1 “If his offering is a sacrifice of peace offering, if he offers an animal from the herd, male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the Lord. 2 And he shall lay his hand on the head of his offering and kill it at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall throw the blood against the sides of the altar. 3 And from the sacrifice of the peace offering, as a food offering to the Lord, he shall offer the fat covering the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, 4 and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins, and the long lobe of the liver that he shall remove with the kidneys. 5 Then Aaron’s sons shall burn it on the altar on top of the burnt offering, which is on the wood on the fire; it is a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.
6 “If his offering for a sacrifice of peace offering to the Lord is an animal from the flock, male or female, he shall offer it without blemish. 7 If he offers a lamb for his offering, then he shall offer it before the Lord, 8 lay his hand on the head of his offering, and kill it in front of the tent of meeting; and Aaron’s sons shall throw its blood against the sides of the altar. 9 Then from the sacrifice of the peace offering he shall offer as a food offering to the Lord its fat; he shall remove the whole fat tail, cut off close to the backbone, and the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails 10 and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins and the long lobe of the liver that he shall remove with the kidneys. 11 And the priest shall burn it on the altar as a food offering to the Lord.
12 “If his offering is a goat, then he shall offer it before the Lord 13 and lay his hand on its head and kill it in front of the tent of meeting, and the sons of Aaron shall throw its blood against the sides of the altar. 14 Then he shall offer from it, as his offering for a food offering to the Lord, the fat covering the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails 15 and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins and the long lobe of the liver that he shall remove with the kidneys. 16 And the priest shall burn them on the altar as a food offering with a pleasing aroma. All fat is the Lord‘s. 17 It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, in all your dwelling places, that you eat neither fat nor blood.” – Leviticus 3:1-17 ESV
The peace offering was a voluntary sacrifice that came in three different forms. First, it could be given as a freewill offering as an expression of gratitude to God for His gracious provision and protection. The seventh chapter of Leviticus describes the second kind of peace offering. This one was also a freewill offering but it was associated with the fulfillment of a vow or commitment made to God. An example of this kind of peace offering is found in the book of 1 Samuel where we see a woman named Hannah making a vow to God. Unable to bare children, Hannah pleaded with God to intervene on her behalf.
Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.” – 1 Samuel 1:10-11 NLT
And God fulfilled her request.
…the Lord remembered her plea, and in due time she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I asked the Lord for him.” – 1 Samuel 1:19-20 NLT
In response to God’s gracious provision of a son, Hannah offered a peace offering as an expression of her gratitude for His goodness.
When the child was weaned, Hannah took him to the Tabernacle in Shiloh. They brought along a three-year-old bull for the sacrifice and a basket of flour and some wine. – 1 Samuel 1:24 NLT
And Hannah clearly articulated the purpose behind her offering to God.
“I am the very woman who stood here several years ago praying to the Lord. I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request. Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life.” – 1 Samuel 1:26-28 NLT
Not only did Hannah offer the bull, a grain offering, and some wine to God, but she also dedicated her son to His service. In gratitude for God’s answer to her prayer, Hannah consecrated her infant son to Yahweh – for life. As far as she was concerned, Samuel belonged to God and would spend his life ministering on Yahweh’s behalf.
The third type of peace offering was to be given as an expression of thanksgiving for God’s gracious deliverance from a difficult situation. This voluntary gift to God was a way of saying, “Thank you” for His providential activity in one’s life. Having experienced God’s divine intervention in his life, the giver willingly offered his gift as a way of expressing his gratitude. God had delivered him from trouble, and the least he could do was thank God for His undeserved intervention in the affairs of his life.
One of the things that set the peace offering apart from all the other sacrifices was that a portion of the meat that was offered was made available to the giver. The actual sacrificial ceremony followed the same basic pattern as that of the burnt offering. The individual brought his sacrifice to the priest, slaughtered it, then the priest sprinkled some of its blood on the altar. The one presenting the gift was expected to “remove the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that surrounds the entrails, the two kidneys with the fat on their sinews, and the protruding lobe on the liver (Leviticus 3:3-4 NLT). This portion of the sacrificial animal was then burned upon the altar “as a gift of a soothing aroma to the Lord” (Leviticus 3:5 NLT).
The remaining meat was made available to the one who presented the offering, but it was to be consumed according to strict guidelines and a regimented schedule. For the peace offering of thanksgiving, the meat was to be eaten on the same day it was sacrificed.
“The meat of the peace offering of thanksgiving must be eaten on the same day it is offered. None of it may be saved for the next morning.” – Leviticus 7:15 NLT
But the timeline for the peace offering given as part of the fulfillment of a vow could be extended one day.
“If you bring an offering to fulfill a vow or as a voluntary offering, the meat must be eaten on the same day the sacrifice is offered, but whatever is left over may be eaten on the second day.” – Leviticus 7:16 NLT
While the fat and blood of the sacrificial animal were strictly prohibited. the rest of the meat was made available so that the one making the sacrifice could share a meal with God. Evidently, this was a communal meal shared between the priests, the congregant, and Yahweh. But certain portions of the meat were reserved for Aaron and his sons.
“When you present a peace offering to the Lord, bring part of it as a gift to the Lord. Present it to the Lord with your own hands as a special gift to the Lord. Bring the fat of the animal, together with the breast, and lift up the breast as a special offering to the Lord. Then the priest will burn the fat on the altar, but the breast will belong to Aaron and his descendants. Give the right thigh of your peace offering to the priest as a gift. The right thigh must always be given to the priest who offers the blood and the fat of the peace offering.” – Leviticus 7:29-33 NLT
God explained that these special portions of the sacrifice were the rightful property of Aaron and his sons because they had been set apart for His service.
“The special gifts presented to the Lord have been reserved for Aaron and his descendants from the time they were set apart to serve the Lord as priests.” – Leviticus 7:35 NLT
God would provide for His people, and He expected them to respond by offering their freewill peace offerings as a tangible expression of their gratitude. When they did so, they would also receive the blessing of enjoying fellowship with God in the form of a meal. And their voluntary expression of thanksgiving would also provide for the needs of the priests. God’s goodness, when responded to with gratitude, would end up blessing all those involved. In blessing God for His goodness, the giver would be blessed and a blessing to others.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.