In this chapter The Lord gave Moses His Law regarding peace offerings. A peace offering was one made by the person of his own free will to show God his thankfulness or celebrate the fulfillment of a vow. This offering looks similar to the sin offering but there are differences. Verses 1-2 read,
“If his offering is a sacrifice of peace offering, if he offers an animal from the herd, male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the Lord. 2 And he shall lay his hand on the head of his offering and kill it at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and Aaron's sons the priests shall throw the blood against the sides of the altar. “
Because this offering was not for the atonement of sin but an act of worship, community, and thanksgiving the animal could be male or female. And because this offering was one of free will and one in which the meat would be eaten by the offeror and others, birds were not permitted. Only a portion of the offering was burnt and given to God. Verses 3-5 read,
“And from the sacrifice of the peace offering, as a food offering to the Lord, he shall offer the fat covering the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, 4 and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins, and the long lobe of the liver that he shall remove with the kidneys.5 Then Aaron's sons shall burn it on the altar on top of the burnt offering, which is on the wood on the fire; it is a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.”
The blood of the animal was applied to the altar. The fat was given to God. The rest of the animal was for the fellowship meal. The blood spilled took the place of the sacrifice of the offeror’s blood. The fat made the aroma of the offering pleasing to God. Fat was considered the prime part of the animal, the best part and so the best part was given to God. He also commanded that Israel never eat blood or fat. Forgoing fat was a symbol of obedience to God. Abstaining from blood honored God’s holiness, His redemption, and Jesus Christ who would shed His blood to pay for sins once and for all. Verses 16-17 read,
“And the priest shall burn them on the altar as a food offering with a pleasing aroma. All fat is the Lord's. 17 It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, in all your dwelling places, that you eat neither fat nor blood.”
This offering was no less important than the sin offering. It had to be done just so and it still involved blood and cost. The meat that was not burned on the altar was cooked and was served as a meal of fellowship and community. It was a special and happy meal. One which blessed the Lord but also one in which the offeror expected some blessing in return.
Today, we do not have to sacrifice animals, spill blood or make bread to worship God. Jesus’ sacrifice was the ultimate offering. In His giving His life for ours, He made the way for us to worship without pretense and continual sacrifices. He removed the barrier between men and Himself. We can speak directly to Him. Our words, deeds, spirits, and minds worship God. We are a living sacrifice because of what Jesus did for us.
Does your life reflect your thankfulness to God? Does your life celebrate community with the Lord and with the church? Does your life show that like God, you keep every promise you make? Your mind may say, “Thank you God” or “Praise God” but if your life doesn’t demonstrate it, are you really grateful and joyful? There is intentional action involved in being a living sacrifice.