Introduction. Even though many believers accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, they struggle to find peace. Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. Alcoholism and drug abuse is widespread. Believers are stressed out. Many know the promise that Christ offers the peace that surpasses all understanding: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:7). Yet, many believers don’t know how to find this peace. What is a stressed out believer to do? The first five chapters of Leviticus offer the solution. The discussion in Chapter 3 regarding the peace offering is the most important. It sets forth the general principles for understanding God’s peace. Some of these general principles involve lessons from the first two chapters in Leviticus. Chapter 3 then offers seven specific “spiritual sacrifices” (1 Pet. 2:5) for the person looking to find peace with God.
General principles for finding peace with God. There are seven principles for finding God’s peace. First, a person must understand that God’s peace is not possible without the atonement of sin through the shedding of blood (Heb. 9:22). Today, accepting Christ’s blood sacrifice at the cross is the only means to atone for sin. Second, in order to find true fellowship, a saved believer must also make his or her life a “living sacrifice” for God (Ro. 12:1). Third, true fellowship requires that a believer walk with God in obedience to Him. Fourth, the New Testament reveals that Jesus is the source of any believer’s peace. Fifth, finding true peace comes by setting your expectations to be looking for peace within times of suffering, not to be freed from suffering. Sixth, God’s peace provides the ability to respond to stress without becoming stressed out. Finally, God’s peace requires that believers serve Him with the right motives.
Specific lesson on finding God’s peace from Leviticus Chapter Three. From the animal sacrifices listed in Chapter three, God reveals seven specific things that are needed for His peace. First, He reveals that a believer must make spiritual sacrifices on a daily basis. Second, from the sacrifice of the lamb, He reveals that true peace requires submission to Him. Third, from the sacrifices, He reveals that true peace requires that you give back to Him and others in proportion to the amount that you have been given. Fourth, from the sacrifice of the organs that cleanse the body, He also reveals that true peace requires that you keep yourself pure on the inside from the unclean things of the world. Fifth, He reveals that self-denial is an important requirement to finding true peace. Sixth, He reveals that true peace requires obedience. Finally, He reveals that a believer must sincerely search out His fellowship with the believer’s entire heart.
Leviticus Chapter 3: “1 ‘Now if his offering is a sacrifice of peace offerings, if he is going to offer out of the herd, whether male or female, he shall offer it without defect before the Lord. 2 He shall lay his hand on the head of his offering and slay it at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall sprinkle the blood around on the altar. 3 From the sacrifice of the peace offerings he shall present an offering by fire to the Lord, the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, 4 and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them, which is on the loins, and the lobe of the liver, which he shall remove with the kidneys. 5 Then Aaron’s sons shall offer it up in smoke on the altar on the burnt offering, which is on the wood that is on the fire; it is an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the Lord. 6 But if his offering for a sacrifice of peace offerings to the Lord is from the flock, he shall offer it, male or female, without defect. 7 If he is going to offer a lamb for his offering, then he shall offer it before the Lord, 8 and he shall lay his hand on the head of his offering and slay it before the tent of meeting, and Aaron’s sons shall sprinkle its blood around on the altar. 9 From the sacrifice of peace offerings he shall bring as an offering by fire to the Lord, its fat, the entire fat tail which he shall remove close to the backbone, and the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, 10 and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them, which is on the loins, and the lobe of the liver, which he shall remove with the kidneys. 11 Then the priest shall offer it up in smoke on the altar as food, an offering by fire to the Lord. 12 ‘Moreover, if his offering is a goat, then he shall offer it before the Lord, 13 and he shall lay his hand on its head and slay it before the tent of meeting, and the sons of Aaron shall sprinkle its blood around on the altar. 14 From it he shall present his offering as an offering by fire to the Lord, the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, 15 and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them, which is on the loins, and the lobe of the liver, which he shall remove with the kidneys. 16 The priest shall offer them up in smoke on the altar as food, an offering by fire for a soothing aroma; all fat is the Lord’s. 17 It is a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings: you shall not eat any fat or any blood.’” (Lev. 3:1-17).
The Burnt Offering. In Leviticus Chapter 1, the priest was first told to make a “burnt” offering of the blood of an animal. This was to atone for a person’s sins. The need for atonement applies to everyone. Sin has separated us from God: “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” (Is. 59:2; Rom. 3:10-11; Ps. 14:1; 53:1; 143:2; 1 Jo. 1:8). We further cannot ignore the consequences of our sin for “the wages of sin is death . . .” (Rom. 6:23). Yet, we have nothing to offer to pay for our sins. God has no need for our money. He therefore requires that each person offer a substitute. One life would be exchanged for another. Blood became God’s symbol for the exchange of lives because: “the life of every creature is its blood.” (Lev. 17:14; Gen. 9:4). Without the shedding of blood, sins cannot be forgiven: “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Heb. 9:22; Lev. 17:11). The blood also had to be from an animal “without defect.” (Lev. 1:3, 10; 3:1; 22:20; Ex. 12:5; Dt. 15:21; 17:1). This was a sacrifice because it was the most expensive thing the person seeking atonement owned. It would be the equivalent of cutting a Mercedes or a house into pieces. Christ’s blood was given as an atonement for us because it was “unblemished and spotless” (1 Pet. 1:17-19). He further relieved us of the need to continue the sacrifices by offering us a one-time sacrifice for all: “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” (Heb. 10:14).
God’s peace requires faith in what Christ did for you. Atonement does not work without faith. The priest put his hands onto the animal to transfer the sins from the person to the animal. By faith, our sins were also transferred to the blood of Christ: “[God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 3:25; Gal. 3:13; Mk. 14:24; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 2:24; Is. 53:4-5, 10, 12). “[W]ithout faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6). Thus, believing that Christ was a good person is not enough. We must believe that He died for our sins and then rose from the grave to give us life.
God’s peace is only available to believers. If we fail to accept Jesus as Lord and savior, God’s peace is not available to us: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ . . .” (Rom. 5:1).
The Grain Offering. In Leviticus Chapter 2, the priest was told to make a grain offering. This offering expressed gratitude to God. Out of gratitude for what Christ did for us, we are to offer our lives as a “living sacrifice” to Him (Ro. 12:1). The ingredients listed in Leviticus Chapter 2 tell us how to do this. First, a person’s life offering needs to be made with oil (Lev. 2:1-2, 4, 6-7, 15). Oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit (1 Sam. 16:13). Without the Holy Spirit, our life offering is led by the flesh, and God will not accept it (Rom. 8:6-7). Second, the grain offering was to be made from “unleavened bread.” (Lev. 2:4, 11; Ex. 12:15; 29:1-3; Nu. 6:15). Leaven is a symbol of sin (1 Cor. 5:6-8; Gal. 5:9). God will not accept a life offering filled with sin. Third, the priest was told to use only “fine flour.” (Lev. 2:1, 7). Fine flour has to be continually crushed to be refined. Our will must also be crushed and purified so that we will seek to fulfill God’s will in our lives, not our own (Jo. 6:34; 2 Cor. 4:8). Fourth, the priest was also told to use frankincense (Lev. 2:2). This was the chief ingredient used to make incense for a soothing aroma to God in the Tabernacle (Ex. 30:34-35). Today, we can create a “soothing aroma” for God through our prayers: “May my prayer be counted as incense before You; the lifting up of my hands as the evening offering.” (Ps. 141:2; Rev. 5:8; 8:3). Fifth, the priest was also told to offer salt with the grain offering (Lev. 2:13). Salt gives the food taste. It creates thirst. It is also a symbol of judgment. We are called to be “salt” and light (Matt. 5:13). Our presence should convict others who are in sin and cause them to thirst for Christ’s living water. Sixth, the priest was also told not to put honey in his offering (Lev. 2:11). It could, however, become part of a person’s first fruit offering. When we deny ourselves, we allow God to fill us with the joy of the Spirit. Finally, the person making a grain offering was to share his or her offering with the priests (Lev. 2:10). We are commanded to be generous givers (2 Cor. 9:6, 8-14). A life offering with these ingredients is the second step toward restoring fellowship.
