Parashah Tzav 2018 (Give an order) Leviticus 6:1 – 8:36

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As we continue in Vayikra (Leviticus), God gives the orders and commands regarding the daily offerings, specifically the wholly burnt, meal, guilt, peace and thanksgiving offerings.

The procedure and requirements for anointing of the Priests and the Cohen haGadol (High Priest) are given, and Aaron and his sons are anointed by Moses.

There are so many different things we could discuss in these few chapters, but since in this year (2018) Passover falls next Friday night, I would like to talk about the Passover lamb and its significance in the sacrificial system.

Yeshua (Jesus) has been referred to as the “Passover Lamb” for centuries, and His sacrifice is the means by which we are able to be absolved of our sins, so why is He called a “Passover” lamb? The lamb sacrificed on Passover was not a sin sacrifice.

We are told the requirements for the 5 different types of sacrifices outlined in Leviticus; by definition, Yeshua’s sacrifice was a Thanksgiving, or Peace sacrifice. We know this because only the peace sacrifice was eaten by the one bringing the sacrifice. In all the other forms of sacrifice some of the animal was given to the Priest as his compensation, with the remaining parts either burned on the Altar or removed and thrown away. Only the Peace sacrifice was also shared with the one bringing the animal.

Yeshua’s sacrifice was a sin sacrifice, and also served as a Passover sacrifice; in fact, His sacrifice fulfilled three sacrifices: peace, sin and wholly burnt. Of course, His body wasn’t consumed by fire, but His entire body was sacrificed (which is what was done with the wholly-burnt sacrifice.)

The wholly burnt sacrifice represents our complete devotion to God- no question that Yeshua was completely devoted to His Father in heaven.

The sin sacrifice is the means by which we are forgiven our sins when we do T’shuvah (repentance) and ask God for forgiveness (now by means of Yeshua’s sacrifice.)

The peace offering is how we enter into communion with God by sharing the meal made from the sacrifice, which we do at the Passover Seder.

Can you see how Yeshua’s once-and-for-all sacrifice accomplished all three types of sacrifice? Through our acceptance of Yeshua we can show our complete devotion to God, receive forgiveness of sins and enter into communion with God.

Does this mean we shouldn’t call Yeshua the “Passover Lamb” anymore? I think it is still appropriate to refer to Him that way, just as it would also be appropriate to refer to Him as the Yom Kippur goat.

Personally, I prefer to use “lamb” other than “goat” when I refer to Yeshua, although from a technical perspective either would be correct.

For those that will celebrate the Holy Days of Passover and Hag ha Matzot, I pray you thoroughly enjoy this festive festival. I am always afraid I will accidentally eat something with yeast during the week of this festival, and have done so, once or twice, in the past. I hope it is easier for you to keep away from leavening than it is for me (I just LOVE bread!)

Donna and I have different people to our Seder every year, and we usually try to have Gentile friends who have not enjoyed this Holy Day. Every single couple we have shared our Seder with, for nearly 20 years now, has enjoyed it and it has helped them to get closer to their Jewish roots.

I may be a week early, but…Chag Sameach!

Parashah Bo (come) Exodus 10 – 13:16

The plagues continue, with locusts, darkness and the final plague, the death of the firstborn of Egypt.

Moses is instructed by God what the Israelites must do to be protected from the angel of death, for even though Goshen had been protected from the other plagues, it seems that the angel of death was over everyone and everything, and only the blood of the Passover Lamb would protect you from death. They are also told to sacrifice the lamb, and to make sure that the sacrifice is eaten in the prescribed manner, with nothing left over, and only those who are Israelites, or slaves and sojourners with Israel who have been circumcised may eat of this meal.

After the death of all the firstborn, both men and animals, Pharaoh lets the people go. They plunder the Egyptians, who give willingly, and leave the very next day. Moses reminds the people of the Passover regulations, commanding them to teach this story throughout all their generations and to eat the Passover meal (Seder) every year according to the way it should be done, with no leavened products for a week.

The term “The Passover Lamb” is first introduced to us in this parashah. To the Jewish people, the Passover Lamb represents freedom from slavery to Egypt, and is a very important part of our history. Because the Temple no longer exists, and the Torah specifies that the Passover Lamb had to be sacrificed at the Temple, we do not eat lamb at Passover; the usual dish chosen is chicken.

I have this great recipe for baked chicken: grease a pan, place the cleaned chicken pieces in the pan and spread butter over them. Sprinkle on salt, pepper, garlic powder and fresh parsley flakes. Bake at 375 for 45-60 minutes, or until the skin is browned and bubbling. YUM!!

The Passover Lamb means freedom from slavery to Jews, and to Christians it is a reference to Yeshua, who sacrificed Himself to free us from a different form of slavery: slavery to sin.

Now here is the interesting part: the Passover sacrifice was not a sin sacrifice- it was a thanksgiving sacrifice. There are 5 types of sacrifices:

  1. Whole Burnt Offering
  2. Meal Offering
  3. Peace Offering
  4. Sin Offering
  5. Guilt/Trespass Offering

The first three offerings are voluntary, and the last two are mandatory for atonement from sin. The main difference is that of all 5 sacrifices, the only one where both God and the person sacrificing shared of the meat was for the Peace, or Thanksgiving sacrifice. This was representative of the communion between man and God.

Yeshua’s sacrifice was clearly one made for the atonement of sin- it was most representative of the wholly burnt sacrifice, since His entire body was given to God. But wait! If the sacrifice Yeshua (Jesus) made was a sin sacrifice, why is He called the Passover Lamb? The Passover Lamb sacrifice was a peace offering, a Thanksgiving sacrifice, and not a sacrifice to atone from sin. So, then, is calling Yeshua the Passover Lamb really accurate?

Not from a human timeline, but since God is not subject to any timeline, we need to look at another specific sacrifice to find the complete relationship opportunity that Yeshua’s sacrifice made possible. That sacrifice is described to us in Leviticus 16- it is the Yom Kippur sacrifice. We are told to have 2 goats (not lambs)- one to be sacrificed and one to be released into the desert after the people have placed upon it’s head their sins. The goat that was chosen by lot to be sacrificed had it’s blood used to atone the alter and the Most Holy Place, and the rest of it was a burnt sacrifice. I checked the Chumash and did not see specifically where it mentioned if any portion of the Yom Kippur lamb was to be given to the Priests, but since God says that we are all to afflict our souls ( fast), clearly this had to be a wholly burnt sacrifice, with no parts being eaten by the Priests.

As we can see, Yeshua’s sacrifice was more like the Yom Kippur goat, not the Passover Lamb, so which is it? Did Yeshua’s sacrifice cleanse us of our sins, or bring us into communion with God?

The answer is: it has done both of these things at one time.

The way I see this working is that Yeshua took on our sins, as the Yom Kippur goat does, and freed us from sin when He sacrificed Himself on Passover. The Passover Lamb sacrifice was a Thanksgiving, or Peace offering which allowed us to commune with God. But, communion with God is not possible when we are covered in sin, so first we must have the sin removed. Only after we have been cleansed of our sins can we have complete communion with God and come into His presence. Under the Sacrificial System one had to perform two, separate sacrifices to attain this state of communion, but with Yeshua’s sacrifice both were accomplished, at once.

Yeshua is the Passover Lamb, which was a lamb chosen by man whose blood would protect them from death, and He is also the the Lamb of God, the Yom Kippur lamb chosen by God (through throwing lots) to atone for the sins of the people. He is both of these: God chose Yeshua to atone for the sins of the people, and when you choose Yeshua as your Passover Lamb, then you have both atonement of your sins and protection from death (not the first death, of course, but the second death, which is for all eternity.)

PS: Next week Donna and I will be on our annual anniversary cruise so I will not be blogging. Have a great week, and I will be back on February 13. 

Parashah Vayikra (He Called) Leviticus 1 – 5

This Shabbat Torah reading begins with the 3rd book of the Torah, Vayikra, or Leviticus.

God tells Moses the rules and procedures for presenting offerings before the Lord. He goes through each type of offering, which animals or substitutes are allowed, and which type of sin the offering is intended to absolve us from.

The 5 main offering are:

  1. Burnt Offering – represents total commitment where the entire animal is used
  2. Grain Offering – this offering can be either grain (never with any leavening) or first fruits. There is a memorial portion that is sacrificed, the rest going to the Cohen. All grain offerings must also include salt.
  3. Peace Offering – This offering is also a thanksgiving offering, and although not stated in this parashah, we are told that the entire animal is not burned and that the parts allowed to be eaten shall be eaten there, in the presence of the Lord (Chapter 22); we are also reminded here that the fat and the blood are the Lord’s and we are never to eat them.
  4. Sin Offering – when someone sins unintentionally and then is made aware of it or realizes it, they must make this offering. This is covered for the entire community, leaders, commoners, and even allows for the poor by allowing lesser items of value to be offered if someone cannot afford the animal from the flock or herd.
  5. Guilt Offering – this seems, at this juncture, to be the same as the sin offering, assuming that the sin was unintentional. As we get further into this chapter we realize that the guilt offering is more for unintentional sins and the sin offering is for sins that were more from volition and forethought than accidental.

These are pretty much cut-and-dried chapters. What I find interesting is that God assumes that the sins we are making restitution for are unintentional. You would think He knew better, right? He sees our heart and knows our thoughts, desires and wants. He just has to understand that we do, often, sin on purpose. Yet, in His forgiving, compassionate way He instructs Moses and the people about restitution for sin by stating that when you sin unintentionally. I can understand one reason why God might take this approach: He’s God! Who would ever expect anyone to purposefully try to piss Him off? Especially after seeing and hearing Him at Mt. Sinai, in all His glory, majesty and awe! Really- who would want to mess with God by sinning on purpose?

I guess the answer to that is: everyone. I mean, that’s what happened, right? Just about everyone sinned; Moses (at Mirabah), Aaron (the golden calf), Miriam (with Aaron, again, in Numbers 12), Dathan, Abiram, Aaron’s oldest sons, the guy who picked up sticks on Shabbat, the people who gathered extra Manna….everyone!

Later on we get more details about the sacrificial system. I think it helps to understand these different sacrifices so that we can better understand the Bible. For instance, when we sacrificed the lamb for Passover it was, by definition, a peace/thanksgiving offering, not a sin offering. Yet, although Yeshua’s sacrificial death was a sin offering, He is called the Pesach Lamb. The Pesach (Passover) lamb was not a sin offering, so why do we call Jesus’s death a peace offering when it was a sin offering?

Good question. I think it might simply be an association without understanding- He died on Passover and the lamb was killed on Passover, ergo: Pesach lamb.

On the other hand, it might be from a deeper understanding of what He did and what it allowed to happen. He died for our sins: clearly, that is a sin sacrifice. However, with His death the parochet (curtain) in the Temple was torn, top to bottom, representing that the separation between God and people was removed. When two beings are separated, then they are allowed to come together, doesn’t that promote peaceful relations?  Isn’t that something we should be thankful for?

Yeshua’s death was more than a sin sacrifice, it was a total sacrifice, a combination of all the offerings in one. His entire body was given up (burnt offering), He was without leaven and His blood was the salt of the covenant promised in Jeremiah 31:31 (grain), He was a lamb without blemish (peace) and although sinless, he took on all the sins, known and unknown, of all the people, everywhere and for all time (sin and guilt.)

Understanding the (seemingly) minute details of the sacrificial system help us to understand the broader impact of Yeshua’s sacrifice.

Some things in the Bible seem minute, unimportant and even obsessively recorded, yet there is always purpose in what God has told us. Faithful reading of every word in the Word is worthy of your time and energy- you never know what the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) will reveal to you.