Atonement is all about fellowship between God (the host), and His people (whose sins are forgiven in the atonement) via the priests (who accomplishes our atonement) Notably the word ‘atonement’ is used by God more so in Leviticus, than any other book in the Bible. The root word is “Levi” which means to attach or join, Genesis 27:34.
Mealtime today in our society rarely has the same significance it did in biblical times. It is easy for us to overlook the importance of ritual meals in God’s house as the culmination of the sacrifice. Having already discussed the sacrifice procedures for all five categories of offerings (Lev. 1:1–6:7), Leviticus revisits all five offerings again, this time with particular focus on how the resulting fellowship meals were to be eaten in the Lord’s house (Lev. 6:8–7:38).
When offerings are presented at the Temple, the entire offering becomes the Lord’s. It is the Lord who gives portions of the sacrifice, as food, back to the priests (Lev. 6:17). Instructions for eating the various sacrifices is given in three groups: the one offering wholly consumed by God (Lev. 6:8–13); the three offerings consumed by God and the priests (6:14–7:10); and the one offering meal shared by God, the priests, and the people (Lev. 7:11–38)
However, The burnt offering was consumed wholly on the altar. It was intended to be kept burning around the clock, replaced daily (ref: Exodus 29:38-42). The other sacrifices were piled on top of this one and carried heavenward in its flames (6:12). How would an ancient Hebrew believer have felt knowing that, wherever he or she was at any time of the day, a “pleasing aroma” was rising to God for his or her atonement? Can we see Jesus in this sentiment? See Ephesians 5:2 & 2nd Corinthians 2:14-16.
As we look at the culmination of all these offerings ascending, we should not miss out on the fellowship God had in sharing portions of the sacrifices after the burnt offering. It was his way of honoring their work in accomplishing the people’s atonement ( Lev. 7:7). This can be an expression of God’s pleasure in the work of the priests and it’s purpose can serve as a backdrop to our understanding of what Jesus says in John 10:17-18. In sharing sacrifices as a meal, we can learn something from the warnings God places in these instructions, Lev. 7:11-27. He prohibits consumption of the sacrifice’s blood (Lev. 7:26–27) which is very significant. Some ancient religions required worshipers to consume blood in order to unite the participant’s life with that of the offering (“the life of every creature is its blood” Lev. 17:14). What do you think it means that Old Testament believers were not to consume the animal’s blood (being a foreshadowing of the true sacrifice), yet the Lord’s Supper (the fulfillment of the peace offering meal) includes our participation in Christ’s blood, as we drink the cup in communion, see Mark 14:23-24 ?
This fellowship means we do not come to worship to appease God and end up coming away with a blessing, but rather our fellowship with him does mean we are pleasing to God and are honored as His guests in this priceless gift of his body & blood, because we have already been blessed!
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