And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day that it is offered…
The peace offering was essentially a tribute of gratitude and praise, it was especially suited to national festivities and family rejoicings. Cakes and bread accompanied the flesh of the sacrificial animal. Three classes of peace offering are spoken of, viz. for thanksgiving, or for a vow, or as a free-will offering. The flesh must be partaken of by the offerers (the priests having received their portion) and consumed on the first day in the case of the first-mentioned class, and by the close of the second day in the case of the others. The stress laid upon this command may set in clear light the obligatoriness of Divine instructions.
I. STRICT OBSERVANCE IS DEMANDED, EVEN THOUGH THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PRECEPT BE NOT PERCEIVED. Little explanation is afforded in the Law of the many ceremonies instituted. The Israelites were treated as children, whose chief virtue is unquestioning obedience. Why should the flesh be so quickly consumed? The devout Israelite might not know, yet must he rigidly conform to the order. He is not to reason, but to do. This course may be recommended to the many who wish a full explanation of the reasons for the institution of the ordinances connected with the Christian Church. Reliance may be placed upon the wisdom of the Divine Legislator, and faith rather than knowledge may glorify God. "The secret things" (the explanations, the reasons) "belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed" (the facts, the commands) "belong unto us for ever, that we may do all the words of the Law." That Jesus Christ has ordained Baptism and the Lord's Supper is sufficient to lead us to practice them, however confused may be our apprehension of the mysteries and principles involved. And in relation to the counsels addressed to us for the guidance of our lives, and the events that are seen to necessitate certain action upon our parts, it may stall be said, "What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shall know hereafter."
II. MORE LIGHT MAY BE EXPECTED TO DAWN UPON US CONTINUALLY AS TO THE MEANING OF DIVINE ORDINANCES. Faith is not intended to exclude or supersede knowledge, but to form a basis for it, an avenue through which it may pass to the mind, an appendix by which its volume may be supplemented. Patient and prayerful study is ever rewarded with keener appreciation of the will of God. If the Israelites reflected for a moment, they would call to mind warnings against desecrating holy things, and against treating what was offered to God as if it were a portion of common food. Surely God would distinguish thus between ordinary slaughter and sacrificial victims, and would guard against that additional risk of putrefaction to which flesh is liable in a hot climate, and which, if it occurred, would be an insult to his majesty. For us at any rate the types and ceremonies of Judaism have been interpreted by Christianity. The Great Prophet has revealed the obscure, and, endowed with his Spirit, apostles have Been inspired to comment authoritatively upon the preceding dispensation. And. we need. not limit our aspirations after an intelligent perception of the meaning of Christian laws. Events as they occur, and reverent, persevering investigation, may unfold to us with increasing clearness the ways of God. But we ought not to delay observance of his precepts until their design is fully manifest. That servant is slothful who refuses to work by candle-light, and waits for the brightness of the sun.
III. PARTIAL DISOBEDIENCE NEUTRALIZES THE EFFECT OF A RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCE, AND MAY APPEAR MORE OFFENSIVE THAN TOTAL NEGLECT OF THE DIVINE COMMANDS. Let the worshipper trifle with the Law and venture to eat the flesh on the third day, and he shall find to his cost that the whole of his offering is rejected; it is not pleasing to God, and will not procure him favour. His effort proves useless, it shall not be reckoned to his credit. Worse still, his offering "shall be an abomination" in the eyes of God; there shall be no grateful odour exhaled, but it shall be a stench in his nostrils. Sin has not been obliterated but augmented by the sacrifice. When the Earl of Oxford would honour King Henry VII by the presence of a large body of retainers, the king only saw in the men an infraction of the law, and could not consent to have his laws broken in his sight. Honour and dishonour are an ill-assorted pair. The partially obedient worshipper shows himself as knowing God's will and doing it not. Total abstinence might have proclaimed him sinful through ignorance. Half-heartedness is often as productive of evil effects as fiat rebellion. It is not for us to presume to say what may be disregarded and what not. To follow the Lord fully is the path of duty and of safety. - S.R.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day that it is offered; he shall not leave any of it until the morning.