Emor – “Speak”

This week’s Parasha covers several subjects:

the priesthood, the sacrifices and the holidays, but it has one theme that ties it all together – holiness. A holy God demanded holiness from His holy people.

A priest was chosen by God and was holy, set apart to serve God;

the priest offered gifts to God, and brought back gifts from God for the people. A priest brought the people closer to God, and brought God closer to the people.

A priest was not to make himself ceremonially unclean by touching a dead person or even being in the same house with a dead person, except in the case of the death of his father, mother, son, daughter, brother, or his unmarried sister.

Because they represented God, priests were held to high moral standards. No priest was allowed to marry a prostitute or a divorcee. No daughter of a priest was permitted to live if she became involved in immorality.

Because of his high position and the anointing from God, the high priest was held to even higher standards for marriage and mourning rites.

In addition to the requirements for the regular priests, the high priest had to marry a virgin to assure the nation that the next high priest was truly his own son.

God always expects more from his leaders. Because they represented a holy and perfect God, also priests were to be without major physical blemishes.

Chapter 22 tells us that the animals the priests offered to a holy God had to be without major physical blemishes. Adonai demands and deserves the very best and we dare not bring Him that which is blemished.

These sacrifices pointed to Messiah, because He is the perfect sacrifice, and so the animals which pointed to Him needed to be without defects.

The animals that were offered by the priests and then eaten by the priests and their families had to be eaten while they also were ceremonially clean.

A holy God had a holy people, with a holy priesthood who offered holy sacrifices in a holy place. Chapter 23 tells us that God also gave His people holy days – times of rest and refreshing, of fellowship and worship, times of celebrating and remembering with thanksgiving all that God had done for them.

These 7 holy holidays were:

1. Passover

2. The holiday of Unleavened Bread

3. The holiday of First Fruits

4. Shavuot (Weeks), Pentecost

5. The Day to Blow the Shofar

6. The Day of Atonement

7. Sukkot or the feast Tabernacles.

The first holiday was the Passover. This was a standing testimonial that Israel’s salvation was by the blood of the Lamb.

Note that Israel’s Redemption from Egypt was a picture of a far greater deliverance. The slain lamb, the sprinkled blood pointed to a meeker, purer, and holier Victim, Yeshua our Messiah whose body was broken and whose blood was spilled so that God could Passover the sins of Jews and Gentiles and rescue us from our spiritual Egypts.

The next was the holiday of Matzah, Unleavened Bread, which coincided with Passover. The Jewish people were to eat unleavened bread and to remember their hasty departure from Egypt.

For the believer today, this is a reminder for us to put away sin and leaven– and be holy. Redemption must lead us to a purification of ourselves and from the filthy ways and associations of this wicked, fallen world; and we should remember always that Messiah is the Holy and Sinless One who helps us to do the right things so that we can become right with God.

Joined with the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread was the additional holiday of first fruits, presenting God the first sheaf of the barley harvest. This taught the Israelis that it was not the soil, nor the raindrops, the sunbeams, the dews, nor the skill of their agriculturists that they had to thank for their abundant harvest. Israel had to see past the sower and reaper mentality, and see that the Three-In-One God of Israel was the giver of their bountiful harvest.

This holiday of first-fruits also had a deeper and more beautiful meaning.

Rabbi Paul calls Yeshua the first-fruits. Because Messiah is alive, those who become loyal to Him will come alive. Not one person will be forgotten. The promise is certain. Because He lives, we shall live also.

The next is the holiday of Shavuot, Pentecost. This day is exactly fifty days after the holiday of the First Fruits. It thanks God for His provisions of the wheat harvest. This day is associated with the Law being given. It is also the holiday on which the Holy Spirit was given.

The next is the holiday of the ram’s horn. In Scripture, the shofar was blown to warn of danger, and of war. This is a time for believers to look deep within their hearts, their souls, and rage war against anything and everything that doesn’t line up with the Word of God.

The next is the Day of Atonement. This was the day for the nation of Israel to get right and be right with God. This reminds us to make all things right in our hearts and in our souls, and we would do well to remember that no man will see God without holiness.

The final holiday is Sukkot, Booths, Tabernacles. It’s the final harvest festival, giving thanks to the three in one God for the harvest. For us today, it’s a reminder of the harvest of humanity –  a picture of Messianic Jews and Christians being gathered into God’s eternal kingdom.

Leviticus 24 also focuses on holiness. The Israelis were to provide olives from which pure olive oil could be made, and this oil was to burn continually in a menorah made of pure gold. Since there were no windows in the tabernacle, it was necessary to have light in the holy place so the priests could see as they ministered before the Lord. The pure gold menorah provided that light.

The golden lamp symbolizes the Word of God, the light that God gives us in this dark world. Those who don’t know the Lord can’t see the light of the Word of God because they lack the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the oil. Messiah is the light and only through Him can we see and appreciate spiritual things.

It is sad to say, but many a church has had there light go out because of the blindness and unfaithfulness of the members. They failed to pray, to worship, to give, or even allow the Holy Spirit to use them.

A holy God served by a holy priesthood in a holy place, illuminated by holy light, would provide for the needs of a holy people,

this is what the table of pure gold in the tabernacle with its 12 loaves of bread symbolized.

This same God has promised to meet our needs as well.

Emor ends with the incident of a man blaspheming, saying something bad about God. This man was stoned to death.

A holy people cannot use unholy words about a holy God.

The theme of this parasha is holiness. God is kadosh –holy.

Holiness must be honored. To defile the holy is dangerous business. It can result in Divine judgment. Serving the Lord is not child’s play but extremely serious business.

Christians and Messianic Jews are holy ones. We are separated, set apart, and dedicated to serve this same holy God. And it will help us if we understood that positionally, we are already holy because we are joined to the holy Messiah, but God wants our lives to match our position.

Unlike the requirement for the Jewish priests, Adonai doesn’t demand physical perfection as a requirement. The emphasis today is on morality and holy living.

Our whole mind, body, soul, and spirit should be holy – set apart for God and His service.

Like the priest of old, let’s live sanctified and holy lives so that our spiritual offerings of worship, praise, prayers, and deeds will be acceptable to our holy God.

Let’s keep ourselves from the pollution of this world.

Let’s learn and practice the holy Word of God.

Let’s always remember that Messiah Yeshua, the holy Lamb of God, is our righteousness.

And may this polluted world see that we are different,

And let’s all pray that they turn from unrighteousness and unto our good, perfect and holy God. Amen?