THE Hebrew word translated peace offering comes from a root word meaning to make up, to supply what is wanting, to pay a recompense. It denotes a state in which misunderstandings have been cleared up and wrongs righted, and in which good feeling prevails. Peace offerings were used on any occasion that called for thankfulness and joy, and also in making a vow. They were the sweet-savor offerings, like burnt and meal offerings. They were an expression on the part of the offerer of his peace with God and of his thankfulness to Him for His many blessings.
In selecting a peace offering, the offerer was not limited in his choice. He could use a bullock, a sheep, a lamb, or a goat, male or female. Ordinarily a sacrifice had to be perfect to be accepted. (Leviticus 22:21; 3:1-17) However, when a peace offering was presented as a freewill offering, it need not be perfect. It could be used even if it had anything superfluous or lacking in his parts. Verse 23. As in the case of the burnt offering, the offerer must lay his hand upon the head of the sacrifice and kill it at the door of the tabernacle. The blood was then sprinkled upon the altar round about by the priest. (Leviticus 3:2) After this the fat was burned: It is the food of the offering made by fire unto the Lord. Verse 11. All the fat is the Lord's shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that you cat neither fat or blood. Verses 16, 17.
Peace offerings were of three kinds: thank offerings, offerings for a vow, and voluntary offerings. Of these thank offering, or praise offering, appears the most prominent. It was offered on occasions of joy, thankfulness for some specific instance of deliverer for some signal blessing bestowed. It was offered from a heart filled with praise of God, running over with joy. Burnt offerings stood for dedication and consecration on the part of the offerer. Meal offerings recognized the offerer's dependence upon God for all temporal needs and his acceptance of the responsibility of stewardship. Peace offerings were a praise offering for mercies received, a thank offering for blessings enjoyed; a voluntary offering from an overflowing heart. They asked for no favors as such; they ascribed Praise to God for what He had done, and magnified His name for His goodness and mercy to the children of men.
The offerings in the Old Testament were embodied prayers. They combined faith and works, prayer and faith. In their totality they expressed man's entire relationship to, and need of, God. Peace offerings were communion offerings. Whereas burnt offerings were wholly burnt on the altar and no part eaten; whereas meal offerings were partly burnt on the altar and partly eaten; peace offerings were divided among God, the priest, and the offerer, the greater part being eaten. It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that you eat neither fat nor or blood. Verses 16, 17.
Peace offerings were of three kinds: thank offerings, offerings for a vow, and voluntary offerings. Of these the thank offering, or praise offering, appears the most prominent. It was offered on occasions of joy, of thankfulness for some specific instance of deliverance, or for some signal blessing bestowed. It was offered from a heart filled with praise of God, running over with joy.
Burnt offerings stood for dedication and consecration on the part of the offerer. Meal offerings recognized the offerer's dependence upon God for all temporal needs and his acceptance of the responsibility of stewardship. Peace offerings were a praise offering for mercies received, a thank offering for blessings enjoyed; a voluntary offering from an overflowing heart. They asked for no favors as such; they ascribed praise to God for what He had done, and magnified His name for His goodness and mercy to the children of men.
The offerings in the Old Testament were embodied prayers. They combined faith and works, prayer and faith. In their totality they expressed man's entire relationship to, and need of, God. Peace offerings were communion offerings. Whereas burnt offerings were wholly burnt on the altar and no part eaten; whereas meal offerings were partly burnt on the altar and partly eaten; peace offerings were divided among God, the priest, and the offerer, the greater part being given to the offerer and his family. God's part was burned on the altar. (Leviticus 3:14-17) The priest received the wave breast and the heave shoulder. (Leviticus 7:33, 34) The rest belonged to the offerer, who could invite any clean person to partake with him. It must be eaten the same day, or in some cases the second day, but not later. (Verses 16-21)
Unleavened cakes mingled with oil, also wafers and fried cakes, were a part of the offerings. To this was added leavened bread. A part was first presented to the Lord as a heave offering and then given to the priest as his portion. (Verses 11-13)
The whole ceremony constituted a kind of communion service in which priest and people partook with the Lord at His table-a joyful occasion, where all united in thanking God and praising Him for His mercy.
