For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2000 James Melough


Leviticus Chapter 3

3:1.  “And if his oblation be a sacrifice of peace offering, if he offer it of the herd; whether it be male of female, he shall offer it without blemish before the Lord.”

The peace offering represents Christ as the One through Whom we have peace, “He hath made peace by the blood of his cross,” Col 1:20; “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” Ro 5:1.  It is instructive to note that fowls were never prescribed for the peace offering, for, as noted already, they speak of spiritual immaturity, and experience teaches that immaturity and deep settled peace are rarely found together.  The immature saint, like the carnal saint, is often troubled with doubts and fears.  It is equally instructive to remember that fowls were the offering of poverty, but, as already noted, literal poverty speaks of spiritual poverty.  The Peace offering could be offered only by those who could afford to bring the more costly animals, the cost of the animal reflecting the financial status of the offerer, but in Scripture the financial status is used typologically to portray the spiritual state of the individual.

The peace offering, in Hebrew is always in the plural except in Amos 5:22.  The reason appears to be that it was, as it were, several offerings in one: there was a part for God, a part for the officiating priest, and a part for the offerer himself.  The exception recorded in Amos is instructive, for there God, offended by Israel’s sin, rejected their offerings.  In other words, there was nothing in them for Him, or for the priests, or for the offerer.  It had degenerated into an empty ritual. 

The offering could be male or female, the male portraying the activity of Christ’s will in doing the Father’s will; and the female, corresponding passivity or yieldedness of His will to that of His Father.

The lack of blemish in the animal portrays the moral perfection of Christ.

“...before the Lord” reminds us that God beheld the same inward perfection in Christ as men could see outwardly.

3:2.  “And he shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron’s sons the priests shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about.”

The laying of the offerer’s hand upon the animal’s head speaks of the complete identification of the offerer with his offering.  The believer is completely identified with Christ, as it is written, “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness (confidence) in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world,” 1 Jn 4:17.

The killing of the animal speaks of Christ’s death as the foundation of our peace.

“ the door of the tabernacle of the congregation” is the symbolic reminder that it is the Lord’s death which gives us immediate access to God, and the ability to enter into His presence without fear.

Aaron’s sons represent us as a royal kingdom of priests, so that their sprinkling the blood on the altar is the assurance that Christ’s precious blood is available to us to place on the altar to atone for (cover) all our sins.

When from the herd (a bullock or a cow), it portrays Christ as the mighty, patient Servant, as presented in the Gospel of Mark. When a male was offered it spoke of the activity of His will; when a female, of the passivity of His will.  God’s permitting the offerer to bring either a male or a female animal may be to remind us that the enjoyment of peace involves both the activity and the passivity of our wills.  There is to be zeal in actively doing God’s will, and there is to be also complete submission to His will, the Lord Himself being our example, for in Him activity and passivity of His will were always in perfect balance. 

Its being without blemish speaks of the moral perfection of Christ, and its being offered “before the Lord” reminds us that God discerns what men can’t: He saw not only Christ’s outward perfection, but also what was in the heart of Christ.

3:3.  “And he shall offer of the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire unto the Lord; and the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards,”

The Lord’s whole life was a sacrifice to the Father, and it cost Him much: the mockery, ridicule, and hatred of men: the expenditure of much time in prayer and service; the refusal to yield to the allurements of this world; and finally, His life. 

“...made by fire.”  Since fire is one of the symbols of the Holy Spirit, this reminds us that from birth to death, the Lord was perfectly yielded to the control of the Holy Spirit, as declared, for example, in Heb 9:14, “... Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God....”

“...unto the Lord” reminds us that everything He did was for His Father’s glory.

The fat of every sacrifice was for God alone, for it speaks of that in the Lord’s life and death which the Father alone could comprehend, for as fat (except in small amounts) can’t be digested by man’s system, so is there in the sacrifice of Christ that which is beyond human comprehension.

The fat covering the inwards, and the fat adhering to them, e.g., the kidney suet, speaks of the spiritual richness of the Lord’s inward life in the sight of the Father.  Man could see the outward perfection of Christ’s life, but only the Father could understand the loving obedience to Him, and the equally great love for men, which motivated the Lord’s every thought, word, and deed.