Faith without works is dead. There is nothing that we can do to earn our salvation. To even suggest a works based salvation takes away from what Christ did on the cross. Yet, God is also clear that if we do absolutely nothing in response to our salvation, there is something wrong with our walk. For faith without works is “dead” (Jam. 2:14-26). A life offering motivated out of gratitude shows that your faith is alive and well.
You were once an enemy of God. The reason why atonement does not automatically bring fellowship is that we were “enemies” of God before we were reconciled through Christ’s blood (Ro. 5:10; Phil. 3:18-19). Enemies don’t automatically become friends when they end their hostilities. For Christians, Christ’s death ripped the temple “veil” and gave us direct access to God through Christ (Matt. 27:51; Mk. 15:38). We are a nation of priests (1 Peter 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6). Yet, our “access” to God does not automatically mean that we have “fellowship” with Him. Thus, the blood of atonement and the life offering were necessary, but not by themselves sufficient, steps to restoring true fellowship with God. We must still strive to walk with God to find fellowship and peace with Him.
Be in a covenant relationship to walk in fellowship with God. When their relationship with God was proper, “Abraham and Isaac walked with God.” (Gen. 48:15). After receiving God’s blessing, Abraham walked with Yahweh throughout the Promised Land and built an altar to symbolize his fellowship with Him (Gen. 13:17-18). God later gave Abraham two directives when He affirmed His Covenant with Him. He was to “[w]alk before Me, and be blameless.” (Gen. 17:1(b)). Both Enoch and Noah also “walked with God.” (Gen. 5:22, 24; 6:9). Before his fall, Adam also walked with God. This suggested not just piety, but also fellowship. Sin broke this fellowship between God and Adam’s descendants. Yet, through Christ’s blood, you too can “walk” with Him in fellowship (Dt. 5:33; 8:6). When you sin, you don’t lose your salvation. Yet, you can fall out of fellowship. Thus, God offers believers the opportunity to voluntarily make extra sacrifices to draw even closer to Him. In the Old Testament, an example of such a person was a Nazarite (Nu. 6:1-21). In the New Testament, Christ called some believers “disciples.” (Luke 14:28-33). As another example, Paul became a “bondservant” to Christ, a freed slave who chose to stay with his master out of love (Rom. 1:1; Tit. 1:1). This does not mean that you need to become a Nazarite, a disciple, or a bondservant to find God’s peace. The peace offering in Leviticus Chapter 3 involves elements of these things. But the peace offering is separate and distinct. If you want to go down His path, Jesus wants you to be aware of the costs of your decision (Lk, 14:28-31). Yet, before considering the costs, consider the benefits that Christ offers if you walk with Him.
Walk in fellowship with God using His Spiritual gifts for His Kingdom. Like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob / Israel, and the Jews, you are also called to walk in fellowship with God. This includes using His Spiritual gifts for His Kingdom. There are seven ways to walk in fellowship with God. First, this requires that you walk by faith in Christ and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7; Col. 2:6; Gal. 5:16). Second, this requires that you trust the Lord with all your heart as opposed to leaning upon your own understanding (Prov. 3:5-6). Third, this requires that you walk in obedience as God commands you (Dt. 5:33; Zech. 3:7; Job 22:21). Fourth, this requires that you read the Word and pray regularly so that the Holy Spirit may be a lamp to your feet and guide your path (Ps. 119:105; Jo. 14:26). Fifth, this requires that you walk with purity as a “living sacrifice” and a “new creation” for Him (Ro. 12:1-2; Ps. 119:133; Jam. 4:8; Ro. 13:13; 2 Cor. 5:17). Sixth, this requires that you perform the “good works” of love, unity, kindness, justice, mercy, and encouragement that God has prepared in advance for you (Eph. 2:10; 1 Jo. 4:8; Micah 6:8; Amos 3:3). Finally, when your walk fails you, repent of your sins so that He may cleanse you (1 Jo. 1:9). If you are not in fellowship, pray for the Spirit to guide you.