The use of leaven in the peace offering is significant. Ordinarily leaven was not permitted in any sacrifice. In one other instance where it was used-that of the first fruits in the meat offering (Leviticus 2:12)-it was not permitted to come on the altar. In the present instance it was presented to the Lord as a heave offering and then given to the priest who had sprinkled the blood. (Leviticus 7:13, 14) In the case of the first fruit in the meat offering, the leaven represented man bringing his offering to God for the first time. He must bring such as he had. But he was to do that only once. In the peace offering, both unleavened and leavened bread are commanded. May it not be, as this is a common meal of which God, priest, and offerer partake, that the unleavened bread represents Him who is without sin and who is our peace; and that the leaven represents the imperfection of man who is nevertheless accepted by God? Reference to this is made in Amos 4:5.
The flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day. Leviticus 7:15. Though this was partly a sanitary measure, that was 'not the only reason; for in cases where the peace offering was a vow or a voluntary offering, it could also be eaten the second day. (Verse 16) It was manifestly impossible for man to consume his offering in one day, if it were a bullock or a goat or a lamb. He therefore was permitted and commanded to ask others to share in the meal. Thou may not eat within thy gates . . . any of thy vows which thou vows, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave offering of your hand. But thou must cat them before the Lord thy God in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates. And thou shall rejoice before the Lord thy God in all that thou puts your hands unto. Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou lives upon the earth. Deuteronomy 12:17-19.
This was a distinguishing feature of the peace offering. It must be eaten the same day, and it must be shared; it must be eaten before the Lord, and the partakers must rejoice. It was a joyful, communal meal, and in this respect differed from other offerings.
At times peace offerings were vow offerings. For one reason or another, perhaps because of some special blessing, expected or desired, an offerer would make a vow to the Lord. He might vow himself to the Lord, or his wife or children, or cattle, house, or lands. (Leviticus 27) In this way Samuel was vowed to the. Lord (1 Samuel 1:11) In case of persons, a vow could ordinarily be redeemed, or bought back, at a fixed valuation, adjustable by the priests in case of the very poor. (Leviticus 27:1-8) If the vow concerned one of the beasts suitable for sacrifice, it could not be redeemed. If a man attempted to exchange it for another beast both beasts were to be offered. (Verses 9, 10) In case of an unclean beast, the priest was to evaluate it. It could be redeemed by adding one fifth to the estimated value. (Verses 11-13)
It was a clearly stated principle that nothing already belonging to God could be vowed. Under this rule were the first-born (verses 26, 27); anything devoted to God (verses 28, 29); the tithe (verses 30-34).
There are some who do not consider vows with favor. Yet God provided for vows. While it is better not to vow than to vow and not pay (Ecclesiastes 5:5), at times vows are in order and acceptable to God. If thou shall forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee (Deuteronomy 23:22); but if a man makes a vow, he shall not slack to pay it (verse 21). The making of a vow is optional. A man may or may not make a vow, but if he makes one he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. Numbers 30:2.
The chief point is this, that a man is to keep that which he has promised. He must not break his word. He must not even be slack in fulfilling his vow. When the proper time comes, he must pay. God expects this.
God wants His people to be honest and dependable. He wants them to keep their promises. No man is fulfilling his Christian duties if he is undependable in business dealings. No man can break his word and retain God's favor. No man can forget to pay his bills, or even be slack concerning them, and be counted 'honest in the sight of heaven. A Christian, above all people, must be a man of his word. He must not only be upright; he must be prompt.
This is an age in which many consider their word as of little weight, and have small respect for their promises. While this may be expected of the world, there can be no excuse for any who bear the name of Christ to repudiate their promise. Yet how many unpaid pledges there are, how many broken vows! The marriage vow is broken; the baptismal vow is broken; the ordination vow is broken. Covenants are repudiated, agreements violated, pledges forgotten. Breaking of faith is common, disregard of responsibility almost universal. Christ Himself wondered whether He should find faith on the earth when He returned at the last day. (Luke 18:8)
In the midst of all this confusion there must be, will be, a people upon whom God can depend, in whose mouth is found no guile, who are true to their word. The question asked in Psalms 15 is also answered there. The question: Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in Thy holy hill? The answer: He that walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart. He that backbites not with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor. In whose eyes a vile person is condemned. But he honors them that fear the Lord. He that swears to his own hurt, and changes not. He that puts not out his money to usury, nor takes reward against the innocent. He that does these things shall never be moved.
