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Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit Commentaries
Leviticus 3

 

 

Verses 1-17

EXPOSITION

THE PEACE OFFERING. The peace offering, though the instructions here given respecting it precede those relating to the sin offering (for a reason to be stated hereafter), is the last in order of the sacrifices when they were all presented together. First, the sin offering taught the need of, and symbolically wrought, propitiation and atonement; next the burnt offering represented the absolute surrender of man's will to God's will; then the meat offering, by its gift of homage, declared the loyal submission of the offerer; and then followed the peace offering, symbolizing the festive joy which pervades the souls of those who are in communion with God. the essential characteristic of the peace offering is the feast upon the sacrifice, participated in symbolically by God (by means of the part consumed on the altar, and the part eaten by his ministers) and actually by the offerer and his companions. It served as a memorial to the Israelites of the institution of the covenant between God and themselves (a covenant in the East being ordinarily ratified by the parties to it eating together), and reminded them of the blessings thence derived, which naturally called forth feelings of joyous thankfulness; while it prefigured the peace wrought for man by the adoption in Christ, through which he has communion with God.

Leviticus 3:1

Peace offering, Zebach shelamim, "sacrifice of peace offerings." The singular, shelem, occurs once (Amos 5:22). The conditions to be fulfilled by a Jew who offered a peace offering were the following:—

1. He must bring either

2. He must offer it in the court of the tabernacle.

3. In offering it he must place, or lean, his hand upon its head.

4. He must kill it at the door of the tabernacle.

5. He must provide three kinds of cakes similar to those offered in the meat offering, trod leavened bread (Leviticus 7:11-13).

The priest had:

1. To catch the blood, and strike the sides of the altar with it, as in the burnt sacrifices.

2. To place upon the burnt offering, smoldering upon the altar, all the internal fat of the animal's body, together with the kidneys enveloped in it, and, in the case of the sheep, the fat tails, for consumption by the fire.

3. To offer one of each of the three different kinds of unleavened cakes, and one loaf of the leavened bread, as a heave offering.

4. To wave the breast of the animal backwards and forwards, and to heave the leg or haunch upwards and downwards, in token of consecration (see notes on Le Leviticus 7:14, Leviticus 7:30, Leviticus 7:31).

5. To take for his own eating, and that of his brethren the priests, the three cakes and loaf and haunch that had been heaved and waved.

6. To return the rest of the animal, and the remaining cakes and loaves, to the offerer, to serve as a feast for him and his, to be eaten the same or the next clay, in the court of the tabernacle. The lesson taught by the peace off, ring was the blessedness of being in union with God as his covenant people, and the duty and happiness of exhibiting a joyous sense of this relation by celebrating a festival meal, eaten reverently and thankfully in the house of God, a part of which was given to God's priests, and a part consumed symbolically by God himself. The burnt offering had typified self-surrender; the meat offering, loyal submission; the peace offering typified the joyous cheerfulness of those who, having in a spirit of perfect loyalty surrendered themselves to God, had become his children, and were fed at the very board at which he deigned symbolically to partake. The most essential part of the meat offering was the presentation; of the burnt offering, the consumption of the victim on the altar; of the peace offering the festive meal upon the sacrifice. The combined burnt and meat offering was the sacrifice of one giving himself up to God; the peace offering, that of one who, having given himself up to God, is realizing his communion with him. In this respect the peace offering of the old dispensation foreshadows the Lord's Supper in the new dispensation. Several other names have been proposed for the peace offering, such as thank offering, salvation offering, etc. No name is more suitable than peace offering, but the word must be understood not in the sense of an offering to bring shout peace, but an offering of those who arc in a state of peace, answering to the Greek word αἰρνηική, rather than to the Latin word pacifica. "A state of peace anti friendship with God was the basis and sine qua non to the presentation of a shelem, and the design of that presentation, from which its name was derived, was the realization, establishment, verification, and enjoyment of the existing relations of peace, friendship, fellowship, and blessedness" (Kurtz, 'Sacrificial Worship').

Leviticus 3:3, Leviticus 3:4

"There were four parts to be burned upon the altar:

Leviticus 3:5

Upon the burnt sacrifice. The peace offering is to be placed upon the burnt offering previously laid upon the fire. Symbolically and actually the burnt offering serves as the foundation of the peace offering. Self-surrender leads to peace; and the self-sacrifice of Christ is the cause of the peace subsisting between God and man.

Leviticus 3:9

The whole rump should no doubt be the whole tail, consisting chiefly of fat, and always regarded as a great delicacy in the East (see Herod; 3:113; Thompson, 'Land and the Book,' page 97). The burning of the fat tail upon the altar, together with the internal fat, is the only point in which the ritual to be used when offering a sheep (Leviticus 3:6-11) differs from that used in offering a bull or cow (Leviticus 3:1-5), or a goat (Leviticus 3:12-16).

Leviticus 3:11

It is the food of the offering made by fire unto the Lord; literally, It is the bread of the offering by fire to the Lord. The idea of the peace offering being that of a meal at God's board, the part of the animal presented to God upon the altar is regarded as his share of the feast, and is called his food or bread. Cf. Revelation 3:20, "I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."

