Lectionary Calendar
Monday, June 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 7

Simeon's Horae HomileticaeHorae Homileticae

Verse 11


Leviticus 7:11. This is the law of the sacrifice of peace-offerings.

IN the order in which the different offerings are spoken of, the peace-offering occurs the third; but, in the third chapter, the law of the peace-offerings is no further stated than it accords with the burnt-offering; and the fuller statement is reserved for the passage before us. Hence in the enumeration of the different offerings in verse 37, the peace-offering is fitly mentioned last. That we may mark the more accurately its distinguishing features, we shall state,


The particular prescriptions of this law—

Many of them were common to those of the burnt-offering; the sacrifices might be taken from the herd or from the flock: the offerer was to bring it to the door of the tabernacle, and to put his hands upon it: there it was to be killed; its blood was to be sprinkled upon the altar, and its flesh, in part at least, was to be burnt upon the altar. Of these things we have spoken before; and therefore forbear to dwell upon them now.

But there were many other prescriptions peculiar to the peace-offering; and to these we will now turn our attention. We notice,


The matter of which they consisted—

[Though the sacrifices might be of the herd or of the flock, they could not be of fowls: a turtle-dove or pigeon could not on this occasion be offered. In the burnt-offering, males only could be presented; but here it might be either male or female. In the meat-offering, either cakes or wafers might be offered; but here must be both cakes and wafers: in the former case, leaven was absolutely prohibited; but here it was enjoined; leavened bread was to be used, as well as the unleavened cakes and wafers [Note: Leviticus 3:1; Leviticus 7:12-13.].]


The manner in which they were offered—

[Particular directions were given both with respect to the division of them, and the consumption. The meat-offering was divided only between the altar and the priests: but, in the peace-offering, the offerer himself had far the greatest share. God, who was in these things represented by the altar, had the fat, the kidneys, and the caul, which were consumed by fire [Note: Leviticus 3:3-5.]. The priest who burned the fat was to have the breast and the right shoulder: the breast was to be waved by him to and fro, and the shoulder was to be heaved upwards by him towards heaven. By these two significant actions, God was acknowledged both as the Governor of the universe, and as the source of all good to all his creatures: and from them these portions were called “the wave-breast, and the heave-shoulder [Note: 0–34.].” One of the cakes also was given to the priest who sprinkled the blood upon the altar, who, after heaving it before the Lord, was to have it for his own use [Note: 4.]. All the remainder of the offering, as well of the animal as the vegetable parts of it, belonged to the offerer; who together with his friends might eat it in their own tents. Two cautions however they were to observe; the one was, that the persons partaking of it must be “clean,” (that is, have no ceremonial uncleanness upon them;) and they must eat it within the time prescribed.

We will not interrupt our statement by any practical explanations, lest we render it perplexed: but shall endeavour to get a clear comprehensive view of the subject, and then make a suitable improvement of it.]
Let us proceed then to notice,


The occasions whereon the offering was made—

There were some fixed by the divine appointment, and some altogether optional. The fixed occasions were, at the consecration of the priests [Note: Exodus 29:28.] ; at the expiration of the Nazarites’ vow [Note: Numbers 6:14.] ; at the dedication of the tabernacle and temple [Note: Numbers 7:17; 1 Kings 8:63.] ; and at the feast of firstfruits [Note: Leviticus 23:19.]. But besides these, the people were at liberty to offer them whenever a sense of gratitude or of need inclined them to it. They were offered,


As acknowledgments of mercies received [Note: 2.] —

[It could not fail but they must sometimes feel their obligations to God for his manifold mercies: and here was a way appointed wherein they might render unto God the honour due unto his name. In the 107th Psalm we have a variety of occurrences mentioned, wherein God’s interposition might be seen: for instance, in bringing men safely to their homes after having encountered considerable difficulties and dangers: in redeeming them from prison or captivity, after they had by their own faults or follies reduced themselves to misery: in recovering persons from sickness, after they had been brought down to the chambers of the grave: in preserving mariners from storms and shipwreck: in public, family, or personal mercies of any kind. For any of these David says, “Let them sacrifice the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing [Note: Psalms 107:22.].”]


As supplications for mercies desired—

[These might be offered either as free-will offerings, or as vows [Note: 6.] ; between which there was a material difference; the one expressing more of an ingenuous spirit, the other arising rather from fear and terror. We have a striking instance of the former, in the case of the eleven tribes, who, from a zeal for God’s honour, had undertaken to punish, the Benjamites for the horrible wickedness they had committed. Twice had the confederate tribes gone up against the Benjamites, and twice been repulsed, with the loss of forty thousand men: but being still desirous to know and do the will of God in this matter, (for it was God’s quarrel only that they were avenging,) “they went up to the house of God, and wept and fasted until even, and offered burnt-offerings and peace-offerings unto the Lord:” and then God delivered the Benjamites into their hand; so that, with the exception of six hundred only, who fled, the whole tribe of Benjamin, both male and female, was extirpated [Note: Judges 20:26.].

