TorahScope: Vayikra – He called – “Sacrificial Identification” – 10 March, 2019

Vayikra

He called

Leviticus 1:1-5:26[6:7]
Isaiah 43:21-44:23

“Sacrificial Identification”


by Mark Huey

The Torah portion Vayikra begins the Book of Leviticus, and serves as the Hebrew name for the entire text. Chs. 1-7 detail sacrificial laws for individuals, for the congregation of Israel, and for priests. This is followed by chs. 8-10 describing the worship in the completed Tabernacle. Chs. 11-17 focus on the laws of clean and unclean, purity and purification, and conclude with the institution of the Day of Atonement. Chs. 18-26 compose laws of marriage, personal and social ethics, the appointed times, land tenure, and national welfare. The final chapter of Leviticus, ch. 27, deals with oath making and tithes.

If you will recall from Pequdei’s closing verses from the end of Exodus, the Tabernacle was completed and the glory of God took up residence in the midst of Israel (Exodus 40:34-38). Now that the means to offer sacrifices were available, a description of the sacrificial system is given. Please note how the Pentateuch is not necessarily narrated for us in absolute chronological order, because if this were the case, then Exodus 40 should be followed by Numbers 7, which records the consecration of the Tabernacle. Instead, the different books of the Pentateuch have been organized for us the way they have because of theological and literary reasons.

With the Tabernacle now in place at the end of Exodus, the Book of Leviticus begins by describing the sacrificial system which would be able to cover the sins of the Ancient Israelites. In our parashah for this week, the differentiations between the burnt offering,[1] grain offering,[2] peace offering,[3] sin offering,[4] and guilt offering[5] are described. There is also some clarification between unintentional sins and intentional sins, and how different people are supposed to handle the different offerings in order to receive forgiveness. One of the verses that immediate jumped out at me, when I started reading Vayikra, was Leviticus 1:4:

“He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, that it may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf.”

Offerings Defined

In contemplating all the different offerings, and the distinctions between the intentional and unintentional sins, seen in Vayikra, I thought about a number of things. Making free will offerings to God was an expected “given” among the Ancient Israelites. These offerings were to be presented before the Lord as a token of their appreciation of His goodness toward them. Perhaps, I reckoned, the people knew that as limited mortals they were not necessarily in right relationship with an Eternal God, and so they would feel led to just give something to Him. Such an innate desire to offer up the best of one’s flocks or herds as burnt offerings, or simply a sacrifice to please the Lord, might salve one’s conscience for a short time.

Early in our Torah reading, we encounter the Hebrew word qorban, used for “offering,” and simply means “offering, oblation” (BDB):[6]

“Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When any man of you brings an offering [qorban] to the LORD, you shall bring your offering of animals from the herd or the flock. If his offering is a burnt offering [qorban] from the herd, he shall offer it, a male without defect; he shall offer it at the doorway of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the LORD’” (Leviticus 1:2-3).

Apparently, there is not a completely accurate English word to describe all the things that qorban could fully entail. The term qorban is derived from the root qarav, basically meaning “come near, approach, enter into” (TWOT).[7] When an Israelite brought forth a qorban offering, it was designed by God to draw His people closer to Him. The physical act, of offering up a farm animal that had economic value, was a far greater “sacrifice” than simply taking the time to pray or observe the daily worship of the Tabernacle. There was a realized cost associated with offering up one’s prized agricultural possession. Some of the individual’s “treasures” or assets were losing their lives.

Millennia later, Yeshua described how one could tell where a heart was located. He taught, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).

When one of the Ancient Israelites would make an offering of a prized animal, the individual was tangibly displaying his or her desire to be in communion with the Creator, frequently having to make restitution for some kind of sin or error committed. And on another level, by offering a living animal as a covering for sin, the message of substitution would be visibly communicated. The one who was offering up the animal had to identify with it, by laying his hands upon it right before it is killed:

“He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, that it may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf. He shall slay the young bull before the LORD; and Aaron’s sons the priests shall offer up the blood and sprinkle the blood around on the altar that is at the doorway of the tent of meeting” (Leviticus 1:4-5).

