Fundamentals of Worship: Fellowship Offerings

There is a pattern that is seen in the Levitical sacrifices. This pattern reveals a picture of the cross of Christ and our relationship to Him. In the burnt offerings we learn how that all are welcomed to come into the presence of God come and worship Him because of what He did for us on the cross. In the grain offerings we learn how we can, in a sense, repay or show our gratitude to Christ for the access we have to God by giving of our offerings or tithes to the Lord. Now, as we come to the fellowship offerings of Leviticus chapter three, we see the privilege that we have to sit at the Lord’s table and experience a joyous occasion of communion with God and with each other.

The New American Commentary says, “Like Leviticus 1 and 2, Leviticus 3 divides into three sections, the concluding verse of each section containing the repeated phrase “an offering made by fire” (3:5, 11, 16). The conclusion of the first and third sections are also related in that they contain the phrase “a pleasing aroma.” The three sections are: fellowship offerings from the herd (3:1–5), fellowship offerings from the flock (3:6–11), and fellowship offerings from the goats (3:12–17). The fellowship offering was prescribed on three specific occasions: the Feast of Weeks (23:19, 20), the completion of the Nazirite vow (Num 6:17–20), and the installation of the priests (Lev 9:18, 22). There were three separate types of fellowship offerings: (1) the thanksgiving offering, which was presented in response to a particular blessing an Israelite had experienced (7:12–15); (2) the votive offering, which was presented as a result of the worshiper making a vow to God (Jonah 2:9); and (3) the freewill offering, which was presented as a general expression of gratitude to God. The fellowship offering appears to have been closely associated with the burnt offering, which it invariably followed. The procedures for the presentation of the sacrificial victim and the priests’ role in the disposal of the blood are virtually identical to those carried out for the burnt offering. Like the burnt offering and often in association with it, the fellowship offering was presented on momentous occasions in Israel’s history. What was distinctive about the fellowship offering was that it could be shared by the offerer, who would partake of the meal.”[1] The fellowship offering was one of joy. It was a time of coming together and celebrating with one another. The Pulpit Commentary says, “The lesson taught by the peace offering was the blessedness of being in union with God as his covenant people, and the duty and happiness of exhibiting a joyous sense of this relation by celebrating a festival meal, eaten reverently and thankfully in the house of God.”[2] As we think of all that surrounded the fellowship offerings; there are three blessings that we are reminded of.

The Blessing of Knowing Jesus. The fellowship offering was one of thanksgiving and celebration. It symbolizes our communion with God. It gives the idea of sitting down at a table and sharing a meal with God Himself. How is it that we are able to come to the table of God? How can we have such a personal relationship with God?

There are two things to consider. (1) The Cross of Christ. The only way you and I are able to have a personal relationship with God is through the cross of Jesus Christ. There are many things that occurred, but, for the sake of our study, allow me to share two of the things that occurred on the cross. First of all, on the cross, Jesus atoned for the sins of the world. Throughout the New Testament we see a continual and consistent message that Jesus died for the sins of the world. There are many passages that validate this fact. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.[3] Hebrews 2:9, “But we see Jesus, vwho was made a little lower than the angels vfor the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” [4] John 1:29, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.[5] 1 Timothy 2:4-6, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.[6] 1 John 2:2, “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”[7] At the cross of Jesus, the sins of the world was atoned for. All sin has been paid for by the blood of Jesus. The question may be asked, “If all sins are paid for, then why do people go to hell?” Here is the thing: It is possible for something to be bought for you and, yet, not received. Something can be paid for, but; not accepted. Jesus has already paid the price of your sin, however, in order for that payment to become activated in your life, you must accept God’s gift of grace by faith in the Lord Jesus. It is a gift, paid for by the blood of Jesus. But, for that gift to be yours, you must open it. You must receive it, by faith. Secondly, on the cross, Jesus reconciled us to God. Dead in our sin, you and I had no possibility of ever having a relationship with God. But, by the blood of Jesus, we are reconciled to God. No longer and enemy of God, but now, a child of God.

(2) The Grace of God. Salvation is a free gift. Grace is defined as ‘unmerited favor’. God gives to us what we do not deserve, and God has done for us what we cannot do for ourselves. It is impossible for you to ever obtain salvation by your own efforts. No matter how hard you try, you can never be good enough to go to Heaven. You cannot save yourself because you are dead in your sin. However, by God’s grace we are made alive. By God’s grace we have a hope found in Christ alone. This free gift of grace becomes a reality for those who accept the gift by faith. Faith is an act of the human will. It is a point of decision. It is making the choice to accept the gift of salvation already paid for by the blood of Jesus on the cross. The ability to have such faith would not be possible apart from the grace of God. Man’s free will along with faith is a gift from God. He has gifted us with the ability to make that choice. Therefore, it is all of God. The blessing of knowing Jesus is made possible by the cross and by the grace of God.

The Blessing of Serving Jesus. The priest would take the animal that was to be sacrificed and laid his hand on its head. The laying of the hand on the head was symbolic of anointing or approval. It was communicating that the sacrifice is approved. Often times in the life of the church we will anoint people for specific areas of ministry and signify our approval by the laying on of hands. This is also a time of celebration in the life of the church. It is a joyous thing to anoint someone for service. The blessing of serving Jesus is beyond description and every time someone answers the call to service, it is a cause for rejoicing.

The Blessing of God’s Family. At the fellowship offering, the people would gather around and partake of a meal together. They had a special connection with one another. To be a part of the family of God and, in particular, a local church, is a tremendous joy and blessing. We are a family and as a family we should spend time together. We should have times of celebration and coming together. There is something special about being a part of a local church family. There is nothing like it. It is a great joy.

The fellowship we have with God and with each other is a very beautiful thing. You can enjoy such fellowship through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Without trusting Jesus as your Savior you can never make a fellowship offering. You can never have fellowship with God and with others apart from faith in the Lord Jesus. Will you join the fellowship today? Will you receive Jesus as your Savior?

[1] Rooker, M. F. (2000). Leviticus (Vol. 3A, pp. 100–101). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[2] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1910). Leviticus (p. 40). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[3] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Jn 3:16). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[4] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Heb 2:9). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[5] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Jn 1:29). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[6] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., 1 Ti 2:4–6). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[7] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., 1 Jn 2:2). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

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