The Peace-Offerings: Part 1

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"Though ye offer me burnt-offerings and your meat-offerings, I will not accept them; neither will I regard the peace-offerings of your fat beasts." Such was God's announcement to Israel by the prophet Amos (v. 22) The two former of these offerings we have looked at; we would now consider the peace-offering, as it is called in the A.V., but which would be better understood if translated requitals, or recompenses, as the Hebrew word Shelamim signifies; for, as the reader may see in Lev. 7:12,1612If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried. (Leviticus 7:12)
16But if the sacrifice of his offering be a vow, or a voluntary offering, it shall be eaten the same day that he offereth his sacrifice: and on the morrow also the remainder of it shall be eaten: (Leviticus 7:16)
, it was offered on private occasions, either for a vow, or for a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and has nothing to do really with the idea of peace.
As with the burnt-offering and the meat-offering, so with the peace-offering, any one in Israel, if so minded, might bring one to God; but whereas the two former were frequently enjoined on public occasions, this last, except at the feast of weeks, was only commanded on special public occasions, such as the consecration of Aaron and his sons (Ex. 29:2828And it shall be Aaron's and his sons' by a statute for ever from the children of Israel: for it is an heave offering: and it shall be an heave offering from the children of Israel of the sacrifice of their peace offerings, even their heave offering unto the Lord. (Exodus 29:28)), and for Israel on the grand eighth day at the expiration of the consecration (ix), and on the occasion of the setting up of the tabernacle in the wilderness. (Num. 7) Again we read of them when the people took formal possession of their land, in the very place where God had first promised it to Abraham (Josh. 8:3131As Moses the servant of the Lord commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings. (Joshua 8:31)); and when David, by the prophet's guidance, offered sacrifices on the altar at Araunah's threshingfloor, where the plague was stayed. (2 Sam. 24:2525And David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the Lord was entreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel. (2 Samuel 24:25)) So also at Gilgal, when they made Saul king (1 Sam. 11:1515And all the people went to Gilgal; and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal; and there they sacrificed sacrifices of peace offerings before the Lord; and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly. (1 Samuel 11:15)); and at Jerusalem, on the occasion of Solomon's accession (1 Chron. 29: 31), the people in the joy of their heart willingly offered them to God. David, too, sacrificed peace-offerings when the ark entered Jerusalem (2 Sam. 6:1717And they brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in his place, in the midst of the tabernacle that David had pitched for it: and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. (2 Samuel 6:17)); and the men of Beth-shemesh likewise, when the ark returned from the land of the Philistines (1 Sam. 6:1515And the Levites took down the ark of the Lord, and the coffer that was with it, wherein the jewels of gold were, and put them on the great stone: and the men of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices the same day unto the Lord. (1 Samuel 6:15)); at the dedication of the temple under Solomon (1 Kings 8:63,6463And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered unto the Lord, two and twenty thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the Lord. 64The same day did the king hallow the middle of the court that was before the house of the Lord: for there he offered burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings: because the brazen altar that was before the Lord was too little to receive the burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings. (1 Kings 8:63‑64)); on the day of the cleansing of the altar by Hezekiah (2 Chron. 29:31-3631Then Hezekiah answered and said, Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto the Lord, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the Lord. And the congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and as many as were of a free heart burnt offerings. 32And the number of the burnt offerings, which the congregation brought, was threescore and ten bullocks, an hundred rams, and two hundred lambs: all these were for a burnt offering to the Lord. 33And the consecrated things were six hundred oxen and three thousand sheep. 34But the priests were too few, so that they could not flay all the burnt offerings: wherefore their brethren the Levites did help them, till the work was ended, and until the other priests had sanctified themselves: for the Levites were more upright in heart to sanctify themselves than the priests. 35And also the burnt offerings were in abundance, with the fat of the peace offerings, and the drink offerings for every burnt offering. So the service of the house of the Lord was set in order. 36And Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, that God had prepared the people: for the thing was done suddenly. (2 Chronicles 29:31‑36)); at the memorable feast of unleavened bread, in that same king's reign (2 Chron. 