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Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit Commentaries

Leviticus 7

 

 

Verses 1-38

EXPOSITION

CONTINUATION OF THE SUPPLEMENTAL REGULATIONS ADDRESSED TO THE PRIESTS, RESPECTING THE RITUAL OF THE SACRIFICES.

This chapter treats of the ritual of the trespass offering and the peace offerings, as the last chapter treated of that of the burnt offering, the meat offering, and the sin offering. The LXX. version attaches the first ten verses of this chapter to Leviticus 6:1-30, beginning Leviticus 7:1-38 with our Leviticus 7:11.

Leviticus 7:1-6

Further ritual of the trespass offering (see note on Le Leviticus 5:14). It is to be noted that the blood of the trespass offering is not to be placed on the horns of the altar, as was the rule in the ordinary sin offering, but cast against the inner side of the altar, as in the burnt offering and peace offering. The rump in Leviticus 7:3 should be translated tail, as in Leviticus 3:9.

Leviticus 7:7-10

contain a general precept or note as to the priests' portion in the sin offering, trespass offering, burnt offering, and meat offering. The officiating priest was to have the flesh of the trespass offering and of the sin offering (except the fat burnt on the altar), and the skin of the burnt offering and the cooked meat offerings (except the memorial burnt on the altar), while the meat offerings of flour and of parched grains, which could be kept longer, were to be the property of the priestly body in general, all the sons of Aaron,… one as much as another. The skins of the peace offerings were retained by the offerer ('Mishna, Sebaeh,' 12, 3).

Leviticus 7:11-21

Further ritual of the peace offering (see note on Leviticus 3:1). There are three sorts of peace offerings—thank offerings (Leviticus 7:12-15), votive offerings, and voluntary offerings (Leviticus 7:16-18). Of these, the thank offerings were made in thankful memorial for past mercies; votive offerings were made in fulfillment of a vow previously taken, that such offering should be presented if a terrain condition were fulfilled. Voluntary offerings differ from votive offerings by not having been previously vowed, and from thank offerings by not having reference to any special mercy received. The thank offering must be eaten by the offerer and his friends, on the same day that it was offered; the votive and the voluntary offerings, which were inferior to the thank offering in sanctity, on the same day or the next. The reason why a longer time was not given probably was that the more the meal was delayed, the less would a religious character be attached to it. The necessity of a quick consumption also took away the temptation of acting grudgingly towards those with whom the feast might be shared, and it likewise precluded the danger of the flesh becoming corrupted. If any of the flesh remained till the third day, it was to be burnt with fire; if eaten on that day, it should not be accepted or imputed unto him that offered, that is, it should not be regarded as a sacrifice of sweet savour to God, but an abomination (literally, a stench), and whoever ate it should bear his iniquity, that is, should be guilty of an offense, requiring, probably, a sin offering to atone for it. The bread gift accompanying the animal sacrifice was to consist of three kinds of unleavened cakes, and one cake of leavened bread, and one out of the whole oblation, that is, one cake of each kind, was to be offered by heaving and then given to the officiating priest, the remaining cakes forming a part of the offerer's festive meal. If any one took part of a feast on a peace offering while in a state of Levitical uncleanness, he was to be cut off from his people, that is, excommunicated, without permission to recover immediate communion by offering a sin offering. St. Paul joined in a votive offering (Acts 21:26).

Leviticus 7:22-27

Repetition of the prohibition of eating the fat and the blood, addressed to the people in the midst of the instructions to the priests. Ye shall eat no manner of fat must be taken to mean none of the fat already specified, that is, the internal fat, and, in the case of the sheep, the tail; It is uncertain whether the law as to fat was regarded as binding upon the Israelites after they had settled in Palestine. Probably it was silently abrogated; but the prohibition of Mood was undoubtedly perpetual (Deuteronomy 12:16), and it is based on a principle which does not apply to the fat (Leviticus 17:11).

