The fat

Leviticus 3:16 “All the fat is the Lord’s.”

What a strange verse is Leviticus 3:16 – “All the fat is the Lord’s.”  It is part of the description of what was called the “Peace Offering.”  So, what does this mean?  What is the reality that this shadow is pointing to? 

To understand this, the meaning of the word “fat” in the Hebrew mind is necessary.  In Hebrew, the word “fat” carries with it the idea of “the choice part or the best part.”  The word was used to describe Goshen in Egypt where Joseph arranged for his father Jacob and his brothers and their families to live during the famine in Egypt. He said to them “I will give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you shall eat the FAT of the land (Genesis 45:18).”  So, another way to think about this is that “all the fat,” i.e., “all the very best things,” are the Lord’s things.  It is the very best things that we are to give to God as we live for Him, but in what is an overwhelming comparison, it is HIS very best things that He pours into our lives. That’s because those that have placed their faith in Him have peace with Him. He is our friend. No matter what we give to Him, what He gives to us is infinitely better.  What an awesome thing this is. 

So, back to the shadow of the Peace Offering.  To dig into this deeper, we need a lesson in animal anatomy.  Because I worked in a slaughterhouse during the summers while I was a college student (and my education is in biology), I know a little something about animal parts. There were three very specific parts of the animal that were to be sacrificed as the fat or inner parts of the animals that were offered. One was the fat around the kidneys, the second was the “caul” of the liver, and the third was the “fat tail” or the part of the tail next to the backbone (Leviticus 3:3-4 KJV). 

In Hebrew the kidneys were thought of as the very inner part of the animal – or of a human for that matter. In fact, the kidneys are the most “inner part” of any animal, for they lie right next to the backbone – beyond all the other organs.  As I think about this my mind goes to how peace with God is an inner thing that is more precious than any external thing in the world. Things like inner peace, joy, love, and hope.  It is these inner things that God gives us like no one or nothing else can. 

But beyond that, the caul of the liver points to something even more wonderful. The liver is the heaviest organ in the body.  In fact, the Hebrew word “liver” is derived from the word for “heavy.”  But it is interesting that it was not the liver that was to be offered, but the “caul” of the liver. The caul is an extra flap.  Think of it as excess to the heaviest part.  Here my mind goes to the fact that we have not just peace with God, but “peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:27).”  It is not just peace that we have with God, but GREAT peace (Psalm 119:165), i.e. as Jesus said, MY PEACE I give to you (John 14:27).”  And we don’t just experience God’s love, but His infinite love, a love that is “broad, and long, and high, and deep (Ephesians 3:18).” And the inner joy of the believer, it is a joy that is “unspeakable and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8).”  Beyond that, the Christian is a person who, because of what God has done his or her life, “abounds in hope (Romans 15:13).” 

But then there is the “fat tail,” i.e., that part of the tail nearest the rump.  What’s that all about?  Interestingly, the Hebrew word for “tail” is derived from a root that means “stout” or “strong.”  Here my mind turns to another wonderful aspect of God’s gifts to us.  Not only are they inner things, not only are they superabundant things, but they are strong things. They endure. They are everlasting.  Take God’s love, for example.  We are told over and over again that “His steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 136).”   In Him we have not just life, but eternal life.  Jesus describes it with the metaphor of a thirsty person to whom He gives living water and “whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life (John 4:14).”

Yes, of all the things that we can desire in this world, it is those who love God who alone are given the best things, the “fat” things, for indeed “all fat is the Lord’s.”  It is by virtue of our relationship with Him as our Father that we have these things, for as His children we are indeed “heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).” 

So, what are you seeking after? What do you want?  If it is something other than what God would have for you, it is so much less than it could be, for truly all the “fat” things, i.e., all the very best things, have always been and will always be, the Lord’s.

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