Parashah 24: Vayikra (He called)
Leviticus 1:1 through 5:26
Parashah 24: : Vayikra (He called) - Leviticus 1:1 through 5:26 (6:7 in some versions).
Haftarah (Writings and Prophets): Isaiah 43:21 - 44:23.
B'rit Hadasha (New Testament): Romans 8:1-13; Hebrews 10:1-14; 13:10-16.
Tanach Scriptures are from Stern's Complete Jewish Bible; B'rit Chadash Scriptures from the AENT.
Welcome "newbies" and "oldies!" As you all know, Torah was written by Moshe (Moses) and consists of the first five Books of the Bible which contain God's original Divine Instructions in Righteousness. Since this is a Netzarim (Nazarene/Messianic) website, we refer to God by His proper Name: Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey, transliterated into English as YHWH, and most likely pronounced "Yah-way" (see Exodus 3:13-15). His Son's Name is Y'shua (most likely pronounced "Ye-shoo-ah"). Enjoy this week's Torah portion!
This week's parashah is another hard to grasp study as it's all about the offerings of various kinds, to include sin, guilt, peace and burnt offerings. While it can be boring, confusing and downright hard to read about these offerings with our modern mindsets, we must always remember that the idea was for people to learn to obey and please YHWH with their whole being … to recognize the horrible consequences of sin … to appreciate that His desire for people was to be HOLY in every aspect of their lives. Holiness begets holiness; while sin begets more sin and leads to death (eternity away from YHWH). YHWH simply wanted (and still wants) His people to be CLEAN from the inside-out and to keep Him constantly in mind in all things.
The message that comes across loud and clear in this parashah, however, is that YHWH's intentions were to draw and keep us close at all times. What we have witnessed over and over again in the last several parashahs is the fact that He cares enough to admonish us into doing things HIS way so that we can truly know Him and have a real relationship with Him - even though it often meant that He would employ some very harsh measures to force His people to GET what He was saying. (He wants us to "be holy" - look ahead to Leviticus 11:44).
Whenever YHWH's people sinned, He didn't say, "If you love Me, go to the field and pick me a flower." No, He demanded something much harsher: Blood from an innocent animal that had to die for the sins of man. He expected His people to KILL something to atone for their guilt and sin, thus driving home the point that He is very adamant about mankind's refraining from sin, as much as possible. Drawing blood sticks in our minds a lot longer than picking a flower or something equally as simple....
Take a look at Leviticus 2 which talks about the grain offerings. Grain was obviously very important to YHWH and He went into painful detail about every aspect of the grain offering because His desire was for His people to learn to OBEY. Simply obey, for their own good....like all good parents would do.
Leviticus 2: 8 "'You are to bring the grain offering prepared in any of these ways to ADONAI ; it is to be presented to the cohen, and he is to bring it to the altar. 9 The cohen is to remove the reminder portion of the grain offering and make it go up in smoke on the altar as an offering made by fire, a fragrant aroma for ADONAI. 10 But the rest of the grain offering will belong to Aharon and his sons; it is an especially holy part of the offerings for ADONAI made by fire. 11 "'No grain offering that you bring to ADONAI is to be made with leaven, because you are not to cause any leaven or honey to go up in smoke as an offering made by fire to ADONAI. 12 As an offering of firstfruits you may bring these to ADONAI, but they are not to be brought up onto the altar to make a fragrant aroma.
13 You are to season every grain offering of yours with salt -do not omit from your grain offering the salt of the covenant with your God, but offer salt with all your offerings. 14 "'If you bring a grain offering of firstfruits to ADONAI, you are to bring as the grain offering from your firstfruits kernels of grain from fresh ears, dry-roasted with fire. 15 Put olive oil on it, and lay frankincense on it; it is a grain offering. 16 The cohen is to cause the reminder portion of it, its grits and olive oil, with all its frankincense, to go up in smoke; it is an offering made by fire for ADONAI.
Why season every grain offering with salt? Salt is a seasoning necessary for humans to live. Plus, believers are "the salt of the earth":
Matthew 5: 13. You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt should become bland, with what would it become seasoned? For anything not fit (is) but to be thrown outside and be trodden by man.
Let's talk about SALT for a moment. Salt was regarded as a necessary ingredient of the daily food, and so of all sacrifices offered to Yahweh, salt became an easy step to the very close connection between salt and covenant-making. When men ate together they became friends. Compare the Arabic expression, "There is salt between us"; "He has eaten of my salt," which means partaking of hospitality which cemented friendship. Compare "eat the salt of the palace" (Ezra 4:14).
Covenants were generally confirmed by sacrificial meals and salt was always present. Since salt is also a preservative, it would easily become symbolic of an enduring covenant. So offerings to YHWH were to be by a statute forever, "a covenant of salt forever before Yahweh" (Numbers 18:19). David received his kingdom forever from YHWH by a "covenant of salt" (2 Chronicles 13:5). In the light of these conceptions the remark of Elohim becomes the more significant: "Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace one with another" (Mark 9:50).
YHWH's instructions were always for our own good. For instance, take a look at what He commanded in Leviticus 3:
Leviticus 3: 16 The cohen will make them go up in smoke on the altar; it is food, an offering made by fire to be a fragrant aroma; all the fat belongs to ADONAI. 17 It is to be a permanent regulation through all your generations wherever you live that you will eat neither fat nor blood.'"
Why can we not eat blood and fat? Because fat "belongs to YHWH" and also (as we know today), fat clogs the arteries!. As for why we shouldn't eat blood - as we will discover in future lessons, "the life is in the blood":
Leviticus 17: 11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for yourselves; for it is the blood that makes atonement because of the life.'
Leviticus 17: 14 For the life of every creature - its blood is its life. Therefore I said to the people of Isra'el, 'You are not to eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it will be cut off.'
In Leviticus 4:1 through 5:26 we see the offerings that are required as atonement for sins. The sin offerings are for those sins committed:
- Inadvertently as a result of our carelessness. We must be studied up so we do NOT commit any unintentional sins!
- Intentional sin that requires sincere repentance, which means to turn away from and commit no more - t'shuvah means to repent and turn away from.
- Accidental sins - we should be aware that we should not commit sin of any kind, however if we do, we know we live in a sinful world in sinful bodies. 1 John 1:8-10: "And if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all our iniquity. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His Word is not with us."
Because YHWH is full of love and compassion, we GET to obey! It's a beautiful thing to obey Him and thus get to know who He is. Note that normally, His sin sacrifices must be bulls or rams without blemish; yet for those who cannot afford large animals, He is willing to accept pigeons or even flour, so that ANYONE - no matter what their station in life - may be cleansed from their sin!
Leviticus 5: 11 "'But if his means are insufficient even for two doves or two young pigeons, then he is to bring as his offering for the sin he committed two quarts of fine flour for a sin offering; he is not to put any olive oil or frankincense on it, because it is a sin offering.
YHWH wanted His people to be CLEAN from the inside-out and to keep Him in mind in every part of their daily lives, even when they committed some unintentional sin:
Leviticus 5: 2 If a person touches something unclean, whether the carcass of an unclean wild animal, a domestic animal or a reptile, he is guilty, even though he may not be aware that he is unclean. 3 If he touches some human uncleanness, no matter what the source of his uncleanness is, and is unaware of it, then, when he learns of it, he is guilty.
Please note the context of Leviticus 5:2-3: If a person touches something "unclean" they are unclean for awhile...If they touch some human uncleanness - no matter what the source - they are guilty of sinning!
Leviticus 5: 17 "If someone sins by doing something against any of the mitzvot of ADONAI concerning things which should not be done, he is guilty, even if he is unaware of it; and he bears the consequences of his wrongdoing. 18 He must bring a ram without defect from the flock, or its equivalent according to your appraisal, to the cohen for a guilt offering; the cohen will make atonement concerning the error which he committed, even though he was unaware of it; and he will be forgiven. 19 It is a guilt offering - he is certainly guilty before ADONAI."
As you can see, Israel was forced to go through some major contortions to please YHWH. Sacrifices were suspended after the destruction of the Second Temple, but they will be reinstituted with the erection of the Third Temple. There is one sacrifice that actually won't have to be reinstituted: The SIN Sacrifice. Why? Because Yeshua was our FINAL SIN SACRIFICE - HALLELYAH! YHWH made it easy on mankind to come to Him merely by "believing" in the shed blood of His divine Son!
Why did He put His people through all these contortions? Because He wants to us be as holy as possible during our brief time on earth. We are to be holy because HE is holy, and that was the message in this particular parashah...A message that echoed through the ages:
1 Peter 1: 13. Wherefore, gird up the loins of your minds and be awake perfectly and wait for the joy which will come to you at the revelation of our Master Y'shua the Mashiyach 14. as obedient children: and do not be participants again with those former lusts with which you lusted when without knowledge. 15. But you be Set Apart in all your conduct, as he is Set Apart who has called you. 16. Because it is written: Be you Kadosh even as I am Kadosh.
In today's Haftarah reading we see YHWH providing a powerful message to Ya'akov - one that needs to be digested by every believer on earth:
Isaiah 44: 1 "Now listen, Ya'akov my servant, Isra'el whom I have chosen: 2 Thus says ADONAI, who made you, formed you in the womb, and will help you: Don't be afraid, Ya'akov my servant, Yeshurun, whom I have chosen. 3 For I will pour water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit on your descendants, my blessing on your offspring. 4 They will spring up among the grass like willows on the riverbanks. 5 One will say, 'I belong to ADONAI.' Another will be called by the name of Ya'akov. Yet another will write that he belongs to ADONAI. and adopt the surname Isra'el." 6 Thus says ADONAI, Isra'el's King and Redeemer, ADONAI-Tzva'ot: "I am the first, and I am the last; besides me there is no God.
7 Who is like me? Let him speak out! Let him show me clearly what has been happening since I set up the eternal people; let him foretell future signs and events. 8 Don't be frightened, don't be afraid - Didn't I tell you this long ago? I foretold it, and you are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? There is no other Rock - I know of none." 9 All idol-makers amount to nothing; their precious productions profit no one; and their witnesses, to their own shame, neither see nor understand. 10 Who would fashion a god or cast an image that profits no one anything? 11 All involved will be ashamed, but more than anyone else, the people who made them. Let them all be assembled, let them stand up; let them fear and be shamed together.
12 A blacksmith makes a tool over burning coals; with his strong arm he shapes it with hammers. But when he gets hungry, his strength fails; if he doesn't drink water, he grows tired. 13 A carpenter takes his measurements, sketches the shape with a stylus, planes the wood, checks it with calipers, and carves it into the shape of a man; and, since it is honored like a man, of course it has to live in a house. 14 He goes to chop down cedars; he takes an evergreen and an oak; he especially tends one tree in the forest, plants a pine for the rain to nourish.
15 In time, when it's ready for use as fuel, he takes some of it to keep himself warm and burns some more to bake bread. Then he makes a god and worships it, carves it into an idol and falls down before it. 16 So half of it he burns in the fire; with that half he roasts meat and eats his fill; he warms himself; says, "It feels so good, getting warm while watching the flames!" 17 With the rest of the log he fashions a god, a carved image, then falls down before it; he worships it and prays to it. "Save me," he says, "for you are my god!" 18 Such people know nothing, understand nothing. Their eyes are sealed shut, so that they can't see; their hearts too, so they can't understand.
19 Not one thinks to himself or has the knowledge or the discernment to say, "I burned half of it in the fire, baked bread on its coals, roasted meat and ate it. Should I now make the rest an abomination? Should I prostrate myself to a tree trunk?" 20 He is relying on ashes! A deceived heart has led him astray; so that now he won't save himself, just won't say, "This thing in my hand is a fraud!" 21 "Keep these matters in mind, Ya'akov, for you, Isra'el, are my servant. I formed you, you are my own servant; Isra'el, don't forget me. 22 Like a thick cloud, I wipe away your offenses; like a cloud, your sins. Come back to me, for I have redeemed you." 23 Sing, you heavens, for ADONAI has done it! Shout, you depths of the earth! Mountains, break out into song, along with every tree in the forest! For ADONAI has redeemed Ya'akov; he glorifies himself in Isra'el.
