Category Archives: The Peace Offering

The offering by a man who was at peace with God

The Peace Offering

NOTES ON THE PEACE OFFERING OF LEVITICUS CHAPTER 3

SURVEY OF THE CHAPTER

Like the meal offering of chapter 2, the peace offering section does not begin with the words “And the Lord spake unto Moses”, so the offerings of chapters 1 to 3 are united together. The factors that unite them are as follows:

1. All are sweet-savour offerings, the smoke of their burning arising to God as a sweet and soothing aroma.

2. All are voluntary offerings, as opposed to the sin-offerings, which were compulsory.

3. All could only be offered after the question of sin had been dealt with.

4. All were approach offerings, brought by one who desired to be near to God.

The chapter divides very simply into four parts, with verses 1 to 5 detailing the offering of an animal from the herd; verses 6-11 an offering of a lamb; verses 12 to 16 an offering of a goat; and verse 17 giving the spiritual principle that comes to the fore in the peace offering, namely that fat and blood must not be eaten.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF LEVITICUS CHAPTER 3, VERSES 1 TO 5

3:1 And if his oblation be a sacrifice of peace offering, if he offer it of the herd; whether it be a male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the Lord.

3:2 And he shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron’s sons the priests shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about.

3:3 And he shall offer of the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire unto the Lord; the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards,

3:4 And the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away.

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.

 THE OFFERING OF THE HERD

3:1 And if his oblation be a sacrifice of peace offering, if he offer it of the herd; whether it be a male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the Lord.

 And if his oblation- an oblation is an approach offering, a sacrifice that one who desired to draw near to God must bring. It is true that a sin offering had to be brought to the altar, but afterwards its carcase was taken outside the camp, for sin banishes from the presence of God. Once the matter of sin was dealt with, however, then an approach could be made to God; but again there must be sacrifice. For the sin offering has only dealt with the past sins of the man, it has not altered his nature.

 The burnt offering, meal offering, and peace offering were all approach offerings. The word for “offering” in 1:3, the word “offer” in 2:1 and the word “oblation” here all indicate this. When he is dealing with the various classes of offering in Hebrews 10, the writer speaks of the worshippers as “the comers thereunto”, meaning those who came to the altar. In contrast, he quotes the words of Christ as He came into the world to be the one supreme sacrifice, “Lo, I come”, 10:7. By His approach to God in sacrifice, He has rendered all animal sacrifices obsolete. Those who have come into the good of Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary might well remember the words of God, “None shall appear before Me empty”, Exodus 23:15.

 The expression “if his oblation” opens the chapter, with no preliminary explanation. This would emphasise the fact that the peace offering is a consequence of being in the good of the sin offering, and it goes without saying that a man whose sins have been forgiven, and who is therefore at peace with God, is going to express that peace by bringing this offering.

 Be a sacrifice- the idea behind this word is one of slaughter. We are immediately reminded of the prophetic words of Isaiah, “He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter”, Isaiah 53:7. How different was the attitude of those who brought Christ to the slaughter to the man who brings his offering in this chapter. The words of the crowd were “Away with Him”, and that is why they slaughtered Him. The man of Leviticus 3 however thinks differently, for he realises that by the slaughter of his offering he expresses his desire that God be near him, not banished from him.

 To think that the peace that fills the heart and mind of the believer was purchased at the place of slaughter!

 Of peace offering- the word for peace is a complex one, and perhaps this is hinted at by the fact that it is a plural word. The Hebrew word is “shalam”, meaning peace, perfection, and wholeness. We will think of each of these meanings in turn.

 PEACE: this is not judicial peace, such as is procured through a sin offering, and the matters that caused hostility between the sinner and God are dealt with. This sort of peace is spoken of in Romans 5:1, where the apostle can confidently assert that as believers, “being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”. When Jesus Christ can truthfully be said to be “our” Lord, then peace with God is known- the enmity has gone from our hearts, and God’s anger against our sin is satisfied by the work of Christ at Calvary.

 What is indicated by the word for peace found here is that tranquillity and quietness of spirit that comes through knowing that all is settled as regards sin, and judicial peace has given us heart-peace. Now the Lord Jesus was never in a position where sins were a problem. His relationship with God was always one of complete harmony. So it is that He could speak to His own of “My peace”, and the word for “My” is emphatic, meaning His special and unique peace. John 14 begins with the words “Let not your heart be troubled”, and towards the close of the chapter we find Him saying, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”, John 14:27. Remember that as He spoke these words He was just a few hours from the “slaughter” of Calvary, yet He has peace in His heart. Which peace He communicates to His own as they realise how calm He is. His evident control of all things must have impressed them, and they found that His peace was being communicated to them in the calm atmosphere of the upper room, where they were shut in with Him “far, far above this restless world that wars below”, as the hymn-writer puts it. Not only so, but the words of assurance He gave them as He taught them in that upper room, and prepared them for His departure, were all calculated to instil peace into their hearts.