In the Book of Leviticus, now that the Tabernacle was constructed and the sacrificial altar was erected, the priests had the venue and the God-given directions on how to properly offer sacrifices. Here in Vayikra, we are reminded once again that our Creator has required a blood sacrifice for the atonement of sin. As it will be later stated, animals’ lives will have to be offered before God in order to (temporarily) cover the errors committed by humans (Leviticus 17:11).

Identification

The next thing that really seemed to catch my attention, in reading through Vayikra this week, was the overwhelming reminder that various Israelites were frequently having to lay their hands on the heads of animals being sacrificed. By doing so, they were having to identify with these animals, and recognize that the shed blood of the animals were, in essence, covering for punishment that was rightfully theirs.Whether one was offering a bull, lamb, or goat, the laying on of hands was standard procedure. Consider the following passages from our selection:

“He shall lay his hand on the head of his offering and slay it at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall sprinkle the blood around on the altar” (Leviticus 3:2).

“If he is going to offer a lamb for his offering, then he shall offer it before the LORD, and he shall lay his hand on the head of his offering and slay it before the tent of meeting, and Aaron’s sons shall sprinkle its blood around on the altar” (Leviticus 3:7-8).

“Moreover, if his offering is a goat, then he shall offer it before the LORD, and he shall lay his hand on its head and slay it before the tent of meeting, and the sons of Aaron shall sprinkle its blood around on the altar” (Leviticus 3:12-13).

“He shall bring the bull to the doorway of the tent of meeting before the LORD, and he shall lay his hand on the head of the bull and slay the bull before the LORD. Then the anointed priest is to take some of the blood of the bull and bring it to the tent of meeting, and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle some of the blood seven times before the LORD, in front of the veil of the sanctuary” (Leviticus 4:4-6).

What you also might have noticed is that after the identification with the animal by the laying on of hands, the person making the confession has to watch it being killed, and then witness its blood sprinkled. This method of covering for sin should have left a lasting impression on the one who has brought the live animal to the priest. Even if one became somewhat desensitized to seeing animals killed, the animal still had economic value—an economic value which in some way was being thrown away as a punishment for improper deeds.

It is difficult for us living in the Twenty-First Century to often identify with what is recorded in much of Leviticus. Most of us have never even seen a farm animal slaughtered, and then butchered so that we might enjoy some fresh, homegrown meat. But if you ever have seen this occur, then you should vividly remember how, as the blood drained from the animal, its life force leaves. By the laying on of hands for identification purposes, and then watching the blood being sprinkled around the altar and various places, the qorban achieves its purpose to bring some person a covering for sins.

From Shadow to Reality

For the most part, in order to really study the sacrificial system as described in this parashah, I had to turn to the Rabbinical authorities for answers. My examination did not uncover too many Messianic interpretations of these procedures, and evangelical Christian sources are often most concerned about what the sacrificial system meant within the religious milieu of the Ancient Near East. While such historical information is good, what does a Torah portion like Vayikra really communicate to Messianic Believers today?

I simply remembered how the Apostolic Scriptures have some excellent things to say about the sacrificial system seen in the Torah. The author of Hebrews summarizes the need for the ultimate sacrifice, only available through the shed blood of the Lamb. He asserts how the animal sacrifices of the Torah, because they have to be repeated over and over again, do not provide the permanent covering for sins that the sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua provides for us:

“For the Law, since it hasa shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, ‘SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME; IN WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE TAKEN NO PLEASURE. THEN I SAID, “BEHOLD, I HAVE COME (IN THE SCROLL OF THE BOOK IT IS WRITTEN OF ME) TO DO YOUR WILL, O GOD”’ [Psalm 40:6-8]. After saying above, ‘SACRIFICES AND OFFERINGS AND WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, NOR HAVE YOU TAKEN PLEASURE in them’ [Psalm 40:6] (which are offered according to the Law), then He said, ‘BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL’ [Psalm 40:7]. He takes away the first in order to establish the second. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Yeshua the Messiah once for all. Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD [Psalm 110:1], waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET [Psalm 110:1]. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:1-14).

Here, the author of Hebrews reminds his audience of the need for a sacrifice, so that one can draw near to the Lord. And of course, what we find in this passage is that Yeshua Himself willingly became the offering for those who believe in Him, inaugurating a Melchizedkian priesthood before the Father in Heaven. In this post-resurrection era, animal sacrifices would at best be redundant reminders of how He had to come and provide a permanent sacrifice for sinful humanity. Our author plainly tells us, “by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14, NIV).

