The Peace Offering
Arthur G. Clarke
I. Other Name
‘Prosperity offering’ (Heb. ‘shelem’), Lev. 3; 7. 11-21, 28-34.
II. Relevant Scriptures
Psalm 85; Gospel of Luke.
III. Primary Purpose
Afforded opportunity for the worshipping Israelite to enjoy communion with God and with His redeemed people. It celebrated peace with God established upon the efficacy of the atoning blood. Like the burnt offering, this offering was ‘for acceptance’ of the offerer, Lev. 19. 5; 22.18-20,29 R.V.
IV. Typical Significance
The cross of Christ viewed as having effected reconciliation between God and man, making it possible for believers to enjoy fellowship with God and with fellow-saints, Rom. 5. 1, 10, 11; Col. 1. 19-22; Eph. 2. 11-13 (cf. Ps. 85. 10). God delights to display His love to His own in an abundant provision at His ‘table’, Ps. 23. 5. God takes pleasure in the communion of saints as well as in the conversion of sinners. This offering, too, represents the ‘body of Jesus’, Heb. 10. 5-10. In delivering up His only-begotten Son to the death of the cross God clearly shows that enmity was never on His side but wholly on man’s, Rom. 8. 7; Col. 1. 21; Eph. 4. 18; Rom. 1. 28. Certain details seen here in the peace offering ritual are strongly suggestive of the Church’s celebration of the Lord’s Supper.
V. Atoning Blood
Met the disruption of fellowship caused by sin.
VI. Appointed Sacrifices
Of the herd or flock, male or female without blemish, Lev. 22. 21 (see Ma1. 1. 12-14 m days of Israel’s apostacy). There was the addition of a modified form of the meal offering which included leavened cakes, Lev. 7. 12-15, 29- These, however, were not burnt upon the altar in accordance with the rule, Lev. 2. 11; but were with all the others shared by priest and offerer to be eaten as indicated later. As in the other offerings, the various grades indicate typically different measures of spiritual intelligence in apprehending Christ’s sacrifice of Himself. He is here set before the heart not only in the value of His death (the slaughtered victim) but in the perfection of His life (unleavened cakes). The male victim may signify the active dedication to God of the Saviour’s will; the female victim His passive submission to that will. For the typical meaning of other items see under burnt offering and meal offering.
VII. Added Ingredient
Salt; see corresponding note under the meal offering.
VIII. Three Categories
These were according to the offerer’s motive.
- Thank-offering, Lev. 7.12-15. Such would seem to be in acknowledgement of special blessings received from the Lord, Ps. 107. 21, 22; 116. 17; 50. 14. The Septuagint Version, however, renders ‘for praise’, (cf. Psa. 100. 4, R.V.; Heb. 13. 15, R.v.). The flesh of the sacrifice was to be eaten on the day of the offering, v. 15, for God would have His people ever remember the close association of His altar with His table (cf. 1 Cor. 10. 18). Eaten otherwise it was declared to be an abomination to Him and it involved excommunication for the offender. The slightest taint of putrefaction so rapidly taking place in hot climates would render it unfit both for food and as a type of Christ, Acts 2. 25-32. The peace offering meal, moreover, was not to degenerate into just common feeding, compare as to the Lord’s supper 1 Cor. 11. 17ff. Note that leavened cakes were included in this offering signifying that the offerer’s thanksgiving could not but carry some taint of his inherent sinfulness, though this might no longer be seen in its former activity. The leaven in ‘fired’ cakes, of course, would have ceased ‘working’. The application of this to the Christian is readily understood. With all its imperfection his thanksgiving may be presented for God’s gracious accept¬ance because associated ‘with (Lev. 7. 13) the sacrifice’ of Christ.
- Votive Offering, 7. 16. This was in fulfilment of a promise or pledge (vow) made to God for the granting of some special request in prayer; for example, preservation on a hazardous journey by land or sea (cf. Acts 18. 18).
- Freewill Offering, 7. 16, 17. This would appear to be in the nature of a spontaneous expression of praise to God in appreciation of what He has revealed Himself to be, rather than simply for something He has done. Both (ii) and (iii) seem to imply deeper spiritual exercise so the flesh was permitted to be eaten on the second day, but in no circumstances was any to be eaten on the third day. All remainder was to be burnt with fire. Typically, the resurrection of Christ is in view. The believer’s occupation with Christ is until the ‘morning’, viewing resurrection as connected with His coming, 1 Thess. 1. 13ff. The ‘third day’ contemplates resurrection simply as the time of deliverance from the power of the grave, 1 Cor. 15.
IX. Prescribed Ritual
- The Offerer’s Work.
- Presentation ‘unto the Lord’, 7. 29, 30.
- Identification with his substitute victim by the laying on (leaning) of his hand.
