Vayikra-Tzav – “And He Called-Give The Command”

This week’s parasha is a double portion. The first is entitled Va’Yikra which translates to “And He Called”. The second is entitled Tzav, which means “Give the command”.  Together, these passages tell of how Adonai commanded Moses concerning various offerings.

The first parasha VaYikra describes 5 types of offerings that were to be made upon the altar to God. They were:

The Burnt Offering:  Which only allowed 3 types of Kosher animals to be used. Oxen, Sheep, or a goat.

The Grain Offering:  This offering had to be made of fine flour with oil and frankincense.

The Peace Offering:  This offering could use either male or female of the three categories of animals (oxen, sheep or goats) and could be offered as long as the animal was free of defect.

The Sin Offering:  Which could be a Bull or a goat. It’s interesting to note that this offering was only for unintentional sin. There was no sacrifice or provisions given for those who deliberately, or intentionally, sinned against the Lord; Deliberate or intentional breaking of the Lord’s Word was punished by death.

And last, was The Guilt Offering:  Some examples of when a guilt offering would be required are outlined in Chapter 5, such as when a person does not testify accurately to what they know, or if a person touches something that is unclean, or if a person swears thoughtlessly.  The sacrifice needed to be a female sheep or goat, or if the person did not have the means to provide either of those animals, then turtledoves or pigeons were acceptable.

This sacrificial system was instituted to bring the people closer to God. They were a visible system of accountability. The sacrificial system took into account the financial placing of the sinner, and the most important thing was the heart of those bringing the sacrifice.

This sacrificial system was given as a precursor to the day when the Son of God, Yeshua Ha Mashiach would make the ultimate and final sacrifice to atone for the sins of all Jews and Gentiles who place their faith and trust in Him.

The Lord continues through chapters 6 and 7 to lay out the specifics of the sin, trespass, and peace offerings. All of these offerings were completely voluntary and were meant to bring the people closer to the living God because where our heart is, so too will our giving be.

The Law of the Burnt Offering

The burnt offering was called that because this offering required that the animal be completely consumed by a fire except for the crop of feathers of a bird or the skin of the bull which was part of the portion that went to the priests. Just as the Lord had a specific way He wanted the Israelis to prepare the Passover Lamb, He also had a specific way in which the nation was to appear before Him and offer this sacrifice. This offering signified a complete dedication and consecration to the Lord. It was an offering for the repentance from sins committed, with the desire to be purged from the guilt of sinful acts. It acted as a demonstration of the sinner’s desire to repent and be obedient and indicated his dedication to the worship of the Holy Three-in-One God. At the same time the sacrifice was intended to symbolize a meal between God and the one offering it, where peace and friendship was displayed by sharing that meal together.

Fat and Blood May Not Be Eaten

I love how the things that the Lord commands are beneficial to us and bring Him glory both at the same time. The Jewish dietary laws are good in that if you follow them, you will tend to be healthier. As Moses and the people of Israel observed and obeyed the laws given by Adonai, they were first beneficial to the people, and at the same time honoring to God. The prohibition against eating fat and blood was first beneficial, because it is unhealthy to consume fat or blood. By the same token, these were the choicest parts of the sacrifice, because in the blood there is life, and without blood or fat, a person cannot sustain life; therefore, these were to be given to Adonai, the Author of Life.

Verses 28 through 37 in Chapter 7 cover the portion that was to be given to Aaron and his sons.  The worshiper made a peace offering from his sacrifice so that the Lord received the blood and the fat, the priests received the breast and the right thigh, and the worshiper could use the rest for himself. The wave offerings discussed in verses 30-32 were symbolic acts indicating that the offering was for the Lord. Wave offerings could include bread, meat, oil or grain. Even gold might be given as a wave offering (Exodus 38:24).

Aaron and His Sons Consecrated

To consecrate something means to make or declare something sacred or set apart, or to dedicate formally to a religious or divine purpose. In chapter 8, Aaron and his sons were consecrated to be the first in a long line of priests of Israel. Before the time of Aaron, the patriarchs and the fathers had offered sacrifices to God. But with the ordination (in Hebrew, smicha) of Aaron and his sons, the sacrificial rituals of Israel became more formalized with a fully prescribed priestly service.

This consecration not only set Aaron apart from the rest of the congregation to be a priest to God, but also distinguished him from the other priests, to be the Kohayn HaGadol – the High Priest. This ceremony would eventually be repeated each time a new priest was installed into office.

They were formally consecrated first by washing, which would signify their being cleansed of their sins, and reminds me of the way Messianic Jews and Christians are immersed in water when we decide to become part of the body of Messiah.

Moses, acting on God’s behalf, then clothed Aaron in his High Priestly garments which was a foreshadowing of the glories of Messiah. He was then anointed; the oil being poured on his head. This separated him from his sons in a special way, as in their case the anointing oil from the altar was sprinkled on them. They then fulfilled the duties and responsibilities that had been prescribed by Adonai Himself. The parasha concludes by saying that Aaron and his sons did all the things that the Lord had commanded by the hand of Moses.

I have spoken to many followers of Yeshua who read the Bible from cover to cover, and who love to read Genesis and Exodus; but things tend to slow down a bit when we get to Leviticus. At first glance, Leviticus seems like a detailed instruction book that doesn’t much apply to modern-day followers of Yeshua. But a more careful look at Leviticus with fresh eyes reveals it to be just as relevant today as it was almost 3,000 years ago.

When asked, Yeshua said that the most important commandment was to love the Lord with all of your heart soul and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself. Adonai has been trying to drive home these two principles since the beginning of time. We see this in the words of Leviticus 6 where Adonai is concerned about how we treat our neighbor, admonishing us not to lie to our neighbor, or steal from him.

The various offerings described in these three chapters anticipated Messiah’s provision and show us a sample of His character. The Burnt Offering shows us Messiah’s provision of atonement. The requirement that the animals being offered be spotless foreshadowed Messiah’s sinless nature. The Grain Offering shows us Messiah’s dedication and consecration, and reminds us how He was wholly devoted to the Father’s purpose. The Peace Offering which brought reconciliation and fellowship with God shows that Messiah was at peace with the Father and enabled us to be at peace with Him too. The Sin Offering and Trespass Offering, each of which were provisions of appeasement, symbolized the future substitution that Messiah Himself would provide, at such great cost to Himself, in order to bring us redemption.

I am absolutely grateful for the atoning sacrifice of our Messiah, Yeshua Ha-Mashiach. His sacrifice achieved what none of the animal sacrifices ever could. During the existence of the Temple, Israel had a line of sinful priests, but Messiah is the sinless and ultimate High Priest. Where the sacrifice of bulls, goats and rams were temporary and only good for a year, the sacrifice of Messiah was eternal and all-sufficient.

In God’s arrangement with Israel the principal work of a priest was to offer sacrifice and, based on his sacrificial work, to extend blessings to the people. Yeshua, who is our ultimate High Priest, offered Himself as a sacrifice and God the Father accepted it, thus paving the way for all who believe in Him and transfer their loyalty to Him to be blessed with the awesome gift of salvation. To this I humbly say Hallelu-Yah!!!!!

May Adonai bless you all this Shabbat!