Sermon: The Sacrifices of Leviticus (Part 5)
The Meal and Peace Offerings
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 12-Apr-97; 67 minutes
We are going to be going through another sermon in this series on the offerings of Leviticus. Again we will be going through a portion of the meal offering, and maybe we will have enough time to get into the peace offering.
As I began preparing this particular sermon I was thinking that it is difficult to single out the most important conclusion that can be reached from our study so far into this series of the sacrifices. To me, one of the high points is the wonderment it produces in me of how far ahead God thought in creating the religion of Israel and in writing the Book so that the patterns can be created to give us detailed understanding of our own responsibilities. In order to give us the fairly detailed concepts, He has given them to us in the form of symbols and types.
We are going to begin in Hebrews 9:8-10. I just want to touch on this as we lay a foundation here. This gives us a background on something that the author of Hebrews was teaching us. The subject here is the furniture of the Tabernacle, and thus leads into this thing about symbols and types.
Hebrews 9:8-10 The Holy Spirit this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing. Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; which stood only in meats and drinks, and different washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation which stood only in meats and drinks, and different washings, and carnal ordinances imposed on them until the time of reformation.
Those things he was talking about in verses 1 through 7 were figures. They were types. They were patterns. They were symbols of things that have very great spiritual importance to you and me. As we go through each aspect of these seemingly strange ceremonies I think we can see the significance to our duties to God and to man.
So far we have seen that the significance of the burnt offering teaches us about devotion to God. It also portrayed to us the complete fulfillment of the first great commandment.
Now the meal offering signifies devotion to the fulfillment of the second of the great commandments. The major difference between the two—the burnt offering and the meal offering—is shown in the ingredient. In the first—the burnt offering—life is offered. In the second, the fruit of the earth is offered. Each aspect has its own significance so as to instruct us in specific details of Christ's work in our behalf, and our own responsibilities as well if we are faithfully walking in Christ's steps.
When we left off the last time, we had proceeded through the meal offering to the place where I was explaining the symbolic significance of the frankincense. If you will recall, in Leviticus 2:1 we find that the offering was made, and frankincense was poured thereon.
In Leviticus 2:11 it says, "No meal offering which you shall bring unto the LORD, shall be made with leaven; for you shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of the LORD made by fire." There we have two of them, but these are most assuredly not to be part of the offering. No leaven. No honey.
Finally in Leviticus 2:13 it says, "And every oblation of your meal offering shall you season with salt; neither shall you allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your meal offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt." So frankincense and salt are seen as necessities in each meal offering, but honey and leaven were forbidden. Each of these shows what is either pleasing or displeasing to God.
The best of frankincense fragrance is produced whenever heat is applied, and heat we all understand is a symbol of trial. He is teaching us that God is pleased whenever the heat of a trial brings out the best in us, and it is sort of an ancient version of "when the going gets tough, the tough get going." These people do not get bound up in paranoia. They seem to have the faith. They know that God is on His throne, and that Romans 8:28-29 is still there, and know that somehow or other this thing is going to work out. They may not see how, but their confidence is in God and so they just keep right on plugging away.
Now, salt flavors. It makes palatable food that otherwise would be insipid. In addition to that it has a property to be able to cleanse, to purify, and it preserves what it is put upon. In Matthew 5:13 we are called "the salt of the earth." Thus it reveals that despite the difficulties of living in this present evil world, the good witness of God's children is pleasant to God, and believe it or not, it acts as a preservative for the entire earth.
Honey, though it is sweet to the taste and it too cleanses wounds and preserves what it is put into, breaks down and is corrupted and is destroyed by heat. It shows then that it is not what appears on the outside of a person's personality that counts. Some people can be all sweetness and nice as long as things are going their way, but it is what is in the heart that trials reveal. We might say another cliché that "beauty is as beauty does."
Leaven, although it is very useful to physical life providing qualities that enable us to enjoy things like nice light bread, beer, and wine, is symbolically a spreading, corrupting influence that destroys. Leaven is one of the Bible's strongest symbols, and of its effects on individuals and society. In the New Testament it signifies wickedness and malice in contrast to sincerity and truth. This is how far we got in the last sermon.
Christ lived His life perfectly, and because of this He was thus acceptable to God on the basis of His own righteousness. But every single one of our offerings come to God mixed with some measure of sin. It may not be great, but it is there, and so we cannot go before God on the basis of our own righteousness.
Now we need to ask a question here. Has God made allowance for the recognition of this that none of us is able, on the basis of our works, on the basis of our righteousness, to come before Him, and yet we are acceptable to Him? Believe it or not, right in the meal offering He makes an acknowledgment of this, that nonetheless we are acceptable to Him. (This is Leviticus 2:12.)
I might add here, that if you are studying through Leviticus 2:12, this verse is seemingly out of context. It is just interjected into this. It disrupts the flow of it, but it is a very good thing that it is in here.
Leviticus 2:12 As for the oblation of the firstfruits, you shall offer them unto the LORD; but they shall not be burnt on the altar for a sweet savor.
Why is the offering of the firstfruits not allowed to be burnt on the altar? We have to begin with what the firstfruits represent. You probably already know, but review this with me. We will turn to Romans 8 and we will just string several verses together and the answer will become very plain.
Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he [the Son] might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Now let us jump to I Corinthians 15:20. Again this is speaking of Christ.
I Corinthians 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruit of them that slept.
These verses were getting closer to the answer. We see that Christ was the firstborn of many brethren. We also see that He is a firstfruit.
James 1:18 Of his own will begat he us [you and me. It is not Christ.] with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Romans 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also [you and me], which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
Those firstfruits that we saw in Leviticus 2:12 represent you and me. Christ—the first of the firstfruits—is acceptable to God on the basis of His own righteousness, but we are not acceptable to God on the basis of our own righteousness. We are represented here by the firstfruits that are offered—the oblation of the firstfruits—but they are not to be burned on the altar. God said this far, and no further. You are the firstfruits, but you are not acceptable to be burned on the altar.
Now back to Leviticus 23. You would pick up this story flow here in verse 10. It is talking about the firstfruits offering once again. In this case it is the sheaf of the firstfruits.
Leviticus 23:13 And the meal offering thereof . . .
Now pick this up because it will be useful later on, that the meal offering and the peace offering were offered together, and then let us drop down to verse 17.
Verse 17 is the parallel of Leviticus 2:12. They are talking about the same thing, only in Leviticus 2 it is talking about the ordinary everyday meal offering. In Leviticus 23 it is talking about the offering on the day of Pentecost. But we are the firstfruits, and we are represented by these two wave loaves of two-tenth deals. They are the firstfruits of the LORD. Then He goes into verse 18 to show that this offering has to be made accompanied by other offerings. Verse 19 explains the same thing. Then in verse 20:
Leviticus 23:20 And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits for a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs; they shall be holy to the LORD for the priest.
Do you get the picture now? We are the firstfruits mentioned in Leviticus 2:12. We are the firstfruits mentioned in Leviticus 23:17. We are not acceptable to God on the basis of our own righteousness, but God does allow this: You can take of the same flour that would be used to make the meal offering, or the firstfruits offering, and you can make it into bread which has leaven in it. You can bring it to the priest, and then the priest is permitted only to wave it before God. He lifts it up, standing before the altar, and waves it back and forth for acceptance before God. But it does not get burned on the altar because of sin.
You ought to understand that the only sacrifice that is truly acceptable to God is unblemished. It has no flaw in it at all. We cannot do that. By the time we even begin to learn about God we are already so blemished that we are unacceptable to Him in the way that Christ was.
Leviticus 2:1 And when any will offer a meal offering unto the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil upon it.
Oil is another ingredient. We went through the thing about the oil in the last sermon, and that oil represents God's Holy Spirit, but particularly in the sense of power rather than cleansing. Now relate that to the meal offering.