- Immolation of the sacrifice, for its death alone could effect reconciliation.
- Dissection of the body, not as in the burnt offering but simply to separate the allotted portion, 7. 30.
- The Priests’ Work.
- Scattering the blood round about upon the altar, 3. 2.
- Attending the altar to burn God’s portion (the special fat, etc. - see below) upon the daily burnt offering, 3-5.
- Appropriating their share (see next paragraph).
X. Allotted Portions
- Jehovah’s Share. This was called ‘food of the fire offerings’ because it fed the altar fire and with other sweet savour offerings was the ‘bread of God’, Lev. 21. 6; John 6. 33; Num. 28. 2, ‘My food’. It consisted of the suet, kidneys and caul, and the fat tail of the sheep, which last in the Syrian breed often weighed 151b. and upwards and was considered by Arabs a great delicacy. This choice fat represented the intrinsic excellence and reserve energy of the animal and thus typified our Saviour’s holy feelings and sustained energies in relation to the accomplishment of God’s will. These were displayed particularly in His death on the cross, for as the type indicates, in death only could the victim’s inward parts be exposed. Jehovah’s portion placed for burning on the burnt offering was pledge of that acceptance with Him so essential to communion, 3. 5.
- The Officiating Priest’s Share, 7. 32,33, which he later ate with his family, 10.14,15; Num. 18. 8-11,19, consisted of the animal’s right shoulder (R.V.) and of the bread cakes one of each kind. All made up a ‘heave offering’, so called because when presented before God at tie altar it was heaved up to the extent of the offerer’s reach before he handed it to the priest. This ‘heave offering’ became the priest’s as a gift from God. The right shoulder prefigured Christ’s supporting strength for priestly service. As to the leavened cakes see remarks under paragraph 8 (i). God can in grace accept the believer’s praise, but it cannot become the ‘bread of God’ which Christ alone is.
- Aaron and his sons’ Share was known as a ‘wave offering’ and consisted of the animal’s breast portion, 7. 31. It was first waved to and fro ‘before the Lord’, v. 30, then became food for the priests and their chil¬dren, 7. 34; 10.14,15; Num. 18. n, 19. Thus is typified the affections of Christ shared by all believers as a priestly family, and there is emphasized the wide extent in efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice as the true peace offering. Our High Priest shares with His saints their communion with God and has His own joy in beholding God and believers reconciled and satisfied, Isa. 53. 11. Another points out that far too many Christians, instead of sustaining and nourishing their souls by feeding upon Christ, seek satisfaction in their experiences. They are constantly looking within themselves, occupied with feelings and attainments, their walk, their service and their state generally. This is to seek satisfaction for God and self in that which is ‘torn, blind, broken, maimed, etc.’, Lev. 22. 8, 21, 22. Christian service may afford a ‘sweet savour’ to the Lord, Phil. 4. 18, but only in a similar sense to our being accounted righteous (Jukes). We may have intercourse with God about our sins, our trials, our service, etc., but intercourse is not necessarily communion in which Christ is the subject, and the Holy Spirit the uniting bond, 2 Cor. 13. 14.
- The Offerer’s Share, 7. 15-21. To him appertained all the remaining flesh and cakes, the major portion of the offering to be feasted upon with his family, his servants and other guests the same day or the next. Christians as one with Christ rejoice with God and fellow-believers in appreciation of the Saviour’s person and work, Deut. 27. 7; Num. 10. 10, but they realize that God in possession of full knowledge of His Son had His own peculiar portion and delight. The joy of the father indicated in the parable of the prodigal, Luke 15, was assuredly greater than that of either returned prodigal or the guests at the feast. It was strictly enjoined that only persons ceremonially clean could partake of the peace offering, 7. 19-21; 22. 1-7. Uncleanness did not destroy relationship but it removed the person from the privilege of communion. This teaches that fellowship with God demands at all times holiness of life. Sin necessarily involves suspension of fellowship, and there must be confession with resulting forgiveness and cleansing before that fellowship is restored, 1 John 1. 7-9. Details concerning ceremonial uncleanness are most instructive, Lev. 22. 1-7. There are two groups: (a) openly discernible defilement such as leprosy and running sores and issues, outbreaks of the flesh, v. 4, involving temporary exclusion from the camp; (b) Non-discernible defilement from contact with unclean persons and things, vv. 4, 5 (cf. 1 Cor. 10. 21, 22), involving loss of fellowship in the light and partaking of the ‘holy things’ only after bathing in water and eating after dark, w. 6, 7. The application of these principles to the Christian is not difficult to understand.
XI Concluding Note
The law of the peace offering is given last of all because it typically unfolds the communion of the worshipper resulting from the understanding of Christ as seen in the other offerings.