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Ritual of the Sacrifices: the Peace Offering
Leviticus 7:1.—Likewise this is the law of the trespass offering. More precise instructions are now added to those given in chap Leviticus 5:1-13, expressly for the guidance of the priest. Every minute detail is of Divine regulation; God rules within the sanctuary, directs every particular of worship and service therein; for altar sacrifice is “most holy,” and man must scrupulously refrain from adding, omitting, or altering aught when he approaches Jehovah with expiation. Neither, in the Christian dispensation, is license, or caprice, or self-assertion allowed to sinful man who would propitiate God; he must implicitly follow instructions. “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good.”
Leviticus 7:7.—As the sin offering, so is the trespass offering. If any item of regulation was given for one offering which was not given in the other, then it was to be applied as equally binding in both cases. The priest was entrusted with the duty of searching out each particular and fulfilling it sedulously. It should be our study to “know the Holy Scriptures,” and therefore we should “compare spiritual things with spiritual,” “searching the Scriptures daily,” as did the Bereans, in order that nothing be left undiscovered, nothing unfulfilled. How careful should be our endeavour to make the written will of God our law in every particular of worship and of habit, of life and conduct.
Leviticus 7:10.—One as much as another [literally, a man as his brother]. In the “meat offering” “all the sons of Aaron” were to share, and the dividing was to be equal. And this law assures us, who in Christ are of the “priesthood,” that there is an equal participation in the merits of the sacrifice and the privileges of the Christian life for all who are sacredly related. The gracious rule of brotherhood is to be illustrated in our enjoyment of the sacramental feast at the Lord’s table, “All ye are brethren.” No assumption of superiority is permissible, no exclusive appropriation of the sacred provisions; in the Gospel feast, and at the Lord’s Supper, “a man is as his brother.” How, then, dare the Romish celebrant assume the sole right of participating? or where is the warrant for “priestly” superiority in the “household of faith”?
Leviticus 7:12.—Offer it for a thanksgiving. These “peace offerings” are of three kinds—thank offerings (Leviticus 7:12-15), votive offerings (Leviticus 7:16), and voluntary offerings (Leviticus 7:16-18). [Comp. on chap. 3.]
Leviticus 7:18.—Neither shall it be imputed unto him that offereth it. The offerer was expected to see that the entire votive or voluntary offering was “eaten the same day” as it was offered; a regulation this which compelled him to hospitality, to invite together a sufficient number of neighbours or poor persons to the festal board. And if through inattention to this duty of considerate and generous hospitality any part remained uneaten that “same day,” it must be completely consumed “on the morrow,” or the offerer was liable to a serious risk—the part not consumed might fall into some person’s hands after the limited time; and then the efficacy of the sacrifice would be entirely disannulled and the offerer must bring another votive offering and go through the regulations of lavish hospitality again, but with more promptitude and precision. A Christian must “not live to himself”; his care for others must be generous; he must be hospitable to the needy; and in his enjoyment of sacred privileges he must bring in others to share with himself the “feast of fat things,” or his own selfish religious life becomes “an abomination.”
Leviticus 7:20.—Having his uncleanness upon him. The penalty of legal defilement was excision from the Lord’s people. “Ye are a holy nation.” Such was Jehovah’s reiterated declaration; and every infringement of ceremonial sanctity was immediately stamped with disapprobation and disfranchisement. Shall not the Church of Christ be equally guarded from the presence of the unclean? Wherefore “let a man examine himself,” and let those charged with the care of the Church preserve her fellowship from contamination by “trying the spirits” As for ourselves, this is the injunction for us to heed: “Wherefore come out from among them, be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing.”
Leviticus 7:22-27.—Ye shall eat no manner of fat … no manner of blood. [Comp. on Leviticus 3:17]. That which was the Lord’s man must not appropriate. “What shall I render unto the Lord?” Our aim should be rather to exceed His specified requirements by offering something beyond, “some very precious” alabastron, some free-will sacrifice of love “for the great love wherewith He has loved us.”
Leviticus 7:30.—His own hand shall bring the offerings of the Lord. Divine service could not be done by proxy. Just as at the judgment “every one shall give account of himself to God,” so in now seeking appeasement and acceptance every soul must come to the Lord on his own behalf. “The Master calleth for thee.”
Leviticus 7:34.—The wave breast and the heave shoulder. The spectacular movements of parts of the sacrificial victim before the altar intimated their consecration to Jehovah, and their performance was justified by the necessity of impressing on the people the supreme claims of God upon them when they brought their offerings. It was an uplifting of the sacrifice to Him who dwelt between the cherubim; a recognition of His unseen presence, a response to His solemn demands. A vivid realization of God within the sanctuary would constrain to more reverence in our offerings and actions. “Who hath required this at your hands to tread My courts?” (Isaiah 1:12).
Leviticus 7:37.—This is the law of the burnt offering, etc. An enumeration of the various kinds of sacrifices, which carries the suggestion that Jehovah could omit no one from the list, that all were essential to His continued favour towards and fellowship with man, that the religious life could not be thorough if one were withheld—self-consecration, fellowship, atonement, reconciliation, peace.
Topic: INVARIABLE LAWS REGULATING SACRIFICIAL WORSHIP (Leviticus 7:1-10)
With minute precision God reiterates His requirements in sacrificial worship. Thus emphasizing the conditions of man’s propitiation, and his acceptance with Him. “There is one law for them” (Leviticus 7:7). Though some diversity existed in the details, e.g., as to the disposal of the blood of the victim by the priest [comp. ch. Leviticus 4:6-7, with Leviticus 7:2], and the sharing of the different parts of the animal; yet amid all diversity in details, an invariable law ruled in the arrangements, and this God again emphasizes. What was that invariable law? In chap Leviticus 6:27, etc, the stress of Divine injunctions is laid on the quality of the sanctity distinguishing the sin offering: and here it is reaffirmed (Leviticus 7:1) “it is most holy,” and (Leviticus 7:6) “it shall be eaten in the holy place, it is most holy.” Ponder that inflexible requirement and consider that there are still inevitable laws and fixed conditions of acceptable approach to God.
I. METHODS OF WORSHIP MAY VARY, BUT HOLINESS IS INEVITABLE IN ALL.
1. Moral qualities are essentially more valuable than outward rituals.
2. Modes of approaching God, though important, fail to win Divine favour, if the inmost state is alien to His will.
3. Sanctity is the most precious quality in man. Not grandeur, not punctiliousness, but holiness.
4. This holiness indicates not so much moral faultlessness and absolute perfectness in the offerer, as sincerity, humility, “a right spirit,” a reverence of God, and a trustfulness in His grace. [See Addenda, p. 100, True Worship.]
II. All propitiatory acts are secondary to THE SUPREME FACT—DEATH FOR SIN.
1. First in order of time: the offering was to be slain (Leviticus 7:2). After that was done, then began the ritual. Any attempt to draw near God until the atonement death is a realised fact is an intrusion, an anachronism.
2. First in order of consequence: the worshipper must substitute a victim’s life. Or he himself must die! Shielded from death by substitution, he may then seek God by propitiatory ritual or reconciliatory worship.
3. Calvary was thus the consummation of all types: Death for sin making possible man’s approach to God.
III. Offerings to God must always be THE CHOICEST IN OUR POWER TO PRESENT.
1. Vast variety was allowed and ordained in the sacrificial offerings. God permits and approves our various gifts; every one bringing his distinctive offering; every life presenting its special and peculiar quality. Considerable freedom in choice is granted.
2. Yet the invariable law rules—God must have the finest, the very best. The vital parts, the choicest of the inwards of the victim were claimed for Him (Leviticus 7:3-5).
3. Each worshipper has to bring something of peculiar preciousness to God, something additional to atonement. Yes; beyond Christ’s death, God asks the very choicest qualities of the life of all who seek Him. [See Addenda, p. 100, Offerings for God.]
IV. ABSOLUTE CONSECRATION MARKED WHATEVER WAS PRESENTED TO THE LORD. “It is most holy.”
1. There might be no taking back that which had been offered. Think on Ananias and Sapphira.
2. No one might share that which “pertained unto the Lord.” [Comp. Leviticus 7:20.]
Hence: once dedicated to the Lord we are His absolutely and always. And whatever is dedicated to the Lord none may partake with Him—it is his only.
Topic: THE SACRIFICE OF PEACE OFFERING (Leviticus 7:11-18)
“And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he shall offer unto the Lord,” etc.
In the ritual of the Hebrews there were three great classes of offerings: the burnt offering, the sin offering, and the peace offering. The meat and drink offerings were secondary, and usually were offered in connection with other sacrifices.
The burnt offering and the peace offering were known before the giving of the law. The sin offering was instituted in connection with the law, as made necessary by it.
The law of the peace offering is given last in publication of the sacrificial arrangements, as if to declare that it naturally follows the others as a sacrifice of completeness (as expressive of restored fellowship between God and man); and also that every view of Christ is gathered into it.
I. The peace offering is a SACRIFICE OF THANKSGIVING.
Three forms of it are specified:
(1) The offering of thanksgiving, i.e., for some special blessing.
(2) The vow, the fulfilment of a promise to God.
(3) The voluntary offering made from a principle of gratitude, when, with no special occasion, the worshipper called upon his soul and all within him to bless and praise God’s holy name.
It was a peace offering, a national thanksgiving, which Solomon made at the dedication of the temple. It is this sacrifice so frequently referred to in the Psalms.
In connection with the Passover celebration there were two peace offerings: the former of these is continued in the Pascal supper, which is a sacrifice of peace offering, a feast of thanksgiving for God’s greatest gift to men, a service by the Church to be joyously observed. At the sacramental table we should
(1) thank God for all special exhibition of Divine goodness;
(2) should joyfully fulfil our promises to Him, those sacred covenants into which, in trial or difficulty, we have entered with Him;
(3) should make our voluntary offerings, in view of the constant mercies of God, the daily and hourly grace; not the freshet water in the stream of Divine providence, but the constant flow from the inexhaustible “upper sprigs.” How well do these befit all our approaches to God, how well, of all places, do they befit the sacrifice of the Communion!
II. The peace offering is a SACRIFICE OF FELLOWSHIP.
This idea lies at its centre. The peculiar feature of it was the sacrificial meal; the priests shared in what was offered; the offerer also partook; the offering was presented to God, and part thereof consumed, as if by Him, upon His altar.
1. It was an act of communion with God. He gives us back a portion from the altar. Christ is our sacrifice. At the Communion we partake of the Paschal Lamb. God gives us His flesh to eat, His blood to drink. When we came home as returning prodigals the Father set the table for us, and sat down with us: “Let us eat and be merry,” He said. At the Communion Christ says, “Let us eat: let us drink.” He sits at the table with us.
2. So also the sacred meal was an act of mutual communion. It was a social meal: the priest, the worshipper, his family, and other friends shared with him. So was it in the peace offering of the Passover; so in Solomon’s great feast of dedication; so it is at the Communion table. We partake of Christ together. Holy fellowship, of loftiest, tenderest experience.
What a beautiful relation of Christian to fellow Christian is here exhibited. How the fact of our having sat at Christ’s table together, partaken of the Lamb of God, commits us to purest brotherly love, most free from all self-seeking, alienation, suspicion, bitterness; charges us, “Ye are members one of another.”
