Partaking in Peace
(Leviticus 3:1-17; 4:1-35; 5:1-13; 6:24-30; 7:11-36; 17:1-7)
Israel’s High Priest
Today’s Bible readings highlight three different Old Testament offerings: the peace offering, the sin offering and the guilt offering.
Purity and Peace
The Israelites practiced freewill fellowship or peace offerings, as God instructed, to celebrate restored relationship with God. The rituals of the peace offering, fulfilled by the high priest, marked the merriment of communion with the Lord and one another.
In a sense, the Old Testament peace offering may be a prophetic preview of Christian Holy Communion, in which believers recount and recall the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ for our sins. Like the ancient Israelites, we partake of the elements together, focusing on our fellowship with one another and particularly on our restoration to the Lord.
Consider the warning in Leviticus 7:19-21, where Moses instructed the priests and people on the important of purity for participating in the fellowship offering. Perhaps the Apostle Paul (a skilled student of Scripture) referred to this truth, when he wrote these words:
“So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup
of the Lord
unworthily is guilty of sinning
against the body and blood of the Lord.
That is why you should examine yourself
before eating the bread and drinking the cup.
For if you eat the bread or drink the cup
without honoring the body of Christ,
you are eating and drinking God’s judgment
Intentional and Unintentional Sin
The Lord told Moses to instruct the people about offerings for sin, both willful and accidental. This passage may surprise some readers, as we are so often taught about the importance of our attitudes and the conditions of our hearts. Is it possible to sin without knowing we are doing so?
This issue begs the question about those who have yet not heard the truth. Will God hold people accountable for sins they do not know they have committed? Can a law be enforced, even if individuals are not informed on its legality?
Here’s an analogy. Suppose a driver races down a rural highway at 75 miles per hour. If no speed limit sign is posted, or the driver is otherwise unaware of the limit, can a police officer still issue a traffic citation?
Truth is truth. Maybe it’s time for those who are informed to begin teaching others more eagerly, since we will all face the ultimate Judge one day.
Omission vs. Commission
The Old Testament guilt offerings focused on both sins of omission and sins of commission. In other words, it was (and still is) possible for a person to sin by what good he fails to do, as well as what he evil he may actively do. This dichotomy appears most clearly in issues of truth-telling and personal integrity.
How many parents have tried to impress this statute upon youngsters, who may try to leave out critical facts when confronted with a touchy question? How many relationships might enjoy restored trust, if partners would only share the full story, rather than omitting important factors?
Traditionally, modern court systems have often sworn in witnesses with his statement (or one very much like it):
“Do you promise to tell
The whole truth
And nothing but the truth,
So help you God?”
Would that we were able to practice this standard in all of our dealings.
Will you pray with me?
Your standards are clear
Even as You are unchanging.
You are love.
Your are justice.
You are truth.
And you are the only wise God.
Build Your integrity within us.
Change our hearts,
So that we may serve You
Reveal to us
In which we may harbor sin,
Either intentional or unintentional.
Guard us from
Sins of omission and commission.
Make us holy,
Even as You are holy.