Leviticus 7:11
We gather from these words -

I. THAT THERE IS A JOYOUS AND SOCIAL ELEMENT IN SACRED SERVICE. There were not only sin and burnt offerings, but also meat and peace offerings, in the Hebrew ritual. Those who were reconciled unto God might rejoice, and might rejoice together, before him. They might hold festive gatherings as his servants and as his worshippers; they might eat flesh which had been dedicated, to him, and bread, even leavened bread (verse 13), and they were to "rejoice in their feast" (Deuteronomy 16:14). The prevailing tone of the true Christian life is that of sacred joy. Even at the remembrance of the Saviour's death humility and faith are to rise into holy joy.

"Around a table, not a tomb,
He willed our gathering-place should be.
When going to prepare our home,
Our Saviour said, 'Remember me.'" Whether in ordinary worship, or at "the table of the Lord," or in any other Christian festival, we are to "rejoice before the Lord." together.

II. THAT THERE IS A SPONTANEOUS AS WELL AS A STATUTORY element in sacred service. "If he offer it for a thanksgiving then he shall offer," etc. (verse 12). "If the sacrifice... be a vow, or a voluntary offering, it shall be eaten," etc. (verse 16). God's Law says, "thou shalt," but it finds room for "if thou shalt." There are many things compulsory, and we have nothing to do but cheerfully and unquestioningly obey. There are also many things optional, and we may allow ourselves to act as devotional and generous impulses may move us. The mind which is constitutionally legal should cultivate the spontaneous in worship and benefaction; the impulsive must remember that there are statutes as well as suggestions in the Word of God.

III. THAT THERE MAY BE NOT ONLY FUTILITY BUT EVEN GUILT in connection with sacred service. Disregard of the prohibition to eat on the third day entirely vitiated the worthiness of the offering: in such case it would "not be accepted," neither "imputed unto him that offered it;" it would be counted "an abomination," and the soul that so acted was to "bear his iniquity" (verse 18). The service we seek to render God may be:

1. Wholly vitiated so as to be entirely unacceptable, and draw down no blessing from above; or may even be:

2. Positively offensive in the sight of God, and add to our guilt, if it be

(1) unwilling, grudging;

(2) unspiritual, soulless;

(3) slovenly, careless, the offering of our exhaustion instead of our energy;

(4) ostentatious or (still worse) hypocritical;

(5) much mixed with worldly, or vindictive, or base thoughts.

IV. THAT PERSONAL SPIRITUAL PARTICIPATION IS NECESSARY in sacred service. "His own hands shall bring the offerings" (verse 30). God would be approached by His people themselves, and though he had graciously granted human mediation in the form of a sacrificing priesthood, yet he desired that every Israelite who had an offering to present should bring it with his own hand to the door of the tabernacle. Religion is a personal thing. We may accept human ministry, but we must come ourselves to God in direct, immediate devotion and dedication. Every man here must bear his own burden (Galatians 6:5). There is a point beyond which the most ardent affection, the most earnest solicitude, the most burning zeal cannot go - for others. They must, themselves, approach in reverence, bow in penitence, look up in faith, yield in self-surrender, present daily sacrifices of gratitude, obedience, submission. - C.







The law of the sacrifice of peace-offerings.
I. CHARACTERISTICS.