How much is meant when we are exhorted to “be at peace among yourselves.” It is to be in fellowship in the sacrament, in offering together our offering of peace, partaking together our joyous supper at which the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost unite with us. Is true communion anything less than this?
III. The basis of communion in the peace offering is SACRIFICE: and, in the sacrifice, THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD.
The shedding of blood in this particular sacrifice does not represent, as in the sin offering, the act of atoning for sin.
1. The bleeding Christ, as our Peace Offering, is not our Sin Bearer. But His blood in this offering also declares that an atonement has been made, and that the sole ground of fellowship with God is in the reconciling blood of the Lamb. “But now in Christ Jesus,” etc (Ephesians 2:13-14).
2. We follow our sin offering with the peace offering of the sacrament, and we constantly renew our sacrament to express our joy in redemption, and our recognition of the sole ground of it, the blood of the Redeemer. The sacrament is only an act of communion with him whose sins have been washed away in the “fountain filled with blood.” We must make our peace offering on the basis of a previous sin offering of atonement for our soul.
3. Communion with God is impossible, on any natural basis, without the blood of Christ. You speak of enjoying communion with God and with good people; is it in the blood of the Son of God? Certain tribes in Africa have a custom which they call blood-brotherhood, the most sacred of all relationships By the mutual transference from the veins of each to the other of their blood, two become in the most binding and inevitable manner brothers. Ours is a blood-brotherhood, fellow Christians; only with us the seal of the covenant is the blood of Christ.
IV. The peace offering REQUIRES HOLINESS IN THE WORSHIPPER.
This fact is expressed in the provision that “unleavened bread” should be offered as a part of the sacrifice. Yeast or leaven was a symbol of corruption. The absence of leaven suggested the absence, therefore the removal, of sin.
If in your heart there is a preference for sin let it concern you. Ask yourself, how can this be, if you are a new man. [See Addenda, p. 100, True Worship.]
V. In the peace offering THE SINFULNESS OF A NATURE PARTIALLY SANCTIFIED is confessed.
With the offering of unleavened bread one of leavened bread was also to be made. This was not a part of the sacrifice, but a meat offering accompanying the sacrifice. It is particularly stated that the bread was leavened; i.e., the principle of corruption was within, and working in it.
Since our conversion we are not sinners as before; but sin is in us. We cannot make God an absolutely holy offering.
Some claim that they have no sin. They are deceived. “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” We need cry to God with pangs of conscience ever keener:
“Break off the yoke of inbred sin
And fully set my spirit free.”
VI. In the peace offering THE WORSHIPPER WAS TO KEEP NEAR THE SACRIFICE.
1. This is suggested in the regulation that the offering was to be “eaten the same day.” If the offerer had been allowed to keep the offering over day after day he would be tempted to make his communion meal off unwholesome meat, less than the freshest and best. Do not let the sacrifice be abandoned, allowed to suffer neglect. Keep near God. Renew your sacrifice daily. Think not you can live on past devotions—of yesterday, of last Sabbath.
2. We tend to make religion consist of other elements to the exclusion of sacrifices. We conceal from ourselves, in attention to externals, that the life of religion is devotion, and that the life of devotion is the element of sacrifice. The early Church kept near the Sacrifice. They communed daily. The freshest offering is best. The near place is the place of fellowship; keep near Christ.
3. The suggestions of the peace offering are most practical for any one who seeks to live close to God.
(a) It is the complete offering: expressing the idea of the burnt offering, entire consecration; of the sin and trespass offerings, atonement for sin; and it expresses its own characteristic idea, the joyous communion of the soul with God and all saints.
(b) It suggests all the possible relations of Christ to the soul which sacrifice can embody. Keep we Christ ever before us in all His offices.
(c) Daily we should remember that the condition of daily communion is a daily offering.
Whosoever so approaches God, Christ is his peace. However far away sometime, daily he is now brought nigh by the blood of Christ, daily he finds the middle wall of partition broken down, and the way into the holiest place opened.—Rev. Geo. R. Leavitt. [Compare Homilies on the Peace Offering, pp. 30 37 infra]
Topic: THE BELIEVER’S PEACE AND PORTION (Leviticus 7:29-31)
(1) There is nothing that men more require in their natural and restless condition than peace, a composed and assured state of mind. The need is, however, to be met; the amplest provision has been made for its being met; and we have only to appropriate to enjoy it.
(2) Yet there are but few who avail themselves of the provision. Instead of being restful, men are disquieted; dissatisfied instead of contented; apprehensive instead of assured. A broad gulf separates them from the Centre of their being, and from all that is serene and satisfying.
I. TO HAVE GOD IS TO HAVE PEACE: for He is the God of peace; especially as revealed and given us in Christ. But what is given may be enjoyed, as what is offered may be received. Then let the gift be accepted, and the peace you desire will “keep your heart and mind,” and this in all circumstances. The winds of adversity may smite you, and the waters of affliction overwhelm you; but as God is greater than these, He keeps in the perfectness of peace the minds that are stayed upon Him.
II. Such peace is FOUND IN CHRIST ALONE; not in anything done by Him, or given by Him, but in His personal indwelling. The apostle’s declaration is, that “He is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14) [See Addenda, p 100, Sacred Peace.]
The knowledge of Him will illuminate, and the faith of Him will impart security; but you must have Himself to have the portion that will satisfy, and the peace you need.
III. But not only is Christ our peace, but from being the ATONER, OUR PEACE OFFERING, He gives Himself to God an offering and a sweet smelling savour, and then to us who trust in Him for deliverance and satisfaction.
The ancient Jewish sacrifice of the peace offering illustrates this.
(1) The material of which it consisted was either a bullock, heifer, lamb, or goat; but in all cases it was to be “without blemish.” God is entitled to the best, and will receive nothing less. Yet how often is less than what He asks offered Him! That they who so act by Him should have few answers to their prayers, and little satisfaction in their religion, can be wondered at by no one.
(2) Peace offerings were offered by persons who, having obtained forgiveness of sins, and given themselves to God, were at peace with Him. Friendship with God was the principal idea represented therein.
(3) Only a part of the peace offering was given to God; but that was the best, the part to which He was entitled, and which He claimed And it was accepted, as was shown by its consumption by fire. Offer Him your best, and though in itself small and poor, He will receive it, and make liberal acknowledgement of His approval of it.
(4) The Israelite was not at liberty to lay the fat of his offering at random, any way, or any where, on the altar. He had to lay it “upon the sacrifice that was upon the wood on the altar fire.” But that sacrifice was the lamb of the daily offering, which typified atonement in its fulness. There, God’s portion of the peace offering was laid, and accepted according to the value of that on which it was offered.
(5) Apart from Christ nothing is acceptable to Him. What you bring to Him may be your best, that which He asks for, and what is in itself valuable; but unless offered on the ground of atonement it is not received by Him.
(6) But that is the ground within everyone’s reach, and on which everything that is offered to God may be presented. There is no one by whom the name of Jesus may not be used as a plea, and His sacrifice urged as a reason for acceptance.
IV. The peace offering expressed the thought of COMMUNION AND SATISFACTION. It supplied God with a portion, and man also. It furnished a table at which both met, and where they had fellowship with one another. God fed on the fat, and man on the shoulder and breast (Leviticus 7:31); and both were satisfied.
(1) But we have Christ here; and we know what the Father ever found in Him; with what pleasure He ever regarded Him, in His righteousness of walk, perfection of obedience, and beauty of character. God was supremely pleased with all that Jesus was and did, as the representative of Himself to men, and the ideal Man to the world, the indicator of holiness and the honourer of the law. Christ was, and is still, His well-beloved and His joy.
(2) But not God alone fed on the peace offering, man did that also; he ate of the breast and the shoulder. In the anti-type these typified love and strength. These, believer, are your portion in Christ. You have His heart of love and His shoulder of might—His unchanging affection and His all-sustaining power. Enfolded in His embrace and enthroned on His shoulder of strength, you occupy a position where evil cannot harm you, nor want remain unmet.
V. No Israelite who was ceremonially UNCLEAN was permitted to partake of the peace offering, or share with God in the provision it supplied. And without holiness no man is now allowed to see God. But provision is made both for man’s expiation and for his sanctifying from all impurity. The cross that separates from the guilt of sin also separates from its defilement. Christ is thus Sanctifier as well as Justifier. He “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people” (Titus 2:14).
Thus beautified with His salvation, you will find a place in His banqueting house of love, a guest at the Lord’s table, and satisfied with the food of which you partake (John 6:57; John 6:55; John 6:35).
Are you satisfied with Christ? Does He appease all your yearnings, fulfil your every desire, give you rest, and prove your peace? “My beloved is mine, and I am His” (Song of Solomon 2:16). His resources are inexhaustible, His communications are continuous, and His glory is divine.—Arranged from “The Gospel in Leviticus,” by James Fleming, D.D.
Topic: THE LAW OF THE PEACE OFFERING (Leviticus 7:11-35)
A halo of gladness surrounds this sacrifice. Persons grateful for deliverances wrought and mercies received, desirous of paying vows previously made, or pledging themselves voluntarily to some new obligation, were to offer before the Lord their sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise. In this law we see:
I. THAT PEACE FOLLOWS FORGIVENESS.
The expiatory sacrifices removed guilt, which is the only barrier that can exist between God and man. The peace offering admitted man into the reconciled presence of God. The offerer came not as a culprit seeking pardon, but as a forgiven child drawing near to a loving Father. Pardon is the door into the chamber of Peace. So, in the Gospel, “Being justified by faith we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Peace is the Divine legacy Christ has left to all who come to Him for rest from the burden of the ceremonial law, and guilt of sin.
II. THAT RESTORATION FOLLOWS PEACE.
In presenting the peace offerings, and feasting on the same, the worshippers would feel they were admitted into the family of God. They sat in His banqueting house, and His banner over them was love. The priests and people joined with the Lord in the divinely appointed eucharistic feast. This privilege is taught in the parable of the Prodigal Son. It would not have been enough for him to be pardoned for his rebellion and sin, he needed restoration to his father’s house and favour. Christ is our peace, He has broken down the middle wall of partition, and made us one with God.
III. THAT GRATITUDE FOLLOWS RESTORATION.
The pardoned and restored worshipper would be constrained to render to the Lord the glory due to His name. Brought into a right relationship with God, there would be the expression of right feelings towards Him. The offering waved to and fro, and heaved toward heaven, would denote the offerer’s gratitude to Jehovah; recognising Him as the Proprietor of all things, and as worthy of the warmest and strongest love. The gratitude was—
(a) Prompt. The offering was to be made at once, none of the things provided were to be kept until the third day, all to be partaken of while memory of the blessings acknowledged was fresh.
(b) Large-hearted. The priests and people were to invite their families to join them in the feast, and to eat unsparingly.
(c) Perpetual. The statute was never to be repealed while the economy continued. The people were under obligation to be thankful, and they knew how their thankfulness might be acceptably expressed. The injunction of the Gospel is “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
IV. THAT DEVOTION FOLLOWS GRATITUDE.
The waving of the breast, the heaving of the shoulder, symbolised consecration of strength, and affection to the Lord. Everything offered was to be clean, and even the inward parts, obviously teaching the necessity of moral purity in character of those who presented the offerings. Those who dared to transgress by omitting the directions, or were in any way hypocritical, exposed themselves to the penalty of excommunication, as well as to severe reproof.
