Leviticus Chapter 7 Verses 22-27
Because the peace offering resulted in a meal for Israel, and offerings such as the guilt offering resulted in meals for the priests, The Lord had to establish laws regarding those meals. We read yesterday that no unclean person could take part in the meal, it was a holy act. Eating the food of the offering was taking part with God in celebrating His relationship with the partakers. The word communion doesn’t really mean eating crackers and juice once a week. It means sharing unity with one another, celebrating the most intimate of relationships, a spiritual union. When we take the Lord’s Supper that is what we are doing, celebrating our spiritual oneness with God and with the body of Christ.
In the Old Covenant the Lord’s meal was one of meat and bread after a sacrifice had been made, and God had restrictions based on the sacredness of that meal. Verses 22-25 concern one of these rules.
“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 23 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, You shall eat no fat, of ox or sheep or goat. 24 The fat of an animal that dies of itself and the fat of one that is torn by beasts may be put to any other use, but on no account shall you eat it. 25 For every person who eats of the fat of an animal of which a food offering may be made to the Lord shall be cut off from his people.”
The Lord didn’t restrict all fat, just eating the fat of the animals that were acceptable sacrifices, sheep, goats, oxen, or cattle. Although they could use the fat of those animals that were not killed by their hands for other uses, they couldn’t eat it. The fat of those animals was for The Lord’s pleasure, burning it in the offering was an aroma pleasing to Him.
Although fat in meat has been demonized as unhealthy, research shows that it is not bad for us. It is appropriate to choose lean meats if one needs to increase protein and decrease calories but other than that there is no health reason to cut saturated fat from the diet. In fact the fat in meat is good for us. It is categorized as Omega-7 fat and can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. That doesn’t mean go to town and eat all the steaks your heart desires. A healthy portion of meat is 3-4 oz about the size of the palm of your hand.
Fat adds flavor to meat. In general fat adds flavor to most foods. Fat is a necessary ingredient in many foods. When we buy a low-fat version of food, the fat taken out has been replaced with sugar or fake fats that are not good for the body. Are you asking yourself why did Donna just deviate into this strange lesson on fat? The answer is so you could understand that although we have demonized fat in today’s world it is a good and desirable component in our food (in moderation).
But The Lord restricted Israel’s fat from certain meats. Why? The meal from those meats was special, some like the peace offering meal were sacred. The fat from those meats were for Him. Denying oneself the richness that the fat offered honored The Lord and showed faith in Him to be the giver of joy, unity, provisions, and life.
God also said that no blood was to be eaten, ever. Not just the blood of sacrificial animals but all blood was off limits to His children. Blood is the life force of any animal or human. Blood gives life and carries with it the symbol of atonement and forgiveness. There is no forgiveness of sin without blood. During any sacrifice of an animal, the blood was splashed on the altar and door of the meeting place for atonement. Verses 26-27 say,
“Moreover, you shall eat no blood whatever, whether of fowl or of animal, in any of your dwelling places. 27 Whoever eats any blood, that person shall be cut off from his people.”
Later in Chapter 17 of Leviticus The Lord explains more about the prohibition of eating blood. Verses 11-12 of that chapter read,
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life. 12 Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, No person among you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger who sojourns among you eat blood.”
The restriction against eating blood still stands today. Although the many rules that were meant to make following the law easier do not apply to Christians. Even the important symbols of the Old Covenant such as circumcision and kosher eating no longer pertain to us, eating blood, idolatry, and sexual immorality do. Acts 15:8-11 read,
“And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”
And verses 19-20 read,
“Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.”
From as far back as Noah before Moses and before Israel, eating blood was prohibited. We do not abstain from blood because it is part of the Law. We abstain from blood out of respect for life, out of respect for the Giver of Life, and out of respect for Jesus’ sacrifice of His life for which gave us new life.
We are already forgiven for sin. We don’t think of refraining from blood as a rule to follow, but as an act of loving The LORD and His creation. Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength means that that love is manifested in tangible ways. Abstaining from blood is one of the ways we exhibit our love, and stand out from the world.