 He was leaving them, but He would leave peace behind as they recalled His composure at all times and in all circumstances. He would not only leave peace, but this peace would be His gift to them, no doubt involving His gift of the Spirit after His resurrection. When He met His own in the upper room on the day of His resurrection, He greeted them with the words “Peace be unto you”, and then said, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit”, John 20:21,22; so the two ideas are linked together. The Spirit of God takes of the things of Christ to reveal them to believers, and one of those things is the sense of His own special peace, now become theirs. This gift is not as the world gives, because the world only gives to gain an advantage, and often to take away again at some other time. This is not the way with Divine Persons. When this peace is known, the heart will not be troubled by the past or the present, neither will it be afraid of the future.

 PERFECTION: Isaiah wrote “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee”, Isaiah 26:3. Literally, the words are, “Thou wilt keep him in peace peace”, for the idea of perfection is bound up in the word. This is because the root of the word “Shelem” is “shalam”, meaning to be safe, completed, to be perfected. There is perfection about this peace because it is the peace of God. The Philippian believers may have been liable to anxious cares, but the apostle urges them to be (anxiously) careful for nothing. Rather, they should let their requests be made known to God, and so transfer their cares to Him. If they did this, they would find that “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”, Philippians 3:7. So comprehensive is this peace that our minds are not able to take it all in, for it surpasses our ability to understand it. This is a precious promise indeed, and the only condition for enjoying it is that we cast all that would deprive us of peace onto Christ Jesus, the risen and glorified Man at God’s right hand, the place where turmoil cannot come.

 WHOLENESS: Six times in the New Testament we read of the God of peace, and once of the Lord of peace. One of the references is in 1 Thessalonians 5:23,24, which reads, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it”. The words “wholly” and “whole” are based on the same Greek word. The apostle’s desire for the Thessalonian believers was that they might be entirely given over to the things of God. Every part of them dedicated to Him in holy consecration. This would not happen if they were distracted by other things; hence his reference to the God of peace. There is absolute peace in heaven, and the God who presides over that peaceful scene can impart that same peace to us, if only we are prepared to be occupied with the things of heaven. One of the uses of the peace offering was in the consecration of the priests. So as believer-priests, (1 Peter 2 makes it clear that every believer is a priest unto God), we have been consecrated to God by the peace-offering work of Calvary. Every part of us is to be dedicated to the God who has claimed us for His own. No part of our lives, and no part of our selves, is excluded from that claim.

 Our spirits have been born again by the Spirit of God, John 3:6, and we are free to glorify God in our spirit, 1 Corinthians 6:20. The spirit is that part of man that especially relates to God, and by which He is worshipped, for worship of the Father must be in spirit and in truth, John 4:23.

 The soul is the seat of our personality, and enables us to be conscious of self and others. The apostle Peter describes believers as those who have purified their souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, 1 Peter 1:22. Only the truth of the gospel, applied in the power of the Spirit of God, can enable us to love our fellow-believers with unfeigned love, which is love free of hypocrisy and pretence.

 Our body has been delivered from obligation to the sin-nature, and we are set free to live a life of holiness, using our bodies as the headquarters, not now of sin, as once was the case, but as the base for the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us. The apostle Paul puts it like this, “Let not sin reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God…as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness”, Romans 6:12,13,19.

 If he offer it of the herd- the word for herd or oxen, is derived from a root-word meaning to plough. This is interesting in connection with the peace offering, for it was especially an offering others had fellowship in, and oxen yoked together as they plough provide an illustration of this fellowship. The apostle Paul could describe one particular believer at Philippi as his true yoke-fellow, Philippians 4:3, obviously a believer that had laboured with him in some way in the work of God. The Old Testament had forbidden the yoking of an ox and an ass together, Deuteronomy 22:10, but this brother was a true yoke-fellow, an ox like the apostle, not an ass.

 An ox was allowed as an offering in connection with the burnt offering and the sin offering as well as the peace offering. In the burnt offering, the idea in the ox or bullock is that of patient loyalty, the one given over to the service of his master, true picture of Christ in His devotion to His Father’s interests. In the sin offering, the emphasis is on the largeness of the animal, impressing on the sinner the enormity of his sin, and also the greatness of God’s provision for that sin. Here with the peace offering, however, the idea of fellowship is introduced, reminding us that the Lord Jesus, the true Peace Offering, moved through this world in perfect harmony with His Father. He could say to Him, “I knew that Thou hearest Me always”, John 11:41,42. Although the disciples would leave Him, He was confident that His Father was with Him, and would not leave Him alone, John 16:32. The wonder of it is that He invites men to take His yoke upon them, to be joined to Him in the truest fellowship, Matthew 11:29.

