The Fellowship Offering (Leviticus 3:1-17; 7:11-34; 19:5-8; 22:29-30)
As I have studied the Book of Leviticus this past week, I have come to realize several things which greatly motivate and enhance my study. Let me share these with you as we commence our study of the “Fellowship” or “Peace” Offering.
First, I have begun to appreciate the opportunity to consider the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice one-by-one. A friend of mine tells the story of the woman who is trying to decide how she should confess her sins. She asks, “Shall I ’fess ’em as I does ’em, or shall I bunch ’em?”
The problem of “bunching” is very much related to our study of the offerings. The offerings of the Old Testament are something like the tools in John Maurer’s shop: He has a particular tool for each particular task, and you never use the wrong tool for the task.
The Old Testament seems to have more offerings than we can count. That can lead to a fair bit of frustration on the part of the New Testament saint. There is a very important lesson to be learned here, which may help to motivate us in our study of these offerings. There is no one Old Testament offering which sums up the work of our Lord, and thus we must see that Christ’s death, burial and resurrection served to accomplish many different functions, not just one. I believe that it is Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer who lists over thirty things which the death of Christ accomplished.
We tend to “bunch” the benefits of the work of Christ, rather than to deal with them one at a time, and in so doing we miss much of the blessing which could be ours. One great contribution of the offerings in the Book of Leviticus is that they portray the blessings of the death of Christ, the Lamb of God, individually. The Old Testament saint would sacrifice the various offerings and would grasp, to some degree, the blessings God had given him. With each offering was associated some particular blessing. For us, all the blessings of God are realized by one offering, made once for all, the death of Christ at Calvary. In the Old Testament offerings, we are given the privilege to pause and to focus on the particular benefits and blessings we have received in Christ’s death, and to do so one at a time.
Second, every sacrifice that an Israelite offered was of a certain type, and for a specific purpose. Every offering has very exacting rules as to what is offered, how it is offered, and by whom it is offered. For example, the Peace Offering could be eaten on the day it was sacrificed, or on the day after, but not on the third day. To eat this sacrificial meat on the third day would have serious consequences (Lev. 19:5-8). A burnt offering had to be a male, while the Peace Offering could have been a male or a female, but not a bird. An ox or a lamb with an overgrown or stunted member could be offered for a freewill Peace Offering, but not for a votive Peace Offering (Lev. 22:23). Because of the consequences for failing to observe the “laws” of the offerings, one must be very certain what offering he was making, and then do it in accordance with all the laws God had laid down.
If you would, the law prescribed the plan, the way in which every offering was to be made. Before men could follow the plan, they had to determine the purpose, that is they had to decide which offering they were about to make, and why. Thus there was a built-in safeguard against mindless ritual, in which one went through the motions of making an offering without really thinking about what he was doing or why. The Israelite’s worship was to involve his whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. The precise regulations encouraged the Israelite worshipper to engage his mind in his worship.
Third, the only meat which an Israelite ate from their cattle was that which was offered as a Peace Offering. I know this is hard to believe, but listen to the command of God as given in Leviticus chapter 17:
“Any man from the house of Israel who slaughters an ox, or a lamb, or a goat in the camp, or who slaughters it outside the camp, and has not brought it to the doorway of the tent of the meeting to present it as an offering to the LORD before the tabernacle of the LORD, bloodguiltiness is to be reckoned to that man. He has shed blood and that man shall be cut off from among his people” (Lev. 17:3-4).
These are strong words indeed! Any animal that was slaughtered had to be offered to God as a sacrifice. Any blood that was shed, was shed as a part of a sacrifice. Thus, any meat that was eaten (at least from the cattle of the Israelites) had to be that which was first offered to God as a part of a sacrifice at the tent of meeting. And since the Peace Offering was the only sacrifice of which the Israelite could eat, every time the Israelite wanted to eat meat for dinner, he had to offer a Peace Offering.