Leviticus Chapter 6 Verse 8 – Chapter 7 Verses 1-18
These verses describe the priests’ duties and privileges regarding the various offerings we’ve learned about so far in Leviticus. The Lord had specific requirements for how the sacrifice would burn and what was done with the remnants of the animal, flour, and oil of the offering.
The burnt offering was a burning of the entire animal for the atonement of each person made yearly for the general state of sin they lived under. The priest had to ensure that the animal burnt until only ashes remained. That meant he had to keep the fire burning continually. He couldn’t allow the fire to go out and be relit. He then had to carry the ashes to a clean place. Verses 10-11 of chapter 6 read,
“And the priest shall put on his linen garment and put his linen undergarment on his body, and he shall take up the ashes to which the fire has reduced the burnt offering on the altar and put them beside the altar. 11 Then he shall take off his garments and put on other garments and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place.”
The animal had taken on the sins of the offeror. In giving it over to The Lord in death and fire, the price was being paid. But once it was burned, ashes still remained. But when The Lord forgives sin, He forgives completely. They are erased from His record. So the priest had the responsibility of removing the ashes, the vestiges of sin to a clean place. He even had to change his clothes so that the traces of sin would not sully him. The priest had been sanctified by The Lord. He was very careful about remaining clean.
When we are forgiven, it is a total forgiveness. God doesn’t hold onto our sin anymore. He chooses not to remember it. When He looks at us, He doesn’t see the sin, He sees His righteous child, His precious beloved. So why do we choose to hold onto our sins? Why do we look at ourselves and see the wrongs we’ve done? Why do we look at other people and see how they’ve hurt us or how short they are of perfection? God doesn’t see His children like that. If we have God’s heart we should look at His children with God’s vision.
All the other offerings had parts that didn’t get burned on the altar. The grain offering, sin offering, and guilt offering all gave meat, flour or cakes to the priest. This was his privilege and provision for ministering to the people and serving God. Chapter 6 verses 16-18 describe the grain offering and the priests’ privilege and obligation.
“And the rest of it Aaron and his sons shall eat. It shall be eaten unleavened in a holy place. In the court of the tent of meeting they shall eat it. 17 It shall not be baked with leaven. I have given it as their portion of my food offerings. It is a thing most holy, like the sin offering and the guilt offering. 18 Every male among the children of Aaron may eat of it, as decreed forever throughout your generations, from the Lord's food offerings. Whatever touches them shall become holy.”
The flour and cakes had been given to The Lord. By that distinction and merit, the food became consecrated. The bread couldn’t be ruined with leaven, which nearly always represents sin in the scripture. The priests were consecrated as well. The eating of this food was not a casual thing but a sanctified act of worship. The place they ate, the table, the plates all became sacred in this act of worship that only the priests were allowed to participate in doing.
The sin offering and guilt offering gave the priests meat when after the blood, fat, kidneys, and liver were burned. The priests had to eat the meat like the bread of the grain offering as an act of worship in the tent of meeting. It had to be eaten the same day, with some allowed the second day, but none could be eaten on the third day, that had to be burned not as an offering but to ensure that no one would eat what was now unclean. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day. He didn’t linger about to decay, He conquered death and sin absolutely and finally.
Today we who belong to Christ are all priests, we are all consecrated to God’s service, and we are holy to God. We eat The Lord’s Supper or Love Feast as an act of worship. The bread and wine represent Jesus’ body and blood, broken and poured out for us. Taking the Love Feast doesn’t make us holy, it reminds us that we are holy. We have the honor of remembering Christ’s sacrifice for us. Only believers have the license to do this holy act.