 Whether it be a male or female- the active and passive side of things is brought before us in these two options open to the offerer. Not that females are not to be active, and males are not to be passive. They are, indeed, in the appropriate circumstances. But here it is a question of what will adequately portray the person of Christ. His life of peace and fellowship with God was marked by that which was active, and also by that which was passive. For instance, He willingly submitted to the will of His Father, even though that will involved Him in rejection by the people in general. We see His attitude in Matthew 11, where He condemns the cities where most evidence of His claims was given, in the form of mighty miracles. What will He do in the face of this wholesale rejection of Him? Will He fret and fume, angry that the people should be so unresponsive? Not so, for His words were, “I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight”. Matthew 11:25,26. And His reaction to those who rejected Him? “Come unto Me…learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls”, 11:29. He is submissive and thankful in the face of rejection, and instead of being full of ideas of revenge and condemnation, He invites His rejectors near. This is passive peace, accepting the situation as His Father has ordained it, and active peace, seeking the blessing of men despite their hardness and unbelief.

 He shall offer it without blemish before the Lord- as already noted, the peace offering was an approach offering, and this is reflected in the word for offer used twice in this verse, and also in the word “oblation”. We should ever remember that to offer simply means to bring near to the altar; it does not involve the actual burning of the animal on the altar, for the offering was done by the offerer, the sacrificing was done by the priests. When we read that Christ offered Himself without spot to God, we should understand that He presented Himself as a willing sacrifice. Whilst animals had to be brought, and then tied to the altar awaiting their slaughter, (Psalm 118:27, words probably sung by the Lord Jesus as He left the upper room on the night of His betrayal), by contrast His words were, “Lo, I come”, Hebrews 10:7.

 The animal must be without blemish. If it is to be a fit symbol of the Supreme Sacrifice of Christ, it must be so, for He was the “lamb without blemish and without spot”, 1 Peter 1:19. Even though He had passed through many an experience which would have left its mark on other men, He remained unblemished. His character was unstained, whether by long years in Nazareth, or the rigours of His public ministry. As the offering was brought before the Lord, and was subjected to His searching gaze, there was to be nothing to offend the sensibilities of the God who demands perfection. Fit illustration of the One who every feature was pleasing to His Father, and in harmony with His character.

 3:2 And he shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron’s sons the priests shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about.

 And he shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering- the man’s hand and the man’s offering are thereby united together by an act of faith and reliance. As he lays or leans his hand upon the ox he has brought, the man is personally identified with it. If it is accepted, so is he, and the expression of thankfulness which the offering is demonstrating will be approved of by God.

 And kill it at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation- the animal that would have been useful to plough his field, or increase his herd, is now given over to God, and that in such a way that there is no going back, for it is killed. There is a practical lesson here, for anything believers do for God must involve sacrifice, or else it is of no value. The prophet Malachi condemned those of his day who offered to God the blind and the lame for sacrifice. These animals were not much use to them, so they gave them to God, expecting, no doubt, the credit for bringing them. Such a practice is offensive to God. As David said, “Shall I offer to the Lord that which has cost me nothing?” 2 Samuel 24:24. A sacrifice must bea sacrifice, or else words have lost all meaning.

 The animal is killed by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. Even though the building has that name, the congregation cannot enter it, but must be content to come to the entrance. How much more privileged are believers of this age, who may, with holy boldness, enter the very presence of God, not on earth, but in heaven, Hebrews 10:19. And the peace in our hearts as we do so is a direct result of the offering consisting of the body of Jesus Christ, which has sanctified us; that is, has made us fit for the sanctuary.

 And Aaron’s sons the priests shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about- only consecrated men could touch the altar and handle the blood, so the priests, carefully specified here as the sons of Aaron, were given this task. The offerer and the priest were separate persons here, emphasising that the nation had failed to keep the covenant made with them at Sinai, which would have made them a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, Exodus 19:6. Believers of this present age are not under the covenant of law, however, and are constituted a “holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ”, 1 Peter 2:5. How sad it is if we are so occupied with the things of self that we forget our high and holy privileges.

 As he walked away from the altar, the offerer was content, for he could see the blood of his sacrifice upon the very altar of God, and he knew that his offering had made an impression in the courts of the Lord.

 3:3 And he shall offer of the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire unto the LORD; the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards,

3:4 And the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away.

 And he shall offer of the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire unto the Lord- like the burnt and meal offering offerings, the fire of the altar made the offering, transforming it into an aroma that pleased the nostrils of God. The sin offering, on the other hand, could be said to be un-made or destroyed by the fire, since it was burnt up outside the camp. Both these aspects were present at Calvary, for Christ gave Himself for us “an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour”, Ephesians 5:2. It was also true that at Calvary the fires of Divine wrath against sin burned against Christ, for He was made sin, 2 Corinthians 5:21, so that He might exhaust the judgement and bring His people into favour.

 As he presented his offering, then, the Israelite was giving to God a foretaste of what His own Son would do at Calvary. And it was in virtue of Christ’s future sacrifice, that the Israelite’s own offering was accepted.

 The fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys- we come now to what is particularly distinctive about the peace offering, namely the emphasis on the fat. Now the word for fat used in Leviticus 3 is different to that used in chapter 1 of the fat of the burnt offering. There the word means the fat that is distributed throughout an animal’s body. Here, it is the concentrated fat that is particularly associated with the heart, kidneys and liver of the animal. Fat is essentially solid energy, and we are being taught here about what energised the heart, (inwards), kidneys and liver of the animal. Now the Hebrews believed that the seat of the feelings resided in the lower organs of the body. And there is reason to think they were correct. Who has not been nervous, and has said they have butterflies in their tummy? Or a fear in the pit of their stomach? Is not a cowardly person said to be lily-livered? That they have no stomach for a fight? Even if these areas are not the source of the feelings, then they certainly express those feelings. So it is entirely appropriate that the offering that speaks most of feelings of peace and calmness, should have these particular parts selected.

 Neither the inwards nor the liver are put on the altar, only the two kidneys, and the fat associated with them, together with the fat that is upon the inwards, (and it is specially detailed that it is all of it), and the caul above the liver. This latter was a body of fat near the liver. Isaiah speaks of the fat of the kidneys of rams as if it is a great delicacy, Isaiah 34:6. So the only items from the animal’s carcase, (apart from fat), that are put on the altar, are the two kidneys. Now it was the practice amongst some of the heathen to try to tell the future by examining the entrails, heart and liver of a slain animal. The children of Israel are travelling to Canaan, where such things were done, so God is very careful not to require anything that in any way resembles the pagan and occult practices of the pagan world.

 Now there is a connection between kidneys, liver, and the inwards or heart, and it is this. The heart, obviously, has to do with the circulation of the blood, whereas the liver and kidneys have to do with the cleansing of the blood. So we may say that what gives life to the body, the blood, (for the life of the flesh is in the blood, Leviticus 17:11), is rendered pure and useful by the action of kidneys and liver, and thus the whole of the body is kept in good condition. The exhortation of the wise man was “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life”, Proverbs 4:23. Just as the physical heart of man circulates the blood, and that blood issues forth from the heart for the maintenance of the rest of the body in good health, so in the moral sphere. If the heart, the centre of our thought-life, is diligently kept healthy, then the rest of our life in all its aspects will be spiritually healthy too. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”, Proverbs 23:7.

 Of none was this more true than the Lord Jesus. He “magnified the law and made it honourable”, Isaiah 42:21, and so it was true of Him that He loved the Lord His God with all His heart, with all His soul, and with all His mind, as the law of God required of man in Deuteronomy 6:5. Because His heart’s affections were always taken up with His Father, then His whole person was in perfect spiritual health and balance. We hear Him say, “But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave Me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence”, John 14:31. We see in that quotation the perfect match between energy and love. He moves on purposefully to Calvary in the strength of His deep love for the Father. “The fat” is combining with “the inwards”.

 His love was not only energetic and purposeful, but it was also pure. He had no impure motives; His love was without hypocrisy; His life was never contaminated by self-interest or self-pity, which are both forms of self-love. As far as the animal brought as a peace offering was concerned, the fat that gave energy to the liver and kidneys, as they purify the blood, has been effective, and the heart and life is clean. This is not to say, of course, that the life of the Lord Jesus needed to be purified, for He was “the undefiled”, who was always “in the way” of His Father’s will, Psalm 119:1, but the symbol comes as close as it possibly can to set out that truth. This same idea is seen in the burnt offering, where the inwards and legs were washed. They were cleansed ceremonially to make them a fit picture of what Christ was actually.

 It shall he take away- so the offerer himself was responsible for this task. He would need to be aware of God’s requirements in this matter, and carry them out to the letter. This involved knowing the location of these parts in the body of the animal, and their relation to one another, so that he could intelligently comply with God’s requirements. So it is that Christian priests are expected to offer spiritual sacrifices, the counterpart in the moral sphere of what the man bringing his peace offering did in the physical sphere. They should have an awareness of the person of Christ, and, versed in the record God has given to us of His life, should be able to present in worship and thanksgiving an appreciation of those features which made God’s Son so delightful to Him. We can be sure that such expressions of appreciation delight the heart of God.

 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.

 And Aaron’s sons shall burn it on the altar upon the burnt sacrifice- we see an illustration at this point of the way the offerings worked together to present a comprehensive preview of Calvary. The fact is that each of the offerings is spoken of in relation to the others, as follows:

 1. The burnt offering and meal offering– we learn in Numbers 15:1-10 that the meal offering was to be in proportion to the size of the burnt offering, and presented with it.

 2. The burnt offering and peace offering-“Aaron’s sons shall burn it on the altar upon the burnt sacrifice”, Leviticus 3:5.

