Tzav – “Command”

This week’s parasha is entitled, Tzav, which means “Command,” and it covers Leviticus 6:1 – 8:36.  The book of Leviticus was written to show Israel how to live as a holy nation, in fellowship with God, and to prepare the nation for the high service of mediating the redemption of God to all other nations.

Did you know that the word “holy” is recorded in this book more times than in any other book of Scripture?

In chapter 6, we learn that stealing involves more than just taking from someone. Finding something and not searching for the owner or refusing to return something that was borrowed are other forms of stealing; these are sins against the holiness of God and not just one’s neighbor. If you acquire something deceitfully, confess your sins to God and apologize to the owner and return the stolen item with interest.

In chapter 6, we are also told of the law of the burnt offering; this section looks only at the responsibility of the priests and their proper care of the ashes and fire on the altar.

Throughout the night, the embers of the evening burnt offering were to remain on the altar and the altar fire was to be kept burning.

In the morning, wearing clothes appropriate to each task, the priest was to remove the ashes from the altar and then dispose of them in a ceremonially clean place outside the camp.

The priests were responsible to keep the fire always burning on the altar.

The grain offering, also outlined in chapter 6, could be presented at the altar in one of five forms: fine flour, oven-baked cakes, cakes baked in a pan, cakes baked in a frying pan (on a griddle), or crushed roasted heads of new grain.

Since grain represents the fruit of our labor, the meal offering was one way for the Israelis to dedicate to Adonai that which He had enabled them to produce.

But the meal offering was not presented alone; it accompanied one of the sacrifices that involved the shedding of blood. Our hard work can never purchase salvation or earn the blessing of God; for apart from the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin.

In this offering we can see Messiah Yeshua depicted as the Bread of Life, the perfect One who nourishes our inner person as we worship Him and ponder His Word.

The offering had to be accompanied with oil, either poured on it or mingled with it; this symbolizes the Holy Spirit of God, which was given to Yeshua without measure.

The offering also had to include salt, which speaks of our Lord’s purity of character. Yeshua compared Himself to a grain of wheat, and He was crushed like (“fine flour”) and put through the furnace of suffering that He might save us from our sins.

Leaven (yeast) and honey were prohibited from being included in the meal offering. The Israelis would associate leaven with sin because of the Passover rules, and certainly there was no sin in Messiah Yeshua.  Honey is the sweetest thing nature produces, but this was often offered on pagan altars and thus prohibited.

The drink offering, like the meal offering, was presented after the animal sacrifices had been put on the altar and was a required part of the sacrifice.

The pouring out of the wine at the base of the altar was a future symbol of life being poured out in dedication to God.

On the alter of the cross, Yeshua was like broken bread, and poured out wine. Yeshua there poured out His life’s blood unto death.

In chapter 7, the law of the guilt offering is practically identical with that of the sin offering. It is impossible to ponder these things without our minds turning to Yeshua, the great and infinite Sacrifice in which all the suggestions of the Mosaic economy were finally fulfilled.

The peace offering was pre-eminently that of a communion, or connection, with God.

In the law of this offering three kinds are recognized: an offering of thanksgiving, an offering in connection with vows, and one which is purely a free-will offering to God.

In the final section concerning the laws of the various offerings some final instructions are emphasized. First, the fat and the blood were not to be eaten. Further, an offering could not be provided by proxy.

Each man for himself must bring in “his own hands” the Lord’s portion. While God comes to men directly and individually, He expects to receive from us, in like manner. Thus, this communion is more than general and sentimental. It is personal and immediate.

In chapter 8, Adonai said to Moses, “Take Aaron and his sons with him and the clothes, the anointing oil, a bull for the sin offering, the two rams, and the basket of unleavened bread. Then gather the people together at the entrance of the Meeting Tent.”

Moses did what the Lord commanded him and anoints Aaron. He also clothes Aaron’s sons. An offer of a bullock was made for them as a sin-offering as well as a ram for a burnt-offering.

After further offerings, Moses places some of the blood of the sacrifices upon Aaron and his sons as part of their consecration;

Moses then commands Aaron and his sons to abide seven days at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation and they obeyed.

A few thoughts in closing. There are many aspects of the offerings in parasha tzav that point us to Messiah Yeshua’s own sacrifice.

For example, the absence of leaven points to His sinless nature, as does the demand that the sacrificial animals be completely flawless.

The peace offerings, with the meal that was shared by the priest and the worshiper together, anticipated a future time when a redeemed mankind will break bread in righteousness, as “a  kingdom of royal priests.”

And as every grain offering was to be accompanied by salt, Yeshua declared that His followers are to be salt and the light to the world and just as the fire of the alter was to never go out. So messiah is to always shine through us, by this our heavenly Father and king is glorified.