Although the Peace Offering (called the fellowship offering in some translations) was third in the order set out in these early chapters of Leviticus, it was last in the order of observance. It was the last in observance because peace comes to the soul as a result of complying with all that God has required.
The word “peace” in the scriptures, has a shade of meaning not commonly attached to it in the ordinary use. With most persons it signifies a cessation of hostilities, harmonious agreement, tranquility, the absence of disturbance. But in the scriptures it means more. Its predominant import there is prosperity, welfare, joy, happiness. The original Hebrew word includes both of these.
This, then, was a gathering together of the priests and the people with their God to rejoice in all the wonderful things the Lord had done for them. The offerer could bring an oxen, sheep or goat. Each of these animals had to be without blemish. Whereas in the other 4 offerings there was a variation of requirements according to the offerer—that is, according to possessions, according to property, according to position, and according to practice—in the Peace Offering there was no distinction at all. The offering was common to all.
While in some of the offerings there were birds, these were not acceptable in the peace offering. Fat was important essential because it was to be God’s portion, but birds lacked sufficient fat to meet the demand. Secondly, the Peace Offering was the only one to be shared by 3 parties. The birds would not be large enough for the division. This was the only offering where an offerer could bring a male or female.
The burnt offering was a whole burnt offering. All of it was for God. In the Peace Offering, however, only the fat was offered to God. God and the priests and offerer all shared the blessings. All offerings had to be without blemish. If the offering was no a fulfillment of a vow, the sacrifice could have some defects and still be accepted (Leviticus 22:23). After all, it was basically going to be used as food for the priests and the offer’s family, and those defects wouldn’t matter.
The offerer had to lead the offering to the door of the tabernacle, lay his hand on the head of it as an act of identification, kill it, take out the fat covered or was connected to the inner parts and give that to the priests to be burned. The priest took the blood of the sacrifice and sprinkled it around the altar, after which he burned the fat upon the altar. He then presented these to the Lord, received them back from the Lord. The fat was God’s portion. This fat was the fat of the inner organs, which is called suet, and not the fat that runs in the lean. It was considered the best part of the animal and was loved by the Easterner. It was required by God.
There are many passages to illustrate that fat was considered the best:
“…Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet…” (Nehemiah8:10).
“And bring over the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry” (Luke15:23).
Beside the fat of the inner organs, God had another requirement concerning the lambs. And that requirement had to do with the tail (Leviticus 3:9). There is a breed of sheep in the Middle East that grows a long heavy tail, weighing as much as 20 to 50 pounds, most of which is fat. This part of the animal is considered sweet and valuable, and is greatly appreciated. Those bringing offerings loved this fat so much that if they could, they would keep part of the tail for themselves; hence the statements that the tail should be removed “close to the backbone,” and “all the fat is the Lord’s.” The Peace Offering was the only offering in which the offer had a share. All that was left, after the Lord had received the fat and the priest received the breast and right shoulder, was eaten by the offerer and his friends in the court of the tabernacle. God was therefore the host, and he the offer, the sinner was the guest ( Deuteronomy 12:5-7). Since the Jews didn’t often slaughter their precious animals for meat, a dinner of beef or lamb would be a special occasion.