“If any of the meat from this peace offering is eaten on the third day, it will not be accepted by the LORD. It will have no value as a sacrifice, and you will receive no credit for bringing it as an offering. By then, the meat will be contaminated; if you eat it, you will have to answer for your sin.“ – Leviticus 7:18 NLT
After reading just seven chapters of the book of Leviticus, it should be painfully clear that God is serious about this stuff. He does not take the topic of sacrifice lightly. The level of detail and specification is amazing – almost confusing. There are so many different scenarios and situations to consider. There are so many different kinds of sacrifices and offerings with their own set of rules and requirements. But one requirement that I found extremely interesting concerned the eating of what was left over of a peace offering. You could make a peace offering as an act of thanksgiving, for deliverance, for answers to prayer, healing, and more. You could offer it as part of a vow or purely as a freewill or voluntary act. In other words, you could just decide to offer a peace offering to God on your own and not out of any sense of guilt or compulsion. But in all cases of the peace offering, the one making the offering could eat what was left over. In essence, God shared the sacrifice with the one making the sacrifice. But there were certain caveats. In the case of a thanksgiving peace offering, what was left over had to be eaten that same day. In the case of a vow or voluntary peace offering, you had to eat it that day or the day after, but you could not eat it on the third day. It had to be burned.
Why? What was God’s intent? These “leftovers” could be taken home by the one making the offering. They could even share them with their family and friends. But they had to be eaten within the time frame allotted. It seems that God wanted His people to see that there was a difference between this meat and any other meat they might eat. This was meat that had been sacrificed to Him. He was sharing it with them. It was His gift to them and it was to be treated with a certain degree of honor and respect.
One of the reasons God may have wanted the meat eaten immediately was to prevent any kind of decay from setting in. Without refrigeration, the shelf life of meat was not long – unless of course you used salt as a preservative, which would have dried out the meat and changed both its texture and flavor. God did not want what had been dedicated to Him and shared by Him to become contaminated in any way, so it must be eaten quickly. Another reason for the command to eat it within the time frame given by God is so that the one who made the sacrifice would be more willing to share it with others in an attempt to ensure that it was all eaten. God seems to be encouraging hospitality. The Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible says this, “The flesh of the peace-offerings was God’s treat, and therefore God would have the disposal of it; and he orders it to be used generously for the entertainment of their friends, and charitably for the relief of the poor, to show that he is a bountiful benefactor, giving us all things richly to enjoy, the bread of the day in its day.”
There seems to be a degree to which God is teaching His people about His providence and provision. It reminds me of His commands concerning manna. They were to collect only enough for that day. If they attempted to collect more, any excess rotted. They were to trust God for each day’s provision. It would have been easy for the people of Israel to attempt to hoard this meat for future use. After all, it was some of the finest meat available. But God wanted it used up and given out in acts of hospitality and generosity. In a similar way we have been given gifts by God. His Holy Spirit has assured that every child of God has been given a gift by God. As we give our lives to Him, He gives a part of Himself to us in the form of spiritual gifts. And those gifts are to be used up and given away to those around us. They are not to be hoarded or selfishly used for our own good. They are given to us to share with those around us. They are given to bless the entire body of Christ.
God is gracious enough to share with us. We in turn are to graciously share with others. In doing so, we are reminded that what we have comes from Him. It is not ours to keep, but to give away.
Father, You have given me so much. You have blessed me with eternal life and spiritual gifts. May I never take them for granted or hoard them. May I give my gifts away. May I use them up daily and not selfishly keep them to myself. It is the least I can do for all that You have done for me. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men