1. The animal offered might be a male or a female — differing in this from the burnt-offering.

2. It was not to be wholly consumed as the burnt offerings.

3. If for a thanksgiving offering, unleavened cakes, mingled with oil, as well as leavened, might be offered.

4. If for a vow or a voluntary offering, the parts to be eaten must be eaten on the same or the following day.

5. No ceremonially-unclean person could eat of the peace-offering.

II. SIGNIFICANCE.

1. The peace-offering, as the name implies, presents to us our Lord Jesus as our peace (Ephesians 2:14).

2. This is the key to this symbolic offering, by which may be unlocked, with certainty, some, at least, of its rich treasures.(1) The parts consumed — representing the most excellent parts, the inward parts, the hidden energies — were offered on the altar unto God the Father — in which He was "well pleased."(2) The other parts eaten by the priests representing the true believer feeding on Christ as his Peace, having laid his hand of faith on Him; the sprinkled blood being the ground of peace.(3) The wave-breast representing the love of Christ, and the heave-shoulder His all-power, give the two leading elements in Christ on which the believer feeds with joyous delight.(4) The unleavened cakes, representing the new nature of the believer, being mingled with oil, the oil representing the Holy Spirit, show the necessity for even the regenerated to be assisted by the power of the Spirit for profitable communion with God in Christ, and to enter into the fulness of the love and power of Christ.(5) Leavened bread, signifying evil, was to be offered as well as unleavened, to signify that our sinful nature should be recognised in our "sacrifice of thanksgiving" — not for condemnation, but for joy that it is judged. The sin in us should not hinder our communion with God in Christ, if we have no sin upon us.(6) The ceremonially-unclean could not eat of the wave-breast or heave-shoulder, to signify that sin unconfessed, and therefore unpardoned, is an insurmountable hindrance to fellowship with God in Christ.

(D. C. Hughes, M. A.)

I. THE PEACE-OFFERING A SACRIFICE OF THANKSGIVING. Three forms of it are specified —

1. The offering of thanksgiving, i.e., for some special blessing.

2. The vow, the fulfilment of a promise to God.

3. The voluntary offering, made from a principle of gratitude, when, with no special occasion, the worshipper called upon his soul and all within him to praise and bless God's holy name. It was a peace-offering, a national thanksgiving, which Solomon made at the dedication of the Temple. It is this sacrifice which is so frequently referred to in the Psalms. In connection with the celebration of the Passover there were two peace-offerings. The former of these is continued in the Lord's Supper, which is a feast of thanksgiving for God's greatest gift to men. We should thank God at the sacramental table for all special exhibitions of the Divine goodness.

II. THE PEACE-OFFERING IS A SACRIFICE OF FELLOWSHIP. This, taken with thanksgiving, is its characteristic idea. The feature peculiar to it was the sacrificial meal; the partaking of that which was offered by the worshipper. The priests shared in what was offered in the meat and sin-offerings. The worshipper also partook of the peace-offering. The sacrifice was an act of holy communion. Also a social meal.

III. THE BASIS OF COMMUNION IN THE PEACE-OFFERING IS SACRIFICE; AND IN THE SACRIFICE, THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD. The shedding of the blood in this particular sacrifice does not represent, as in the sin-offering, the act of atoning for sin. The bleeding Christ as our Peace-offering is not our sin-bearer. But His blood in this offering also declares that an atonement has been made, and that the sole ground of fellowship with God is the reconciling blood of the Lamb (Ephesians 2:13, 14).

IV. THE PEACE-OFFERING REQUIRES HOLINESS IN THE WORSHIPPER. This fact is expressed in the provision that unleavened bread should be offered as a part of the sacrifice. Yeast, or leaven, was a symbol of corruption. The principle of corruption must be carefully excluded, if our offering is to find acceptance. Is there old leaven of sin in your life?

V. IN THE PEACE-OFFERING THE SINFULNESS OF A NATURE PARTIALLY SANCTIFIED IS CONFESSED. The curse of sin is no more on us, but it is in us.

(G. R. Leavitt.)

It is most interesting to find, here among the sober directions that Moses was commissioned to deliver to the Israelites, one which assumes a constant recognition of God's love and bounty. The peace. offering seems to have for its definite end the earnest inculcation of a perpetual exercise of devotion, without any special occasion, as well as with some which are carefully mentioned. Perhaps the best account of the whole ordinance is given in the familiar words of Kurtz: "A state of peace and of friendship with God was the basis and the essential of the presentation of the peace-offering; and the design of the presentation, from which its name was derived, was the realisation and establishment, the verification and enjoyment, of the existing relation of peace, friendship, fellowship, and blessedness." It may be well for us just to pick out the particulars of this form of description.

