Troublesome Topic: The Peace/Fellowship Offering

Lesson 9 of 21

The Peace/Fellowship Offering

The Scriptural passages where we find the explanations of the peace offering or the fellowship offering are Leviticus 3:1-17; 7:11-34.

What Did the Name of the Offering Mean?

As the name indicates, this was an offering for the purpose of establishing, reestablishing or solidifying peace between the worshipper and God. In essence it was a request for a peaceful, wholesome relationship with God. The worshipper was asking God to accept him and grant him wholeness. Obviously, if there is a lack of peace in our relationship with God it is not God’s fault, so in some regard it is a recognition of our failures and sinful condition.

What Was Sacrificed and What Did it Symbolize?

The peace offering could be a cow or a bull, a sheep or a goat. Thus it had to be a sacrifice that would involve blood which represented life.

This offering was almost exclusively the fatty portions of the animal. Whatever kind of animal was offered, certain areas where fat was known to accumulate, and some organs that are covered in fat,

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had to be cut off and placed over the fire along with the burnt offering of the day which was obviously on the altar a long time in order to be totally consumed.

Fat could represent a couple of things. In various other contexts it represented luxury, something excessive, something unnecessary. So it is possible that this was a way of showing God that the worshipper was putting aside anything that was unnecessary in order to focus only on Him.

However, there is another explanation. You know what happens when you are grilling meat and some grease from the fat drips down onto the coals, right? It flares up in a large flame. The peace offering would have caused a much larger flare-up than anything we ever put on a grill because it was purposefully placing large chunks of fat over the fire. The purpose of this was likely that of expressing one’s burning devotion toward God. It was making a statement: “Oh God, watch this, because I will show you how big my love for You is and how intense my devotion to You is.” Then the fat was placed over the fire and in seconds the flames went “whoosh!” What an impressive display it must have been.

It is possible that the worshippers would have both of these interpretations come to their minds. They are not incompatible with each other, and the Old Testament is full of double meanings.

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How Was it Offered?

The peace offering involved laying one hand on the sacrificial animal in order to pass one’s spiritual condition onto the animal who would take the place of the worshipper in regard to punishment. As with other offerings, the blood from the animal was sprinkled on all four sides of the altar. These details tell us that it did have something to do with sins or a sinful condition. In this case it was probably the sinful condition or tendency that was in view.

The worshipper and the priest ate part of it together, i.e. they “shared a meal.” This was the only sacrifice in which both of them ate. However, in reality this was a ceremonial meal, not a full-fledged meal where those eating it actually got full. First of all they did not have time to eat a real meal because there were many more worshippers waiting in line for their turn. Also the priest was doing this kind of thing all day long, so he probably only took one bite. That was enough to fulfill the significance of the “meal,” that God and man were in close fellowship, close enough to eat a meal together. The priest was God’s representative and eating together was only done by people who were at peace with each other. Thus this was a visible demonstration of the words: “Yes, your request for a peaceful relationship has been granted, and you and I are now at peace.”

This sacrifice was also called a sacrifice to the Lord by fire, meaning that there was purging and purification, which were some of the things that fire did (it also punished.)

It was also called a sweet-smelling aroma to God. Once again I remind you that it would not have smelled good to us; it would have smelled like something was burning because it was burning. Other than the small portions that were cooked on the fire for their shared “meal,” the rest was totally burned up. In this case it appears to have been mainly fat and the kidneys that were burned, but the point is that they were totally burned up. But that smell, the smell of something being totally given up for Him, was what He liked and still likes.

Twice in Leviticus chapter 3 the text indicates that God considered this offering as “food.” In other words, this is the kind of thing that satisfies God.

When Was it Offered?

This was a voluntary offering, not a required offering. Therefore, it was offered any time someone wanted to do one of the following things or fulfill one of the following purposes:

It was used as a confession offering, to confess one’s sinful condition before God. This could include a recognition of one’s spiritual weaknesses or an acknowledgement of one’s sinful tendencies.

It was also used in the making of vows. This usually involved making a promise to God or asking God for a special favor, for which someone promised to give God something in return. This was not bribing God, for He cannot be bribed, rather it was the way cultures in the ancient Near East functioned. If someone did something special for you, you were expected to return the favor with lavish gifts.

It was also used to say “thank you.” Lev 7:12

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clearly indicates that one of the purposes of the peace/fellowship offering was an expression of thanksgiving. Sometimes this display of gratitude was in response to the fulfillment of the request which accompanied a vow, and sometimes it stood alone, as an expression of gratitude for a special serendipity from God. Examples of special reasons to give thanks would have been after the birth of a child, after an exceptionally good harvest, after a war, after a famine, at the dedication of the temple or during times of reform.

Lessons from the Peace Offering


God desires fellowship with us; He invites us to Himself. But we must choose. In Rev 3:20 Jesus said: “Look! I stand where I have stood many times before, at your door, and I am doing what I have done many times before, I am knocking. If anyone recognizes my voice and if he opens the door, I will come in to him, and eat with him, and he will eat with me”


The meal symbolized a proper relationship between God and man. They never ate with people they were not reconciled with. Any believer can enjoy fellowship with God, no matter how weak, how tired, how troubled. When we are in proper fellowship with God, He wants to enjoy time with us and we want to enjoy time with Him.

LESSON # 3  

Fellowship with God is tied to, and requires, a heart of gratitude. The peace offering was both an offering that sought peace and an expression of gratitude. They go together.


It is hard to feel gratitude if we are attached to the luxuries of this world (symbolized by the animals’ fatty tissues). If we are going to enjoy closer fellowship with God and a deeper sense of peace, we must divest ourselves of any attachment to worldly pleasures that may compete for our allegiance or our attention. We must use money daily, but we can’t get too attached to it. Therefore, make sure money is your servant, not your master.


Our passion for God should be a flaming hot fire (symbolized by the burning of fat). Our commitment to God should be obvious to everyone around us. In fact, it should catch people’s attention and make them say, “Wow, look at that!”


We don’t have to wonder if God grants forgiveness or accepts our thanks. God left visible proof. The act of sprinkling with blood meant “See, the proof of what was done is visible.” There was visible proof back then (on the altar) and there is visible proof now in the wrists of Jesus, as Thomas discovered. Not only does He tell us that He intends to forgive us, but He has left visible proof—His own blood.

The blood being sprinkled on all sides of the altar signified the all-encompassing nature of the offering. Atonement and reconciliation with God affect all aspects of our lives.

The next lesson in the full series on covenants is The Sin Offering Was Not What I Expected.



The kidneys of these animals are covered in fat, but the liver is not. However, there is a finger-like projection which can be described as an appendage or a flap, which then appears to attach to a kidney. The point here is, take anything that contains a significant amount of fat, cut it out and put it over the fire.


In addition, the breast and right shoulder (sometimes called the “thigh”) were given to the priest, and rest of the meat of the animal was eaten by the one offering the sacrifice, or by his family. If it was an offering of thanksgiving, they must eat it that same day and not save any of it. However, if it was for a vow or another kind of free-will offering, it could be eaten that day or the next. This tells us that in the case of the peace offering, the worshipper could take his portion to his house and the whole family could enjoy it.


Leviticus 7:11-21 are about the peace/fellowship offering. So verse 12 starts out assuming the reader knows it is about that offering. 7:12 says “For if he offers it to give thanks, he shall offer with his sacrifice of thanksgiving …” it goes on to mention three kinds of “cakes” made with flour that must be offered as well. The cakes served as a reminder that they needed to give thanks for every meal because all of their food (represented by bread) came from God.