William Kelly Major Works Commentary
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.Leviticus Chapter 3
THE SACRIFICES OF PEACE.
This is the last of the freewill offerings. Like the Burnt offering it was the sacrifice of animals; like the Meal offering or Minchah it was in part to be eaten. As with the former, the offerer laid his hand on the head of his offering, and slaughtered it at the entrance of the tent of meeting; and Aaron's sons the priests scattered rather than sprinkled the blood on the altar round about. It was, of course presented like the Burnt offering before Jehovah but no more than the fat that covers the inwards and also the fat that is on the inwards, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them which is by the flanks, and the net or caul upon the liver was to be taken away as far as the kidneys and burnt on the altar. The special feature of this offering, the Shelem, was to complete, as the cognate verb means. The aim was to express communion; and this it did with fulness indeed if we knew not Who He is that inspired these communications through His servant Moses.
In the law of the sacrifice of Peace offerings (Leviticus 7:11-21) we find this distinction in point of character or motive. They might be offered for a thanksgiving with their appropriate unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour soaked, but not without cakes of leavened bread also; for man's taint is in his rendering of thanks. In this case the flesh of the sacrifice had to be eaten on the day of the offering, and none of it was to be left until the morning. But if the sacrifice of this offering were a vow or a voluntary offering, not only the flesh might be eaten on the day that it was presented, but the remainder of it on the morrow also, though the rest, if any, must be burnt on the third day. For if eaten then, so far from being accepted, it should be imputed an abomination to the offerer, and he that ate of it should bear his iniquity, just as uncleanness upon the eater would bring on him cutting off from his people. Thanksgiving is simple, and looked for from the simplest believer; but it has no such sustaining power as that devotedness of heart which Christ and His sacrifice more deeply known create in some that know God's grace better. There is no real communion apart from faith in Christ's sacrifice and the thanksgiving it calls forth. Separate from Him and the faith that owns His work, it is fleshly, abominable to God, and ruinous to man; but the energy of the Spirit which fills the heart with Christ and forms devotedness has greater permanence; and it produces greater vigilance against all that defiles, though this in principle is true of those born of God, however feeble they may be.
It is in the appendix of the same chapter (Lev. 28-34) that we find the distinctive communion that belonged to the Peace offering. The offerer's own hands were to bring the first offering to Jehovah. The breast, for Aaron and his sons, was to be waved before Jehovah, as the fat was to be burnt upon the altar. The right shoulder was to be as a Peace offering to the offering priest. The rest was for the offerer, his family or friends. Thus Jehovah had His portion, Christ as signified by the priest that presented the blood and the fat, He and :His house ("whose house are we"), and the believers one with another, all entering into and enjoying the fellowship of Christ's work. But all uncleanness is peremptorily treated as incompatible with the feast on that sacrifice. If man's communion be prominent, the more care is taken that he forget not what is due to God and His holiness.
THE PEACE OFFERING OF THE HERD.
The Peace offering emphatically, and among the sacrifices distinctively, expressed fellowship. Here, however, it is the highest aspect which is put forward. It is only in "the law" of these offerings that we find the larger communion set out. Meet it is that God should be honoured in the first place; and this is carefully done throughout the chapter.
"And if his oblation [be] a sacrifice of peace offerings, if he present of the herd whether male or female, be shall present it without blemish before Jehovah. And he shall lay his hand upon the head of his oblation, and slaughter it at the entrance of the tent of meeting; and Aaron's sons the priests shall sprinkle of the blood round about on the altar. And he shall present of the sacrifice of peace offerings a fire offering unto Jehovah: the fat that covereth the inwards and all the fat that [is] on the inwards, and the two kidneys and the fat that [is] on them, which [is] by the flanks, and the net above the liver which he shall take away as far as the kidneys; and Aaron's sons shall burn it on the altar upon the burnt offering which [is] on the wood that [is] upon the fire: a fire offering of sweet odour to Jehovah" (vers. 1-5).
As usual, the most abundant offering occupies the first place. It represents Christ entered fully into according to God's mind, not for atonement as in Lev. 1, still less for sin or trespass as in chaps. 4, 5, yet slain and the blood sprinkled or dashed round about upon the altar, and so distinguished from every form of the Meal offering. Simple faith is ever strong and intelligent; subject to the written word, it rests through grace on divine righteousness; it owns according to the Spirit's testimony man wholly evil as well as guilty and lost, but it no less owns the believer forgiven and saved according to God's estimate of Christ's work, so that doubt henceforth is treated as sin, and the gospel is received in full assurance of faith. Christ therefore is apprehended in the richest form of this fresh presentation of God's grace, where His enjoyment of the Saviour's death in its positive excellency as the deepest ground of communion is set forth for the joy of faith. We may see a beautiful answer to it, as well as to the Holocaust, in our Lord's expression of His death in John 10:17-18. "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life (soul) that I may take it again. No one taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have authority to lay it down, and have authority to take it again: this commandment I received of my Father." In this point of view, the objects of compassion and their clearance by atonement vanish to leave the absolute devotedness of Christ to the divine glory alone; so as to furnish the highest motive for the Father's love, independently of evil to be judged and benefits to be conferred righteously. How wondrous that once guilty and selfish creatures, and such as we, can be let in to share such divine delight, finding in it even now the spring of our deep worship!
Latitude ordinarily was left, as compared with the Burnt offering; male or female might be presented; for man was to share as well as God. But it must be "without blemish," for it typified Christ. And in both oases the offerer laid his hand upon the head of his oblation, the witness of identity with the victim's efficacy; as indeed though for another end in the sacrifices for sin. Burnt, Meal, and Peace offerings, were alike Fire offerings and an odour of rest to Jehovah. But here it was the fat: all the inward fat, expressive of the sound state and intrinsic energy of the victim, no less than the blood, was for Jehovah only. Abel we see led thus by faith to honour God in his acceptable sacrifice, when Cain in unbelief sinned against Him.
It was exactly in place, and in due homage, that God should be shown thus honoured. Even though fellowship of others, yea, of all that are His, should be afterwards taught with careful minuteness, His part alone appears here in the type. The blood was for Him alone; the fat exclusively His. What excellency He found in that which was the meaning and substance and end of these shadows! To every other, the blood, the forfeited life, was prohibited utterly; and the fat elsewhere, the proud rebellious self-complacency that kicked against God's will and His glory. In Jesus, for both cases, what savour of holy and gracious devotedness to His name, inwardly and outwardly up to death, yea, death of the cross! What a new and mighty -motive for infinite love, which there found its adequate object and its constant delight in "the Lord's death!" What an unfailing source and everlasting sustainer of worship to His own who in faith taste of His joy - joy in God!
We may observe (Lev. 17) that in the wilderness, whenever one of the house of Israel killed an ox, lamb, or goat within the camp, or killed it without the camp, he was bound to bring it unto the door of the tent of the meeting and present it as an oblation to Jehovah, Who was entitled to the blood upon His altar and to the fat also. All such flesh, before being eaten, must be thus sacrificed as Peace offerings to Jehovah. So were Israel to walk, even in their daily food testifying their communion with Him Who gave them it and all things. Are we, Christians, to fall short of Israel? Have we not the "better thing?"
THE PEACE OFFERING OF A SHEEP.
There was a certain latitude allowed as to the Peace offering as compared with the Burnt offering. In the latter a male was required, in the former the animal presented might be either a male or a female. Where the entire victim was consumed on the altar save the skin which went to the offering priest, the highest form of the animal was demanded, whether of herd or of flock. It was to make atonement, for the offerer was a sinful man, though not occupied then with particular offences for which a Sin or Trespass offering was needed. But the peculiarity of the Peace offering lay in its being not only offered up to God but participated in by man also. It was meet accordingly that a lower standard should be prescribed than where He exclusively was in view.
