Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Leviticus 3 (Peace Offering)

How much has God done for you? You might respond by saying not much or you may truly recognize the grace (unmerited favor of God) in your life and you really desire to give back to Him for what He has done and continues doing for you. The Peace Offering, also known as “Shelmim” in the Hebrew has everything to do with giving back to God. The word shelmim means to settle or rebalance the account.  The offering was applied in quite a few different cases some of those are the following: successful military campaign (1 Sam 11:15), cessation of famine or pestilence (2 Sam 24:25), an acclamation of a candidate for kingship (1 Sam 11:15) (1 Kings 1:9, 19), national spiritual renewal (2 Chronicles 29:31-36), an annual family reunion (1 Samuel 20:6), and the harvesting of the first fruits (Exodus 22:29-31) (1 Samuel 9:11-13, 22-24, 16:4-5). These are a few examples that apply to the Peace Offering. We can tell by the list that these are obvious blessings given by the hand of God. The Israelites would offer this as something much more than just a mere spoken thank you, they actually gave things up as an attempt to resettle or balance the account in between them and God. There are a lot of rich principles in chapter 3, let’s take a look at some of them.
When we truly recognize the hand of God in our life how should we respond, with a thank you? What about a dollar out of our pocket into the offering plate? Verse 1 shows us that our offering must be without defect. Offerings with defect were not accepted. Entering into the theme of thankfulness we need to recognize that our offering must be with a pure heart and joy in our giving. For many people giving their tithes and offerings is like pulling teeth, it doesn’t come out easily and it’s a painful process. It’s true that it could hurt a little if you give generously but the joy in our hearts upon having the opportunity to give should override that little bit of pain. If we can’t give to God with a pure heart it’s much better that we don’t give at all. God expects us to have a clean, pure heart in giving back to Him.
Next we see in verses 3 and 4 that in our giving back to God our offering has to be the best. The verse tells us that the Israelites had to give the fat of the offering. The fat in their time was the best of the best. In Genesis 4:4 and 45:18 we see two examples of what the word fat meant for them. Before we move on we should ask why, why give God the best?  Well, I’m glad you asked. Here are a few reasons:  God, whether you believe He exists or not, gives us the very breath we breathe and could take it away in this very moment, He deserves the best because of who He is, He has done so many thing for us, and not to mention He owns everything including the clothes on our very backs. Knowing this we see that everything we have is just stewardship, things that we handle for a short time. We are responsible for these things and are expected to steward them responsibly. We should give God the very because if we can, we are showing that we have no other gods before Him, it shows that He is Lord of all our things. If you can’t give God the best of what you have, if you don’t have joy in what you give to Him it’s probably because there’s a deeper heart issue at hand. If you can’t give God your best it’s probably because God is not the Lord of all your life and that in His eyes is a problem (Luke 18:18-23).
Before we finish let’s take a look at 2 Corinthians 8. We can match up this chapter with Leviticus 3 because we see quite a few principles on what real giving looks like. It’s clear that this passage is about money (some of the principles have only to do with money) but it can be applied to most areas of giving in our life.
·         (v1) It’s not wrong to talk about money
·         (v2) The church in Corinth gave out of their poverty
·         (v3) Give what God enables you to give, give beyond your abilities, and don’t give because you’re forced, give because God wants you to
·         (v4) Don’t dread giving but rather be delighted in it
·         (v5) True giving starts with giving yourself to God
·         (vv6-7) Organized giving has to be instructed, aided, and taught
·         (v8) True giving shows spiritual maturity
·         (v9) Jesus modeled to us what true generosity really is and He won't ask us to do something that He hasn't already done
·         (vv10-12) Don’t hold back because of what appears to be lack (Mark 12:41-44)
·         (vv13-15) Giving is individual and communal, if everyone gives what they’re supposed to there will be enough for all (Acts 2:43-47)
·         (vv16-21) Handling of all funds must be open and honest
·         (v22) For people to be trusted with funds they must be tested
·         (v24) Giving is a testimony to others
The best example of the Peace Offering is what we do on Sunday mornings, the giving of our tithes and offerings. We are thanking God for the income that He's given us and re-balancing the account Although finances are just one area of our lives these principles can be applied in many other areas. We can give back to God in many ways, with the time He’s given us, with the gifts and talents He’s given to us, among many other ways. By sacrificing, we are showing that our hearts are thankful and that God is the Lord of all the areas of our lives.  How are we handling the blessings that our Lord has given us? Do we hoard them or do we decide to freely give back? Do we give to others and choose to be good stewards or do we choose to invest only in ourselves?
Before we finish this lesson I would like to share a story that I found on the internet, it’s called….
The Pearl Necklace
The cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand she saw them, a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box. "Oh please mommy, can I have them? Please mommy, please!" Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl's upturned face. "A dollar ninety-five. That's almost $2.00. If you really want them, I'll think of some extra chores for you and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday's only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma." As soon as Jenny got home she emptied her piggy bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked Mrs. McJames if she could pick dandelions for ten cents. On her birthday her grandmother gave her that new dollar bill that she was waiting for and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace. Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere, sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.

Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. One night when he finished the story he asked Jenny, "Do you love me?" She responded, "Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you." Her father replied, "Then give me your pearls." Somewhat startled Jenny frantically said, "Oh daddy, not my pearls. You can have Princess, the white horse from my collection. The one with the pink tail., remember daddy? It's the one you gave me. She's my favorite." The understanding father said, "That's okay honey, daddy loves you. Good night." And with that he brushed her cheek with a kiss.

About a week later, after the story time, Jenny's daddy asked again, "Do you love me?" The little girl said, "Daddy, you know I love you." Her father again asked for the pearls. "Oh daddy not my pearls, you… you can have my babydoll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is so beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper." The father again understandingly replied, "That's okay. Sleep well. God bless you little one, daddy loves you." And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.

A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian-style. As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek. "What is it, Jenny? What's the matter?" Jenny didn't say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy and when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver she finally said, "Here daddy, it's for you." With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny's kind father reached out with one hand to take the dime-store necklace and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny. He had them all the time but was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her genuine treasure.

What are you holding onto?

No comments: