The Law of Peace Offerings
THE institution in Leviticus. 3 took cognizance of the offerings, whether of the herd or the flock, the kine, the sheep, or the goat. Here we have other particulars of instructive moment, especially as to eating, the sign of communion.
"And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which [one] shall offer to Jehovah. If he shall offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, fine flour soaked. Besides the cakes, he shall offer his offering of leavened bread with the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving. And of it he shall offer one out of the whole offering as a heave offering to Jehovah; to the priest that sprinkleth the blood of the peace offerings it shall be. And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten on the day of his offering: he shall not leave any of it until the morning. And if the sacrifice of his offering be a vow, or voluntary, it shall be eaten on the day he offereth his sacrifice, and on the morrow the remainder of it shall be eaten; and the remainder of the flesh of the sacrifice on the third day shall be burnt with fire. And if [any] of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings be eaten on the third day, it shall not be accepted, nor shall it be reckoned to him that offered it; it shall be an unclean thing, and the soul that eateth of it shall bear his iniquity. And the flesh that toucheth any unclean thing shall not be eaten; it shall be burnt with fire. And as for the flesh, all that are clean shall eat the flesh; but the soul that eateth the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings that are for Jehovah, having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from his peoples. And if a soul touch anything unclean, the uncleanness of man or unclean beast or any unclean abomination, and eat of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings that are for Jehovah, that soul shall be cut off from his peoples " (v. 11-21).
First of all comes a distinction peculiar to these offerings. Some were simply for thanksgiving; others might be for a vow, marking special devotedness, or they might be voluntary, and so quite as powerfully representing love and delight without any direct occasion to elicit them. They had therefore a deeper character than where the offering was for thanksgiving. But this will come again before us later on.
Next we see that with the sacrifice one had to present also unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, fine flour soaked. It is in substance the Meal offering. Christ is before the heart, not only sacrificed for us (without which fellowship were impossible), but also in all the perfection of what He was here below, as the One absolutely agreeable to His Father, always doing the things which pleased Him. His death had a character and result which nothing else could furnish; but He Himself was the object of continual and perfect satisfaction to the One Who had never found it before in man on earth; and this, where the Holy Spirit had the fullest operation inwardly and outwardly, is just what such an accompaniment here presented to God. But we need to say the less now on the subject, as we have had the type itself before us fully in Lev. 2
Here however a very notable difference follows.
"Besides the cakes, he shall offer his offering of leavened bread with the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving " (ver. 13). It is the more striking, because every Israelite began the holy year with the Passover where leaven in every form was altogether prohibited; and this prohibition extended to the Meal offering in pointed terms, as the chapter devoted to it makes plain. But in the Peace offering for thanksgiving, as in the two loaves of the Feast of Weeks, leaven was not only allowed but prescribed. And the reason in each case was the same. Divine wisdom was providing for man and his fellowship. It was man believing and saintly. Still it took account of his nature. There was that in him which was not in Christ. In what represented Him leaven was not nor could be. But in what represented the saints and their fellowship there must be that which intimated the corruption of nature, if the account were to take the stamp of truth. Not that it was leaven at work: in both cases we hear of "leavened bread (or, cakes)." Still there the leaven was and there only. One out of the whole, or of each, offering was to be presented as a heave offering to Jehovah; and this fell to the blood-sprinkling priest as his portion. Christ has and loves to have His part in our thanksgiving, He without Whom we could have none.
Then we learn the superior power of a vow or voluntary offering, representing devotedness of heart in the offerer, over simple return of thanks for blessings received, however good and right. The flesh, in the latter case, must be eaten the same day as the sacrifice. The communion was then only acceptable and sound. But if it had devotedness or spontaneity, there was a power of sustainment that lasted. The flesh was to be eaten on that day, but "on the morrow also its remainder shall be eaten." After that there must be no eating. "The remainder of the flesh of the sacrifice on the third day shall be burnt with fire." Separation from the sacrifice beyond the second day could not be allowed. Fellowship in joy and peace is encouraged, especially where Christ draws and fills the heart in the power of His sacrifice; but the feast must not be too far severed from its source. To guard from such profanity, the remainder after the second day must be burnt with fire; to eat on the third day was intolerable,
Indeed, as the danger was great of abusing holy fellowship, we find in vers. 18-21 warnings of peculiar solemnity. The attempt to prolong the appearance of communion is perilous. Not only should it not be accepted nor reckoned to the offerer, "it shall be an unclean thing, and the soul that eateth of it shall bear his iniquity." We read in 1 Cor. 11 an analogous dealing of the Lord where His supper was taken without discerning His body and with the lack of judging themselves. His hand lay heavily in chastening such grievous irreverence toward His body and blood. Yet it was not for "damnation" as the superstitious conceived, ignorant of His grace, but for temporal chastisement, in some cases up to death: all its measures were, that they should not be condemned, i.e. damned, with the world.
Holiness then is to temper, guard, and govern the joy of fellowship. "And the flesh that toucheth anything unclean shall not be eaten; it shall be burnt with fire." Undue familiarity is an offense in the expression of praise and blessing. What is it to sing to God that which we know is neither true nor becoming? How solemnly we are bound that it disappear I
Again, while every Israelite was eligible to be invited and share the feast, there was an inflexible condition: he must be clean. "And as for the flesh, all that are clean may eat the flesh. But the soul that eateth the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings which are for Jehovah, having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from his peoples. And if a soul touch anything unclean the uncleanness of man or unclean beast or any unclean abomination, and eat of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings that are for Jehovah, that soul shall be cut off from his peoples." If we are free by grace to enjoy the fellowship of Jehovah, and of Christ the Priest, of His priests as a whole and of the very simplest of His people, we are bound to refuse all irreverence and all iniquity. If we associate with that fellowship what is offensive to God's nature and will, we do so at our peril before Him Who will surely vindicate Himself and His word. To be a Christian, ever so truly, does not suffice, indispensable as it is. The apostle in 1 Cor. 11:27 does not speak of unworthy or unconverted communicants, but of eating and drinking the Lord's supper "unworthily."