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Messianic Pictures in the Temple Sacrificial System

Peace Offering

Next on our list of Temple sacrifices is the peace offering from Leviticus 3. Some translations render this as “fellowship offering,” which is relevant inasmuch as this is the outcome of the offering. However, the Hebrew, shlamin carries with it the same root Hebrew word shalom, which literally means “peace.”

Of the sacrifices reviewed so far, this is the first one not burned entirely. It is intended to be shared and eaten by the Levites, the person making the sacrifice, and often, his friends and family. The relevance of “fellowship” is clear, as all who are in a right relationship are fellow partakers in the meal: very much a foreshadowing of the Lord’s Supper, or communion.

But as far as it reveals the character of the Christ, we must look to the “peace” nomenclature. Paul reminds us, “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through the Lord Jesus the Messiah.” (Romans 8:1) This fulfills the very promise of Jesus in John 14:27, “My peace I give you.”

The “peace,” or Sabbath rest, is to be a part of our new nature, an evidence and testimony of our joy and salvation in Jesus. But like the olah offering already discussed, it is dependent on our thought processes, where we invest our imaginations. Philippians 4:8-9 encourages us along these lines: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Proverbs puts it just as well, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is” (Prov. 23:7).

We are half way through our journey of the sacrifices and their revelation of the Messiah. Before we can continue with the sin offering of Leviticus chapter four, however, we need to lay additional ground work to fully understand the sacrifice of the Messiah. Two topics need to be addressed: the biblical concept of clean and unclean, and the purpose behind the types on animals being offered.

Clean Versus Unclean

The concept of clean and unclean is first found in the Noah account, when God commands him to take additional clean animals onto the ark. So the bulls, goats, and sheep didn’t go aboard two-by-two, but in groups of seven!

“Unclean, in the biblical sense of the word, meant coming into contact with the kingdom of death.”

The biblical definition of clean and unclean goes beyond specific species of animals, however, to include other manifestations. A person, for example, could become “unclean” by coming into contact with something dead, or by touching blood. It is wise to remember that being “unclean” did not mean that a person had sinned. When a woman enters her monthly menstrual cycle, she has not sinned. Her body is doing what it had been created to do.

Unclean, in the biblical sense of the word, meant coming into contact with the kingdom of death. The female cycle means that a “life potential,” the egg, has died and is being expelled. The woman has not sinned, but has come into contact with “death.”

Any form of blood, therefore, the symbol of life in Leviticus 17:14, is “off limits” to the community of the redeemed. This concept was familiar to the Apostles, who commanded the new Gentile Christians in the Jerusalem Council in Acts to “abstain from blood.”

Being ritually unclean, and therefore forbidden from the Temple services, meant that a person had come into contact with “death,” either literally or symbolically. “Unclean” did not imply sinfulness. The Temple Mount, representing the Kingdom of God on earth, cannot coexist with the kingdom of death, just we, through faith in Jesus are to be dead to the flesh, living in newness of life, a new creation in Messiah (2 Cor. 5:17, Gal 6:15).

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Category: Biblical Studies, Pneuma Review, Spring 1999

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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