Leviticus in Hebrew is the book named “And He Called.” This interests me because the Ekklesia – the New Testament name for the Church, means “The Called.”
Let that sink in just a little more. Leviticus is the only book God ever wrote on the topic of how he is to be worshipped. It is his book of instructions to his Old Testament priests. We are his New Testament priests. Do you suppose God left any instructions for them that have meaning for us? If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you know there is.
So we come fairly quickly to the Peace Offering in Leviticus Chapter 3, where the Lord says,
13 he shall put his hands on its head, and kill it before the Lord at the doors of the tabernacle of testimony; and Aaron’s sons, the priests, shall sprinkle its blood all around the altar. 14 Then he shall offer his burnt offering to the Lord; and he shall remove its fat that covers the entrails, all the fat on the entrails, 15 the two kidneys and the fat on them by the flanks, and the fatty lobe attached to the liver above the kidneys; 16 and the priest shall offer these on the altar as a burnt offering, for a sweet aroma to the Lord. All the fat is the Lord’s.
17 This shall be a perpetual ordinance throughout your generations in all your dwellings: you shall eat neither fat nor blood.
So what’s the big deal about the fat, and why is it holy?
Eskimos have about 50 different words for snow because snow is important to them. Hebrew has many different words that the King James version translates “fat” for a similar reason. The first instance occurs in Genesis 4, where we read,
4 Abel also brought a sacrifice from the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. The Lord respected Abel and his offering, 5 but He did not respect Cain and his sacrifices.
The word used for “fat” here is Strong’s 2459 cheleb, which means fat, grease, or marrow. It is also used to mean the richest or choice part, the best, or finest. The Lord uses this same cheleb to say, “and you shall eat of the fat of the land ( Gen 45:18 ), but he also says “ye shall eat no manner of fat” in Leviticus 7:23. If I weren’t convinced that every word in the Bible is true, I’d have to call these two statements a contradiction.
Our problem is primarily cultural, because we only have one word for fat, and fat is just what it means. In Hebrew, fat means so much more!
Strong’s 75 (abas) means that an animal has been stall-fed. 1254 (bara) means that the Lord has created it, chosen it, selected it, fed it, and has dispatched it. 1277 (bariy) means plump, fat, fed, plenteous. 1878 (dashen) means anointed with oil, satisfied, in good health, and that the “fat” person has received Good News (Pr. 15:30). 2502 (Chalats) means to pull-off, deliver, strip, equip for war, to arm oneself, to go ready, to fortify, to draw out, and to breast feed. 2924 (taleh) is a fatling, or lamb. 2954 (taphash) means fat, thick, stupid, but the root is 2959 (taphath) means a dropping of ointment, or an Israelitess. 3342 (yeqeb) means wine fats or a wine press or wine vat. 3368 (yaqar) translates “fat” but also means valuable, costly, excellent, precious, or a woman of good reputation. The root is 3365 (yaqar) which means to be heavy, to make rare, to make precious, or prized. The Hebrew word for “glory” is 3519b, (kabod), but the main meaning is “heavy”.
4924 (mishman) means the fattest, but also means a rich dish, fertile field, or a robust man. 4945 (mashqeh) means well-watered, a fat pasture, or a butler who brings you drinks. 8080 (sheman) means shine or oily, 8081 (shemen) means the oil or grease of olives and a fragrant ointment made with olive oil mixed with pine; 8082 (shamane) means fat, greasy, lusty, plenteous, or rich – spoken of Asher in Gen 49:20.
With the above in mind we miss a great deal about fat’s significance in our reading of the Bible.
Why does all the fat of all the offerings belong to the Lord? When you compare animals for value, the fat one is the best. Fat is shiny, rich, heavy, glorious, and it speaks of God’s anointing, blessing, and richness.
There were a few occasions in the Bible when someone got too close to the glory of God and perished. We are not to take any of God’s glory for ourselves. What happens to a person who eats too much fat? Ask your doctor, it will kill you.
There is much more we can say about the offerings in Leviticus, but keep in mind that everything in this book points to Jesus in some way, including the sweet aroma of the fat of the offering which ascends to God and pleases him. Don’t kid yourself – whenever you make an offering to God, give the best portion of what you have with all the fat.