One of the conditions here mentioned of abiding in the tabernacle of God is that of swearing to his own hurt and not changing. A man may agree to sell or to buy some property, and after the agreement is made, receive a more favorable offer. Will he stand by his bargain even at a loss to himself? He will if he is a Christian.
Regard for one's word is a crying need. Nations need it, lest their agreements become meaningless. Business needs it, lest confusion and disaster result. Individuals needs it, lest faith perish from the earth. Above all, Christians need it, lest men lose their vision and hope, and despair grip mankind.
This is the supreme hour and opportunity of the church. The world is due a demonstration that there is a people who remain faithful in a faithless generation; who have respect for their own word as well as for God's; who are true to the faith once delivered to the saints. The manifestation of the sons of God is overdue. (Romans 8:19) This revelation of the sons of God is not only the earnest expectation of the creature, but the whole creation groans and travails in pain together for it. Verse 22. And this manifestation will reveal a people who have the seal of God's approval. They keep the commandments. They have the faith of Jesus. Their word is yea, yea, and nay, nay. They are without fault, even before the throne of God. (Revelation 14:12, 5; James 5:12)
As has been stated before, the peace offering was a communion offering in which God, the priest, and the communal meal people partook. It was within the precincts of the temple, in which joy and happiness prevailed, and priest and people held converse. It was not necessarily an occasion when peace was effected; it was rather a feast of rejoicing that peace existed. It was generally preceded by a sin offering and a burnt offering. Atonement had been made, the blood had been sprinkled, forgiveness had been extended, and Justification had been assured. In celebration of this, the offerer invited his near of kin and his servants, as well as the Levites, to cat with him. Thou may not eat within thy gates, was the command, but only in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose. Deuteronomy 12:17, 18. And so the whole family celebrated in a festal manner the peace that had been established between God and man, and between man and man.
Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1. He is our peace. Ephesians 2:14. Israel of old was invited to celebrate the fact that they had peace with God, that their sins were forgiven, and that they were restored to favor with God. This celebration included son and daughter, man servant and maidservant, as well as Levite. All sat down at the table of the Lord and rejoiced together in the hope and the glory of God. In like manner we are to joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Romans 5:2,11.
Few appreciate or rejoice in the peace of God as they should. Though the reason may be a lack of appreciation of what God has done for them, many are the dear souls who fail to understand that it is their
right and privilege to be happy in their religion. They live in the shadow of the cross rather than in its sunshine. They feel that there is something wrong in happiness that to smile is inappropriate, and that innocent laughter is sacrilegious. They carry the burden of the world on their shoulders and feel that to spend any time in recreation not only is a waste of time but definitely irreligious. They are good Christians but not happy ones. If they were living in the days of Christ and following Him, they would question the advisability of His going to the marriage feast at Cana in Galilee. They might even be perplexed about Christ's eating and drinking with sinners. With John's disciples they would be fasting and praying. (Luke 5:29-35)
This is written with full appreciation of the times in which we are living. If there was ever a period when seriousness and sobriety should characterize our work, now is such a time. In view of the approaching crisis, what manner of men ought we to be, in all holy conversation and godliness! All frivolity and lightness should be put aside, and solemnity should take possession of every earthly element. Great and momentous events are hastening on apace. This is no time for trifling and pettiness. The King is at the door!
These conditions, however, should not cause us to lose sight of the fact that we are children of the King, that our sins are forgiven, and that we have a right to be happy and rejoice. God's work must be finished, and we are to have a part in it. But after all, it is God who must finish the work. Many talk and act as though they were to finish the work, as though it depends on them. They seem to think that they lave the responsibility of the work upon them, and that though God may help, it is really for them to do the work. Even in their prayers, they often remind God of what He should do, fearful that He may 4orget some things that are on their hearts. They are good soul s, anxious to do right at all times, but they have not learned to cast their burdens on the Lord. They are doing their best to carry the load, and though groaning beneath the burden, are determined not to give up. They struggle on and are doing much good. They are valuable workers, and the Lord loves them dearly.
