How holiness swallowed sin
Shemini (Eighth) Vayikra/Leviticus 9:1-11:47
Haftorah Reading: II Samuel 6:1-7:17
Tonight I want us to look at our portion and search for new revelation and connections to our faith. Let’s look at Leviticus 10:17 and see how it relates to us. To do this we will later look at Isaiah 25:8 and I Corinthians 15:52, 54.
To begin, let us examine Leviticus 10:17 from our Torah portion. This verse covers the rebuke of Aaron, Eleazar and Ithamar by Moshe. The verse reads, “Why have you not eaten the sin offering in the place of holiness, for it is the holy of the holies, and He gave her to you to take away the sin of the congregation.” Remember this rebuke came immediately after Nadav and Avihu had perished after bringing strange fire before the L-rd. Their death was caused by them being overcome with zeal. This action caused the fire of G-d to come forth and kill both boys. This in its self teaches us an important lesson. Zeal for G-d is a good thing unless it causes us to lose sight of the holiness of G-d and as a result lose respect for His word. Even in our zeal there are boundaries not to be crossed.
Here in our verse from Leviticus Moshe was quick to remind Aaron and the remaining two sons that the framework given by G-d must be followed. He told them the sin offering they have received from the penitent had to be eaten in the place of holiness, not carried home to eat later or to be taken outside of the tabernacle for any reason. The holiness of the offering was the reason it had to be treated in a respectful manner. All guidelines had to be followed. We can read that laid out in Leviticus 6:18-19. The priest, and other priests who were participating, who accepted the offering, had to eat it in the confines of the tabernacle and to be only eaten by the ones involved. If any remained it was to be burned on the altar. None was to be thrown out. This should give us a sense of the holiness of this act of accepting the offering from the penitent person and consuming it. When the priest physically ate the offering, it symbolized the act of G-d removing the guilt from the person or community. This would have been a powerful picture for the person bringing the offering. The Hebrew used throughout this verse leaves no doubt as to the message given by this procedure. The role of the priest was to lift up the offering, carry the weight of the sin and take it away. In the mind of the person bringing the offering the priest took that sin, carried it away and took it upon himself by eating the meat of the animal.
The early believers in the Messiah understood this whole process as Yeshua, being the ultimate mediator, who would bear our sins in His own body. In I Peter 2;24 we read, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree.” Also in John 1:29, “The Lamb of G-d Who takes away the sin of the world.”
So, when the priest consumed the offering he, by his actions, was saying to the person offering, holiness has swallowed up sin, life can defeat death. Isaiah 25:8 states this clearly by using words like swallowing up death and the L-rd G-d will wipe away tears from all the faces and remove the reproach of His people. Death has been swallowed up by life. In the Messianic scriptures we see this expressed clearly in I Corinthians 15:54. “Death is swallowed up in victory.” As the priest ate the sin offering and made atonement for the people so Yeshua absolved our sin and took them to the cross. II Corinthians 5:21 expresses it beautifully.
Yeshua as our high priest, over the household of G-d consumed our sins. I believe our scripture in this Torah portion lays the ground work for the coming Messiah. It is important for us to understand this connection between Torah and our faith as believers. G-d has not changed. We are able to see His preparations for us and for all people to have our sins swallowed up by the Lamb of G-d. These verses point us to Him.