Leviticus 7:28-34

Continuation of the ritual of the peace offerings (see note on Le Leviticus 3:1). The equal dignity of the peace offerings with the other offerings is vindicated by the command that the offerer shall bring it with his own hands, whereas it might have been regarded as merely the constituent part of a feast, and so sent by the hand of a servant. The breast and the right shoulder were to be waved and heaved (for "heaved" does not merely mean" taken off," as some have said). The waving consisted of the priest placing his hands beneath those of the offerer who held the piece to be waved, and moving them slowly backwards and forwards before the Lord, to and from the altar; the heaving was performed by slowly lifting the pieces heaved upwards and downwards. The movements were made to show that the pieces, though not burnt on the altar, were yet in a special manner consecrated to God's service. The right shoulder was most probably the hind leg, perhaps the haunch. The Hebrew word is generally translated "leg" (Deuteronomy 28:35; Psalms 147:10). This part was the perquisite of the officiating priest; the waved breast was given to the priests' common stock. Afterwards an addition was made to the priests' portion (Deuteronomy 18:3; see 1 Corinthians 9:13).

Leviticus 7:35, Leviticus 7:36

Conclusion of the section. This is the portion of the anointing of Aaron, and of the anointing of his sons, may be translated simply, This is the portion of Aaron, and the portion of his sons, as the word "mischah" will bear the meaning of portion as well as of anointing. This rendering, however, is not necessary, as it was the anointing of Aaron and Ms sons that entitled them to these portions.

Leviticus 7:37, Leviticus 7:38

Conclusion of Part I. The law of the burnt offering is contained in Le Leviticus 1:1-17; Leviticus 6:8-13 : of the meat offering, in Leviticus 2:1-16; Leviticus 6:14-23 : of the sin offering, in Le Leviticus 4:1-35; Leviticus 5:1-13; Leviticus 6:24-30 : of the trespass offering, in Le Leviticus 5:14-19; Leviticus 6:1-7; Leviticus 7:1-6 : of the consecrations, in Le Leviticus 6:19-23, supplementing Exodus 29:1-37 : of the sacrifice of the peace offerings, in Le Exodus 3:1-17; Exodus 7:11-21; 28-34. Together, the sacrifices teach the lessons of self-surrender, loyalty, atonement, satisfaction, dedication, peace.

HOMILETICS

Leviticus 7:13

Leavened bread was not to be offered on the altar, for a reason before assigned; but, though not offered on the altar, it may yet be consecrated to God, not by burning, but by heaving. Thus there are lives which cannot be wholly devoted to God and his active service, and yet can be consecrated to him. Leavened bread was the bread commonly used, and the secular life of a man engaged daily in the occupations of politics, or of business, or of labour, may be sanctified, and, being sanctified, may be accepted by God as freely and fully as are those directly given up to his especial service.

Leviticus 7:19

That which is itself unclean makes whatever it touches unclean also.

So in the moral sphere, "evil communications corrupt good manners" (1 Corinthians 15:33), and "a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" (1 Corinthians 5:6), and so with respect to the spread of heresy, "Their word will eat as doth a canker (or gangrene)" (2 Timothy 2:17).

On the other hand, that which is itself holy makes that which it touches to be holy (Leviticus 6:18). Therefore, when the Holy One was on the earth, "the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them" (Luke 6:19); and they "brought unto him all that were diseased; and besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole" (Matthew 14:1-36 :85, 36). Thus the woman with an issue of blood "came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched.… And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately" (Luke 8:44-47). Hence, when mankind had fallen in Adam, for the restoration of the race a new Head was found in Christ Jesus, into whom each person is baptized, and by a mystical contact with whom he may be sanctified.

Leviticus 7:25

To eat of the fat of which men offer an offering made with fire unto the Lord, is to rob God of his chosen offering. The injunction condemns sacrilege in all its forms. Whoever takes to his own use things dedicated to God, "eats the fat;" and" the soul that eateth it shall be cut off from his people."

Leviticus 7:34

The wave breast and the heave shoulder were to be the priests', as well as the meat offering (Leviticus 7:10) and other portions. Thus is taught the lesson, enforced by St. Paul (1 Corinthians 9:13, 1 Corinthians 9:14), "Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." The adequate maintenance of the Levitical priesthood was carefully provided for under the old dispensation by means of offerings and of tithes; and "the labourer is worthy of his hire" (Luke 10:7), and "let him that is taught in the Word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things" (Galatians 6:6), are principles of the new dispensation likewise.

