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Bible Commentaries

The Biblical Illustrator

Leviticus 3

Verses 1-17

Leviticus 3:1-3.3.17

A sacrifice of peace-offering.

The peace-offering

The word peace in the language of the Scriptures, has a shade of meaning not commonly attached to it in ordinary use. With most persons it signifies a cessation of hostilities, harmonious agreement, tranquillity, the absence of disturbance. But in the Scriptures it means more. Its predominant import there is, prosperity, welfare, joy, happiness. The original Hebrew word includes both these meanings. The old Greek version renders it by terms which signify a sacrificial feast of salvation. We may, therefore, confidently take the peace-offering as a joyous festival, a solemn sacrificial banqueting, illustrative of the peace and joy which flows to believers from the atoning work of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our sanctification through His blood and Spirit. Religion is not a thing of gloom, but of gladness.

The peace-offering was a bloody offering. Everything in Christian life, justification and sanctification, the forgiveness of our sins, and the acceptableness of our services, our hopes, and our spiritual festivities, run back into Christ’s vicarious sufferings, as their fountain and foundation. This is the centre from which all Christian doctrine, and all Christian experience, radiates, and into which it ultimately resolves itself. Without this, Christianity dwindles down into a cold and powerless morality, with no warming mysteries, no animating sublimities, no melting affections, no transforming potencies. Without this, the soul languishes like a plant excluded from the sunshine, or flourishes only in its own disgrace. If we would have a feast of fat things, the provision must come from the altar of immolation.

The peace-offering comes after the meat-offering. We must present the “fine flour” of our best affections, and the fresh firstfruits of uncorrupted obedience, before we can come to feast upon the rich provisions of the altar. We mast surrender ourselves to God, and give up to Him in a “covenant of salt” before we can taste of the “peace-offering,” or be happy in the Lord.

The peace-offering was so arranged that the most inward, the most tender, and the most marrowy part of the sacrifice became the Lord’s part. The inner fat of the animal, the kidneys, the caul of the liver, and, if a sheep, the great fatty outward appendage, were to be burned on the altar, a sweet savour unto the Lord. God must be remembered in all our joys. Especially when we come to praise and enjoy Him, and to appropriate to our hearts the glad provisions of His mercy, must we come offering to Him the inmost, tenderest, and richest of our soul’s attributes. It was thus that Jesus was made a peace-offering for us. And as He devoted every rich thought, every strong emotion, for us, we must now send back the same to Him without stint or tarnish. We may love our friends; but we must love Christ more. We may feel for those united to us in the bonds of domestic life; but we must feel still more for Jesus and His Church. We may be moved with earthly passions; but the profoundest and best of all our emotions must be given to the Lord. The fat, the kidneys, and the most tender and marrowy parts are His.

The peace-offerings were sacrifices of gratitude and praise--a species of joyous, thankful banquetings. When the Jew came to make a peace-offering, it was with his heart moved and his thoughts filled with some distinguished mercy. The true Christian has been the subject of wonderful favours. He has had deliverance wrought for him, to which he may ever refer with joyful recollection. He considers the length, and breadth, and depth, and height of that love which thus interposed for his rescue--the mighty woes which the Lord endured for him--the secure ground upon which he now stands in Christ Jesus--and his soul overflows with tremulous gladness. He is melted, and yet is full of delight. He is solemnly joyous. What to say or do he hardly knows. He weeps, and yet exults while he weeps. The whole thing to him becomes a feast of profoundly solemn joy, in which he would gladly have all the world to participate.

But the feasting of the peace-offering was on sacred food. The people might have feasts at home, and have other banquets; but they were not peace-offerings. And so the Christian may have feasts and viands apart from the sacred food furnished directly from Christ. There is much virtuous enjoyment in this world of a merely secular sort, from none of which does Christianity exclude us. But all these are mere home-feasts on common viands. The food that was eaten in the joyous feast of the peace-offering fell from the altar. It was holy. No defiled person or stranger was allowed to touch it or to partake of it. And so, superadded to the common joys of ordinary life, the Christian has a feast with which the stranger dare not meddle--a feast of fat things, of which the pure only, can taste--a banquet of holy food proceeding directly from the altar at which His sacrifice was made. Let us briefly review some of the faithful Christian’s peculiar joys. Let us follow him a little into the sources of his consolation, and see of what sort his feast is.

1. First of all is the great and cheering conviction of his heart that there is a God; that the universe is not an orphan, but has a righteous, almighty, and loving Father, who sees all, and provides for all, and takes care of all.

2. The next is the joyous light that shines upon him from God’s revelation, relieving his native perplexities, comforting his heart, filling him with pleasant wisdom, and kindling radiance along all his path. Here the riddle of life is explained to him, his duty made plain, and his conscience put to rest.

3. Along with these are the gifts and graces of a present redemption.

4. And beyond all present experiences, he is authorised to look forward to still higher and greater things in the future, (J. A. Seiss, D. D.)

The peace-offerings

. Their nature. They were sacrifices of thanksgiving, whereby the godly testified their gratitude to God for the benefits received from Him.

The difference between them and other sacrifices.

1. Generally they were thus distinguished from other sacrifices, which are afterward prescribed (Leviticus 4:5), because these were voluntary, the other necessary and commanded; and the peace-offerings were never offered alone, but always joined with other sacrifices, showing that the godly should begin always with giving of thanks.