There are three principle passages in the Book of Leviticus which deal with the Peace Offering. They are:
A. Leviticus 3:1-17—the mechanics of the sacrifice
B. Leviticus 7:11-34—the meaning of the sacrifice
C. Leviticus 19:5-8—The “law of leftovers”
Leviticus 3 is structured similarly to the first chapter of Leviticus. The regulations for the sacrifice of the Peace Offering are dealt with in terms of the kind of animal sacrificed. Thus, in chapter 3 we find the following structure:
A. Leviticus 3:1-5—offerings from the herd
B. Leviticus 3:6-17—offerings from the flock
1. a lamb (vv. 7-11)
2. a goat (vv. 12-17)
Leviticus chapter 7:11-34 is structured differently:
A. Lev. 7:11—Introduction
B. Lev. 7:12-14—Grain Offerings which accompany the Peace Offering
C. Lev. 7:15-34—The flesh of the Peace Offering
1. Its Defilement— vv. 15-27
a. By delay, vv. 15-18
b. By contact with unclean thing, vv. 19-21
c. By definition, vv. 22-27
2. Its Distribution—vv. 28-34
The Peace Offering
Imagine for the moment that you are an Israelite in the days of Moses, and that you are about to make a Peace Offering, according to all of the regulations in the Pentateuch. You could offer a Peace Offering as an act of thanksgiving (Lev. 7:12; 22:29-30), or to fulfill a special vow (Lev. 7:16; 22:21), or as a freewill offering (Lev. 7:16; 22:18, 21, 23). These were all optional offerings, which an Israelite could offer at any time, except for the feast of Pentecost (Lev. 23:19) and the fulfillment of the Nazarite’s days of separation (Num. 6:13-20), when the offering was mandatory.
You would begin by selecting an animal without any defect, either male or female, from the herd or from the flock (Lev. 3:1, 6). You would then bring this animal to the doorway of the tent of meeting, where you would lay your hand upon its head (3:2, 8, 13), thus identifying your sin with this animal, and yourself with its death. When you have slain the animal, the priests will collect the blood which is shed and sprinkle it around the altar (3:2, 8, 13).
The animal would then be skinned46 and cut into pieces. The priests would then take the fat of the animal, along with the kidneys and the lobe of the liver, and burn it on the altar of burnt offering (3:3-5; 9-11; 14-16). God’s portion of the Peace Offering would be the blood and the fat (Lev. 3:16-17; cf. 17:10-13). The priests would be given the breast and the right thigh of the animal (cf. Exod. 29:26-28; Lev. 7:30-34; 10:14-15). Aaron and his sons receive the breast (7:31), while the thigh goes to that priest who offers up the Peace Offering (7:33).
Along with the fat which is offered up to God there would also be the appropriate offering of grain. In the case of a thanksgiving offering both leavened and unleavened cakes were to be offered, some of which was burned on the altar, and the rest of which was to go to the priests (7:12-13). This was not the only grain offering which was leavened, for the celebration of Pentecost included the offering of leavened bread (Lev. 23:17). Those who would tell us that leaven is always a symbol of evil, and that, as such, it can never be used in conjunction with Israel’s worship or offerings, have some explaining to do here.47
Since the fat48 and blood are offered to God and the breast and the right thigh are given to the priest, the rest of the sacrificial animal is left for the offerer to eat. Thus, after the offering of the fat portions on the altar, the Israelite would eat a meal,49 partaking of the portions of the sacrificial animal which remained. Not much is said about the meal that is eaten. In contrast, there is considerable emphasis placed on the disposal of the meat of the Peace Offering (cf. Lev. 7:15-18; 19:5-8). I call this, “the law of the leftovers.”50 The meat of the thanksgiving Peace Offering must be eaten on the day it is sacrificed (7:15); if it is a votive offering or a freewill offering, it can be saved and eaten on the next day, but then must be burned (7:16-18; 19:5-8). The one who disobeys this regulation must be cut off from his people (19:8).
Distinctives of the Peace Offering
There are several distinctives of the Peace Offering, as compared with the Burnt and Grain Offerings of chapters 1 and 2. It is these distinctives which provide us with the key to the unique role of this offering.
First, the animal sacrificed in the Peace Offering could be from the herd or from the flock (but not a bird), whether male or female.
Second, the offering was shared by God, by the priests, and by the offerer. All of the Burnt Offering was the Lord’s (except for the skin). Most of the Grain Offering was for the priests. But the Peace Offering was shared by all, each receiving their appointed portions.
Third, three of the occasions on which the Peace Offering was appropriate were for thanksgiving, for completing a vow, and for a freewill offering.
Fourth, the Peace Offering was unique in that there was a meal associated with this offering.
