Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Peace Offerings; Blood Transfusions; and Was There a Lack of Provision for the Poor?

The Peace Offering
Leviticus 3:1-17:
Chapter 3 of Leviticus describes the peace offerings – similar to the burnt offerings except that the animals being sacrificed from the herd or flock could be male or female. Goats could also be offered, although the text omits specific reference to male and female in this case.

Thoughts on the Passage

Chuck Smith points out one of the key differences between this peace offering and the burnt or meal offerings. In this case, part of it goes up unto the Lord, but part of it is given back to the offerer and he eats it. So, in a sense, this is the offerer sitting down to eat with God. Peace offerings formed the biggest category of offerings made during the “feast” days. And some of these feasts went on for seven days. Imagine your church sitting down ‘with God’ and feasting for seven days, focusing strictly on Him and on others that He wants us to serve.

David Guzik points out that while the animals for peace offerings could be male or female, they still had to be “without blemish”.

And here is Guzik’s key thought on this offering: “This was not an offering to make peace with God (this was the purpose of the sin offering of chapter four), but an offering to enjoy peace with God. The whole reason Jesus made peace between the Father and the believer is so that the peace could be enjoyed.”

Guzik also reminds us of two of the world’s largest barbecue.  In 2 Chronicles 30:24, Hezekiah gave a festival where 2,000 bulls and 17,000 sheep were given for peace offerings. And in I Kings 8:63, when Solomon dedicated the temple, 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep, were offered.

The last verse (17) of the chapter identifies a “perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings: you shall not eat any fat or any blood.” Guzik says there was a spiritual significance to this command relevant to the peace offering. “We enjoy peace with God by giving Him the best (represented by the fat) and by giving Him our lives (represented by the blood).” And there was also a practical significance to it. “The prohibition of eating fat was good for Israel from the standpoint of blood-cholesterol and heart disease. It was especially good because tapeworms were often found in the fatty tissues and by obeying this command, the ancient Israelites avoided these dangerous parasites.” I believe the need to pursue spiritual significance was taken care of through Christ’s death and as we live our relationship with Him.  I believe the practical reason for not doing so is to a great extent taken care of by today’s food-processing rules.  That is not to say one would be insane to continue obeying this command from a practical perspective, just to be safe, especially in countries where there are no food-processing rules. Henry also reminds us that the heathen drank the blood of their sacrifices. He goes on, “But God would not permit the blood, that made atonement, to be used as a common thing (see Hebrews 10:29), nor will He allow us, though we have the comfort of the atonement made, to assume to ourselves any share in the honor of making it. He that glories, let him glory in the Lord, and to His praise let all the blood be poured out.”  So, no eating of blood made sense then and is still recommended now. But let me be clear, in my opinion, taking that position does not result in supporting the position of some who refuse blood transfusions when they are required to save a life.

Matthew Henry says peace signifies reconciliation, concord, and communion, as well as prosperity and all happiness. Thus, these peace offerings were either offered by way of supplication or request for some good that was wanted and desired, or by way of thanksgiving for some particular mercy received. And so Henry points out they were sometimes referred to as “peace-offerings[s] of thanksgiving” (see Leviticus 7:15).

What is interesting is that turtle-doves or young pigeons (allowed for burnt offerings) are not allowed for peace-offerings – probably Henry contends because they do not have sufficient fact to be burnt upon the altar and also, they could not be easily divided between God, the priest, and the offerer.

Here is one question to which I do not have a ready answer: If birds were allowed as burnt offerings to facilitate such offerings being made by the poor, then what does not allowing them here say about the ability of the poor to make peace-offerings?

(Maybe one of you can answer that question for as always I value your input, questions, comments.)

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