Moses is instructed by God to teach the people the rules for the different sacrifices to be made. These include the burnt, meal, peace, sin, and guilt offerings.
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The types of animals and foodstuffs that are acceptable are outlined, as well as the procedures and requirements which the High Priest and the people must follow.
This book is the central book of the Torah, and was called Torah Cohanim (The Book of the Priests). It covers two essential aspects of righteous living: Sacrifice and Holiness.
The sacrifice chapters teach us how we can re-commune with God after sinning: sin separates us from God, but we can find forgiveness through repentance and sacrifice, which cleanses us, making it possible to again come into the presence of the Lord.
The chapters regarding holiness deal with what we should eat and the types of intimate personal relationships that are proper, culminating with the Day of Atonement. It also deals with certain physiological conditions that can render a person unclean (tzara’at, bodily emissions, childbirth, etc.).
There are 29 chapters in this book, so somewhere in Chapter 14 we come to the center of the book that is the center of the Torah. And what does that chapter cover?
It talks about the cleansing from tzara’at, otherwise known as leprosy.
Leprosy was a very nasty thing, not just for the physical deterioration it caused, but that it also required separating the individual from the community. That person had to indicate they were unclean and were not allowed to enter the sanctuary. Their disease kept them separated from society, and even from worshiping where God placed his name.
That means that they could not bring a sacrifice to the Tent of Meeting (later to the temple), therefor they could not be forgiven of their sins.
Like I said, it was a nasty thing.
Yet, there was always a chance they might become clean, again. When they first see the tzara’at, they go to the Cohen (priest) who, by following the instructions in these chapters, determines if it is leprosy or just some rash. Once it is determined to be leprosy, the individual is exiled from the camp and stays outside the camp until the tzara’at is gone. If it does clear up, the person goes to the Cohen who examines them; if the tzara’at is gone, the individual can again join the community (after confirmation the disease doesn’t return for a week, and after they perform a sacrifice which, being cleansed, they can now do). Now that they are again a member of the community they can worship in the sanctuary, which means they can obtain forgiveness.
So, what I find interesting is that sin is like a spiritual tzara’at: it separates us from God’s presence, and it also separates us from the community of Believers. When we sin we must repent and show our tzara’at (sin) to the Cohen, which is a formal confession. Unlike within Roman Catholicism, where you go into a booth, ask a priest to hear your confession, then ask him for forgiveness, we confess our sins to the one and only High Priest, Yeshua, who will take our request to God.
God is the only one who can forgive sins, and when we ask for his forgiveness through Yeshua, we will be forgiven.
I like this idea of the central book of the Torah being centered on cleanliness. I see the entire message of God’s word to be one of holiness (Be thou holy, as I am holy), and the means of being holy, which is to be clean both physically and spiritually, is covered in Leviticus.
If you haven’t read the Torah, or maybe just gone through it, sort of scanning the parts you find interesting, this is one book I suggest you do not skip through.
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That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!