C. D. Maynard.
Christian Friend vol. 14, 1887
The offerings are divided into four leading classes, if we count the sin and trespass offerings together as one. They are as follows: The burnt-offering, the meat-offering, the peace-offering, and the sin and trespass-offering. It will, I think, be found that each is a complete picture of Christ or His work; so that there are points which several, or it may be all, of them have in common; but that each offering emphasizes, or brings into prominence, some special aspect of the person or work of the Lord. That appears the object for which they are distinguished. It is not until the giving of the law that their differences are fully brought out.
In illustration of what is meant I would point out that the blood is mentioned in the burnt-offering, the sin-offering, and the peace-offering, but it is dealt with more specially in, and so may be said to characterise, the sin-offering. Again, burning as producing a sweet savour to God, is common to all the offerings, but in the smallest degree to the sin-offering, so that the other three have been rightly classed together as sweet savour offerings in distinction from the sin-offering; but still the fat of the sin-offering was burnt upon the altar for a sweet savour to Jehovah. (Lev. 4:31.) But of all the offerings that which was most characteristically a sweet savour, and all the Lord's, was the burnt-offering. "He shall burn all upon the altar a burnt sacrifice of a, sweet savour unto Jehovah." It set forth Christ in death wholly devoted to God and glorifying Him about sin in His death. Yet the blood was there, and the burnt-offering made atonement for the offerer. In this respect it may be said to overlap the sin-offering. Now the peace-offering has an element in common with the burnt-offering, for the fat is burnt as a sweet savour to Jehovah, and it was burnt upon the altar, upon the burnt-offering. That is to say, that which was characteristic of the burnt-offering was found in the peace-offering, although it is not the most prominent feature of it. The same is true of the relationship of the peace-offering to the sin-offering. The blood, which is characteristic of the sin-offering, is found in the peace-offering. But the peace-offering, while it has points in common with the other offerings, has its own special peculiarities, which I wish to point out. If one word might give a key to its leading feature, it would be, I think, communion. It is communion over the work of the Lord in death, and hence inseparable from worship. This, I think, the study of details will bring out.
The name peace-offering is apt perhaps to mislead. But attention to the sacrifice will readily show that the thought is not to present Christ as meeting the guilt of the sinner, and so making peace with God, which is the sin-offering, but it is enjoyed in peace. There are two varieties of peace-offerings. The one for thanksgiving, and the other a vow, or voluntary offering. These show us the character of the offering. A man prospering in his herds brings a beast as a thanksgiving to Jehovah. So some have called it a prosperity-offering. Or again, a man like Jonah makes a vow in the day of his trouble, and when he is delivered he pays his vows, and this sacrifice would probably be a peace-offering. Jephthah's vow was, I suppose, of this character. It is an offering sacrificed in peace - not to make peace.
Communion characterized it, and this is expressed in eating. Eating is the expression of communion or fellowship. This is understood in religion and in nature all the world over. No one asks any but a friend to eat with him, though he may feed his enemy. So in religion the Jews, the heathens, and the Christians, all have their altars, or tables, at which eating and drinking take place, and are expressive of fellowship with the religious system which each table represents. This 1 Cor. 10 insists upon. You cannot be a partaker of the Lord's table and of the table of devils. These things show us the symbolical force of eating. Now eating is not peculiar to the peace-offering, but it characterizes it as it does no other. We find the ordinary meat-offering was eaten by Aaron and his sons, that is, by all the priests. (Lev. 6:14-18.) And the ordinary sin-offering was eaten by the priest that offered it. Eating is absent in the burnt-offering, which was peculiarly Jehovah's - God glorified in the cross. But in the peace-offering the eating was more general than in any other, for every Israelite might eat of it.
If we refer to Lev. 3, we find that the blood of the victim was sprinkled round the altar. Then the inward fat, with the kidneys and their fat, and the caul, etc., were all taken away and burnt upon the burnt-offering (v. 5), to be a sweet savour. This use of the fat characterizes the peace-offering; so that when the same thing is done in the sin-offering, it is said, "As it was taken off from the … sacrifice of the peace-offerings." (Lev. 4:10.) Now the burning of the fat is noted in Abel's offering, where the blood is not mentioned. Still, that offering was not a peace-offering. Indeed, the only distinctive offering noted, as far as I know, before the law is the burnt-offering, which both Noah's and Abraham's were. (Gen. 8, Gen. 22.) And, we might add, the drink-offering. (Gen. 35:14.)
Another thing to be noticed is, that there is, in one sense, more liberty in selecting a victim for a peace-offering than in any other. For example, a burnt-offering must be a male, a peace-offering male or female. Again, in the sin-offering the character of the victim was more exactly defined than in any other. The peace-offering probably gives, in common in some measure with the burnt-offering, rather our appreciation of Christ than God's demand.
Returning to the thought of the peace-offering as food, we find that Lev. 3, in two places, calls the fat which was burned on the altar "the food of the offering made by fire unto Jehovah" in verse 11, and "for a sweet savour" in verse 16. And in keeping with this, the law of the offering (chap. 7) shows us that the whole body of the animal was used as food. In this point this offering is unique. The Lord first has His portion in the fat; a figure surely of God's delight in the sacrifice of Christ. All the excellency and beauty of Christ, in His inward perfection, devoted to God in that death which made expiation for sin. Then the breast, which had first been waved before Jehovah, is for the whole priestly family - for Aaron and his sons. (Lev. 7:31.) This, I believe, represents Christ in association with the Church: for we are, Peter teaches, a royal priesthood. And we know that the Church has, through grace, a special place in the affections of the Father and of Christ. We are loved as Christ was by the Father. (John 17.) And the Church is loved and cherished as the bride by Christ. (Eph. 5.) This, I think, is pictured in the breast belonging to Aaron and his house.
Next we come to the priest who offers the sacrifice; for no man could offer his own. He has the right shoulder. How clearly we have the Lord Himself; for it was He who, through the eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot to God. (Heb. 9:14.) Christ is both victim and priest. He shares in the fruit of His sacrifice, as it is said, "He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied." (Isaiah 53:11.) But further than this, we find that every one might eat of this sacrifice, provided he was ceremonially clean. This represents Israel, and perhaps the Gentiles, or, generally speaking, all who will enter into the joy and blessing that flows from the sacrifice of Christ, in fellowship with God and with Christ. It is one communion. "Our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." Eating pictures communion, and the sweet savour sets forth worship; for it is impossible to have communion with God about the death of Christ and not to worship. The thought of His death without worship is more the aspect of the relief brought to the burdened conscience by the sin-offering. But sharp lines of demarcation do not seem encouraged in Scripture. One thought passes rapidly into the other. It is probable that ordinary meat in the wilderness was a peace-offering.
In presenting Christ to us as food, we have Him as that which sustains life, and satisfies desire. First of all there is the satisfaction of the heart of God in His Son. He found in that perfect divine Man, dead in His obedience, that which the universe could nowhere else supply. "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life that I might take it again." He needs the blood that He may be the Saviour-God, but His own personal delight is in Christ. So with us. The blood relieves the conscience. It removes the fear of death and judgment, but Christ becomes the satisfaction of the heart. This is a most important principle. Christ is not merely a shelter, but a present portion for His people. He is the food spiritually of the saved. New affections are formed, developed, and satisfied in connection with the Saviour. It is a simple principle: "We love Him because He first loved us." Every renewed heart understands it, however feebly. The believer is a new creature. Christ is all then; He is life and food. This principle is brought out in the Song of Solomon. There it is the heart. The conscience is at rest; and this even when the heart is failing. The joy of God is the joy of the saint. The fat was burnt, the flesh eaten. In heaven this will be complete; but it is true now. We are not saved to enjoy the world, but to have our happiness in a new circle. May the Lord bring us more into it. This thought figured in eating is touched upon in the Lord's table; also it is in the passover. Again we have it in the manna, and this is taken up in connection with Christ's death in John 6 and elsewhere. As saints God would have us peaceful, happy, and satisfied through and in Christ.
Now we have noticed that defilement disqualified an Israelite from partaking of the sacrifice. So it is with the believer. Our fellowship is the Father and the Son: yet sin committed, even in thought, destroys communion at once. "If we say we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth." And the same thing is true of the table, where we have the outward picture of communion. The table is the place of every child of God. But sin, if indulged, disqualifies him from coming to or remaining at it. "Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat." This also applies to worship. We cannot burn the fat to God as priests unless we are ourselves clean. It is impossible to be spiritual unless we are righteous. Cornelius was a just man, and a devout man. Then supposing one was an Israelite, and clean, one peace-offering would be eaten on the first day, another on the first and second, but to eat on the third day was abomination. Thus, if we are in relationship with God through faith in Christ Jesus, and our hearts do not condemn us, i.e., we are like clean Israelites; yet the energy of spirituality may vary in different people, or at different times. The power for sustained worship or communion varies. Whatever be the cause, whether bodily infirmity, as the disciples sleeping when the Lord was praying in the garden, the fact all must allow, and the Lord's grace towards us in it too we see.
The vow appears to set forth a greater degree of piety and energy, than simply the thanksgiving for mercies received. It is well for us to bring to God what we have, and the chapter seems to teach us not to prolong anything beyond the spiritual energy that we possess. This would apply to prayer drawn out beyond what the Spirit leads to, and to long and frequent hymns, if not the expression of real worship in the Spirit. But again we see the acceptability of that which is small if it be real. So a prayer of five words may be most acceptable to God, as the publican's was, and most edifying to the assembly, though our pride makes it hard to contribute so small a thing. We need to keep in the sense of having to do with God and the cross in all. The eating of three days removed was no religious act, but as it assumed to be such, became iniquity. This would apply to bringing ostensibly to God that which is really for the satisfaction of the flesh, such as attempted eloquence in prayer, cultivated music, the architecture of Christendom, and so on. It is not that an eloquent man like Apollos might not pray with eloquence, forgetting himself he naturally would, so a good singer would sing well; but it is the affecting to have God before us when it is really the flesh. It was good to eat and enjoy the peace-offering, but not on the third day. We all know that it is only by watching and praying we can avoid falling into these things, as self and man are so constantly before us. Only the Spirit's power can put us above it. Still, the only worship God accepts is that which is in the Spirit and in truth. Worship in the flesh is abomination now; that is, now that the Spirit has come. This is the teaching of Christianity.
The connection of worship with the peace-offering is referred to, I believe, in Hosea 14:2: "Take away all iniquity [sin-offering], and receive us graciously; so will we offer the calves of our lips" [peace-offering]. And it appears to be this same thought that we have in Hebrews 13:15: "By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name."
May the Lord lead us to find in Christ not only that which purges the conscience, but that which satisfies the desires of the heart. "He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness."
C. D. Maynard.