Learning to Love Leviticus: Staying Connected
Suggested Reading: Chapters 3 & 7:11-35
“He will present part of the fellowship sacrifice as a fire offering to the Lord…one portion of each offering…will belong to the priest…The meat of his thanksgiving sacrifice of fellowship must be eaten on the day he offers it; he may not leave any of it until morning. If the sacrifice he offers is a vow or a freewill offering, it is to be eaten on the day he presents his sacrifice, and what is left over may be eaten on the next day.” (Leviticus 3:1 & 7:14-16 HCSB)
The fellowship offering was a little different than the burnt or grain offering. It was still voluntary, offered in thanksgiving or to confirm a vow to God. Part of the offering would be burned as a sacrifice, but the rest was divided between the Israelite and the priest for them to eat.
The Israelite and the priest would sit down and enjoy their portion together as the Lord’s portion burned on the altar. It was like they were eating a meal with God, symbolizing their friendship with the Lord and with others. “Since all parties – God, priest, and man – share the same meal…it depicts the effect of perfect devotion to God and man: peaceful satisfaction and fellowship” (The Offering of Leviticus (Part Four): The Peace Offering, John W Ritenbaugh, cpg.org).
Once again, the fat of the animal was burnt as the Lord’s portion. Individual fatty parts were listed out to emphasize that all the fat was for God (Leviticus 3:3-5), no fat was to be eaten. The Hebrew word for “fat” is “cheleb” (kheh-leb) and it means “richest part, best, finest” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance).
God, just like in previous offerings, wants our best given to Him. He wants us to put our relationship with Him above all others. When we don’t put our relationship with God first, we lack in many ways. But when we make it a priority, God is able to fill us - with His wisdom, His love, His spirit - and in turn we can pour those things out to others.
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4 NLT)
“Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth.” (Psalm 73:25 NLT)
Not only is it important for us to stay connected to God, but also with others. We are told over and over again in the Bible to encourage each other, love one another, and stay unified. Jesus Himself spent His whole ministry serving and loving those around Him. We are not meant to be alone (Genesis 2:18), but in community and fellowship with those around.
“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT)
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NLT)
God also commanded the Israelites that the portions eaten by them were to be eaten within the first two days of the sacrifice due to possible spoilage. Any meat not eaten by then, as well as any meat that touches something considered unclean, had to be burned. Not only that, but if the Israelite was unclean in away way, they could not eat their portion.
God is making it very clear that our relationship with Him and others was to remain pure. He wants us to stay devoted to Him, not letting our friendship with Him spoil. He wants our friendship with others to come from pure hearts, unifying us, not dividing us apart.
“ Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NLT)
- How can you keep your relationship with God a priority? What habits might you need to let go? What new ones need to be created?
- What are a few ways you can “not neglect meeting together” with others?
- What benefits have you noticed in your own life when staying connected to The Vine?
- Have you ever let your relationship with God spoil? How about your relationship with those around you?
- How do you keep the spoilage from happening?
God not only forbade the Israelites from eating the fat, but also from eating any blood (Leviticus 1:17, 7:26-27). Surrounding cultures that practiced idolatry drank the blood from their sacrifices thinking it made them equals to their gods. The blood of the Israelite’s sacrifices was only for God. He was to be respected and set apart.
“No one is holy like the Lord! There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.” (1 Samuel 2:2 NLT)
This also foreshadowed the atonement that Jesus would bring for us through His blood on the cross. Christ’s blood is the only blood for us to “drink” because it is the only thing that gives us life and makes us holy.
“So Jesus said again, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you…Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.” (John 6:53, 56 NLT)