Leviticus 3:17

Eat neither fat nor blood. These are forbidden to be eaten, as belonging to God. The fat, that is, the internal fat, is his portion in the common feast of the peace offering, and the blood is presented to him in all the animal sacrifices, as the material vehicle of life (see Le Leviticus 7:22-27). The remaining regulations as to the various sorts of the peace offerings, the priests' portions of them, and the festive meal on the sacrifices, are given in Le Leviticus 7:11-34.

HOMILETICS

Leviticus 3:1-17

The peace offering

was not a sacrifice denoting self-devotion like the burnt-offering, nor a tender of homage like the meat offering, but a feast upon a sacrifice, which God and man symbolically joined in partaking of. The offering consisted of an animal and unleavened cakes and (generally) leavened bread, of which a share was given to God's altar and priests on the one hand, and to the offerer and his friends on the other. It represented the blessedness and joyousness of communion between God and man. "The character of these feasts cannot be mistaken. It was that of joyfulness tempered by solemnity, of solemnity tempered by joyfulness. The worshipper had submitted to God an offering from his property; he now received back from him a part of the dedicated gift, and thus experienced anew the same gracious beneficence which had enabled him to appear with his wealth before the altar. He therefore consumed that portion with feelings of humility and thankfulness; but he was bidden at once to manifest those blissful sentiments by sharing the meat, not only with his household, which thereby was reminded of the Divine protection and mercy, but also with his needy fellow-beings, whether laymen or servants of the temple. Thus these beautiful repasts were stamped both with religious emotion and human virtue. The relation of friendship between God and the offerer which the sacrifice exhibited, was expressed and sealed by the feast, which intensified that relation into one of an actual covenant; the momentary harmony was extended to a permanent union. And these notions could not be expressed more intelligibly, at least to an Eastern people, than by a common meal, which to them is the familiar image of friendship and communion, of cheerfulness and joy" (Kalisch).

I. IT WAS A FEDERAL FEAST, REMINDING THE ISRAELITES OF THE INSTITUTION OF the COVENANT. In early times the method of making a covenant was dividing animals in halves and passing between them (see Genesis 15:9, Genesis 15:10; Jeremiah 34:18, Jeremiah 34:19), or otherwise offering them in sacrifice (Genesis 8:20; Genesis 15:9; Psalms 1:5), and then feasting together.

When Abraham's servant; asked for Rebekah for his master, he refused to eat and drink until he had made his agreement (Genesis 24:33); but after it was completed, "they did eat and drink, he and the men that were with him" (Genesis 24:54). Jacob held a solemn feast after he and Laban had made a covenant together (Genesis 31:54). The feast upon the peace offerings, whether offered by the whole congregation or by individuals, served as a memorial of the covenant made between God and their fathers (see Exodus 24:5, where the name peace offering is first used), and it made rejoice in being God's peculiar people in union and communion with him.

II. IT LOOKED FORWARD AS WELL AS BACKWARDS. Like the Passover, it at once commemorated an historical event and prefigured a blessing to come. The Passover looked backwards to the deliverance from Egypt, and forward to "Christ our passover sacrificed for us;" and in like manner the peace offering feast commemorated the making of the covenant, and prefigured the blessed state of communion to be brought about by the sacrifice of the cross. Communion is typified and proved in the New Testament as well as the Old by eating and drinking together (Luke 14:15; Acts 10:41; Revelation 19:9).

III. SACRIFICE IN RELATION TO CHRISTIANS. We have no sin offering to offer. The full, perfect, and sufficient Sacrifice for sins was made once for all upon the cross; we have only to appropriate the merits of that one offering by faith. Nor have we a burnt offering to offer. The full surrender of himself by a perfect Man was once for all made in the Garden of Gethsemane and on Calvary; we can but follow the great Example. But we may still offer the meat offering, in a spiritual sense, by giving the service which declares us to he faithful subjects of God; and we may spiritually offer the peace offering, whenever with grateful hearts we offer praise and thanksgiving to God for having brought us into union and communion with himself.

IV. THE HOLY COMMUNION IS the SPECIAL MEANS OF OUR EXHIBITING THE JOYOUS SENSE OF BEING THE CHILDREN OF GOD. It is not a sin offering, being neither a repetition nor a continuation, but a commemoration, of the great Sin Offering of the cross; it is not, therefore, propitiatory. Neither is it a burnt offering, for Christ's self-surrender cannot be reiterated or renewed, but only commemorated. But it answers to the meat offering, inasmuch as in it we offer our alms and "the creatures of bread and wine" as tokens of our loyalty, and receive back in requital" the strengthening and refreshing of our souls by the Body and Blood of Christ." And it is a peace offering, for therein we feast at God's board, exhibiting our joyful thankfulness for having been admitted into covenant with him, offering "our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving," and rejoicing in the assurance thus given us "that we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of" Christ our Lord.

V. THE BLESSEDNESS OF A SENSE OF PEACE WITH GOD. First, we must feel the need of reconciliation, and a desire to rid ourselves of the obstacles in the way of it. Then we must go to Christ to have our sins nailed to his cross; and thus, "being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1), "and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7), "and the God of peace shall be with us" (Philippians 4:9).

HOMILIES BY R.M. EDGAR

Leviticus 3:1-17

Fellowship with God and man as illustrated in the peace offering

also Leviticus 7:11-21, Leviticus 7:28-34; Leviticus 19:6-8; Leviticus 22:29, Leviticus 22:30; of 1 John 1:6, 1 John 1:7; John 6:33. We have found in the burnt offering the principle of entire personal consecration, and in the meat offering that of consecrated life-work. We have seen how these have their perfect fulfillment only in the case of Jesus Christ, while in other cases they are preceded by an acknowledgment of sin and shortcoming, and of acceptance as coming through another. In the peace offering we have a further stage of religious experience. Part of the sacrifice, whatever it may be, is binned on the altar, part is assigned to the priests, and part is returned to the offerer, to constitute the staple of a social feast. Moreover, the portion laid upon the altar is expressly called "the bread of God" ( לֶחֶם אִשֶׁה לַיהָוֹה), John 6:11. Hence the idea of the offering is that God and his mediating priests and his sacrificing servants are all partaking of the one animal, the one food; that is to say, are all in fellowship. This is the crown of religious experience—conscious fellowship with God and with one another. It is what John refers to when he says, "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:6, 1 John 1:7).

I. IN HOLDING FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD AND MAN LARGE LIBERTY OF SELECTION IS ALLOWED. The animal presented might be a female or a male, and even, in the case of a free-will offering, an animal might be presented which had something superfluous (Leviticus 22:23). For, if fellowship is to be expressed, then, provided God is presented with what is perfect, what remains to represent man's share in the fellowship might fairly enough be imperfect. This wider range of selection emphasizes surely the fact that we may hold fellowship with God through any legitimate thing. We shall presently indicate the subject-matter of fellowship with God; meanwhile it is well to notice the large selection allowed.

II. IT IS A PRELIMINARY OF FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD TO ACKNOWLEDGE SIN AND RECEIVE ACCEPTANCE THROUGH A SUBSTITUTE. God's rights are thus respected and acknowledged as our Moral Governor. To venture into the charmed circle of fellowship without the benefit of the bloodshedding is to presume before God. Hence the peace offering was done to death, and its blood sprinkled on the altar before the feast began. The fellowship with God, which has not been preceded on the part of sinners like ourselves by confession of sin and acceptance, is sure to be hollow at the best.

III. IN ANY FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD WE MUST RECOGNIZE HIS RIGHT TO THE BEST PORTION OF THE FEAST. The priest was directed to take the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards, with the kidneys and the lobe of the liver, and, in case of a sheep, the tail of fat, and he was to burn all these upon the altar of burnt offering, in the ashes of the burnt offering. This was recognizing God's right to the best portion—to the flos carnis, the "tit-bits," as we would call them. Now, it is only natural to suppose that, whatever be the subject-matter of our fellowship with God he will enter more fully into the fellowship and make more of it than we can do. This will be more apparent when we notice in the sequel the different legitimate subjects of fellowship.

IV. IN FELLOWSHIP WITH ONE ANOTHER, MOREOVER, WE MUST RECOGNIZE THE POSSIBILITY OF OTHERS ENTERING INTO the SUBJECT MORE FULLY THAN OURSELVES. The priestly class had the wave breast and heave leg assigned to them as their share. Next to God's portion, these were the best portions of the beast. It indicated plainly the liberal scale of "ministerial support" which God would foster, and it prompted the self-denial of true fellowship. For a feast is a poor thing in which the host retains the best things for himself. His pleasure should be to confer the best on others. For the time being he literally "esteems others better than himself."

V. LET US NOW INDICATE THE LEGITIMATE SUBJECT-MATTERS FOR FELLOWSHIP WHICH ARE TYPIFIED IN the PEACE OFFERINGS. Here, then, we have three sets of individuals partaking of the one organic whole—God on his altar, his mediating priests at the tabernacle, and the offerer and his friends. What does the organic whole represent? And the only answer is, what God and man can have fellowship about. This evidently includes a very wide range indeed.

1. Jesus Christ. He is the great subject-matter of fellowship as between God and man, and between man and man. Hence he is called "the bread of God" which came down from heaven, the bread on which, so to speak, God feeds, as well as the bread he gives to nourish the world. If we think for a moment of the supreme delight which God the Father takes in his well-beloved Son, it is only faintly imaged by the portions placed upon the altar. What fellowship must God have in looking down upon his Son dedicated to life and death to redeem and sustain a sinful race! Indeed, we cannot enter into such an unparalleled experience; no wonder it should be said, "All the fat is the Lord's." Yet this does not prevent us on our part from feasting joyfully and by faith upon Jesus. He becomes the subject-matter of our fellowship and joy.

2. God's Word. This is another subject-matter of fellowship. How often does God use it in communicating with our souls! and is it not the choicest phraseology we can find in returning his fellowship through prayer? How much more, besides, does God see in the Word, and get out of it, than we do! If the crucible of criticism is only revealing the splendours of the Word, how much more must God see in it! "Thy word is very pure, therefore thy servants love it."

3. Ourselves. For fellowship is having something in common with another. If, then, we are altogether consecrated to God, if we say from the heart, "Lord, we are thine; undertake for us," we become, so to speak, the medium of fellowship as between God and us. God's delight in us is beyond conception. "The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in them that hope in his mercy." And, as we realize God's right and delight in us, life becomes a joyful feast to us. The exercise of all our powers becomes a conscious joy, a feast of love, and all around us are the better for our being.

4. Every legitimate subject or engagement. For all may be made subject-matter of fellowship with God. Nothing worth living for but may be made the medium of communion with him. All learning will prove more delightful if undertaken with God. All social engagements will prove more enjoyable if spent with God. Every occupation, in fact, becomes increasingly blissful in proportion to our fellowship with God in it. It is the feast of life: he sups with us, and enables us to sup with him (Revelation 3:20).

5. Every blessing received and vow registered. For this peace offering was either the expression of praise for some mercy received or the covenant-sign of some fresh resolution. It corresponded very largely to our Eucharistic celebrations. Just as in feasting upon the symbols of our Saviour's dying love we hold fellowship with God and with each other in thinking of all we have received and all we now resolve, so was it in the older feast. The offerer, as he entertained his friends, rejoiced in the goodness he had got from God, and pledged himself in gratitude. The peace offering thus expresses the truth regarding the fellowship possible between God and man, and between the brotherhood.—R.M.E.

HOMILIES BY S.R. ALDRIDGE

Leviticus 3:1-5

A general view offerings.

A supplementary account of the manner in which the peace offerings are to be presented unto the Lord is contained in Leviticus 7:1-38. Reserving fuller distinct consideration of them till our arrival there, it may be instructive now to derive some general lessons from a comparison between this present chapter and the preceding chapters, which tell us of the burnt and meat offerings.

I. EACH SEASON AND CIRCUMSTANCE HAS ITS APPROPRIATE OFFERING. Different names are bestowed upon the offerings. A general name for all is corban, a gift, a means of approach. It may be "a burnt offering" (Leviticus 1:3), significant of entire dedication; or "an offering of an oblation" (Leviticus 2:1), a present of flour or grains, an acknowledgment of God's goodness, and an expression of desire to obtain his good will; or "a sacrifice of peace" (Leviticus 3:1), denoting a wish to live in concord with Jehovah, recognizing his will and enjoying his favour. Thus the devout Israelite could never be without a fitting means of approach, whatever his state of mind or whatever the crisis in his life. So we may always have something to offer our heavenly Father, whether in suffering or health, in adversity or prosperity, in age or youth, desiring increased sanctification, or blessing, or usefulness, whether thankful for the past or requesting grace for the future. Even the one atonement of Jesus Christ, like a prism that exhibits different colours according to our position, may appear a diversified offering, according as the pressing need of the moment may seem to be deliverance from wrath, peace, happiness, self-dedication, temporal prosperity, or the light of God's countenance.

II. BY THE DIFFERENCE IN OFFERINGS GOD SEEMS TO DESIRE TO AWAKEN AND DEVELOP DIFFERENT MORAL SENTIMENTS. Our chequered experience has its part to fulfill in calling into play every faculty of the mind and spirit. God likes a good "all-round" character, strong at all points, and only exercise can secure this. He would have his people attend to all the requirements of the Christian life, to manifest all the virtues, knowledge and faith, gratitude and hope, patience and vigour. We must not deem any voyage or journey superfluous; no accident but may benefit us; the holiness meeting, the evangelistic service, the workers' conference,—each may be profitable in turn.

III. ONE OFFERING DOES NOT INTERFERE WITH THE PRESENTATION OF ANOTHER OF A DIFFERENT KIND. In Leviticus 7:5 we read that the fat of the peace offering is placed upon the burnt offering, probably upon the remains of the morning sacrifice. So that the one becomes a foundation for the other, and clashing is obviated. The sacrifice of the congregation does not prevent the sacrifice of the individual, nor does the general offering prove a hindrance to the special. Family prayer is no obstacle to private supplication, nor does the stated worship of the sanctuary exclude extraordinary gatherings. The fear of some good people lest regular meditation and service should grow formal and check any outburst of enthusiasm, or any sudden prompting to special effort, is seen to be groundless.

IV. CERTAIN REGULATIONS ARE COMMON TO ALL OFFERINGS. Burning on the altar belongs to bloody and unbloody sacrifices, death and sprinkling of blood of necessity only to the former. In every case the offering must be of the best of its kind, if an animal "without blemish," if of grain "fine flour." What we say or do for God should be with our might; in whatever service for him we engage, it must be with full affection and earnest zeal. And every sacrifice required the mediation of a priest. Christ must be the inspiration of our acts, the way of acceptance consecrating all our gifts of money, strength, and time. By him we die (as did the sentient victim) to the world, by him we live to the glory of God.—S.R.A.

Leviticus 3:16, Leviticus 3:17

Jehovah's portion.

As the Author of life and the Giver of all bounty, God might have claimed the whole of every sacrifice. But he discriminated between the parts of the victim, sometimes reserving for himself the greater share, at other times only a small proportion of that presented to him. In the peace offering there was selected for the altar, as God's perquisite, the "fat" of the animal, and the remainder went to the priests and the offerer.

I. LEARN THAT NOT THE MEANEST BUT THE CHOICEST PORTIONS MUST BE RESERVED FOR GOD'S SERVICE. Low conceptions of his majesty and perfection lead to such religious observance as is an insult rather than an honour. To defer reading the Scriptures or prayer till the mind and body are fatigued, is an infraction of this rule. Let our freshest moments, our sweetest morsels of thought and power, be set apart for the Lord! And similarly, ask not, How near can I walk to the dividing line between the Church and the world? or, Which of my amusements can I with least self-denial renounce in order to do his will? May we not behold the same lesson inculcated in the distinction indicated in this chapter, between a peace and a burnt offering? The latter, being wholly devoted to the Lord, must consist of a male victim; the former, intended principally for the participation of the offerers, may be male or female (Leviticus 3:1). It cannot be right, then, to imagine that any qualifications will suffice for entire consecration to God's work. Ministers and missionaries should be numbered amongst men of highest intellect and intensest spirituality.

II. SEE HOW GOD ACCEPTS THE OFFERINGS OF HIS CREATURES AS THE MATERIALS FOR HIS DELIGHT AND GLORY. The burnt fat is "food" for the fire offering, and is termed in another place, the "bread of God." It becomes "a sweet savour" that is, eminently pleasing to the Holy One. In the word "food" we discern the purport of the peace offering as a sacrificial meal, in which, by returning to God what he had previously bestowed, the worshipper:

1. Acknowledged his indebtedness and thanks.

2. Was made a guest at the table of the Lord, inasmuch as he ate part of the animal that was "food for the fire offering;" and

3. Had all his other provisions sanctified for the sustenance of life, being allowed to consume the entire portions of animals not fit for sacrifice.

III. RECOLLECT THE OBLIGATORINESS OF DIVINE STATUTES.

1. They prohibit as well as command. "Thou shalt not" occupies as prominent a position in the Decalogue as "Thou shalt." Not only does man need both to try him (as with our first parents) and direct him, but one really involves the other. Observe that what man might not consume himself might be properly consumed on the altar; so the adoration and. unquestioning fidelity that are out of place in reference to any finite beings, are becoming in relation to God.

2. They are equally binding on all generations. They respect us as well as our fathers, and herein the laws of God differ from the mutable proclamations of human lawgivers. The precepts of God only change with a new dispensation. This is the meaning of the word "perpetual." There is a sense, indeed, in which no Divine statute alters, being continued in spirit though the letter may have varied.

3. They enter into all phases of life. The prohibition was to be acted upon in "the dwellings" as well as at the tabernacle. Let us not make too great a distinction between the homage of the house of God and the home or the workshop and the factory! It is the characteristic of the gospel times to have the Law written on the heart, so that we carry it with us wherever we go. Thus are we prevented from sinning against God.—S.R.A.

HOMILIES BY J.A. MACDONALD

Leviticus 3:1-5

The peace offering.

We may get a clear conception of the peace offering by noticing the points of difference between it and the burnt offering described in the first chapter of this book.

I. IT DIFFERS IN ITS TITLE.

1. The burnt offering is in the Hebrew called ( עולה) olah.

2. This is called ( שלמים) shelamin.

II. IT DIFFERS IN ITS VICTIMS.

1. In respect to the kinds.

2. In respect to the sexes.

III. IT DIFFERS IN THE TREATMENT OF ITS VICTIMS.

1. There were points of agreement here.

2. But there were points of difference.

Leviticus 3:6-17

The peace offering of the flock.

The ceremony in relation to this is almost identical with that of the herd already described. Nevertheless, there are a few expressions in the course of the description which are not found in the former paragraph. We call attention to—

1. THE DESCRIPTION OF THE FAT OF THE LAMB. Leviticus 3:8-10.

1. Note the expression, "The fat thereof, and the whole rump." The "and" here is expletive rather than copulative, thus, "The fat thereof, even the whole rump." But the "rump," as vulgarly understood among us, is muscle, not fat. The part here indicated is the tail. This is evident from what follows, viz." It shall be taken off hard by the back-bone." The tail of the sheep even in our climate is fat, but in the East it is remarkably so, some of them weighing from twelve to forty pounds.

2. The portions burnt were very inflammable.

II. THE EXPRESSION, "FOOD OF THE OFFERING MADE BY FIRE UNTO THE LORD" (Leviticus 3:11).

1. Thus, what was consumed by fire is called God's food.

2. The portions of the peace offering not consumed upon the altar were eaten by men.

III. THE NOTE PROHIBITING THE EATING OF BLOOD. Leviticus 3:17.

1. What are the reasons for this?

2. We may here refer to a circumstance in connection with the bleeding of the sacrifice.

HOMILIES BY W. CLARKSON

Leviticus 3:1-16

The foundation of fellowship with God.

The "sacrifice of peace offering" was one of fellowship. Its distinctive features are brought out in chapter

7. (see Homily there). The sacrifice enjoined in this (third) chapter is preliminary to the sacred feast which was to follow. Its significance is found in the fact that the act of communion with God could only come after the oblation had been presented. We learn, therefore—

I. THAT SACRED JOY BEFORE GOD CAN ONLY FOLLOW RECONCILIATION WITH HIM. the Hebrew people might not come to the tabernacle and have a solemn feast near the sacred Presence until the animal had been slain and its blood sprinkled on the altar (Leviticus 3:1, Leviticus 3:2, Leviticus 3:8, Leviticus 3:13). Conscious unworthiness must first be taken away by the shed blood of bull or lamb, and then priest and people might rejoice together before the Lord. First purity, then peace (James 3:17). We may aspire

II. THAT A FULL SELF-SURRENDER MUST PRECEDE THE ACT OF COMMUNION. When the animal had been slain, the priest was to present to God the fat, the kidneys, etc. (Leviticus 3:3, Leviticus 3:4, Leviticus 3:9, Leviticus 3:10, Leviticus 3:14, Leviticus 3:15), special stress being laid on "the inwards;" the best and richest parts, those which had been the life of the animal, were offered to the Lord, as representing the animal itself, and so the offerer himself. He symbolically offered himself to God through these vital parts of the victim. When we draw near to a service of sacred fellowship and joy, or when we anticipate the communion of the skies, we should act on the truth that "our God has commanded our strength" (Psalms 68:28), that the appeal for his mercy through Christ should be accompanied with a free, full surrender of our whole selves, the consecration of our very best, the "inward parts"—the understanding, the affections, the will—to him and his service.

III. THAT FAITH IN CHRIST AND THE CONSECRATION OF OURSELVES RESULT IN HIS PERFECT PLEASURE WITH US: "It is an offering … of a sweet savour unto the Lord" (Leviticus 3:5, Leviticus 3:16). When the oblation was complete, then the offerer stood in the position of one who might rejoice in the Divine Presence and feast with the holy people and with God. Accepted in Christ, and having "yielded ourselves unto God" in unreserved consecration, we may feel that God's good pleasure, his full Divine complacency, rests upon us; we may walk in the light of his reconciled countenance all the day long. Two supplementary truths offer themselves to our thought in these verses.

1. That every soul must personally and spiritually engage in acceptable service. The offerer was "to lay his hand on the head of the offering,"—striking and significant act, by which he clearly intimated his consciousness of sin, and his desire that the victim might represent him in the sight of God—its blood his life, its organs his capacities. We may not trust to our mere bodily presence while God is being approached and besought, or while Christ's redeeming work is being pleaded, or while words of dedication are being uttered in prayer. There must be the positive, sympathetic, personal participation, or we stand outside the service and the blessing.

2. That we must intelligently discriminate between the obligatory and the optional in the service of God. Certain things were imperative in the act of worship, other things were left to the choice of the individual. In the gospel of Christ and the worship of God there are things essential that none may depart from, e.g. the humble heart, the act of faith and self-surrender, the spirit of obedience toward God and of love toward man; there are other things which are left to personal discretion, e.g. times and methods of devotion, scale of contribution, sphere of usefulness. Yet in these optional matters we are not to act inconsiderately or irrationally, but according to the direction of wisdom and the teachings of experience.—C.

Leviticus 3:17

The guardian of sacred feeling.

No little stress is laid on the prohibition of two things—the fat and the blood of slain animals: it was to be "a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings." The fat thus interdicted was that which was offered in sacrifice (Leviticus 3:3, Leviticus 3:4, Leviticus 3:9, Leviticus 3:10), not that which was interlined with the lean (Nehemiah 8:10). We may look at—

I. THE MEANING OF THIS PROHIBITION IN THEIR CASE. Evidently both the fat and the blood were disallowed as food because they were offered in sacrifice to Jehovah. On this account they were to be preserved sacred. They were not to be treated as ordinary things, vulgarized, lowered in public estimation; a feeling of their sacredness was to be cherished and carefully preserved by daily habit. To be continually using these parts as meat and drink at table would have the effect which was to be deprecated. It was, therefore, an act of religious duty to abstain from them. By such abstinence their feelings of reverence and piety would be guarded and preserved. Was it not for a similar reason, viz. that no violation should be done to the sacred sentiment of maternity, that the law was thrice repeated, "Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk" (Exodus 23:19, etc.)? The influence of daily habit on the finer sentiments of the soul is very gradual and imperceptible, but in the end it is very great: it is often decisive for good or evil.

II. ITS BEARING ON OUR OWN RELIGIOUS LIFE. We are to guard most sedulously our sacred feelings; to "keep our heart above all keeping" (Proverbs 4:23). Among other perils to be avoided is that of allowing sacred things to be vulgarized by too frequent use, to lose their force and virtue by reason of over-familiarity. With this end in view, there will be, on the part of the prudent, a certain measure of:

1. Wise limitation. This will apply to

2. Positive spiritual endeavour. It will by no means suffice to conform to good rules of speech and behaviour: such abstinences will not preserve a reverent and loving spirit; we must think seriously and pray earnestly.

HOMILIES BY R.A. REDFORD

Leviticus 3:1-17

The peace offerings,

also called thank offerings or salvation offerings. The twofold object—to acknowledge salvation received, to supplicate salvation desired. Three kinds—praise offerings, vow offerings, free-will offerings. Considerable freedom permitted in them, though still restrictions observed. Male and female victims, of the herd and flock, but only those without blemish. No pigeons permitted, because a pair of pigeons insufficient for the sacrificial meal, which was so important a constituent of the service. Combination of the burnt sacrifice with the peace offering in the consumption by fire of the suet or fat of the internal organs, and of the fat tail of the sheep. The fat and the blood offered to the Lord in a special manner, by fire and sprinkling "on the altar round about."

Leviticus 3:1

The offering distinguished. Oblation denotes its voluntary character; sacrifice its intimate connection with the altar, that is, its participation in the atoning significance of all the bloody sacrifices which carried in them the idea of reconciliation with God through the blood of the covenant. Peace offering, the specific distinction, recognizing the fact that, whether the prominent feeling expressed was praise or prayer, still the offerer was standing on the ground of covenant fellowship with God. We may take these offerings generally to symbolize salvation as a realized fact. We find under this general fact these three constituent spiritual realities included:

I. Intercourse re-established between God and man, and expressed in grateful praise and willing dependence.

II. Salvation as a fact resting on continued faith; the three parts of the sacrifice being the offerer's part, the priest's part, and Jehovah's part,—all essential and harmonized in one offering.

