Torah Portion Acharei Mot (After the Death) Leviticus/Vayikra 16:1-18:30
Haftorah Reading Ezekiel 22:1-19
Tonight, our Torah portion covers basically two subjects. One is Yom Kippur and the other is sexual relationship that are forbidden for G-d’s people. I want to cover both of these topics tonight.
To begin, I want us to look at Yom Kippur and see what G-d is saying to us in Leviticus/Vayikra 16. I asked you this week to come up with your own definition of the word atonement. In English, this word atonement, comes from the Hebrew word Kippur. This week I read an article that helped me understand this on a deeper level. If we take this word in English and break it apart you will get “at onement.” Looking at this might help us in our quest for a definition. Atonement puts us at “onement” with G-d. It clears the slate between us and the Father. It allows us to come close to Him by having our sins taken away. Does this remind you of any scripture? John 1:29 says, “Behold the lamb of G-d who takes away the sins of the world.” So, it should help us understand more fully what Yeshua has done and is doing for us.
Let us look at some verses in our portion and see what this day meant to the nation of Israel at the time of Aaron and Moshe. We have talked about the sacrifices before, the sin sacrifice being one of them. If people were bringing those sacrifices throughout the year why have this day, the holiest day on G-d’s calendar, just to go over the same things again? I think, as believers and also here in our verses, each of us have things that remain hidden or things that have become a part of our life that have become habits. As believers this day brings those things into focus. It reminds us where we have been lax in our daily walk. It has the possibility of shedding light on things that have broken our at- onement with G-d.
We have talked before about the Hebrew word for sacrifice. It is Korban. This word, at its root, means close. Each of us, as G-d’s people yearn for that closeness – that at- onement. Before the coming of the Messiah, this day, Yom Kippur, represented that way back to G-d. The scapegoat carried all the sins of collective Israel away into a desolate place, a place where these sins never again had power over them, unless they allowed it. Yeshua came and by His death and resurrection performed this for all of us. (I John 1:9)
Yeshua fits this picture of Yom Kippur exactly. He is our scapegoat. He takes our sins away so they no longer have power over us. Psalms 103:12. So each year for me, this day of prayer and fasting reminds me of who I am. It reminds me to do a spiritual check to see if there are things that I have let slip into my life.
In this Torah portion we also read of all the sexual relationships that are forbidden to G-d’s people. Chapter 18 covers a long list of things that G-d warms the people about. In Leviticus 18:3 we read where G-d said they are not to engage in the acts that they saw in Egypt, nor are they to take up the habits that they will find in Canaan. This verse is followed by a description of the sexual sins they are to guard against.
What does this have to say to us? I doubt these sins are a problem for us. However, we all must admit that every day we are bombarded by TV ads, programs and music that glorify every form of sexual sin. We are also bombarded with all kinds of suggestions of things that any modern person would need to be doing in order to be in. Leviticus 18:28 tells Israel what will happen to them if they fall into the same sins that were practiced around them. They would be vomited out and cut off from the people of Israel. Rather than being close to G-d, that closeness would be broken. We are admonished to not commit these acts but to obey G-d’s word.
For us we must be on guard since we are a people set apart, we are called to live a holy life, a set apart life. Choosing to be set apart has a cost. We may be marginalized by society. However, that is a small price to pay. Being cut off from G-d would be a much heavier price.
In Leviticus 18:26 we read, “You shall not do any of these abominations, neither the native or the alien who sojourns among you.” In the Messianic scriptures we read over and over that the disciples were to live lives set apart from the Gentile world and be free from the practices they were involved in before they became believers. I Peter 4:4 speaks of believers being maligned by the gentile society around them.
We are the sojourners that have accepted the Jewish Messiah. That calls us to live differently than the world!