Vayikra – “And He Called”

This week’s Torah potion is entitled Vayikra, which means “And He Called.” It covers Leviticus 1:1-6:7. Adonai established a system to forgive Israel’s sinfulness, so that they could experience a loving, intimate relationship with Him.

Chapter one begins with Adonai calling to Moses from the Tabernacle, giving him instructions regarding the burnt offering. This was a voluntary offering by which the worshiper would have atonement for intentionally committed sin and restore communion with Adonai. A flawless male was selected from a herd or flock of sheep or goats and brought to the entrance of the Tabernacle, to be accepted by Adonai. This first sacrifice gives us two rules of thought; sin separates us from Adonai, and communion with Him is only possible through an appropriate sacrifice. The offerer placed his hand on the animal’s head, symbolizing his identification with the sacrifice, transferring his guilt to the animal, aware that the animal’s spilled blood should have been his. Aaron’s sons, the priests, would carefully sprinkle the blood from the animal on the altar and the entire offering was consumed by flames as a burnt offering. This was a special gift, a pleasing aroma to Adonai, symbolic of His acceptance of the gift. If the offerer couldn’t afford a larger animal, he could bring a turtledove or pigeon.

Chapter two describes the grain offering as a free will offering:

“gift or tribute” to Adonai. The offering was chosen from the finest unleavened flour, mixed with olive oil, frankincense, and salt. The flour was oven baked or pan fried, and presented to the priest to burn on the altar. Salt was added to remind Israel of their special covenant with Adonai. The remainder of the grain offering was given to Aaron and his sons to provide for their needs. This offering symbolized dedication to Adonai and gratitude for His provision. He is our true Source of life, deserving of our thanks and appreciation.

In chapter three a voluntary offering of a flawless male or female from the herd, or flock of sheep or goats was accepted as a peace offering.  The offerer would lay his hand on its head and slaughter it at the entrance of the Tabernacle. Aaron’s sons, the priests would sprinkle its blood over the altar, taking all the fat from its internal organs, burning it on top of the burnt offering, which was presented to Adonai as a special gift, “a pleasing aroma” to Him. Israel was never to consume blood or fat; this was a permanent law to be observed throughout their generations.

The peace offering was a celebration of praise and thanksgiving to Adonai for abundant life. One person presented the peace offering, but it was eaten by the priests and the whole community with rejoicing and celebration. In the community of believers, one person’s joy or sorrow affects everyone.

Chapter four continues with unintentional sin committed by the high priest. He was commanded to bring a flawless bull to the entrance of the Tabernacle, lay his hand on its head, and slaughter it before the Lord. Blood from the sacrificial bull was brought into the Sanctuary by the priest, sprinkled seven times in front of the veil of the Sanctuary, and applied to the horns of the altar in the Holy Place. The fatty portion from the animal was offered on the altar of burnt offering, and its remains were burned outside the community.

If the community violated God’s command unintentionally, the elders would bring an offering for them. Additionally, if an elder sinned unintentionally, he was commanded to bring a flawless male goat to the entrance of the Tabernacle, lay his hand on its head and kill it. The priest would dip his finger in the blood, apply it to the horns of the altar, and the remainder of the blood was poured out at the altar base. The procedure was the same for individuals in the community, though they were permitted to offer a female sheep.

Chapter five continues with sins that required a sin offering. The Israelis were expected to testify to any injustice that was witnessed. Laws for public health were maintained by the priests for proper ceremonial separation from unclean things. Making a reckless vow, whether for good or harm was regarded as sin. After becoming aware of your guilt, you were to confess it and bring a female sheep or goat to Adonai for the sin offering. After purification by the priest, you would be forgiven. Two turtledoves, two pigeons, or fine flour without olive oil or frankincense were also accepted as a sin offering. Anyone who unintentionally desecrated Adonai’s Holy Tabernacle was guilty of sin, and must bring a guilt offering to Adonai. There had to be a penalty for violating Adonai’s commands.

In chapter six anyone who dishonored Adonai’s name or defrauded his neighbor was guilty of sin. False accusers, those who vandalized, or intentionally took property from their neighbors, were guilty of sin. Anything taken by force, under false pretense, or by extortion must be returned to that person with an additional 20% fee. If you sinned, restitution was necessary. On the day you restored everything to your neighbor, you also had to offer a flawless ram for a guilt offering to Adonai.

The sacrificial system declared to Israel that the price for sin was death, and that purification could only be obtained through Adonai. He loves His creation, and longs to commune with us, but sin separates us from Him. He wants to give us new life, and a new beginning. However, just as Israel was broken, sinful, and in need of a sacrifice, Yeshua in His perfection offered Himself to Adonai as our sin substitute. He is the perfect lamb of God, who removes sin completely! From the greatest to the least, we’re guilty and in desperate need of Yeshua. Will you put your trust in Him today?