From the sacrifice of the peace offerings he shall present an offering by fire to YHWH Leviticus 3:3
Peace Offerings – “Peace on earth.” Isn’t that what we want? The consistent cry of the nations is “Peace!” But, of course, there is no peace because we have forgotten that the declaration of peace does not begin here, on earth. It begins in heaven. God declares peace on earth. That means, quite simply, that God is no longer at odds with us. That does not mean we have given up the fight. The war is over, but most men still wage a battle.
Christians love the idea of peace. They invoke Paul’s declaration, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Yeshua Messiah” (Romans 5:1). But most of us don’t really grasp what Paul is saying either. We read something about faith and justification and we think that our faith produced the peace. We did something meritorious. We accepted Jesus as Savior and so we have peace. We might claim sola fide but we certainly act as though our efforts were part of the victory. We have forgotten that Paul is Jewish. In order to grasp the idea of peace, we must go back to Leviticus.
The Hebrew word here is shelem. You will easily see that it is related to shalom. Many words come from the same root (S-L-M) like peace, thanksgiving, safe, complete, whole and undivided. What’s important here is the fact that a peace offering was voluntary. It was offered to God as thanksgiving. It was not required. It was voluntary gratitude for God’s benevolence.
The Hebrew picture of peace is strikingly different than the Greek picture. For the Greeks, peace was that temporary state of tranquility between battles. In other words, the Greeks pictured life in the world as a war and peace was defined as the absence of war. It was not the usual state of affairs. How could it be if the world was a place of risk and fate and men had to claw their way toward significance? The Hebrew idea is upside-down. Peace is the picture of the destruction of the authority of chaos. That can only mean one thing: God rules. Since Genesis 1 establishes God’s perfect order over chaos, peace is the intended and normal state of the world. It is only possible when those who seek their own authority submit to God’s rule. Until the pretenders to power over chaos repent, there will be no peace. Peace is a gift from God, plain and simple. Even the peace offering recognizes this when the offering comes from gratitude, not demand. Peace is God’s plan. If we want to experience it, we have to start where it begins – with Him.
Paul has this in mind when he says that Yeshua volunteered Himself to reconcile us with the Father. He is the perfect peace offering, unblemished, obedient and submissive. He brings peace; a peace that we might share. The Leviticus peace offering points directly to Yeshua, as the volunteer destroyer of the authority of chaos. However, the peace offering is consumed in the process. In order to destroy the grip of chaos over life, the offering is substituted – and destroyed. This is the only way. A world that thinks peace is achieved by negotiation or force is practicing insanity and perpetrating chaos. God’s solution is the only solution. If that were not so, Yeshua would never have had to die. Do you want peace? Are you ready to offer yourself in order to bring peace to another?
Topical Index: Peace