Jesus’ offer to “dine” with believers. Like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob / Israel, and the Jews, you too are called to seek fellowship with Jesus: “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:9). Jesus offered to believers that they could enjoy spiritual intimacy with Him. When speaking to the believers in the Church of Laodicea, He made an intriguing invitation to the believers that they could form an even deeper relationship with Him: “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.’” (Rev. 3:19-22). Many Christians quote part of verse 20 for the proposition that Jesus will come into the heart of a non-believer if he or she will open his or her heart to Him. But this message was directed to existing believers at the Church of Laodicea. Moreover, focusing only on the knock on the door fails to address Jesus’ specific offer to “dine” with the believers. In that time, to dine with someone was an intimate sign of a deep friendship. Yet, His offer can only fully be understood in the context of Leviticus 3. There, God offers instructions for people to “dine” with Him as part of a peace or shalom offering. Thus, Jesus’ invitation for a believer to find the peace that surpasses all understanding was made in the context of the peace offering. This offering is the secret for a believer to find His peace.
Christ will still reprove and discipline us. We should not assume that Christ’s offer of peace will be without stress. In the very same verse where Christ offers to “dine” intimately with believers who open their hearts, He warns: ““Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline . . .” (Rev. 3:19-22). “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (Jo. 16:33). “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God . . .” (Acts 14:22). Thus, His peace comes with reproof, discipline, tribulation, and hardships. Unless you set your expectations correctly, you may be disappointed by the kind of peace promised in the Bible.
Christ will also purify us through fire and tribulation. One reason for our tribulations is to allow God to purify us: “For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined.” (Ps. 66:10). “And I will bring the third part through the fire, refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’” (Zech. 13:9; Mal. 3:3; 1 Cor. 3:13-15). Heat is used to remove impurities from precious metals. God cannot turn us into precious metals without trials: “so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;” (1 Pet. 1:7). This process is never comfortable or pleasant. Yet, in the end, the product is worth the pain. Again, if you are expecting a stress free life as part of Christ’s offer of peace, you will be disappointed.
God’s peace and the world’s peace are not the same. Because Jesus’ peace involves reproof, discipline, tribulation, and hardships, His definition of peace is different from the peace that the world’s definition: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (Jo. 14:27). To understand the peace that Jesus offers, we must look to the language in which God made His offer. In Hebrew, the word Shalom or “peace” has a different meaning than the English translation. Rabbi Robert Kahn observes: “One can dictate peace; shalom is a mutual agreement. Peace is a temporary act; shalom is a permanent agreement. One can make a peace treaty; shalom is the condition of peace. Peace can be partial; shalom is whole. Peace can be piecemeal; shalom is complete.” If you are looking to be made comfortable, this is only a temporary condition that will fade. God wants to form a permanent agreement with you. Yet, as explained below, this requires that you commit to doing certain things for God.
God’s peace allows you to control your response to stress. The peace that comes from God does not prevent stressful things from happening. It is instead the ability to stay calm, collected, and happy in the face of adversity. In other words, God will not give you peace by changing your surroundings. He will give you peace by changing your response to your surroundings. Yet, this kind of peace requires that God burn away your selfish desires.