Fifth, the thanksgiving Peace Offering included leavened bread (Lev. 7:13).
The Origin and Meaning of the Peace Offering
Sacrifices were not new to the Israelite, nor to the pagan, for that matter. The laws of Leviticus which pertain to the offerings do not initiate sacrifice, they merely seek to regulate it. The reason for these regulations, as for most all laws, is that men are abusing certain privileges. Before we seek to discern the meaning of the Peace Offering, let us take a moment to trace the history of sacrifice from the biblical data we are given.
Sacrifice was first offered by Adam and Eve and by their sons. Animals had to be slaughtered for the skins which covered the nakedness of Adam and his wife (Gen. 3:21).51 Then, in Genesis chapter 4, Cain and Abel made offerings to God (Gen. 4:1-5). Abel offered a blood (animal) sacrifice. It is especially interesting to note the wording here: “And Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions” (Gen. 4:4a, emphasis mine).
In the first recorded animal sacrifice by men, we are told that the “fat portions” are offered. And thus we read in Leviticus, “… all fat is the LORD’s” (Lev. 3:16b). Then, after the flood, Noah offered animal sacrifices to God as burnt offerings (Gen. 8:20), and as a result, God made a covenant never to destroy mankind in this way again (Gen. 8:21-22). God then pronounced a blessing on Noah and his sons, and gave the animals to them for food, seemingly for the first time (Gen. 9:1-3). There was the stipulation, however, that the blood of the animals could not be eaten (Gen. 9:4-5), which, if it is not the precedent for this command in Leviticus, is surely somehow related: “‘It is a perpetual statue throughout your generations in all your dwellings; you shall not eat any fat or any blood’” (Lev. 3:17). The prohibition against shedding man’s blood is then stated, along with the institution of capital punishment, as the penalty for murder (Gen. 9:5-7).
It is my speculation that from this time on, no animal was sacrificed apart from some kind of sacrificial ceremony, at which time the blood was poured out, and perhaps the fat was offered up in fire to the Lord. I believe that this practice persisted, in a perverted form, by the pagans who descended from Noah and his sons. I say this on the basis of two biblical texts:
So the next day they rose early and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play (Exod. 32:6).
“The reason is so that the sons of Israel may bring their sacrifices which they were sacrificing in the open field, that they may bring them in to the LORD, at the doorway of the tent of meeting to the priest, and sacrifice them as sacrifices of peace offerings to the LORD. And the priest shall sprinkle the blood on the altar of the LORD at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and offer up the fat in smoke as a soothing aroma to the LORD. And they shall no longer sacrifice their sacrifices to the goat demons with which they play the harlot. This shall be a permanent statute to them throughout their generations” (Lev. 17:5-7).
Before Moses had descended from Mt. Sinai with God’s instructions, which included the sacrifices, the Israelites were offering “peace offerings” as a part of their heathen worship. They did not learn to make peace offerings from Moses, and so they must have known similar offerings from their past. The text in Leviticus 17 is even more explicit. The reason why God ordered the Israelites to slaughter every animal as a sacrifice before the tent of meeting (Lev. 17:1-4) was because they were slaughtering their animals outside the camp in the open field, not in a neutral way, but as a part of a heathen ritual which involved the worship of “goat demons” (17:7). Thus, the regulations of Leviticus pertaining to the offerings were to deal with the corrupted form of offering, which I believe stems from the sacrifices of Able, and later of Noah.
The killing of animals by the shedding of their blood thus was originated by God, and was normally associated with atonement (covering sin) and with God’s blessing, as expressed in His covenants. The Book of Genesis thus laid a vital foundation for the origins of worship and of sacrifice, intended to correct the distortions and perversions of it over time by sinful men. Much of Israel’s understanding of the Peace Offering (and the rest) was therefore based on the divine revelation of Genesis.
In the Book of Exodus we find further revelation concerning the Peace Offering, which would assist the Israelite in understanding the significance of this offering. God spoke specifically of the Peace Offering in Exodus 20:24: “‘You shall make an altar of earth for Me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen; in every place where I cause My name to be remembered, I will come to you and bless you.’”
