In the Old Testament book of Leviticus, the “peace offering” to God made before the priests, according to the law, is often mentioned. It had to be done just right physically as well as with a right heart or it would have been done for nothing. How often do we do things out of repetition without even thinking about how we are REALLY doing them? Praying words without our heart attached? Going to church diligently without that right heart? Reading the Bible without spending time with God?
“When you offer a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD, you shall offer it so that you may be accepted. It shall be eaten the same day you offer it or on the day after, and anything left over until the third day shall be burned up with fire. If it is eaten at all on the third day, it is tainted; it will not be accepted, and everyone who eats it shall bear his iniquity, because he has profaned what is holy to the LORD, and that person shall be cut off from his people. Leviticus 19:5-8
Matthew Henry states in his commentary on Leviticus 19: “Though the sacrifice was offered according to the law, if it was not eaten according to the law, it was not accepted. Though ministers do their part, what the better if people do not theirs? There is work to be done after our spiritual sacrifices, in a due improvement of them; and, if this be neglected, all is in vain.”
In Leviticus 19:5, the words “peace offering” is שֶׁלֶם – shelem, which means offered by giving thanks and praising God, a sacrifice for alliance or friendship, a voluntary sacrifice of thanks. At the end of that one verse is the phrase, “so that you may be accepted.” In Hebrew, the word is רָצוֹן – ratsown meaning pleasure, delight (pleasing to God), favor, goodwill, acceptance.
The New Testament also uses the word “peace” which is one of God’s many gifts to us through His Son. In Luke, Zacharias speaks with his newly unbridled tongue once his own son is born, but he speaks about the coming Messiah that Mary is carrying:
“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:76-79
This “peace” in verse 79 is εἰρήνη – eirēnē in Greek, meaning…of the Messiah’s peace, the way that leads to peace (salvation), the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ thus fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot of whatsoever sort that is, the blessed state of devout and upright men after death.
Matthew Henry, once again, says, “Salvation…is to guide our feet in the way of peace, into that way which will bring us to peace at last. It is not only a light to our eyes, but a light to our feet; it guides us into the way of making our peace with God, of keeping up a comfortable communion; that way of peace which as sinners we have wandered from and have not known, nor could ever have known of ourselves.”
Jesus is our Peace, our Prince of Peace. By the One, the Holy One of Israel, we have the Way to salvation and that Way is peace. We, by God’s Grace, have His Word and the way to “see” clearly the path that is before us. We must still have our hearts right as God wants us to come to the Cross with open hands and an open heart. He wants us to lay our sins, our burdens, at the foot of that Cross. It is then that His peace can rain upon us and reign in our hearts.
Oh, Gracious Heavenly Father, I do come before You this eve and know that my peace offerings, nor any other kind of offerings, are never enough if my heart is not set upon You with a right attitude and openness before You. May I begin each day with a prayer to You for this kind of heart. I have trusted Your Son for my salvation and know where I am to go and be upon the death of this body. Oh, I am forever grateful, LORD. May the years of this life left be wholly Yours and on Your path for my life. May I walk rightly with this beating heart at peace in You. In the Name of Your Son, the Prince of Peace, I pray. Amen.