"And if his oblation for a sacrifice of peace offerings to Jehovah [be] of the flock, male or female, he shall present it without blemish. If he present a sheep for his oblation, then shall he present it before Jehovah, and he shall lay his hand on the head of his oblation, and slaughter it before the tent of meeting; and Aaron's sons shall sprinkle the blood thereof upon the altar round about. And he shall present of the sacrifice of peace offerings a fire offering to Jehovah: the fat thereof, the whole fat tail, which he shall take off close by the back bone, and the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that [is] on the inwards, and the two kidneys and the fat that [is] on them, which [is] by the flanks, and the net [or, caul] above the liver which he shall take away as far as the kidneys. And the priest shall burn it on the altar: the food of the fire offering to Jehovah" (vers. 6-11).
Hence also, though the hand was laid on the head of the offering, and it was offered like the Burnt offering at the entrance of the tent of meeting, not a word is said of its being accepted for him, still less to make atonement for him, though it was alike slaughtered there, and Aaron's sons the priests alike dashed the blood on the altar round about. Nothing is here said about flaying it. as with the Burnt offering, nothing about cutting it up in its pieces as in that case for the convenient and complete burning it up on the altar. The sacrifice of the Peace offering was to be presented no less truly as a fire offering to Jehovah. Whatever the privilege enjoyed, it is inseparable from sacrifice, and God has His honour in the first place. How could it be a type of Christ without such homage as this? And assuredly it is here expressly and carefully enjoined.
But it is on the fat that unusual stress is laid. In the Burnt offering a term is employed which does not appear otherwise. Here it is the more general expression, but pressed with emphasis and descriptive care, "and the fat that covereth the inwards and all the fat that [is] on the inwards, and the two kidneys and the fat that [is] on them, which [is] by the flanks, and the net [or, caul] above the liver which he shall take away as far as the kidneys." Indeed where a sheep was offered, the whole fat and tail also was specified besides, which was to be taken off close by the back bone, and burnt on the altar. The fat represents, not the life as in the blood of the animal given up to God, but its inward energy. The richest part is here claimed sacrificially for the altar.
In the offering from the herd the fat or other inward appurtenances was formally declared to be burnt on the altar upon the Burnt offering which was on the wood upon the fire. This was the fullest pledge of divine acceptance. In the offering from the flock the word is more brief; but a new and blessed phrase is added; it is "the food" or "bread" of the fire offering to Jehovah. How wondrous for Him and us to enjoy the same offering! Here again what a falling away from the truth of Christ to find, in this burning of the fat, "the offering up of our good affections to God in all our prayers and praises," or, far worse even, "the mortifying of our corrupt affections and lusts, and the burning up of them by the fire of divine grace." Yet I am citing, not Augustine nor Chrysostom, not Bossuet nor Pusey, but Matthew Henry; and Scott is no better. Think of either alternative being "the food of the fire offering to Jehovah for a savour of rest!" No; it was neither our good offered up, nor our bad mortified, but the inward energy of Christ Himself, as the ground perfect and abiding of communion for God and His family. For God's grace would have His children to enjoy a common portion with Himself; and it in the special aim of the Peace offering to show how the sacrifice of Christ secures this blessed fellowship to us. Christ offered up to God could alone furnish it in Himself. Quite another thing is what He produces in us, and yet more what He delivers us from.
We can perceive even in Lev. 3 that comparatively little of this sacrifice was burnt on the altar. What was burnt there was the choicest and most intimate; but besides this we shall see from Lev. 7 that part was given to Aaron and his sons in general, part to the offering priest in particular, and that the larger portion remained for the offerer, his family and his friends. In the same victim this remarkable fellowship of Jehovah, of the priestly body, of the true Priest, and of the faithful at large, is the distinctive property of the Peace offering. It is urged forcibly by the apostle in 1 Cor. 10 when insisting on the communion of Christ to guard from all inconsistent with it. "Behold Israel according to flesh: are not they that eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?" By eating of these they had fellowship with the altar. This was their communion, which made it morally impossible to be in communion with the heathen and their idols behind which were demons. How much more hatefully incongruous for us who drink of the Lord's cup and partake of His table! For the Lord's Supper is the standing and solemn act of communion for the church of God. It is the communion of Christ's blood and of Christ's body; and as we therein remember Him in death and in deeper than death for us, so He would the more strengthen us in self-judgment and abhorrence of all that offends God or sanctions the enemy.