30:2222And Hezekiah spake comfortably unto all the Levites that taught the good knowledge of the Lord: and they did eat throughout the feast seven days, offering peace offerings, and making confession to the Lord God of their fathers. (2 Chronicles 30:22)); when, too, Manasseh repaired the altar (2 Chron. 33:1616And he repaired the altar of the Lord, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the Lord God of Israel. (2 Chronicles 33:16)); and at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem under Nehemiah (Neh. 12:4343Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off. (Nehemiah 12:43)); these sacrifices were in season. At Bethel, too, before the ark of God, when smitten by the Benjamites; and subsequently, when deliberating about the future of that tribe, Israel offered with their burnt-offerings, peace-offerings before the Lord. (Judg. 20: 21) At family festive-gatherings, too, whether when assembled at the tabernacle (1 Sam. 1:21;2. 19) or at home (1 Sam. 20:66If thy father at all miss me, then say, David earnestly asked leave of me that he might run to Bethlehem his city: for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the family. (1 Samuel 20:6)), these offerings had their place; and even the strange woman ventured to present them, the better, perhaps, to ensnare her victim, whom she would then invite to feast with her on the residue brought home to her house. (Prov. 7:1414I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. (Proverbs 7:14))
Thus it will be seen that, though such offerings formed part of the sacrificial ritual, they were not so frequently enjoined on Israel by the law as were burnt-offerings. Few, comparatively speaking, were the occasions on which by the law they had to be brought. See Lev. 8; 9; 23:19; Num. 7, all of which have been already noticed, and Num. 6:1717And he shall offer the ram for a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the Lord, with the basket of unleavened bread: the priest shall offer also his meat offering, and his drink offering. (Numbers 6:17), where it appears that the peace-offering formed part of the sacrifices which the Nazarite was to bring when the days of his separation were fulfilled. Seasons of holy joy were suitable times for peace-offerings to be brought, though any who were of a free heart might offer burnt-offerings on such occasions instead (2 Chron. 29:3131Then Hezekiah answered and said, Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto the Lord, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the Lord. And the congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and as many as were of a free heart burnt offerings. (2 Chronicles 29:31)); for whereas the former was an expression of thanksgiving, the latter betokened a fuller surrender to God, inasmuch as the whole of it ascended up from the altar to Him. But whichever it was, whether a burnt-offering or a peace-offering, the trumpet was to be blown over these sacrifices on the days of their gladness for a memorial before their God; and with the peace-offering, as with the burnt-offering, after Israel entered their land, a meat-offering and a drink-offering were always to be brought as well. (Num. 10:10; 15:1210Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the Lord your God. (Numbers 10:10)
12According to the number that ye shall prepare, so shall ye do to every one according to their number. (Numbers 15:12)
) These two offerings, though thus classed together, were yet widely different. In the peace-offering, a portion only was claimed for God, and the offerer could feast on part of it with his family or friends. Communion between God and the offerer in that which was brought to the altar could by it be enjoyed. The burnt-offering was wholly for God. In the meat-offering, the priest, and the males of the priesthood, had part with the Lord Jehovah. In the peace-offering, the offerer, too, could share, enjoying communion with God in the sacrifice of His well-beloved Son. The grace this proclaims is apparent, yet Israel little understood what it also declared; viz., their relative distance from God, compared with that of those who form the holy priesthood. True it is this could not have been taught before the cross, yet God expressed it symbolically in the regulation about these sacrifices, so that from that memorable day of Pentecost, when Christian position and privilege were first enjoyed and displayed, it might be seen that the latest and fullest interposition of God in grace was no after-thought in His mind, for He had traced it out in the revelation about sacrifices, made known to Israel by Moses when still abiding under the shadow of mount Sinai. Gracious it is on His part to allow His people to have communion with Him about His Son, and none of those who are His people, whether they form part of the holy priesthood, of which Peter writes (1 Peter 2:55Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5)), or will be known on earth as of Israel after the flesh, in the day which is approaching, are to be shut out from this privilege bestowed on them in His goodness. But only in the peace-offering can Israel, as portrayed in type, have this fellowship with God. They will learn how the Lord's atonement has met the depth of their need. They will understand what that full surrender was of Christ Himself to die, of which the burnt-offering was typical, but they will also rejoice with God in the death of Christ as set forth in these ordinances about the peace-offering.
In this way, then, they will be allowed to feast with God. Under the law, the offerer provided the animal for the sacrifice. In truth God has provided that sacrifice in which they will learn that they have part with Him. But though the offerer under the law provided the peace-offering, he could only bring of that which Jehovah had expressed His willingness to receive. For a burnt-offering he could bring of the herd, or of the flock, or a bird; for a peace-offering it must be only of the herd, or of the flock. Restricted as to what he might bring, the offerer was not bound down to present only a male. In a peace-offering a female might be brought as much as a male; but of whichever sex it was, the offering had to be perfect, without blemish (Lev. 3:1,6; 22:18-231And 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. (Leviticus 3:1)
6And 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. (Leviticus 3:6)
18Speak unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them, Whatsoever he be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers in Israel, that will offer his oblation for all his vows, and for all his freewill offerings, which they will offer unto the Lord for a burnt offering; 19Ye shall offer at your own will a male without blemish, of the beeves, of the sheep, or of the goats. 20But whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer: for it shall not be acceptable for you. 21And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the Lord to accomplish his vow, or a freewill offering in beeves or sheep, it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein. 22Blind, or broken, or maimed, or having a wen, or scurvy, or scabbed, ye shall not offer these unto the Lord, nor make an offering by fire of them upon the altar unto the Lord. 23Either a bullock or a lamb that hath any thing superfluous or lacking in his parts, that mayest thou offer for a freewill offering; but for a vow it shall not be accepted. (Leviticus 22:18‑23)
), though as a free-will offering, the regulation was less strict * than when the peace-offering was for a vow. And from a stranger in. Israel, too, the Lord would receive a free-will offering or a sacrifice for a vow, and that whether it was presented as a burnt-offering, or as a peace-offering.
The animal selected, the offerer brought it, laid his hand on its head, and killed it at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, or before the tabernacle, as the case -might be. If he brought of the herd, he killed it at the door; if of the flock, he slew it before the tabernacle; and the priests, the sons of Aaron, sprinkled its blood on the altar round about. The blood, the life of the flesh, was thus presented to God. After that the offerer brought near to the altar the fat that covered the inwards, and all the fat that was upon the inwards, and the two kidneys, and the fat that was upon them on the flanks, and the caul* above the liver, and the kidneys, and when the peace-offering was a sheep, the tail as well, all of which the priest burnt as an offering made by fire of a sweet savor unto the Lord. This, and this only, of the peace-offering was offered upon the altar.
(* Called in the margin " midriff,' and by some thought to be a membranous covering of the liver)
The kidneys, the seat of the feelings (Psa. 73:2121Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. (Psalm 73:21); Prov. 23:1616Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things. (Proverbs 23:16); Lam. 3:1313He hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my reins. (Lamentations 3:13)), and the fat, the expression of human will in the energy of life (Job 15:2727Because he covereth his face with his fatness, and maketh collops of fat on his flanks. (Job 15:27); Psa. 22:10;119. 70) are here seen offered to God, expressive surely of Him, who came not to do His own will, but the will of Him that sent Him (John 6:3838For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. (John 6:38)); and who said, when the Father hid things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes, "Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight." (Matt. 11:2626Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. (Matthew 11:26)) And all this was burnt as a sweet savor on the burnt-offering, without which as the basis of every sacrifice there could be no communion between us and God. With the service at the altar began the apportioning of the victim according to the ordinance of the peace-offering. In this the idea of communion is seen fully expressed; for Jehovah, the priest, the males of the priesthood, and the offerer, each had their portion in the one sacrifice. Jehovah's portion was the food, * or bread of the offerings made by fire, all of which were a sweet savor unto Him. This is His own statement, expressive of His satisfaction in Christ, of whom the sacrifice was a type -the holy One -whose innermost feelings were perfect in God's eyes. Gracious was it thus to write of the peace-offering, that the person who brought that, and did not bring a burnt-offering, could know that the part which was God's portion was food in His eyes.
(* This term food, literally bread, of the offerings made by fire was not restricted to the peace-offering, though we first meet with it when the lawgiver was writing of that offering. From Lev. 21:66They shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God: for the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and the bread of their God, they do offer: therefore they shall be holy. (Leviticus 21:6) (in the Hebrew), 8, 17, 21, 22. 25, it is plain that all was offered on the altar as an offering made by fire was comprised under this term. And the priests, who eat of the altar as partakers with it, eat of the bread of their God. (21: 22) As the burnt-offering was all consumed, this description would not be needed. Where part only was burnt, such a description of God's portion was given)
(To be continued)