Study Notes

Leviticus 3:1-17


So far in Leviticus, we've seen the burnt offering, which made the worshipper acceptable before God, making atonement for his sins, and the grain offering, which was an acknowledgement of God's provision and a dedication of the worshipper's service to God. Now we pick up in chapter 3, as we look at the peace offering.

3:1-17 The Peace Offering

Remember that as we are going through the five offerings listed in the first 7 chapters, we are looking at five things: The purpose of the offering, the price that it cost the worshipper, the procedure followed, the personal application for us, and the picture or portrait of Christ to be found in the offering.

For Fellowship

The purpose of the peace offering was to have fellowship with God. For those of you reading the NIV Bible, you'll see that the translators actually called this offering "the fellowship offering" to clarify the point.

The word translated "fellowship offering" in the NIV and "peace offering" in other translations is "SHEH-lem." Its origin carries the idea of peace coming from restoration. So the idea behind the offering was to have fellowship, or peace, with God restored.

You see, man is inherently separated from peace and fellowship with God. He is by nature imperfect and sinful. Like the book of Romans says,


We are told two chapters later that before being justified by Jesus Christ, we were enemies of God. So we need to have the peace and fellowship that was broken at the Garden of Eden restored. This is the idea behind the peace offering.

Count The Cost

Notice that to have atonement made for your sin in the burnt offering, there was a provision for the poor. And in the grain offering, where we worship God for His provision and dedicate our service to Him, the amount was based on your ability to afford it. But the price of the peace offering was specific - a bull or cow, male or female sheep or goat. There are no turtledoves or pigeons listed as alternatives for the poor here.

Why? This reminds us that fellowship with God is always expensive, always costly, in a worldly accounting. In seeking to have fellowship with God, often we will find ourselves making decisions that aren't the most profitable financially. We will be giving up things that have value monetarily. There are no shortcuts to fellowship with God. Following after Jesus Christ completely will be costly, and Jesus tells us to count that cost. He said in Luke 14,

Luke 14:26-33 "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and take counsel whether he is strong enough with ten thousand {men} to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks terms of peace. So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

Calculate the cost of true fellowship with God. Being a disciple will cost you every possession you have - because they no longer belong to you, they belong to Him. Remember Paul the apostle writing that...

Phil. 3:7-9 ...Whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him...

The heavy cost of intimate fellowship with God. When King Solomon dedicated the newly-built temple in the book of 1Kings, we read that his fellowship offering was very expensive:

1Kgs. 8:63 And Solomon offered for the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered to the LORD, 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep...

Plus, remember from verse 1, that the offerings were to have no defect at all. This is the cream of the crop, the best you had to offer God. The fellowship offering is an expensive one.

Same Basis As The Burnt Offering

The procedure for the peace offering was for the worshipper to lay his hand on the head of the animal, and then kill it. This is the same procedure that the burnt offering followed. As a matter of fact, in verse 5 we read that the peace offering was placed on top of the burnt offering. They were offered one after the other. Why? Because our fellowship with God is based on the same thing that our atonement is based on - a substitutionary sacrifice.

Often, I talk with people that claim to have their own relationship with God. They pray, they claim to know Him, but they have not received Christ as their personal savior, as the substitutionary sacrifice for their sins. These people are deceived - for a person can have no fellowship with God apart from having atonement from God. Paul told Timothy that...

1Tim. 2:5 ...There is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

Jesus said in John 14,

John 14:6 ..."I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.

So someone might claim to have fellowship with God, but unless there's been a substitutionary sacrifice of innocent blood, they have no fellowship with Him. The basis of the peace offering is the same as the burnt offering.

Eating Together

Verses 11 and 16 tell us that this was a sort of "food" for God. Now the Lord wasn't actually eating the fat burning on the altar, but He was partaking of it in a sense. This is significant, because, as we're going to find out in chapter 7, the peace offering was also eaten by the priests and the worshippers. This is in fact the only offering that was also eaten by the worshipper. The peace offering, if you will, was a community meal shared by the worshipper, the priests, and the Lord.

There is a great significance in the Bible with regards to eating with others. The Jews had a strong sense that when you ate with someone, you were becoming part of them and one with them. If you picture the meals they would eat, it is easy to understand why. Rather than each person having individual plates and servings, there were big loaves of bread and bowls of soup or broth to dip the bread in. There you were, ingesting the same bread and broth that the person next to you was ingesting.

You may recall that one of the problems that the Pharisees and Scribes had with Jesus was that...

Luke 15:2 ..."This man receives sinners and eats with them."

They also asked His disciples,

Matt. 9:11 ..."Why is your Teacher eating with the tax-gatherers and sinners?"

Later, in the book of Acts, Peter got into trouble with the apostle Paul because...

Gal. 2:12 For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.

So eating with someone was to be becoming one with them. It is very significant that the fellowship offering was considered by God to be food. He "ate," the priests ate, and the worshippers ate. They were all becoming one in fellowship.

This too is applicable to us, as we read in 1John.

1John 1:3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.

Through Jesus Christ, our Peace Offering, we have fellowship with God, and also fellowship with each other. Were it not for Christ, many of us would have nothing in common. Our fellowship is based on our common partaking of Jesus Christ.

Personal Application

We've looked at the purpose, the price, and the procedure for the peace offering. Some personal application has sort of been mixed in as we've looked at these things:

1) True fellowship with God will be expensive.

2) As we fellowship with God, we will share fellowship with one another.

What else can speak to our hearts from the peace offering in Leviticus chapter 3? Well, there is much to say about fat in this chapter, culminating in verse 16, when it says,

Lev. 3:16 ...all fat is the LORDS.

Does this mean that we should start eating non-fat foods? Well, I'm sure that wouldn't hurt any of us, but remember that the Bible speaks of fat much differently than we do in the 90's.

Remember that in Genesis 41, we read about Pharaoh's dream that Joseph interpreted. In that dream were seven fat cows. Those fat cows spoke of years of plenty, of prosperity, of provision.

When God supplies you with plenty, with prosperity, with provision, it is for the sole purpose of you turning around and giving it back to Him. Has He blessed you financially? Bless Him right back financially. Has He made it so that you have plenty of time? Give that time to Him. Have you been blessed with talents and abilities? He tells us that those things belong to Him and He expects you to serve Him with those things.

Jesus Our Peace Offering

Finally, we look at the picture or portrait of Christ in the Peace Offering. He Himself is our peace offering. The work of the peace offering is the same as the work of Christ. Remember that this offering was the way that a man could have peace and fellowship with God. Jesus accomplished the same thing for us. We read in Ephesians 2,

Eph. 2:13-18 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both {groups into} one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, {which is} the Law of commandments {contained} in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, {thus} establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.

It is through Jesus Christ's offering of His flesh that we have peace and fellowship with God. As the book of Romans says,

Rom. 5:1-2 Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.

He was without defect, sinless. That He was the Lamb both sacrificed to God and partaken of by man. In every detail, Jesus is our peace offering. We can have fellowship with God, and peace with God, through the Son of God.

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