I. In the peace-offering there was inculcated A SPIRIT OF TRANQUIL TRUST. When one made the sacrifice, it signified that he was in the state of reconciliation with God. The law had lost its curse; sin was in process of being subdued; the soul of the glad believer simply rested upon the promises of redemption, and waited for its salvation. Among the severe passes of the Scottish highlands, it is memorable always to mention Glencoe; for no one who has ever climbed the fatiguing steeps can forget that, after the weary way had led him up and on, and beneath the shadow of the grotesque Ben Arthur, past many a disappointing elevation which he thought surely would be the last, he finally reached that mossy stone, by the winding wayside, on which are written the welcome words, "Here rest, and be thankful!" There, sitting down in peace, one sees the rare prospect of beautiful hill and vale, rock and loch kindling and shadowing each other, far away towards the blue horizon; and just beside him, at the turn of the road, is also the long path by which he came. Such spots of experience there are on the mountains of life, when the forgiven sinner, now a child, pauses to say to himself, "Return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee." In the original verse this reads "resting-places."

II. In the peace-offering there was inculcated also A SPIRIT OF HEARTFELT GRATITUDE. This service is called "the sacrifice of thanksgiving" (Psalm 116:17). How many mercies have been given us! How many perils have been averted! How many fears have been allayed I How many friendly communions have been granted l How many anticipations have been kindled! How many hopes have been gratified! Per contra, just a serious thought might likewise be bestowed upon the other side of the ledger. Said old Christmas Evans, in an unusually lengthened period of reminiscence, "Thy love has been as a shower; the returns, alas I only a dewdrop now and then, and even that dewdrop stained with sin!" At this point the suggestion which this ceremonial makes concerning permanency of devout acknowledgment is welcome. "Thanksgiving is good," said the venerable Philip Henry to his children, "but thanksgiving is better." We ought not to seek to exhaust our gratitude upon any single day's exercise. It is better to live our thanks through all our lifetime. A happy, grateful spirit is the Christian's best offering to God, morning, noon, and night.

III. In the peace-offering there was likewise inculcated A SPIRIT OF FAITHFUL CONSECRATION. There are always two sides to any covenant. When we plead God's promises, we certainly have need to remember our own. God expects a Christian who has been favoured to be un-forgetful. Alexander Severus is reported to have made an edict that no one should salute the emperor on the street who knew himself to be a thief. And it must be unbecoming for any one to praise or pray who remembers that his life contains the record of some vow made once but still unkept. Hence it sometimes happens that one part of our history will give help to another, for it quickens the zeal of our love to call to remembrance a day in which God's love drew forth our engagement. It is related of the famous Thomas Erskine, before he was a Christian man, that once when wandering in a lonely glen among the mountains of his own land, he came across a shepherd pasturing his flock. "Do you know the Father?" asked the plain man, with unmistakable gentleness of devotion. The proud scholar vouchsafed no reply, but the arrow struck. He was never easy again till he found peace with pardon of his sins. He would have been glad to thank his modest unknown benefactor. So he went forth along the same path for many a useless day. Years afterwards, he saw him almost in the identical spot. "I know the Father now," he said, with sweet, grave greeting.

IV. In the peace-offering there was inculcated A SPIRIT OF LIVELY JOY. We find this in the very unusual ceremony of waving a portion of the sacrifice in the air. There is no explanation given of this; what could it have meant but the holding up of one's whole heart in the offering in the fall sight of God? It makes us think of the significant gesture of courtesy the world over, the swing of one's hand when his wish is keen and his happy heart longs still to send it aloft, while the distance is too far for speech. A Christian, waving the offering of his gratitude before God, ought to be the happiest being on all the earth.

V. In the peace-offering there was inculcated A SPIRIT OF CONFIDENT SUPPLICATION. Near a hundred years after this, it is recorded (Judges 21:4) that the men of Israel, "bewailing the desolation of Benjamin," offered "burnt-offerings and peace-offerings" upon the same altar. That is to say, they mingled their prayers with gifts of appropriate penitence. So again., after a disastrously lost battle (Judges 20:26). And even down in David's time, almost five hundred years later, the same conjunction of the two sacrifices is to be observed. He stayed the plague by his penitence in a burnt-offering, and he received relief in answer to his prayer in a peace-offering (2 Samuel 24:25). Nothing can be more attractive than this artless trust in the Divine mercy. "To give thanks for grace already received is a refined way of begging for more."

