Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Peace Offering

The peace offering is similar in many respects to the burnt offering, so it might help to start there if you haven’t read that post. I’ll focus on the distinguishing aspects of the peace offering for tonight’s post.

The first thing that sets the peace offering apart, although the burnt and grain offerings were “free will offerings”, is that the occasion of peace offerings is left to the worshippers. Peace offerings weren’t prescribed to be offered on a daily basis, but on more special occasions or when moved to do so. The sacrifice of peace offerings, also called fellowship offerings, can be found alongside many celebratory events in the Bible such as dedications, festivals, and coronations. Peace offerings were to be offered for thanksgiving (Leviticus 7:15), as a vow (Leviticus 7:16), or as a voluntary offering (Leviticus 7:16).

Interestingly, the peace offering is the only offering of meat that the worshipper was allowed to eat a portion of. (My husband said he’d be giving LOTS of peace offerings;). Seriously, I’m sure this did encourage the Hebrews to remember to be thankful for God’s Provident hand in their lives and to take joy in the peace or fellowship with the Lord that had been purchased for them (in an already, not yet sense). The manor in which the peace offering was sacrificed was the same as the burnt offering until the carving of the meat. At this point the breast and right thigh were consecrated for the priests. The blood was sprinkled around the altar, as with the burnt offering, signifying the means by which their peace with God had been secured, and the fat was burned and not eaten. For some reason that I cannot imagine, leftovers of the peace offering for thanksgiving were not allowed to be eaten, but in the case of a vow or voluntary peace offering, the leftover meat could be eaten the second day.

The next interesting detail to me is that while unleavened cakes were to be offered as before, leavened bread was also included in the peace offering. I think this is because the worshipper was allowed to eat part of the offering, so it was not “most holy” as the grain offering had been described. It also served as a reminder that although they could enjoy peace with God, it was not because they were without sin. Surely the leavened bread that they would eat, along with the blood sprinkled around the altar would serve as a picture of the blood of the sacrificial lamb providing the peace that they, sinners though they were, could enjoy with the Lord. Peace with God was His doing, not theirs.

So, getting back to Advent, how is the peace offering fulfilled by Christ? “Having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” (Romans 5:9-11) Ephesians 2:14 says it more plainly that Jesus Himself is our peace.

We have a little tradition in our family that my mom started years ago of memorizing Luke 2 and saying it on Christmas Eve before unwrapping presents. Two years ago we started having our kids memorize Luke 2:8-15, to spell her for a few verses, and last year they also recited it along with a few other children at our Christmas Eve candlelight service at church. When the angels praise God in v. 14 saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace,” this is the peace they’re talking about. Finally, the long awaited Messiah has come, He who will make peace between man and God! Now that’s an exciting thought for Advent!

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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.