Brit Chadashah reading:
In today's Brit Chadashah portion there is something really important for us to chew on:
Romans 8: 1. There is therefore no condemnation to them who in Y'shua the Mashiyach walk not after the flesh. 2. For the Torah of the Spirit of Life, which is in Y'shua the Mashiyach, has emancipated you from the instruction of sin and death. 3. Therefore, as Torah was impotent through the weakness of the flesh, Elohim sent his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh on account of sin; that He might, in his flesh, condemn sin; 4. So that the righteousness of Torah might be fulfilled in us, since it is not in the flesh that we walk, but in the Spirit.
5. For they who are in the flesh recall to mind the things of the flesh: and they who are of the Spirit do recall to the mind the things of the Spirit. 6. For minding the things of the flesh is death; but minding the things of the Spirit is life and peace. 7. Because minding the things of the flesh is enmity towards Elohim: for it does not subject itself to the Torah of Elohim, because it is not possible. 8. And they who are in the flesh cannot please Elohim. 9. You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit; if the Spirit of Elohim truly dwells in you. And if in anyone there is not the Spirit of Mashiyach, he is none of his.
10. But if Mashiyach is in you, the body is dead in regard to sin; and the Spirit is alive in regard to righteousness. 11. And if the Spirit of Him who raised our Master Y'shua the Mashiyach from the dead dwells in you, he who raised our Master Y'shua the Mashiyach from the dead will also revive your dead bodies because of his Spirit that dwells in you. 12. Now we are debtors, my Brothers, not to the flesh, that we should walk according to the flesh: 13. For if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if, by the Spirit, you subdue the inclinations of your body, you will live.
Please take a moment to really digest the passage above, which reveals something profound: That Yeshua did not raise Himself, and that the same Spirit of Him who raised Yeshua dwells in us! In Christian churches the entire focus is on "Jesus" as if the human form of Jesus was more important than the ONE who sent him.
The thing is, the Spirit of Mashiyach is the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) which brings life; there are no substitutes which provide rite of passage into the Olam Haba (world to come). The importance of living according to Mashiyach is paramount for Salvation, which is why his very name means "YHWH is Salvation." Knowing that his Spirit must dwell inside of us we can then boldly welcome His Word; Torah written upon the heart, and all substitute false religious ideas and traditions of men are rejected.
Speaking of Torah, please read the passage below:
Hebrews 10: 1. For in Torah there was a shadow of the good things to come; not the substance of the things themselves. Therefore, although the same sacrifices were every year offered, they could never perfect those who offered them. 2. For, if they had perfected them, they would long ago have desisted from their offerings because their conscience could no more compel them who were once purified, on account of their sins. 3. But in those sacrifices, they every year recognized their sins.
4. For the blood of bulls and of goats cannot purge away sins. 5. Therefore, when entering the world, he said: In sacrifices and oblations you have not had pleasure; but you have clothed me with a body. 6. And holocausts on account of sins you have not asked. 7. Then I said: Behold I come, as it is written of me in the beginning of the books, to do your will, O Elohim. 8. He first said: Sacrifices and oblations and holocausts for sins which were offered according to Torah, you did not desire; 9. and afterwards he said: Behold I come to do your will, O Elohim: hereby, he abolished the former that he might establish the latter.
10. For by this His will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Y'shua the Mashiyach a single time. 11. For every high priest who stood and ministered daily, offered again and again the same sacrifices which never were sufficient to purge away sins. 12. But this (Priest) offered one sacrifice for sins, and forever sat down at the right hand of Elohim; 13. and afterward waited until his foes should be placed as a footstool under his feet. 14. For by one offering he has perfected forever, them who are sanctified by him.
There is so much more that could be said about today's study, and we wholeheartedly urge you to read the cited scriptures through, if you haven't already done so. If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to write! Thank you for reading our Torah study notes for this week, and we pray for you a blessed week ahead, that may you ever grow in your knowledge of YHWH. And, as always, please let us know if you ever see anything in our studies that sounds "off the mark"! Nobody has the market cornered on absolute Truth; we are all learning and obeying to the best of our abilities....
The next parashah reading will be:
Parashah 25: Tzav (Give an order) - Leviticus 6:1 (6:8 in some versions) through 8:36.
Haftarah (Writings and Prophets): Jeremiah 7:21 - 8:3.
B'rit Hadasha (New Testament): Mark 12:28-34; Romans 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 10:14-23.
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