The meal offering represents our services to man, in God's behalf. It takes spiritual power to do those services because we are not always easy to get along with. We do not always appreciate what people do for us, and we are very easily offended from time to time. We wear a chip on our shoulder, and sometimes we are pretty hardheaded and hardhearted and very difficult to serve.
You think of all that Christ did for mankind, and what did mankind do? Mankind put Him to death. Now what happens to you and me when we begin to serve one another even in the church, or to serve our neighbor out in the world, and they reject it? What do we do? We get upset and quit serving them.
There is something that is involved here. Oil goes on every meal offering as a representation of God's spirit.
Let us go back to Romans 7. This is a reality that we all have to deal with in terms of our relationship with one another. Now think of whom it was who wrote this. It was the apostle Paul. If ever among men there was a spiritual giant, it was the apostle Paul.
Romans 7:13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good [the law]; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
In effect what Paul is saying here, if we picked it up in its entire context, is that he really did not understand sin in the way that he came to understand it until he was converted. He did not understand sin until it was pointed out that he was an exceedingly sinful person, and his lack of the Spirit of God became very apparent to him. So when that occurred he said, "I died." That is, he repented, and he was baptized. A spiritual death had taken place, and he was resurrected up out of that, and undoubtedly he began to grow very rapidly. But nonetheless, he says that sin became exceedingly sinful. In other words, the more he grew, the more he understood, the more he recognized sin within himself. It never ended.
Romans 7:14-17 For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not. [That is, he did not want to do.] For that which I do [what he wanted to do], that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me.
Was Paul growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ? Was he overcoming? Was sin becoming more apparent to him? Yes it was. But the more he grew, the more he saw the flaws in himself. We will not go through the whole thing, but I want to read verse 24. Again, think of who said this.
Romans 7:24-25 O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
Was Paul flesh until he died? Yes he was. Was Paul serving the flesh until he died? Yes. Let us make this very personal. Will you and I be serving the flesh until we die? The answer to that is yes. Now what does this have to do with the pouring of the oil on the meal offering? Very much. This is a reality that we have to come to grips with in our dealings with ourselves and in our dealings with other people.
No matter how much oil is poured on us, no matter how much Holy Spirit God gives to us, as long as we are in the flesh, sin will still be there. Sometimes that can be a discouraging thought. It is especially discouraging when it is our desire to help others, or at least what we think is helping them, and they do not take our help very well. What do we say? "All I wanted to do was help, and he or she got so upset and so angry. Well, I will never help them again!" See, the carnality is coming out.
Now Christ, in His righteousness, never stopped helping, never stopped serving, even (if I can use a metaphor) while people were kicking Him in the teeth. That is tough to deal with in the reality of rubbing shoulders in our personal lives, but we have to come to grips with it. I Corinthians 15:30 gives us a little bit of insight into understanding that as we are now, we are that corruptible, and that corruption, whether it is of the heart or on the exterior, is there.
I Corinthians 15:50-53 Now this I say brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption. [We are corrupt.] Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
It is not only immortality that has to be put on. As long as we are in the flesh, sin will be with us. No matter how much we grow, no matter how much we overcome, no matter how much of God's Holy Spirit He pours out on us, there is still going to be human nature to deal with in us and in others.
Leviticus 2:2-3 And he [the offerer] shall bring it to Aaron's sons the priests; and he shall take there out his handful of the flour thereof and of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof; and the priest shall burn the memorial of it upon the altar, to be an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor unto the LORD; and the remnant of the meal offering shall be Aaron's and his sons'. It is a thing most holy of the offerings of the LORD made by fire.
A very small handful of the meal offering was all that was actually put on the fire. That handful of course represented Christ for us. God receives His portion right off the top, on the fire. Remember the altar. The fire represents God consuming a meal. But the whole meal offering was not burned on the altar, but it was all consumed totally. None of it was wasted. Remember that the meal offering was primarily intended for man. That is what it was for. In this case man was represented by the priest who consumed the remainder. Though Christ is primarily seen as the priest, He is also seen in that He represents us in that we are a royal priesthood. I Peter 2:9 says, "You are a royal priesthood," and so the church in totality is a priesthood as well.
