|Series Theme: Meditations in Lessons from the Law of Moses|
Meditation No. 30
Meditation Title: What is a Fellowship Offering?
Lev 3:1-2 If someone's offering is a fellowship offering, and he offers an animal from the herd, whether male or female, he is to present before the LORD an animal without defect. He is to lay his hand on the head of his offering and slaughter it at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. Then Aaron's sons the priests shall sprinkle the blood against the altar on all sides.
If you have read the verses through carefully, you might be forgiven if, at first sight, you have wondered if there is any difference between this offering and the Burnt Offering and the answer is, very little. The animals here may be male or female (v.1), whereas with the Burnt Offering it was to be a male. In both offerings the Offeror is to present it as one without defect and he is to kill it and the priest is to sprinkle its blood. With the Burnt Offering all the animal was to be burnt but here only the entrails are burnt, part of it belongs to the priest and part of it (see chapter 7) is to be eaten by the Offeror.
It is this last point that really distinguishes it, as the only offering where the Offeror eats part of it. (see also Deut 27:7). With all the rest except the Burnt Offering, the priest only has part. Traditionally the name of this offering has been the Peace Offering. It is a time when the Offeror and the Lord, represented by His priest, sit down and eat together, fellowshipping in each other's presence. It is thus an offering that indicates a desire for unity with the Lord, a coming together of the Lord and His people.
You may also have noted that it is offered at the same time as the Burnt Offering and laid on top of that offering (3:5). The two offerings are distinguished from one another. The first is a free will offering that conveys desire to come near and bless the Lord. The second indicates a desire to enter into fellowship with the Lord, spending time in His presence. Both acknowledge the humanity of the Offeror and both the holiness of the Lord, but the desire for fellowship is what makes the Fellowship Offering that much more special.
We might ask ourselves, do we have a desire to draw near to the Lord? Great, but do we have a desire to draw near and stay in the Lord's presence, communing or fellowshipping with Him? This is an indication of maturity, a growing desire to know Him more and more.
It is possible that we take these things for granted, as Christians today, but ‘fellowship' is simply another way of talking about a relationship being expressed and being a Christian is all about having a relationship with the Lord. Of course we all express our relationship with the Lord in different ways, but one thing any real relationship will surely include is communication. In a very basic but real way, the Israelites were communicating with God as they sacrificed their offering. In the Burnt Offering they were saying, “I want to know you but I realise you are holy and I am a sinner and I can only approach you with care, acknowledging my state and coming only as you prescribe.” With the Fellowship Offering they were saying, “I want to spend time with you, I want to spend time in your presence, but again I realise I come to a holy God and therefore must come with care and in the way you prescribe.”
Today we come as New Testament believers and know that we can call God Father, but do we remember that that is only possible because Jesus acted as our sacrifice and made the way into God's presence possible for us. We are still sinners, redeemed, yes, but we still can only come because of what Jesus has done for us. Our problem, because we have no Tabernacle, no Temple, and no sacrifices, is that we can take it all for granted and we need to remind ourselves again and again that we are what we are because of Jesus, and only because of Jesus. We aren't children of God because we have earned the right to call ourselves that, but only because Jesus has died for us, and we are simply responding to that.
This talk of sacrifices may seem a world away from our experience, but the basic truths behind them remain the same for us today. The only difference is that Jesus has acted as every sacrifice and so we no longer need to come in this way. Yet, I wonder, how DO we ‘fellowship' with the Lord in reality? Is it a cursory three minutes in the morning (if that) or is it only at a church service? He is with us wherever we are. Can we learn to fellowship with Him wherever we are?