Under the old covenant the priest that ate the sacred meat, breads, and cakes had to be clean. He had to deal with any uncleanness before he was allowed to eat the meal in the tent of meeting. If he didn’t do so, if he took that honor lightly and didn’t consider his own iniquitousness God would cut him off. When dealing with the peace offering, which was the offering which resulted in a fellowship meal for the people, the same rule applied. People had to deal with their uncleanness before they could touch the meal. Chapter 7 verses 19-21 read,
“Flesh that touches any unclean thing shall not be eaten. It shall be burned up with fire. All who are clean may eat flesh, 20 but the person who eats of the flesh of the sacrifice of the Lord's peace offerings while an uncleanness is on him, that person shall be cut off from his people. 21 And if anyone touches an unclean thing, whether human uncleanness or an unclean beast or any unclean detestable creature, and then eats some flesh from the sacrifice of the Lord's peace offerings, that person shall be cut off from his people.”
Even though all our sins, past, present, and future are forgiven we are still people of flesh who sin a hundred times a day. We are imperfect and dirty, even though The Lord sees us as righteous. He made us righteous. But taking The Lord’s Supper when we are right smack in the middle of hating a brother, instigating division among the church, or causing someone to sin has serious consequences. We are not supposed to take it lightly. It is not a snack of crackers and juice, it is the remembrance of our redemption by Christ’s broken body and cleansing blood. In 1 Corinthians 11:23-32 Paul says,
“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.”
Believer, you are holy. You are precious. You are separated from the world by your priesthood. It is an honor, a special distinction and a great privilege that you can take The Lord’s Supper. It doesn’t make you holy. It is you that makes the act, the bread, the wine, and even the cup and plate holy. The act doesn’t forgive sins. It celebrates your sanctification in Christ. It is an act of worship that only the redeemed may carry out. Don’t forget the specialness of it. Never treat it lightly. It is a gift from The Lord to you, Royal Priest.
Leviticus Chapter 6 Verses 1-7
The first section of chapter 6 continues laws concerning the guilt or sin offering. The sin discussed here is stealing from one’s neighbor. Verses 1-3 read,
“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “If anyone sins and commits a breach of faith against the Lord by deceiving his neighbor in a matter of deposit or security, or through robbery, or if he has oppressed his neighbor 3 or has found something lost and lied about it, swearing falsely—in any of all the things that people do and sin thereby—“
Notice that stealing in any fashion, making money unfairly, keeping a found object, deceit resulting in profit, and outright stealing is called a breach of faith against the Lord. Hurting one’s neighbor is a sin against the Lord, not just the person hurt. And making profit from that injury is a betrayal of faith in God. Doing something like that says the person cares more for money than God, it says he doesn’t trust the Lord enough to allow Him to be God in his life, and shows that the person has no respect for God’s creation.
Because the sin described in verses 2 and 3 cause damage, reparation has to be made to the injured party before the sinner can make his offering to the Lord. Verses 4-5 read,
“if he has sinned and has realized his guilt and will restore what he took by robbery or what he got by oppression or the deposit that was committed to him or the lost thing that he found 5 or anything about which he has sworn falsely, he shall restore it in full and shall add a fifth to it, and give it to him to whom it belongs on the day he realizes his guilt.”
True repentance requires remorse and returning what was stolen, repairing what was broken, and restoring what was injured. But notice there is still sacrifice involved in the act of contrition. The sinner not only has to give back what was stolen or gained, but has to add a fifth to it. If he stole $100.00 he has to return $120.00. And he has to do it immediately the day he realizes his guilt. It is only after he has reconciled with his neighbor that he can go reconcile with the Lord. Verses 6-7 say,
“And he shall bring to the priest as his compensation to the Lord a ram without blemish out of the flock, or its equivalent for a guilt offering. 7 And the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord, and he shall be forgiven for any of the things that one may do and thereby become guilty.”
God is always ready to forgive the repentant soul. Real repentance requires action. If our sin hurt another person we can’t just ignore it, call ourselves forgiven and go on. We can’t have peace with God if we are divided by hostilities created by our sin with people around us.
It is true that in Christ, we are already forgiven for every wrong, but the Lord still requires us to be united in peace and love with one another before we worship Him. In Matthew 5:23-24 Jesus said,
“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift”
If we have done something to make our brother angry with us, we have not only hurt them, but we may cause them to sin. That is doubly dreadful of us. Even if we haven’t done anything wrong, but our brother is still holding something against us, we need to make peace with him before we offer a gift to God, worship Him, or take the Lord’s Supper. The anger our brother has against us may cause him to sin, and we do not want to be a stumbling block to anyone. What does it hurt us to submit to one another? Our pride can always handle being cut down. Pride is the foundation for so much sin. We can be humble and submit to our brothers and sisters. We can be the peacemakers.
We can’t worship God with a pure heart if we don’t have unity with the Body of Christ. The two great commandments are linked together. We cannot do one without doing the other. We can’t love the Lord with our entire being, soul, mind, heart, and strength if we do not love our neighbors. God wants us to love what He loves and want what He wants. He loves our neighbor deeply. He expects us to love our neighbor as well.
Leviticus Chapter 5
This chapter continues discussing sin offerings but now moves on to the individuals and specific sins that couldn’t wait for the yearly offering. The sacrifices made for these offenses were called sin offerings or guilt offerings. These offenses were an affront to the Lord because they soiled the soul of the person by his actions. The first sin is described in verse 1.
“If anyone sins in that he hears a public adjuration to testify, and though he is a witness, whether he has seen or come to know the matter, yet does not speak, he shall bear his iniquity;”
Bearing witness and speaking the truth on a matter before a judge is important. What one knows, what he has seen, and what he has heard can make a difference in the guilt or innocence of another. There are many reasons a person may want to keep silent on a subject. Perhaps speaking the truth will bring shame to a friend, incriminate someone, or bring about an unwanted conclusion. But the truth is important. The truth is what sets people free by shining its light into the darkness, revealing reality, and allowing those who sinned to be forgiven. Forgiveness brings liberty to the soul.
Verses 2-3 describe more sins that require a sin offering.
“or if anyone touches an unclean thing, whether a carcass of an unclean wild animal or a carcass of unclean livestock or a carcass of unclean swarming things, and it is hidden from him and he has become unclean, and he realizes his guilt; 3 or if he touches human uncleanness, of whatever sort the uncleanness may be with which one becomes unclean, and it is hidden from him, when he comes to know it, and realizes his guilt;”
The Lord is Holy and He longs for us to want and pursue that same purity for ourselves. There were numerous laws about what was clean and what was unclean. They existed so that Israel would be aware that God is holy and His children were chosen and expected to stand out from the world. Coming into contact with the unclean was going to happen but God made provision for reparation when it did.
Verse 4 describes the next sin,
“or if anyone utters with his lips a rash oath to do evil or to do good, any sort of rash oath that people swear, and it is hidden from him, when he comes to know it, and he realizes his guilt in any of these;”
Making a vow without thinking it through, even a declaration to do good is a sin. It is a sin of enough magnitude that it is one of four listed that could not wait for the Day of Atonement. The Lord takes oaths very seriously. Words carry immense weight and power. They are the manifestation of the will and the heart. The book of Numbers devotes an entire chapter to oaths. Verses 1-5 read,
“Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes of the people of Israel, saying, “This is what the Lord has commanded. 2 If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.
3 “If a woman vows a vow to the Lord and binds herself by a pledge, while within her father's house in her youth, 4 and her father hears of her vow and of her pledge by which she has bound herself and says nothing to her, then all her vows shall stand, and every pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand.5 But if her father opposes her on the day that he hears of it, no vow of hers, no pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. And the Lord will forgive her, because her father opposed her.”
When we make a promise, we had better carry it out. But if it is a promise that goes against the will of our Father, The LORD then we are not obligated to keep it. Making an oath it is still a sin. We are better off not to swear at all. In Matthew 5:33-37 Jesus said,
“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.”
These sins are all sins that directly affect the heart and the soul. Two deal with words, truthful testimony and vows. Two deal with purity of the soul touching unclean animals or people. The Lord understood that Israel would sin. He established a means of expiation. In Christ we have his Spirit. We are holy. The Lord expects us to behave like the saints we are. In 1 Peter 1:14-16 Peter paraphrases Leviticus 11:44-45.
“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
The first step of the sin offering for these offenses is realization of the sin. One can’t repent for a sin until he is aware that he has sinned. People who do not know God, often do not know they are sinning. How can they understand their need of a savior if they don’t know they have fallen short? We just can’t expect the ignorant to be sorry for doing wrongs to God. They don’t know Him. It is up to us to introduce them and let His Love convict.
Notice the next step under the law is “he shall bear his iniquity.” He will feel the weight of his transgression, his wrongness. He will understand his guilt. Not only does he need to know he wronged God but he needs to understand the consequences of the sin. This sin caused pain to others and separated the person from the Lord. That is remorse.
The final step was the sacrifice. The chapter describes the acceptable sacrifices beginning with a female goat or lamb, two turtledoves for those too poor for a goat or a tenth of an ephah of flour for the poorest. Sin has a cost. There can be no atonement without sacrifice.
In Christ when we realized we sinned, we felt the remorse but then Jesus did a wonderful thing for us, He bore our iniquity for us. He paid the price for atonement. He forgave us of every sin in one ultimate sacrifice of the one and only perfect Lamb of God. Under the law, Israel had to make these sacrifices again and again. But in Christ it is finished.
Leviticus Chapter 4
This chapter describes laws for sin offerings. These are different from the burnt offerings of the first chapter. Sin offerings were for unintentional sins committed and were made when the sin came to light, not yearly. Different people had to sacrifice different animals in different ways. There was no choice as in the burnt offerings.
If a priest sinned, he had to sacrifice a bull. Verses 4-7 read,
“He shall bring the bull to the entrance of the tent of meeting before the Lord and lay his hand on the head of the bull and kill the bull before the Lord. 5 And the anointed priest shall take some of the blood of the bull and bring it into the tent of meeting, 6 and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle part of the blood seven times before the Lord in front of the veil of the sanctuary. 7 And the priest shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense before the Lord that is in the tent of meeting, and all the rest of the blood of the bull he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting.”
Next the priest had to include the fat and the fatty organs with the offering, but some parts of the animal he had to take out of the camp, completely away from the people and burn separately. Verses 11-12 describe it,
“But the skin of the bull and all its flesh, with its head, its legs, its entrails, and its dung— 12 all the rest of the bull—he shall carry outside the camp to a clean place, to the ash heap, and shall burn it up on a fire of wood. On the ash heap it shall be burned up.”
Imagine how disgusting and horrible to kill an animal in front of everyone, butcher it just so and then carry the skin, head, legs, entrails and excrement out of the camp with flies buzzing all around, the smell constantly in your nose, and the guts all over you.
The priest who shouldn’t be ignorant of the law had to admit that he was, and that because of that ignorance he had sinned. He had to tell everyone, as is the case for each of the situations in Leviticus Chapter 4. The sinner had to admit his sin to everyone as the first step of forgiveness. The act of repentance and sacrifice was done in front of the whole assembly. The priest’s sins were considered the most grievous and his sacrifice had to be carried out by him alone.
The next sin described is the unintentional sin committed by the entire congregation. Perhaps everyone was doing something that the Lord had forbidden under the law, when they realized it, they brought a bull from the herd and the elders as representatives for the assembly laid their hands on it as it was killed. And once again the priest was given the duty of carrying the rest of the bull out of the camp. The elders had a responsibility to shepherd the assembly and the priest had an obligation to ensure the group knew and followed the law. So they had to take the fault and burden of the sin.
If one of the leaders committed an unintentional sin, then when that sin was brought to light he had to bring a male goat without blemish. This sacrifice is described in verses 22-26.
“When a leader sins, doing unintentionally any one of all the things that by the commandments of the Lord his God ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt, 23 or the sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring as his offering a goat, a male without blemish, 24 and shall lay his hand on the head of the goat and kill it in the place where they kill the burnt offering before the Lord; it is a sin offering. 25 Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out the rest of its blood at the base of the altar of burnt offering. 26 And all its fat he shall burn on the altar, like the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings. So the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin, and he shall be forgiven.”
This sacrifice is of a much smaller animal, but still a valuable one. And there is no carrying the remainders of the corpse outside the city. Additionally once the leader has placed his hand on the head of the goat and killed it, it was the priest who then made atonement for the sin of the leader in order for God to forgive him. The priest is always the one who stands in between man and God. The priest spills the blood in order for God to absolve the sin.
Next the sacrifice for the common man is described. He could bring either a female goat, or a female lamb to be sacrificed in order for the priest to make atonement and God to forgive him.
Unintentional sin happens. Sometimes we are ignorant or we don’t use discernment. Under the law they happened often. There were so many laws to follow that a person couldn’t possibly know and keep each one of them perfectly. But God didn’t require payment of those sins until the person or people became aware of them. Once the sin was realized, God expected public repentance and payment.
It wasn’t public so that the person would feel deeper shame. It was open so that everyone could learn from it. If the leader didn’t know that memorializing a passed loved one was a sin, it is likely that many in the community didn’t know it either. Now they would all know it. It also gave them accountability. They could look out for one another and keep an eye out for repeated offenses.
Jesus gave up His life to pay for our sins all of them, regardless of when or why, whether they were sins of commission or omission, great or small. His sacrifice was the ultimate perfect offering, once and for all.
While all sin is sin, some people carry more of an obligation than others not to sin. Under the law, the onus was on the priest first, then the leaders and lastly on the rest of the congregation. Under grace believers are all priests. We all have direct access to Holy God. We have His awesome Spirit to guide us, teach us, and mold us. But the world doesn’t have the same obligation. They live under sin. The sins of the lost don’t count against them if they don’t know they are sinning. They still have to pay the final price for their sin. But asking a lost person to stop sinning doesn’t make sense. Making him aware of his sinful state, and telling him about Jesus does make sense. Once he understands he is a sinner, then he can ask Jesus to cover him with His blood. We can bring them The Light, but until then, our sin is counted as greater than theirs. But Jesus, our High Priest made the ultimate sacrifice for us. He atoned and we are completely forgiven once and for all.
Still elders, pastors, and teachers face more accountability than others. They are in a position of leadership. As we mature, we should be able to lead people closer to Christ, not teach them to sin. James 3:1 puts it like this,
“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”
We no longer live under the law. We do not keep the law in order to be saved and know God. We live righteously as a result of following Christ and the indwelling of His Spirit in us. We love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. Because we love Him with our entire being, we love others tangibly. Loving others is how we love God and the supernatural response of our love for God and His love for us.
Leviticus Chapter 3
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.
Leviticus Chapter 2
This chapter looks at grain offerings, in some Bible translations it is called the meat offering. Meat doesn’t mean animal flesh, it means meal. This offering was not for sin, but to show devotion to The Lord and to remember His grace, love, and provision. Israel received this law while they were still wandering in the desert, they were no longer in Egypt where wheat and corn was plentiful. They were not yet in Canaan where crops would be abundant. They were in the desert, living off of manna and the occasional quail. It made the grain offering that much more precious and therefore more sacrificial. Verses 1-3 read,
“When anyone brings a grain offering as an offering to the Lord, his offering shall be of fine flour. He shall pour oil on it and put frankincense on it 2 and bring it to Aaron's sons the priests. And he shall take from it a handful of the fine flour and oil, with all of its frankincense, and the priest shall burn this as its memorial portion on the altar, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord. 3 But the rest of the grain offering shall be for Aaron and his sons; it is a most holy part of the Lord's food offerings.”
Only a portion of the offering was burned on the altar. That portion was a pleasing aroma to God. The rest was given to Aaron and his sons, and in the future to the priests who would be administrating the offering. It was for their provision. In thanking God for His grace, the people took care of the priests. In this way the priests could be completely devoted to their responsibilities, serving God and His people.