No doubt whether we eat or drink or whatsoever we do day by day, we are called to obedience and to holiness, doing all to God's glory. But we have one special act in the breaking of the bread, constantly before us on each "first" of the week, the Lord's day. This agrees in spirit with the eating of the Peace offering, though the Lord's Supper becomes deeper, as Christianity exceeds the Law, and Christ Himself the victim which typified Him in certain respects.
THE PEACE OFFERING OF A GOAT.
This sacrifice did not admit of such latitude as the Burnt offering, nor yet as the Meal offering. It allowed nothing less than a goat, which now claims our attention as a third alternative.
"And if his oblation [be] a goat, then he shall present it before Jehovah; and he shall lay his hand on the head of it, and slaughter it before the tent of meeting. And the sons of Aaron shall sprinkle the blood of it on the altar round about. And he shall present thereof his offering, a fire offering to Jehovah the fat that covereth the inwards and all the fat that [is] on the inwards, and the two kidneys and the fat that [is] on them which [is] by the flanks, and the net above the liver, he shall take away as far as the kidneys. And the priest shall burn them on the altar, the food of the fire offering for a sweet odour. All the fat [is] Jehovah's. [It is] an everlasting statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings: no fat and no blood shall ye eat" (vers. 12- 17).
Though the goat could not be compared with the worth of the bullock or even with the harmless sheep, so suited to represent the patient blameless Sufferer, Jehovah comforted the Jew who could not bring either, yet desired to pay his thanks or his vow. A goat was perfectly valid and assuredly acceptable. He was to present it before Jehovah, lay his hand on its head, and slay it before the tent of meeting; nor did Aaron's sons sprinkle its blood with less zeal or care on the altar round about. He was directed to present thereof his offering, a Fire offering to Jehovah: all the inward fat, etc., precisely as he that offered the internal fat of a bullock.
One thing was expressly asked indeed, when a sheep was offered, which was peculiar necessarily to that form of the offering; "the whole fat tail, he shall take it away close by the backbone." In the sheep of Syria no portion was more prized or valuable, not only for its size but for its quality as fat with the delicacy of marrow. This was therefore claimed for Jehovah, and ungrudgingly given, "hard by the backbone." So surely had the Antitype devoted all His energies to His Father, not His life only. No wonder that such a type in the sheep's case drew out the beautiful recognition, "It is the food [or, bread] of the fire offering to Jehovah. "
It is all the more striking in the case of the goat, which had no such fat tail; and consequently no such demand held in this respect. Yet here sovereign grace consoled the offerer of the goat, "It is the food of the fire offering for a sweet odour." It also was His bread, and an odour of rest to Him.
How much more may we not rejoice in His joy, Who knows the infinite reality that we have correspondingly found in the sacrifice of Jesus, His blood and death, and His inward energies without stint offered up to His glory! What delight to the Father in Him Who gave Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odour of a sweet smell! If all the fat, the inward richness of the victim, was Jehovah's, if no such fat was to be eaten by the Israelites any more than the blood, how blessedly Christ has made it all good for us, as the basis of our communion with our God and Father! The law of the offering says more of the deepest worth; but we need say no more now.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
If he offer a lamb for his offering, then shall he offer it before the LORD.
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.
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,
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.
And the priest shall burn it upon the altar: it is the food of the offering made by fire unto the LORD.
And if his offering be a goat, then he shall offer it before the LORD.
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.
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,
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.
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.
It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood.