Torah Portion: Tzav(Commanded)Vayikra/Leviticus 6:1-8:36
Haftorah Reading: Jeremiah 7:23-9:24
Today we study the Torah portion Tzav. This Hebrew word is translated in English as command. What stands out is usually when we see G-d communicate with Moshe He uses words like speak or call. But here He is commanding His word to be followed. This word is used quite often in Torah. In fact, it is used 202 times. In all these cases this word leaves no doubt what G-d desires.
G-d was saying to Moshe, “Do this now and continue to do this.” So we might ask why did G-d feel He had to use this strong word, command, here? Did He doubt the commitment of Aaron and his sons? After all they were at the top of the religious order. Maybe G-d knew that over time their enthusiasm might wane. It should also speak to us in our life. When we come to accepting G-d into our lives we are excited and feel the rush of joy and commitment. Our challenge is to hold on to that zeal and commitment as time goes by and the world pulls us in all directions. Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
We like Aaron and his sons are challenged not to lose the fire but to instead make every effort to stay close to G-d. We must study, read, pray, and share no matter what the world throws at us. I expect we all have had times when we would rather stay home and not get involved in any ministry effort. Maybe we lose the desire to gather with other believers or get involved in some project that might feed the hungry or bring G-d’s light to the darkness around us. As a child of G-d we have all heard the command to do His will, to make an effort to help someone. I encourage us all to take our commitment to Him as a command. Don’t become lax in doing good.
Here in our reading we see Aaron and his sons pass on what they have received from G-d. They actively did what they were commanded to do and passed it on to the next generation. So let it be with us. A good example of this thought is, even with all the terrible events in Jewish history, G-d’s word has been transmitted from Moshe, to Joshua and from Joshua to the elders. That process has continued up even until our day. Our bible is a witness to the scribes and elders who, over the centuries, faithfully recorded G-d’s word as it was transmitted to them.
Let this be our example today. We must not grow weary or make allowances for what some call “different times.” “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 G-d’s word does not change. It has not changed from the text that was first written down thousands of years ago. If what we have received from G-d is important we are called to live like it and carry on living it out each day until our last breath.
Now to some specific verses from our portion that should be helpful in giving us a deeper way to look at our faith and the consistency of G-d. In Leviticus 6:27 we read about the blood of the sin offering. It was viewed as most holy. This meant none of it could be taken out of the Mishkan. If blood splashed on the clothes of the priest what happened? The garment had to be washed out before it could be removed from the Mishkan. Why? Not because it was unclean. It had become most holy by having the blood on it.
This should give us some insight into verses such as Hebrews 10:29. “Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of G-d underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the spirit of grace?”
Another example from our Torah portion is Leviticus 7:17 we read that no meat given for an offering could be eaten on the third day after the sacrifice. Why? Because by the third day it would have begun to spoil. The tabernacle was to be a picture of incorruptible life. This might give us some better understanding of Acts 2:27. “Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay.” We know Yeshua was raised on the third day so that his body did not see decay.
I would like to close with a few words about this Shabbat today and Passover. Today is known as the great Sabbath or Shabbat Hagadol. It is the last Shabbat before Passover. Speaking of Passover, what do you think might have happened to the children of Israel if G-d had not sent Moshe? What would have happened had He not provided a way of redemption. They might still be in Egypt. The same is true for us. If G-d had not provided a way of salvation through Yeshua we would still be living in our sin. Every Passover provides a beautiful picture of redemption.
Passover begins on Wednesday, April 5th at sundown. As we clean the leaven from our homes before Passover we should allow G-d to speak to us about any leaven He finds in our hearts and allow Him to clean our spiritual house. One of the qualities of leaven is that it puffs things up such as when you make bread. This is a picture of pride.
I ask each of you to spend some time with the Heavenly Father examine your life and see if there is anything in your life that needs to change. May we be faithful to everything G-d puts before us to do from taking out the trash to greater things that He puts before us. May our spiritual offerings to Him be a sweet and fragrant offering. Hag Pesach Sameach!