Not every grain offering was raw, often it was cooked and then offered. And there were laws covering the different variations of cooking the grains into cakes. Verses 4-10 describe the variations and include oven, griddle, and pan. In each case oil is included with the offering and a portion is burned to be a pleasing aroma to The Lord and the remainder is given to the priests.
There was work involved in the offering regardless of how it was brought to the altar. This was the valued food of the offeror. He had to grind the wheat or other food into a fine flour. He then had to mix it, form it, cook it, and prepare it. Before giving his meal to The Lord.
How often do we read in the Bible of visitors to someone’s home and the owner of the home gets to work immediately making cakes for the visitor? It was something they did to honor their guest, to be hospitable and meet needs. In 1 Kings 17 when Elijah met the Widow of Zarephath, who was about to use the very last of her barley meal and oil to make one last meal for her son and herself before they died, Elijah instructed her to use it to make him a meal instead. She did as the prophet told her. She sacrificed the last of what she had to bless The Lord, who she only knew about. The Lord honored her gift by making more meal appear in the jar, and by feeding her and her son for the rest of their lives. Elijah lived with the woman for two years and through that time he no doubt taught her about God and she became closer to Him.
But the cakes couldn’t just be any cakes. The offeror had to make them with certain specifications. There were ingredients God didn’t want. Verses 11-12 read,
“No grain offering that you bring to the Lord shall be made with leaven, for you shall burn no leaven nor any honey as a food offering to the Lord. 12 As an offering of firstfruits you may bring them to the Lord, but they shall not be offered on the altar for a pleasing aroma.”
The cakes couldn’t include yeast or honey. Although honey was acceptable in a first fruits offering even then they would not be burned on the altar. Leaving out the leaven was reminiscent of Passover. Leaven had become a symbol of sin, of foulness entering and sullying purity.
It is not explained why honey couldn’t be included. These are my thoughts on the subject, my best guess. Honey would sweeten the cake. And The Lord didn’t want sweet cake, He wanted a savory meal with a pleasing savor to reach Him. Adding honey to the cakes would mean that they wouldn’t last as long. They could spoil and be of no use to the priests. Burning the honey might cause it, like the yeast to ferment and change the makeup of the meal being offered.
There was also an ingredient that God said had to be included. Verse 13 says,
“You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.”
Salt was also a precious commodity. And adding it to every offering reminded the offeror of God’s covenant with him. Today salt remains a reminder of God’s promises to us. Although we do not do grain offerings at an altar, our lives are living sacrifices to the Lord. Romans 12:1-2 reads,
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
As believers, we live our lives as worship to God. We are the salt of the world. We are the flavor and the aroma of our lives is what pleases God. In Matthew 5:6 Jesus told us,
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.”
Just as salt reminded Israel of God’s awesome grace, we are to walk with grace, standing out from the world so that they will see God. Colossians 4:2-6 read,
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
Is your life a living sacrifice to the Lord? Do your offerings to Him take care of and edify the church, your fellow priests in the ministry of Christ? Are your offerings seasoned with salt? Are they unleavened by sin?
Grain offerings didn’t atone for sin. There was no blood involved. They were a reminder for the giver of God’s awesome grace. They were a symbol of love and devotion to The Lord. When we walk as living sacrifices to Him, it doesn’t make us any more righteous, it doesn’t erase sin. Jesus’ blood did that. What it does do is glorify God. It reflects The Lord and allows the world see Him when they look at us. Our conformity to Christ and subsequent nonconformity to the world allows the lost to peek at the Mystery of the Gospel. It is how they will come to know Him. Like the widow gave all she had to Elijah and never ran out of barley, we can give all we have to others and never run dry. We are free to give generously. We are free to be completely devoted to God and the ministry of our spiritual gifts to one another and the lost.
As I read the Bible every day, I take what God teaches me, what He says, and write it out. I then share that with you. It gives me a deeper understanding of the Word and I hope that it will encourage you as it does me, to put your love and faith into action.