Almost always in our services to others we are faced with making a sacrifice in order to do it, and so we wonder, "If I do this, who is going to provide for me?" This offering is showing that God will provide. The whole meal offering, remember, was made to God, but only a small handful went on the fire. The rest was given to the priest who represented you and me—a royal priesthood.
The sacrifice we make in order to serve others may involve money. It will very likely involve time. Very likely it will consume some energy. It may involve the giving up of something material besides money. In some cases serving somebody might do something to your reputation. Christ was called a glutton and a winebibber because He was seen eating with people who were supposed to be of no reputation. His reputation suffered as a result of serving them, and so if we serve somebody, we might expect that our reputation might suffer.
Now who makes this up to you and me? Well, God does. Do you believe that? If you make sacrifices in service to others, and especially to your brethren, do you believe, do you have faith, regardless of what it is going to cost you in terms of time, energy, money, or whatever, that God is going to make it up to you?
We are going to go back to the New Testament again to I Corinthians 9:7. My Bible titles this "Apostolic Rights and Obligation." Listen to Paul's argument is here.
I Corinthians 9:7 Who goes a warfare any time at his own charges?
Those of you who might be old enough to remember World War II remember that our soldiers went in service of their country, possibly to sacrifice their lives. Now did each soldier take his bank account and put it in his pocket and go fight the war on the basis of what he took with him? Who paid his way? The people who were being defended—you and me. So a soldier does not go to warfare at his own expense. There is a song that we sing—"Onward Christian Soldiers". Are we in a war? Yes we are. We are in a war with Satan and his demons, but I want you to expand your thinking out here beyond the original metaphor, to service generally.
I Corinthians 9:7-9 Who goes a warfare any time at his own charges? Who plants a vineyard, and eats not of the fruit thereof? Or who feeds a flock [pastors a flock or serves a flock] and eats not of the milk of the flock? Say I these things as a man? Or says not the law the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, You shall not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treads out the corn. Does God take care for oxen?
Is God concerned about animals? Interesting reasoning, but this is a beast of burden. It is an animal that works and earns its keep. Is it not interesting that we used to call the church "The Work," and that we were enlisted, volunteered by God, made a part of it, and were to contribute to its success through our services to it in order that it might do its work?
I Corinthians 9:10 Or says he it altogether for our sakes? [Yes He does. God wrote that thing in there about the oxen for you and me.] For our sakes no doubt, this is written; that he that plows should plow in hope; and that he that threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.
Let us go back to my original question. If you offer your services of time, energy, your skills, and so forth in service of your brethren, or in service to the community, who is going to make that up to you? Do you offer your services for naught?
I Corinthians 9:11-13 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? [In other words, should not we have first access to this?] Nevertheless [Paul says] we have not used this power; but allow all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things ... ?
In I Peter 2:9 we are called a royal priesthood. Four verses before that, I Peter 2:5 says that we have been called by God to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God, acceptable by Jesus Christ? That is our job. Our job is to sacrifice, and sacrificing is going to cost you. The reason we do not sacrifice anymore is because we are afraid of the cost. Answer that for yourself, if that is not true.
I Corinthians 9:13 Do you not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? And they which wait at the altar [the priests—you and me] are partakers with the altar?
Do you think Paul had the meal offering in mind when he wrote this? Yes he did, and he not only had the meal offering in mind, he also had the peace offering in mind when he wrote these things. God's promise is right there in the meal offering, and as we are going to see, it is right there in the peace offering, that if you are willing to serve Him in sacrificing yourself for your brethren, He will make it up to you. You are going to live off the things of the altar. Now do you believe it? Paul applies this principle directly to the ministry in this context, but it applies to anybody who serves at the altar, and you are called of God to serve at the altar.
Let us look at a couple of scriptures in the New Covenant.