 3. The burnt offering and the sin offering-“pour out all the blood at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering”, Leviticus 4:18. “where the ashes are poured out shall he be burnt”, Leviticus 4:12.

 4. The meal offering and peace offering-“offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil”, Leviticus 7:12.

 5. The meal offering and the sin and trespass offerings-“it is most holy, as is the sin offering, and as the trespass offering”, Leviticus 6:17.

 6. The peace offering and sin offering-“And he shall take off from it all the fat of the bullock for the sin offering…as it was taken off from the bullock of the sacrifice of peace offerings”, Leviticus 4:8,10.

 The general principle we may derive from these facts is that the work of Christ at Calvary was a composite whole, and the various aspects of it suggested by the different offerings must not be divorced from one another so that they are spoiled. For instance, the burnt offering aspect of the work of Christ, in which He offered Himself to the Father as the Son of His love, and the sin-offering aspect, where He was forsaken by His God because of sin, must not be so separated from one another that, on the one hand, we lessen the sweetness of His offering to God, or on the other hand, take away from the desolation of Calvary. So with the connection between the meal offering and the sin-offering. Both are most holy, so we are assured that the holy Man who died at Calvary at no time became personally tainted by sin, even though Scripture says He was made sin. We must not try to understand the latter statement by denying the former. So with the peace and sin offerings. The harmony that existed between Christ and His Father was never broken, even when He was enduring His wrath as a sin-hating God.

 So it is that the fat of the peace offering fuels the flame that consumed the burnt offering already on the altar. This meant that one man’s burnt offering was complemented by another’s peace offering. It is good that when we come together, the worship that is voiced is co-ordinated by the Spirit, (as opposed to being pre-arranged by man), so that one believer’s expression of worship is in harmony with another’s. There is no room in the gatherings for the maverick and dominating attitude which insists it has a monopoly on the movements of the Spirit.

 Which is upon the wood that is on the fire- so the fat feeds the flame, but so does the wood. The Scripture says that “where there is no wood, the fire goeth out”, Proverbs 26:20. The words are written in connection with evil speaking, but surely the principle is true in regard to that highest form of speaking of all, the expression of worship in the ear of the Father. How vital it was that the fire was not allowed to go out, for God had commanded that it should be burning all the time, Leviticus 6:13. So it is in regard to the worship of God. We cannot afford to lapse in our accumulation of thoughts about Christ, for if we do, there is a danger that the fire of devotion to Him may burn low. This has happened in many companies of believers, and they have sought to disguise their shortcomings by paying a man to worship and serve for them. This is no solution, however, and the only way of recovery is to resolve to give more time and energy to meditation on Christ. Only so will there be a reserve of thoughts from which to draw, which will cause the flame of devotion to burn brightly. Gideon used the wood that he had cut down when he levelled his father’s grove. There is nothing like zeal for God and zeal against evil, to fire the enthusiasm of the people of God. When Ornan offered his oxen for sacrifice, his threshing instruments for wood, and his wheat for a meal offering, David refused, saying, “Nay; but I will verily buy it for the full price: for I will not take that which is thine for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings without cost”, 1 Chronicles 21:24. There are two important principles here. First, that we must be sure to offer what is our own, and not another’s offering. Hymns can be a great help in fostering a spirit of worship, as long as they are intelligently chosen, and given out sparingly; but we should always remember that they are the exercises of others, whereas the Lord is looking for what we have ourselves gathered. Said David, “I will speak of the things I have made,touching the King”, Psalm 45:1. The second principle is that a sacrifice must be a sacrifice, it must have cost us something, whether time or energy. We should discipline ourselves to forego even legitimate things, in the interests of having positive things to say when we gather to worship.

 It is an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord- as already mentioned, with the sweet-savour offerings the fire made the offering, whereas with the sin offering, the fire destroyed it. The idea of sweet savour has already been indicated by the particular word for burn that is used in this verse. It means to burn as incense, so it is no surprise that sweet savour arises from the burning. There was something peculiarly precious about the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary. His commitment to the Father’s interests even to the extent of death on a cross was specially precious to His Father. That life of utter devotion to God was now presented to God, and all was an aroma well-pleasing. Incense is a symbol of prayer in the Scriptures, so we learn that even as He was hanging upon the cross, there was a constant expression of love and devotion ascending to the Father.

 THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF LEVITICUS CHAPTER 3, VERSES 6 TO 11

3:6  And if his offering for a sacrifice of peace offering unto the Lord be of the flock; male or female, he shall offer it without blemish.

3:7 If he offer a lamb for his offering, then shall he offer it before the Lord.

3:8 And he shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it before the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron’s sons shall sprinkle the blood thereof round about upon the altar.

3:9 And he shall offer of the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire unto the Lord; the fat thereof, and the whole rump, it shall he take off hard by the backbone; and the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards,

3:10 and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away.