2. Herein it also differs from the holocaust, which might be of birds; but so were not the peace-offerings, because they were to be divided; so could not the holocaust of birds (Leviticus 1:17).

3. The holocausts, which were of beasts, were only of the males, but the peace-offerings might be either males or females, because this kind of sacrifice was not so perfect as the other.

Why the peace-offerings were confined to these three kinds--oxen, sheep, goats.

1. All these were a figure of Christ, who indeed was that Peace-offering whereby God is reconciled to us: the ox resembled His fortitude; the sheep His innocence; the goat, because He took our flesh, like unto sinful flesh.

2. Some apply them to the divers qualities of the offerers: the ox signifying the workers and keepers of the law; the sheep, the simple; the goats, the penitent.

3. But the true reason why these beasts are prescribed only for peace-offerings, not turtledoves or pigeons, as in the burnt-offerings, is because they could not rightly declare their gratitude to God in giving things of no value.

What blemishes and other impediments were to be avoided. The impediments which made the beasts unfit for sacrifice were either general in respect of the kind, or particular in regard of the thing offered.

1. For the kind. Some were both unlawful for meat and sacrifice (chap. 11:3), others for sacrifice but not for meat (Deuteronomy 14:4).

2. The particular impediments were either intrinsical in the things themselves, or extrinsical without.

(1) The inward defects were such as made them altogether unfit for any kind of sacrifice, as if they were blind, broken, scabbed, &c.

(2) The external impediments were such as came by touching any unclean thing.

Why the fat, as of the belly, kidneys, and liver, was set apart for sacrifice.

1. Generally hereby is signified that all our carnal desires are to be mortified by the fire of the Spirit.

2. More particularly by the fat which covereth the inward parts where the heart is, the seat of anger is insinuated, that we should temper our wrath; and by the kidneys and reins, wherein is the strength of lust, carnal concupiscence; and by the liver the fountain of heat, the gluttonous desire, may be understood all which must be sacrificed unto God. Hereunto the signification of the Hebrew word here used agreeth; for chelaioth, the kidneys, is derived of Calah, desire.

3. And further, because the fat is of its own nature, without sense, and so signifieth the hardness of the heart, which is the cause of unbelief: hereby they were admonished to remove and take away all hardness of heart.

Whether it were required generally in all sacrifices that blood should be sprinkled on the altar. AS there was difference in the end, use, and manner of sacrifices, for some were only for the honour of God, as the burnt-offerings; some for the benefit of the offerer, either for obtaining of some benefit, or giving thanks for some benefit received, as the peace-offerings, or for expiation of sin, so there was difference in the sprinkling and offering of the blood; yet because in all sacrifices there was some relation unto the expiation of some sin, there was an oblation of blood in all sacrifices, &c.; and so the apostle saith that in the “law without effusion of blood, there was no remission,” whereof this reason is given because the life is in the blood, and therefore the Lord gave the blood for the expiation of their souls (Leviticus 17:11), that whereas they themselves had deserved to die for their sins.

Of the manner and order of the peace-offerings.

1. The priest killed the beast, sprinkled the blood, flayed it, and took out the inwards.

2. Then he cut the flesh in pieces, and separated the breast and right shoulders with the inwards, and put them into the owner’s hands.

3. Then the priest put his hands under the owner’s, and waved all before the Lord; if many Joined in one oblation, one waved for all, the women waved not, but the priest, unless in the offering of jealousy (Numbers 5:1-4.5.31.), and of a Nazarite (Numbers 6:4). After he salted the inwards, and laid them on the altar, and the priest had the breast and right shoulder, the owner the rest; but the priest was not to have his part until the Lord were first served and the inwards burnt.

What became of the remainder of the peace-offerings which was not burnt on the altar. Though it be not here expressed, yet it may be gathered out of other places that the priests had part, and the offerer that brought it had his portion also, so then some sacrifices there were of the which nothing remained, as the burnt-offerings.

1. In some other, the part which remained was to be eaten only among the males of the children of Aaron; and they were the sin-offerings (Leviticus 6:18).

2. But the heave-offerings and shake-offerings, as the shoulder and breast, were lawful to be eaten, not only by the males and sons of the priests, but by their daughters also (Numbers 18:17).

3. But in the peace-offerings there was greater liberty, for of them they which brought the offering might eat (Proverbs 7:14). (A. Willet, D. D.)

The peace-offering; or, fellowship with the Father and the Son

In the peace-offering we have a beautiful type of the making and bestowing peace, and thereby admitting to “fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ”; one of the most blessed privileges resulting to the Lord’s people from His death. The peace-offering being the central one of the five, as set forth in the opening chapters of Leviticus, seems to tell us that peace was the central object of the Father’s loving purpose when He gave His Son. His desire and design was to give His people peace. We see it as regards Israel of old (Leviticus 26:6; Numbers 6:26; 1 Chronicles 22:9), and no less in the gospel dispensation (Luke 2:14), for “when we were enemies we were reconciled . . . ” (Romans 5:10). In the burnt-offering His people are seen as accepted worshippers; in the peace-offering both as participating in the personal result to offerer of previous offerings, and feeding on what delights the heart of God, typified by portions consumed by fire on the altar.