Philippians 4:18 But I have all, and abound. I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God.
What was Paul thinking of? He had to be thinking of the meal offering. He had to be thinking of the peace offering because only three of the offerings were sweet smelling to God—the burnt, the meal, and the peace offerings. Nobody got anything from the burnt offering. The whole thing went on the altar. But the meal offering went to the priests—to you and me.
Look at what follows on the heels of that statement—"an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice."
Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need.
God will supply the need of the one who made the sacrifice. Paul confidently asserts that God will make it up to you, because that is what the meal offering is teaching. God removes from us any justification we might have for not serving, does He not?
Just in case you were thinking only of material things there in Philippians 4, let us look at Hebrews 4.
Hebrews 4:14-16 Seeing then that we have a great high priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession, for we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
That is part of God supplying all of our need as well. So whether it is material, whether it is energy, whether it is money, whether it is making good use of our time, effectively prioritizing things, do you think God is not going to be there helping us and making up for a very fine attitude of service in a sacrifice we did?
When the time comes we feel that we need mercy, He is going to be "Johnny-on-the-spot" for that as well. When the time comes that we feel we need an extra measure of whatever it is—of His Spirit, for understanding, for wisdom, for strength to overcome—He is going to be right there. We do not need to feel as though we are taking a huge risk in offering ourselves in service.
Now certainly we have to be a good judge of the use of our time and energy, but do not ever let yourself, your human nature, talk you out of it simply because you are afraid it will cost you something that will never be made up to you. God does not lie, and if He said He will do it, He will do it. Jesus added to this, "To take no anxious thought," because God is aware of all of our needs, and He will take care of them.
We just read in Leviticus 2 that the amount that actually went on the altar and burned on the fire was a very small portion of the entire offering. Even though the meal offering primarily had to do with our services to man, the first portion went to God.
I want to consider something here. Let us make just a brief comparison between the first Adam—the one who was in the Garden of Eden—and the second Adam, Christ. What did Adam do in the Garden of Eden? God said, "You can have the fruit of every tree but one." God reserved only one tree for Himself, and what did Adam do? Adam not only took of all the other trees, he took of God's tree too. Before anything was even offered to God, he took of it. On the other hand, the second Adam—Christ—gave back to God first, and then went on to give man what was his portion as well.
Let us remember something here that is so important to our proper understanding of all of these sacrifices. I want to change what I just said there because I did not say it quite right. It is good to remember that the burnt offering and the meal offering were made together. They were never done separately. Any time a burnt offering was made, a meal offering had to accompany it, but God is teaching us that they are inextricably bound. Now what is inextricably bound? The keeping of the first of the great commandments, and the keeping of the second of the great commandments are inextricably bound. God will not accept a burnt offering that is not also accompanied by service to man. God will not accept service to man that ignores Him
I John 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
This has very interesting ramifications, because under the pressure of trial there is a very strong drive within us to want to run from it, to run from facing it, to escape it. We all have this, and to me it is something we should not be ashamed of, but rather should be aware of and overcome it. In the Psalms you can see David wrote that he wanted to escape, to run away. "Oh, had I wings like some swift dove that I might go somewhere and roam and get away from all these troubles!" But what solution is there in doing that? It may be good for a short time to allow us to catch our breath, but you see, the problem eventually has to be faced, and that is what God wants us to do.
But attached to this, there are an awful lot of people who have lived in this world who have, say, converted to Christianity. I do not know whether they really were Christian, but they converted to Christianity. Maybe they got very deeply involved within it, did a lot of studying, and were trying to make changes in their lives. Maybe they even went into the ministry or priesthood, but eventually they gravitated to places where they could be all alone, like in monasteries or things of that sort. I want you to read with me just one verse in Jesus' prayer that He gave on Passover night, because I think it is pretty significant.
John 17:15 I pray not that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one.
