There were several different offerings in the Old Testament which priests made in the tabernacle on behalf of the people. One unique offering was the fellowship offering, which played no part in the atonement for sin. It was a response of worship and thanksgiving…
1 “‘If your offering is a fellowship offering, and you offer an animal from the herd, whether male or female, you are to present before the Lord an animal without defect.
3 From the fellowship offering you are to bring a food offering to the Lord: the internal organs and all the fat that is connected to them, 4 both kidneys with the fat on them near the loins, and the long lobe of the liver, which you will remove with the kidneys. 5 Then Aaron’s sons are to burn it on the altar on top of the burnt offering that is lying on the burning wood; it is a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord.
16 The priest shall burn them on the altar as a food offering, a pleasing aroma. All the fat is the Lord’s.
17 “‘This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live: You must not eat any fat or any blood.’”
Leviticus 3:1, 3-5, 16-17
The fellowship offering (sometimes called a peace or thank offering) in Leviticus 3 is an offering which is not related to atoning for sins. Later in chapter 7 we see that it is from this offering that the priests eat. We also see that God gets the fat. No one was to eat any of the fat – it belonged to the Lord…
We can imagine that for Israel to come to God with an offering that is not related to atonement would be a pure a generous celebration of God’s holiness, character, and love. They are celebrating God with this offering. There is not transaction or payment for a sin or debt owed here.
This is perhaps closely related to our worship today as Christians. We do not bring God offerings of money or praise in order to earn his favour or secure atonement or salvation. God’s favour for us is based on his unconditional love for the world. Our forgiveness is based on the gift of Jesus as our once-for-all sacrifice.
And so we are left offering the praise and thanks offering. Our fellowship offering before the Lord is our worship. Paul would say that we offer ourselves as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2). The beauty and purity of our offering to God is that it is not required to earn anything.
It is a true gift of thanksgiving in response to our Lord.