III. Joy of salvation, both individual and social, typified in the sacrificial meal, God, as it were, giving back the victim to be the source of delight both to the priest and the offerer.

On each of these points the details of the sacrifice have their significance.

I. RECONCILIATION. Re-established intercourse between God and man, grateful praise, willing dependence. Here we may notice the two sides of the sacrifice: that turned towards man—it is willingly brought, it is a valuable gift, it is brought as a peace offering to give praise or to accompany vows and prayers; that turned towards God, it is a confession of sin, an obedience rendered to the Law, a renewal of the covenant, a confirmation of the promises, a seal of grace. Intercourse between man and God.

1. Distinguish between the truth as set forth in Scripture, and man's self-derived ideas.

(1) Consider the non-scriptural views: the notions of the mystic or of the transcendentalist—man's lifting himself to God, or being lifted up by ecstasy; the rationalistic conception that God and man meet in nature, or in human consciousness, and that such intercourse in the mere laws of fact or thought is sufficient. All such reconciliation ignores the fallen state of man, can supply no gospel of peace, is contradicted by the plain development of righteousness in the course of the world; and therefore the necessity made evident that man, as going on to meet the future, should be prepared to meet his God in judgment, in the great adjustment of right and wrong. The mere moralist falls into a similar error when he teaches that the partial obedience of human life to Divine Law, the recognition practically of an ideal moral standard, is a reconciliation between the highest moral Being and his creature.

2. This intercourse between God and man being thus established, it is expressed in grateful praise and willing dependence on man's part, in the bestowment of peace and sanctification on God's part. The peace offering typified the life of man as a continual reciprocation of covenant intercourse: the presentation of gifts to God, the acceptance in return of Divine grace. Thus was religion set forth. It is not separated from the earthly life, but it is its consecration. It is not a meritorious purchase of Divine favour, or turning away of wrath, or covering of the reality of transgression with sacrifice, but a thankful dedication of saved life, a subjection of all to the will of the Father, an appropriation of heavenly gifts. Perhaps the fact that no poor man's offering is prescribed may indicate that the truth was already implied, though not so distinctly expressed as afterwards in the Psalms and Prophets, that God would have mercy and not sacrifice, that he laid no stress upon the actual presentation of a peace offering so long as the man himself and his life were offered in devout obedience and thankful spirit. "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God" (Psalms 1:1-6 :23).

II. SALVATION AS A FACT RESTS ON CONTINUED FAITH. In every peace offering there were three parts—the offerer's, the priest's, Jehovah's. On each occasion, therefore, the main elements of salvation were recognized, which were these:

1. Free grace.

2. Mediation.

3. Self-surrender.

In each the offerer's faith makes salvation a fact.

1. In bringing a peace offering to Jehovah, the worshipper cast himself by faith on the free grace which opened the way for him to reconciliation and peace. "We love him because he first loved us." The Jew failed to see this freedom of Divine love, and hence became a bond slave under the power of his ritual The gospel has exalted the Divine element so high above the human in the advent of the Son of God, that it is no longer possible to hide it. "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself." "The Lord hath visited his people." We build all on the foundation stone which God himself hath laid. We begin with the person of Christ, divinely glorious. Our faith lays hold of eternal life in him who was the Life and the Light of men.

2. The offerer brought the victim, but the priestly mediation, was a necessary part of the ceremony. Salvation as a fact rests not only upon the free and infinite love of God, but upon the manifested righteousness and ceaseless intercession of the Saviour. "Aaron's sons sprinkle the blood; Aaron's sons burn the fat on the altar on the burnt sacrifice; a sweet savour unto the Lord." Our life as a saved life is a continual application to ourselves by faith of the merit and efficacy of the Saviour's atonement and ministry as our great High Priest. The "truth as it is in Jesus" is the food of our thoughts, the joy of our hearts, the strength of our obedience. Salvation as a fact is realized forgiveness, progressive holiness in communion with Christ, victory through his grace over the world and all enemies, and at last participation in the glorification of the Divine Man, and admission into his eternal kingdom.

3. Self-surrender was both in the presentation of the offering and in the position of the offerer, laying his hand on the head of the victim, killing it, and giving up the assigned portions to the altar and fire; all was confession, consecration, obedience. Our faith is essentially a yielding of ourselves to God. We find oar salvation a fact, just as we "put off the old man and put on the new man;" just as we "count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord." Our offering is a peace offering, both of the past and for the future. We are no longer our own. Christ is all to us, and so we are Christ's, and Christ is God's.

III. JOY OF SALVATION, typified in the sacrificial meal, in which the representatives of God and man, in the priests and offerer, met together in social festivity. This was anticipation of the sacred meal, the Supper of the Lord, in which sacrificial joy was celebrated in the new society, in the kingdom of God. The Christian's joy is preeminently joy of salvation. He builds all happiness on the fact of reconciliation with God. He lives his new life not unto himself, but unto Christ and to Christ's people. The social gladness, which was an element in the peace offering, points to the fact that the redemption of Christ effects a deliverance of society from its bondage and misery, as well as the individual soul from its sin and ruin. Such a message is specially wanted in these times, when the world groans under its burdens, and strives in vain after a true liberty and peace. What offerings are laid on the altar of war! Yet they are consumed in vain. There is no happy banquet of fellowship and brotherhood coming out of such sacrifices. God invites us to the joy of a new-made world. He bids us proclaim the way of peace to be through the obedience of Christ. How sweet the savour to the Lord when the whole human family shall offer up its peace offering, acceptable, because identified with the offering of Calvary, uniting all together in a sacred festivity of gladness!—R.