There are other verses that I could quote that coincide with this one, but it is obvious that Christ wants us to rub shoulders with the world while at the same time resisting its attitudes and its conduct. We are not to sequester ourselves in a monastery or separate ourselves from service and fellowship with our brother in the pursuit of some supposed holiness. One of the major things that will happen is that our witness to the world will be lost entirely.
Was Christ, God's Son, taken away from the world? No. Neither was Paul, neither was Peter, nor was John. The examples are all over the place. God wants us to rub shoulders with this wearying, intimidating, pulsating, evil, wicked world, and all the people, in a sense, that are a part of it. On the other hand, man's works in behalf of man will not be accepted if God is left out of the picture. We cannot serve man at God's expense.
I have heard of people who reason that they will give God's tithe to the little people—to those who really need it. That is the way they reason, but the tithe is supposed to go to God. There are those who justify working on the Sabbath as a matter of course because they are doing service to men as nurses or doctors, and so the first four commandments are shoved aside in order to, in this justification, keep the last six. They cannot be separated.
We are going to go to I Thessalonians 2, and we will close the meal offering on this note. This context speaks of our attitude in service to man. Paul is using himself as an example. I want you to notice right off the bat that Paul put God first. First of all we please God. That is the first and great commandment. Paul put God first, but he did not leave out his services to the church community.
I Thessalonians 2:4-10 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which tries our hearts. For neither at any time used we flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness. Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherishes her children. So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because you were dear unto us. For you remember, brethren, our labor and travail, for laboring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe.
Paul did what he did without any self gain in mind. We need to ask ourselves whether we seek the gifts of God in order to gain a place of recognition in the church. If we labor for man's acceptance, and then if men do not react the way we believe they should, we will become bitter and we will quit until we overcome that attitude.
Here is a wonderful attitude expressed by the apostle Paul. I am sure that he picked this up from Christ. Christ's service to man was always first of all an offering to God. That is the tenor of everything he did from that point, and that is what the meal offering teaches you. The first part—the handful—goes on the fire. Our services to men have to be first of all a service to God, that He is our motivation and is the reason why we are doing what we are doing, and that our service is an act of faith, and first of all in His behalf. Secondly, how men reacted, whether they accepted it or rejected it, was of no big issue to Christ. I am sure that He wanted people to accept it, but it did not deter Him from keeping right on going. What kept Him in line was that the offering was to God in the first place.
Now if men reject, and then we quit, there is your evidence that the service was probably done in the wrong attitude and for the wrong reason. Christ is our example. He never stopped giving because His offerings were always to the LORD. "Am I my brother's keeper?" That was Cain's question after his murder of Abel. "Am I to look out for him?" "Yes," answers God in the meal offering—a sweet savor offering in Leviticus.
In summary, like the burnt offering, the meal offering was a sweet savor. It is a sacrifice, but not for sin. It cannot be separated from the burnt offering, but is always seen as an adjunct to it. It represents what Christ did perfectly in order to make us acceptable to God. It represents the sacrifice made out of devotion to God, but manifested in service of men. It is our example of what we are to be in our relationships with each other—a meal offering, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
I am going to lay a little bit of a foundation for the peace offering in the time that is remaining. We will go to Leviticus 3.
Of all the offerings of Leviticus, I think that the sin and the trespass offering are the best known and the best understood, and this is because of their clear association with Christ's crucifixion for the sins of the world. Now at the other end of the spectrum though, I think it is the peace offering that is the least understood because of its symbolism. While it is fairly easy to understand, it is easily the most difficult to experience in actual practice. Do you know why? Because it requires a great deal of faith. Christ asked the question, "When the Son of man comes, will He find faith on earth?" It is an honest question. It is a very logical question considering what we see going on in this world. Is there any faith left? How strong is the faith in God's church, which is scattered over the face of the earth? Well, it is this one man's opinion that our faith is pretty weak.
Leviticus 3:1-4 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 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 offer of the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire unto the LORD; the fat that covers 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, it shall he take away.
These are the portions of the animal that went on the fire. This was God's portion of the peace offering.
Leviticus 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 savor unto the LORD.
