Torah Portion: Vayikra (And He Called) Vayikra/Leviticus 1:1-5:26
Haftorah Reading: Isaiah 43:21-44:23
Today we begin the third book of the Torah. It is sometimes called, “The Torah of the priests,” due to its many commandments concerning the duties of the priests in their service in the Mishkan or Tabernacle. Here we read much about the sacrifices brought to the Mishkan by the people of Israel. Interestingly when we think of this we often associate the bringing of sacrifices with some sin the person has committed. However, actually of the sacrifices brought, only one or two had to do with sins.
We read in the Messianic scriptures where the early believers continued to participate in the bringing of sacrifices to the Temple for years after the death and resurrection of the Messiah. Remember the Temple stood for another 40 years after Yeshua, until its destruction by the Romans.
Today I want us to look at the whole idea of sacrifices from the view point of G-d. What did He see as their purpose from the beginning of the system and what went wrong along the way, even until today. How do we see what we bring to the L-rd? What do we see as the purpose of our offerings? Do our ideas match what G-d had in His plan? Since there has not been a Temple for almost 2000 years we must look into scripture to get a clear understanding of what happened over time.
To help in our search, let’s begin with I Samuel 15:22, “Does the L-rd delight in burnt offering and sacrifices as much as obedience to the L-rd’s command? Surely obedience is better than sacrifices, compliance than the fat of rams.” We can also look at Hosea 6:6, “For I desire goodness, not sacrifice, obedience to G-d rather than burnt offerings.” One more important reference is Psalms 51:17-19. We see here what pleases the Father, praising Him, a contrite heart, a crushed heart. As you read these verses what stands out to you? The people of Israel brought sacrifices however, they were basically thought of as a get out of jail card. They were being used to mask the sin of the people. They were not being used to worship G-d but to soothe their conscience, to help them feel like they were doing their duty.
So, the question comes, what does this have to do with me in today’s world. Actually, quite a bit. All of us have seen or been guilty of much of the same thoughts. Somehow the idea has crept into our lives that all G-d requires is that we show up once a week or maybe twice a week. We drop our money in the plate, shake a few hands and then out the door and resume our daily lives unaffected by what we have heard or what we have sung. We go back to our world and continue to live as we wish thinking that next time we go to church we can pay our tithe and not allow our faith to interfere with our daily life. We continue to abuse the poor by turning a blind eye or heart in our business life. Our reasoning is, “Everybody does it and G-d will overlook our faults.” In affect we are saying we can bribe the Maker of the Universe. Micah 6:6 says it very well. “He has told you, O man, what is good and what the L-rd requires of you, to do justice, to love goodness, and walk humbly with your G-d.” We see in the Messianic scriptures a good example of an offering brought with the purpose to make the giver look good and not for the purpose of helping the poor. In Acts chapter 5 we read of Ananias and Sapphira. These people sold a parcel of land and brought the money to Peter. Peter however knew they had kept back part of the money for themselves while acting as thought they had given it all.
In today’s world we as G-d’s people are being called on to live our life by faith, above reproach, to be kind, helpful and giving. Not to gain some praise for ourselves or to gain some social standing for our efforts. Now as always we are to live our lives for the glory and honor that comes to the Father and not for any other reason.
Thank you to all who took the time to send in your thoughts on the question this week. Bless you all with wisdom and a strong faith in the Father as you go through these days.
An update on the money we sent to Israel to help people in need prepare for Passover. Helen received the money we sent her for Ethiopians and asked if we would agree to give the $300 to one Ethiopian family with 5 small children who were in dire need. They are believers in the Messiah and we are so glad we have been able to help them in such difficult days in Israel.
We also sent $300 to Christine for the same purpose. We have written to her several times and have not received an answer from her, nor has the check been cashed. We are praying she is not sick with the coronavirus, so many people in Israel are. In all the years we have known her this has never happened. When we find out what is going on with her and the gift we sent her we will let you know.