Again, in Exodus chapter 24, we find the Peace Offering. You will recall that God has just proclaimed the details of the Mosaic Covenant to Moses, and in chapter 24 this covenant will be formally ratified. Thus, we read:
And Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD. Then he arose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the sons of Israel, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as peace offerings to the LORD. … Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they beheld God, and they ate and drank (Exod. 24:4-5, 9-11, emphasis mine).
Numbers chapter 7 is an account of the gifts and offerings which were initially offered by the leaders of Israel (7:2), which includes peace offerings. It seems to me that in both Exodus 24 and Numbers 7 the leaders are acting representatively for the people in making their peace offerings. While it is not stated per se in Exodus 24, it would seem to me that the meal which was eaten by the leaders of Israel in God’s presence was the prototype and predecessor of the peace offering which would be made in conjunction with the tabernacle. Where did the leaders of Israel get the food which they ate in God’s presence? I think that it was that which remained from the peace offerings of 24:5.
It is against the backdrop of Genesis and Exodus, in the light of the previous sacrifices and peace offerings of God’s people, that the Israelite was to understand the peace offering. But this is not all the information we have concerning the meaning of the Peace Offering. In addition, we have (1) the meaning of the original term employed for the Peace Offering, (2) the instructions and regulations pertaining to the Peace Offering, (3) biblical examples of the Peace Offering, and, (4) the ability to distinguish this offering from the others (knowing the primary significance of the other offerings at least enables us to discern what facets of Israel’s relationship to God have not yet been enacted by their sacrificial ritual). Let us briefly consider each of these, so that we can discern the meaning of the Peace Offering to the Israelite of Moses’ day.
(1) The meaning of “peace.” There is considerable difference of opinion as to exactly what the Hebrew term employed for the “Peace” Offering actually means. Nevertheless, there is some help to be gained from a consideration of the general meaning of the root word. Essentially “peace” has the connotation of “wholeness” or “completeness.”
An illustration of biblical “wholeness” can be seen in marriage, specifically in the marriage of Adam and Eve. When God made Adam, he was initially alone. When Adam named the animals, they all passed before him—in pairs! There was Mr. and Mrs. Sheep, Mr. and Mrs. Ox, and so on. Adam began to feel incomplete, and rightly so. God said that Adam’s aloneness was not good, and so he made a mate for him—Eve. When the two were joined together, they became one flesh. Adam became “whole” when he became one with Eve.
So the Israelites became whole when they become one with God in worship. “Peace” describes this wholeness. I believe “peace” refers to the condition of acceptance (cf. Lev. 19:5, “So that you might be accepted”) which the Israelite experienced with God by virtue of the sacrifices, resulting in an inner peace on the part of each Israelite. Since the offerer places his hand on the animal that is sacrificed, the element of sin is clearly present. This offering assures the offerer that he has peace with God, based upon the shedding of innocent blood.
(2) The instructions pertaining to the Peace Offering. In particular, the most striking features of this offering are that the offerer personally partakes of the sacrificial meat by means of a festive meal. I take it, that in so doing the focus here is more upon the experiential benefits to the offerer than in the previous offerings. In the Burnt Offering, the offerer received none of the sacrificed animal at all. In the Grain Offering, the same was true, although the priests fared better here. But it is in the Peace Offering, indeed, only in the Peace Offering, that the offerer gets something back, something like a rebate. I believe this suggests that the emphasis falls on the benefits to the offerer, that the offerer is here more in view than previously has been the case.
(3) The biblical examples of the Peace Offering. In 1 Samuel chapter 1, Hannah made a vow to the Lord that she would dedicate her son to the Lord if He would but give her a boy child. When God answered her prayer, she fulfilled her promise, thus completing her vow. Thus, in obedience to the instructions found in Leviticus pertaining to the Peace Offering, Hannah went to Shiloh and gave her son to the Lord, offering her Peace Offering at this time (1 Sam. 1:22-28). As she had experienced the “wholeness” of child-bearing and of being able to fulfill her vow, she offered her “peace” offering.
In many other instances the Peace Offering was offered in the history of Israel. Interestingly, this offering was made both in times of great sorrow (e.g. Judg. 20:26; 21:4) and in times of great joy (e.g. Dt. 27:7; Josh. 8:31; 1 Sam. 11:15). In each instance the Peace Offering focuses on the benefits, the wholeness, which Israel is experiencing, or which she had lost (and for which she hopes), the offering then being an act of faith, a looking forward to a future wholeness or peace, which God will grant His people.
