Peace and Thank Offerings in the Tabernacle

Devoted Thanks

“This is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which one shall offer unto Jehovah” (Leviticus 7:11, scriptures from RVIC unless otherwise noted).

By David Stein

Peace and Thank Offerings in the Tabernacle

Types and shadows in the Hebrew scriptures are among the delightful gifts that Jehovah has given to the New Creation. A study of these pictures brings to light marvelous details of God’s plan and the parts we have to play in it. The richness of these fine points enhances the clearly stated doctrines of truth in the New Testament.

Our scriptural basis for examining these things as types is provided in two key texts. “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that through patience and through comfort of the scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). “These things happened unto them typically, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come” (1 Corinthians 10:11, see also Rotherham).

Peace offerings were free-will offerings made by willing individuals in ancient Israel to demonstrate their appreciation for peace with God and their thankfulness for His blessings. These peace and thank offerings were unrelated to the person’s own sins which had other codified procedures for their expiation. God did specify how these peace offerings were to be made. In following these explicit instructions, the offerer had the satisfaction of knowing they were doing God’s will, not under compulsion, but from a heart of gratitude.

Alfred Edersheim observed that there were three kinds of peace offerings. “Private peace offerings were of a threefold kind (Leviticus 7:11): ‘sacrifices of thanksgiving’ (Leviticus 7:12), ‘vows,’ and strictly ‘voluntary offerings’ (Leviticus 7:16). The first were in general acknowledgment of mercies received; the last, the free gift of loving hearts, as even the use of the same term in Exodus 25:2, 35:29 implies.”1 (Leviticus 7:11, 12).

(1) Alfred Edersheim, The Temple, 1874, page 107.

The Thanksgiving Offering

“And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which one shall offer unto Jehovah. If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour soaked. With cakes of leavened bread he shall offer his oblation with the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving”

Although Leviticus 3 stipulates which animals could be used as peace offerings, chapter 7 emphasizes what was to be offered with the sacrifices. Four items were specified:
(1) Unleavened cakes mingled with oil
(2) Unleavened wafers anointed with oil
(3) Cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour soaked
(4) Cakes of leavened bread
This picture contains lessons about thankfulness for people of faith. Reasons for this suggestion: (a) The scriptures do not say this is a type, but we do draw lessons from the picture. (b) Thank offerings pertain to the Gospel Age and also the Kingdom, thus not merely for the New Creation. (c) It is about thankfulness, but specifying what to be thankful means and how to be thankful suggests more specificity than the picture illustrates.

Unleavened Cakes

The first bread on the list is “unleavened cakes mingled with oil.” As leaven is a general symbol of sin, unleavened bread indicates the absence of sin, that is, righteousness. And being mingled with oil expresses gratitude for the begettal of the holy Spirit which leads to our sanctification.

We are to be thankful for the gift of justification, a gift from our Heavenly Father through Christ, and the work of the holy Spirit for our sanctification. “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied” (1 Peter 1:2 KJV).

Unleavened Wafers

The second bread is “unleavened wafers anointed with oil.” A wafer is a thin piece of bread. This wafer was to be anointed with oil, making it more or less translucent. Although light would pass through, images would be indistinct. This suggests that our righteous hopes are spiritual. We have a translucent image of the future realization of God’s promises. “For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

The lesson for us is to be thankful for the precious promises, the hopes they engender, and the strength and courage we derive from them. “That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7 KJV).

Fine Flour

The third bread is “fine flour soaked.” The KJV has “cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried” and Young’s, “fried flour cakes mixed with oil.”2 These cakes were of fine best flour, soaked, baked or fried in oil. This may represent the abundant help of the holy Spirit in our experiences — “fried” suggesting the fiery nature of some experiences. We are thankful for these trials, knowing that they are for our development and eternal blessing.

(2) The Hebrew word here translated “soaked” is Strong’s 7246, rabak, raw-bak, which is defined as “A primitive root; to soak (bread in oil): — baken, (that which is) fried.”

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7 KJV).

Leavened Bread

The last item specified is “leavened bread.” This is one of only two offerings in the Law that were required to be leavened, the other being the two wheat cakes of the wave offering in Leviticus 23:16. Leaven generally pictures sin, and we are not thankful for sin. However, we acknowledge our inherent sinfulness, and we are thankful in spite of sin. We do not allow sin to discourage us from giving thanks for all things. We are thankful that our weakness is covered, and trumped by God’s grace.

“He hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

How Offered

Following the specifications of the content of the offerings, we have instructions for how the offerings were to be presented. “Of it he shall offer one out of each oblation for a heave offering unto Jehovah; it shall be the priest’s that sprinkleth the blood of the peace offerings. And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten on the day of his oblation; he shall not leave any of it until the morning” (Leviticus 7:14, 15).

The sacrificial animal was slain by the offerer in the presence of the priest and then the blood was sprinkled around the altar (Leviticus 3:1, 2). Then the offerer would eat the offering “on the day” he sacrificed it. None was to be left over to the next day. (See also Leviticus 22:30.)

The slaying of the sacrificial animal by the offerer shows his willing participation in this thank offering. Consumption of the sacrifice on the same day demonstrates that the individual completes it to the finish. These lessons find fulfillment in our consecration sacrifices. We “eat” the sacrifice by willingly “dying daily” until the end of this life. “I protest by that glorying in you, brethren, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I ie daily” (1 Corinthians 15:3).

The priest was given the breast and right shoulder of the animal. “The priest shall burn the fat upon the altar; but the breast shall be Aaron’s and his sons’. And the right thigh shall ye give unto the priest for a heave offering out of the sacrifices of your peace offerings. He among the sons of Aaron that offereth the blood of the peace offerings, and the fat, shall have the right thigh for a portion. For the wave breast and the heave thigh have I taken of the children of Israel out of the sacrifices of their peace offerings, and have given them unto Aaron the priest and unto his sons as their portion for ever from the children of Israel. This is the anointing portion of Aaron, and the anointing portion of his sons, out of the offerings of Jehovah made by fire, in the day when he presented them to minister unto Jehovah in the priest’s office” (Leviticus 7:31-35).

Both of these offerings required movement. The wave offering was probably a side-to-side movement whereas the heave offering was up and down. Putting these together we see the sign of the cross!3 As suggested by Pastor Russell, the continuing movement represents that the consecration here represented was not for a moment, but continual, until our service here is complete.4 The breast and right shoulder were reserved for the priests. Perhaps the breast identifies with the heart, symbolizing deep motivations. The right shoulder suggests earnest strength in fulfilling our consecrated service to God.

(3) The blood of the bullock in the Day of Atonement sacrifice was sprinkled on the mercy seat per Leviticus 16:14, “He shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward, and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times.” Sprinkling on the mercy seat “eastward” would be in a vertical stroke and sprinkling “before” would be a horizontal stroke — again the sign of the cross. (One editor notes that it is not apparent in Leviticus 16:14 that the sprinkling here was in two directions. On and before merely requires that the forward motion of sprinkling caused part of the blood to rest on the ark, part on the ground “before” the ark.)
(4) Tabernacle Shadows, page 45, “These were taken in the hands of the priests and ‘waved’ — passed to and fro before the Lord — representing the fact that a consecrated offering is not given to the Lord for a moment, a day or a year, but that we consecrate to continually keep our affections and powers uplifted, never ceasing until accepted of him as having finished our course.”

The Vow and Freewill Offering

“If the sacrifice of his oblation be a vow, or a freewill offering, it shall be eaten on the day that he offereth his sacrifice; and on the morrow that which remaineth of it shall be eaten: but that which remaineth of the flesh of the sacrifice on the third day shall be burnt with fire. And if any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings be eaten on the third day, it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be imputed unto him that offereth it: it shall be an abomination, and the soul that eateth of it shall bear his iniquity” (Leviticus 7:16-18).

