Christ our Peace

A Sunday Morning Exhortation

 

Reading from Leviticus 3:1-5 – “And if his oblation be a sacrifice of peace offering, if he offer it of the herd; whether it be a male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the LORD.  And he shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron’s sons the priests shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about.  And he shall offer of the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire unto the LORD; the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards, And the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away.  And Aaron’s sons shall burn it on the altar upon the burnt sacrifice, whish is upon the wood that is on the fire: it is an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.”

 

In this third chapter of Leviticus we have the ordinance as pertaining to the sacrifice of the peace offering.  We usually place great emphasis on understanding the other sacrifices such as the “burnt” or “sin offerings” – understanding that these clearly point forward to Christ and his sacrifice, as well as providing vital lessons as to man’s relation to sin (whether it be “sin in the flesh” or personal transgression).  Knowing that the Law was a “schoolmaster” to bring us to a better understanding of Jesus’ work and it’s place in God’s plan of redemption, we can take almost every “jot and tittle” of the Law delivered unto Moses and find it’s typical lesson as it would point forward to Christ.

 

As we prepare our minds for the memorial service we would like to reflect on the meaning of the peace offering as it has a direct bearing on the remembrance of our Lord and Master.

 

The word “peace”, as connected to this specific sacrifice, is most accurate in describing the result of the action.  The word “peace” is from the Hebrew root shalam or shalom.  Truly this was to be a “peace offering” in every sense of the meaning.  This offering represents the idea of making peace.  The opposite of peace, logically speaking, is to not be at peace.  The fact that those who offered this specific ordinance would feel it necessary to make peace shows that the cause of dispeace was on the part of the offerer only.  God has never been, nor can He ever be to blame for a breach in what was once a peaceful relationship.

 

But in the ordinance given, there is no indication that personal transgression against God and His laws would be the cause for “peace” having to be made.  Quoting from bro. Robert Roberts on this matter:

 

“A man might feel cause of dispeace without being guilty of any open act of trespass.  He might not feel bad enough, as we might say, to bring a sin offering or a trespass offering, which would be for some particular act of nonconformity with the law; yet he might feel a sense of general shortcoming sufficient to make him fear the divine disapproval.”

 

But what can man offer God to make peace with Him?  By his own invention, man can give nothing to God – in that all things come from God.  We have nothing to offer Him in a material sense that can benefit Him.  And of course any approach to God has to follow the strict manner in which He has provided.  What we can offer is what is pleasing to Him.  Again quoting from bro. Roberts:

 

it is not giving Him (God) something that can conciliate Him: it is abasement even unto death.  Hence, a peace offering had to be a living creature for sacrifice:  the recognition of God’s greatness and prerogative: the acknowledgement that the continued life of the owner was by favour and not by right.”

 

It is by God’s supreme justice and mercy that He allows and instructs on how to make peace with Him.  It is based upon His prerogative and nor our own opinions.  If we wish to gain God’s favor, we must go about it based upon His terms and not on that of our own. 

 

At the very heart of these terms was that peace could only be obtained on the basis of shed blood.  There is no personal sin mentioned in connection with the peace offering but we do see the connection to the “burnt sacrifice” or offering.  Verse 5 instructs that the peace offering was to be laid on top of the burnt offering as it rested over the fire of the altar.  The burnt offering is the first sacrifice to be mentioned in the Law of the offerings (chapter 6).  It also was not connected to personal transgression but was very a much an offering related to Sin.  It represented the Sin Nature (flesh) that was corrupt, unclean, and condemned due to its inherited relationship to Adam.  It (the sin flesh nature) had to be recognized as being at enmity with God, and had to be atoned for before an acceptable relationship could be established with God.  We see the antitype of the burnt offering in Christ who overcame the Sin Nature that he inherited in a life of perfect obedience, and then who completely “condemned” or destroyed “sin in the flesh” in himself through his death on the stake and the poring out of his blood.  In this we see the complete consumption or “burning up” of the sin nature.