Of the latter kind, namely, the vows, we have an instance in Jonah and the mariners, when overtaken with the storm. Jonah doubtless had proposed this expedient to the seamen, who, though heathens, readily adopted it in concert with him, hoping thereby to obtain deliverance from the destruction that threatened them [Note: John 1:16.]. And to the particular vows made on that occasion, Jonah had respect in the thanksgiving he offered after his deliverance [Note: John 2:9.].

Between the peace-offerings which were presented as thanksgivings, and those presented in supplication before God, there was a marked difference: the tribute of love and gratitude was far more pleasing to God, as arguing a more heavenly frame of mind: and, in consequence of its superior excellence, the sacrifice that was offered as a thanksgiving must be eaten, on the tame day; whereas the sacrifice offered as a VOW or voluntary offering, might, as being less holy, be eaten also on the second day. But, if any was left to the third day, it must be consumed by fire [Note: 5–18.].]

Having stated the principal peculiarities of this law, we shall now come to its practical improvement. We may find in it abundant matter,

For reproof—

[The Jews, if they wished to express their humiliation or gratitude in the way appointed by the law, were under the necessity of yielding up a part of their property (perhaps at a time when they could but ill afford it in sacrifice to God. But no such necessity is imposed on us: “God has not made us to serve with an offering, nor wearied us with incense:” the offerings he requires of us are altogether spiritual: it is “the offering of a free heart,” or “of a broken and contrite spirit,” that he desires of us; and that he will accept in preference to “the cattle upon a thousand hills.” Well therefore may it be expected that we have approached God with the language of the Psalmist, “Accept, I beseech thee, the free-will offerings of my mouth [Note: Psalms 119:108.].” But has this been the case? Have our sins brought us unto God in humiliation: our necessities, in prayer; our mercies, in thankfulness? What excuse have we for our neglects? These sacrifices required no expense of property, and but little of time. Moreover, we should never have brought our sacrifice, without feasting on it ourselves. Think, if there had not been in us a sad aversion to communion with God, what numberless occasions we have had for drawing nigh to him in this way! Surely every beast that was ever slaughtered on those occasions, and every portion that was ever offered, will appear in judgment against us to condemn our ingratitude and obduracy!— — —]


For direction—

[Whether the peace-offering was presented in a way of thanksgiving or of supplication, it equally began with a sacrifice in the way of atonement. Thus, whatever be the frame of our minds, and whatever service we render unto God, we must invariably fix our minds on the atonement of Christ, as the only means whereby either our persons or our services can obtain acceptance with God. Moreover, having occasion to offer sacrifice, we must do it without delay, even as the offerers were to eat their offerings in the time appointed [Note: Hebrews 3:13-15; Psalms 119:60; 2 Corinthians 6:2.] — — — We must be attentive too to our after-conduct, “lest we lose the things that we have wrought, instead of receiving a full reward [Note: 2 John,.].” However carefully the offerers had observed the law before, yet, if any one presumed to eat the smallest portion of his offering on the third day, instead of being accepted of God, his offering was utterly rejected; and he was considered as having committed a deadly sin [Note: 8.]. O that those who spend a few days in what is called ‘preparing themselves’ for the Lord’s supper, and after receiving it return to the same worldly courses as before, would consider this! for no service can be pleasing to God which does not issue in an immediate renunciation of every evil way, and a determined, unreserved, and abiding surrender of the soul to God. In coming to God, we must, at least in purpose and intention, be “clean;” else we only mock God, and deceive our own soul [Note: 0.]: and, after having come to him, we must proceed to “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness both of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God [Note: 2 Corinthians 7:1.].”]


For encouragement—

[On these occasions a female offering was received, as well as a male, and leavened bread together with the unleavened. What a blessed intimation was here, that “God will not be extreme to mark what is done amiss!” A similar intimation is given us in his acceptance of a mutilated or defective beast, when presented to him as a free-will offering [Note: Leviticus 22:23.]. Our best services, alas! are very poor and defective: corruption is blended with every thing we do: our very tears need to be washed from their defilement, and our repentances to be repented of. But, if we are sincere and without allowed guile, God will deal with us as a Parent with his beloved children, accepting with pleasure the services we render him, and overlooking the weakness with which they are performed [Note: Proverbs 15:8; Psalms 147:11.].]

Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Leviticus 7". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/shh/leviticus-7.html. 1832.
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