The challenge for us is that, by faith, we must believe the report that the Messiah has come and has died for our sins—providing permanent restitution that the animal sacrifices of Vayikra could not provide. We have to believe that He is seated at the right hand of the Father in Heaven, waiting for that day when His enemies will be made a footstool for His feet. We have to identify with Him, lay our hands upon His head, and let His blood atone for our sins. For many, confessing their sins before the Lord is very difficult, as it forces them to recognize that they are yet to be perfected. We are limited mortals in need of the mercy of an Eternal God!

As you consider the varied offerings of Vayikra, we need to pray for others who need to accept the precious blood of the Messiah of Israel and His willing sacrifice! We need to pray that as people read through these chapters of Leviticus, they might recognize how animal sacrifices can only go so far. (Click to Source)


NOTES

[1] Leviticus 1:1-17.

[2] Leviticus 2:1-16.

[3] Leviticus 3:1-17.

[4] Leviticus 4:1-35.

[5] Leviticus 5:1-6:7.

[6] Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979), 898.

[7] Leonard J. Coppes, “qarav,” in TWOT, 2:811.

 

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Torah Commentary – Vayikra – He called – Faithful Confessions – 11 March, 2018

Vayikra – He calledjesus-in-the-synagogue

Leviticus 1:1-5:26[6:7]
Isaiah 43:21-44:23

“Faithful Confessions”


by Mark Huey

In the Book of Leviticus, Torah students get an opportunity to mainly study the sacrificial system, which was formally instituted, to cover the transgressions of human sin. The Ancient Israelites in the desert have just completed the construction of the Tabernacle, and have witnessed God’s glory descend upon the structure. The weight of His presence was so intense, that Moses was not able to enter the Tent of Meeting in order to communicate directly with the Almighty (Exodus 40:34-35).

At the end of the Book of Exodus, Moses’ credibility with the people of Israel was at its pinnacle. The instructions on how to build the Tabernacle, its furniture, and the elements needed for the priesthood, were followed to precision. The result had to be an awesome sight, to these former Egyptian slaves, who were privileged to participate in the construction projects. From a distance, they were all eyewitnesses to the pillar of fire and cloud that was guiding them by night and day.

A Sacrificial System

The main theme of the Book of Leviticus, easily seen from a survey of the text, is that it details the intricacies of the priesthood and sacrificial system, which are to regulate Israel’s national life. Without any significant interruption, it appears that the Holy One, from His new location in the midst of the community, began to address the need for individual atonement for the sins of the people:

“Then the LORD called to Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, “When any man of you brings an offering to the LORD, you shall bring your offering of animals from the herd or the flock. If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer it, a male without defect; he shall offer it at the doorway of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the LORD. He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, that it may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf.” He shall slay the young bull before the LORD; and Aaron’s sons the priests shall offer up the blood and sprinkle the blood around on the altar that is at the doorway of the tent of meeting’” (Leviticus 1:1-4).

In these opening verses of Vayikra, we discover that the sacrifices for transgressions are a very personal thing. The one who was guilty of a sin offense was to place his hands on the head of the animal, to transfer his personal guilt to the offering. The animal was then to be personally slayed by the sinner, and Aaron and his sons were to take the blood and disperse it in the appropriate places.

Can you imagine the impact this ceremony would have on you, if you were required to participate in this ritual? If you have ever slaughtered an animal—which the great majority of modern-day people have never done—you might have some understanding of the significance of what was mandatory. But can you visualize actually placing your hands on an innocent animal’s head, with the knowledge that your transgression has required a blood atonement, that (temporarily) returns you to a right relationship with your Creator?

Many of these thoughts are difficult to fathom, but as you read through the the Book of Leviticus, the variety of offerings and their significance for the array of sins of commission and sins of omission, can be overwhelming. It is understandable that many, especially in the past two millennia since the destruction of the Second Temple, have had a tendency to not really comprehend what is being communicated in the Torah about sacrifices. In the post-resurrection era, after all, final atonement for sins has been accomplished in the sacrifice of Yeshua the Messiah (Hebrews 9:2810:10). The propensity for Believers to focus on His atoning work can help us understand why there has not been a great deal of Christian examination of Leviticus. The ability to personalize the gravity of sin and what was required to restore a right relationship with God has been mitigated. Many just claim the “blood of Yeshua” when they transgress God’s Instruction, if they are aware of such commandments.