HOMILIES BY R.M. EDGAR

Leviticus 7:1-38

Ministerial support.

cf. 1 Corinthians 9:13; 1 Corinthians 10:18. We have in this chapter a detailed account of the disposal of the offerings already referred to. The leading idea of the passage is the perquisites of the priests, and the Christian counterpart of this is ministerial support. And in this connection let us observe—

I. IN ALL THE OFFERINGS THE FIRST CONCERN WAS TO ALLOCATE TO GOD HIMSELF HIS DUE. In particular he had appropriated to his own use, that is, to manifest atonement, the blood of all the sacrifices; and consequently it was never to be eaten, for this would be a profane use of such a sacred thing (1 Corinthians 10:26, 1 Corinthians 10:27). ]t is only when we come to the realities out of the types and shadows, that we find Jesus declaring, "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed" (John 6:54, John 6:55). Atoning blood can only be partaken of by faith. Moreover, the Lord appropriated the fat—the large amount of suet about the animal—which was absolutely necessary to feed. the fire. This was to be devoted, therefore, to this sacred use and withdrawn from all profane use. There were other portions, such as the sheep's tail, the kidneys, and the caul above the liver, which were burned always on the altar as God's portion. The general principle, therefore, is plain of first giving unto God his fine.

Now, in this particular question of ministerial support, it is with this idea of stewardship unto God that we must begin. Men rest first realize their obligation to God above before they will do justly by his ministers. The human obligation is best enforced by emphasizing the Divine. If men give God his due, if they are faithful stewards unto him, if they keep zealously the first table of the Law, they will not wrong their neighbours by disregarding the second table; above all, they will not wrong God's ministers.

II. AFTER GOD'S PORTIONS WERE DEDICATED, THE BEST OF THE RESIDUE BECAME THE PRIESTS. In some cases the priest got the whole; for example, in a private sin offering or trespass offering, and when, as in the peace offerings, the remainder was shared with the person presenting the sacrifice, the priest's portion was always the best. The wave breast and the heave leg, the "choice cuts," as we would now call them, of the carcass, were assigned to the priests. In fact, there is peculiar generosity enjoined in supporting the officers of God.

There is a fashion in a business age of regarding the minister very much as an ecclesiastical tradesman, who is to be dealt with on business principles; that is, as ranch work is to be got out of him as possible for the minimum of pay. The sooner such poor notions cease, the better for the cause of God. "And we beseech you, brethren," says the apostle, "to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake" (1 Thessalonians 5:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:13). If ministers are rightly regarded, the people will feel it to be their duty, as Israel was instructed to do, to give them the best support they can.

III. A PROPERLY SUSTAINED PRIESTHOOD WAS IN A POSITION TO EXERCISE FAITHFUL DISCIPLINE IN THE CHURCH. This ministerial support chapter, as we may properly regard 1 Corinthians 7:1-40, is most particular in debarring the unclean from Church privileges. Whether we are to understand the "cutting off from the people" as death, as the Vulgate appears to do, or as only excommunication, one thing is certain, that the priesthood, assigned its true dignity and supported accordingly, were thereby encouraged to be faithful in the exercise of discipline.

And this relation of proper ministerial support to Church discipline is most important. It is when the office is degraded in men's minds to a mere profession, and they consequently refuse it adequate support, that they are unwilling to submit to the discipline God's ministry should wield. To the elevation of the office in the eyes of men, and to the consequent increase of its support, all wise members of the Church of Christ should devote their attention.—R.M.E.

HOMILIES BY S.R. ALDRIDGE

Leviticus 7:15-18

Fidelity to precept enforced

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.

Leviticus 7:29-34

The threefold participation.

In the case of the peace offerings, there was a recognition of rights due to God, to his priests, and to the people presenting the victims.