 

It is very fitting that the peace offering be offered in conjunction with the burnt sacrifice.  There were points of resemblance between the two as far as procedure was concerned.  The offerer was by his own hands to bring the animal that was to be slain (free will); the offerer was to lay his hands upon the animal; we see the killing; and the sprinkling of the blood.  The connection is this: before peace can be made with God we must recognize our relationship to the flesh nature, see its direct connection to sin and death and that it is the source of all our inadequacies and failures, and that it must be properly atoned for through the shedding of blood.  Then and only then can a peaceful relationship be established with God.  The breach that exists due to the inherited Sin Nature (sin’s flesh) is healed through the burnt sacrifice (the antitype being through Christ), but it is a peace that must be vigilantly maintained and appreciated.

 

The Peace offering was different from the burnt offering in that only the fat was to be offered on the altar.  With the burnt sacrifice, we see that the whole animal was to be offered – signifying that the fleshly nature was to be atoned for (consumed) before favor could be found with God.  The peace offering only offered the fat, while the remaining portions were to be reserved for the priest’s sustenance and the other part provided as a feast for the worshippers (Deut. 12).

 

Why was the fat offered?  The fat always was to be offered when an animal sacrifice was involved.  Verse 17 indicates to us neither the fat nor blood were to be eaten.  The fat represents the health and vitality of man, which must in substance and spirit be totally given up to God. 

 

So as the fat relates to the peace offering, the best part is to be offered to God before peace can be made.  The offerer was to lay his hands upon the victim animal, identifying himself with what the animal was to go through.  This was to humble the offerer into realizing that “the wages of sin is death” and such a thing was what the offerer was deserving of, but due to God’s grace and mercy provision had been provided, life had been preserved, and the means of acceptable relations with the Creator restored.

 

We have mentioned that the portions of meat were to be given to the priests as well as providing a feast for the worshippers.  The feast that resulted from the meat of the Peace Offering was not to take place just anywhere, but was to be eaten “before the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD thy God shall choose”.   It was also to include “the Levite that is within thy gates.”  Not only is peace obtained between the offerer and God, but communion and fellowship is achieved between God, the priests, and the worshippers.  To be at “peace” with God is also to be in fellowship with all others who likewise are in the same condition of Peace.  This is a beautiful example of true peace and worship.  Concerning this aspect, bro. John Owler makes in interesting comment:

 

“In this there is a reversal of popular conception.  A breach having occurred, the divine provision for reconciliation must first be accepted.  When that has been done, then man can be invited into the house of God to partake of a feast of His providing.”

 

This brings us to our remembrance of Christ.  Consider the words of Ephesians 2: 13,14: “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes (once) were far of are made nigh by the blood of Christ.  For he is our peace, Who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition.; Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that He might reconcile both (i.e., both Jews and Gentiles) unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.  For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

 

Through the blood of Christ we are no longer “aliens”, no longer “children of wrath”, but are reconciled to God.  Peace replaces wrath; fellowship, communion, and citizenship replaces alienation; and hope replaces no hope.  Enmity has been replaced with the peace that can only come through the shedding of blood.  Who’s blood?  Christ’s!  Not only is this needed for the reconciliation of the Gentile, but the Jew as well must avail themselves of this peace that can only come through Christ.  Though the Jew was born in a privileged situation as it related to the temporal blessing that came under the law, they too were born related to Adam and inherited the unclean and condemned condition from him. As Romans 3:9 informs us regarding the state of both Jews and Gentiles – “that they are all under sin”.

 

Along with the peace that is granted, we see the benefit of fellowship and communion provided.  Not only with God and Christ, but also those fellow-worshipers – both Jew and Gentile which make up what is known as Spiritual Israel.  These are those who through faith and connection to the blood of Christ are now considered to be “of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19).

 

We ideally enjoy such peace and fellowship in our ecclesial life, including our gathering around the memorial table.  We partake of this feast in thanksgiving for the great salvation that has been provided us through the shedding of Christ’s blood.  By this, God through Christ has offered us a peace that we often do not fully comprehend or appreciate to the fullest extent.  Christ is our peace and without him we have nothing more then death as our hope.  But once we are “in Christ” we are still capable of creating a breach, creating a lack of peace by our own carelessness or shortcomings.  For this cause provision has been made.  Jesus acts as our High Priest to insure (if we use the opportunity properly) that such a peace is maintained.

 

May the glory be to Yahweh for providing such peace for us.  Truly, Christ is our Peace.  And in the Age to Come, may we blessed to enjoy the fellowship and absolute peace that will have been achieved by the changing of our vial bodies to immortality and the promised communion with Him who is our Peace.

 

A. Thomas

 

 

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