Torah Portion: Tzav (Leviticus) Vayikra 6:1-8:36
Haftorah Reading: Jeremiah 7:21-44:23
Tonight we will look at the sacrifices again. Why do you think G-d has us go back over these for the second time? What is different in this portion from the one last week? This week we look at the sacrifices from the perspective of the priest who is taking the offering from the person and going through the process of presenting it on the altar. Last week we read about the person bringing the offering.
Because of this difference we read the opening word of this second portion to be “Tzav,” or “Command.” It is not the loving word like last week of “call.” Why do you think G-d opens here with “Command” to Aaron and his sons? Maybe to impress upon them to do exactly what the Father has set out to be done. He might be telling them to be careful not to just do it how they think might be good but to follow G-d’s directions exactly. Of course we can see how this applies to us as Peter in the New Testament tells us, we are part of the royal priesthood spiritually and as such there is a way that G-d has set out for us to live our spiritual life as His children following His will each day.
Does the whole matter of sacrifice matter to us at all in our life today? I would purpose that it does. It helps us understand clearly the words in verses like Romans 12:1-2. What sacrifice might Shaul have been talking about here? I believe it was the olah korban. Think about this sacrifice for a bit. It was an offering that was wholly consumed on the altar, one that went up as a sweet aroma to the Father.
Our bodies represent the Temple of G-d. (I Cor. 6:19-20) According to scripture the renewed heart of the believer could be likened to the altar of G-d in the Mishkan. This olah offering is a picture of our old life being burned away and renewed in the power of the Messiah. However the old impulses and inclinations do not go away without a fight. The yetzer harah brings them back. This daily cleansing of our self before G-d keeps the fire of our new life burning. This is why G-d speaks to us here about cleaning away the ashes each day. What happens when you let the ashes build up in your fireplace? It becomes harder and harder to keep the fire burning. The lesson being what we read here, the priest had to clean away the ashes each day in the early morning, not some other person, but the priest himself had to do this. The lesson being for us, to take the time to keep our altar clean, pray each day and seek G-d’s help in living out His will for our lives. What a wonderful picture for us of what G-d does and has done for us each day. Why, just because He loves us as His children.
The whole system of sacrifices that we are reading about has as their overriding message that they were a way for G-d’s people to show they loved Him. In our own life what we love we make sacrifices for. Married couples sacrifice for each other. Parents sacrifice for their children. They do this because they love. In our own lives, we sacrifice to the Father because we love Him. It may be through getting up early each day and praying. It may be through taking time everyday to read His word. It may be through giving our tithes and offerings or helping someone in need. Why do we do it, because we love Him. Interestingly here in this entire book of Vayikra what word is used when speaking of the Father? The holy Name is used 209 times. This name speaks of what? This name always speaks of the love and compassion of the Father. The word Elohim is only used 5 times in the entire book and then only when speaking of other nations. This name always speaks of the G-d of justice and judgment. So from this we should be able to see the sacrifices as a picture of love and of expressing love to our Creator. Our prayers, our actions, our faithfulness is the gift we bring to whom we love.
I pray these verses of our portion are seen as a picture of the love G-d had for His people and for us. And may we always be faithful to each day tend to the altar of our heart and not allow the ashes to choke out the fire of G-d’s love.