VI. Finally, in the peace-offering there was inculcated A SPIRIT OF AFFECTIONATE SOLICITUDE.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

It is easy to connect the special characteristics of these several varieties of the peace-offering with the great Antitype. So may we use Him as our Thank-offering; for what more fitting as an expression of gratitude and love to God for mercies received than renewed and special fellowship with Him through feeding upon Christ as the slain Lamb? So also we may thus use Christ in our vows; as when, supplicating mercy, we promise and engage that if our prayer be heard we will renewedly consecrate our service to the Lord, as in the meal-offering, and anew enter into life-giving fellowship with Him through feeding by faith on the flesh of the Lord. And it is beautifully hinted in the permission of the use of leaven in this feast of the peace-offering, that while the work of the believer, as presented to God in grateful acknowledgment of His mercies, is ever affected with the taint of his native corruption, so that it cannot come upon the altar where satisfaction is made for sin, yet God is graciously pleased, for the sake of the great Sacrifice, to accept such imperfect service offered to Him, and make it in turn a blessing to us, as we offer it in His presence, rejoicing in the work of our hands before Him. But there was one condition without which the Israelite could not have communion with God in the peace-offering. He must be clean; even as the flesh of the peace-offering must be clean also. There must be in him nothing which should interrupt covenant fellowship with God; as nothing in the type which should make it an unfit symbol of the Antitype.

(S. H. Kellogg, D. D.)

It is interesting, to observe that, although the peace-offering itself stands third in order, yet "the law" thereof is given us last of all. This circumstance is not without its import. There is none of the offerings in which the communion of the worshipper is so fully unfolded as in the peace-offering. In the burnt-offering it is Christ offering Himself to God. In the meat-offering we have Christ's perfect humanity. Then, passing on to the sin-offering, we learn that sin, in its root, is fully met. In the trespass-offering there is a full answer to the actual sins in the life. But in none is the doctrine of the communion and worship unfolded. The latter belongs to "the peace-offering"; and hence, I believe, the position which the law of that offering occupies. It comes in at the close of all, thereby teaching us that, when it becomes a question of the soul's feeding upon Christ, it must be a full Christ, looked at in every possible phase of His life, His character, His Person, His work, His offices. And, furthermore, that, when we shall have done for ever with sin and sins, we shall delight in Christ, and feed upon Him throughout the everlasting ages. It would, I believe, be a serious defect in our study of the offerings were we to pass over a circumstance so worthy of notice as the above. If "the law of the peace-offering" were given in the order in which the offering itself occurs, it would come in immediately after the law of the meat-offering; but, instead of that, "the law of the sin-offering," and "the law of the trespass-offering" are given, and then "the law of the peace-offering" closes the entire.

(C. H. Mackintosh.)

The priest that sprinkled the blood was to eat the pieces of this peace-offering the same day that it was offered. Some say this rule prevented covetousness arising in the priests; no one had it in his power to hoard up. Others say this rule was fitted to promote brotherly love; for he must call together his friends, in order to have it all finished. But these uses are only incidental. The true uses lie much nearer the surface. Israel might hereby be taught to offer thanksgiving while the benefit was still fresh and recent. Besides this, and most specially, the offerer who saw the priest cut it in pieces and feast thereon, knew thereby that God had accepted his gift, and returned rejoicing to his dwelling, like David and his people, when their peace-offerings were ended, at the bringing up of the ark (2 Samuel 6:17-19). The Lord took special notice of this free, spontaneous thank-offering, inasmuch as He commanded it to be immediately eaten, thus speedily assuring the worshipper of peace and acceptance. The love of our God is too full to be restrained from us one moment longer than is needful for the manifestation of His holiness.

(A. A. Bonar.)

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