Reconciliation and the Peace Offering in the Old Testament
There were five Levitical offerings authorized by the Mosaic Law (Lev. 1-6): (1) The Burnt offering taught propitiation with emphasis on the work of Christ (Lev. 1) (2) The Gift offering taught propitiation but this bloodless offering portrayed the perfect Person of Jesus Christ (Lev. 2). (3) The Peace offering called for the shedding of blood and taught the doctrine of reconciliation (Lev. 3). (4) The Sin offering taught the doctrine of confession for unknown sins. (5) The Trespass offering taught confession of known sins.
The Peace offering emphasizes the Person of Christ.
The Lord Jesus Christ: (1) “is our peace” (Eph. 2:14). (2) “Made peace” (Col. 1:20). (3) “Preached peace” (Eph. 2:17). (4) “Prince of peace” (Isa. 9:6).
The peace offering is found in Leviticus 3.
The Hebrew word for “peace offering” is shelem, or zebah shelamim, “sacrifice of peace.”
The Peace offering always followed the other offerings.
Categories of Peace offerings: (1) Thank offering (zebah hattoda, “sacrifice of thanksgiving,” Lev. 7:12; 22:29) (2) Votive offering (zebah neder, “sacrifice of a vow,” Num. 6:2; 15:3, 8) (3) Freewill offering (zebah nedaba, Lev. 7:16; 22:18, 21).
Peace offerings took place on: (1) Public occasions (2) Private occasions.
Public: (1) Customary on festive inauguration (Ex. 24:5; 2 Sam. 6:17-18; 1 Kings 8:63) (2) Election of kings (1 Sam.11: 15) (3) Joyous occasions (Deut. 27:7; Josh. 8:31) (4) Prescribed for the feast of Pentecost (Lev. 23:19) (5) Festivals were observed with them (Num. 10:10; 2 Chron. 30:22).
Solomon arranged three times a year a sacrificial festival of burnt and peace offerings (1 Kings 9:25).
Private: (1) Result of free impulse or fulfillment of a vow (Lev. 7:16; 22:21; Num. 15:8) (2) Recognition of a special favor from Jehovah (Lev. 7:12; 22:29) (3) Regularly employed at the expiration of a Nazirite vow (Num. 6:14).
The peace offering had two sources: (1) “Of the herd” (Lev. 3:1-5) (2) “From the flock” (Lev. 3:6-17).
Types of animals were offered: (1) Bull (Lev. 3:1-5) (2) Lamb (Lev. 3:6-11) (3) Goat (Lev. 3:12-16).
Qualification for the animals: (1) Must be unblemished which speaks of the impeccability of the Person of Christ. (2) The animal could be either male or female which represents the offerer and what he or she sees in Christ.
The fire in the peace offering represents the total commitment of Christ to God the Father’s plan and His human testings and sufferings.
The peace offering placed on top of the burnt offering represents the fact that the Person and Work of our Lord go together (Lev. 3:5).
The sinner can come to God and have communion and fellowship with Him on the basis of the Person and Work of Christ.
The peace offering sets forth God as propitiated and the sinner reconciled.
Bull (Lev. 3:1-5): (1) Sets forth the servant side of our Lord (Mark 10:45). (2) Domesticated animal used to “bear” burdens and to plow fields. (3) Represented transportation and commerce in the ancient world.
Our Lord served man by paying the ransom price, which delivered all of humanity from the slave market of sin.
He served all of humanity by propitiating God the Father’s justice at the cross with His substitutionary spiritual and physical deaths on the cross.
Our Lord served God by doing His will.
God the Father’s will was for His Son to die on the cross as a propitiation for our sins.
Lamb (Lev. 3:6-11): (1) represents Christ in His complete identification with man in life and death. (2) Pictured Christ as the qualified sin-bearer or His quality and ability to take the place of man in bearing the sins of the world.
John 1:29 speaks of the Lamb’s, i.e., the Lord Jesus Christ, work on the cross.
John 1:36 speaks of the Person of our Lord.
Isaiah 53 portrays our Lord as a Lamb who becomes our Substitute.
Our Substitute is called a lamb in His resurrection (Rev. 5:6).
He is the Lamb in His return at the Second Advent (Rev. 6:16-17).
The “entire fat tail” refers to a special breed of sheep peculiar to Palestine.
They were found in Palestine, Syria, North Africa and Egypt.
They often weighed 15 lbs. or more and consisted of marrow and fat.
All the sheep in Palestine were “broad-tailed.”
The broad part of the tail is abnormal projection or outgrowth of fat from which the true tail hangs down.
This is the rump or tailbone, which passes over into the vertebrae of the tail.
This was the Lord’s portion.
Goat (Lev. 3:12-16): (1) represents the complete identification of Christ as adequate to take away the sins of the world. (2) Represents that aspect of Christ’s work, which propitiated God the Father.
In Leviticus 16:10, the scapegoat was sent into the wilderness on the Day of Atonement and represented that aspect of Christ’s work, which puts away our sins (John 1:29).
The Lord Jesus Christ is the propitiation for our sins and thus God no longer remembers our sins (Psa. 103:12).
The Ritual for the Peace Offering (shelem): (1) Offerer led the animal to the altar and laid his hand upon its head and killed it. (2) The priest caught the blood and sprinkled it upon the altar. (3) The fat of the intestines was taken from the animal and burned upon the altar on top of the burnt offering (Lev. 3:3-5, 9-11, 14-16; 9:18-20). (4) The breast and right shoulder were separated from each other. (5) The shoulder was laid aside for the priest. (6) The breast was waved, i.e., symbolically presented to the Lord, from whom the priests received it for their use. (7) The priest’s part may be eaten by him, either boiled or roasted in some clean place (Lev. 7:30-34; 10:13-14). (8) All the flesh of public peace offering belonged to the priests (Lev. 23:20). (9) The rest of the flesh belonged to the offerer and was to be shared with his family and guests. (10) Whatever remained after 3 days was burned.
The Law of the Peace Offering (Lev. 7:11-38): (1) Freewill offering for the purpose of thanksgiving (Lev. 7:11-12; cf. Heb. 13:15) (2) Unleavened cakes and wafers speak of the impeccability of Christ, or the lack of evil or sin in His life. (3) The unleavened cakes mixed with oil speak of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our Lord’s life and ministry. (4) The leavened cakes speak of the evil and sin still present in the offerer. (5) The leavened cakes were elevated toward heaven, which speaks of occupation with the Person of Christ.
Leviticus 7:15-18: (1) Offering was to be eaten that same day without delay in order to teach the importance of staying close to Christ for peace of conscience and for power over temptation. (2) The sacrifice was to be burned on third day in order to guard against the desecration of the sacrificial meal, which was holy. (3) Flesh putrefies on the third day if it is not preserved artificially. Communion and fellowship with God’s people was cut off if any flesh was eaten on the third day. The offerer’s sacrifice would not be accepted by God if the flesh was eaten on the third day.
Leviticus 7:19-21: (1) Speaks of the importance of confession of sin for there is no fellowship and communion without confession of sin. (2) Fellowship and communion was cut off if the offer came in contact with anything unclean which speaks of residence in the Cosmic System of Satan.
Leviticus 7:23-27: (1) The fat of animals that were not commanded to be sacrificed was unacceptable and could not be eaten because it was unclean. (2) The fat of animals that had been torn to pieces by other animals was an unacceptable or unclean sacrifice and defiled the eater but could be used for the common purposes of ordinary life. (3) Fellowship and communion was cut off if the individual offered any of these animals as a sacrifice to God. (4) Fellowship and communion was cut off if the fat portions of the ox, sheep or goat were eaten by the offerer because they were gifts set apart for God. (5) The fat portions of the ox, sheep and goat were considered the best portions of the animal and therefore, belonged to God since He only demands the best. (6) Fellowship and communion with God was cut off if the offerer ate any blood. (7) The soul life of the animal was in the blood and was sanctified as the medium of atonement for the soul of man (Lev. 17:10-16). (8) The blood of the animal represented the spiritual death of our Lord on the cross.
Leviticus 7:29-34: (1) the offerer of his own free will was to bring a peace offering. (2) This represents the acceptance of the terms of God’s peace treaty, i.e., reconciliation. (3) The breast of the animal belonged to the high priest (Aaron) and his sons. (4) The breast spoke of Christ’s love for us (Rom. 5:8; Gal. 2:20).
The peace offering was performed with the breast-piece, which was called the wave-breast (Lev. 7:34; 10:45; Num. 6:20; Ex. 29:27).
The “waving” of the breast was a private thank offering.
The priest placed his own hands underneath and moved the hands of the offerer backwards and forwards in a horizontal direction.
The movement forwards in the direction of the altar indicated the presentation of the sacrifice or the symbolic transfer of it to God.
The movement backwards meant the reception of it back again as a present, which God handed over to His servants the priests.
The right thigh belonged to the priest.