(a) The peace offering was partaken of in tents of the people. Religion is for the tent as well as the altar, for the home as well as the sanctuary Christ expects our service to spring from love, not from fear; from gratitude to Him for what He has done for us. “We love Him, because He first loved us.”—F. W. Brown.
Topic: RECAPITULATION OF SACRIFICIAL RITUAL (Leviticus 7:35-38)
Here the directions respecting sacrifices are solemnly emphasised: “This is the portion,” etc. Offerings and the priesthood were inseparably connected; when, and in the fulness of time, the offerings ceased, the priesthood ended. All priestly assumption under the Christian dispensation is out of place chronologically, and presumptuous religiously. Israel, by the Mosaic economy, was to become the repository of the Word of God, and the reflector of His glory. The offerings taught that man is a guilty sinner in the sight of God, that his sin fulness separates him from God, that removal of sin restores man to God. The Jewish economy was perfectly unique; the Hebrew nation stood out in distinct relief among surrounding idolatrous nations. In this recapitulation of the Levitical ritual we are taught—
I. THAT GOD DOES NOT ENJOIN OBEDIENCE UPON MAN WITHOUT AT THE SAME TIME FURNISHING DIRECTIONS FOR RENDERING IT.
Had directions been given that certain offerings were to be presented, and no specifications added as to how they were to be offered, the people would have been in constant uncertainty whether or not they were doing the thing that was required. As it was, the priests and people entered upon their religious observances with a full knowledge of their duties and how to discharge them. In the Gospel we are told what God requires of us under the Christian dispensation. Christ has taught us in His royal law what all the law and the prophets taught. In our worship we may observe and present all that the offerings of the Levitical economy signified. We may receive, in answer to believing prayer, the influences of the Holy Ghost, whose office it is to guide us into all truth and to take of the things of Christ and show them unto us.
II. THAT GOD DOES NOT PRESENT ALTERNATIVES TO MAN WHEN HE FURNISHES DIRECTIONS FOR OBEDIENCE.
The laws of the offerings were as emphatic as they were clear; there was no margin left for human invention, no zone of uncertainty about the things to be presented. In some offerings there were gradations, but it was in specified things; the offerer was to bring no substitute for what was divinely ordained. This exclusiveness would give assurance to the offerer that what he presented God would accept, and would prevent oscillation between rival claims. The straight line of the law was laid down, and clearly indicating finger-posts set up; the commands were unmistakable, “This is the way, walk ye in it.” So under the Gospel we have no alternatives in the way of salvation. “No other name given,” etc. The Christian religion excludes all others.
III. THAT GOD DOES NOT WITHHOLD FROM MAN INDUCEMENTS TO RENDER OBEDIENCE TO DIVINE COMMANDS.
The promulgation of the law from Sinai, and the enunciation of the ritual from the tabernacle, were associated with the most solemn sanctions. The Hebrews could have no reasonable doubt about the Divine origin and binding obligation of those enactments. With equal solemnity our duties toward the Gospel have been inculcated. Not from Sinai, but from the Mount of Beatitudes; not from Moses, but from Christ. Evidences of the Messiahship of Christ, of the supremacy of His claims, of the truth of His religion, are many and conclusive. His life was public, His miracles were not done in a corner. “He that despised Moses’ law died,” etc. (Hebrews 10:28-29). In the Gospel, as on the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses and Elias meet to bear witness to His character and mission; all the rays of spread light that gave guidance to the Hebrews centre in the cross, focus on Calvary. “Before Messiah’s coming the ceremonies of the Jewish economy were as the swaddling bands in which He was wrapped, but after it they resembled the linen clothes which He left in the grave. Christ was in the one, but not in the other.”—F. W. B.
Topic: SURVEY OF THE ENTIRE ALTAR SACRIFICES; WITH THEIR PRACTICAL SIGNIFICANCES (Leviticus 7:37-38).
“This is the law of the burnt offering, of the meat offering, and of the sin offering, and of the trespass offering, and of the consecrations, and of the sacrifice of the peace offerings,” etc.
The offerings set forth Christ. We see in them how man in Christ has made atonement. We look at the sin and trespass offerings and see that the sin of man has been fully borne: at the burnt and meat offerings, and see all God’s requirements satisfied. And this is our confidence, that as Christ “for us” has been “without the camp,” as “for us” He has been laid on the altar, so truly do we stand in Him, even as He is; “for by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”
We are one with Christ. In this view His offering, as our Example, sets before us the model and standard of our self-sacrifice. And, just as Christ’s sacrifice for us had varied aspects, as satisfying God, and as satisfying man, and as bearing sin; so will our sacrifice, in a lower sense, have these same aspects. In this way the typical offerings have an application to Christians. Thus we also are offerers; “present your bodies a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1). Between Christ’s sacrifice and ours there will, of course, be dissimilarities neither few nor small, arising from the fact that He was sinless and we are sinners. Yet the saint will “be made conformable unto His death” (Philippians 3:10), and his rule in sacrifice will be “the offering of the body of Jesus Christ.”
Trace, therefore, how far the various aspects of the offering of the body of Christ may be applicable to those, who, being members of His mystical body, are called to “walk even as He walked.”
I. THE BURNT OFFERING. This was man satisfying GOD; man in Christ giving himself to God at His portion. We have seen how far for us [comp. pp. 8, 9 infra] this was fulfilled in Christ: we now inquire how far in us it may be fulfilled by the Spirit.
The burnt offering stands as a witness how we should “yield ourselves” (Romans 6:13).
