by Pastor David Groendyk
This is the last chapter that explicitly deals with the regular sacrifices for Israel. As Pastor Mark pointed out, the same five sacrifices in chapters 1–5 are being reiterated in chapters 6–7. The first time through, the instructions were mainly directed at the whole congregation; the second time through, the instructions are mainly directed at the priests.
In our chapter, the guilt offering (vv. 1–10; from 5:14–6:7) and peace offering (vv. 11–36; from 3:1–17) are being reiterated. One phrase that is new in this iteration of the peace offering is, “That person shall be cut off from his people” (vv. 20, 21, 25, 27). To be cut off from the people was a very severe punishment. As Gordon Wenham points out, being “cut off” was a divine punishment rather than human one, and it was usually reserved for the kinds of sins that made someone unclean but were difficult for human judges to prove. In other words, those who get the harshest penalty are those who try to hide their sin. Even when we think we can get away with our sin, God still sees it and takes it seriously.
God demands that we stay far away from uncleanness, especially when we come to meet with him in corporate worship. Hebrews 12:28–29 says, “Let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” Not just in the Old Testament times, but also in the New Testament times, we are warned that God is a consuming fire when he encounters sin. Therefore, we have the sober warning to confess and repent of our sins and thus ask for Christ’s cleansing before we come to worship. Do you prepare for Sunday worship in this way? How can you prepare yourself for worship each week?
Even in the midst of such dire warnings, this lengthy explanation of the peace offering is a reminder of the great reconciliation that God has made between him and us. This offering is a meal that God and his people eat together. Even sometimes when it was just the priests who were eating the food not the laypeople, it still points to the benefits that all Christians enjoy. In a way, it’s similar to us celebrating the Lord’s Supper. Because there is now peace between us and God, he invites us to sit at his table. Enemies don’t sit at tables to eat dinner together; friends do. And praise God that he has reconciled us to himself and made peace with us through the death of Christ (Rom. 5:10). Similar to what we heard Pastor Lawrence preach this past Sunday, it is a tremendous promise to have this kind of relationship with and access to God. We’re no longer the outside hostile force but citizens of God’s kingdom and members of God’s family. Since we have this access, let’s take advantage of it. Make a habit of spending time in communion with God.