3:11 And the priest shall burn it upon the altar: it is the food of the offering made by fire unto the Lord.

THE PEACE OFFERING FROM THE SHEEP

 The details regarding the sheep are essentially the same as for an ox, except in one particular. Mention is made of “the whole rump”. Now this rump, or fat tail, was considered a delicacy in the Middle East, and steps were taken to maximise the amount of fat derived from it. So here, that which men prized and thought of as a luxury, is freely and gladly offered up to God. This is very challenging, for we like our luxuries. We tend to load ourselves with unnecessary things, often purchased on a whim, and then just as casually tire of them. This is especially true of believers in the Western World, where the standard of living is so much higher than other parts of the world. Is it not time to assess our life-style, and ask ourselves whether we spend the money wisely which the Lord graciously entrusts to us?

 Covetousness is condemned by both law and grace. The last of the ten words of commandment said, “Thou shalt not covet”, Exodus 20:17. This was the command that slew Saul of Tarsus. Whilst his fellow Israelites might sum up his outwardly religious life as being “blameless”, Philippians 3:6, yet the command that exposes heart and motive slew him, Romans 7:7-11. He was as good as dead as far as pleasing God by law-keeping was concerned. Only grace can make a man want to be a generous giver. In that connection, note the repetition of the word “grace” in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, the chapters that have so much to say about giving.

 Covetousness is condemned by grace too, for He who is grace personified, God’s Ideal Man, not only condemned it by His words, but also by His attitudes and actions. The first parable of the Perean ministry is that of the Good Samaritan. He who was vilified by men in the words “Thou art a Samaritan”, John 8:48 is pleased to accept the title to show that He was completely free from racial prejudice. It was others who robbed the traveller of money, clothes, and, very nearly, his life. But it was the Samaritan who gave his time, his energy, his oil and wine, his beast, his two pence, and also whatever other cost was involved during his absence. He became poor that the robbed man might be rich. And then comes the oft-forgotten command- “Go thou, and do likewise”. Apt as the parable is to illustrate the gospel, we should never forget the “Do likewise”. Martha did not forget, for Luke immediately records that she received Him into her house, Luke 10:38, and she took care of Him, as the Samaritan and the inn-keeper had taken care of the traveller. 

 A man of a contrary spirit appealed to the Lord Jesus in Luke 12:13,14, for it seems he was dissatisfied with his share of an inheritance. The Lord utterly refuses to become involved, for there were procedures the man could follow if he had a grievance. But his request does give the Lord the opportunity to assert that “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesseth”, Luke 12:15. A man’s natural life does revolve around necessities, but luxuries are no part of life, properly understood. These two things, luxuries and necessities, are the basis of Christ’s ministry at this point. Verses 16-21 have to do with luxuries whilst verses 22-34 give teaching about necessities.

 Luxuries are expendable, and it is against the accumulation of the expendable that the Lord now warns in what has become known as “The Parable of the Rich Fool”. This parable is often used, and rightly so, to warn the unsaved of the brevity of life and the certainty of death, and other things besides. We should note, however, that the application of this parable is addressed to disciples, verse 22. 

 The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully, Luke 12:16. If he was a Jew, the man would no doubt have prided himself on his blessedness. Were not his riches a sign of Divine favour? After all, God’s promise to those who obeyed His law was plentiful harvests, Deuteronomy 28:1-14. Only those who disobeyed would know famine. But the response of the man to his plentiful harvests is a certain indicator of the state of his heart. He sees in his plenty an opportunity for ease and enjoyment, all the while ignoring the needs of others.

 With the coming of Christ a great change came in regard to riches. He came in grace, a higher principle than law. Since He has come, those who say “Gain is godliness”, must be withdrawn from, 1 Timothy 6:5, so contrary is that idea to the spirit of Christianity. Whereas in Old Testament times the spiritual person should have been pleased to associate with one who was blessed materially, for God was with him, now it is different. Too often, it seems as if the Lord’s people are still in Old Testament times in this regard. Those who only have enough, and have none to spare, are sometimes thought of as being inferior- perhaps even work-shy and incompetent. But would we dare to display this attitude to Christ? That most spiritual Man, who magnified the law and made it honourable, (and who therefore merited riches as a mark of Divine favour), became poor for our sakes. Behold His poverty at Calvary!

 Having seen the rich man’s sham blessedness, we now are told of his real foolishness. It is no surprise to learn that he is a fool, for he thinks “within himself”, verse 17. He is not prepared to allow the authority of the Word of God a place in his thinking. It is only as we allow the mind of Christ to govern our reasonings that we shall respond in a spiritual way to the temptations that riches represent. It is instructive to notice that when offered choices, Solomon refused riches and chose wisdom. But then because he had chosen wisdom, he was entrusted with riches as well, 1 Kings 3:5-13.

