The right to speak in G-d’s name
Torah Portion: Shemini (Eighth) Leviticus 9:1-11:47
Haftorah Reading: II Sam 6:1-7:17
Messianic Scripture II Cor. 6:14-7:1, Galatians 2:11-16
In our portion this week we see the name given to this section of Leviticus, “Shemini.” It is translated as the eighth day. This was the day when the Tabernacle was to be commissioned as G-d’s house among the people. In chapter 8:35 we read where Aaron and his sons had been preparing for this event for the previous seven days. In Lev. 8:36 we read, “Aaron and his sons did all things which the L-rd had commanded by the hand of Moshe.”
So now the stage is set for the inauguration of the Tabernacle. Moshe is seen leading Aaron and his sons to begin ministering to the people by following exactly the command of the L-rd. As priests every move to be done the same way at all times in their services. There was no room for the priest to improvise. They followed the strict pattern of service each time they engaged in their priestly duties.
In Lev. 10:1-2 we read of the actions of Nadav and Avihu. The Torah is clear here about where they went wrong. They acted on their own initiative. They did what they had not been commanded to do. They stepped outside of how they had been instructed to act and did their own thing so to speak. They acted in a way that did not represent who they were as priests of the L-rd.
Why was this so severely punished? Remember, as priests they had a heavy responsibility to be a teacher, a model for the people of Israel. Chaos would have ensued if the people had started thinking, by Nadav and Avihu’s example, that anything was permissible when they engaged in the worship of the Holy G-d.
Each of us as people of G-d bear a responsibility when we go out into the world, or when we meet together with others. We are often the only picture of G-d that many people will ever see. We represent the Maker of the Universe. This should cause each of us to be sensitive to every word that comes from our mouths and every action we engage in.
Our faith has bestowed upon us the right to speak in G-d’s name. When we live in such a fractured time as we are in now we must bring light not more darkness. We are to speak the word of G-d to sin but not words of condemnation to the sinner. We are not to judge, but instead to love the sinner.
Like Nadav and Avihu, we do not have the right to adlib our way through life or make up our own rules of what is right and wrong. We must not get caught up in the anger we see around us. In the Messianic scriptures we read where Yeshua was quick to call out sin but never to cut off the sinner. May we all live such a life every day.