If we are mature Bible readers, then Torah students should be able to properly value the sacrificial instructions of Moses’ Teaching—even with salvation history having moved forward, with a permanent sacrifice for human sins available.

Personal Confession

Having a greater, conscious awareness of what God defines as sin—is one of the primary reasons why the Lord is inspiring many people to return to a foundational understanding of their faith, through a consistent study of the Torah of Moses. For by actually reading through something like Vayikra this week, and meditating upon the sins that require atonement, a man or woman should certainly be able to analyze areas of his or her life where some “fine tuning” would be appropriate. For who among us is not personally guilty of various sins of commission or omission at times? Consider the following words of the Apostle John:

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10).

Some have been known to describe 1 John 1:8-10 as a kind of “Christian confessional bar of soap.” If people can acknowledge themselves as fallen sinners, then they can know that they need redemption—something that God is surely faithful to provide! A little further on in the Epistle of 1 John, the Apostle goes on to describe some of the benefits of a true salvation experience for those who have become the children of God:

“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:1-10).

We are found to be in Him and abiding in Him—with everything about who we are as people focused on and around the Lord—then we will not sin. The problem is that in our spiritual journey, the sanctification process is not often something instantaneous. We must each learn to abide more and more in Him, and pressing into the Lord must be exercised by our free will and desire to mature.

Where do you stand in the Lord today? Take this one example from Vayikra as a starter in your personal, confessional appraisal:

“Now if a person sins after he hears a public adjuration to testify when he is a witness, whether he has seen or otherwise known, if he does not tell it, then he will bear his guilt”(Leviticus 5:1).

Have you ever been in a predicament where you were a primary eyewitness to some sinful circumstances that were being investigated or adjudicated by some authority? This could be a civil or criminal offense, from a minor misdemeanor to felony. Perhaps you did not want to be involved in the investigation or prosecution, because of your relationship to the offender. Or perhaps you were concerned about your potential loss of time. Nevertheless, for a variety of reasons, you might have justified your decision to disobey this command. On the other hand, by thinking and meditating on many of the different implications from this Torah commandment, you could hopefully become a better corporate citizen to the community where you live—especially when you realize that if you do not come forward as a credible eyewitness, then you will bear the guilt of the offender! Think about this.

But what if you are an employee at a company, and you witness some people stealing some of the company pens and paper for their own personal use? What if the owner of the company asks all the employees to report any known offenders? Are you going to come to the employer and report what you have witnessed? Or are you going to remain silent and bear the guilt of the offender?

On a spiritual level when we witness fellow Believers in sin, there is an admonition that allows us to deal with our brethren in love. In his closing word in his epistle, James gives us a strong encouragement to go to a brother or sister, turning them back to the truth:

“My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20).

This strongly parallels some teaching of Yeshua, in terms of approaching someone about a sin committed:

“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED [Deuteronomy 19:15]. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the assembly; and if he refuses to listen even to the assembly, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17).

The problem we face, on all of these levels throughout the world, is that most people do not know the ramifications of just this one Torah commandment (Leviticus 5:1). If we understood that the guilt of our lack of performance to testify for the society or company or spiritual groups when we have personal first hand knowledge of offenses falls upon us, then perhaps we would follow the instructions. In so doing, our culture would improve as offenders are duly prosecuted. Companies would avoid the loss of assets from internal theft. Congregations and assemblies would function more righteously, as the “sin in the camp” is properly addressed. Most importantly, those who refuse to confront flagrant sin, that they have personal knowledge about, would not be burdened with the guilt that should rest upon the offender, rather than the one who keeps silent.

If you take the time to reflect on all of the different offerings in our Torah portion, I am confident that you will be able to identify with some of the different sins of commission or omission. Let the indwelling Spirit convict you of where you need to confess, repent, and be restored by His grace. The Holy One of Israel is still building a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:6), to bring light to all the nations of the Earth (Isaiah 42:6). If you are one of the called out ones, chosen to represent Him in this generation, then it is your responsibility to be holy, because the Lord God is holy (Leviticus 19:2). Do not take this responsibility lightly! (Click to Source)

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