 We next learn of the man’s lavishness. Unconcerned by the need all around him, (“For the poor ye have always with you”,) he embarks upon an extravagant building programme. Did he really need to pull down his barns? Could he not have erected an extension to the existing ones, and donated the money saved to a good cause? It was Ambrose who said, “The bosoms of the poor, the houses of widows, the mouths of children, are the barns which last for ever”. Goods bestowed in those barns will reap an eternal reward. 

 But there is worse yet, for he is determined to eat, drink, and be merry, refusing to consider the plight of others, thus displaying his callousness.  The words of the apostles are relevant here, “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone”, James 2:15-17. “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth”, 1 John 3:17,18. These are searching questions posed by the apostles – what doth it profit?…how dwelleth the love of God in him? Can those who profess to have been so remarkably and eternally benefitted by God is His love, shut their eyes to the needs of those around them, whilst all the time indulging their appetites?

 Contrary to what he thought, this foolish man did not have “many years”. He was guilty of shortsightedness, as we all can be. It was that night that his soul was required of him, and he was called into eternity, and what he had done and been on earth was assessed. Solemn thought! The deeds believers have done in the body shall yet come under review, whether good or evil, and we shall receive for what we have done, 2 Corinthians 5:10. The good will be rewarded, the evil will be rebuked.

 Now there comes the question, “Whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?” This is a question we could all profitably ask ourselves. The words of Job are plain- “Naked came I out of the womb, and naked shall I return thither”, Job 1:21. Job realised that he would not carry his vast possessions with him into eternity. And the apostle Paul no doubt had this in mind when he wrote, “We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we shall carry nothing out”, 1 Timothy 6:7. We ought to give serious attention to this matter of what will happen to what we possess, (be it much or little), when we leave this scene. Is it not the case that too often there are surpluses which could be invested in the work of God now, rather than waiting for Inheritance Tax to take its sizeable share?

 The summary the Lord gives of the situation is brief. “So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God”. These are the alternatives, self or God. It should not be difficult for a believer to choose between the two. As the word is in another place, “Ye cannot serve (as a slave) God and mammon, (riches), Matthew 6:24. It is possible to have two employers at the same time, but it is not possible to be a slave to two masters at once, for slavery involves the total surrender of the will to another. We should ask ourselves the question therefore whether we are slaves to money or to God – there is no middle ground.

 The apostle Paul reinforces these lessons as he writes to Timothy. He has in mind two types of person. Those who will be (that is, are determined to be) rich, and those who are rich already, 1 Timothy 6:9,17. The first group will find that their riches will drown them, their zeal for God overwhelmed by the things with which they have surrounded themselves. The second group are warned against high-mindedness, as if their riches have elevated them morally and spiritually. Riches in themselves are no indication of godliness, it is what is done with them that matters before God. Those riches should not be relied on, for there is only one thing certain about riches, and that is that they are uncertain. As the Scripture says “For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven”, Proverbs 23:5. God is the Living God, energetic in His care for His own- feeding the ravens, clothing the lilies, doing the same, and much more besides, for His redeemed people. We should trust Him therefore, and not rely on material things.

 We should remember that those who are on an average wage in the Western World, are in the top 10% of the world’s wage earners. Remember, too, that riches are anything in excess of what is required to provide necessities. It is clear then, that there is plenty of scope for the wise distribution of resources. How then shall we do this? The apostle tells us. Relieved from anxious care about necessities, we should actively consider how to put the excess to good use. Use, that is, not for ourselves, but for others.

 We rightly emphasise to the unsaved that good works will not save them, and it is vital that we do this. Let us not forget, however, that Christ has purified to Himself a people that are to be marked by their zeal for good works, Titus 2:14. These good works are part of God’s eternal purpose for us, Ephesians 2:10, so we should be concerned about performing them to His glory. We profess to follow the steps of the Lord Jesus, but we should remember that He went about doing good. While it is true that we are not able to work miracles today, we do have the opportunity to express the love of God by our good deeds.

 It is one of the paradoxes of the Christian life that we are only as rich as we have become poor. Only those who are “rich in good works”, 1 Timothy 6:18, concerned about the needs of others, can be described as rich. The reverse is true also. It is said that the First Epistle to Timothy was written at Laodicea. Whether this is true or not cannot be determined with certainty, but one thing is certain, that the Laodiceans were rich and increased with goods in a material sense, yet in fact they were poor in God’s sight, Revelation 3:17.

 Returning to 1 Timothy 6:18 we learn that we should be ready to distribute, where the word “ready” has the idea of being liberal. A scant and miserly response to God’s rich giving to us is hardly appropriate. We should be like those of Macedonia, who, although poor, gave out of their deep poverty, so that Paul can commend them for the riches of their liberality, 2 Corinthians 8:2. They had clearly appreciated the way in which the Lord Jesus, although rich, had become poor for them. The Corinthians, on the other hand, although full of promises and good intentions, had failed to contribute as they should and could. Would it not be a good exercise to ask ourselves whether we are Macedonian or Corinthian in our giving? There are third-world evangelists in desperate need of bicycles to take them to preach in outlying villages- do we really need such luxurious limousines? Christian parents in Pakistan whose children have to make bricks all day to help the family finances- do we really need that expensive holiday? Destitute children on the streets of many a city who could be enjoying the care of a Christian orphanage- is our extravagant lifestyle justified?

 Not only should we be ready or liberal in our distribution, but willing also. This involves being alert to the needs of others, and prompt in our response to those needs. Is there anything we meant to support but never did? It is not too late to make amends in some way.

 The end result of obeying these injunctions is that we shall lay up in store for ourselves. We have already noted this paradox- those who become poor become rich, those who empty their barns fill them. And moreover, the emptying only lasts for time, the filling lasts for eternity. In 2 Corinthians 9:9 the apostle quotes from Psalm 112:9 in connection with the giving of a righteous man. “He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever”. Righteous actions performed now will remain in the memory of God, and be to the praise of God, for all eternity.

 Let us remember the exhortation given to the apostle Paul, “Remember the poor”. Let us remember, and imitate, his response, “The same which I also was forward to do”, Galatians 2:10.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF LEVITICUS CHAPTER 3, VERSES 12 TO 17

3:12 And if his offering be a goat, then he shall offer it before the Lord.

3:13 And he shall lay his hand upon the head of it, and kill it before the tabernacle of the congregation: and the sons of Aaron shall sprinkle the blood thereof upon the altar round about.

3:14 And he shall offer thereof his offering, even an offering made by fire unto the Lord; the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards,

3:15 and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away.

3:16  And the priest shall burn them upon the altar: it is the food of the offering made by fire for a sweet savour: all the fat is the Lord’s.

3:17 It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood.

THE PEACE OFFERING FROM THE GOATS

The offering of the goat is again almost identical to that of the sheep, apart from the rump or fat tail, which the goat did not have. The matter distinctive about the goat is the special mention of the fact that the fat was to be the Lord’s, it was not to be eaten. Coupled with this, the blood must not be eaten either.

So it is that God reserves to Himself these two vital parts of the animal. Now the fat is the stored up energy of the animal, and the blood is the life of the animal. Now we may look at this in two ways: either as an illustration of Christ’s character, or a lesson for ourselves.

Is it not true of the Lord Jesus that His entire energies were devoted to His Father’s interests? His every activity was inclined towards the work His Father had given Him to do. We hear His first recorded words, “Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?” And we hear Him say on the cross, “It is finished”. Nothing was left undone, for with all His might He had served His Father well. No part of His activity was self-serving, but for His Father and for men. A typical instance is found in Mark 6:41, where we read that “they had no leisure so much as to eat”, yet when they departed into a secluded and private place, the crowds followed, and He fed them all. Significantly it is Mark alone that tells us this, for his is the gospel of the Energetic Servant, and this incident well illustrates his theme. The Lord Jesus was the perfect expression of God’s demand in the law, “Thou shall love the Lord thy God…with all thy strength”, Luke 10:27.

Believers are to be a living sacrifice to God, Romans 12:1, and as such should give all our energies to God. This does not mean we should give up earning a living, and discharging our everyday duties. The apostle Paul assured the believing slaves of his day that they served the Lord Christ, Colossians 3:24. Even their menial tasks were service to the Lord, just as much as their worship and praise. Our responsibility is to so order the whole of our lives, that our energies are expended on those things that last for eternity.

Then the blood was reserved for God. Even though it was sprinkled on the altar, it was still thought of as being devoted to God’s interests. Now the life of the flesh is in the blood, Leviticus 17:11, so the Lord is here claiming the life back that He had given in the first place. The Lord Jesus fully entered into the spirit of this demand. His life was wholly given over to the pleasure of His God. This is why the surrendering of His life in death is so effective, for the life He laid down was of the utmost value to His Father, and as such was the more-than-sufficient ransom price so that those whose lives were lived in the bondage of sin could be released.

The apostle Paul thought about his life before he was converted, and was relieved to say “I am crucified with Christ”, Galatians 2:20. He had been associated with the death by crucifixion of Christ, and was linked to Him in resurrection. The old Paul, the Pharisee and persecutor, was gone. But who was there in his place? Was it the old Paul raised again. Not at all, for he writes “yet not I, but Christ liveth in me”. So Christ was expressing Himself in the life of Paul. And how was that done? He lived his life by faith, and it was faith that imitated Christ’s life of faith. Yet He was the Son of God; can Paul imitate Him? Not indeed as to the uniqueness of His person, but certainly in the good of the sonship that the epistle assures believers they have. May it be that the life of Christ shall be expressed in our lives in increasing measure, as we rely in faith on Him.