Leviticus 3:3, Leviticus 3:4

The fat that covereth the inwards;

"the caul above the liver, with the kidneys;" "all the fat is the Lord's" (Leviticus 3:16). The sweet fat, or suet, was burned as a sweet savour to the Lord. This might be either because fat of this kind was a sign of perfection in the animal life, or because the offering in the fire would be increased by the oily matter, and would make the burnt offering more imposing. Any way the dedication to the Lord is the main idea.

I. RELIGIOUS SERVICE SHOULD TAKE UP INTO ITSELF THE HIGHEST FACULTIES AND NOBLEST AFFECTIONS. The worship of the sanctuary; the active efforts of Christians in the spread of the gospel; charity;—in all such sacrifices let "the fat be the Lord's."

II, THE PROSPERITY OF HUMAN LIFE IS ONLY SAFE AND BLESSED WHEN THE SUBSTANCE OF IT IS CONSECRATED ON THE ALTAR. Men become victims of their own success because they withhold the fat from the Lord, and it becomes a curse to them.—R.

Leviticus 3:5

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." Notice the preparation thus made for the acceptance of man's offering. There is the altar, the fire, the wood, the burnt sacrifice, the offering of the consecrated fat. Thus Le Leviticus 6:12, it is said, "the priest shall burn wood every morning at the altar, and lay the burnt offering in order upon it; and he shall burn thereon the fat of the peace offerings." The abiding sacrifice, on the abiding altar, with the abiding fire, receives the occasional offering of the individual worshipper. Here is the great truth of an abiding merit, an ever-living intercession set forth.

I. God, by his grace, has provided for us THE TRUE METHOD OF RIGHTEOUSNESS AND ACCEPTANCE.

1. The superiority of Christ's sacrifice to all other—because of his person, his active and passive obedience, his declared acceptance by his baptism, transfiguration, resurrection, ascension.

2. The simple work of faith, in laying the offering on the ashes of the burnt sacrifice, in attaching the imperfect obedience of man to the infinite merit of Christ. A peace offering in the highest sense when we thus lay all upon the altar of the true mediation. The fire consuming denoted acceptance. God, in Christ, declares himself not only well pleased in his beloved Son, but in all who spiritually are identified with him. The lesser burnt offering is absorbed into the greater and abiding burnt offering, our obedience in Christ's.

II. Thus is set forth THE TRUE ORDER OF THE ETHICAL LIFE. The lesser sacrifice upon the greater. The peace offering on the burnt offering.

1. Common mistake to attempt to reverse this order. Man supposes himself capable of building up merit by moral acts. God teaches him that all ethical worth must rest upon religious completeness. The relation between God and man must be true and perfect, otherwise morality is not real, but only disguised selfishness.

2. The offering up of human life in activity, in suffering, cannot be peace offering unless it be religious. We want the greatest motive to actuate and sustain. We seem to waste our offering unless we can see it in its relation with God's work, with a redeemed and renewed world.

3. The sweetness of life is a return into our own hearts of what the Lord hath found delightful. The "sweet savour" of a consecrated obedience pervades the whole existence, and makes it fragrant both to ourselves and others. Wonderful transmuting power of religion in giving value to the apparently worthless in human character, and beauty to the commonest, and nobleness to the humblest; the whole garment of sanctity covering the native imperfections. Yet no sweet savour without fire. There must be the reality of a spiritual life—the power of God, not the mere form and appearance of the offering.—R.

Leviticus 3:6-16

Varieties in the offerings-unity in the sacrifice.

Whether from the herd or from the flock, an offering of larger or smaller value, the same principle applies—the unblemished gift, the separation of the fat and of the blood, the observance of all prescribed order and detail

I. Here is the TRUE RELIGIOUS LIBERTY. Obedience according to ability, "doing the will of God from the heart." The variety which is necessitated in God's children by their different capabilities and circumstances is not displeasing to him. If we cannot bring an offering from the herd, then from the flock; if not a sheep, then a lamb; if neither, then the will for the deed. Yet all can do something. "Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ" (Ephesians 4:1-32, and 1 Corinthians 12:1-31).

II. Here is the secret of SOCIAL PEACE AND STRENGTH—the only true equality; God's altar bringing together rich and poor, high and low. All, offering what they can to him, find out each other's nearness and worth. In the house of God the poor man may be a higher servant of the sanctuary than the rich. Society rests on religion as its basis. Mistake of philosophy, which gives us not brotherhood but altruism—not family life but mere expediency. The true conception of a State is every one having a place, and every one in his place. None but the religious view, which makes the altar of God the center, really effects this union of the individual interest with that of the community. The true mother does not despise the sickly child. Philosophy exalts the great and depresses the little. Religion humbles the great and exalts the low. The revelation is to babes. The offering is accepted from the weakest hands. All are one in Christ. The perfect Sacrifice blends all together.—R.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Leviticus 3:4". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc/leviticus-3.html. 1897.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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