting on the joy of a Redeemer. Likewise, Anna’s praise was linked with a vow. She, coming in to the Temple and seeing the Child, offered praise to God and spoke of Him to all that looked for redemption. She was in fellowship with God and sought to bring others into that aspect of the peace offering as she related to them of the Kinsman-Redeemer provided by God (Luke 2:38).
Lastly, the shepherds of Luke 2 were brought into fellowship and enjoyed what God was enjoying that day as they found the Babe in a manger. The shepherds concluded by glorifying and praising God (Luke 2:20), as they enjoyed His “peace on earth.” They offered a voluntary offering of praise to God.
The Things Prohibited
There was a portion denied. No fat or blood (Lev 7:22-26) was to be consumed. God always had the best part – the fat. But no blood was to be eaten as God intended every “normal” meal to be a reminder to the Israelite that blood had been shed to make fellowship possible. Blood belonged to God and not to man.
God also dictated the place where the peace offering was to be eaten. It must be in God’s presence? Why was that? Doesn’t this link with what John tells us in His first epistle? We have fellowship with God and then with one another (1John 1:3). We really do not have fellowship with each other apart from an initial relationship with the Father and His Son. God is the host of the feast and there is no enjoyment of Christ without the Father.
Purity was demanded if one was to eat the peace offering. Fellowship with God demands purity and sanctity. The Lord washed the disciples feet in John 13 as a symbolic act. They needed to be clean if they were to have fellowship with Him.
God also defined the period of time in which the sacrifice could be eaten. When it came to the thanksgiving offering, it had to be consumed the same day (Lev 7:15). Thanksgiving must always be fresh.
The Tracing of Particulars
The peace offering was offered “before the Lord.” This stresses the consciousness of my heart’s greatest need. I was made for fellowship with Him. The ritual of the hand on the head of the victim is suggesting something different from the similar ritual in regard to the burnt and sin offerings. Here it is a confession of the basis for my fellowship with God. It is the sacrifice provided.
But the sacrifice must be killed to remind me of what it has cost God to enable me to have fellowship with Him. We have been “reconciled to God by the death of His Son” (Rom 5:10). God has actually given His Son in order to make friends of His enemies! Brought into a sphere of friendship with God, we now delight in His company and enjoy together something of the beauty of His Son.
In the peace offering, all the fat was for God. The word for “fat” in Leviticus 3 is different from that of the burnt offering. Here it is the suet. God is deserving of, and will have the best. He appreciates far more of Christ than I can ever begin to appreciate. This fat was unseen and had to be reached by death; inroads into the victim had to be made. All the unseen zeal, the hidden springs that motivated the Savior – these are the food of God.
The Table Provided
Everyone ate at this table – God, the offerer and his family, Aaron and his family, and the offering priest. While God received the “best” in the fat, He really did not get the “most” in the sense of the largest portion. It would appear that He wanted His people to have the largest share.
The offerer, his family, the Levite who dwelt with him, and his servants all got portions. The offerer received the flesh and the leavened cakes. This would remind him of the frailty and corruption of his own heart and adjust some of his dealings with his brethren. But more importantly, his appreciation of the sacrifice provided food for his family and all linked with him. If I wish to be a blessing to others, here is the key – enjoyment of Christ is the only way to “lift” others to some measure of that same fellowship.
The priestly family shared the wave breast. This suggests enjoying the affections of Christ. It is for worshiping men that the wave breast was reserved. Likewise, in our worship as a priesthood, we enjoy the love of Christ.
The offering priest got the heave shoulder. For his labor, he required strength. The shoulder suggests the strength he received from his offering. As he enjoyed fellowship with God, he was strengthened for service.
Thus there flowed from fellowship with God over the peace offering, material for worship, strength for service, and grace for relationships.