(4) The Peace Offering as contrasted to the Burnt and Grain Offerings. I said at the outset of this message that each of the sacrifices focuses on one particular facet of God’s grace and of the benefits which God’s people experience through the sacrifices. The Burnt Offering focus on the satisfaction of God’s righteousness because of the sacrificial death of the animal offered. Here, as it were, the emphasis falls on God, and the satisfaction of His anger, due to the general fallen condition of man. The Grain Offering focuses on the Israelite’s dependence upon God, not only for forgiveness and spiritual life, but for physical life. The Peace Offering focuses on the Israelite’s “peace with God,” the joys and the peace of mind which comes from knowing that God is at peace with us. Thus, whether it is the joy that God has enabled the Israelite to fulfill his vow, or in thanks for some gracious act of God, or a freewill offering, the Israelite’s peace with God is in view.
The Peace Offering and the Contemporary Christian
(1) Christ is our Peace Offering. The primary significance of the Peace Offering of the Old Testament is to be found in its antitype, Jesus Christ. In the offering of the Peace Offering the Israelite was benefited by the peace of knowing and experiencing God’s forgiveness. In fact, it was more than this. God’s anger was not just appeased, God was no longer angry with the offerer, His favor was with him. There is the sense in which Christ’s death appeased (propitiated) God’s anger, but the “Peace Offering” aspect of Christ’s work went beyond this. Because of Christ, God is no longer angry with the one who has identified with Him by faith, He is favorably disposed to Him. And because this is true, we can experience the inner peace that comes from knowing God’s favor is directed toward us. Just as our love for God is reflected in a love for man, so our “peace with God” also manifests itself in a peace with men. This is the message which Paul proclaimed:
But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. and He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father (Eph. 2:13-18).
Some versions have translated the “Peace Offering” the “Fellowship Offering.” Both terms, “peace” and “fellowship” are appropriate, in my opinion. Through Christ’s death we have peace and fellowship with God and peace and fellowship with man. The meal that the offerer of the Peace Offering enjoyed, along with his fellow-Israelites, whom he invited, signified the peace which the sacrifice brought about.
Years ago, Dr. Billy Graham wrote a book entitled, Peace With God. There are a lot of expressions used for conversion which I do not care for, because they are not really biblical, but this expression, “peace with God” expresses, perhaps better than any other, the blessing which salvation brings to the believer. Have you experienced this peace with God my friend? The Bible tells us that we are born at enmity with God. That is our natural state (cf. Eph. 2:1-3). That condition of hostility, Paul tells us in the second chapter of Ephesians, is remedied and removed by the blood of Christ, and enmity with God is replaced by peace with God, and with our fellow men.
We are hearing a lot of talk these days about “fulfillment” and “self-realization” and the like. We can read much about “reaching our full potential” and having a “positive self-image,” but all these goals fall far short of the joy of having peace with God, through faith in our great Peace Offering, Jesus Christ. I urge you, if you have never received this gift, do so today, by simply trusting in Jesus Christ as your Peace Offering to God. When you receive Christ as your Peace Offering you will be able to sing with conviction and assurance, “It Is Well With My Soul,” for this is the peace which God offers us in Christ.
(2) The meaning of a meal. Throughout the Bible, the meal has a meaning much greater than that which our culture attributes to it. I believe that for the people of God, and often for the pagans (cf. Exod. 32:6; Num. 25:1-3), the meal had a deeply religious significance. I do not think that the Peace Offering was the origin of this significance, but rather a reflection of it. Before Leviticus, Abraham offered meat and a meal to his unknown visitors (Gen. 18), as did Lot (Gen. 19). Later on, it was significant when the Levite was seeking a meal and a place to lodge without success (Judges 19). The festive meal which was a part of the Peace Offering simply added to the significance which the meal already had. Here, the meal was a symbol of the peace which the Israelite had with God and with men, through the sacrifice of the innocent victim.
When you stop to think of it, the New Testament is saturated with stories and teachings related to the dinner table. In Luke chapter 14 the entire chapter is dealing with “meals,” precipitated by the fact that our Lord associated with the “wrong kind of people” at the table, at least in the minds of the scribes and Pharisees (cf. Mark 2:16). Our Lord taught, for example, that one should not invite those to dinner who are wealthy and influential, and who can thus return the favor to us in some way (Lu. 14:12-14). Was not this especially applicable at the meal associated with the Peace Offering, when the poor would only be able to participate if the more affluent invited them? (Remember, there was no “poor people’s” alternative for the Peace Offering, as there was for the Burnt Offering, for example.)
The story of the “prodigal son” takes on even more significance once we understand the nature of the “Peace Offering.” What was it that the prodigal son missed so much in that foreign land, when he was longing to eat the pods which the pigs were eating, but his father’s table? And what was it that angered the older brother, if it was not the father’s slaying of the fatted calf? Now, in the light of what we know of the Peace Offering, what would the father have had to do, before the fatted calf could have been eaten? It would have been offered first as a Peace Offering. What, then, did the fatted calf signify, if not the fact that the son had been accepted by the father, and that there was “peace” in the family again? The Peace Offering deepens our grasp of the significance of meals in the New Testament.
So, too, the significance of meat and of meals enhances our grasp of the problem which Paul dealt with in 1 Corinthians of eating meats, especially those eaten in the home of an unbelieving neighbor, who may very well have obtained meat which was involved in a pagan ritual, or which might take place in the meal itself.
The Peace Offering helps the Christian to understand the significance of a meal, especially since the Lord’s Table was initially conducted as a part of a meal (cf. 1 Cor. 11). The Lord’s Table, or Communion, is, in large measure, the New Testament version of the Peace Offering festive meal. The Peace Offering sacrifice is not offered, for our Peace Offering is Christ, who died once for all, to make peace between men and God, and between men and men. The celebration goes on, however, and so in the communion service we are reminded of our unity with others, as well as our unity with God: “Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor. 10:16-17).
Because of the significance of the Lord’s Table, as it pertains to the peace which Christ has accomplished on the cross, misconduct at this table is taken most seriously, even as infractions of the regulations pertaining to the Peace Offering are sobering.
The newly born church manifested its life and fellowship by sharing meals from “house to house” (Acts 2:46). One of the greatest barriers between the Jewish believers and the Gentile saints was that of eating (cf. Acts 10 & 11). Thus, when Peter departed from what God had taught him in this passage, Paul rebuked him for departing from the very essence of the gospel (Gal. 2:11-21).
The coming of our Lord and joy and peace experienced by true believers at this time are thus appropriately described in “banquet terms”:
And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude and as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready … And he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God” (Rev. 19:6-7, 9).
The dinner table has become much more secular to us than it ever was to the people of earlier times. I suspect that some of this is due to the pace of our lives, and to the instant “TV” dinners, which are eaten before the TV, rather than at the table, or which are gulped down at a “fast food” chain outlet. How much we can make of the meal table is suggested by the Peace Offering meal of the Old Testament, and by the Lord’s Table of the New. May God enable us to make more of the meal table, and to meditate more on the peace which Christ has won for us on the cross.
46 The skinning of the animal is not mentioned anywhere that I can find, but it is surely implied, as in the case of the other sacrifices (cf. Lev. 7:8).
47 I am not certain what significance leavened bread has here, but I do know that we dare not insist that leaven is a symbol of sin, either.
48 The fat is what is offered primarily here; all the fat is the Lord’s (cf. Lev. 3:16-17; 6:12; Amos 5:22; 1 Ki. 8:64; 2 Chron. 7:7; 29:35).
49 The fact that a meal was associated with the Peace Offering helps to explain why the size of this offering is often significantly larger than the other offerings. Cf. Numbers 7:17, 23, 29, 35, 41, 47, 53, 59, 65, etc.; 1 Ki. 8:63.
50 No reason is given why the meat cannot be kept for a longer period of time. Perhaps it is because there was the possibility of it spoiling, and thus negating the value of the offering (cf. Lev. 7:18-27). It is also possible that the necessity of totally consuming the animal quickly encouraged the one who was making this offering to invite as many as possible to share with him in the sacrificial meal. (If you could keep the leftovers, you might not invite as many to share the meal with you.)
51 Is it possible that God burned up the rest of the animals from which these skins were taken? Something had to be done with their carcases, and it seems that men did not yet eat meat (cf. Gen. 9:1-7). It is interesting to note that in the first sacrifice the skin was used and the rest was disposed of, while in later sacrifices it is almost the opposite.