Leviticus 3:17 (HCSB)
17 This is a permanent statute throughout your generations, wherever you live: you must not eat any fat or any blood.”
Moses here receives instructions concerning the third type of offering, the “fellowship offering”. This is also referred to as a “peace offering”. The symbolism here seems to shift a bit. Unlike the burnt offering, which seemed to have clear foreshadowing of Christ, and required the sacrifice of a male animal, the fellowship offering makes no requirement, male or female is allowed. The non-blemished requirement remains though, since God is the recipient of the offering.
The offering is apparently intended to celebrate and make, or renew, the covenant between an Israelite and God. A restoration, or strengthening, of the relationship between man and his Creator and Savior. The rules of the sacrifice itself suggest this covenant in that a portion of the sacrifice is actually a burnt offering, while the remainder is to be eaten. Although we do not receive the instruction to eat any of the sacrifice in this pericope, we can look forward to Leviticus 7:11-21 to see that instruction.
All three types of animal, cattle from the herd, sheep from the flock, or a goat, have the same process, which is repeated for each. Why the repetition? I don’t know, perhaps to be explicit, to leave no room for doubt. Also note that there is no procedure for offering a bird sacrifice. Probably because of the small size, and therefore small amount to be split between the burnt offering and the remainder to be eaten.
Also note that the fellowship offering must contain a burnt offering within it. There is no fellowship with God without a sacrifice to atone for our sin. I think maybe that is why this first description of the fellowship offering leaves out the details about eating the remaining meat, lest we forget that God is our focus, and being right with Him is our first, and only real, priority.
Finally, the last verse of the pericope, Leviticus 3:17, is one I find interesting. The not eating blood seems pretty easy to comprehend: blood being the life force of living creatures, it would seem wrong to consume that. If anything it should be “returned” to God (i.e. the sprinkling on the sides of the altar?). I imagine there was a practical reason for it as well, such as the avoidance of some nasty diseases that people would be susceptible to. What confuses me is the fat part of the verse, and why it is not to be consumed. And adding to the confusion is the previous verse, Leviticus 3:16, that says, “All fat belongs to the Lord.” Why? Again, there is probably the practical reason of possible health issues. Or maybe, as I understand it, the fat is what “flavors” meat, so perhaps represents a more prized portion. Whatever the reason, God has selected these portions for Himself, and we ought to obey, no matter if we understand it or not.
Lord, thank You for being a God who fellowships with His people. I am so grateful that I can come to You, anytime, and You are always there, always caring, always listening, and always working things out in my best interest. There are definitely things that confuse me, that I simply don’t get, or go over my head, but I know that I trust You, and want to always have fellowship with You. Amen.