Leviticus – part five

This week we’re going through the various sacrifices prescribed in Leviticus 1-10, and seeing how they were fulfilled in Christ. Monday was an overview, which you might like to look at first.

The Fellowship Offering

The final offering we’re looking at from Leviticus 1-10 is different, because it’s a purely voluntary one: a ‘peace’ or ‘fellowship’ offering. It was brought to God for a variety of reasons: thanking God for something specific; celebrating God’s goodness; the fulfilment of a vow; or even for no reason other than that he’s our God. It’s like surprising your wife by bringing her flowers ‘just because’. Rather than the usual reason, that of turning away anger…

But as well as being the only voluntary offering, this kind was different in another way. You see, the person bringing the offering got to share in the food.

7:11-16 These are the regulations for the fellowship offering anyone may present to the LORD: 12 If they offer it as an expression of thankfulness, then along with this thank offering they are to offer thick loaves made without yeast and with olive oil mixed in, thin loaves made without yeast and brushed with oil, and thick loaves of the finest flour well-kneaded and with oil mixed in. 13 Along with their fellowship offering of thanksgiving they are to present an offering with thick loaves of bread made with yeast. 14 They are to bring one of each kind as an offering, a contribution to the LORD; it belongs to the priest who splashes the blood of the fellowship offering against the altar. 15 The meat of their fellowship offering of thanksgiving must be eaten on the day it is offered; they must leave none of it till morning. 16 If, however, their offering is the result of a vow or is a freewill offering, the sacrifice shall be eaten on the day they offer it, but anything left over may be eaten on the next day.

The priests were also given some of the food to share as well:

7:32 You are to give the right thigh of your fellowship offerings to the priest as a contribution.

When I was a pastor, I think I convinced people that this command was still in force today. Our team was ritually brought leftovers from our midweek ministries, and are forever thankful to God that this bit wasn’t fulfilled in Jesus. And we much preferred the sandwiches and mud cake to the thigh fillets from a burnt offering.

But this kind of offering was a celebration of God’s goodness; a feast to share with family and friends. One of the books I read on Leviticus (it was a few years ago, and I can’t remember which one) suggested that we should try to recover the spirit of these offerings. After all, when something good happens to us – a promotion, a new job – we’ll often go out for a meal to celebrate with friends. We have birthday parties; housewarming parties. Why not make thanksgiving to God a conscious part of these events? Even a special financial offering, to thank God for his abundant provision?

And when we gather together as God’s people – do we do that with thanks to God at the front of our minds? When we have supper at home group, or have our Christian brothers and sisters over for a meal – do we stop to acknowledge it as a celebration of being the people of God, being a part of his family?

To do

Sometime in the next week or so (while Leviticus is still fresh in your mind), plan a celebration meal with your family or friends – it doesn’t have to be elaborate. The point is to consciously gather together in thankfulness for who God is and what he’s done.

If you’re wanting to read all of Leviticus 1-10 this week, read all of chapters 9 and 10 now to complete it. 

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