I. THE PORTION RESERVED FOR GOD. The fat parts and the bleed were not to be eaten by man; the former must be burnt upon the altar, the latter poured out at its foot. There are claims God will not waive. The homage man owes to his Maker can never be remitted. Full trust and unfaltering obedience can be demanded only by an Infinite Being. Life must be acknowledged as dependent upon him. "The blood is the life," and for the Israelite to drink it is to be cut off from the congregation. The choicest portions belong to God. He will not put up with inferior parts. They mock him who fancy that a remnant of time and money and strength will suffice for his service.

II. THE SHARE ALLOTTED TO THE PRIESTS. God takes care of his chosen servants, provides amply for their wants. The priests devoted wholly to the work of the tabernacle shall not be forgotten, but considered as one with their Master, so that whenever he is honoured they shall be likewise thought of. To wear God's uniform is to be well eared for, to receive good wages, to be sure of a pension. Once taken into his employ, our future comfort is assured. And those who preach the gospel may claim to live by it. See this principle enunciated and inculcated in 1 Corinthians 9:7-14. Variety is secured. Food to cat, skins to wear. The atonement of the priest "covered" the sinner, and the covering of the animal was naturally appropriated to the use of the officiating priest. Both flour and flesh fell to the lot of the priests. The quality shall not be inferior. Portions are selected, the breast and the shoulder, which were counted as most delicate in flavour and nutritious in substance. Why should God's messengers yield to fear lest they should be neglected? He feedeth the ravens, clothes the lilies in splendour, and will not forsake those whom he has called to do his work in the world.

III. THE REMAINDER HANDED BACK TO THE PEOPLE. We have not to do with an avaricious, unreasonable God. He might justly have claimed the absolute disposal of all brought to his shrine as an offering, but he graciously received a "memorial" for himself and a portion for his ministers, and the rest was returned to the worshippers, consecrated, and for their festal enjoyment, Let us but acknowledge God's requirements, and we shall find that we are not debarred from the innocent pleasures of life, but can enter upon them with sacred enhancing zest. By spending money in the purchase of ointment for the Saviour, Mary did not deprive herself of all her store, but rather increased the satisfaction with which she indulged in the customary household expenses. We are sure that the widow who cast her all into the treasury was not allowed to remain utterly destitute. She had really made a profitable investment of her little capital. Emptying her hands was only preparatory to having them filled.

How ennobling the thought of being sharers with God and his servants! We all partake of the same food, and are made "one bread and one body" (1 Corinthians 10:17). There is better sauce than hunger! It consists in previous dedication to God. Selfish exclusion of the rights of God diminishes the intensity and narrows the sphere of our delights. Not the miser, but the Christian donor, knows the joys of property.—S.R.A.

HOMILIES BY J.A. MACDONALD

Leviticus 7:1-8

The law of the trespass offering.

This, like the other offerings, was generally considered before (see Leviticus 5:1-19 and Leviticus 6:1-7). The repetition here, according to Hebrew usage, gives emphasis and solemnity to the injunctions. The subject is reopened to show more particularly the duties and privileges of the priesthood concerning it. And we notice—

I. THAT THE TRESPASS OFFERING IS DESCRIBED AS MOST HOLY.

1. It was most holy as typifying Christ.

2. It was killed at the north side of the altar.

3. It was eaten in the holy place.

II. SUNDRY DIRECTIONS GIVEN TO THE PRIESTS.

1. With the blood of the guilt offering they were to sprinkle the altar.

2. They were to burn the fat upon the altar.

3. They had the privilege of claiming the skin (Leviticus 7:7, Leviticus 7:8).

Leviticus 7:9-15

The peace offering of thanksgiving.

At the conclusion of the instructions concerning the trespass offering, we have a few directions concerning the meat offering (Leviticus 7:9, Leviticus 7:10). Whatever of it was dressed was to be given to the priest that offered it, to be consumed by himself and his family. But that "mingled with oil, and dry" was to be divided amongst the sons of Aaron. The reason appears to be economical. What was prepared would not keep, and was therefore to be consumed at once; that which would keep was to be divided, to be used according to convenience. The God of grace is also the God of providence. And his providence is especially concerned for those who seek his grace. After these notes, the law of the sacrifice of the peace offering is formally considered.

I. THE PEACE OFFERING OF THANKSGIVING.

1. There is fitness in this association.

2. A bread offering accompanied this.

II. THE THANKSGIVING IN THE HEAVE OFFERING. (Leviticus 7:14, Leviticus 7:15.)

1. This was taken from the whole oblation.

2. It was lifted up in faith and gratitude to God.

3. It became the priest's who sprinkled the blood of the peace offering.

Leviticus 7:16-27

The sanctity of the service of God.

The peace offering may be offered for thanksgiving, in which case it has appropriate ceremonies (Leviticus 7:12-15). There is also the peace offering of a vow, the ceremonies of which are the same as those of the voluntary offering (Leviticus 7:16; also Le Leviticus 19:5-8). In connection with this subject, we are admonished of the sanctity of the service of God; and similar admonitions arc given in what follows.

I. WE SEE THIS SANCTITY IN THE SANCTIONS OF THE LAW OF THE PEACE OFFERING.

1. Consider the precept.

2. Consider the penalties.

II. THIS SANCTITY IS FURTHER SEEN IN THE PENALTIES IMPOSED IN OTHER CASES. Thus:

1. When the flesh of sacrifice is unlawfully eaten.

2. When holy things are profaned.

Leviticus 7:28-38

The service of the oblation.

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.

2. He had to bring the fat laid upon the breast.

II. THE DUTY OF THE PRIEST.

1. He had to offer up the oblation.

2. The breast and shoulder were then claimed by the priest.

HOMILIES BY W. CLARKSON

Leviticus 7:1-10

Emphatic truths orthings God lays stress upon.

The great particularity and the occasional repetition shown in these ordinances point to the truth that God desired his people to attach very great weight to them. His servants were to understand that he laid great stress upon—

I. THE WAY IN WHICH HE WAS APPROACHED IN WORSHIP. Distinctions were drawn between different offerings, the import of which we now find it hard to trace. Though, indeed, it is stated that "as the sin offering so the trespass offering; there is one law for them" (Leviticus 7:7), yet there were differences in the way in which the blood was disposed of by the priests, etc. (cf. Leviticus 7:2 and Le Leviticus 4:6, Leviticus 4:7). Minute details were entered into respecting the disposal of the various parts of the animal (Leviticus 7:3, Leviticus 7:4, Leviticus 7:8). Precise directions were given regarding the eating of the offerings by the priests (Leviticus 7:5, Leviticus 7:9, Leviticus 7:10). It appears to us that there must have been but very faint moral significance in these arrangements to the mind of the Hebrew worshipper. But if this were so, the very particularity of the precepts indicated God's determination that his people should show the utmost vigilance and attention in their approaches to himself. We may wisely learn therefrom that, though our Divine Master has left all details in worship to our spiritual discernment, he is far from indifferent to the way in which we approach him. We should show the utmost care:

1. To draw nigh to his throne of grace in a right spirit—a spirit of reverence, trust, expectation, holy joy.

2. To use those methods of approach which are most likely to foster the true spirit of worship—having enough of simplicity to favour spirituality of mind; having, at the same time, enough of art and effort to meet the cultivated tastes of all who take part in devotion.

II. THE FACT THAT SIN MEANS DEATH IN HIS SIGHT. The first "law of the trespass offering" (Leviticus 7:1) relates to the killing of the animal and the sprinkling of its blood "round about the altar" (Leviticus 7:2). The thing in these sacrifices is the application of the blood for atonement: no offering on the altar, no eating of the flesh, until life had been taken, until blood had been shed and sprinkled. The sinner must own his worthiness of death for his trespass, and, if he is to find acceptance, must bring a victim, whose life shall be forfeited instead of his own, whose atoning blood shall make peace with God. This is the foundation truth of Old Testament sacrifices; it is the ground truth of the sacrifice on Calvary.

III. THE TRUTH THAT OUR VERY BEST, OUR OWN SELF, IS TO BE CONSECRATED TO GOD. The best of the slain animals, the vital parts, had to be presented in holy sacrifice on the altar (Leviticus 7:3-5). When the atoning blood has brought reconciliation, we are to present our best, our very selves, in acceptable sacrifice to our Saviour.