Each detail of the peace offering symbolizes a “spiritual sacrifice.” Unlike the burnt offering, only the fat, the kidneys, and the lobe of the liver were given to the Lord (Lev. 3:3-4, 9-10, 14-15, 4:8, 7:3-5; 8:16, 25; 9:10, 19; 17:5). Each sacrifice listed in Leviticus contained a symbolic meaning. Unless we understand the symbolic meanings, the sacrifices make no sense. We study the details of the sacrifices to learn how to make “spiritual sacrifices” to Christ: “you also . . . are . . . to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 2:5). Thus, we must offer up in our lives the things that symbolically represent the fat, the kidneys, and the lobe of the liver to find God’s peace. The fat stands for both the best we have to offer and the pleasures in our lives. The kidneys and the liver stand for the things that regulate our purity before God. To find peace, we must sacrifice these things as part of our “living sacrifice’ to God (Rom. 12:1).
Your devotion must be voluntary. By Jewish tradition, the fellowship offering is the one offering that is voluntary: ‘“But if the sacrifice of his offering is a votive or a freewill offering, it shall be eaten on the day that he offers his sacrifice . . ”’ (Lev. 7:16). Also unlike the other sacrifices, this was the one sacrifice where the offeror could eat some of the sacrifice (Id). If the fellowship offering is voluntary, God only wants someone to make these sacrifices if they come out of a voluntary desire to seek a closer walk with God.
Our spiritual sacrifices must also be done with the right motives. As was true in the last two chapters, the motives behind a “spiritual sacrifice” also matter. God will reject a burnt offering or a grain offering if done for the wrong reasons. The same is true with the peace offering. “I hate, I reject your festivals, nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; and I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings. . . .” (Amos 5:21-24). “Bring your worthless offerings no longer, incense is an abomination to Me.” (Isa. 1:13; Jer. 7:21-24). Thus, our spiritual sacrifices for God must not be done out of obligation or routine. If so, the sacrifices are meaningless to God.
Repetition in acknowledging Christ is Important. Just like the burnt offering, the priest was told to select an animal “without defect” and lay hands on the animal (Lev. 3:1-2). Christ’s blood was the sinless blood offered for us (1 Pet. 1:18-19). By faith, our sins were transferred to Christ through no merit of our own (Mk. 14:24; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 2:24; Is. 53:4-5, 10, 12). For someone looking to follow a 12 step program, this may seem disappointing. These are the same instructions that went with the burnt offering. Why are they repeated? The answer is simple. Although Christ’s death was a one-time sacrifice, our remembrance of His sacrifice was not. We must make a daily remembrance that our peace is only available because of what Christ did for us: “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, . . .” (Eph. 2:13-15). “[W]e have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Rom. 5:1). Only through Christ will we find the “peace that surpasses all understanding.” (Phil. 4:7). If you are feeling stressed out, thinking about what Christ saved you from is the first specific step to finding peace. Whatever your current problems may be, they are minor in comparison to what you would have faced after your death without Christ’s atoning blood.
Make Christ part of your daily routine. Christ invites those who seek a deeper relationship to follow Him “daily.” (Matt. 16:24; Lk. 9:23). Are you praying daily to Him? Are you reading the Word daily? If not, your thoughts will dwell on the flesh. This brings only enmity toward God (Rom. 8:7), and you will not find God’s peace. Only when we take our thoughts off ourselves and focus on God or others can we respond to stress without becoming stressed out.
Submit by offering daily spiritual sacrifices to Christ. Unlike the burnt offering, the animal could be either a male of a female. The reason for this was that the shalom offering was a voluntary offering. More importantly, it symbolized the spiritual sacrifice that anyone could offer (1 Pet. 2:5). For the bull, we offer our strength. For the lamb, we offer our submission. For the dove, we look for peace from the Spirit and not from ourselves. These daily spiritual sacrifices will bring you peace because your focus will be on God and not yourself.
Serving Christ by helping will prevent depression. Part of serving God is helping others: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2). “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress . . .” (Jam. 1:27). “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.” (Matt. 25:36). If we are helping others, we empty ourselves of our own flesh. This allows God to fill us with the joy of the Holy Spirit. If you are depressed, consider helping others.
