In the sin offering and the trespass offering that we have been reading about in the last few chapters, the sacrifice was divided into two portions. One of these parts was the Lord’s portion, and it was burned upon the altar; and the other portion was given to the priest in return for his labors, for – as we observed in the last chapter – God has ordained that those who minister in His service should be physically supported by their labors therein (1 Cor. 9:14). The person who offered a sin or trespass offering received no share of these sacrifices, as he did in the peace offerings. This reminds us that we can contribute nothing toward our redemption; it is entirely a free gift of grace! The sin and trespass offerings were an expression of repentance and sorrow for sin; therefore, it was more proper to fast than it was to feast. But the peace-offerings, on the other hand, represented communion with a reconciled God in Jesus Christ – as well as the joy and gratitude of a pardoned sinner, and the privileges of a true believer.
We will recall that peace offerings could be offered upon different occasions. Some were offered as a sacrifice of thanksgiving (verses 12-15), while others were offered upon the fulfillment of a vow, or as a purely voluntary offering (verses 16-21). In relation to the offerings that were made in thanksgiving (verses 12-15), it is very interesting to note that for this sacrifice, leavened bread was to be offered (verse 13). To understand this, we must keep in mind that this was a peace offering; and therefore, the offeror was already in a reconciled relationship with God. His sins were all forgiven; there was peace between him and his God. But this reconciliation did not declare that there was no corruption (symbolized by leaven) left remaining in the worshiper. Perfect pardon does not imply perfect holiness. There is and always will be a remnant of evil left in us until our dying day. But here we see that this remnant of evil was brought out before the Lord. The leavened bread represented the corruption of the offeror. And since God had graciously accepted him and delivered him from evils in this world (for remember, this was an offering of thanksgiving for special mercies that had been bestowed upon the head of the worshiper), he testified his gratitude by bringing out whatever remnant of corruption was found in his soul, so that it might be removed. “Being made free from sin, ye have your fruit unto holiness” (Rom. 6:22).
In order to more fully express the intention of bringing out this leavened bread, the 14th verse tells us that it was to be “heaved to the Lord.” One cake of this leavened bread was to become a “heave offering.” This meant that the priest lifted it up in plain sight, and waved it to the four quarters of the heavens, as a sign that he was giving it over to God. Thus we see that a grateful worshiper of the Lord will present Him with all that he has, and he will even spread out his very corruptions to be dealt with as the Lord sees fit. Was he not saying, while the priest waved the leavened loaf of bread to the four winds, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”? (Ps. 139:23, 24)
This chapter contains another prohibition against eating the fat and the blood of animals. The main reason why blood was forbidden was because the Lord had appointed that blood to be an atonement. The figurative symbol of animals’ blood had its ultimate fulfillment in Christ; by His own death and blood-shedding, He caused the animal sacrifices to cease forever.
The priest who offered a person’s peace offering was to have the right shoulder of the animal for his own personal portion. When the sacrifice was killed, the offeror himself was to present God’s portion of it (verse 30), signifying that he was cheerfully giving it up to Him. With his own hands, he was to lift up the breast and the fat of the sacrifice, in token of his regard to God as the Lord of heaven; and then he was to wave it back and forth as a “wave offering,” in token of his regard to God as the Lord of the whole earth. The fat was then burned on the altar, and the breast was given to Aaron and his sons to share among themselves. The right shoulder, however, was given to the priest that was in charge of offering the sacrifice; he was to lift it up as a “heave offering” before appropriating it to his own use.
As we read this chapter, let us be persuaded and encouraged to feed and feast upon Christ, our Peace Offering! This blessed Peace Offering is not for the priests only, nor is it for saints of the highest rank and greatest eminence alone; but it is for the common people also. But we must take heed of delaying; for many think that they will repent and return to God when they are dying and dropping into hell, but they should partake of the Peace Offering now! Let us not wait until it is too late, when the day of the Lord’s patience has run out!
Lord, we pray for grace to keep our eyes steadily looking unto Jesus. We beseech the Holy Spirit to enable us to behold our Redeemer as He is pictured in this chapter. May it be our portion, Lord Jesus, to feed upon You and rejoice in You! May we never presume to bring anything of our own to mingle with Your all-sufficient Sacrifice. We will make mention of Your righteousness alone. We thank You for being our great Peace Offering, as well as our glorious Passover Lamb. Amen.
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