As we have already said the peace offering was third in revelation but
in practice took place last, revealing that peace is not the cause of communion
with God but the consequence of that communion.
The peace offering is described in Leviticus chapter 3 and was a sweet-savour offering. It was not compulsory but voluntary like the burnt and grain offerings although it differed in that the peace offering was shared between all three participating parties God, the priests, and the offerer.
The Hebrew word for peace is 'shalom' and has a greater or fuller meaning than the way peace is used today. We define peace as a the absence of war or disturbance, the cessation of hostilities and harmonious agreement between people, a state of stillness and tranquillity. The Hebrew word while accepting those things would add prosperity, well-being, joy, happiness, wholeness. Our understanding of peace has mainly a negative approach, a lack of something, whereas the Hebrew includes the positive aspects as well.
It was a sacrifice that was offered when in communion with God and can be divided into three kinds, the Thank offering, the Vow offering and the Freewill offering. The peace offerings have their root in the state of grace with its fellowship with God, helping the Jews to be mindful of God when in possession of and enjoying God's mercy, and when adversity threatened to obscure the awareness his feelings of God's presence and love, the offering would awaken his awareness of God's nearness and mercy toward him. It served to establish more firmly this fellowship under divine grace. In times of prosperity and success he would obviously feel thankful to God and show this by means of the sacrifice.
The offerer would bring a bullock, lamb, or a goat, birds were not acceptable because the offering was shared between the three parties and that the fat was to be God's portion and there is a lack of fat on birds. The animals brought could be either male or female where in the other offerings a male was usually prescribed. The animal also had to be without blemish although deformed animals could be allowed in freewill offerings.
The offerer would take the victim to the gate of the court of the tabernacle. He then laid his hand upon the victims head to identify with the animal, then he killed it. The priest collected the blood and sprinkled it on the side of the altar. At this stage the fat of the intestines - the same part as for the sin offering - was taken from the animal and burnt upon the bronze altar as God's share in the offering. The breast and the right shoulder were then separated from each other. The shoulder being heaved - laid aside - as the portion of the particular priest who made the sacrifice, directly by the offerer. The shoulder was symbolic of strength, a reminder that the strength of the Lord is given to those who serve. While the breast was waved symbolically presenting it to the Lord, from whom the priests received it for their own use. The breast was a symbol of affection, this gives a lovely picture of love being shared by the participants in the peace offering.
All of the rest of the animal belonged to the offerer, furnishing the material for the sacrificial feast. In the case of the thank offering it had to be eaten the same day, in other cases some could be kept for the next day but no longer. Whatever was not eaten in the prescribed time had to be burnt, but not on the altar. In consequence of the consecrated character imparted to the whole victim by giving the choicest portions to the Lord and to the officiating priest, the sacrificial feast was transformed into a covenant feast. The feast was shared with family and friends, it was a feast of love and joy, in which the offerer was feasting with God. Symbolising the privilege of dwelling in the house and the family of the Lord. This time of fellowship was marked by the rejoicing of God's people before Him and the blessedness of eating and drinking in the kingdom of God.
Thoughts for simple sermons:
1/ The peace offering was a means of celebrating God's goodness, with a feast in which God participated as the honoured guest. We often forget to thank God for his goodness to us as we face the stresses and the strains of modern day life. Yet God ordained this feast, God knows that we need time out to enjoy him and to enjoy our families and our friends. Let us be known as those who keep the feast.
2/ The peace offering came out of right standing with God, not to gain it or to consecrate anything. It was a sharing of God's bounty with him and his priests and our families and our friends, but it wasn't just a party. This was a special time to appreciate our special relationship with God and to be with him. Very often we seek God for this or that, for the advancement of his kingdom and for his church but do we hunger and thirst after his presence, just wanting to be with him for who he is rather than what he will give.
The five offerings would give people reasons to come to the tabernacle the place of grace where God accepts a people who could not reach the standard laid down in the law for a relationship with him. God gave the law he also commanded the building of the tabernacle and ordained the offerings. God knew that no one could keep the law but he provided a way for fallen humanity to be in relationship with a holy God. We have seen that the reason that people came to the tabernacle was different but fell into five main categories these we dealt with as the offerings. We are going to look at these five different approaches to God and the order we shall look at them is as follows :-
1 ) The person comes seeking redemption or salvation, to be right with God. The Israelites would bring a sin offering, seeking to atone for the sin. Today we come to Jesus for no one can come to the Father except through Jesus. No one can know God as Father if they have not received Jesus as their personal saviour. John 1:12 -13 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God -- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.
2 ) The person would come seeking to consecrate himself to God for Him to use in the Kingdom. This speaks of God accepting us to do his will just as his son Jesus had done before us. The Israelites would bring a burnt offering, seeking his acceptance in their communion with God. Rom 12:1 - 2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.
3 ) The person wants to consecrate his gifts to God in recognition that all that he is belongs to God. The grain or meal offering was offered voluntarily as a memorial that the whole belongs to God. 1 John 4:7-8 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. God is love therefore our consecrated gifts are motivated by love 1 Cor 13:1 - 3 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 ) The person coming to put right some specific wrong-doing would offer a trespass offering to restore his relationship with God. If this wrong was against another person then restitution would be made before the offering was made. Mat 5:23 - 26 "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. "Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
5 ) The person coming to God out of the communion that exists to enjoy fellowship with God would come with a peace offering. These offerings would be of three types, thanks-giving, to gain a specific blessing, or to thankfully seek a continuance of His blessing. Psa 42:1 - 2 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? Eph 5:18 - 20 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Much of the information recorded in this study is taken from the books listed below and without the research of the authors this study would not have been possible. I would suggest these books for further reading and a complete study of the subject.
|Dictionary of the Bible||Grant & Rowley|
|Expository Dictionary||W.E. Vine|
|Daily Bible Study||William Barclay|
|Expositors Bible Commentary||Frank E. Gaebelein|
|Ungers Bible Dictionary||Merrill F. Unger|
|Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia||C.F. Pfeiffer, H.F.Vos and J. Rea|
|Thus Shalt Thou Serve||C. W. Slemming|
|These Are the Garments||C. W. Slemming|
|Made According to Pattern||C. W. Slemming|
|Hastings Bible Dictionary||James Hastings|
|God's Tabernacle in the Wilderness||John Carter|