3:4.  “And the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away.”

In biblical times the kidneys (reins) were viewed as being the seat of the intellect, and their being two of them may point to the fact that there is a dual activity of man’s mind: Godward, and manward.  Since fat is almost invariably associated biblically with richness, the kidneys being enveloped in a thick covering of fat (kidney suet), may indicate the value of the mind.  It is that which governs every function of the body, its importance being further indicated in the statement relative to man, “As he thinketh in his heart (mind), so is he” Pr 23:7, and the command given believers, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God,” Ro 12:2, and the further injunction, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” Php 2:6-8.

The flanks are a part of the loins, and have also a thick layer of fat in the area adjoining the loins, and it is instructive that the Hebrew word for flank has two sets of meanings: one good, the other bad, the good meanings being related to trust, confidence, and hope; the bad, to silliness and folly.  These contrasting meanings point again to the fact that man is capable of both good and evil, of wisdom and also of folly.  But again, the application is to Christ, for of Him it is written, “Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good” Isa 7:15.  There was nothing in Him that corresponded to the sin of which man is capable, because His nature was free from the corruption which taints man’s.

The caul is a lobe or flap of the liver, the word itself being related to the idea of excelling, exceeding, abounding, preserving, making plenteous, meanings which few will have difficulty associating with Christ.  Everything in verses 3-5 speak of the excellencies of Christ which God alone can comprehend, since they transcend the grasp of finite minds.

3:5.  “And Aaron’s sons shall burn it on the altar upon the burnt sacrifice, which is upon the wood that is on the fire: it is an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor unto the Lord.”

The fact that only Aaron’s sons were privileged to burn these things on the altar is the symbolic announcement of the truth that only believers (sons of the true Aaron) are privileged to worship, for whatever ascended to God as a sweet savor is itself the symbol of worship.  The further truth being declared is that worship is simply the presentation to God of our apprehension of the worth of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The fact, however, that work was involved in the preparation of the offering, teaches the truth that the preparation of worship also involves work.  We must take time to study the Scriptures, for it is in them that He is set before us; and having read, we must then take time to meditate, giving the Holy Spirit opportunity to unfold the spiritual meaning of what we have read.  And having been given that revelation we should then first present our worship to God in private, for if we don’t worship in the quietness of our own room it is folly to expect to be able to worship publicly at the Lord’s table.

There is instruction too in how the sacrifice was to be set before God on the altar.  It was to be burned, which speaks of the necessary part the Holy Spirit played in Christ’s sacrifice.  “... on the altar” speaks of what the redemption of our souls cost the Lord Jesus Christ.  It cost Him His life to fulfill the type, and the value of our worship will be proportionate to what its preparation costs us.

“... upon the burnt sacrifice” is the symbolic declaration of the fact that we would have no worship to offer had the Lord not first offered Himself without spot to God, that sacrifice being first for God’s glory, and then for the redemption of men’s souls.  Since the Burnt offering portrays the sacrifice of Christ as being exclusively first for God’s glory, the burning of the Peace offering upon it declares that Christ’s sacrifice, not only satisfies God, but provides also the basis of our peace.

“...upon the wood (symbol of humanity)” announces the further truth that the Lord had to become man before He could die in our guilty stead, for as God He was beyond the power of death.  The wood was always “laid in order” on the altar.  It was never just thrown there haphazardly.  This speaks of the fact that Christ’s life was always ordered by the written Word, while the wood’s being on the fire speaks of His perfect submission to the Holy Spirit’s control.  As Man He was begotten by the power of the Holy Spirit, was led throughout His human life by that same Spirit, and finally through the Holy Spirit offered Himself without spot to God.  We should note incidentally that the control of the Holy Spirit today is never apart from the written Word, nor apart from the believer’s will.  He will not compel a believer to be obedient any more than he will compel a sinner to believe, hence the command not to grieve or quench Him.

Its being a sweet savor to God tells us of the satisfaction God finds in the sacrifice of Christ.

3:6.  “And if his offering for a sacrifice of peace offering unto the Lord be of the flock; male or female, he shall offer it without blemish.”