Male or female (Leviticus 3:1; Leviticus 3:6) were permitted in peace-offering, not male only, as in burnt-offering, which, pertaining to God alone, must be what was esteemed the highest order of offering; while in peace-offering man had a large portion, and this may account for the distinction. Some think the alternative of “male or female” indicates greater or less appreciation, estimation, or enjoyment of Christ by the worshipper; female perhaps implying deeper love, male stronger devotion. Others take it as showing how God, in His grace and love, would give every facility for approaching Him in and through Christ. And again, as the laying on of offerer’s hand (Leviticus 3:2; Leviticus 3:8; Leviticus 3:13) tells of identification of offerer and offering, the thoughts are led to Galatians 3:28, where we read, “There is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Jesus Christ.” Under the Levitical dispensation the “males” only were to go up at stated periods to worship (Exodus 23:17; Exo 24:23); but the mention of “male or female” in the type before us seems to point onward to this dispensation, in which such distinction no longer exists; for each one, whether “male or female,” who is “justified by faith,” has “peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

The blood sprinkled by Aaron’s sons, the priests (verses 2, 8, 13), tells of the worshipper approaching God on the ground of reconciliation made (Romans 5:11, mar.). Jesus “made peace . . . ” (Colossians 1:20). God calls His people to peace (1 Corinthians 7:15). He fills with (Romans 15:13), and keeps in “perfect peace” the trusting one (Isaiah 26:3). Jesus gives peace (John 14:27), for He “gave Himself” (Titus 2:14); and if we have Christ as “our life” (Colossians 3:4), “He is our Peace” (Ephesians 2:14) likewise; and dwelling in us by His Spirit, peace is “the fruit” (Galatians 5:22).

The Lord’s portion is--not the whole, as in burnt-offering, but--the choicest parts. “The fat” with portions of inwards (Leviticus 3:3-3.3.5; Leviticus 3:9-3.3.11; Leviticus 3:14-3.3.16), representing the rich excellences or preciousness of the Lord Jesus (see Psalms 37:20, mar., same word as Isaiah 43:4), His truth, purity, wisdom, &c. (Psalms 51:6; John 14:6; Job 38:36; 1 Corinthians 1:24). This was typified by the burning on the altar, called “the food of the offering made . . . ” (Leviticus 3:5; Leviticus 3:11; Leviticus 3:16). The burnt-offering was “continual” (Exodus 29:42; Numbers 28:6); and the peace-offering being burnt upon it tells of virtue of former, possessed by latter. The meat-offering also was offered with peace-offering, the three sweet-savour offerings together, to the full satisfaction of the Father; and giving solid ground for--

Communion or fellowship, to which God calls those who are “accepted in the Beloved” (1 Corinthians 1:9; Ephesians 1:6). Fellowship signifies partnership, companionship; and what treasures and blessings does this ensure (Isaiah 45:3; Colossians 2:3), as portrayed by the portions assigned to priest and offerer, graciously permitted to partake of what delights the Father’s heart! This is the striking feature of peace-offering. “Breast” waved may tell of “risen with Christ” (Colossians 3:1); “shoulder” heaved, that He, who is the strength of our life (Psalms 27:1), is on high; breast representing affection, and shoulder strength of Him whose love is strong . . . which many waters cannot quench” (Song of Solomon 8:6); for He is “everlasting Strength” (Isaiah 26:4). “Upon His heart” and “shoulders” Jesus bears His people (as typified in high priest’s dress, Exodus 28:12; Exodus 28:29), now, “in the presence of God” (Hebrews 9:24), while they feast in His banqueting house under His banner “love” (Song of Solomon 2:4), and are “strengthened with might by . . . ” (Ephesians 3:16).

Unleavened cakes--offered with peace-offering when for a thanksgiving (Leviticus 7:12)--tell of holy life of Jesus as inseparably connected with His death, for had He not magnified “the law and . . . ” (Isaiah 42:21), He could not have atoned for the sins of those who had broken it. They tell also of “holiness” needed in offerer (Hebrews 12:14), and for such holiness and “fellowship” there must be abiding and walking “in the light” (John 15:4; John 15:6; 1 John 1:6-62.1.7; 1 John 2:6). This is further seen in what is said of--

LEAVEN AND UNCLEANNESS (Leviticus 7:13; Leviticus 7:20-3.7.21). The “leavened bread” offered “besides the cakes” betokens “sin” in the offerer, never wholly eradicated while life lasts. Our best efforts are tainted by sin (Isaiah 64:6), and need the cleansing blood; but though sin is within, it is not to reign or “have dominion” over those “under grace,” who, “being justified by faith in the precious blood . . . ” (sprinkled in type by priest, chap. 3:13), are reckoned “dead” to sin, and risen with Christ to “newness of life” (Romans 5:1; Romans 5:9; Romans 6:1-45.6.2; Romans 6:4-45.6.7; Romans 6:11-45.6.12). (Lady Beaujolois Dent.)

The peace-offering

In its contrast to the other offerings, it may be sufficient to enumerate two chief points--

1. It was a sweet-savour offering; and--

2. The offerer, God, and the priest were fed by it.

(1) In the peace-offering the offerer feasts, in other words, finds satisfaction, and feeds upon the same offering of which a part has already satisfied God: for a part of the peace-offering, “the fat, the blood, the inwards,” before the offerer can touch his part, must have already been consumed on the altar. I fear that there are but too many saints who never realise this aspect of the offering, and therefore never fully experience that satisfaction which the offering has purchased for them. Thank God, the sufficiency of His work does not depend upon our apprehension of it. But our satisfaction depends much on our apprehension. It is because we apprehend so little that we have so little comfort. And our strength particularly depends on our apprehension of that view of Christ which the peace-offering teaches; for strength is sustained by food, and the peace-offering shows man fed by the sacrifice. Yet how little is this view of Christ apprehended! Am I asked the cause? It is because so few really know acceptance.