IV. THE TRUTH THAT ALL WHICH IS PRESENTED TO GOD IS TO BE REGARDED AS HOLY IN HIS SIGHT. Only the priests might eat of the flesh of the offered animal, and they only "in the holy place," for "it is most holy" (Leviticus 7:6). Everything became holy when brought to "the door of the tabernacle" and presented to Jehovah. When we dedicate ourselves to his service in the act of self-surrender, we yield everything to him. And then:

1. Our bodies become a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 6:13, 1 Corinthians 6:20).

2. Our whole lives are to be lived and spent before him as holy (1 Corinthians 10:31).—C.

Leviticus 7:14, Leviticus 7:28-34

The kingdom of God: lessons from the heave offering.

The ceremony of the heave offering and wave offering was a striking incident in the rite of the peace offering. "According to Jewish tradition it was performed by laying the parts on the hands of the offerer, and the priest, putting his hands again underneath, then moving them in a horizontal direction for the waving and in a vertical one for the heaving … the waving was peculiarly connected with the breast, which is thence called the wave breast (Leviticus 7:34), and the heaving with the shoulder, for this reason called the heave shoulder" (Leviticus 7:34). The main truth to which this symbolic act pointed was probably—

I. GOD'S UNIVERSAL SOVEREIGNTY. As these parts of the animal were solemnly directed upwards and downwards and laterally, in all directions, the offerer intimated his belief that the realm of Jehovah was a boundless kingdom, reaching to the heavens above, to the dark regions below, to every corner and quarter of the earth. We do well to meditate on the truth thus pictorially presented; bat in so doing we are necessarily reminded how much more we have learned both from revelation and human science of the wide reach of his reign. We may think of his Divine kingdom as including:

1. Heaven and all its worlds and inhabitants.

2. Hades—the grave and those who have "gone to the grave."

3. The earth and all that is thereon:

(1) all human Beings;

We are reminded of the propriety of—

II. OUR FORMAL RECOGNITION OF THIS FACT. The Hebrew worshipper was encouraged to bring his peace offering to the altar, and then to go through this simple but suggestive ceremony, thus formally acknowledging the truth. No similar provision is made for our utterance of it; but it is open to us to declare it in sacred words and in most solemn forms:

1. In adoration. "Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power … for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine," etc. (` Chronicles 29:10, 11; 1 Timothy 1:17; Deuteronomy 10:14; Psalms 24:1).

2. In praise. When we "sing unto the Lord," there should be full and frequent ascription of everything "in the heavens above and. the earth beneath" to him as the Author and Owner and Ruler of all. We also see—

III. OUR APPROPRIATE ACTION THEREUPON. The Jewish worshipper was directed to "wave" and "heave" the breast and shoulder; these joints in particular and in preference to any other, "probably from their being considered the more excellent parts." When the fat had been burned upon the altar (Leviticus 7:30, these joints were reserved "unto Aaron the priest and unto his sons for ever" (Leviticus 7:34). We gather therefrom that we are to make practical recognition of the truth that God's kingdom extends everywhere, and includes every one, by:

1. Dedicating our best to his service: our affections (suggested by the breast); our strength (suggested by the shoulder).

2. Bringing our offerings to his cause—for the support of those who minister in holy things, and for the maintenance of those various agencies which are working for the glory of his Name.—C.

Leviticus 7:11-18, Leviticus 7:30

Four thoughts on sacred service.

We gather from these words—

I. THAT THERE IS A JOYOUS AND SOCIAL ELEMENT IN SACRED SERVICE. There were not only sin and burnt offerings, but also meat and peace offerings, in the Hebrew ritual. Those who were reconciled unto God might rejoice, and might rejoice together, before him. They might hold festive gatherings as his servants and as his worshippers; they might eat flesh which had been dedicated, to him, and bread, even leavened bread (Leviticus 7:13), and they were to "rejoice in their feast" (Deuteronomy 16:14). The prevailing tone of the true Christian life is that of sacred joy. Even at the remembrance of the Saviour's death humility and faith are to rise into holy joy.

"Around a table, not a tomb,

He willed our gathering-place should be.

When going to prepare our home,

Our Saviour said, 'Remember me.'"

Whether in ordinary worship, or at "the table of the Lord," or in any other Christian festival, we are to "rejoice before the Lord." together.

II. THAT THERE IS A SPONTANEOUS AS WELL AS A STATUTORY element in sacred service. "If he offer it for a thanksgiving then he shall offer," etc. (Leviticus 7:12). "If the sacrifice … be a vow, or a voluntary offering, it shall be eaten," etc. (Leviticus 7:16). God's Law says, "thou shalt," but it finds room for "if thou shalt." There are many things compulsory, and we have nothing to do but cheerfully and unquestioningly obey. There are also many things optional, and we may allow ourselves to act as devotional and generous impulses may move us. The mind which is constitutionally legal should cultivate the spontaneous in worship and benefaction; the impulsive must remember that there are statutes as well as suggestions in the Word of God.

III. THAT THERE MAY BE NOT ONLY FUTILITY BUT EVEN GUILT in connection with sacred service. Disregard of the prohibition to eat on the third day entirely vitiated the worthiness of the offering: in such case it would "not be accepted," neither "imputed unto him that offered it;" it would be counted "an abomination," and the soul that so acted was to "bear his iniquity" (Leviticus 7:18). The service we seek to render God may be:

1. Wholly vitiated so as to be entirely unacceptable, and draw down no blessing from above; or may even be:

2. Positively offensive in the sight of God, and add to our guilt, if it be

IV. THAT PERSONAL SPIRITUAL PARTICIPATION IS NECESSARY in sacred service. "His own hands shall bring the offerings" (Leviticus 7:30). God would be approached by His people themselves, and though he had graciously granted human mediation in the form of a sacrificing priesthood, yet he desired that every Israelite who had an offering to present should bring it with his own hand to the door of the tabernacle. Religion is a personal thing. We may accept human ministry, but we must come ourselves to God in direct, immediate devotion and dedication. Every man here must bear his own burden (Galatians 6:5). There is a point beyond which the most ardent affection, the most earnest solicitude, the most burning zeal cannot go—for others. They must, themselves, approach in reverence, bow in penitence, look up in faith, yield in self-surrender, present daily sacrifices of gratitude, obedience, submission.—C.

Leviticus 7:20, Leviticus 7:21

Divine and human severity.

There is something almost startling in the closing words, "That soul shall be cut off from his people." It suggests thoughts of—

I. APPARENT DIVINE SEVERITY.

1. That God sometimes seems to be severe in his dealings with men. These particular injunctions must have had to the Jews an aspect of rigour. An Israelite excommunicated for one of these offenses probably felt that he had been hardly dealt with. God's dealings have an occasional aspect of severity (see Romans 11:22). So with us. In his providence comparatively slight faults, errors, transgressions, are sometimes followed by most serious evils—disgrace, sorrow, loss, death.

2. That the light of after-days often explains his dealing with us. We can see now that the paramount and supreme importance of maintaining the purity of Israel, its separateness from all the abominations of surrounding heathendom, made the most stringent regulations on that subject necessary and wise, and therefore kind. So with us. Looking back on the way by which we have been led, we frequently see that that very thing which at the time was not only distressing but perplexing, was the most signal act of the Divine wisdom and goodness, the providential ordering for which, above every other thing, we now give thanks.

3. That present faith should rise to the realization that, somewhere in the future, apparent severity will bear the aspect of wise and holy love. "What we know not now we shall know hereafter." "Then shall we know," etc. (1 Corinthians 13:12).

II. OCCASIONAL HUMAN SEVERITY.

1. That we are sometimes obliged to seem severe towards those for whom we are responsible.

2. That apparent severity is sometimes the only rightful course which wise and holy love can take. It is the action which is (l) due to itself (James 3:17);

Leviticus 7:15-17

Three features of acceptable service.

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 (Leviticus 7:15); that of another kind of offering might be eaten partly on the day following (Leviticus 7:16), but on no account might anything offered in sacrifice be partaken of on the third day (Leviticus 7:17, Leviticus 7:18). 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.

