What is a peace offering?

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By BibleAsk Team


A Peace Offering

In the Old Testament, a peace offering, also known as a fellowship offering, was one of the various types of sacrifices prescribed by God for the Israelites to offer in worship and obedience. This offering was distinct from other types of sacrifices such as burnt offerings and sin offerings, as it was offered voluntarily as an expression of gratitude, fellowship, and communion with God. Let’s explore the significance, regulations, and spiritual implications of the peace offering as outlined in the Old Testament, supported by references from the Bible:

1. Introduction to the Peace Offering:

The peace offering was a sacrificial offering presented to God by individuals who desired to express gratitude, seek fellowship with God, or fulfill a vow. It served as a means of fostering peace and communion between the offerer and God, as well as between the offerer and the community.

2. Regulations for the Peace Offering:

The regulations for the peace offering are outlined in detail in the book of Leviticus, particularly in Leviticus chapter 3 and parts of chapters 7 and 19. These regulations specified the types of animals that could be offered, the manner of preparation, and the portions allotted to various parties involved.

References:

  • Leviticus 3:1-5: “When his offering is a sacrifice of a peace offering, if he offers it of the herd, whether male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the Lord.”
  • Leviticus 7:11-12: “This is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings which he shall offer to the Lord: If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer, with the sacrifice of thanksgiving, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, unleavened wafers anointed with oil, or cakes of blended flour mixed with oil.”

3. Types of Peace Offerings:

There were different types of peace offerings, each serving a specific purpose and occasion. These included offerings of thanksgiving, offerings made in fulfillment of a vow, and voluntary offerings expressing the offerer’s desire for fellowship with God.

References:

  • Leviticus 7:12: “If he offers it as a thanksgiving, then he shall offer, with the sacrifice of thanksgiving, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, unleavened wafers anointed with oil, or cakes of blended flour mixed with oil.”
  • Leviticus 7:16: “But if the sacrifice of his offering is a vow or a voluntary offering, it shall be eaten the same day that he offers his sacrifice; but on the next day the remainder of it also may be eaten.”

4. Preparation and Rituals:

The preparation and rituals associated with the peace offering involved the slaughter of the animal, the sprinkling of blood on the altar, the burning of specific portions on the altar, and the consumption of the remainder by the offerer and other participants.

References:

  • Leviticus 7:15: “The flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering for thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day it is offered. He shall not leave any of it until morning.”

5. Meaning and Symbolism:

The peace offering symbolized reconciliation, fellowship, and harmony between the offerer and God. By offering a peace offering, the worshipper acknowledged God’s provision and blessings, expressed gratitude, and sought to maintain or restore communion with Him.

References:

  • Leviticus 7:11: “This is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings which he shall offer to the Lord.”

6. Participation and Distribution:

Unlike some other types of sacrifices, the peace offering involved participation from multiple parties, including the priest, the offerer, and sometimes the offerer’s family or community. After the ritual portions were offered to God, the remainder of the offering was shared as a communal meal.

References:

  • Leviticus 7:15: “The flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering for thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day it is offered. He shall not leave any of it until morning.”
  • Leviticus 7:31: “The priest shall burn the fat on the altar, but the breast shall be Aaron’s and his sons’.”

7. Jesus as the Ultimate Peace Offering:

The New Testament reveals Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment and embodiment of the peace offering. Through His sacrificial death on the cross, Jesus reconciled humanity to God, establishing peace and fellowship between God and humanity.

References:

  • Romans 5:1: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
  • Ephesians 2:14: “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation.”

8. Application for Believers:

While the sacrificial system of the Old Testament has been fulfilled in Christ, the principles of gratitude, fellowship, and reconciliation embodied in the peace offering remain relevant for believers today. Christians are called to offer themselves as living sacrifices, continually expressing gratitude for God’s grace and seeking fellowship with Him.

References:

  • Romans 12:1: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”
  • Hebrews 13:15: “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”

Conclusion:

The peace offering served as a significant aspect of worship and devotion in ancient Israel, representing reconciliation, fellowship, and communion with God. Through Jesus Christ, believers can experience true peace and communion with God, as He is the ultimate Peace Offering who reconciled humanity to God through His sacrificial death on the cross. While the sacrificial system of the Old Testament has been fulfilled in Christ, the principles embodied in this offering continue to inform and inspire believers today, encouraging gratitude, fellowship, and reconciliation in their relationship with God and one another.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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