These chapters begin with rules for the priests regarding not defiling themselves by having any contact with the dead (except for close family members) and marrying only a virgin. The Cohen HaGadol (High Priest) shall not even have contact with family members who die, nor shall he ever mourn (at least, not in public).
If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.
No priest can offer any sacrifice or perform any priestly duties if they have any sort of deformity or blemish or are in a condition of uncleanliness.
Chapter 23 is where God instructs us about the 7 Holy Days, which are not to be confused with holidays, those being man-made. God’s required celebrations are the Shabbat, Passover, Hag HaMatzot (Passover is only the late afternoon until midnight, with the 7 days of unleavened bread being a separate festival), Counting of the Omer (not a Holy Day but important because it brings us to the next one), Shavuot, Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot.
God instructed Moses about the show bread and the Ner Tamid (Eternal Flame).
We are told of an incident where an Israelite man (Israelite mother and Egyptian father) blasphemed God’s name and cursed, and his punishment was to have all the people who heard him lay their hands on his head, then the entire congregation was to stone him to death. We are told that any punishment must be equal to the crime, which was described by God as “breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth.”
(I can make an entire message on the way this one statement has been misunderstood.)
Probably one of the most important instructions, and the final one for this parashah, is the commandment that there shall be only one law for both the natural Jew and the Gentile.
Okay, then…not much to analyze or look for deeper, meanings here. This is all pretty straight-forward.
But what does it mean to us? What do I have to worry about if I am not a descendant of Aaron, or a Levite?
Well, if you are a member of the body of the Messiah, or any sect of Judaism (even if you haven’t accepted Yeshua as your Messiah), then you are a priest.
YIKES! You mean to tell me that even as a Gentile Christian I am considered to be a priest?
I believe the answer is….YES!
Why? Because any one who sojourns with Israel, i.e., joins the chosen people of God, is considered to be an adopted son of Abraham (Galatians 3:29), and, as a member of God’s chosen people, you are also one of God’s priests to the world( Exodus 19:6).
Not what they told you in church, huh?
Did they also fail to tell you that as a adopted child of Abraham, that because God said there is to be one law for both the stranger (i.e., Gentile joined to the people) and the Jew, that means you are also required to obey his law (that means the Torah, people)?
Now that’s quite a kick in the pants, right?
Here’s how it works, folks: when you accept Yeshua (Jesus) as your Messiah, you are a spiritual sojourner with Israel and an adopted child of Abraham. This does NOT mean you are a Jew- that has to be by blood, not by choice (except maybe in the case of total conversion). But, as a member of Israel you are a priest for God, which requires you to obey the priestly requirements in this parashah, and throughout the Torah.
And as a natural-born Jewish person, you are already a priest, Believer or not, like it or not.
This is how I see it, based on how I interpret the Torah and some of what Shaul (Paul) wrote.
I understand that this does open a can of worms, as they say, because now we have to ask if your marriage is acceptable (if you didn’t marry a virgin); are you allowed to visit the graves of your loved ones; can you come into church (or synagogue) if you had sex recently and didn’t shower afterwards?
And these are just the easy questions!
If you expect me to answer them, I am sorry but I won’t go there. I think we all have to read the Torah and come up with the answers for ourselves, asking God to have the Ruach HaKadosh (Holy Spirit) guide us in our decision. I know this sounds like a cop-out, but I am not sure of the answers, myself.
I do know one thing- thanks to Yeshua, if I do sin accidentally by not properly observing the rules for a priest, then I can receive forgiveness through him.
Here’s an interesting thing I would like to share with you: when I worked at a Jewish cemetery, if the people looking to buy a burial plot had a last name that was Cohen or Levy, or anything similar, they had to buy a plot directly off the road because as a Levite, they couldn’t even stand on the ground without (ceremonially) becoming unclean. For me, as a salesman, that meant more money because those are the most expensive areas in any cemetery.
I have been told that my DNA analysis (my older sister, Wendy is our genealogist) shows I have the genetic marker of a Levite, so I know I have to be careful in how I live my life. My current marriage is a second marriage for both my wife and myself, so that would disqualify me, but these things happened before I became a Believer, so I hope that they are not counted.
After all, we are born a new creation every day (2 Corinthians, 5:17) so I am trying, each day for the rest of my life, to qualify for God’s requirements as one of his priests.
What about you? Do you feel “priestly”? You are, you know, whether or not you want to be, so if you like being blessed by God and want to act in accordance with what God says (not what some man-made religion says), then I suggest read this parashah for yourself and get with the program.
Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know. Subscribe to my website and YouTube channel, buy my books, and join my Facebook discussion group called “Just God’s Word” (please read and agree to the rules).
And I always welcome any comments you may have: feedback lets me know someone is listening, so please (at least) send me a “Good Job”, or “You’re crazy!”, and let’s drash it out, together.
That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!