As already noted, the lesser monetary worth of these smaller animals points symbolically to a smaller comprehension of the worth of Christ on the part of the believer due to immaturity, that lack reflecting adversely on the man only when it is due to carnality, for the young convert can’t be expected to be as knowledgeable in spiritual things as is the man who has been saved for many years.

The fact that the animal from the flocks was no less a sweet savor to God than was that from the herd, assures us that the worship of the young believer is no less precious in His sight than is that of the more mature worshiper.

Since we have already discussed the significance of its being male or female, and without blemish, there is no need to repeat those comments here.

3:7.  “If he offer a lamb for his offering, then shall he offer it before the Lord.”

3:8.  “And he shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it before the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron’s sons shall sprinkle the blood thereof round about upon the altar.”

The presentation of a lamb is meant to focus attention upon the Lord Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God Who has borne away man’s sin.  It points to the worship that is produced by contemplating His meek submission to the Father’s will, and His refusal to defend Himself against the accusations of those who hated Him and sought His life.  His lamblike character is nowhere more clearly set forth than in Isa 53:7, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”

The laying of the offerer’s hands on the animal’s head speaks of our identification with Christ.  As we transfer our sins to Him and see in Him the One Who has made complete atonement for them, His righteousness and peace are transferred to us.

Since the significance of the killing of the animal, and the sprinkling of its blood on the altar, have already been discussed in our study of chapter one, there is no need to repeat it here.

3:9.  “And he shall offer of the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire unto the Lord; the fat thereof, and the whole rump (tail), it shall he take off hard by the backbone; and the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards,”

3:10.  “And the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away.”

3:11.  “And the priest shall burn it upon the altar: it is the food of the offering made by fire unto the Lord.”

The rump of verse 9 is literally “the fat tail of the oriental sheep” (Strong’s Concordance), the word being associated with stoutness or strength.  It was to be removed at its junction with the backbone.  All the fat of the animal was to be burned on the altar as God’s portion of the offering, and its being described as “the food of the offering ... unto the Lord” means that as food satisfies literally, so here God is satisfied with Christ, and therefore with us as new creatures in Christ.  This knowledge imparts peace to every believer, unless of course we ourselves mar it by disobedience.

The difference between the internal fat, and the fat tail appears to be that whereas the former speaks of what God alone can comprehend relative to the worth of Christ, the latter may speak of what we, in some measure at least, can also comprehend.

3:12.  “And if his offering be a goat, then he shall offer it before the Lord.”

3:13.  “And he shall lay his hand upon the head of it, and kill it before the tabernacle of the congregation; and the sons of Aaron shall sprinkle the blood thereof upon the altar round about.”

Since the goat was the animal most often presented for a sin offering, here it represents Christ made sin for us, as described in 2 Co 5:21, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”   Its being presented here for the peace offering, however, is to remind us that we have peace with God and in our own consciences only because Christ has died to put away all our sin.

3:14.  “And he shall offer thereof his offering, even an offering made by fire unto the Lord; the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards,”

3:15.  “And the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away.”

3:16.  “And the priest shall burn them upon the altar: it is the food of the offering made by fire for a sweet savor: all the fat is the Lord’s.”

These things signify the same truth as has been discussed already, and the repetition of that truth here is to emphasize the value God sets upon the sacrifice offered at Calvary when the Lord Jesus Christ made atonement for sin; but inasmuch as it is the fat that is the subject in these verses, the truth being declared relates to the satisfaction and pleasure which God finds in that which the fat represents: those perfections of Christ which transcend human understanding.

3:17.  “It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood.”

The perpetual character of this statute declares the eternal worth of Christ’s sacrifice in the sight of God, and also in the sight of every man who has been redeemed by that precious blood shed at Calvary to make atonement for sin.

The proscription of the fat is the symbolic announcement of the fact that as long as we are in these earthly bodies there will be the inability to fully comprehend the full value of the Lord’s sacrifice.  The proscription of blood as man’s food is to remind us that “The life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.  Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood,” Le 17:11-12.  Since the blood represents the life, and God is the Giver of life, He has a claim on man’s life, abstention from eating blood being man’s token acknowledgment of that truth.  As someone has said, “The life of the spirit can’t be sustained by that which is the life of the flesh.”


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough