Torah Portion: Emor (Speak) (Leviticus) Vayikra 21-24 Haftorah Reading: Ezekiel 44:15-31

1.In the Haftorah this week, Ezekiel 44:15-31 we read the words of Ezekiel. Who was he? When were these verses written and where was he when he wrote this? 

Ezekiel was a priest who was among the Jewish captives carried away to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar in approximately 597 B.C. (see Ezekiel 1:3).Ezekiel was a priest from the temple in Jerusalem so he knew intimately what the priestly duties were. He wrote these verses in Ezekiel 44 in Babylon by the river Chebar in 585 BCE.

2. In this Haftarah portion G-d said the Levites, the sons of Zadok, were the only ones allowed to minister to Him? Why was that? 

In Ezekiel 44:15 it says that the sons of Zadok (In Hebrew Zadok means righteous) will stand before the L-rd and offer the offerings while the other priests will do the more menial tasks. They were singled out because they were the only priests that kept the commandments concerning the sanctuary and offerings to G-d. 

Again, they stayed close to G-d and they stayed holy while the rest of Israel had strayed away from G-d. Even the other priests had not remained faithful. This reminds us of the Messianic scripture, Matthew 24:24 where it says in the last days many of the elect will fall away. 

If we, as the elect, know our priestly duties and our role as believers in the Messiah we will not be deceived in the last days.  It also goes back to how important it is to stay clean in the midst of a crooked world. What was the sons of Zadok’s inheritance? In Ezekiel 44:28 it says the L-rd was their inheritance. May this be our inheritance as well.

3.In Leviticus 21:8 we read that the priests should be holy because he offers the bread of G-d. So here the priest offers the sacrifices which are equated with bread. Does G-d need bread? Does He get hungry? Leviticus 3:11 and 16 talk of the same idea. What do you think this means? 

Some scholars suggest that the food of G-d is the sweet aroma from the fat burning on the altar. Remember the word for sweet aroma comes from the root word for comfortable. 

So what really is the food of G-d? It is the idea that sinful man sought to reestablish a relationship with Him. His food was man drawing near to Him. So now let us look at this verse 21:8 again. In this verse I would like you to replace the word “for” which is right before he offers with the word “because” which is the more prevalent translation of the Hebrew.  Now we read the priest must be holy because he is bringing the food of G-d (the offering of the people.) So the priest was bringing a clean perfect animal before G-d and he also had to be clean, pure or unblemished. How does this apply to us?

The priests were not free to live their lives as they pleased.  They could not marry just anyone they wanted to, they could not perform their duties in any clothing they preferred, etc. The role of the priests in the physical world is a reflection of our duties as priests in the spiritual world.  Look at the world around us. What is their only hope? Their only hope is that the people of G-d, namely us, keep ourselves pure and unblemished before Him and also before the world. The role and duties of the priest, on a spiritual level, have become our role. We must always be vigilant on how we live out our lives each day. We are not free to do as we please in this world either.

4.In Leviticus 22:32 the Torah tells us to not profane the name of G-d, but He should be sanctified in our midst.  What does it mean to profane G-d? How do we as believers profane the name of G-d?

As the people and priests of G-d our actions reflect directly on Him and have an effect on His reputation. When we act un-G-dly we sully His reputation and the world is always watching. Maimonides states three primary ways in which we profane G-d’s name.

First, Transgression under pressure

Second, Transgression due to indifference or apathy

Third, creating the appearance and false impression of transgression. 

The Messianic Scripture refers to these ways of profaning G-d name. I Cor. 6:19 talks about our bodies being temples of the Holy Spirit. So we can profane G-d’s name by misusing our bodies. In the past we have spent some time talking about modesty. I think this has a great bearing on the profaning of G-d’s name. 

As His people, grafted in, we are called to reflect Him in everything we say, do, and relate to. Everything should be done to bring honor to Him to sanctify His name. In the early history of the believing congregations we read much about the lengths the people went to to not profane the name of G-d. Jewish history is a long list of people who died rather than bring disgrace or dishonor on G-d’s name. However, the second and third principles of Maimonides are what trip us up the easiest. Indifference or apathywas one. We sometimes bring shame on G-d’s name because it is easier to sin than not. We sometime think, “Well it doesn’t really matter does it. It really isn’t that important.” Or sometime we appear to the general public as sinning – the appearance of sin. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 says, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

5.How do we sanctify the name of G-d? Can you think of any non-Jewish person in the Messianic Scriptures who sanctified the name of G-d?

We sanctify His Name by living every part of our lives according to His word. We conduct ourselves in a G-dly manner in what we say, what we do, how we conduct ourselves in our day to day lives. Matt. 5:16 sets out very well how Yeshua saw this principle of sanctifying G-d.  Leviticus 22:31 tells us to do what G-d has said. 

In Jewish history these applied to G-d fearers among the Gentiles. In Acts chapter 10 we see a good example of a G-d fearer who sanctified G-d’s name.   “ 1At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment.He and all his family were devout and G-d-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to G-d regularly. One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of G-d, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”  Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, L-rd?” he asked.

So, each day for us is an opportunity to sanctify the name of G-d. To do that requires that we know what He wants and to live our lives completely at His disposal.

6.In Leviticus 24:1-4 talks about the lamps in the Tabernacle burning continually. What do you think that light in the Tabernacle symbolized to the Jewish people as they traveled through the wilderness? What might it symbolize to us?

As the light in the tabernacle burned through the night it was a constant reminder that G-d still existed and where He was to be found. The light of Messiah in our lives should be the same. It should be an ever-present reminder to the people of our world and time that G-d still exists and is still calling them. They should see the light of the Messiah in us.

So why hasn’t everyone become a disciple of Yeshua and turned from their wicked ways to follow Him? Yeshua has the answer for that one too: “this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (John 3:19, ESV). 

The light may be shining, but many simply don’t want to come to the light because they love the darkness; they love where they are and what they are doing. They don’t want to change and come into alignment with the values and authority of the kingdom. Some are honest enough to admit it: “I don’t want to become a follower of Yeshua because I don’t want to change my life in the ways that will require; it is just too expensive right now.” 

Some brush the issue aside, trying to pretend that it doesn’t really exist, that it is just religion made up by men. Others swear and cuss, shouting at us for daring to interrupt their lives with all this judgmental nonsense. At the root of it all is that the world is – in various ways and flavors – in rebellion against G-d; they refuse to accept His authority over their autonomy, His love of them over their own love of self, His light over their darkness.

7.Again, looking at Leviticus 24:1-4 can you compare your life to that of the priests ministering in the Tabernacle? What verses in the Messianic Scripture supports your thoughts?

As followers of Yeshua, our job is just exactly the same as Aaron. We are to trim the wicks, fill the lamps and kindle the light so that it burns through the night, even in the longest, darkest nights of winter. We are the current expression of the tabernacle, where the presence of G-d still dwells by the Spirit of G-d.

We are the priests who tend the menorah, charged with keeping the light burning, regularly, as an everlasting statute for all our generations in a dark world. We may live in darkness, but the light burning in the people of G-d still shines. It is still calling people home and is still the light of comfort in the middle of the night of people’s lives when all around is black. 

Yeshua said, “I am the light of the world” (John 9:5), and has delegated this role to us, hence “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). We shine His light and introduce people to Him so that He may kindle His light in them too. This is what Yeshua said to His first disciples: “Come and see!” (John 1:37).