(2) The offerer feasts with God. Man (in Christ) and God find common food. The offering is shared between them. The thought here is not, as in the burnt-offering, merely that God finds satisfaction in the offering. It includes this, but it goes further. It shows communion; for God and man share together.

(3) But further, in the sacrifice of peace-offerings, the offerer feasts with the priest. The sacrificing Priest, as I have already observed, is always Christ, viewed in His official character as Mediator. We learn here how the offering, which He offered as man, feeds, that is, satisfies Him, not only as man, but also as Mediator. To understand this we must recollect and apprehend the varied relations in which Christ stands connected with the offering; for He appears for us in many offices, in more than one relation. In connection with the offering alone we see Him, as I have said, in at least three characters. Now, if this simple distinction be apprehended, it will be manifest that there are things true of Christ in one relation which are by no means true of Him in another. For instance, His intercession for us is as Priest. As the Offering, He does not intercede; as Lamb, He dies for us. So again as Priest and Offerer, He is fed; as the Lamb, as the Offering, He is not fed. Now there are offerings in which the priest finds food, but from participating in which the offerer is excluded: some of the sin-offerings are of this latter character, for in them the priest is fed, while the offerer has nothing. The sin-offerings, as we shall see more fully in the sequel, are man satisfying offended justice. They are not man giving something sweet to God, but man receiving from God in iris offering the penalty of sin. These sin-offerings supply food to the priest, that is, Christ as Mediator finds satisfaction in them, but they afford Him no food as man the offerer: as man in them He only confesses sin. The priest, God’s official servant, is satisfied, because offended justice is vindicated: but man, who pays the penalty in his offering, finds no satisfaction in the act.

(4) But the type takes us further still, and shows us the priest’s children also sharing with the offerer in the peace-offering. They, too, as well as the offerer, the priest, and God, find satisfaction in this blessed offering. Our first question here, of course, must be, Who are represented by the priest’s children? We have already seen that the Priest is Christ--Christ viewed in His official character as Mediator. His children, that is, His family, are therefore the Church. Just as of old he that really feasted with God in the peace-offering could not do so without sharing with Clod’s priests, so now communion with God, if enjoyed at all, must be shared with all in communion with Him. There is no question of choice: it cannot be otherwise; for he that is in communion with God must be in communion also with all whom He communes with.

The different grades or varieties which are observed in this offering. These show us the different measures of intelligence with which this view of Christ’s offering may be apprehended. And here, as there are several distinct sharers in the offering--for God, man, and the priest, have each a portion--it may be well to consider each portion separately with its particular differences, since in each portion there are distinct varieties observed.

1. First, then, as to God’s part in the peace-offering. In this certain varieties at once present themselves; some of them relating to the value of the offering, others connected with the offerer’s purport in the oblation.

(1) To speak first of the varieties touching the value of the offering. We have here, just as in the burnt-offering, several different grades. There is the “bullock,” “the lamb,” “the goat’; and these respectively represent here what they do in the burnt-offering. Each gives us rather a different thought as to the character of Christ’s blessed offering.

2. But there are other varieties noticed in the type, as to that part of the peace-offering which was offered to God, which are connected, not with the value of the offering, but with the offerer’s purport in bringing the oblation. If we turn to the seventh chapter, where the distinction I refer to is mentioned, it will be seen that the peace-offering might be offered in two ways. It might be offered either as a thanksgiving, that is for praise, or as a vow or voluntary offering, that is for service. If it were seen to be offered “for thanksgiving,” many particulars are noticed respecting man’s share in it, which are entirely lost sight of and omitted when it is seen to be offered “for a vow.” And most of the varieties in the peace-offering (I may say all the varieties touching the priest’s and offerer’s part in it) depend upon the view which may be taken of the general character of the offering, whether it were offered “for thanksgiving,” or whether it were offered “for a vow.”

(2) The priest’s and offerer’s part, and the varieties which are observable here. It will be found that the particulars respecting this portion of the peace-offering differ very much according as the offering is apprehended “for praise” or “for service.”

(a) In the offering “for praise,” a meat-offering is offered of which the offerer as well as the priests partake. The purport of the meat-offering is the fulfilment of the second table of the Decalogue; man offering to God as a sweet savour the perfect accomplishment of his duty towards his neighbour. The peculiarity here is that the offerer partakes of this meat-offering--a thing not permitted in the common meat-offering. The common meat-offering shows us the fulfilment of the law, simply with reference to God, to satisfy Him. But that same fulfilment of the law has other aspects, one of which is, that it satisfies the offerer also. This is the truth brought out in the peace-offering, in which the offerer, as well as God, finds satisfaction in the fulfilment of all righteousness. And this satisfaction is not only in the fulfilment of that part of the law which had reference to God, and which was represented by the offering of a life, but in that part also which referred to man, and was represented by the unleavened cakes of the meat-offering. The latter part of this appears to be quite lost sight of, unless the peace-offering is apprehended as offered “for praise.”

(b) But further, in the offering “for praise” leavened cakes also are seen to be offered with the sacrifice. Those cakes represent the offering of the Church. When Christ’s work is seen merely as “the vow,” as a matter of service, the Church’s offering does not come into sight: but when His offering is seen “for praise,” that is for God’s glory, the Church is seen united with Him.

