week we read basically a reiteration of the previous portion. It goes
through the 5 different types of offerings, as well as the
particularities concerning each. It then finishes with the inauguration
of the Priesthood and the Tabernacle. Normally, when we read about God
telling Moses to convey a message, He uses the wording “Daber—Speak.” In this portion however, God gives a stronger verbal order.
God says to Moses, “Tzav et-Aharon v’et-benav—Command Aaron and his sons…” The word “Tzav—Command” is root of the word “Mitzvah.” The word “Mitzvah” is literally translated as “Commandment,” but over time, this word has come to be understood as any action taken to accomplish the Torah’s obligations concerning how we ought to live. There is a saying found in Pirkei Avot/Ethics of the Fathers 4:2 which says, “Mitzvah goreret Mitzvah—One Commandment (kept) leads to another commandment.” This quote is probably more familiar to most as “One good deed leads to another.” This means to say, whoever keeps the commandments of Torah, the commandments of Torah will keep them. As King Solomon writes in Proverbs 19, “He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul…”
God is making clear that the instruction He is giving to Aaron and his sons is very important. Yet, what was the important commandment God gave to Moses to tell Aaron and his sons that He would need to use such a strong word as “Tzav—Command?” It was this one, found in Leviticus 6:2 (9), “This is the law of the burnt offering: The burnt offering shall be on the hearth upon the altar all night until morning, and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning on it…A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out.”
Why is this the verse that God very strongly “commands” Aaron and his sons to keep? Let’s go deeper into this verse and look into some of the ideas and hints that can be found in this passage. First, what offering are we reading about? The “Olah—Ascent or Whole Burnt” offering. When this offering was given, the whole of the animal was placed upon the altar and entirely consumed with fire, being totally burned up (The only thing left was the hide of the animal). Fire was to be kept burning on the altar throughout the night because the Ascent/Burnt offering was to be kept on the altar all night. This fire was called the “Esh Tamid—Eternal Flame” and was carefully tended every morning as one of the first tasks of the priests serving in the “Mishkan—Tabernacle.”
In reading the Hebrew of this verse, we also find something else interesting. It says, “Hie HaOlah Al Mokdah Al-HaMizbe’ach Chol-HaLaila Ad-HaBoker V’Esh HaMizbe’ach Tukad Bo—The
burnt offering shall be on the hearth upon the altar all night until
morning, and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning on it.” Because
there are no vowel markings in the Torah, the word “Hie” which means
“She” referring to the sacrifice, could instead be translated as “Hu—He”
referring to the person offering the sacrifice. The Ramban writes in
his commentary concerning Leviticus, “…he sprinkles the blood on
the altar corresponding to the blood of his soul, so that a person think
in doing all of this that he sinned to God with his body and his soul,
and it is fit for him that his blood be spilled and his body burnt; were
it not for the kindness of the Creator, who took an exchange and ransom
from him [in] the sacrifice – that its blood be instead of his blood
and its soul be instead of his soul.”
Basically, what the Ramban is saying is; when someone makes a burnt offering, they ought to see themselves in the place of the offering. Mankind deserved his own blood spilled and his own body burnt, but God’s mercy allowed for a substitute.
This brings me to a quick note I want to make concerning the sacrifices. I have written before about 2 of God’s names. The name “Elokim,” which represents God’s attribute of Justice/Judgment, and the name “Hashem,” which corresponds to God’s attribute of mercy. Throughout the Torah, when reading about the sacrifices, God’s name used in these sections is the name “Hashem.” What does this mean? It means that God’s merciful nature is revealed through the sacrifices rather than His nature of justice. Keep this in mind as we move forward through this observation.
Even though God allowed the substitution of an animal for a man, this did not remove the responsibility of the person involved in the sacrificial process. As I mentioned last week, the Proverbs tell us that “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination” to God. Just because a person offered the prescribed offering, it did not give an automatic checkmark of clearance. There had to be a repentant and contrite heart that went along with the actual physical offering itself. The physical animal being sacrificed was to reflect the spiritual contriteness of the person making the offering. People had to associate themselves with the animals being sacrificed, and in so doing, become a “spiritual sacrifice” themselves.
This brings me back to the verse from Leviticus 6:2 (9), where it says in the Hebrew that the offering must be “Tukad Bo—Kept burning on it (the altar).” The word “Bo” can also be translated as “in him.” Some think that the sacrifices were all a physical ordeal and somehow this physical act made everything in the spiritual realm okay again. NO!
If there was no spiritual transformation, then the sacrifices were for naught. If the fire of the burnt offering did not “Tukad Bo—Keep burning in him (the offeror)” then the physical sacrifice was invalid because the spiritual sacrifice had not taken place.
What do we learn from all this? There must be a spiritual transformation that takes place within the heart. Obviously, today, there is no possibility of offering a physical offering, but there is still the opportunity to study the physical sacrifices that tell us how to spiritually change. Just as the offeror was to relate to the burnt offering being made, we should relate to the concept of becoming a whole burnt offering to God. As I wrote above, the offering was entirely consumed by the “Esh Tamid—Eternal Flame” which was tended every morning that it might never go out. Can I ask you, yes, each person individually…have you devoted your life as a whole burnt offering to be consumed by the fire of God? Do you daily tend the flame of God in your life?
I feel very convicted right now…it is not easy to give everything up to the fire. It’s easy to say “I give everything to the Lord.” But do I really? Don’t I hold on to the few potshards I feel I have left of my normal life? BTW, does anyone know what a “normal life” even looks like? When I read through the Bible, I’m not sure I find anyone or anything normal by the world’s standards.
We’ve talked about becoming a whole burnt offering for God. Meaning, a life that is totally consumed by God, a life that is daily sacrificed on His altar, a life that has released all to God’s will. But this is only the beginning.
If we continue in this portion, we read in Leviticus 6:21 (28) about the sin offering. The “Chatat—Sin” offering has some interesting correlations that must be made as we read and think about the whole burnt offering.
“In the place where the burnt offering is killed, the sin offering shall be killed before the Lord. It is most holy…Everyone who touches its flesh [shall] be holy…the earthen vessel in which it is boiled shall be broken.”
In the same place where the whole burnt offering was to be offered, there is another process that must take place, the sin offering. Clearly, we may be able to offer ourselves to God as whole burnt offerings, but what is the spiritual idea we take away from the sin offering? How do we become a spiritual offering that takes away sin?
In John 1:29, Yochanan HaMatbil, John the Immerser, sees Yeshua and declares, “Hineh! Seh HaElokim HaNosea Chatat HaOlam—Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” Who becomes a spiritual offering that takes away sin? “Seh HaElokim—The Lamb of God.” Yeshua is the one who offered himself up in the very place we offer ourselves up…at the altar of God.
It says, “…The sin offering shall be killed before the Lord. It is most holy…” In Hebrew however, it doesn’t say “It is most holy” instead it says “Kodesh Kodashim Hie—Holy of Holies is it.” Remember from earlier, how I wrote that “Hie” can also be translated as “Hu—He.” This means we could also translate this verse as “Kodesh Kodashim Hu—Holy of Holies is He.” What does this mean? Hebrews tells us, “…if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of the heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Messiah…cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” It is through Yeshua as High Priest, who makes intercession for us, that allows us to be 100% justified in the “Heavenly Holy of Holies.” The sacrifices prepare us for the ultimate reality of what Yeshua has done and what He will do in the future. Why will there be sacrifices again in the city of Jerusalem? To prepare us once again, to receive the ultimate sacrifice, Yeshua, the Lamb of God. For this is why He came, “To save His people from their sins.”
“Everyone who touches its flesh [shall] be holy.” Whoever comes into contact with Him is imparted some of His holiness. Generally, holy things become defiled when touched by unholy things. Yet, in this case, everyone who comes into contact with this offering is made holy.
“…the earthen vessel in which it is boiled shall be broken.” So if Yeshua is the “Chatat—Sin” offering and we are earthen vessels in His hands, what must happen to the vessels that receive Him?
In Psalm 22, we read a prophetic Psalm of David concerning the future agony of Yeshua on the cross. In verse 16 it says, “Ka’ari Yadai V’Raglai—They pierced my hands and my feet.” The word “Pierced” in Hebrew comes from the root word “Karah” which can mean, “to dig, to hew, to bore.” Now, let’s flip over to Psalm 40 and read a verse from there. It says in verse 6, “Zevach U’Mincha Lo-Chafatz’ta, Az’naim Karita Li—Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; My ears You have opened.”
What does “opening my ears” have anything to do with “sacrifice and offering?” The Hebrew word used here for “Opened” also comes from the root word “Karah.” In other words, David writes, “My ears You have pierced.” Where else do we read about ear piercing? Exodus 21 tells us, “…if a servant plainly says, ‘I love my master…I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.”
What does this mean, “Zevach U’Mincha Lo-Chafatz’ta, Az’naim Karita Li—Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; My ears You have pierced?”
It means that God desires servants who devote themselves to Him forever. Sacrifices and offerings are “Korbanot,” they bring us “Karov—Close” to God, but a bondservant is always close to his Master. A true bondservant of God needs nothing to draw him close. We as humanity need sacrifices to rectify our state of impurity to draw this world closer to the Divine. That is the start; the finish is when all of creation becomes servants and children of God.
Take the spiritual “ear piercing” and devote your life to the one whose hands and feet were pierced for you. Become a broken vessel and accept Yeshua’s sacrifice because He was broken for you. Daily fan the “Esh Tamid—Eternal Flame” of God in your life, as you give your life as a whole burnt offering, because Yeshua gave His all for you.
To all the Redeemed of the Lord,
Grace and Peace from God’s Bondservant,
I pray this email would give everyone a new outlook on each individual’s calling. For me, writing this email was very emotional and there were parts I cried through as all of these concepts flooded over me. Yes, I’m an emotional individual, but I don’t cry every email…I’ll be honest; I didn’t stick to my notes for this observation, so I’m hoping this all comes across clear. Please let me now if anything needs clarification.