1. As to its measure. It was “wholly burnt.” No part was withheld from God. Entire self-surrender. It must “cost us something” (2 Samuel 24:24). The burnt offering was God’s claim: the fulfilment of this required the life of Christ. It will demand our lives—“Thou shalt love the Lord with all thine heart, all thy soul, all thy mind and all thy strength.”
Our path after Christ must be still a sacrifice. Can we “present our bodies a living sacrifice” without cost, without feeling that sacrifice is still sacrifice? Christ felt His sacrifice.
2. As to its character. In the varieties of the burnt sacrifice, of bullock, lamb, and turtle dove, each brought out some distinct particular in the character of our blessed Lord. Would to God that in active, yet patient service (as the bullock), in silent, unmurmuring submission (as the lamb), in gentleness and innocency of life (as the dove), we might be conformed to Him who went before us.
Service, submission, meekness, will gain no crown for us here; nor did they for Christ. We cannot seize greatness, or secure honour in this world, by offering ourselves to God in the character these emblems signify. Christ was despised and rejected of man, as a lamb slain and none to pity. May He give us grace gladly to acquiesce in the likeness.
II. THE MEAT OFFERING. This was Christ satisfying MAN; offering Himself as man’s meat. In doing this He met man’s claim on Him as man. Man had a claim on man; God had ratified that claim, saying, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” In the meat offering, Christ met and satisfied this claim, by giving Himself to God as man’ s portion.
1. For the measure of it is enough to say, the type shows us the whole consumed. Such is our standard.
2. For its character, the “bruised corn,” the “oil,” the “salt,” and the “frankincense,” are sufficently explicit.
How far may we be conformed to it? To answer this question let us look to other days, and see how men have conformed to it. Time was when the Church, though but “a leavened cake” (Leviticus 23:17), was so far filled with the anointing of the Holy Ghost that “the multitude of them which believed were of one heart and of one soul, neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own. But they had all things common; neither was there any that lacked; for as many as were possessors of lands or houses, sold them, etc., and distribution was made to every man as he had need” (Acts 8:31-35). Here was a meat offering; and costly; yet not a rare one.
In that day there were living men, who for the Gospel had “lost all things” (Philippians 3:8), yet were willing to suffer more: “Yea, if [be poured out (alluding to the drink offering which was an adjunct to the meat offering), on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you” (Philippians 3:17). See also concerning Onesiphorus, Epaphroditus, Philemon, Phebe.
There is yet a Church. There must yet be offerings; and we hear of sacrifices, but what is their measure, their character? Let each judge himself. But this stands, that just in measure as we are like our Master, just as we accept His words as the rule of our devotion, just so far shall we find our path a sacrifice.
III. THE PEACE OFFERING. This view of the offering shows us the offerer fed; for he, with the priest and God, partook of, i.e, found satisfaction in, the offering. The peace offering has a fulfilment, not only in Christ, but in His members.
1. Does God find satisfaction in our offerings? The answer is clear: “To do good and to communicate forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:16). So the offering sent by the Philippians to Paul was “an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God” (Philippians 4:18). God puts value on, finds satisfaction in, the offerings of His Church. He “loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7); and as our greatest gift is “to give ourselves” (2 Corinthians 8:5), so the presentation of our bodies as living sacrifices is “acceptable unto the Lord” (Romans 12:1).
2. The priest also fed in the peace offering. Our Priest finds joy in our offerings, poor though they be; so that even in a cup of cold water and in bread to the hungry He is refreshed and fed. “I was an hungered, and ye gave Me meat; I was thirsty and ye gave Me drink” (Matthew 25:35). Did we but know His joy in seeing us yield ourselves an offering to Him; did we realise His gladness of soul in each work of faith and labour of love in ministering to His saints, we could not give with narrow, grudging, selfish hearts. “Ye did it unto Me!”
3. The peace offering fed the offerer. And surely we have been strangers to self-sacrifice if we need to be told the joy it imparts to him who sacrifices. Paul says, “Yea if I be sacrificed I joy and rejoice with you” (Philippians 2:17); “I rejoice in my sufferings for you,” etc. (Colossians 1:24); “I count not my life dear unto me, so that I might finish my course with joy” (Acts 20:24).
The very costliness of our sacrifice increases our joy when we know that He, to whom we offer, rejoices with us.
IV. THE SIN AND TRESPASS OFFERINGS. And first as to the sin offering.
1. There is a sense in which the Christian may bear sin and suffer its judgment in his mortal flesh. For lack of knowing this, many are sparing that flesh which the cross of Christ was given to crucify. Is there, then, anything to be wrought in us by the Spirit answering to the dying for sin of the sin offering? Yes; Christ’s death in the flesh for sin is made our example: “Forasmuch, then, as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same mind; for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin” (1 Peter 4:1). The Christian, as having been judged in the person of Christ, and knowing that for him Christ has borne the cross, follows on by that cross to judge and mortify all that he finds in himself still contrary to his Lord. The flesh in him is contrary; the flesh, therefore, must die (Galatians 6:14; Galatians 5:24; Romans 6:6).
2. In the trespass offering restitution was made for wrong. And the saint in fellowship with Christ will make restitution; in acts of generosity and kindness to men; and will “add the fifth,” going beyond bare justice, in dealing graciously and mercifully with others.
Such is “THE LAW OF THE OFFERINGS.” It gives but one view of Christ; yet how much is involved in it both as to our standing and walk in Him. His offering witnesses of sacrifice even to the cross. [Comp. Jukes on the Offerings.]