3. One cake out of all the oblation is given to the priest who sprinkles the blood, while the remainder, belongs to him who brings the offering. Christ, as Priest, finds food and satisfaction not only in His own blessed and perfect offering: He feeds also on “the leavened cake”: the offering of His Church, with all its failings, satisfies Him.

4. The last particular noticed respects the period during which the peace-offering was to be eaten. The time for eating the offering “for praise” was “the same day,” or “until the morning”: in the “vow-offering” there is a little difference; it might be eaten “the same day and on the morrow,” or “until the third day.” Now the “morning” and the “third day” are sufficiently common types, and are both constantly used, I believe, to denote the resurrection: but I am not so certain as to the different aspect of the resurrection represented by each of them. I am disposed, however, to think that “the morning” represents the resurrection as the time of Christ’s appearing, while the thought connected with “the third day” is simply deliverance from the grave. In either case the main truth remains the same--that the peace-offering is our food until the resurrection: but in the one case we eat as those whose time is short, in the night it may be, but in hope of the morning; in the other the thought of the morning is lost, and instead of it we see days of labour to intervene. I need not say that the first is the higher and happier view. (A. Jukes.)

Christ our Peace-offering

1. Be persuaded and encouraged to feed and feast upon Christ our Peace-offering. Do not say, Such and such may; if I had such parts and such abilities, and so eminent as such and such, I durst believe. This blessed Peace-offering is not for the priests only, for saints of the highest rank and greatest eminency, but for the common people also. Do but draw near with a pure heart, and then come and welcome.

2. Do not defer the eating of your peace-offerings. Take heed of a procrastinating spirit.

3. Let all your peace-offerings be seasoned with the new leaven of grace and holiness; get this blessed leaven of the kingdom of God into your hearts.

4. Give God the fat, the strength, the vigour of your spirits, the best of your endeavours; do not leave the worst you have to Him, the very dregs of time at night, when you are all sleepy, for prayer and family duties, when you have spent the strength of your time in your callings.

5. Take heed of accounting the blood of the peace-offering a common thing. But, as the typical blood might not be eaten, but was sacred to the Lord, let the blood of Christ be sacred and precious to you.

6. To you that believe, let Christ be precious. There is a reverential esteem of Him in the hearts of all that are His. (S. Mather.)

The peace-offering

Some anxious soul sighs for felt peace with God. What shall be done? God smooths the way. His voice declares, Let the appeasing victim be now brought. Peace rightly sought shall surely be obtained. Now mark this victim. It may be male or female. It may be taken from larger cattle, or from sheep or goats (Leviticus 3:1; Leviticus 3:6; Leviticus 3:12). There is permission of unwonted breadth. The prince, the peasant, from richest pastures, or bare mountain’s brow, may readily obtain the expiating means. But from whatever flock the male or female came, one test must prove it. It must be free from fault. A blameless type proclaims the blameless Lord. God next directs the offerer to touch its head (Leviticus 3:2). This act denotes the transfer of all guilt. The burdened thus rolls off his load. The lightened shoulder thus receives relief. The victim is then slain (Leviticus 3:2). Here is the wondrous fact, which is the light of types, and rites, and prophecies. Death falls on Christ. He claims the dying place. The slaughtered animal was then divided. The best--the choicest of the parts, were placed on the burning altar. Another portion was the priest’s own due. The rest supplied the offerer with food.

1. God claims His share. All which seems rich and precious is first brought to Him. The holy fire reduces it to dust.

2. Provision is then made for those who ministered. The altar-servant never wants. They who leave all for God have all in God.

3. The offerer then takes his part and eats. We see the essence of true faith. It finds soul-sustenance in Jesu’s work. (Dean Law.)

The best for God

1. That in all things we should give thanks unto God. This is all the recompense which God requires for all His benefits.

2. That the best things are to be offered to God. Especially in spiritual duties “the fat” must be offered, that is, the heart and inward affection. Ambrose well says, “Thy affection gives a name to thy work.”

3. To abstain from all kinds of cruelty (Leviticus 3:17).

4. That all the parts and members of our body should be dedicated to God’s service. (A. Willet, D. D.)

The peace-offerings

These peace-offerings were offered first of all, on the recovery of peace with God in consequence of the expiation. The expiatory offering was first, not the peace-offering: first the atonement, then the calm that results from peace with God through Christ the Atonement. These peace-offerings were also presented as expressive of thanksgiving for mercies, blessings, and benefits that had been received. They were also presented on the performance of a vow that had been made by any of the children of Israel. You will notice another feature in all these offerings--that the offerer might kill the lamb, but the priest of Levi alone might offer it: so Jew and Gentile slew with wicked hands the Lord of glory, but He Himself was the Priest that presented Himself a sacrifice on the altar of Deity, perfect and complete, for the sins of all that believe. These offerings were also made, I may mention, at the consecration of priests, on the expiry of a Nazarite’s vow, at the dedication of the Tabernacle and the Temple, and at the presentation of firstfruits. You will notice that in the Jewish economy everything brought a Jew to the Temple, and above the Temple, to the Temple’s God. Was he afflicted? He prayed. Was he merry? He sung psalms. Was he blessed with a golden harvest? He gave the firstfruits to God. Had he finished a vow? He went to God to thank Him. Had he received any mercy, was he enriched with any blessing? He felt it his first duty to ask God’s blessing, to give to God praise, and to expect prosperity in the ratio in which he did so. Does God expect less of us in this dispensation? And yet how often do we murmur when we lose, how rarely are we thankful when we gain! You will notice, too, in this account, that the person that made the offering was to lay his hand upon the head of the victim that was slain. What a beautiful picture is that of our interest in Christ Jesus! The poor Jew--though this was not confessing sin in this chapter, but giving thanks--yet whether he confessed his sins or gave thanks he did the same; he laid his hand upon the head of the victim, confessed his sins over it, gave thanks over it; and all the sin was transferred typically to the victim that suffered, and all the glory transferred typically to him who was the great antitype and object of that victim. Thus the believer still lays, not his literal hand--for ours is the economy of the Spirit; whatever a Jew did materially, mechanically, palpably, that a Christian does spiritually, but no less truly and really. The Jew laid his literal hand upon a literal victim’s head; the Christian lays the trust of his heart upon an unseen but not an unknown Saviour. I say, the Jew laid his hand upon the head of his victim, confessed his sins, and was forgiven; the Christian lays, not his hand, but his heart, not upon a slain bullock or a slain lamb, but on a once slain but now living Saviour. And as sure as the Jew got ceremonial forgiveness by doing literally that act, so surely will the greatest sinner that thus leans, and looks to, and trusts in the only Atonement, receive the pardon and the remission of his sins. (J. Cumming, D. D.)

The peace sacrifice

“Peace through the blood of His Cross,” “Reconciliation in the body of His flesh through death,” “Fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ,” are the great leading truths in the peace sacrifice. The prodigal’s repentance, the return home, the ready embrace, the ring, the rich feast within the house, the mutual rest and rejoicing--all are here; nothing is lacking to assure our hearts before God. If there be any lack, it is our want of ability to appreciate the rich and varied grace displayed in every particular of the peace-offering.” Happy is it for us that the possession of its blessings does not depend upon the measure in which we understand the type. “The peace of God which passeth all understanding” is the sure portion of all the justified. It belongs to the babe in Christ as much as to the more advanced in Divine knowledge. (F. H. White.)

The sacrificial feast of the peace-offering

How are we to conceive of the sacrificial feast of the peace-offering? Was it a feast offered and presented by the Israelite to God, or a feast given by God to the Israelite? In other words, in this feast who was represented as host and who as guest? Among other nations than the Hebrews it was the thought in such cases that the feast was given by the worshipper to his god. This is well illustrated by an Assyrian inscription of Esarhaddon, who, in describing his palace at Nineveh, says: “I filled with beauties the great palace of my empire, and I called it ‘the palace which rivals the world.’ Ashur, Ishtar of Nineveh, and the gods of Assyria, all of them, I feasted within it. Victims, precious and beautiful, I sacrificed before them, and I caused them to receive my gifts.” But here we come upon one of the most striking and instructive contrasts between the heathen conception of the sacrificial feast and the same symbolism as used in Leviticus and other Scripture. In the heathen sacrificial feasts it is man who feasts God; in the peace-offering of Leviticus it is God who feasts man. Do we not strike here one of the deepest points of contrast between all of man’s religion and the gospel of God? Man’s idea always is, until taught better by God: “I will be religious and make God my friend by doing something, giving something for God.” God, on the contrary, teaches us in this symbolism, as in all Scripture, the exact reverse--that we become truly religious by taking, first of all, with thankfulness and joy, what He has provided for us. A breach of friendship between man and God is often implied in the heathen rituals, as in the ritual of Leviticus; as also in both a desire for its removal and renewed fellowship with God. But in the former man ever seeks to attain to this intercommunion of friendship by something that he himself will do for God. He will feast God, and thus God shall be well pleased. But God’s way is the opposite. The sacrificial feast at which man shall have fellowship with God is provided, not by man for God, but by God for man, and is to be eaten, not in our house, but spiritually partaken in the presence of the invisible God. (S. H. Kellogg, D. D.)

Reason for minute prescriptions

Some may think that these prescriptions are so needlessly specific and minute that they appear unworthy of the God that instituted them. But you will recollect that this people were surrounded by dense masses of heathenism, just as the Dutch are by the sea, and that every provision made in Israel was to keep at bay the inrush of heathenism, and to present a people that should be the witnesses of God in spite of heathendom; and the very rites and ceremonies that they were to practise were designedly minute, that there might be no opening for conformity to the heathen, very often crossing those of the heathen; that they might be a marked, a distinctive, and a peculiar people. There is, therefore, far greater wisdom in these prescriptions than strikes the superficial reader. And another reason why all this is given so minutely is that the great subject of the teaching of Christianity is the Atonement. That is the heart and the life of Christianity; all else without that is hard and dry; all its precepts pervaded by that are full of life, and not hard. Well, then, these rites and ceremonies were minute in order to impress upon the Jewish mind and upon the mind of humanity itself the great ideas of substitution, atonement, vicarious sacrifice, till this idea became so familiarised to the hearts of mankind that they should be able not only to appreciate, but to hail with gratitude and joy that perfect Atonement of which these were the shadows--that finished sacrifice to which these pointed as John the Baptist pointed to the Saviour. (J. Cumming, D. D.)

Peace-offerings turned to sin

Few ordinances were more blessed than these peace-offerings. Yet, like the Lord’s Supper with us, often were they turned to sin. The lascivious woman in Proverbs 7:14 comes forth saying, “I have peace-offerings with me; this day have I paid my vows.” She had actually gone up among the devoutest class of worshippers to present a thank-offering, and had stood at the altar as one at peace with God. Having now received from the priest those pieces of the sacrifice that were to be feasted upon, lo! she hurries to her dwelling and prepares a banquet of lewdness. She quiets her conscience by constraining herself to spend some of her time and some of her substance in His sanctuary. She deceives her fellow-creatures, too, and maintains a character for religion; and then she rushes back to sin without remorse. Is there nothing of this in our land? What means Christmas mirth after pretended observance of Christ’s being born? What means the sudden worldliness of so many on the day following their approach to the Lord’s Table? What means the worldly talk and levity of a Sabbath afternoon or evening after worship is done? Contrast with this the true worshipper, as he appears in Psalms 66:1-19.66.20. He has received mercies and is truly thankful. He comes Up to the sanctuary with his offerings, singing, “I will go into Thy house with burnt-offerings: I will pay Thee my vows, which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble.” In the “burnt-offering” we see his approach to the altar with the common and general sacrifice; and next, in his “paying vows” we see he has brought his peace-offerings with him. Again, therefore, he says at the altar, “I will offer to Thee burnt sacrifices of fatlings.” This is the general offering, brought from the best of his flock and herd. Then follow the peace-offerings. “With the incense of rams; I will offer bullocks with goats.” Having brought his offerings, he is in no haste to depart, notwithstanding; for his heart is full. Ere, therefore, he leaves the sanctuary he utters the language of a soul at peace with God (verses 16-20). (A. A. Bonar.)

Charles Wesley’s peace-offering

Although Charles Wesley had been engaged in preaching the gospel with much diligence and earnestness, he did not know what it was to enjoy peace with God until he was in his thirtieth year. Being laid low by an alarming illness, and seeming as if he were going to die, a young Moravian named Peter Bohler, who was undergoing a course of preparation by him to go out as a missionary, asked him, “Do you hope to be saved?” Charles answered, “Yes.” “For what reason do you hope it?” “Because I have used my best endeavours to serve God.” The Moravian shook his head and said no more. That sad, silent, significant shake of the head shattered all Charles Wesley’s false foundation of salvation by endeavours. He was afterwards taught by Peter Bohler the way of the Lord more perfectly, and brought to see that by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ men are justified. And now in his sick-room he was able to write for the first time in his life, “I now find myself at peace with God”; and it was on this occasion he composed that beautiful hymn, “O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise.”

Peace proclaimed

When Russia was in one of her great wars the suffering of the soldiers had been long and bitter, and they were waiting for the end of the strife. One day a messenger in great excitement ran among the tents of the army shouting, “Peace! peace!” The sentinel on guard asked, “Who says ‘Peace ‘?” And the sick soldier turned on his hospital mattress and asked, “Who says ‘Peace’?” And all up and down the encampment of the Russians went the question, “Who says, ‘Peace’?” Then the messenger responded, “The Czar says ‘Peace.’” That was enough. That meant going home. That meant the war was over. No more wounds and no more long marches. So to-day, as one of the Lord’s messengers, I move through this great encampment of souls and cry, “Peace between earth and heaven! Peace between God and man! Peace between your repenting soul and a pardoning Lord!” It you ask me, “Who says ‘Peace’?” I answer, “Christ our King declares it.” “My peace I give unto you”! “The peace of God that passeth all understanding.” (Christian Age.)

On terms of peace with God

Some one could not understand why an old German Christian scholar used to be always so calm and happy and hopeful when he had so many trials and sicknesses and ailments. A man secreted himself in the house. He said, “I mean to watch this old scholar and Christian”; and he saw the old Christian man go to his room and sit down on the chair beside the stand and open the Bible and begin to read. He read on and on, chapter after chapter, hour after hour, until his face was all aglow with the tidings from heaven; and when the clock struck twelve he arose, shut his Bible, and said, “Blessed Lord, we are on the same old terms yet. Good-night. Good-night.”


A servant girl in great anxiety of soul sought the help of her minister. All his explanations of the gospel and applications of it to her case failed to bring peace. She said she had tried to pray, but dared not speak to God. “If you cannot pray,” said the minister, “perhaps you can praise.” He recommended her to go home and sing the 103rd Psalm--“O thou, my soul, bless God the Lord.” She departed with a light heart, singing as she went. “And,” said the minister in telling the story, “she is singing still, praising and praying and rejoicing with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” (S. S. Chronicle.)

Peace through Christ

A young lady went to Rome to study art. Having a great liking for it, she soon became one of the first modellers in the city. While she was busy at work one day a companion called to see her, and began to give a long description of a ball to which she had recently been, and talked of dresses, jewellery, flowers, &c. The young lady turned, and looking at her friend, said, “Be done; I am sick and tired of it. I have gone through and experienced it all myself.” And then she added, “Oh, if you could only tell me where I might get rest!” Her companion, a little taken by surprise, hastily left. The young artist sat there wondering where she might find rest. She had secured the praise of man, but that did not satisfy her--she was looking for something higher; and shutting herself in her room that night, she began to think, and as she was thinking a bright thought entered her mind. She rose and brought forth a little Testament which had been lying untouched since a kind friend had given it to her with these words, “Now, mind, if ever you are in trouble, or weary, just open this little book and read, and you will find rest.” And now she thought, “I will see if I can find the rest she promised.” After she had looked a little her eyes fell on these words in Romans 5:1 : “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Her eyes rested long on that verse, until at last she found Christ as her Saviour, and obtained rest in Him.

Peace through the Atonement

Professor Shedd has well said, “Whoever is granted this clear, crystalline vision of the Atonement will die in peace, avid pass through all the unknown transport and terror of the day of doom with serenity and joy. It ought to be the toil and study of the believer to render his conceptions of the work of Christ more vivid, simple, and vital; for whatever may be the extent of religious knowledge in other directions, whatever may be the worth of his religious experience in other phases, there is no knowledge and no experience that will stand him in such stead in those moments that try the soul as the experience of the sense of guilt quenched by the blood of Christ.”

Gospel peace

I saw a picture in London of the battle of Waterloo years after the battle had passed, and the grass had grown all over the sacred places, and the artist--for it was a masterpiece--had represented a dismounted cannon, and then a lamb, which had wandered up from the pasture field, sound asleep in the mouth of the cannon. Oh, what a suggestive picture it was to me I and I thought right away that the war between God and the soul is ended, and right amid the batteries of the law that once quaked with fiery death now you may behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.

“I went to Jesus as I was,

Weary and worn and sad;
I found in Him a resting-place,

And He has made me glad.”

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

Gratitude offering

A poor widow brought a basket of fine fruit to a rich man, and begged him to accept it as a present. He did so, knowing that he would make her happier by accepting it as a gift than he would by paying her for it liberally. The gift had cost her self-denial. She would not sell her choice fruit, that she might have the privilege of bestowing it upon one who needed nothing at her hands. She counted it a privilege to practise self-denial for the sake of one who was rich and needed nothing that she could give. Why was it? That rich man had saved the life of her son; he had found him, in want and sickness, in a distant city. He watched him till he was able to travel, when he furnished him with the means of returning to his mother. Hence her gratitude. Did that rich man place that widow under obligations to gratitude as God has placed every one of us? Has not God done for us infinitely more than that rich man did for the widow’s son? Can we count up His favours to us? Can we estimate the value of His “unspeakable gift”? Do we count it a privilege to practise self-denial for His sake? Depend upon it, we have very little religion unless we can see and feel that it is a great privilege for a sinner to practise self-denial for his Saviour’s sake. (Great Thoughts.)

The fat.

Fat and blood not to be eaten

You may here observe how they were forbidden to eat either fat or blood. The Lord’s prohibition of fat might teach them to like and use a meanest, moderate, and fitting diet, which, as it is good for the body, so also hath it profit for the soul. “He that loveth wine and oil,” saith the wise man, “shall not be rich”; and “Beware of surfeiting and drunkenness, of excess and belly-cheer,” often saith the Scripture in regard of the soul. Fasting and prayer are joined together, not feasting and prayer. A ship too much laden sinketh; and a body too much stuffed with fulness of bread perisheth. “It is a double conquest to conquer thyself,” and “it is a double destruction to destroy thyself.” John’s meat was locusts and wild honey--a moderate diet. The companion of gluttony is rottenness, and the follower of drunkenness is forgetfulness and sottishness. God’s people are here forbidden to eat their fat, and think ever on the meaning. Blood also was forbidden to them, that so they might learn to take heed of cruelty and to taste of mercy and lovingkindness in all their actions and behaviour. God is merciful, and we must follow Him; Satan and his members are bloody and cruel, we must avoid it. (Bp. Babington.)

If his offering be a goat.--

The goat in sacrifice

The goat stands here in the same relation to the peace-offering from the herd as did the turtledove and pigeon to the bullock of the whole burnt sacrifice. The poorer sort might bring the goat; when he could not bring the blood of bulls he brought the blood of goats. And thus stilt they were prevented from attaching importance to the mere type. The goat represents Jesus, as one taken out of the flock for the salvation of the rest. Let us suppose we saw “a flock of goats appearing from Mount Gilead” (Song of Solomon 6:5). The lion from Bashan rushes upon this flock; one is seized, and is soon within the jaws of the lion! This prey is enough; the lion is satisfied and retires; the flock is saved by the death of one. This incidental substitution does not indeed show forth the manner of our Substitute’s suffering; but it is an illustration of the fact that one dying saved the whole flock. The goat is one of a class that go in flocks in Palestine, and so are fitted to represent Christ and His people. And perhaps the fact of an animal like the goat being selected to be among the types of Christ was intended to prevent the error of those who would place the value of Christ’s undertaking in His character alone. They say, “Behold His meekness; He is the Lamb of God!” Well, all that is true; it is implied in His being “without blemish.” But that cannot be the true point to which our eye is intended to be directed by the types; for what, then, becomes of the goat? They may tell us of the meekness of the lamb and patience of the bullock, and tenderness of the turtledove; but the goat, what is to be said of it? Surely it is not without a special providence that the goat is inserted where, if the order of chap. 1. had been followed, we would have had a turtledove? The reason is to let us see that the main thing to be noticed in these types is the atonement which they represented. Observe the stroke that falls on the victim, the fire that consumes the victim, the blood that must flow from the victim, whether it be a bullock, a lamb, a turtledove, or a goat. The Socinian view of Christ’s death is thus contradicted by these various types, and our eye is intently fixed on the atoning character of the animal more than on anything in its nature. (A. A. Bonar.)


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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Leviticus 3". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.