Friday, March 20, 2015

Parasha Vayikra: 5775

This week's portion is on Vayikra. As I looked at the scriptures, I realized that I had written on this passage before. (You can find it here.) The beauty of studying scripture over and over again is finding new gems of knowledge each time.

Vayikra is the first portion of the book that bears its name in Hebrew, Vayikra, Leviticus in the English. The book starts off giving dirctions that pertain to the priesthood, the Levis.

The Torah portion, the haftorah portion, and our besorah portion all pertain to the priesthood and sacrifices. It is interesting to note line of development starting with Torah, moving to Haftorah, and ending in the Besorah. It is in things like this that I see a completion of the Torah in Besorah.

In Torah, we are told in some depth, what is necessary to present the proper offerings before God for all sorts of offences. Amidst the descriptions of blood and guts, Leviticus 3:17 says, “It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings, that you must eat neither fat nor blood.” (Leviticus 3:17 TLV). Other instances in Torah where the text says a perpetual statute, it refers to the High Holidays, and other celebrations such as Shabbat. I had not realized that eating blood, and FAT were prohibitied. Well, I knew the blood part. That is discussed at length in the Noahide covenant, which is reitierated in Acts. But I had forgotten about not eating fat. It brings a different reason to cut fat off your meat before serving.

After each of the bloody, messy sacrifices was made, Torah says, "The kohen should make atonement for him before Adonai, and he will be forgiven concerning whatever he may have done to become guilty.” (Leviticus 5:26 TLV). This was the original system put into place for the Jewish people.

The HafTorah addresses the sanctity of the Temple and the Levitial roles. At this point in Ezekial, flaws in the system were found. Keeping Torah was not as "easy" as it had perhaps seemed originally. After a long period of time, we see the Jewish people fail at their service to God, over and over again. After the temple had been desacrated, they are instructed, "Thus says Adonai Elohim: “No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, may enter My Sanctuary, not any foreigner who is among Bnei-Yisrael." (Ezekiel 44:9 TLV). We see now, at the time of these Prophets, a focus not only on being circumcised in the flesh, but also the idea of being circumcised in the heart.

The directions are to return to the ways of Torah. The Levites are to continue in their original roles. "So the Levitical kohanim, the sons of Zadok who kept charge of My Sanctuary when Bnei-Yisrael wandered from Me, will draw near to Me to minister to Me. They will stand before Me to offer Me the fat and the blood”—it is declaration of Adonai." ( Ezekiel 44:15 TLV) They are to deal with that perpectual statue of sacrificing the fat and blood to God. Also, “They will teach My people the difference between the holy and the common and explain to them the difference between the unclean and the clean." ( Ezekiel 44:23 TLV). The Levites are to continue to reconcile between the Jewish people and God, but we are starting to see the longing for a more complete system.

The Besorah portion shows us a new way. The temple sacrifices are no longer necessary, because Yeshua's sacrifice settled things once and for all.

"The Torah has a shadow of the good things to come—not the form itself of the realities. For this reason it can never, by means of the same sacrifices they offer constantly year after year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers—cleansed once and for all—would no longer have consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices is a reminder of sins year after year— for it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins." (Hebrews 10:1-4 TLV)

The author of Hebrews exposes the faults in the original system. It was not permanent. Only by the sacrifice of Yeshua can our sins be forgiven perfectly.

"For by one offering He has perfected forever those being made holy. The Ruach ha-Kodesh also testifies to us—for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will cut with them: ‘After those days,’ says Adonai, ‘I will put My Torah upon their hearts, and upon their minds I will write it,’” then He says, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” Now where there is removal of these, there is no longer an offering for sin."(Hebrews 10:14-18 TLV)

This is powerful stuff. Instead of a perpetual cycle of sacrifices as in Torah, the desires of Haftorah has been fulfilled in a once and for all sacrifice. There is no longer any offering for sin because it has been done.

The passage continues, "Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have boldness to enter into the Holies by the blood of Yeshua." (Hebrews 10:19 TLV)

Yeshua  told his followers that the kingdom was here. If it was here on earth when He walked on Earth 2000 years ago, the kingdom is here now. We just need to hold tight to His promises and proceed in faith that the things the Scriptures say are true.

Today, let us enter boldly into the presence of the Holy One. Let us boldly pray for healing and our needs. Let us boldly love one another, and pray for our enemies. Let us boldly venture into the world around us and allow Messiah Yeshua to change the world through us.

Shabbat Shalom dear ones!

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