Our passage today continues the instructions for the priests for making the offerings commanded in chapters 1-6. We begin with the guilt offering, which is said to be “most holy” (7:1). This, of course, is what was said about the grain offerings (Lev 6:17) and the sin offering (Lev 6:25). The constant reminder of what is offered to the Lord being “most holy” (like the plate on the head of the High Priest reminds us) is that we are to be “most holy” as His people. Some see in verse 10 a pointer to the communion of the Lord’s Supper, as the grain offering is shared among the priests of God.
Starting in verse 11, the peace offering is discussed. Verse 12 discusses a peace offering that is offered specifically as a “thanksgiving.” This is the first occurrence of this word in the Bible, and it can also be translated as “confession.” I believe both are in view in this word, especially considering in Leviticus 22:29, we are told that the thanksgiving sacrifice results in acceptance. In this, we see that peace with God, confession, and thanks to Him are very closely related.
In verse 16 we read of a vow offering. Remembering back in chapter 5 we spoke about “rash oaths,” we see here that, opposed to that type of oath, a vow unto the Lord is a holy and serious matter. It is a reminder of the promise of God (which He calls an “oath” in Deut 7:8) and His faithfulness to His word. And when His promise was kept in Christ, we see that “higher standard” He calls us to (see Matt 5:33-37).
Verses 19-21 show us again the holiness of God and the holiness required of those who are in His presence, and worshiping Him. And we see that separation from his people and God (the ultimate punishment that typifies hell) is threatened against him who makes a peace offering while unholy (again, the inward represented by the outward). So we see added to that peace, confession, and thanks: the holiness God requires.
Verses 22-27 speak of not eating fat or blood. The fat, representing the best, belongs to God. The blood, wherein is life, represents the means of forgiveness (see Heb 9:22) which is the blood God offers on our behalf to redeem our lives.
Chapter 8 records the ordination of Aaron and his sons to the priesthood. Notice the “cleanness” required for the priests (8:6). The putting on of the holy garments down to every detail shows the holiness required for the priests (vv. 7-9 – note how it culminates with the golden plate that states “Holy to the Lord”). Then the Tabernacle, all that is in it, and Aaron are anointed (again the Hebrew word for Messiah) – literally set apart for holiness unto God. Then the sins of the priests are symbolically taken away (vv. 14-36), with them literally “wearing” the blood of atonement.
As we read this chapter, let us never forget that we – the church – are the priests of God (1 Pet 2:9). All of this outward ceremony is symbolic of our inward state as believers. We are clean. We are holy. We are set apart unto God through our Messiah. Because our sins have been taken away, once for all (see Heb 7:27), and we are covered by the blood of Jesus.
And in chapter 9, we see that through the sacrifice and the blood and setting apart, Aaron is accepted by God, symbolized by the fire from the Lord burning the sacrifice (9:24). However, notice that after the sacrifices already offered in the previous chapter, Aaron then offers more offerings, and the people are required to offer more offerings. And we will see throughout the Torah and beyond that these sacrifices are offered again and again. This shows us that the sacrifices and their efficacy were not final. The people were symbolically cleared of their guilt with each offering, but it didn’t change them permanently. So they always needed atonement to be made. This points us to a final, permanent atonement that was yet to be made. And that is the cross of Christ.
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
“This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. – Hebrews 10:11-18 (ESV)