Torah Portion: Shemini (Eighth) (Leviticus) Vayikra 9-11
Haftorah Reading: II Samuel 6:1-7:17
Tonight we read the Torah portion that is dedicated to the consecration of the Mishkan or Tabernacle. In the last weeks we have read seven Torah portions covering the details of the building and dedicating of the Mishkan and now in this portion we read about the first public use of the “House of G-d.” We read where the fire fell and the people shouted out when the glory of G-d appeared.
There is one thing here I would like to take a moment to talk about, and that is two of the offerings given here at the inauguration of the Mishkan. If you notice, Aaron and his sons are told to take a calf as one of their sin offerings. Leviticus 9:2. This point would not have been lost on the people. Aaron had been involved in the sin of the golden calf. The symbolism would have made it clear that the sin of the golden calf had not been dealt with on a national level and now, here, it was dealt with by this sacrifice. We also see the people brought a goat as a sin offering. In Genesis 37:31-32 we read where the brothers of Joseph brought to their father Jacob, Joseph’s coat soaked in goat’s blood, to cover up their sin.
My point to these two incidents is, sin that has not been repented of can cause a block between us and G-d, until it is fully dealt with. It should move us all to be sensitive to times when we need to immediately repent when we have sinned and not let those short comings distance us from the Father. In our Parasha the Glory of G-d fell after this personal and national repentance took place.
Now I would like to move from the first verses of our reading to the last few verses. In Leviticus 11:45 we read, “For I am the L-rd who is bringing you up out of the land of Egypt. If you notice my wording may be a little different than your bible for this phrase. The Hebrew tense of the verb translated as bringing, gives the meaning of continual upward movement. How does this affect our understanding of this sentence? G-d was saying to the Israelites, I am the L-rd who continues to lift you higher, it is an on going process. G-d’s will is that our spiritual life not be static but progressing, continually reaching higher. His will is to lift us up out of our sins (Egypt). His goal is to be our G-d, His will is that we be transformed. “You shall be holy, because I am holy.” His will is that our lives reflect who He is, His will is that we walk after Him daily. His will is that we resemble Him in characteristics, conduct and concepts, “for I am holy”. This statement comes at the end of a chapter devoted to clean and unclean food. I think this gives us insight into holiness. When we think of holiness we must consider its impact in every area of our life. It should affect everything. Food is a basic human need. Everyone eats. The point here is even in something as fundamental as eating we are to be different, set apart from the world. How we dress should reflect G-d. What we read should reflect G-d and His holiness.
Sometimes we compartmentalize life. G-d is saying here He expects everything we do or are involved in to reflect Him. We are a holy people says I Peter 1:15. Here Peter is quoting our verse today. We are holy because He is holy. In Titus 2:14 we read where, “the Messiah gave Himself for us.” Why? He gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness. We as followers of the Messiah are expected to live holy lives. We have by G-d’s grace and mercy been included in G-d’s people, grafted into Israel, not because we are better but because of the Father’s mercy and love for us. Our part is to accept the call and live our lives in obedience to His word. (John 15:6-10) This is not an option, it is why we exist. Our life is to be so much more than repeating the sinner’s prayer, or reciting a creed. It is a continuous walk to allow Him to continue to bring us up out of Egypt.