OUTLINES ON VERSES OF CHAPTER 7
Leviticus 7:1-10.—Theme: THE TRESPASS OFFERING. This law similar to that of sin offering, with additional directions respecting the blood of the sacrifice, which was to be sprinkled round about the altar. The shedding and sprinkling of so much blood in the worship of God was doubtless intended to impress the worshipper with the repulsiveness of sin; the enormity of guilt, the absolute necessity of pardon, in order to acceptance and peace. In this law we see—
I. God’s jealous regard for the strictest order in His service. The directions given in the ritual were emphatically Divine; He, to whom belong the silver and the gold, and the cattle upon a thousand hills, condescended to give minute directions about slaying a “bullock,” “ram,” and “pigeon,” to teach that no part of His service is beneath His notice, or may be performed carelessly. Everything we do for God is worthy of being done well, or it should not be done at all. Mankind should aim at perfectly doing God’s will, as it is done in heaven.
II. God’s generous concern for the temporal wants of His servants. All the parts of the sacrifice not burnt upon the altar were the perquisite of the priests. The offering not only provided for the spiritual needs of the people, but for the physical requirements of those who had surrendered themselves to the service of the tabernacle. The provision was suitable, liberal, and constant. As the priests with their sons partook of their ample provisions, gratitude to Jehovah and mutual good feeling would be cultivated. No one can serve God for nought. He cares for all His creatures, especially for those who trust Him; “no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.”
We are not under the law but under grace yet, we are not to conduct our religious services lawlessly. We do not obey because commanded, and from fear, but from constraint and love. One of the first questions a true believer will ask, is: “Lord what wilt Thou have me to do?” Duties to ourselves, our fellow-men, and God, run parallel with every privilege we enjoy and every blessing we receive. We are saved by faith in Christ. and not by works of the law; but “faith without works is dead.”—F. W. B.
Leviticus 7:1; Leviticus 7:11; Leviticus 7:37.—Theme: RIGIDITY OF THE LAW. “This is the law,” etc.
Reiteration employed to indelibly Impress the statutes upon the minds of priests and people; to show their pressing and transcendant importance. The worshipper would thus be impressed with—
I. THE MAJESTY OF JEHOVAH. He, God over 11, exercised in all royal supremacy. From His word there was no appeal.
II. THE PRIVILEGE, AS WELL AS DUTY, OF WORSHIPPING HIM.
They were not to draw near as slaves, but as servants and friends, and obtain the favour of the King of kings.
III. THE NECESSITY OF PREPARATION FOR WORSHIPPING HIM
It would need personal, as well as ceremonial purity to approach acceptably one so august and holy.
IV. THE BLESSEDNESS OF OBEDIENCE TO HIS COMMANDS.
(a) By obedience they would bless the Lord.
(b) By obedience they would be blessed themselves.
Carelessness in preparation for service might not only lead to useless, but offensive worship. The heart needed to be in full accord with the purposes for which the offerings were instituted. Surely obedience to the commands of Christ are as binding as was obedience to the laws of Moses The ordiances of the Christian religion are the invariable accompaniments, as well as the external badges, of membership in the Christian Church.—F. W. B.
Leviticus 7:12.—Theme: THANKSGIVING. “If he offer it for a thanksgiving.”
Even brutes are capable of gratitude. Israel was often rebuked by the prophets for thanklessness, and reminded that the dumb creation put them to shame. Gratitude rises naturally in our hearts towards human benefactors; shall we not be thankful to Him, in whom we live and move and have our being? Concerning thanksgiving, we observe—
I. IT IS UNIVERSALLY OBLIGATORY, for—
(a) We are dependent creatures,
III. IT MAY BE OCCASIONALLY VOLUNTARY. When no particular command calls for it; when no special mercy suggests or prompts it. It may rise out of a full and gladsome heart. It may be adoration for what God is in Himself and has promised to bestow; as well as for gifts received. The Giver is above and better than His gifts. Let us bless Him, and forgot not all His benefits, especially “His unspeakable gift.”
III. IT SHOULD BE PRESENTED BECOMINGLY.
(a) Without delay, for life is short; duty demands; God deserves; opportunity favours; delay is a slight; we are liable to forget altogether what we postpone.
(b) With freshness: nothing deteriorated, or exhausted. Beauty, vigour, sweetness, fragrance, virtue, soundness, all should be laid at His feet, offered at His throne.
(c) With generosity: Let us not withhold; and having given, let us not withdraw; The Lord loves a cheerful, an ungrudging giver.
“Whoso offereth such praise gloritieth God.”—F. W. B.
Leviticus 7:20-21.—Theme: EXCOMMUNICATION “That soul shall be cut off from his people.”
Precaution against laxity in service carelessness in offering. Failure to comply minutely with directions, would incur Jehovah’s righteous displeasure.
I. THE OFFERING WOULD BE REJECTED.
II. THE OFFERER WOULD BE EXCOMMUNICATED.
The strength of the strongest chain is the weakest link, if that breaks, all fails. So, if the offerer omitted one requirement, broke one link in the chain of law, he was guilty of violating the whole. We have analogies of similar exactness in nature. There perversions, excesses, shortcomings, violations, miscarriages, etc., entail forfeiture of blessing; indeed, they convert the blessing into a bane. Men are constantly cutting themselves off from good by placing themselves voluntarily under the ban of heaven. Rigid discipline is especially needed in the infancy of the affairs connected with State, Church, Society, Family. Law is intended to be a terror to evil doers, and an encouragement to those who do well. Under the Gospel Christ is able to save to the uttermost.—F. W. B.
Leviticus 7:23; Leviticus 7:26.—Theme: RESERVED THINGS.
“Ye shall eat no manner of fat.”
“Ye shall eat no manner of blood.”
I. To beget reverence for God’s altar.
II. To preserve a sense of the sacredness of life.
III. To show that the best and richest things can be claimed righteously by God.
IV. To cultivate delicacy of feeling; check gross and savage passions.
Thus the hearts and minds of men were cultured in the elementary education of the wilderness; preparatory to the higher culture; which after ages would demand and develop.—F. W. B.
Leviticus 7:36.—Theme: THE WHOLE DUTY OF MAN
“Which the Lord commanded to be given unto the children of Israel.”
In heathen sacrifices, man is seeking after God; in the Hebrew sacrifices, God was seeking after man. The fixing of times, places offerings for sacrifice, showed that the Lord was anxious and ready to bless. The things which the law enjoined showed—
I. THE TRANSCENDENT IMPORTANCE OF TRUE RELIGION.
Nature, conscience, convenience, choice were not sufficient. True religion must be revealed. Offerings did not explain the origin of evil, but what was more important, how it might be removed. That which God has specially revealed, in addition to His revelation in nature, must be specially important for us to know and obey.
II. THE PARAMOUNT CLAIMS OF TRUE RELIGION. The Jewish religion, promulgated from Sinai, put in the forefront of all other claim Christ commands us to “seek tirst the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Religion is “the one thing needful.”—F. W. B.
Leviticus 7:37-38.—Theme: SUMMARY OF THE OFFERINGS.
The laws given from the tabernacle are an expansion and enforcement of those given from Sinai. They symbolised essential spiritual truths for the Hebrew, and typified the same for the Christian Church, viz, the necessity of mental, moral, and spiritual purity in drawing near to God. Thus the foundation of true religion was laid for all ages. These laws were a protest against idolatry; a witness to the sovereignty of Jehovah; a badge of distinction for Israel; a training for further and higher service, and fuller revelation. Looking at the offerings as a whole they taught—
I. THAT MAN IS A SINNER, AND NEEDS TO ACKNOWLEDGE HIMSELF AS SUCH IN THE SIGHT OF GOD.
A sinner by nature; by transgression of Divine law; deserving punishment—death; a sinner absolutely at the mercy of Him against whom the sin had been committed.
II. THAT MAN REQUIRED TO MAKE AN ATONEMENT FOR HIS SIN IN ORDER TO APPROACH GOD ACCEPTABLY.
He must not come to God empty-handed, there must be the divinely appointed gift, the substitute, for whose sake, in some way, sin should be forgiven. Vicarious sacrifice in harmony with the law of nature.
III. THAT MAN REQUIRED PERSONAL FAITH IN THE ATONEMENT MADE ON HIS BEHALF, TO RENDER IT EFFICACIOUS FOR HIM.
Neither offering or act of any avail except representing faith and obedience of offerer. The fire that consumed the sacrifice represented the ascending consecration of the worshipper’s spirit.
IV. THAT MAN REQUIRED COMPLETE CONFORMITY TO GOD’S WILL, AND RESTORATION TO HIS FAVOUR.
The perpetual offering of sacrifices would necessitate constant remembrance of the Divine precepts; the frequent coming to God would keep alive a sense of His presence and sovereignty. Thus the chief end of man would be secured—“To glorify God, and enjoy Him for ever.”—F. W. B.
ILLUSTRATIVE ADDENDA TO CHAPTER 7
“Deos placatos pietas efficiet et sanctitas.”—CICERO.
[Piety and sanctity will propitiate the gods.]
“Res sacros non modo manibus attingi, se ne cogitatione quidem violari fas fuit.”—CICERO.
[Things sacred should not only not be touched with hands, they should not be violated even in thought].
“When once thy foot enters the Church, be bare:
God is more there than thou; for thou art there
Only by His permission. Then beware,
And make thyself all reverence and fear.”
“In the temple every little ornament, even of the mighty structure that crowned the cliffs of Zion, was “holy” to the Lord. Not the great courts and inner shrines and pillared halls merely, but all. Not a carven pomegranate, not a bell, silver or gold, but was “holy.” The table and its lamps, with flowers of silver light, tent and staves, fluttering curtains and ascending incense, altar and sacrifice, breastplate and ephod, mitre and gem-clasped girdle, wreathen chain and jewelled hangings—over all was inscribed Holy, while within, in the innermost shrine, where God manifested Himself above the mercy seat, was THE HOLIEST. Thus the utter holiness of that God with whom they had to do was by every detail impressed upon the heart and conscience of ancient Israel.”—Grosart.
OFFERINGS TO GOD
“Just as a thing looks green which is looked at through green glass, or red through a red glass, so is everything most pleasing and acceptable to God the Father which is offered through His Only Begotten Son.”—F. W. Faber.
“Peace is greater than all other treasures, but no philosophy can bestow it: for how can it cleanse from sin? Nor can any works: for how are they able to justify? Descend into whatever mine, shake whatever tree, knock at whatever door in the world thou wilt, the poor world cannot offer it thee. Peace is but one; One only has peace; One only can give it: know ye Him who says: “These things have I spoken unto you that in Me ye might have peace”? His name is “the Prince of Peace.”—Krummacher.
“As on the Sea of Galilee,
The Christ is whispering ‘Peace.’ ”—Whittier.
“Happy the heart that keeps its twilight hour,
And, in the depths of heavenly peace reclined,
Loves to commune with thoughts of tender power,
Thoughts that ascend, like angels beautiful,
A shining Jacob’s ladder of the mind!”
—Paul H Hayne.
“Years ago a Christian friend had experienced a heavy and most unexpected loss, a loss which to most men in his circumstances would have been crushing. The moment the announcement of what had happened was made to him his mind turned to the believer’s all-sufficient and never failing portion in God, and the certainty of the unsearchable riches of Christ; and the calm of his spirit continued. The next day was the Sabbath: and he was seen in his place in the sanctuary, joining in worship with the people of God as if nothing of misfortune had overtaken him. It was a regret to him that his means of doing good were diminished, but his own peace of heart remained unbroken.”—Dr. Jas. Fleming.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Leviticus 7". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27