If the offering was for a vow or voluntary offering, we have an interesting difference from the thank offerings. Thank offerings were to be eaten on the same day they were offered. But here the remainder of the offering may be eaten on the next day. If there is still more left, it must be burned with fire on the third day. Why is this different for a vow offering?

This vow offering by an Israelite in ancient times shows a fervent desire to please and worship God. Perhaps the thought here concerns the collective church through the Gospel Age. The church class continues to “eat” their vow offerings during 2,000 years of the Gospel Age. But this comes to an end at the close of the high calling on “the third day.”

If this is the thought, here are other texts that seem compatible. “After two days will he revive us: on the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live before him” (Hosea 6:2). “And he said unto them, Go and say to that fox, Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I am perfected” (Luke 13:32).

Maintaining Holiness and Avoiding Uncleanness

“The flesh that toucheth any unclean thing shall not be eaten; it shall be burnt with fire. And as for the flesh, every one that is clean shall eat thereof: but the soul that eateth of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings, that pertain unto Jehovah, having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from his people. And when a soul shall touch any unclean thing, the uncleanness of man, or an unclean beast, or any unclean abomination, and eat of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings, that pertain unto Jehovah, that soul shall be cut off from his people” (Leviticus 7:19-21).

This last part of the law of the peace offerings is a sobering one. One must exercise diligent care in our offering made to Jehovah, maintaining holiness throughout. In the type, the eating of the offering after touching anything unclean made it unacceptable to God with the penalty of being “cut off ” (Exodus 31:14). The antitype also contains a serious admonition. On this point Brother Russell comments: “This seems to show that if any man will then come into a condition of full peace and harmony (as all must do or else be cut off in the Second Death), he must eat or fulfil a covenant before God of entire consecration to him. If, after being thus perfected, he again becomes defiled by willful sin, he must die (the Second Death) as shown by the penalty of touching unclean things (Leviticus 7:19-21). Compare Revelation 20:9, 13-15” (Tabernacle Shadows, page 98).

God will not accept uncleanness. Our offerings must be pure. Related to this we observe that peace offerings, like all other offerings, had to be “without blemish.” “If his oblation be a sacrifice of peace offerings; if he offer of the herd, whether male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before Jehovah. … And if his oblation for a sacrifice of peace offerings unto Jehovah be of the flock; male or female, he shall offer it without blemish” (Leviticus 3:1, 6, see also Leviticus 22:21, 22).

Both of these specifications make clear the necessity of our justification and the requirement of holiness in our consecrated lives. As we have seen in the type, we must maintain our holy sacrifice of thanksgiving every day.

We conclude with a text that seems curiously repetitive. “When ye sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto Jehovah, ye shall sacrifice it that ye may be accepted” (Leviticus 22:29). The three-fold repetition of the word “sacrifice” can be taken as a serious reminder of our consecration vow. We each make this vow and the sacrifice that goes with it as a free-will offering. Once having made the commitment, having taken the vow, we must give to God what we promised. “Ye shall sacrifice it that ye may be accepted.” Shrinking back is unacceptable.

“When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou vowest. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay” (Ecclesiastes 5:4, 5). “My righteous one shall live by faith: And if he shrink back, my soul hath no pleasure in him” (Hebrews 10:38).

The lessons of the peace and thank offerings in the Law of Moses provide beautiful details about our own sacrificial experiences. Jehovah is pleased to have individuals come to him in earnest appreciation and love of his blessings looking for ways to serve him better. It is a great privilege to be accepted into the ranks of the Christian priesthood. May all of us as sons of God render our worship and service to him with joy continually.

“Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God hath already accepted thy works. Let thy garments be always white; and let not thy head lack oil” (Ecclesiastes 9:7, 8).