(So...technically it is October 9th as I am typing this, but I have yet to lay my head on my pillow so I'm still going to count this as my Day 8 post for this 31-day challenge. It's getting harder and harder to write every single day...but I'm hanging in there... ;) I'm not sure if this post will make a whole lot of sense...it's just where I'm at in my search for understanding peace, and my thoughts are a bit jumbled...but here ya go: )
The Old Testament has quite a lot of verses about peace. Peace is spoken of as opposed to war or conflict. People often wish one another peace or greet one another with words of peace, like in 1 Samuel 25:6: “Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all you have.”
But the verses that have intrigued me lately have been about the “sacrifice of peace offerings.” I don’t know how I missed this before…probably because I usually skim through the passages that detail all the sacrifices; I usually get lost in all the rules and procedures and bloody animals, so I just haven’t taken a lot of time to really study the sacrifices. But the past few days, I’ve been taking a closer look, trying to get a better understanding of what these “peace offerings” really were.
So I’ve learned…there were five different kinds of offerings that God’s people were required to make: Burnt Offerings, Grain Offerings, Peace Offerings, Sin Offerings, and Guilt Offerings. Four of these (all but the Grain offerings) required an animal sacrifice…required the shedding of blood…including the Peace Offering.
Each offering had a purpose, an emphasis, a reason. I can’t say I completely understand all of it…it is still a bit complicated to me, even as I read commentaries and notes about them all. But this chart that is in my ESV Study Bible gave me the basic emphasis for each offering:
“Burnt Offering – underscores prayers of petition or praise
Grain Offering – pleasing aroma; often mirrors emphasis of the offering it accompanies
Peace Offering – fellowship with the Lord by having a communion meal
Sin Offering – atonement of a committed sin; metaphor of purification
Guilt Offering – atonement of a committed sin; metaphor of compensation for wrongdoing”
It was the peace offering that caught my attention. Specifically, that it said its emphasis was for “fellowship with the Lord.”
So I dug a little deeper…read a little more.
The peace offering is detailed in Leviticus 3, and then again in Leviticus 7:11-36.
The notes/commentary in my Bible at the beginning of Leviticus 3 says this: “The Peace Offering. This offering achieves and expresses peace or fellowship between an offerer and the Lord. The ritual as a whole symbolizes a communion meal that is held between the offerer, the officiating priest, and the Lord. In OT times such meals were a means of affirming a covenant relationship (Gen. 26:28-30). Generally speaking, then, this offering was a time to remember and reaffirm the covenant relationship between the Lord and Israel.”
I’m not going to go into any kind of a deep theological discussion here…mainly because I honestly don’t know enough about any of this well enough to intelligently discuss it. ;) But I’ve been mulling over some thoughts based on what I’ve been reading about this peace offering…and I think there’s something there that is key to understanding real peace. So here are my humble little thoughts for today:
Fellowship with God = Peace
From the beginning of Creation, fellowship with God has brought peace.
But from the fall of man, that fellowship has been broken.
In the Old Testament, sacrifices restored that relationship. Peace offerings restored fellowship.
Fellowship brought peace.
When Jesus came, when He made the ultimate sacrifice, He paid the final price for our peace. Peace with God…the greatest kind of peace there is. Fellowship with God was once and for all restored. We can have a relationship with Him…we can know Him…we can live each day in communion with Him. And that fellowship…that is what gives us peace.
But we don’t always feel that peace. We don’t always let that peace rule in our hearts. Because life and sin and worry and doubt gets in the way.
We don’t spend time with Him…we don’t talk to Him…and then we wonder why we don’t have peace.
We don’t need to sacrifice animals anymore to restore our fellowship with God. Jesus took care of that. But I wonder if there is something in my life today…something that is standing between me and genuine fellowship with God…something that needs to be sacrificed as a sort of peace offering, to restore my fellowship with God today?
When I’m feeling like my life is in chaos and peace is elusive, maybe I need to ask myself: is my relationship with God what it ought to be? Am I aware of His presence in every moment of my day? Am I listening to His voice? Am I reading His Word? Am I talking to Him? Am I fellowshipping with Him?
Because fellowship with God will bring peace.
I’m still thinking through all of this…working through it for myself…trying to listen to what God is telling me and showing me. But I think maybe there is something there…something really important to understanding peace in my own life. So I’m going to keep reading and digging and seeking….and keep intentionally making Christ the center of my life, and keep drawing closer and closer to Him, because He is the source of all peace.