An Altar of Peace
In Leviticus, we get an overview of several types of sacrifices. One in particular stands out for our lesson today. In Leviticus 3, we get an overview of the stipulations for offering a peace offering to God. this type of offering sticks out because there are no stipulations from man to God on it.
Burnt offerings (Leviticus 1) were voluntary but done also to cover unknown sin. Grain offerings (Leviticus 2) were also voluntary, but were done in the hopes of continued blessing from God. Sin (Leviticus 4) and Trespass Offerings (Leviticus 5) were mandatory offerings for the known mistakes that people made. Peace offerings weren't done to get anything tangible or in place of any mistakes. They were done to offer their friendship and thanks unto God. It was meant to bring them into a greater and more intimate relationship with God. How befitting as the blessing of Christ's beatitude on peacemaking was that we would become the children-or close relative-of God.
Peace offerings were also more readily accessible to the children of Israel. You could give one no matter what animal you raised. God didn't care if it was a cow, a sheep, a lamb or a goat. This opened it up so that anyone could give a peace offering. Some people were skilled at goat herding but couldn't raise cattle. Some could raise cows, but knew little of what it took to take care of sheep. All that God asked is that they took care of the animal and made sure it was pure. That tells us something about the type of relationship he wants of us. It doesn't matter where we are coming from or what our talent or skill-set is. All he asks is that we take care of what he's given us and that we give it back to Him. If we will give our time and talents to Him, God will welcome us into deeper relationship with Him.
Taking Responsible Action
Peace offerings also required action from the one making the sacrifice. He or she had to kill the animal and he had to remove the parts of the animal to be sacrificed. While the priests performed their service, it was up to the person to perform the necessary actions to provide the sacrifice. When we look to go deeper in God, it's going to take more than coming to church or relying on pastors or spiritual guides to get us to deeper levels with God. We are going to have to put the work into making the sacrifice. We're going to have to give God the offering that is acceptable.
The Elements of Peace Offering
Finally, the parts that were sacrificed held great importance. They were the fat and the sources of blood of the animal. This was done to acknowledge the person's separation from the pagan religions who ate the inward fat and blood of animals, but it also represented something deeper. These offerings were a sweet aroma to God, which meant that they pleased him and He desired them. For us today these two items represent something. The fat represents the abundance of our increase. When we are successful in our pursuits, both temporally and spiritually, we might have a tendency to hold onto the excess produce. However, God is saying if we give Him out of our abundance he will take us deeper into relationship with Him. The blood represents our passion and desires in life. If we will give these over to God, He will honor us with a more personal and profound understanding of Himself.
The Peace Offering wasn't an easy sacrifice to make. It wasn't an obligation and it didn't guarantee anything beyond further relationship with God. However, isn't that the greatest reward for sacrifice? It takes giving up things that we like and hold dearly in order to get closer to God. If we will perform this voluntary effort, God has a promise for us: A deeper and more intimate relationship with God than we ever thought possible.
Look into your life and examine what talents and blessings you have.
Consider offering them up to God as an offering of peace and companionship
Look for how you can offer out of your abundance to God and His Kingdom
Turn further your passions and desires to God to serve Him better
Allow this sacrifice to further drive you in your pursuit of relationship with Jesus Christ
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.