And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day that it is offered…
We have commanded or suggested here -
I. CAREFUL PRESERVATION OF PURITY. The "flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering" was to be eaten on the very day of its presentation (verse 15); that of another kind of offering might be eaten partly on the day following (verse 16), but on no account might anything offered in sacrifice be partaken of on the third day (verses 17, 18). It was one of the objects, probably the primary intention, of this restriction, that nothing offered to God should be allowed to become unsound. No danger was to be incurred in the way of putrefaction. Another statute in defense of purity in worship! In the service of the Holy One of Israel we must be pure in thought, in word, in act. He is "of purer eyes than to behold evil," etc. (Habakkuk 1:13), and can find no pleasure in any service tainted with iniquity. The connection in which this restriction occurs suggests that, especially in those religious engagements in which we find social pleasure, we should be careful to maintain purity of spirit, integrity of heart.
II. CAREFUL RETENTION OF SACREDNESS OF THOUGHT. The partaking of the flesh and the bread which had been presented to God, though these were eaten at home, was to be regarded as a sacred act. It was sacramental. Therefore it was fitting that no great interval of time should come between the act of presentation and the consumption. For the consequence would inevitably be that the sacred festival would tend to sink to the level of an ordinary meal. Sacred thoughts would be less vivid and less frequent; the engagement would become more secular and more simply social as more time intervened. We learn that we should take the greatest care to retain in our mind the sense of the sacredness of religious acts during their performance. When they become mechanical, or wholly bodily, or simply social; when the realization of the religious and the Divine element falls out, then their virtue is gone; they are no longer "an acceptable offering unto the Lord." We must accomplish this end by:
1. Studious spiritual endeavour to realize what we are doing.
2. By wise precautions, judicious measures, which will tend to preserve sanctity and to guard against secularity of thought.
III. UNSELFISHNESS IN RELIGIOUS SERVICE. The commandment to consume everything within one or two days pointed to an increase in the number of partakers; it suggested the calling together friends and dependents; also the invitation of the poor and needy. This was not only the design but the effect of the injunction (see Deuteronomy 12:18; Deuteronomy 16:11). The Israelites, in "eating before the Lord," showed a generous hospitality while they were engaged in an act of piety and of sacred joy. Let unselfishness be a prominent feature in our religious institutions. It is well to remember:
1. That selfishness is apt to show itself here as elsewhere.
2. That it is never so inconsistent and unsightly as in connection with the service of God.
3. That it is a painful exhibition to the Lord of love.
4. That the more generous and self-forgetting we are in sacred things, the more we approach the spirit and life of our Divine Exemplar (Philippians 2:4-8). - C.
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.