But they are, lacking in some important essentials, and are not getting much joy out of their Christianity. They are Marthas who toil and work, but leave out the one thing needful. They look disapprovingly at the Marys who are not doing as they do, and they, make their complaint to the Lord. They do not understand how Christ can take Mary's part, when to their mind she ought to be rebuked. They work, but they are not happy about it. They think that others are not doing their Share. (Luke 10:38-42)
It is the same lesson that is emphasized in the story of the prodigal son. The elder son said he had never done anything wrong. He had always worked hard and had not wasted time in feasting and carousing. And now when the younger son came home after spending his portion in riotous living, he was angry and would not go in to the feast in honor of the returned brother. It was of no avail that the father came out and entreated him. He rather rebuked the father, reproaching him that as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou has killed for him the fatted calf. Luke 15:30. Kindly the father replied, It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found. Verse 32. We are not told the end of the story. Did the son go in? Did the love of the father prevail? We do not know. The story does not say. The last picture we have is of the elder son being outside the house, angry. It is to be hoped that he repented and went in, but we do not know.
Christians should be a-happy people, even in the midst of the most solemn events. And why should they not be? Their sins are forgiven, and 4hey have peace with God. They are justified, sanctified, saved. God has placed a new song in their mouths. They are children of the Most High. They are walking with God, and are happy in His love.
Few Christians have the peace of God in their hearts as they should. They forget their heritage. Said Christ: Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27.
Yet the hearts of many are troubled. They are afraid. They are worrying. Some dear one is outside the fold, and they are trying to pray him in. Day and night they toil and pray. They leave no stone unturned in their effort to encompass his salvation. If anyone can be saved by the works of someone else, they are determined that it shall be done. And they do not leave God out of the reckoning. They pray to
Him. They entreat Him. They pray as though God needed prodding. And at last the dear one turns to God how happy they are! Now they can rest. Now their work is done, their task accomplished.
Does it ever occur to such souls that God is as such interested in the dear one's conversion as they are, yes, more than they possibly could be? Does it ever occur to them that long before they began to pray and to work, God planned and worked for the loved one's salvation; that He is doing and has done all that possibly can be done? That instead of their taking over God's work and imploring Him to help them, it would be better if they recognized the work as God's work and co-operated with Him? The moment such realization comes to the soul, peace comes. It will not make us work less or pray less, but it will shift the emphasis. We begin to pray in faith. If we believe God is really at work, if we believe He is interested in men's salvation, we shall pray more than ever, but we shall leave the responsibility with God.
Much of our work and many of our prayers are grounded in unbelief. With Habakkuk we feel that God is not doing His part, (Habakkuk 1:2) He needs to be reminded. There are things that should be called to His attention, and we proceed to bring them before Him. Instead of having faith in God, in His wisdom, His power, we take the burden upon ourselves, saying, in effect, that we cannot trust God to do what He has promised to do. But when faith comes, when the wonderful light dawns on us that God is still ruling in the affairs of men; that He is doing all that can be done to save mankind. And that our chief concern should be to know His will-when this realization comes to us, assurance, rest, and peace will be ours in abundant measure. There will be no fewer works, but they will be works of faith. There will be no fewer prayers, but they will be prayers of faith. Thanksgiving will ascend daily for the privilege of working together with God. Peace will fill the heart and soul. Anxiety and worry will be no more. Peace, sweet peace, quietness, rest, happiness, and joy will be the daily portion. Life and life's outlook are entirely changed. We have learned to sit at the feet of Jesus. While Martha is still working -and complaining-Mary is listening to the words of life. She has found the one thing needful. She understands the word of Christ: This is the work of God, that you believe. John 6:29. And she believes and rests.
There is no higher bliss possible than to have the peace of God in the heart. It is the legacy which Christ left. Peace I leave with you, He says. Wonderful words. My peace I give unto you. John 14:27. His peace is that quiet assurance that comes from confidence in God. At the time Christ spoke these words He was nearing the cross. Golgotha was before Him. But He did not waver. His heart was filled with peace and assurance. He knew Him in whom He trusted. And He rested in the knowledge that God knew the way. He might not be able to see through the portals of the tomb. Hope might not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father's acceptance of the sacrifice. But by faith Hp rested in Him whom it had ever been His joy to obey. . . . By faith, Christ was victor. - The Desire of Ages, pages 753, 756.
That same peace He bequeaths to us. It means oneness with the Father, fellowship, communion. It cans quiet joy, rest, contentment. It means faith, yes hope. In this peace there is no fear, worry, or anxiety. Whoever possesses it has that which passes understanding. He has a source of strength not depending on circumstances. He is in tune with God.
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