To whom much is given, much is expected. The priest could offer an animal from the “herd” i.e. a bull (v.1) from the “flock” i.e. a lamb (v. 6) or a goat (v. 12). The animal that one gave varied based upon one’s wealth. We are not all expected to give in the same way. To those whom much is given, much is expected: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.” (Lk. 2:48). Are you using all of your gifts to glorify God? If you can explain things well, are you teaching the Word? If you have a great voice, are you singing worship for God? If you have a warm and caring heart, are you providing comfort to the sick, the elderly or the incarcerated? Helping them will allow God to fill you with joy and peace.
Self-denial is a key to finding shalom. Four times, the priest was told to give the “fat” to God (Lev. 3:3, 9; 14, 16-17; same, 4:8; 7:3; 9:10; 9:19; 17:5). “[A]ll fat is the Lord’s.” (Lev. 3:16). The priest who ate the fat was to be “cut-off” from the Lord (Lev. 7:25). We are a holy priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6). Thus, these instructions apply to us. The fat was a pleasure and a delicacy because it was considered the best tasting part of the animal. The person seeking peace was to give up the best pleasures in life to God. This was similar to the requirement that the priest not put “honey” on the altar (Lev. 2:11). Here, the commitment to denial is even greater. Christ says that those who want to follow Him as His disciples need to “deny” themselves: “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matt. 16:25-26). “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” (Lk. 4:28-33). “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” (Jo. 12:25-26). If we deny ourselves, we deny our flesh. This again allows God fill us with the fruit of the Spirit, which include peace. Is there anything in your life that you have consciously decided to give up for God? If the answer is nothing, pray for God to reveal what should be cut out of your life.
Strive for the things of God and not the world. Part of giving up the fat in life is surrendering the pursuits of the world. Paul believed that the many things that he accomplished before he knew Christ to be a waste of his time: “What things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him . . .” (Phil. 3:7-9). “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ . . . “ (Tit. 2:11-14). Is your life ambition focused mostly on God? If most of your time is spent pursuing worldly things, is it realistic to expect God to grant you His peace?
Avoiding the fat in life is good for you in the long run. Some fat in your life is important for digesting vitamins and for other reasons. Fat is also a pleasure in life. The ancient Jews understood fat in their food to be a blessing from God. Yet, although fat tastes good, it can be bad for you if consumed in excess. It can cause people to become overweight. It can cause heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and other problems. Fat is also where toxins are stored in the body. Giving up excessively fatty foods can lead to a healthier life. Giving up excess consumption can likewise lead to a happier life. We learn to be content with less. We learn to avoid over spending and debt. We also learn not to crave that which we don’t have. Feeding our flesh less allows God the opportunity to instead fill us with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Is there any area in your life where you can cut back to focus on God?
Let God control what you fill your mind with. Three times, the priest was told to sacrifice the “kidneys” and the “lobe of the liver” of the animal (Lev. 3:4, 10, 15, same 4:8, 7:4-5; 8:16, 25; 9:10). These organs are vital to keeping a person clean inside. These organs remove toxins from the body. The kidneys serve several essential regulatory roles. They remove toxins and waste from the blood. They also, among other functions, regulate blood pressure by maintaining a proper balance of water and salt. The liver’s functions also include removing toxins, making chemicals necessary for digestion, and protein synthesis. The lobule of the liver is made up of millions of hepatic cells which are the basic metabolic cells. The lobules are the functional units of the liver. Without the liver or the kidneys, a person will die. The fact that these organs are part of the Shalom sacrifice suggests that God wants us to give to Him the “best” of the things in our life that regulate or control what we see, touch, go to do, or think about. This includes your eyes, your brain, your feet, and your hands. Purity is one of the two definitions of “true religion.” In addition to helping others, we must be “unstained by the world.” (Jam. 1:27). Jesus promises to also bless those who stay pure: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matt. 5:8). God wants us to be holy because He is holy: “[B]ecause it is written, ‘you shall be holy, for I am holy.’” (1 Pet. 1:16; Lev. 11:44-5; 19:2; 20:7). The pathway to heaven is only available to those who are purified by Christ: “A highway will be there, a roadway, and it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, . . .” (Is. 35:8). If you want God’s peace, are you walking on the “Highway of Holiness?”
