And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,…
In the service of the oblation of the peace offering there are two actors, viz. the offerer and the priest. These had their respective duties, which are severally brought under our notice in the text. We have -
I. THE DUTY OF THE OFFERER.
1. He had to bring his oblation unto the Lord.
(1) The "oblation" here is not the "sacrifice," but "of the sacrifice" (verses 28-30). It was that portion of the sacrifice which, more especially, was claimed by God, viz. the fat prescribed to be burnt upon the altar. It included also the breast and right shoulder.
(2) This he was to bring in person. "His own hands shall bring the offerings of the Lord made by fire," etc. This requisition is so express that even women, who under other circumstances never entered the court of the priests, did so when they had offerings to bring. The Hebrew name for oblation (קרבן, korban) is derived from a root (קרב, koreb) which signifies to approach or draw near. By the introduction of our Great High Priest, we personally, under the gospel, "approach" or "draw nigh" unto God (see Hebrews 7:19; Hebrews 10:21, 22). We cannot save our souls by proxy. We cannot acceptably serve God by proxy.
2. He had to bring the fat laid upon the breast.
(1) What our version construes "the fat with the breast" (verse 30), may be better rendered, as it is by the learned Julius Bate, "the fat upon the breast," i.e., laid upon the breast (comp. Leviticus 8:26, 27). The breast was that appointed to be waved before the Lord; and it would appear that it was waved with the fat laid upon it. The breast was the natural symbol of heartiness and willingness. This action would, therefore, express the cheerful and grateful willingness of the offerer, and his earnest desire that his offering might be graciously accepted. What we devote to God should be heartily given (2 Corinthians 9:7).
(2) The "heave shoulder" was also brought. This was the right shoulder. It had its name from the ceremony in which it was moved tip and down before the Lord. As the "breast" symbolized affection, so the "shoulder" expressed action, and the "right" shoulder, action of the most efficient kind. Love expresses itself in deeds (Matthew 22:37-40; Luke 6:46; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8).
II. THE DUTY OF THE PRIEST.
1. He had to offer up the oblation.
(1) The Mishna says this was done by the priest placing his hands under those of the offerer, upon which the wave breast was laid, and then moving them to and fro. The priest certainly had a hand in the ceremony of waving the breast (see Numbers 6:20). And if we regard him as a type of Christ in this, then the teaching appears to be that we should look to Jesus to sustain the fervency of our love in the offering of our oblations of prayer and praise and service.
(2) The priest in the next place, it appears, offered up the fat in the fire of the altar (verse 31). Then the right shoulder was "given to the priest for an heave offering" (verse 32). This, we are told, was moved up and down. Thus these motions of the wave breast and heave shoulder were at right angles, and so they formed the figure of a cross. Houbigant thinks that by this "was adumbrated the cross upon which that Peace Offering of the human race was lifted up, which was prefigured by all the ancient victims" (comp. John 21:18, 19; 2 Peter 1:14; together with the historical tradition concerning the crucifixion of Peter).
2. The breast and shoulder were then claimed by the priest.
(1) They had these by a Divine ordinance (verses 31-34). They were first given to God, and now became God's gift to his ministers. What is given to sustain the ministry should not be regarded by the giver as a gratuity, but as a service loyally and faithfully rendered to God (see Numbers 18:20-24). Ministers should receive their support as from the hand of God (see 2 Corinthians 9:11; Philippians 4:18).
(2) They had it by a birthright. It was given to "Aaron and his sons." Those who were not sons of Aaron had no part nor lot in the matter. And true ministers of the gospel must be sons of Jesus; they must be spiritually born, or they are intruders into sacred functions (see Psalm 1:16; Acts 1:25; Romans 1:5; 1 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 4:5).
(3) They had it also by consecration. The sons of Aaron, though as their birthright were served from the altar, had no title to serve the altar until anointed for that service. So the birth of the Spirit, by which we become sons of Jesus, does not alone constitute ministers. For the ministry they must have a special vocation. Note: "Aaron presented his sons to minister unto the Lord," in which he acted as the type of Christ, who calls and qualifies those he sends. If the harvest be plenteous and the labourers few, the more urgently should we "pray the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth labourers." - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,