HOMILIES BY R.A. REDFORD

Leviticus 7:1-10

The trespass offering, burnt offering, and meat offering, affording support to the minister of the sanctuary and occasion for feasting.

I. It is the intent of true religion that those consecrated to its service should be provided for liberally.

II. Acknowledgment of sin and atonement made lead to rejoicing, and the festival life of man grows out of reconciliation with God.

III. TYPICALLY; Christ the High Priest is rewarded in the sanctification of his people "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied."—R.

Leviticus 7:11-21

The peace offerings and thank offerings.

The unleavened bread and the leavened bread, both offered. The offerings must be quickly eaten, and all uncleanness must be avoided as iniquity. Thus are taught—

I. THE DUTY OF THANKFULNESS.

1. It should be cheerful, glad, pure, speedy.

2. It should be religious, expressed towards God as the Author and Giver of every good gift.

3. It should be social, recognizing both the house of God and family life.

II. THE NECESSITY OF HOLINESS in all things and at all times. Thanks—vows—voluntary offerings;—in all there must be separation to God, and from the corrupt and unclean.

1. In nothing more need of vigilance than in expressing the heart's more joyful feelings. Possibility of prolonging the joy till it becomes corrupt. Hilarity overbalancing the soul. Intemperance in enjoyments.

2. The uncleanness of the world is apt to cling to us. We should especially watch against carrying the impure spirit into the sanctuary. The mind should be free, the heart calm, the soul hungering and thirsting alter spiritual delights, when, on the Lord's day, we enter the courts of his house to offer sacrifice.

3. Fellowship with God's ministers and his services. One voice, but many hearts. True mediation when all alike by faith depending on Christ.—R.

Leviticus 7:22-27

Instructions for the people on the fat and on the blood.

The prohibition of fat was to secure the rights of Jehovah from invasion. The fat was a gift sanctified to God. The prohibition of the blood was to keep up the idea of atonement, the blood being regarded as the soul of the animal which God had appointed as the medium of atonement for the soul of man. Here is—

I. THE SUPREMACY OF THE DIVINE CLAIMS.

1. The recognition by the conscience in doctrine, in the place religion holds in the life.

2. The social state should be regulated on this principle. Man must not invade God's rights if he would retain God's blessing. Observance of the sabbath. The law of nations rests on the Law of God.

3. The individual believer will take care that he robs God of nothing. His service demands the fat, the choicest faculties, the deepest feelings, the largest gifts.

II. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD MADE THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF MAN. Life for life. The blood sanctified, the blood saved. On the foundation of a perfect reconciliation alone can a true humanity be preserved and developed. Mistake of the ancient Greeks in worshipping humanity unredeemed, leading to animalism, and eventually to the substitution of mere art for morality, therefore the degradation of humanity. The elevation of the soul is the elevation of the whole man; "Im ganzen, guten, schoenen resolut zu leben," is a motto only to be adopted in the Christian sense. "He that sayeth his life shall lose it;" he that offers it up to God shall redeem it.—R.

Leviticus 7:28-38

The wave breast and the heave shoulder

given to the priests. God's share and his ministers' share must be both fully given and carefully set aside and publicly offered up. Generous support of the sanctuary.

I. SERVICE OF GOD'S HOUSE REQUIRES SPECIAL OFFERINGS; which should be:

1. Large and freely bestowed. Reciprocal blessings; those that give receive, and as they give, they receive.

2. The ministry should be so provided for that the service rendered be joyful and unrestrained.

3. The subordinate arrangements of the sanctuary should partake of the cheerfulness which flows from abundance. A festival of worship.

II. SANCTIFICATION OF GIFTS. Both by personal preparation and by systematic beneficence. Lay aside for God as we are prospered. God's claims should precede all others. The blessing of the sanctuary overflows into common life.

III. PUBLICITY A POWERFUL STIMULUS AND A BINDING PLEDGE. Waving, and heaving represented extent and elevation, Much in example. Our gifts should not be ostentatiously published, but yet, if held up to God, and so presented as to set forth the universality of our consecration to him, they will both glorify his Name and incite others to his service.—R.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Leviticus 7:4". The Pulpit Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc/leviticus-7.html. 1897.

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