And if his oblation be a sacrifice of peace offering, if he offer it of the herd; whether it be a male or female…
Oblation denotes its voluntary character; sacrifice its intimate connection with the altar, that is, its participation in the atoning significance of all the bloody sacrifices which carried in them the idea of reconciliation with God through the blood of the covenant. Peace offering, the specific distinction, recognizing the fact that, whether the prominent feeling expressed was praise or prayer, still the offerer was standing on the ground of covenant fellowship with God. We may take these offerings generally to symbolize salvation as a realized fact. We find under this general fact these three constituent spiritual realities included:
I. Intercourse re-established between God and man, and expressed in grateful praise and willing dependence.
II. Salvation as a fact resting on continued faith; the three parts of the sacrifice being the offerer's part, the priest's part, and Jehovah's part, - all essential and harmonized in one offering.
III. Joy of salvation, both individual and social, typified in the sacrificial meal, God, as it were, giving back the victim to be the source of delight both to the priest and the offerer.
On each of these points the details of the sacrifice have their significance.
I. RECONCILIATION. Re-established intercourse between God and man, grateful praise, willing dependence. Here we may notice the two sides of the sacrifice: that turned towards man - it is willingly brought, it is a valuable gift, it is brought as a peace offering to give praise or to accompany vows and prayers; that turned towards God, it is a confession of sin, an obedience rendered to the Law, a renewal of the covenant, a confirmation of the promises, a seal of grace. Intercourse between man and God.
1. Distinguish between the truth as set forth in Scripture, and man's self-derived ideas.
(1) Consider the non-scriptural views: the notions of the mystic or of the transcendentalist - man's lifting himself to God, or being lifted up by ecstasy; the rationalistic conception that God and man meet in nature, or in human consciousness, and that such intercourse in the mere laws of fact or thought is sufficient. All such reconciliation ignores the fallen state of man, can supply no gospel of peace, is contradicted by the plain development of righteousness in the course of the world; and therefore the necessity made evident that man, as going on to meet the future, should be prepared to meet his God in judgment, in the great adjustment of right and wrong. The mere moralist falls into a similar error when he teaches that the partial obedience of human life to Divine Law, the recognition practically of an ideal moral standard, is a reconciliation between the highest moral Being and his creature.
(2) Place opposite to these defective and erroneous views the teaching of Scripture. Out of the original source of all, the will of God, that is, his infinite nature or character, in actual relation to his universe, comes forth the reconciliation. Revelation from the beginning an invitation of God to man to intercourse. The Mosaic Law was the development of the preceding covenant, which, under patriarchal ministry, was a gospel of peace. The reconciliation was placed on the foundation of sacrifice, that is, man's surrender, blending with God's promise of forgiveness and life, the preservation of righteousness in the acceptance of man's homage to the Divine character, the assurance of peace in a covenant of friendship and interchange of love.
2. This intercourse between God and man being thus established, it is expressed in grateful praise and willing dependence on man's part, in the bestowment of peace and sanctification on God's part. The peace offering typified the life of man as a continual reciprocation of covenant intercourse: the presentation of gifts to God, the acceptance in return of Divine grace. Thus was religion set forth. It is not separated from the earthly life, but it is its consecration. It is not a meritorious purchase of Divine favour, or turning away of wrath, or covering of the reality of transgression with sacrifice, but a thankful dedication of saved life, a subjection of all to the will of the Father, an appropriation of heavenly gifts. Perhaps the fact that no poor man's offering is prescribed may indicate that the truth was already implied, though not so distinctly expressed as afterwards in the Psalms and Prophets, that God would have mercy and not sacrifice, that he laid no stress upon the actual presentation of a peace offering so long as the man himself and his life were offered in devout obedience and thankful spirit. "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God" (Psalm 1:23).
II. SALVATION AS A FACT RESTS ON CONTINUED FAITH. In every peace offering there were three parts - the offerer's, the priest's, Jehovah's. On each occasion, therefore, the main elements of salvation were recognized, which were these:
1. Free grace.
In each the offerer's faith makes salvation a fact.
1. In bringing a peace offering to Jehovah, the worshipper cast himself by faith on the free grace which opened the way for him to reconciliation and peace. "We love him because he first loved us." The Jew failed to see this freedom of Divine love, and hence became a bond slave under the power of his ritual The gospel has exalted the Divine element so high above the human in the advent of the Son of God, that it is no longer possible to hide it. "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself." "The Lord hath visited his people." We build all on the foundation stone which God himself hath laid. We begin with the person of Christ, divinely glorious. Our faith lays hold of eternal life in him who was the Life and the Light of men.
2. The offerer brought the victim, but the priestly mediation, was a necessary part of the ceremony. Salvation as a fact rests not only upon the free and infinite love of God, but upon the manifested righteousness and ceaseless intercession of the Saviour. "Aaron's sons sprinkle the blood; Aaron's sons burn the fat on the altar on the burnt sacrifice; a sweet savour unto the Lord." Our life as a saved life is a continual application to ourselves by faith of the merit and efficacy of the Saviour's atonement and ministry as our great High Priest. The "truth as it is in Jesus" is the food of our thoughts, the joy of our hearts, the strength of our obedience. Salvation as a fact is realized forgiveness, progressive holiness in communion with Christ, victory through his grace over the world and all enemies, and at last participation in the glorification of the Divine Man, and admission into his eternal kingdom.
3. Self-surrender was both in the presentation of the offering and in the position of the offerer, laying his hand on the head of the victim, killing it, and giving up the assigned portions to the altar and fire; all was confession, consecration, obedience. Our faith is essentially a yielding of ourselves to God. We find oar salvation a fact, just as we "put off the old man and put on the new man;" just as we "count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord." Our offering is a peace offering, both of the past and for the future. We are no longer our own. Christ is all to us, and so we are Christ's, and Christ is God's.
III. JOY OF SALVATION, typified in the sacrificial meal, in which the representatives of God and man, in the priests and offerer, met together in social festivity. This was anticipation of the sacred meal, the Supper of the Lord, in which sacrificial joy was celebrated in the new society, in the kingdom of God. The Christian's joy is preeminently joy of salvation. He builds all happiness on the fact of reconciliation with God. He lives his new life not unto himself, but unto Christ and to Christ's people. The social gladness, which was an element in the peace offering, points to the fact that the redemption of Christ effects a deliverance of society from its bondage and misery, as well as the individual soul from its sin and ruin. Such a message is specially wanted in these times, when the world groans under its burdens, and strives in vain after a true liberty and peace. What offerings are laid on the altar of war! Yet they are consumed in vain. There is no happy banquet of fellowship and brotherhood coming out of such sacrifices. God invites us to the joy of a new-made world. He bids us proclaim the way of peace to be through the obedience of Christ. How sweet the savour to the Lord when the whole human family shall offer up its peace offering, acceptable, because identified with the offering of Calvary, uniting all together in a sacred festivity of gladness! - R.
Parallel VersesKJV: And if his oblation be a sacrifice of peace offering, if he offer it of the herd; whether it be a male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the LORD.