Make a covenant with your eyes. Jesus warns that: “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matt. 6:22-23). How do we keep our eyes from looking at the wrong things? Job stated that he made a “covenant” with his eyes not to look at certain things: “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin? . . . Does He not see my ways and number all my steps?” (Job 31:1-4). Have you made a covenant with your eyes not to look at or watch things that are not of God? Are you regulating what your kids fill their minds with on television, with their books, their video games, and movies? If you don’t control what goes into your mind, is it realistic to expect God to give you “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension?” (Phil. 4:7). Indeed, in the same verse where God makes this promise, He tells believers to “guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
If you love the things of the world, the love of God is not within you. If you refuse to allow God to be the filter in your life, you are declaring that you love the things of the world too much to give them up. But this only sets you back in your quest for fellowship and peace with God: “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (Jam. 4:4). Therefore, “do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world -- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life -- is not of the Father but is of the world.” (1 Jo. 2:15-16).
God blesses those who are obedient. The requirements for the shalom offering were specific and detailed. A person could not find it by choosing to do whatever he or she wants. To find peace we must follow God’s law. Jesus stated that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments (Jo. 14:15). That alone should be sufficient motivation for us to obey God’s commandments. But God also promised the blessing of peace for those who were willing to follow God’s law: “I shall also grant peace in the land, so that you may lie down with no one making you tremble.” (Lev. 26:6). “The LORD will bless His people with peace.” (Ps. 29:1). If the Jews followed God’s law, God also promised victory over their enemies (Lev. 26:7-8; Ex. 23:22; Nu 10:9, 35; Isa. 54:17). If we trust God and follow His commandments, Jesus promises us the peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7). This peace and other blessings are also available to nations that are obedient: “I shall also grant peace in the land, so that you may lie down with no one making you tremble. I shall also eliminate harmful beasts from the land, and no sword will pass through your land.” (Lev. 26:6; Ex. 18:23; Ps. 29:11). If you follow the Law, your conscience will be clean. You won’t need to be looking over your shoulder for when you might be punished for your misdeeds. Are you being obedient to God’s Word and His calling in your life?
To “dine” with Jesus, search for Him with all your heart. The portions of the animal sacrifices were offered as a “food” offering to God (Lev. 3:11, 16). With the other offerings, the burned animal or grain was offered as a sweet aroma to the Lord. Some commentators suggest that we should not take the food reference literally. But this is exactly what Jesus promised to the believers at the Church of Laodicea who responded to His knocking at the door of their hearts (Rev. 3:20). To allow Jesus to have an intimate relationship with us where we “dine” with Him, we must first allow Him into our hearts. “How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart.” (Ps. 119:2). “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13). “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.” (Dt. 4:29). Because Jesus made His offer to “dine” with believers, merely accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior is not enough. We must both surrender our hearts to Him and search for Him with all our hearts. What does this mean? It means that we should yearn to draw closer to Jesus. Also, what motivates or moves you would be what motivates or moves God. Do you long to study the Word? Does the sin around you break your heart? Or, do you enjoy reading about it and talking about it? Do you work to live? Or, do you work to support a ministry for God? Do you long to read the Word or Hollywood gossip?
When you find peace with God, “dine” with Christ through communion. Today, we dine with God when we eat communion. We remember that Christ’s body was broken for us and His blood was spilled for us (Matt. 26:26). “[A]nd when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” (1 Cor. 11:24). Through Christ’s sacrifice, God has blessed us with a shalom that “surpasses all understanding.” (Phil. 4:7). Are you pursuing the peace that He offers you? Or, are you searching for peace through drugs, alcohol, and the things of the world?