Peace offering

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Leviticus 3:1-17

When we think of a “peace offering” we picture guilty husbands hastily purchasing flowers.  Or meek penitents bringing gifts to their fuming friends.  The one giving the peace offering feels dreadful.  The one to whom the offering is made is tapping their foot saying “This better be good.”  And maybe, just maybe, they can be bought off by the peace offering.

But that’s a world away from the biblical sense of a “peace offering”.  (See Leviticus 3:1-17; 7:11-21)

The peace offering was the crown of the five offerings laid out in Leviticus.  It wasn’t like the burnt offering, grain offering, sin offering or trespass offering.  In this offering, sins weren’t on the table. Only food.

Our guilt had been resolved through the blood-atonement which the LORD provided (Leviticus 17:11).  When the worshipper came to the peace offering – sins were far behind them.  No-one is buying off God here.  This is about cleansed worshippers wanting to draw near to the LORD.  It was a completely voluntary offering.  If they liked, the Israelites could pull up a chair to eat with the LORD.

You see this was the one offering in which the offerers shared.  It was a meal with God.

And that’s where the work of atonement is always heading.  God does not simply want to acquit sinners.  He wants to feast with them.  He doesn’t want to endure us on the outskirts of His presence.  He invites us to sit at table, to laugh and share and talk and eat.

The peace offering is not about us guiltily earning our way into God’s good books.  It’s about enjoying our at-one-ment.

If you’re a Christian, do you realise that you are not simply forgiven, not simply tolerated but actively loved and pursued by the LORD?  He did not give His own blood in order for us to remain strangers.  And He does not want ‘coffee buddies’.  He wants dinner guests.  He adopts us into the very heart of His family life.  The face to face for which we’ve been made is not any old intimacy – it’s table fellowship.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  (Romans 5:1)

Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”  (Revelation 3:20)

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For more on the “peace offering” and other highlights from Leviticus, see these excellent talks.

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