Book of Leviticus Chapter Three Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
The Peace Offering
A glimpse into a newspaper or a look at the daily news reveals the lack of peace in this world. Saddest of all is our lack of peace with God. As a race, the human race, we declared war by rebelling against Him, and our tiring, futile rebellion has raged to this day. Notice Jesus' encouraging words in John 14:27—"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you," and He continued—"not as the world gives do I give to you." This is something deeper, more fundamental and lasting than anything this world system can even imagine. Nations will still invade each other, troubles between people will abound, but as Jesus continued in John 14:28, "Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." Our need is for peace with God, who will heal our fear.
God saw our need from eternity, long before we even existed, as in the parable of the "peace offering" in Leviticus 3:1—"Now if his offering is a sacrifice of peace offerings, if he is going to offer out of the herd, whether male or female, he shall offer it without defect before the Lord." These verses are snapshots, pictures from the future, of Jesus, the Lamb of God, who is our peace, our offering, carefully prepared for us by God. Peter recognized the perfect work of Christ as he wrote, "...you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot" (1 Peter 1:18-19). God would only accept a perfect sacrifice to bring peace to this fallen world, and we hear more of the gift of Jesus in His own words in John 16:33—"...in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." And note that this sacrifice may be a "male or female," a declaration that all of us are equally eligible to receive God's peace.
Jesus Christ has done the work to bring us peace...you and I receive it through faith in Him and what He has done. Verse 2 speaks of our inability to make peace with God through mere efforts and our need to identify with and accept the perfect sacrifice offered for us through the blood of Christ—"He shall lay his hand on the head of his offering and slay it at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall sprinkle the blood around on the altar." A sacrifice of perfection must be offered and we are to accept God's solution. This is a voluntary sacrifice as glimpsed in Leviticus 7:11 & forward, and note Verses 3-4: "From the sacrifice of the peace offerings he shall present an offering by fire to the Lord, the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, 4 and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them, which is on the loins, and the lobe of the liver, which he shall remove with the kidneys." The bodily organs named in these verses are essential to the life of the animals. Without them, they die. Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, died for our sins, utterly giving Himself so you and I can have His peace. The offering points us to the Son of God and the fat reflects our need for God's Holy Spirit.
The complete giving of life continues into Verse 5: "Then Aaron’s sons shall offer it up in smoke on the altar on the burnt offering, which is on the wood that is on the fire; it is an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the Lord." It is like a "soothing aroma" to God when we accept the peace offered us in Jesus Christ. Note in this verse that the peace offering is "on the burnt offering"—first we utterly surrender as sinners—enabling us to receive His peace. The "burnt offering" pictures the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the One who died for our sins. The offering of this chapter is a contract, His offer of peace and our acceptance, by and through the Son of God.
Much like the burnt offering, the peace offering would be the best of a herd of cattle, as seen in the preceding verses, and it might be a precious lamb, as in Verses 6-7: "But if his offering for a sacrifice of peace offerings to the Lord is from the flock, he shall offer it, male or female, without defect. 7 If he is going to offer a lamb for his offering, then he shall offer it before the Lord." You have to wonder: Why did these perpetual sacrifices end for the Jews and for the world, just a few years after the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross? The answer is: Jesus is our peace, the One these sacrifices point to. Those are the words of Ephesians 2:14—"He Himself is our peace..." bringing God's peace to all in humanity who will trust in the Lord. The walls of separation are broken down and we become acceptable to God, able to find peace with Him and one another.
Much like it was for the owner of the bovine animal, the one offering the sheep identified closely with this innocent creature, as seen in Verse 8: "and he shall lay his hand on the head of his offering and slay it before the tent of meeting, and Aaron’s sons shall sprinkle its blood around on the altar." The sheep's owner laid his hand on the little animal and then killed it... as we gaze on the cross in Scripture, we can recognize that our sins killed the Lord Jesus Christ, and remember that one of His names is "Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).
Verses 9-10: "From the sacrifice of peace offerings he shall bring as an offering by fire to the Lord, its fat, the entire fat tail which he shall remove close to the backbone, and the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, 10 and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them, which is on the loins, and the lobe of the liver, which he shall remove with the kidneys." The oil, the "fat" reminds us that the Holy Spirit is to be present in all our actions, whether religious or "secular," but we must also see the utter destruction of sin and sinners in "eternal fire" as in Matthew 25:41. The goals of this world can be seen as a quest for "fatness." We instead look to simple purity, the peace found in our Lord.
Notice that the remains of the peace offering became food for the one who offered it and for the priests. Nothing was to remain of the burnt offering because it represented sin, which is to be utterly destroyed for all eternity. Peace, on the other hand, will be with His faithful ones—forever. The "offering by fire" in Verse 11 is the process of cooking the meat: "Then the priest shall offer it up in smoke on the altar as food, an offering by fire to the Lord."
Verses 12-15 present a similar process, only this time the offering is a goat: "Moreover, if his offering is a goat, then he shall offer it before the Lord, 13 and he shall lay his hand on its head and slay it before the tent of meeting, and the sons of Aaron shall sprinkle its blood around on the altar. 14 From it he shall present his offering as an offering by fire to the Lord, the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, 15 and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them, which is on the loins, and the lobe of the liver, which he shall remove with the kidneys." Pigeons are not an alternative here, like they were in the burnt offering, but we should note about the offering of the poor, that God will find a way. If He laid it on the heart of a poor family to present an offering of peace, a sacrifice was made available to them. And whatever the offering, in Leviticus 7:18, it's clear that it is to be eaten today or tomorrow; never on the third day, pointing to Christ's death, who would be raised to life on the "third day" (Matthew 16:21).
The Law tells us what NOT to do, but under the New Covenant in Christ Jesus, those who are willing to have faith in the Lord are given freedom in—everything. Verses 16-17 look at something forbidden within the peace offering: "The priest shall offer them up in smoke on the altar as food, an offering by fire for a soothing aroma; all fat is the Lord’s. 17 It is a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings: you shall not eat any fat or any blood." The "fat" was considered to be the choice part of the meat, the blood in that region was a part of normal food preparation, and the participants in this sacrifice would notice what was missing. Those denials were signposts for the future, alerting everyone that something more, Someone better was coming, in which nothing is denied to those who love the Lord. Leviticus 17:11 observes, "The life is in the blood," and whether we eat meat, fruit or vegetables, all across nature, something dies so we might live another day. And recall the prophetic words of Jesus in Matthew 26:28—"This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." He died so the faithful in Christ may receive everything and live—forever.
Lord, I want, I need Your peace. I confess my sins, my need right now, and I place my trust in You. I am Yours, Lord. I am Yours. Thank You for the peace You give to me. In Jesus Name. Amen.