We are in the process of studying the “Peace Offering” or ZEVAH in Hebrew.
As I said in my last post, the ZEVAH had three purposes.
It could be offered as a “Confession Offering”, a “Vow Offering”, or a “Free-will Offering”.
Today, let’s examine how the ZEVAH was used as a “Vow Offering”.
It was typical to do a ZEVAH as a “Vow Offering” to God if you found yourself in a pickle.
Let’s say you had some kind of problem, were deeply distressed about something, or needed the Lord to show you His mercy for a special need.
Maybe you were a soldier going to war and wanted the Lord to grant you victory on the battlefield.
Or maybe you’re dealing with serious debt or money problems and you need the Lord to help you out.
Or let’s say you’re moving to a new country or starting a new job and you want the Lord to grant you success as you embark on this new adventure in your life.
What would happen is that if God helped you out with whatever troublesome situation you were in, in return you vowed to do something for God in return.
When that pledge or vow was fulfilled, it was capped off with a ceremony that involved offering a ZEVAH as a “Peace Offering”.
Let’s take a look at some Scriptures from the book of Genesis to see a primitive but good example of the ZEVAH as a “Vow Offering” in action.
“Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.“-Genesis 28:20-22
“Then God said to Jacob, “Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.” So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes. Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.” So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods they had and the rings in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the oak at Shechem.”-Genesis 35:1-4
“Then God went up from him at the place where he had talked with him. Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it. Jacob called the place where God had talked with him Bethel.”-Genesis 35:13-15
Although it might not seem crystal clear, the essence of the “vow offering” is well illustrated in the story of Jacob when he was on the run from his brother Esau who he tricked out of the firstborn birthright, a birthright that by tradition rightly belonged to Esau.
Here we have Jacob some 500 years before the Mosaic Law performing a ZEVAH type offering.
The standing-stone that Jacob erected in Hebrew is called MATSEBAH.
It refers to a pillar that can be used as a boundary marker or a very primitive type of altar, which is what Jacob is using it for here.
Now if you’ll look closely, you ‘ll see that all the elements of the Peace Offering are present.
First, Jacob made a vow to the Lord by saying “If you’ll help me, you will be my God”.
Then, he set up a standing stone and offered a sacrifice of oil as a “Vow Offering”.
The Hebrew word MASHIACH for anointing is used here.
I’m saying this act of Jacob anointing the standing stone is a form of the ZEVAH in action.
Understand that Jacob wasn’t inventing something new here.
What he was doing was typical, not just among the Hebrews, but among other Middle Eastern cultures of that day also.
Of course, five centuries later in Leviticus, we’ll find that God has further refined and defined the “Vow Offering” from what was customary in the region for Jacob’s time.
Nevertheless, the principles and essence of the vow offering remain the same.