This offering has been given a variety of names. Sometimes it is called in people's writings the peace offering. Other times it is called the fellowship offering. Other times it is called the praise offering, and the thanksgiving offering. At times it is even called a vow offering. Those are the most common names. Most of the time we in the church of God have called it the peace offering, because that is the way it is translated in the King James. Each one of these names though is not wrong. When it is named something differently, then the teaching contained within it is also different as well as what it might be if it is called by another name.
We also saw in those first five verses that it too is a sweet savor offering, indicating that there is no sin involved in giving it; therefore it is an offering that is most satisfying to God. I want you to remember that word satisfying, because it has very much to do with understanding the peace offering perhaps more so than either of the other two, even though the word "satisfying" may have appeared in relation to those other two.
Verse 5 shows us an aspect of the ritual that begins to give us an understanding of this offering's purpose.
It was burned on top of the burnt sacrifice, which in turn had the meal offering on top of it. So they were layered: Burnt offering, meal offering, peace offering. The burnt offering was on the bottom. It has to be in this order because the burnt offering is devotion to God. The first order of business for a son of God is to be devoted to the Father.
The second order of business is to be devoted in giving offerings to God, but manifested in service to mankind. Then there is the peace offering on top of the whole pile. It also stipulates that this peace offering had to be made after the other two were already burning. Now how long after, the Bible does not say. I do not think it has to be very long after, but it nonetheless has to be tossed on top of it while they were already burning.
Leviticus 7:11 And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he shall offer unto the LORD.
This verse introduces the context, and then it tells how all that is to be a part of the peace offering.
Leviticus 7:15 And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving.
That is one kind of a peace offering.
Leviticus 7:16 But if the sacrifice of his offering be a vow. [A vow offering.]
And then it says in verse 15 that if it happens to be a thank offering, then the meat has to be eaten that very day. Remember that. If it is a vow offering, you have two days to eat it—that day and the next day. But none of it is to remain into the third day. If it remains into the third day, it is tossed on the fire and burned. It is thrown away.
Leviticus 7:28-32 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, He that offers the sacrifice of his peace offerings unto the LORD shall bring his oblation unto the LORD of the sacrifice of his peace offerings. His own hands shall bring the offerings of the LORD made by fire, the fat with the breast, it shall he bring, that the breast may be waved for a wave offering before the LORD, and the priest shall burn the fat upon the altar; but the breast shall be Aaron's and his sons'. And the right shoulder shall you give unto the priest for a heave offering of the sacrifices of your peace offerings.
You see, we are beginning to get further instruction. The offerer brings his peace offering. He lays his hand on it. The blood was then sprinkled upon the altar and all around it, and the animal was then cut up. God's portion was placed on top of the already burning burnt offering and meal offering. Then the priest received the breast and the right shoulder for himself, and as it says here, for his sons. The offerer then received the remainder of the animal, but it had to be eaten in either one day or two days. If any remained beyond that portion of time, it was then to be burned up. Now within this is contained the major teaching of the meal offering.
Numbers 18:9-11 This shall be yours [God says to Aaron] of the most holy things, reserved from the fire. [It does not go into the fire.] Every oblation of theirs, every meal offering of theirs, and every sin offering of theirs, and every trespass offering of theirs which they shall render unto me, shall be most holy for you and for your sons. In the most holy place shall you eat it; every male shall eat it, it shall be holy unto you. And this is yours; the heave offering of their gift [of the peace offering] with all the wave offerings of the children of Israel. I have given them unto you, and to your sons, and to your daughters with you, by a statute for ever; every one that is clean in your house shall eat of it.
So the priest then received the breast and the right shoulder for himself and for his children. The offerer received the remainder of the animal. It had to be eaten within a specified period of time.
We will stop there, but I want to assure you that probably one of the exciting parts of all of these offerings is contained in those last five or six references to Leviticus and to Numbers in regard to the peace offering for you and me personally. It has very much to do with the state of our mind in being a Christian.