Did You Know There was a Peace Offering for Thanksgiving?

For many people, reading about the sacrifices of ancient Israel is a real yawner. But if we think about the Thanksgiving holiday, one sacrifice rises from the ashes of antiquity to offer encouragement.

Did You Know There was a Peace Offering for Thanksgiving?

(Photo by Photodune)

In the days of ancient Israel, a special offering, different from the ones required for sin, allowed a person to give God thanks for something the Lord had done.

Rituals are apparently irrational acts which become rational when their significance is explained. —Northrop Frye

Hidden behind the veil of ritual and strangeness are principles of timeless value for your life.

The Significance of the Thanksgiving Peace Offering

Now as for the flesh of the sacrifice of his thanksgiving peace offerings, it shall be eaten on the day of his offering; he shall not leave any of it over until morning. —Leviticus 7:15

The phrase, “Thanksgiving Peace Offering,” comes from the Hebrew word todah. Even today in Israel, the word means “thank you.”

But the term goes beyond simply meaning “thanks.” It means to acknowledge or praise. The worshiper would invite friends and family to come celebrate what God had done.

  • If a person asked God for something, part of his or her response when God would answer the prayer included vowing to acknowledge God’s answer with other people. This was called “paying your vows.”
  • As the animal roasted on the altar, the worshiper would tell those who stood around what God had done. Then when the meat had cooked, everybody ate the feast in celebration.
  • Even the priests ate, an act that represented God’s participation. WOW.

You know what I like? They ate it all. No leftovers!

Tabernacle model sacrificial altar

(Photo: Worshipers would give thanks while the meat cooked. Courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

How You Can Apply the Thanksgiving Peace Offering

A simple application from this ritual? We should share with others how God has blessed us.

This Thanksgiving, before the prayer for the turkey and yams, take a moment to share with others what God has done for you.

By principle, it still applies. We should always offer thanksgiving for God’s mercy.

Want to hear a message I gave about this offering and giving thanks? You can listen here.

Question: What are you thankful for? To leave a comment, just click here.

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  • Walt Stephens

    Of course I am thankful first and foremost for my salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. After that are others including you and your family. I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving.  God bless you.  

    • Thanks, Walt. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well.

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    Ancient rabbis taught that when Messiah comes, the Todah will be the only sacrifice that will continue. All others will cease. The Lord’s Supper is often called the Eucharist, the (Great) Thanksgiving—Eucharisto (Gr) or Todah (Heb). Christians disagree about the nature of the Lord’s Supper, but all agree that it memorializes and commemorates Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary which fulfilled the Torah’s sin offerings—and that celebrating it “tells what God has done” because it “proclaim[s] the Lord’s death ’til he comes.” It is a “sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving” offered by the “royal priesthood” of all believers who are also the temple of God.

    • Very well put! Nice insights into what many refer to as the Eucharist. It’s amazing how all the offerings point to Christ.

      Have a great Thanksgiving, both you and your family. We have so much to give thanks for.