From: Messianic Bible
Sent: Saturday, March 24, 2012 1:01 PM
Welcome to Vayikra (and He called), this week’s Parsha (Torah Portion).
This portion of Torah will be read in synagogues around the world during this
week’s Shabbat (Saturday) service, and we invite you to read it along with us.
We know that you will be blessed!
VAYIKRA (And He Called)
Leviticus 1:1–6:7; Isaiah 43:21–44; Hebrews 10:1–18
“The Lord called to Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting.”
In last week’s Parsha, the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was completed and the cloud
rested over it, signifying that the Divine Presence had come to dwell within it.
A Jewish man touching the Torah with the frindges of his tallit (prayer shawl)
as it passes during a Torah procession at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
This Shabbat, a special reading is added to the Torah Portion (Exodus 12:1–20),
which details the laws of Passover, since the festival of Passover (Pesach) is
but a couple of weeks away.
This Sabbath also marks the first of the Hebrew month of Nisan, which God
ordained as the first month of the Biblical calendar. Biblically speaking
then, the New Year begins today!
“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, ‘This month is to be for you the
first month, the first month of your year.’” (Exodus 12:1–2)
According to Jewish tradition, the Israelites received the first commandment to
sanctify the New Moon after being delivered from Egypt (Exodus 12:1–2).
Ra–sun god of ancient Egypt: One of the central gods of the Egyptian
pantheon, Ra was considered the king of the gods and the patron of the
pharaoh. When the Israelites adopted a lunar calendar, they in effect turned
away from Ra worship.
In the Hebrew reckoning of time, the month begins at the New Moon, and a day
begins at sunset, in keeping with the creation account in Genesis.
“…and the evening and the morning were the first day.” (Genesis 1:5)
In having a lunar calendar, the Israelites made a solid departure from the
Egyptian solar tradition of Ra worship.
God made Nisan the first month of the year because it was the month in which
the Jewish people were freed from slavery in Egypt.
So too, may we remember our freedom from the slavery of sin and death through
Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah.
Sign on the Door, by James Tissot:
To be saved from the plague of the
Death of the Firstborn, the Israelites
were commanded to place the blood
of the lamb around the door so that the
angel of death would pass over.
Leviticus: Finding a Deeper Revelation of Yeshua (Jesus)
“You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:6)
The oldest name for the Third Book of Moses is Torat Kohanim (Law of the
Priests). It describes the Temple sacrifices, the functions of the priesthood
(Kohanim), and the duties of Israel, the priestly nation.
Leviticus has so much information about serving God that, even though there is
no longer a Temple or Temple sacrifices, Jewish children begin their study of
Torah with this book.
Far from being irrelevant to New Covenant Believers, Leviticus can bring deeper
insight and fresh revelation that will enrich our relationship with the Lord.
Moreover, a failure to understand the spiritual principles that are behind the
blood sacrifice and substitutionary atonement makes it truly difficult to
understand the significance of Yeshua’s death on the Roman execution stake.
The significance of Yeshua’s shed blood cannot fully impact our soul unless we
come to understand the laws of blood sacrifices and sin-offerings found in Leviticus.
They are foundational to understanding our faith.
Orthodox Jewish men read from the Torah scroll
Who Can Bring an Offering to the Lord?
“Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)
Chapter One of Leviticus deals with the various types of burnt offerings and sacrifices.
In Hebrew, the offering is called a Korban, which is derived from the word
karov, meaning near. So, the offering made a way for the person to draw near
When we take even baby steps to draw near to God, just like the father of the
prodigal son, our Creator will see us from afar off and run to meet us!
Hurva Synagogue, Jerusalem
The Lord instructed Moses to speak to the children of Israel about bringing
their offerings to the Lord.
“When any man [adam] of you brings an offering to the Lord…” (Leviticus 1:2)
The Hebrew word for man in this verse is adam, which is the root of adamah
meaning earth, ground, or even dirt.
In this context, the word adam means not only man, but all of humankind,
regardless of race or gender.
“So God created the man [adam] in His own image, in the image of God He created
him, male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
This reveals that it was not only a Jewish male who could bring an offering to
the Lord, but anyone – even a foreigner’s offering would be accepted by God.
“If any of you—either an Israelite or an alien living in Israel—presents a gift
for a burnt offering to the Lord, either to fulfill a vow or as a freewill
offering, you must present a male without defect from the cattle, sheep or
goats.” (Leviticus 22: 18 – 19)
Goats and sheep grazing near Jerusalem
Even a foreigner could come to the Temple to pray and God would hear their
prayers and answer them, so “that all peoples of the earth may know Your name
and fear You, as do Your people Israel.” (1 Kings 8:41-43)
Peter received an incredible revelation in perceiving that “God does not show
favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is
right.” (Acts 10:34-35)
We are all created in God’s image: Jew and Gentile, male and female.
“…according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Gentile
nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free,
but Messiah is all and in all…” (Colossians 3:11)
The Torah scroll opened to Leviticus
An Offering without Blemish means Giving our Best
“If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, you are to offer a male
without defect [tamim]. You must present it at the entrance to the tent of
meeting so that it will be acceptable to the Lord.” (Leviticus 1:3)
Leviticus specifies that the burnt offering was to be without blemish. The
Hebrew word for without blemish is tamim, from tamam, which means pure,
perfect, undefiled and whole.
On a personal application level, we can see that God doesn’t want the leftover,
tainted, or blemished stuff that we were going to throw away anyways.
All too often, our gifts and offerings to God and to others consist of what is
extra, what we don’t really want, or what is easy to give.
Such gestures are not sacrifices at all, and can even be interpreted as an
insult. When we give our leftovers or garbage, we can be conveying the message
that “this is not good enough for me, but it is good enough for you.”
Thanks offering unto the Lord: a Bible card published some
time between 1896 and 1913
A sacrifice must cost us something.
King David said, “I will not give to God that which costs me nothing.” (1
It’s evident that something must coincide with the act of sacrificing, and that
something is sincere repentance, good deeds, and the regeneration of the heart.
Ultimately, it’s only Messiah Yeshua, as the Messianic prophecy in Malachi 3
indicates, who can affect such an inward change that our offerings can once
again be acceptable to God.
“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the Levites
and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will
bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will
be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.” (Malachi 3: 3–4)
Praying at the Western (Wailing) Wall
Tamim: A Pure Sacrifice
Scripture makes it abundantly clear that Yeshua, the Suffering Messiah
(the sacrificial offering), was found to be without fault, sin, or blemish.
For example, Pilate symbolically washed his hands in a basin and said, “You
take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him.” (John 19:6)
A less direct, but prophetic testimony of His purity, perhaps, comes from the
inspection process for the Passover sacrifice.
During the time of the Temple, before the Passover lamb was slain as a
sacrifice and offered to God, it was to be inspected for four days in order to
make sure that it was a pure and without blemish (tamim).
Similarly, before Yeshua was slain on Passover as the unblemished Lamb of God,
He entered Jerusalem and taught in the Temple for four days in full view of the
people and religious leaders.
Orthodox men on Shabbat, at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Atonement: Being Reconciled to God
“But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden
his face from you, so that He will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2)
The Torah reveals that our sins separate us from God (Isaiah 59:2), and that
the offering (also called oleh in Hebrew, which means to go up) or blood
sacrifice is necessary to reconcile us to Him.
“For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make
atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for
one’s life.” (Leviticus 17:11)
The sacrifice made atonement for the one giving the offering.
The word atonement in English actually comes from at-one-ment, and originally
it meant to be at one, or at harmony with someone.
Behind this word is a sense of a dispute being resolved and a relationship
Similar to the word atonement, the Hebrew word koper means to atone, to
reconcile, or to bring back into unity, persons at variance with one another.
The atoning sacrifice, therefore, re-establishes a right relationship with God.
Children playing in Jerusalem
The Temple Sacrifice and the Covering for Sin
Since the Temple in Jerusalem no longer exists and sacrifices cannot be
offered, a new way of covering sin has been developed by the rabbis.
According to Rabbinic tradition, instead of the blood sacrifice, three things
are now sufficient to cover our sins: Teshuvah (repentance), Tzedakah (giving
of charity), and Tefilah (prayer).
Nevertheless, God’s ways are not our ways.
He still requires a blood sacrifice and without it, all we have is a vague hope
that our names are written in the Book of Life.
But when we place our faith in Yeshua’s “once-and-for-all-time” sacrifice of
his own life, we have an assurance that our sins are forgiven.
Yeshua’s blood not only covers our sins, it removes them – as far as the east
is from the west!
“He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the
Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal
redemption.” (Hebrews 9:12)
Yeshua’s atoning sacrifice did far more than the blood of bulls and goats and
the ashes of the red heifer could ever do, since they could only make the
penitent ritually clean. Only He is able to make the repentant sinner inwardly
clean (Hebrews 9:11-15; 10:4).
Reading the Torah
Burnt Offerings and Being Reconciled to God
“It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord.”
Leviticus emphasizes that the burnt offering presented to God has a pleasing aroma.
In Hebrew, the phrase is reiach nichoach l’YHVH—a satisfying aroma to God. The
root of nichoach is nuach, which means comfort or rest.
Do you wonder how the roasting flesh of one of God’s creatures can be a
pleasing or comforting aroma to God?
Since this burnt offering could only be offered to God with a free and willing
spirit, it’s the person’s heartfelt desire to be restored into right
relationship with God that brings comfort to His heart.
The resulting reconciliation also brings rest to the soul of man.
Three Hasidic Jews view the Western Wall. The
Wall is one of the holiest sites in Judaism with the
exception of the Temple Mount itself.
A Living Sacrifice
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer
your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true
and proper worship.” (Romans 12:1)
As Believers in Messiah Yeshua, we are to be living sacrifices.
When we freely choose to be led by His Spirit, rather than submitting to the
desires of our flesh, it is a sweet aroma to God that brings Him great pleasure
and even comfort.
Every sacrifice costs something, but with it also comes the promise of a reward.
Yeshua’s sacrifice on the execution stake (cross), has brought hundreds of
millions of people back into a right relationship with God.
He is our example of a living sacrifice.
Every sincere act of self-sacrifice for the good of another holds the promise
of a future reward.
And really, there’s nothing to lose in offering our lives as a living
sacrifice, since Yeshua promised that “He who loses his life for My sake will
find it.” (Matthew 10:39)
[fname], as the Jewish People prepare for the upcoming festival of Passover
(March 6–14), let’s pray that this year they will recognize Yeshua as the long
May we also draw near to God with faith, hope, and love through the Passover
Lamb, Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah).
Shabbat Shalom from all our ministry staff.
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