TORAHSCOPE – Shemini – Eighth – 30 Mar 2019

Shemini

Eighth

True Shock and Awe

Leviticus 9:1-11:47
2 Samuel 6:1-7:17 (A); 6:1-19 (S)

The title of our Torah portion for this week, Shemini or “Eighth,” points one to the chronological context of the “eighth day” that begins this section of Leviticus. A glance at the concluding statements from Tzav last week, notes how the seven days of consecration which God required of Aaron and his sons has just been completed. Aaron and his sons had been very busy anointing and consecrating the Tabernacle, various implements for sacrifice, different accoutrements for the Tent of Meeting, and even themselves:

At the doorway of the tent of meeting, moreover, you shall remain day and night for seven days and keep the charge of the LORD, so that you will not die, for so I have been commanded. Thus Aaron and his sons did all the things which the LORD had commanded through Moses” (Leviticus 8:35-36).

Our selection in Shemini begins with, Now it came about on the eighth day that Moses called Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel” (Leviticus 9:1). Now that the seven days of consecration are completed, the glory of God is ready to manifest itself before the Ancient Israelites. The Tabernacle’s system of offerings and sacrifices is ready to begin its designated function:

Then Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them, and he stepped down after making the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings. Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting. When they came out and blessed the people, the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. Then fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the portions of fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces” (Leviticus 9:22-24).

This is a very dramatic and exciting section of Scripture to contemplate and imagine in one’s mind’s eye. Now that the anointing and consecration of the Tabernacle have been completed, and all of the required sacrifices have been offered, the glory of the Lord, kavod-ADONAI, appears.

Aaron first lifts up his hands, and then Moses blesses the people. Then, God’s glory falls upon the Tent of Meeting. In a powerful way, a fire comes down and consumes the burnt offering and portions of fat on the altar. The appearance of the all-consuming fire was so overwhelming that the people shouted for joy that their offerings were acceptable and fell on their faces in awe.[1]

Aaron’s Sons Consumed

Following Leviticus ch. 9, there is a distinct break as the scene of the Tabernacle changes from readers seeing the glory of God manifested—to a very tragic incident involving the deaths of Nadab and Abihu. For some unstated reason in the text, the two eldest sons of Aaron decided to offer up some “strange fire” (Heb. eish zarah) that was unauthorized by the Holy One of Israel. They soon discover that unsanctioned activities at this sacred placebased on their own volitional choiceshave terminal consequences:

“Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD” (Leviticus 10:1-2).

The death of these two men was a stunning and unexpected tragedy. It was a clear display of God’s apparent displeasure with the actions of Nadab and Abihu. Moments before in the text, a holy fire consumes sacrificial offerings. But then, for offering up “unholy fire” (RSV) or “unauthorized fire” (NIV), the heirs-apparent of Aaron are consumed. As the Hebrew verb akal describes it, they were “eat[en], devour[ed], consume[d]” (AMG).[2] This is the same verb used previously for the consumption of the offering (Leviticus 9:24). The same God who demonstrated His pleasure with the presentation of offerings before Him in Leviticus 9, is now displeased with the presentation of inappropriate fire before Him in Leviticus 10.

Aaron was in total shock after seeing his two sons die by the force of God. Because of the severity of the Levitical service, Moses communicates these direct commands to Aaron, which he had received from the Lord:

“Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘It is what the LORD spoke, saying, “By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored.”’ So Aaron, therefore, kept silent” (Leviticus 10:3).

Certainly, these words from God spoken by Moses, struck a chord with Aaron. Could it have been possible that Aaron thought back to the admonition uttered just before the Decalogue was received at Mount Sinai? Here the instruction was, “Also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, or else the LORD will break out against them” (Exodus 19:22).

At this juncture, Moses was warning not just the Levites, but by extension all of the Ancient Israelites, to not be presumptuous about approaching their Creator. The priests needed to be reminded about the necessity of personal consecration, lest they be punished for presenting something unholy or inappropriate before the Lord.

Leviticus 10:3 is clear how “Aaron remained silent” (NIV) as Moses delivered instruction following the deaths of Nadab and Abihu. Can you imagine what was going through his mind? He was responsible for the golden calf incident in Exodus 32, and yet here he was still standing, in spite of three thousand Israelites slaughtered. For what could seem to be a far lesser offense than committing idolatry against the Holy One, he had to look at the charred remains of his sons. Aaron understood in a very visible way that in order to be in the presence of the Lord, one must be sanctified unto Him.

What can we learn from this today, in the era of New Covenant when Yeshua’s sacrifice has offered permanent forgiveness from sins? The Lord still requires His people to be holy in order for them to access to His presence. He demands that He be glorified and properly honored by His creatures. It is quite possible that Aaron was terrified into thinking that he could be the next victim of the consuming fire of God. While Believers today might have the sacrifice of Yeshua covering their transgressions, even the Apostolic Scriptures admonish us, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

Pleasing the Holy One

There is speculation by the Jewish Rabbis that Nadab and Abihu were perhaps under the influence of alcohol when they made the bad decision to offer up strange fire on the altar.[3] This is a possibility, as they could have been intoxicated so as to not properly follow the procedures that the Lord required of them as consecrated priests. The mention of this prohibition, several verses later in Leviticus 10, is a good textual clue that they could have indeed been drunk:

“Do not drink wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons with you, when you come into the tent of meeting, so that you will not die—it is a perpetual statute throughout your generations—and so as to make a distinction between the holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean, and so as to teach the sons of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them through Moses” (Leviticus 10:9-11).

The problem with alcohol may provide some explanation, but we need not overlook some of the verses which appear between the description of Nadab and Abihu’s death (Leviticus 10:1-3) and then the description of how priests were not to drink while on duty (Leviticus 10:9-11). Some intriguing statements are made in Leviticus 10:6-7, succinctly describing how holy God considers the priestly office to be:

“Then Moses said to Aaron and to his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, ‘Do not uncover your heads nor tear your clothes, so that you will not die and that He will not become wrathful against all the congregation. But your kinsmen, the whole house of Israel, shall bewail the burning which the LORD has brought about. You shall not even go out from the doorway of the tent of meeting, or you will die; for the LORD’s anointing oil is upon you.’ So they did according to the word of Moses” (Leviticus 10:6-7).

Aaron’s other two sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, will take the place of Nadab and Abihu as priests. They are all instructed not to mourn for the untimely deaths of their brothers. Then they are told to not even leave the Tent of Meeting, because “the anointing oil of the LORD is upon you” (RSV).

The God of Israel was very serious about His chosen priests honoring the office in which they were to serve. In some respects, you can ascertain that from the shock of the consuming deaths of Nadab and Abihu, a genuine awe and reverence of the Lord has settled in the hearts of Aaron and his other sons. Obedience to these directives was adhered to without question. As this section of Leviticus closes, Moses asks Aaron and his sons why they have not followed the instructions to partake of the “holy” offerings that were clear instructions from the Most High:

“‘Why did you not eat the sin offering at the holy place? For it is most holy, and He gave it to you to bear away the guilt of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the LORD. Behold, since its blood had not been brought inside, into the sanctuary, you should certainly have eaten it in the sanctuary, just as I commanded.’ But Aaron spoke to Moses, ‘Behold, this very day they presented their sin offering and their burnt offering before the LORD. When things like these happened to me, if I had eaten a sin offering today, would it have been good in the sight of the LORD?’ When Moses heard that, it seemed good in his sight” (Leviticus 10:17-20).

Aaron responds to this rebuke with a very heartfelt reply, which indicates that the circumstances of his sons’ deaths, in his mind, prohibited them from eating the sin offering. Having seen his two sons die in a very tragic way, and having heard the admonitions about mourning and leaving the presence of the Lord while under the anointing, Aaron’s heart seems to finally be in the right place.

Even with the potential for immediate Divine retribution, Aaron’s contrite response was, “would the LORD have approved?” (NJPS). Apparently, this was what the Lord was looking for from His high priest and his sons, and Moses was satisfied with the response (Leviticus 10:20). Since Aaron was not consumed for disregarding the requirements for the sin offering, the Lord was pleased with his service as high priest of Israel.

In Shemini, God makes it clear through a very dramatic episode, what He required of the Levitical priesthood. As exemplified in Aaron and his sons, He desires a set-apart people who understand the call upon their lives, and who put His interests as Creator ahead of their own as mortals. Aaron learns from the shocking deaths of Nadab and Abihu that being presumptuous with how someone approaches God can bring significant consequences. Aaron was a changed man. Is it possible that he went through some kind of a mental checklist, asking the question of whether or not God would approve, before every priestly action he took? These initial scenes had to be preparatory for the great responsibility that being the high priest of Israel would entail.

Conforming to His Image

Today, as representatives of the God of Israel in the Earth, we need to approach our service unto Him with the same kind of sobriety that Aaron developed. We need to understand His ways, a very important part of which involves personal Torah study. So much knowledge and understanding about God’s holiness can be imparted to us by a review of the weekly parashah, as we contemplate not only the continuing trajectory of God’s Word, but also His mission and calling for our individual lives.

In Leviticus 11, a part of our Torah portion for this week, we encounter the first major instruction detailing the kosher dietary laws. Many Believers today will casually dismiss these directions given by God, because they think they were only for a previous time or age. But at the same time, several prominent evangelical Christians today—because of the poor health of many in our society—have spoken in favor of the health benefits that are derived from not eating certain meats. Are God’s people to be regulated by Him in simple matters like their diet? Can you learn anything about God’s holiness by what you eat?[4]

As we search our own hearts in these days of “shock and awe,”[5] perhaps we should ask the Lord to give us hearts that are reminiscent of Aaron’s heart—hopefully without having to witness the same kind of dramatic encounters that he saw! Learning from Shemini, before we take actions, we should learn to ask the simple question of whether or not God would approve. By training our hearts and minds to such a pattern of behavior, those called into His service can demonstrate how they are being conformed to the image of Yeshua:

“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30).

Let us be reminded that Yeshua only did what the Father instructed Him to do:

“So Yeshua said, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me’” (John 8:28).

By His grace, may we also be reminded that we, as obedient servants, should be doing only that which the Lord has instructed us. By being sensitive to His will, not only will He be glorified—but we might find ourselves truly in awe of His work through us. If we choose otherwise, we may be in for an unexpected shock! (Click to Source)


NOTES

[1] As an aside, it is interesting to note two things from this account. First, witnessing supernatural actions in person can generate enough fear to buckle the stiffest of knees. Second, the witnesses to God’s glory falling and the fire consuming the offerings caused the Ancient Israelites to fall on their faces. This incident, and others throughout the Scriptures (i.e., Genesis 17:3; Numbers 16:4; Joshua 5:14; Daniel 8:17; Matthew 17:6), indicate how people generally respond to the genuine presence of God.

Back in the early to mid-1990s, a phenomenon was moving through various charismatic circles known by a variety of names such as the “Toronto blessing” or “holy laughter.” As people claimed to have been blessed by various speakers, etc., many were falling down under the supposed power of the Holy Spirit. In many cases, as they were being prayed for, the typical response was to see people fall on their backs as they were being touched—rather than fall forward on the face, as is typical from the Scriptural examples.

Things like this should make one pause and ask just what kind of a “spirit” was being served. If more of the participants had been conscious of the Biblical examples where people fall on their facesbefore God, there could have been a recognition that these actions needed to be viewed with a more critical eye. Thankfully today, as more and more Believers become better acquainted with the basic principles of God’s Torah, He will equip us to more properly question the origins of the various spiritual phenomenon we encounter.

[2] Baker and Carpenter, 49.

[3] J.H. Hertz, ed., Pentateuch & Haftorahs (London: Soncino Press, 1960), 445.

[4] For a further discussion, consult the articles “To Eat or Not to Eat?” and “How Do We Properly Keep Kosher?” by J.K. McKee.

[5] The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (2002-2003).

Weekly Torah Readings: Sh’mini – One New Man Bible -Mar 29, 2019

Sh’mini

The LORD to Appear

9.1. And it happened on the eighth day that Moses called Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel. 2. And he said to Aaron, “Take for yourself a young calf for a sin offering and a ram without blemish for a burnt offering and offer them before the LORD*. 3. And to the children of Israel you will speak saying, Take for yourselves a he goat for a sin offering and a calf and a lamb, both of the first year, without blemish, for a burnt offering, 4. also a bull and a ram for peace offerings, to sacrifice before the LORD* and a grain offering mixed with oil, for today the LORD* will appear to you.”

9:5. And they brought what Moses commanded before the Tent of Meeting and the whole congregation drew near and stood before the LORD*. 6. And Moses said, “This is the thing that the LORD* commanded that you should do and the glory of the LORD* will appear to you.”

9:7. And Moses said to Aaron, “Go to the altar and offer your sin offering and your burnt offering, and make atonement for yourself and for the people: and offer the offering of the people and make atonement for them, as the LORD* commanded.” 8. Aaron therefore went to the altar and slew the calf of the sin offering, which was for himself. 9. And the sons of Aaron brought the blood to him and he dipped his finger in the blood, and put it on the horns of the altar, and poured out the blood at the bottom of the altar, 10. but the fat, the kidneys, and the lobe above the liver of the sin offering, he burned upon the altar, as the LORD* commanded Moses. 11. And the flesh and the hide he burned with fire outside the camp. 12. And he slew the burnt offering and Aaron’s sons presented the blood to him, which he sprinkled all around on the altar. 13. And they presented the burnt offering to him, with the pieces of it and the head, and he burned them on the altar. 14. And he washed the innards and the legs and burned them on the burnt offering on the altar.

9:15. And he brought the people’s offering and took the goat, which was the sin offering for the people, and slew it and offered it for sin, as for the first. 16. And he brought the burnt offering and offered it according to the manner. 17. And he brought the grain offering and took a handful of it and burned it on the altar, besides the morning’s burnt offering. 18. He also slew the bull and the ram for an offering of peace offering, which was for the people. And Aaron’s sons presented the blood to him, which he sprinkled all around on the altar, 19. and the fat of the bull and the ram, the rump and that which covered the innards, the kidneys, and the lobe above the liver. 20. And they put the fat on the breasts and he burned the fat on the altar. 21. And Aaron waved the breasts and the right shoulder for a wave offering before the LORD*, as Moses commanded. 22. Then Aaron raised his hands toward the people and blessed them, and came down from offering the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offering.

The LORD’s* Appearance

9:23. And Moses and Aaron went in the Tent of Meeting, and came out and blessed the people, then the glory of the LORD* appeared to all the people. 24. And a fire came out from before the LORD* and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar and all the people saw it, and they shouted and fell on their faces.

LORD’s* Appearance

10.1. And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each of them took his fire-pan and put fire in it and put incense on it, and offered strange fire before the LORD*, which He commanded them not to do. 2. And fire went out from the LORD* and devoured them, and they died before the LORD*. 3. Then Moses said to Aaron, This is what the LORD* said, saying, “I shall be sanctified through those who come near Me, and I shall be honored before all the people.” And Aaron held his peace.

10:4. And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel and said to them, “Come near, carry your brothers out of the camp from in front of the Sanctuary.” 5. So they went near and carried them in their tunics out of the camp, as Moses had said.

10:6. And Moses said to Aaron and to Elazar and to Itamar, his sons, “Do not uncover your heads or tear your clothes, lest you die and lest wrath come upon all the people, but let your brothers, the whole House of Israel, bewail the burning which the LORD* has kindled. 7. And you will not go out from the door of the Tent of Meeting, lest you die, for the anointing oil of the LORD* is upon you.” And they did according to the word of Moses.

10:8. And the LORD* spoke to Aaron saying, 9. “Do not drink wine or strong drink, you or your sons with you, when you go into the Tent of Meeting, lest you die! It will be a statute forever throughout your generations, 10. so you can put a difference between holy and unholy and between unclean and clean 11. and so you can teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD* has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.”

10:12. And Moses spoke to Aaron and to Elazar and Itamar, his sons that were left, “Take the grain offering that remains of the offerings of the LORD* made by fire and eat it without leaven beside the altar, for it is most holy, 13. and you will eat it in the Holy Place, because it is your share and your sons’ share of the offerings of the LORD* made by fire, for so I am commanded. 14. And the breast of the wave offering and heave leg you will eat in a clean place; you, your sons and your daughters with you, for they are your share and your sons’ share, given from the offerings of peace offering of the children of Israel. 15. They will bring the heave leg and the wave breast with the offerings made by fire of the fat, to wave it for a wave offering before the LORD*, and it will be yours and your sons’ with you, by a statute forever, as the LORD* has commanded.”

10:16. And Moses diligently sought the goat of the sin offering and, behold, it had already been burned; and he was angry with Elazar and Itamar, the sons of Aaron who were left alive saying, 17. Why have you not eaten the sin offering in the Holy Place, seeing it is most holy, and God has given it to you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the LORD*? 18. Behold, its blood was not brought in within the Holy Place. You should indeed have eaten it in the Holy Placeas I commanded.”

10:19. And Aaron said to Moses, “See, they have today offered their sin offering and their burnt offering before the LORD* and such things have befallen me, and if I had eaten the sin offering today, would it have been accepted in the LORD’s* sight?” 20. And Moses listened and it was well pleasing in his sight.

Clean and Unclean Animals Listed

11.1. And the LORD* spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying to them, 2. “Speak to the children of Israel saying, These are the animals which you will eat among all the animals that are on the earth. 3. You will eat whatever among the animals divides its hoof and is cloven footed and brings up the cud. 4. Nevertheless you will not eat these that bring up the cud or those that divide the hoof: the camel, because it brings up the cud, but does not divide the hoof; it is unclean to you. 5.And the rock badger, because it brings up the cud, but does not divide the hoof; it is unclean to you. 6. And the hare, because it brings up the cud, but does not divide the hoof; it is unclean to you. 7. And the swine, though it divides the hoof and is cloven footed, yet it does not bring up the cud; it is unclean to you. 8. You will not eat their flesh, and you will not touch their carcass; they are unclean to you.”

11:9. And Aaron said, “You will eat of all that are in the waters: whatever has fins and scales in the waters, in the seas and in the rivers, those you will eat. 10. And all that do not have fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters and of any living thing that is in the waters, they will be an abomination to you. 11. They will be even an abomination to you; you will not eat of their flesh, but you will have their carcasses in abomination. 12. Whatever has no fins or no scales in the waters, that will be an abomination to you.

11:13. “And these are those which you will have in abomination among the fowls: they will not be eaten, they are an abomination; the eagle, the vulture, the osprey, 14. the kite, the falcon after its kind, 15. every raven after its kind, 16. the ostrich, the falcon, the seagull, the hawk after its kind, 17. the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, 18. the swan, the pelican, the fish hawk, 19. the stork, the heron after its kind, the lapwing, and the bat.

11:20. “All winged swarming things that creep, going upon all four, will be an abomination to you. 21. Yet you may eat these of every flying creeping thing that goes upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth, 22. even these of them you may eat; the locust after its kind, the bald locust after its kind, the beetle after its kind, and the grasshopper after its kind. 23. But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, will be an abomination to you.

11:24. “And for these you will be unclean: whoever touches their carcass will be unclean until the evening. 25. And whoever bears anything of their carcass will wash his clothes and be unclean until the evening. 26. The carcasses of every beast that divides the hoof and is neither cloven footed, nor chews the cud, are unclean to you: everyone who touches them will be unclean. 27. And whatever goes upon its paws among all manner of beasts that go on all four, those are unclean to you: whoever touches their carcass will be unclean until the evening. 28. And he who bears their carcass will wash his clothes and be unclean until the evening: they are unclean to you.

11:29. “These also will be unclean to you among the creeping things that creep upon the earth; the weasel, the mouse, the tortoise after its kind, 30. the ferret, the chameleon, the lizard, the snail, and the mole. 31. These are unclean to you among all that creep: whoever touches them when they are dead will be unclean until the evening. 32. And upon whatever any of them when they are dead, does fall, it will be unclean, whether it is any vessel of wood or raiment or skin or sack, whatever vessel it is, in which any work is done, it must be put into water and it will be unclean until the evening, so it will be cleansed. 33. And every earthen vessel into which any of them falls, whatever is in it will be unclean and you will break it. 34. Of all meat which may be eaten, that on which water comes will be unclean: and all drink that may be drunk in every vessel will be unclean. 35. And everything whereupon any part of their carcass falls will be unclean, whether it is oven, or ranges for pots, they will be broken down, they are unclean, and will be unclean to you. 36.Nevertheless a fountain or pit, in which there is plenty of water, will be clean, but that which touches their carcass will be unclean. 37. And if any part of their carcass falls upon any sowing seed which is to be sown, it will be clean. 38. But if any water is put on the seed and any part of their carcass falls on it, it will be unclean to you.

11:39. “And if any beast of which you may eat dies, he that touches its carcass will be unclean until the evening. 40. And he that eats of its carcass will wash his clothes and be unclean until the evening, he also who bears its carcass will wash his clothes and be unclean until the evening. 41. And every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth will be an abomination; it will not be eaten. 42. Whatever goes upon the belly and whatever goes upon all four or whatever has more feet among all creeping things that creep upon the earth, you will not eat them, for they are an abomination. 43. You will not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creeps, neither will you make yourselves unclean with them, that you would be defiled thereby. 44. For I AM the LORD* your God! You will therefore sanctify yourselves and you will be holy, for I AM holy. Neither will you defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. 45. For I AM the LORD* Who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You will therefore be holy, for I AM holy! (1 Pe. 1:16)

11:46. “This is the teaching for the beasts and for the fowl and for every living creature that moves in the waters, and of every creature that creeps upon the earth, 47. to make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten.” (Click to Source)

Next week’s Torah readings: Tazria/M’tsora

Torah Commentary – Sh’mini (Eighth) – Convictions Do Not Change – SCRIPTURES FOR March 30, 2019

Torah Commentary
Leviticus 9:1-11:47
2 Samuel 6:1-19
Mark 7:1-23
Acts 5:1-11;10:1-35
Sh’mini (Eighth)
Convictions Do Not Change
The sacrifices are to teach us about life. They give us instructions of how to approach YH VH. This Torah portion will also instruct us in how not to approach him. The sons of Aaron decide they have a right to their opinion regarding their duties and it does not go very well for them. Simply put, they died.
These verses and the event they describe should teach us that the first thing which must be put on an altar is our opinion. Yah has set up His ways of doing things and expects us to follow through without inserting our thoughts into the situation. It is the very heart of true conviction.
Conviction is when we do something, not because we understand it all, but because it is the right thing to do, one-hundred percent of the time, because He tells us to. Conviction does not have a place for wiggle room when we find ourselves in a compromising situation. Conviction stands firm, no matter the cost.
It is interesting that the verses of unauthorized fire would be followed with instructions for what is food and what is not food, for if there is an area of our life which conviction is tested almost daily, it is in what we put in our mouths.
I am not going to get into the list of what Abba says is food or not as you can read the list for yourself. The question is what are we going to do with the list when we are finished? Will we treat it with the conviction it deserves as the Word of YHVH, or water it down with a bit of convenience? To expound on this, let’s make up a scenario most of us are familiar with.
Let’s say your neighbor invites you over for dinner one night. You have not told them about your faith or your lifestyle of Torah. You figure they go to church on Sundays as you can see their car leave every Sunday morning at 10:50 and return at 12:10. You have been meaning to talk to them about your faith, but have been putting it off because you don’t want to be marked as “Those People” by all your neighbors.
So you show up for dinner and walk in the door only to be greeted by the sight of pork chops frying in a pan. Oy Vey! Now what do you do? Here are your options.
  1. 1.  Tell your neighbors that the whole family has just been diagnosed with high blood pressure and can not eat pork due to doctors orders.
  2. 2.  Explain to them the scientific reasons pigs should not be considered food.
  3. 3.  Tell the children to just eat a little so as not to offend your neighbors. By the way, this means offending your God.
  4. 4.  Be honest with the neighbors and use it as a place of conviction and an opportunity to share the lifestyle your faith in Yeshua has brought you to. Tell them you do not eat pork because your convicted not to based on Scripture.
Now I think we all know what our response should be. The question though is not what we should do, but what have we been doing?
It is amazing to me how the dietary commands are the ones people do not think should be taken seriously. I have heard most every excuse in the book for breaking these commands. Why do people think these are somehow less of the heart of Abba than others. I mean, do we do that with other commandments like, “Just a little sexual immorality is fine. We don’t want to offend anyone!” How about, “Just steal a little bit!” How ridiculous, right?
If you are as fed up with this world situation as I am, stop and ask what got us into it in the first place? Was it not Eve putting something in her mouth she was not supposed to? Was not this whole thing started when Adam and Eve walked in convenience instead of conviction?
So next time you go to your neighbors house for dinner, or dare we say your mothers house, ask yourself a question. Are we truly walking in conviction or is our life based on convenience? You never know if maybe Abba has placed you in a situation because he wants to convict someone else through you. (Click to Source)
Shalom and Be Strong,
Mike Clayton
Joined To HaShem

Torah Commentary – Sh’mini – The Eighth Day – Passover – Opportunities to … – SCRIPTURES FOR April 7, 2017

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Torah Commentary
There is a bit of confusion on whether the Torah this week is the end of Pesach or S’himini. Since we always aim to please you will find a commentary on both listed below.
Sh’mini
Leviticus 9:1 – 11:47
2 Samuel 6:1-19
Hebrews 8:1-6
The Eighth Day
With every passing day it seems I yearn more for a realm known as the eighth day. I see not only the wars and rumors of wars, famines and earthquakes, but I observe and experience for myself just how painful life can be on this side of the restoration of all things.
Recently I stood on the Temple Mount and saw Arab children playing soccer on the holiest site on earth. I did not feel animosity toward them, but rather to the one who is behind the demonic religion they are being taught to serve. On another day I looked out the bus window and saw the memorial to a Jew killed in Ariel just a few weeks ago. What was his crime? Being a Jew and breathing the air of Israel. I talked with friends in Israel who struggle with life and death on a daily basis. The yearning for His Eighth Day increased.
In recent days I have wept with my wife over the loss of our pet and wept for a daughter in law who lost her beloved senior dog just days later. I yearn for the Eighth Day.
This week’s Torah portion is titled Sh’mini or Eighth. It is speaking to us of a realm beyond our own. It is one which will only be revealed after the tribulation and a thousand year reign in which the written Torah will go forth from Jerusalem by none other than the Living Torah seated upon a throne. It is a time which none of us can really comprehend. Men such as Ezekiel, John and Rav Saul were given glimpses into this time. What did they think when the veil to the Eternal Kingdom was pulled back for them? Saul described the experience best in 1 Corinthians 2 when he said the eye has not seen, nor ear heard the things we have in store for us.
What do the shadows in this Torah portion teach us about that day? In Leviticus 9:4 we read HaShem will appear to us. I believe in that day it will not be the partial or veiled appearing such as Moshe saw, but we will see His fullness. What will be our response on that day? Look at Leviticus 9:24. The Hebrews shouted in amazement and fell on their faces. Will we do the same, but multiplied many times over? So much for the thought of casually walking up to “The Man Upstairs” to ask Him a few unanswered questions!
This Torah portion also contains two unique properties. In Leviticus 10:16 we find the middle of Torah and in 11:42 the center letter of Torah.  What does this teach us about the Eighth Day?
In 11:42 the center letter is a vav. The vav connects all things to all things as we see in the Tabernacle. The vav connected all items to make the Tabernacle echad, (one.) The vav is in the midst of the verse speaking of the detestable thing which crawls on the ground. Sounds like a serpent in a garden. Reminds me of the word spoken that he will be destroyed and all will be redeemed. Can we, draw from this the “Heart of Torah,” which is the heart of Yah, is about redemption?
The other verse, I mentioned, which is known as the middle of Torah is Leviticus 10:16. The words to the left and right in the Complete Jewish Bible are that Moshe “carefully investigated.” Hebrew would better translate that Moshe “searchingly searched.” With either translation the message becomes clear that those who searchingly search to carefully investigate will find the heart of redemption which is the Eighth Day, the day of the restoration of all things.
Allow me to sum this up as follows. There is an Eighth Day coming. There will be no one who simply stumbles into that realm. It is a time reserved for those who searchingly search for His heart, the heart of redemption. For now though it is only a realm which we can imagine, or can we really? It will be a moment in which even the breath in our bodies will explode with a shout. When we see the love, compassion, patience, grace and mercy in His eyes, we will fall on our faces as He is revealed to us in full. It will be in this moment that the trials, tribulations, tears and pain of this life will melt from our beings. All will be restored and we will again walk with Him in the cool of a garden evening breeze. I cannot even figure out what that means, but I know with every fiber of my being, I yearn for the day to come.
Passover
Deuteronomy 14:22 – 16:17
Numbers 28:19 – 25
Opportunities to …
I sat down at my computer yesterday and wrote a commentary for this week. After finishing I found that the readings I was using were not for this week, but rather for next week. At least this is what some schedules based on a few calendars have listed. I emailed a list of readings for the counting of the omer. Before I hit the send key I thought about how my readings and counting might not line up with some others who were following a different calendar. I added a note to the email requesting others to walk in respect of others who see things differently.
Even my own walk has been one of changes in understanding. I have set my dates by the Hillel calendar and by the sighting of the moon. I have looked at, prayed about and studied the reasoning of both as well as the ripened barley in Israel. Today, I have decided to use the Hillel calendar knowing full well that there are people who have unsubscribed from my newsletter because of my decision. Truth is that no matter which way I go I would have some who would unsubscribe. In the end I have to do what I feel is right for me and my family.
What do I do with those who disagree? Exactly what I said earlier, respect. It is as simple as this, I show respect. What is respect though? For many people respect is a temporary pause in the discussion so the person can have a bit more time to find that magical Scripture which is going to prove the other person wrong. Once found, the person attacks the other with both barrels blazing. If you do not agree with their viewpoint, the respect comes to a halt and separation begins. This is not the respect I am talking about. Respect to me is being able to discuss without the need to “win.” To agree to disagree.
This brings up a question. Why did HaShem allow these possibilities for different interpretation? Did He not know they were in His Word? Could He have made it so clear there would be no discussion? Maybe that word, discussion, is the clue. He not only allowed room for interpretation and discussion, He planned it. Why? To present us opportunities to either love each other through our differences or divide because of them. Which one have we as a whole been known for? I don’t need to provide the answer, do I?
We can boil it all down to a very basic thought. Differences in interpretation are designed into Scripture to give an opportunity to respect and love or divide and hate. There is, however, a complication to the equation. I only have control over one of the parties, me. I can show love and respect all I want, but if it is not given back we are not going anywhere. What do we do when love and respect is a one way street? Keep walking and find others who have the same motives as you and pray for those who are left behind in their “I am right” attitudes.
In John 13:35, Yeshua does not say people will know we are His by our pure doctrines, but rather by the love we show toward each other. What does it mean to walk in love toward each other? A friend of mine in Israel put it as best as I have ever heard. He said, “Love is not staring into each other’s eyes, but rather walking toward a common destination.” This says it all to me.
Whether you and I agree on every Scripture, doctrine, calendar or way of life, (I doubt that will happen) the questions is, “what is our common destination”? Is it His Kingdom being established soon and in our day? If that is the case, I can walk with you, if you can walk with me. When we get to the destination, to quote a pastor and teacher from years ago, J. Vernon McGee, “He will straighten you out…right after He straightens me out.”
Make a decision before you take another step, a decision to simply not take the bait of division. You stand your ground and know “In Whom you have believed.” Keep walking as if you do not have time for meaningless and futile arguments. Don’t allow yourself to be lead off the road by things which may in the end not matter. Show love and respect. You never know, maybe others are just waiting to see someone who will take the lead. In the end, you may take a moment, turn around and see a few people following. (Click to Source)
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Shemini (Eighth) – “True Shock and Awe”

“True Shock and Awe”

Leviticus 9:1-11:47
2 Samuel 6:1-7:17 (A); 6:1-19 (S)

Book_of_Leviticus_Chapter_10-3_(Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media)

The title of our Torah portion for this week, Shemini or “Eighth,” points one to the chronological context of the “eighth day” that begins this section of Leviticus. A glance at the concluding statements from Tzav last week, notes how the seven days of consecration which God required of Aaron and his sons has just been completed. Aaron and his sons had been very busy anointing and consecrating the Tabernacle, various implements for sacrifice, different accoutrements for the Tent of Meeting, and even themselves:

“At the doorway of the tent of meeting, moreover, you shall remain day and night for seven days and keep the charge of the Lord, so that you will not die, for so I have been commanded. Thus Aaron and his sons did all the things which the Lord had commanded through Moses” (Leviticus 8:35-36).

Our selection in Shemini begins with, “Now it came about on the eighth day that Moses called Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel” (Leviticus 9:1). Now that the seven days of consecration are completed, the glory of God is ready to manifest itself before the Ancient Israelites. The Tabernacle’s system of offerings and sacrifices is ready to begin its designated function:

“Then Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them, and he stepped down after making the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings. Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting. When they came out and blessed the people, the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. Then fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the portions of fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces” (Leviticus 9:22-24).

This is a very dramatic and exciting section of Scripture to contemplate and imagine in one’s mind’s eye. Now that the anointing and consecration of the Tabernacle have been completed, and all of the required sacrifices have been offered, the glory of the Lord, kavod-Adonai (hwhy-dAbk), appears.

Aaron first lifts up his hands, and then Moses blesses the people. Then, God’s glory falls upon the Tent of Meeting. In a powerful way, a fire comes down and consumes the burnt offering and portions of fat on the altar. The appearance of the all-consuming fire was so overwhelming that the people shouted for joy that their offerings were acceptable and fell on their faces in awe.

Aaron’s Sons Consumed

Following Leviticus ch. 9, there is a distinct break as the scene of the Tabernacle changes from readers seeing the glory of God manifested—to a very tragic incident involving the deaths of Nadab and Abihu. For some unstated reason in the text, the two eldest sons of Aaron decided to offer up some “strange fire” (Heb. eish zarah, hrz va) that was unauthorized by the Holy One of Israel. They soon discover that unsanctioned activities at this sacred place—based on their own volitional choices—have terminal consequences:

“Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord” (Leviticus 10:1-2).

The death of these two men was a stunning and unexpected tragedy. It was a clear display of God’s apparent displeasure with the actions of Nadab and Abihu. Moments before in the text, a holy fire consumes sacrificial offerings. But then, for offering up “unholy fire” (RSV) or “unauthorized fire” (NIV), the heirs-apparent of Aaron are consumed. As the Hebrew verb akal (lka) describes it, they were “eat[en], devour[ed], consume[d]” (AMG Baker and Carpenter, 49). This is the same verb used previously for the consumption of the offering (Leviticus 9:24). The same God who demonstrated His pleasure with the presentation of offerings before Him in Leviticus 9, is now displeased with the presentation of inappropriate fire before Him in Leviticus 10.

Aaron was in total shock after seeing his two sons die by the force of God. Because of the severity of the Levitical service, Moses communicates these direct commands to Aaron, which he had received from the Lord:

“Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘It is what the Lord spoke, saying, “By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored.”’ So Aaron, therefore, kept silent” (Leviticus 10:3).

Certainly, these words from God spoken by Moses, struck a chord with Aaron. Could it have been possible that Aaron thought back to the admonition uttered just before the Decalogue was received at Mount Sinai? Here the instruction was, “Also let the priests who come near to the Lord consecrate themselves, or else the Lord will break out against them” (Exodus 19:22).

At this juncture, Moses was warning not just the Levites, but by extension all of the Ancient Israelites, to not be presumptuous about approaching their Creator. The priests needed to be reminded about the necessity of personal consecration, lest they be punished for presenting something unholy or inappropriate before the Lord.

Leviticus 10:3 is clear how “Aaron remained silent” (NIV) as Moses delivered instruction following the deaths of Nadab and Abihu. Can you imagine what was going through his mind? He was responsible for the golden calf incident in Exodus 32, and yet here he was still standing, in spite of three thousand Israelites slaughtered. For what could seem to be a far lesser offense than committing idolatry against the Holy One, he had to look at the charred remains of his sons. Aaron understood in a very visible way that in order to be in the presence of the Lord, one must be sanctified unto Him.

What can we learn from this today, in the era of New Covenant when Yeshua’s sacrifice has offered permanent forgiveness from sins? The Lord still requires His people to be holy in order for them to access to His presence. He demands that He be glorified and properly honored by His creatures. It is quite possible that Aaron was terrified into thinking that he could be the next victim of the consuming fire of God. While Believers today might have the sacrifice of Yeshua covering their transgressions, even the Apostolic Scriptures admonish us, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

Pleasing the Holy One

There is speculation by the Jewish Rabbis that Nadab and Abihu were perhaps under the influence of alcohol when they made the bad decision to offer up strange fire on the altar (J.H. Hertz, ed., Pentateuch & Haftorahs [London: Soncino Press, 1960], 445). This is a possibility, as they could have been intoxicated so as to not properly follow the procedures that the Lord required of them as consecrated priests. The mention of this prohibition, several verses later in Leviticus 10, is a good textual clue that they could have indeed been drunk:

“Do not drink wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons with you, when you come into the tent of meeting, so that you will not die—it is a perpetual statute throughout your generations—and so as to make a distinction between the holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean, and so as to teach the sons of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them through Moses” (Leviticus 10:9-11).

The problem with alcohol may provide some explanation, but we need not overlook some of the verses which appear between the description of Nadab and Abihu’s death (Leviticus 10:1-3) and then the description of how priests were not to drink while on duty (Leviticus 10:9-11). Some intriguing statements are made in Leviticus 10:6-7, succinctly describing how holy God considers the priestly office to be:

“Then Moses said to Aaron and to his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, ‘Do not uncover your heads nor tear your clothes, so that you will not die and that He will not become wrathful against all the congregation. But your kinsmen, the whole house of Israel, shall bewail the burning which the Lord has brought about. You shall not even go out from the doorway of the tent of meeting, or you will die; for the Lord’s anointing oil is upon you.’ So they did according to the word of Moses” (Leviticus 10:6-7).

Aaron’s other two sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, will take the place of Nadab and Abihu as priests. They are all instructed not to mourn for the untimely deaths of their brothers. Then they are told to not even leave the Tent of Meeting, because “the anointing oil of the Lord is upon you” (RSV).

The God of Israel was very serious about His chosen priests honoring the office in which they were to serve. In some respects, you can ascertain that from the shock of the consuming deaths of Nadab and Abihu, a genuine awe and reverence of the Lord has settled in the hearts of Aaron and his other sons. Obedience to these directives was adhered to without question. As this section of Leviticus closes, Moses asks Aaron and his sons why they have not followed the instructions to partake of the “holy” offerings that were clear instructions from the Most High:

“‘Why did you not eat the sin offering at the holy place? For it is most holy, and He gave it to you to bear away the guilt of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the Lord. Behold, since its blood had not been brought inside, into the sanctuary, you should certainly have eaten it in the sanctuary, just as I commanded.’ But Aaron spoke to Moses, ‘Behold, this very day they presented their sin offering and their burnt offering before the Lord. When things like these happened to me, if I had eaten a sin offering today, would it have been good in the sight of the Lord?’ When Moses heard that, it seemed good in his sight” (Leviticus 10:17-20).

Aaron responds to this rebuke with a very heartfelt reply, which indicates that the circumstances of his sons’ deaths, in his mind, prohibited them from eating the sin offering. Having seen his two sons die in a very tragic way, and having heard the admonitions about mourning and leaving the presence of the Lord while under the anointing, Aaron’s heart seems to finally be in the right place.

Even with the potential for immediate Divine retribution, Aaron’s contrite response was, “would the Lord have approved?” (NJPS). Apparently, this was what the Lord was looking for from His high priest and his sons, and Moses was satisfied with the response (Leviticus 10:20). Since Aaron was not consumed for disregarding the requirements for the sin offering, the Lord was pleased with his service as high priest of Israel.

In Shemini, God makes it clear through a very dramatic episode, what He required of the Levitical priesthood. As exemplified in Aaron and his sons, He desires a set-apart people who understand the call upon their lives, and who put His interests as Creator ahead of their own as mortals. Aaron learns from the shocking deaths of Nadab and Abihu that being presumptuous with how someone approaches God can bring significant consequences. Aaron was a changed man. Is it possible that he went through some kind of a mental checklist, asking the question of whether or not God would approve, before every priestly action he took? These initial scenes had to be preparatory for the great responsibility that being the high priest of Israel would entail.

Conforming to His Image

Today, as representatives of the God of Israel in the Earth, we need to approach our service unto Him with the same kind of sobriety that Aaron developed. We need to understand His ways, a very important part of which involves personal Torah study. So much knowledge and understanding about God’s holiness can be imparted to us by a review of the weekly parashah, as we contemplate not only the continuing trajectory of God’s Word, but also His mission and calling for our individual lives.

In Leviticus 11, a part of our Torah portion for this week, we encounter the first major instruction detailing the kosher dietary laws. Many Believers today will casually dismiss these directions given by God, because they think they were only for a previous time or age. But at the same time, several prominent evangelical Christians today—because of the poor health of many in our society—have spoken in favor of the health benefits that are derived from not eating certain meats. Are God’s people to be regulated by Him in simple matters like their diet? Can you learn anything about God’s holiness by what you eat?

As we search our own hearts in these days of “shock and awe” (The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq [2002-2003]), perhaps we should ask the Lord to give us hearts that are reminiscent of Aaron’s heart—hopefully without having to witness the same kind of dramatic encounters that he saw! Learning from Shemini, before we take actions, we should learn to ask the simple question of whether or not God would approve. By training our hearts and minds to such a pattern of behavior, those called into His service can demonstrate how they are being conformed to the image of Yeshua:

“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30).

Let us be reminded that Yeshua only did what the Father instructed Him to do:

“So Yeshua said, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me’” (John 8:28).

By His grace, may we also be reminded that we, as obedient servants, should be doing only that which the Lord has instructed us. By being sensitive to His will, not only will He be glorified—but we might find ourselves truly in awe of His work through us. If we choose otherwise, we may be in for an unexpected shock!

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Sh’mini (Eighth) – Thankfully, They Got It Right! – Torah Commentary

Torah Commentary

 unclean

Sh’mini (Eighth)

Leviticus 9:1-11:47

2Samuel 6:1-19

Mark 7:1-23

Acts 5:1-11;10:1-35

 

Thankfully, They Got It Right!

This week brings us to the Torah reading regarding what is clean and what is unclean. It contains possibly the most controversial and hotly contested debate of our day. Let’s approach it with reason and read it for just what it says.

Leviticus 11 is a direct message to the Hebrews about what is food and what is not food. Remember, they have just come out of a pagan land with pagan practices. They have eaten what the Egyptians ate with no knowledge of what was good for the body and what was harmful. The instructions Noah knew seem to have been lost along the way. They just ate anything that tasted good. (Sound familiar?) To this people, HaShem gives basic dietary laws that even medical science of our day agrees with. Doctors and nutritionists of our day will tell you that the animals which scripture states are unclean are not good for our health. Recent reports say that bacon can be altered in such a way that it is now good for your heart, but I wonder how long it will be before we find they were wrong.

Through the years many have tried to make scripture say something it does not say, to validate taste buds. Let’s look at a couple of examples.

When Yeshua or Paul talked about all foods being clean, keep in mind that they were talking about what was considered food in that day. Unclean animals were simply not considered food. To bring this into today’s society, I was just with friends who were speaking of their time in an Eastern country. They spoke of having to watch the menu very closely because it was easy to order dog instead of beef. That really turns my stomach. I mean, I love my dog, but once in a while she really aggravates me. No matter how aggravating she may be though, I have never once thought about putting her on the barbeque grill. I just do not think A-1 could help that go down!

The other example of misinterpretation is Peter’s vision. Go back and read it carefully. Peter was a prejudiced man as we see from some of Paul’s writings. He battled with this prejudice for quite some time. It took something dear to Peter’s heart to get through to him. In this case God used unclean animals. It got Peter’s attention!

Notice in Acts 10:17 Peter was struggling over what the vision was all about when a knock was heard at the door and the vision became clear. The vision had nothing to do with pork chops and shrimp. The vision was about taking the Good News of Yeshua to the Gentiles.

Paul understood this same principle in 1Timothy 4:4. He stated that everything HaShem created is good because it is made holy through the Word of God and prayer. This has been misquoted over the years taking out Word of God and simply quoting it as everything is holy because of prayer. Paul understood that you could pray all day and it would not change the words HaShem had given two thousand years earlier. The word holy simply means something set apart for a purpose. What He has stated is food is holy or set apart in this world for us to receive as nourishment. In that same line of thought, a pig or a lobster is also holy in that it is set apart to be a cleaner of the earth. Your kitchen mop may be holy in that it is set apart for cleaning the floor. I dare say you would never look at it while you are mopping and wonder what that would taste like with mayo and a bit of ketchup.

Peter and Paul got it right on that day. That’s a good thing; otherwise I as a “former gentile” would not be sitting here writing about a Jewish messiah who never once broke the Torah. I might instead be out in the back yard considering what kind of seasoning would make filet of dog taste the best!

Peter got it right and we are now part of His Kingdom. Maybe if we would get it right we would be a bit healthier, in our body and in His Kingdom!

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