Wednesday, January 22, 2014

In Search Of Truth, Leviticus 3:1-17

The "Peace Offering" described in this chapter has several things in common with other sacrifices we've looked at previously, so I won't repeat many observations I made of similar elements in previously examined sacrifices. There are also some repeated elements here, so my thoughts are organized a little differently this time as well.

v.1-2, 12-13

The Hebrew word for "peace offering" comes from the root word "shalam", which also produces the commonly recognized Hebrew word, "shalom". The word means, "to be at peace" or "to be complete". The purpose of this sacrifice seems to be related to this theme. Either peace with God, internal emotional peace, both or peace in a broader sense. However the context seems to point toward peace with God being the objective.

In these verses we again see the symbolic implication that interaction with Yahweh requires the sacrifice of something valuable (something "without blemish"). And not just valuable trinkets, but the sacrifice of precious life itself is required, as indicated by the symbol of life (blood, see Lev. 17:11) being sprinkled on the sides of the altar. This sacrifice isn't truly enough to repair the damage in human relationships with Yahweh. (See Hebrews 10:1-2) But it temporarily allowed peaceful relationship with him.

v.3-4, 9-10, 14-15

The fat on animals was an indication of their health and value. So again it makes sense that these valuable portions would be a part of the gift presented to Yahweh, who is more than worth the most valuable possessions we can give.


The Hebrew word used for "forever" here does not necessarily mean a length of time without end. Although it can mean literally forever, it was also used to simply mean a long period of time without a specific ending point revealed.

A time did come when this law was no longer required of Israel because of the ultimate, complete and perfect sacrifice of Jesus. (See Romans 14)

A strange blend of pride and insecurity is something I've seen in myself and a number of other geeks I've known. We often don't fit in with others, which makes us insecure. But then we try to compensate for that by defining ourselves and our worth according to our hobbies. How passionate we are about them or how much we know about them. All out of a desire to feel complete and at peace.

Yahweh knows all about this particular need of ours. He draws attention to it with the peace offering, which points to our need for peace and completeness. But the peace offering also shows that those needs won't be fulfilled by our own efforts or qualifications. That elusive peace and completeness is found only in Yahweh. We experience it in a "little-by-little" journey of growing relationship with Yahweh right now, but it will be fully experienced when we fully experience his presence after this life.

We might ask ourselves, "How is that going to happen? How can any one relationship be that fulfilling?" I think the peace offering again offers an answer.

During the time of the Old Covenant (The Old Testament time period), this relational interaction with Yahweh was only possible through sacrifice, and it was very limited in scope. It had to be, because God is so holy, so other, so amazing and perfect that we couldn't stand being in his unbridled presence.

We can have a much closer relationship with him now because our sin has been dealt with on a "justice level" by the sacrifice of Jesus. However on a practical level, sin is still very present in our thoughts and actions, which necessarily keeps some remaining distance between us and God.

But one day this will be dealt with as well, and at that point, that same holiness, otherness and perfection of God will be fully unleashed in a relationship with us that will finally put an end to our pointless pride and haunting insecurity. We will finally have the peace and completeness of "shalom".

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