Today we learn about the peace offering. This is the third offering God instructs Moses in and also a dietary law set down.
Like with the burnt offering, the one bringing the offering does much of the work. This includes killing the animal, draining its blood and separating out the pieces to be burned. And also like in the burnt offering, the priest sprinkles the blood and does the actual placing the offering on the altar for burning.
This offering doesn’t consume all of the animal, only certain parts. We don’t see it here but the breast of the animal was given to “Aaron’s sons” and the right thigh was given to the specific priest who assisted the one bringing this offering. The remainder of the animal belonged to the one bringing the offering (Leviticus 7:28-34). It is referred to as a fellowship offering in the later text but Jewish Encyclopedia lists them as the same.
This is the first time that a female animal may be offered. This offering does not include birds like the burnt offering did. I don’t know if this was because it wasn’t a required offering and therefore the poor were not compelled to give it or if God expected whomever wanted to bring a peace offering would have access to the required animal. The ones acceptable for this offering were a cow, a sheep or a goat.
From the stories I’ve read, admittedly fiction, even the poorer families had goats in order to have milk for the family. But if this animal was offered as a sacrifice where would the family obtain their milk afterwards?
The website I visited, and linked to earlier, states that this offering was to be shared as a type of communion meal. The person making the sacrifice invited others to share it with him and either built or improved upon a relationship of peace. What better way to create a bond of friendship than a “backyard barbeque!”
I have to admit that I have often wondered if the portions that were for the priest and left to the one making the offering were cooked on the altar. I honestly don’t know. I could argue for it either way. What more handy source for cooking than what was right there. But would God allow something to be placed on His altar and then removed? This was a holy piece of GOD’S furniture. Then again, the whole activity was meant to honor Him or give thanks and restore peace. What better place for that to happen than in the presence of the Lord. Another point might be that there was a high demand for altar space so one individual couldn’t monopolize the altar for that length of time. And finally the last piece of my argument is that the location would preclude many people from being able to attend if the feast happened at the altar, specifically women. I sound (and feel) like I’m arguing with myself here. The website I mentioned states that the meal happened at the giver’s home, so that is probably where the remains were prepared.
God also initiated or solidified a dietary requirement with this sacrifices instructions. The people of Israel were NOT to eat the fat or the blood at all. These portions were forbidden. They were also what was offered to the Lord in the sacrifices. I have a feeling that God didn’t choose these portions lightly. We know He chose the blood because there is “life in the blood” but the fat portion actually protected the people. By restricting the eating of fat the diet of the people was healthier. If in doubt on this issue, look at our diet today. SO MANY people are dying of heart disease with a major contributor being the fat content in their diets. Maybe God was watching out for His people this way. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that ingesting blood had a detrimental effect on health too. God’s hand in action caring for His people without them even realizing it.
Father God, there have been SO MANY TIMES in my life when I have seen Your protection AFTER the fact. I see how things worked exactly how they were supposed to for me to be where You wanted me. I’ve seen Your protection work that way in my life too many times to count. Is this dietary restriction one of the ways You watched over the children of Israel’s health? Maybe I need to look into what a “biblical diet” would consist of. Mine is FAR from perfect. If I do that kind of change I will NEED Your help throughout it. My current diet is one of convenience. Whatever is there and available to nibble on. I need help with my diet even if I don’t do a “biblical diet.”
I have no idea how I got off on this tangent but it is probably Your doing again. Thank You for bringing me right to where I need to be, whether I know it or not.