[Leviticus 3] Friendship with God in the Peace Offering. In this chapter, we learn about a form of sacrifice called the peace offering. In the peace offering, we are acknowledging that Jesus is our peace, expressing covenantal friendship with God even as Abraham did of old. The peace offering called for special handling of the blood, and fat, and kidneys of the sacrificial animal. These were considered the choicest parts of the animal and reflected, giving God the best of ourselves even as God has given us His best in Jesus Christ.
[Lev 3:1-17 KJV] 1 And if his oblation [be] a sacrifice of peace offering, if he offer [it] of the herd; whether [it be] a male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the LORD. 2 And he shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it [at] the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron’s sons the priests shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about. 3 And he shall offer of the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire unto the LORD; the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that [is] upon the inwards, 4 And the two kidneys, and the fat that [is] on them, which [is] by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away. 5 And Aaron’s sons shall burn it on the altar upon the burnt sacrifice, which [is] upon the wood that [is] on the fire: [it is] an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD. 6 And if his offering for a sacrifice of peace offering unto the LORD [be] of the flock; male or female, he shall offer it without blemish. 7 If he offer a lamb for his offering, then shall he offer it before the LORD. 8 And he shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it before the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron’s sons shall sprinkle the blood thereof round about upon the altar. 9 And he shall offer of the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire unto the LORD; the fat thereof, [and] the whole rump, it shall he take off hard by the backbone; and the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that [is] upon the inwards, 10 And the two kidneys, and the fat that [is] upon them, which [is] by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away. 11 And the priest shall burn it upon the altar: [it is] the food of the offering made by fire unto the LORD. 12 And if his offering [be] a goat, then he shall offer it before the LORD. 13 And he shall lay his hand upon the head of it, and kill it before the tabernacle of the congregation: and the sons of Aaron shall sprinkle the blood thereof upon the altar round about. 14 And he shall offer thereof his offering, [even] an offering made by fire unto the LORD; the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that [is] upon the inwards, 15 And the two kidneys, and the fat that [is] upon them, which [is] by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away. 16 And the priest shall burn them upon the altar: [it is] the food of the offering made by fire for a sweet savour: all the fat [is] the LORD’S. 17 [It shall be] a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood.
In Leviticus chapter three (vs. 1-5), we find instructions concerning the peace offering. So far, we have learned about the two kinds of consecration offerings (animal sacrifice and grain offerings). Now we turn our attention to a different oblation called the peace offering. Each of these offerings speaks to us of who Jesus is to us and also God’s process by which He works in our lives. Interestingly, we haven’t gotten to the trespass offering yet. You would think that would be first. As it was in the mention of the sacred furniture when it was installed, the Ark of the Covenant (speaking of God’s mercy) is mentioned first, and the Brazen Altar (where sin was addressed came last). This shows us that repentance for sin from a scriptural standpoint is not an object in itself, but a means to the end of entering into an intimate relationship with God.
The peace offering is considered a “requital offering” (meaning something returned in response to a service rendered). It is brought as a symbolic way of requiting God for what He has done on behalf of the worshipper. The full definition comes from the word rendered “peace” in v. 1 is the Hebrew word, “shelem” meaning “peace offering, requital, sacrifice for alliance or friendship voluntary sacrifice of thanks.” The Israelite bringing his peace offering to God did so in recognition that Abraham was the friend of God and that he is seeking that same friendship in bringing a peace offering.
The word friend here is not intended the way we use it in modern times. We are not asking God to be our “buddy.” The word friend comes from the Arabic word “afendi,” which means “blood covenant partner.” It points back to Gen. 15 when God came down in a column of light and smoke and passed between the pieces of the sacrifice and ratified a unidirectional covenant with Abraham and according to Paul Jesus himself. In offering the worshipper would lay his hand upon the head of the sacrifice in recognition and identification. The head represents lordship. It was an act of submission and also saying I am not merely giving of myself, but I am giving MYSELF in entirety to God in a figure through this offering.
In choosing an animal for this sacrifice, not just any old barnyard resident would be considered acceptable. The offering was to be a perfect specimen (vs. 6-11). It was not acceptable to give God the leftovers or the lame or diseased (although in times of spiritual decline, this was what the Israelites did). King David understood this when he purchased the land whereupon the Temple would be built:
[2Sa 24:24 KJV] 24 And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy [it] of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing.
David bought the threshing-floor and the oxen at great price. What does this tell us? In coming to Christ, we must make a full surrender. Contaminated, half-hearted offerings of ourselves to God provokes his silence and his withdrawal from our lives. When you can’t find God, and His presence seems far away, perhaps an examination of your yieldedness and fidelity to His Spirit would be in order. In the days of Malachi, the priesthood and the people used the Altar of God as a veritable garbage disposal. In Malachi 1:7-8, God speaks against this in a relevant way for our self-examination today:
[Mal 1:7-8 KJV] 7 Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD [is] contemptible. 8 And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, [is it] not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, [is it] not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts.
Malachi goes on speaking by the spirit of God crying out, “would someone who loves and honors simply put out the light in the temple and shut the doors?” We should never forget that in coming to God through Christ, we are not merely adding a spiritual dimension to lives lived in self-determination. God is a jealous God. He wants all or nothing. One writer made the following statement about God’s white-hot jealousy for our devotion: “God’s jealousy does not arise from fear or weakness but from holy indignation at having His honor and power and mercy scorned by the faithless bride….”
When the offering was made, part of it was burned completely, and a portion was divided to the priests and at times, even back to the worshipper who would eat it before the tabernacle (vs. 12-17). However, the fat and the kidneys and the blood were always the part offered only to God. In our culture, we don’t prize these organs as delicacies, but they were considered the choicest parts in ancient times. The blood was also revered, and the people were forbidden from taking any part of it. The blood was that which contained the life of the animal. Leviticus 17:10 says, “the life is in the blood.” When you give blood to God, you are giving Him your life. When He gives you His blood, He is giving you His life. The life of God is in you by the shedding of the blood of Christ.
The kidneys in ancient times were looked upon as the seat of emotions and passion. When you offered up kidneys in sacrifice, you were giving God your deepest desires and emotions. Amazing that in religious culture, we reject displays of emotions, but those same people who stoically sit before God stone-faced and silent will scream themselves hoarse at a sporting event. Even more astonishing is that these same people see absolutely no contradiction in this disparity! When we withhold our passion and emotion from God, we violate the foreshadowing in this chapter of rendering up to God of our very best.
What does fat represent? The fat speaks of surplus. In modern times we are people surrounded by excess. In America alone, 126 billion pounds of food end up in the landfill, right at half of our national food consumption. We throw away enough food to feed the starving nations many times over. Obesity is a growing epidemic that has become a crisis that is crippling our health institutions and predicted to crush our economies with the weight of our own excess. In both the Old and New Testament, there was repeated and strong emphasis on giving of your surplus to the poor in service to God. Why is the fat represented as being exclusively for God? You will note in v. 3 that it was explicitly the fat that covered the internal organs that God instructed must be wholly offered to Him. To the ancient people, the organs represented the personality and character of a person. One commenter puts it this way: “When God wanted the fat surrounding the entrails, He was telling the Hebrews that the heart, feeling and character of man belonged to him.” What about you? Are you restricting your innermost being as being for God and only for God? Are there divided loyalties regarding God’s word where you obey the scripture in one area but conveniently ignore it in another. God is a God who demands all or nothing. Let your commitment to Him be entire today.
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