Torah Portion: Vayikra (And He Called) Leviticus 1:1-6:7

HafTorah: Isaiah 43:21-44:23

G-d’s presence had moved from the mountain to the Tent of Meeting and called to Moses from the Tent. This is the third time we see G-d calling to Moses. The first time at the bush, G-d says Moses, Moses. -Exodus 3:4. Here he called Jacob twice Genesis 46:2, and here he called Samuel twice 1 Samuel 3:10. In the New Testament Acts 9:4 we see Yeshua use this same pattern with Shaul. Usually when a name is repeated like this in scripture it is a sign of special affection.

Now let us look at the five sacrifices set out here in Leviticus and see how we can relate them to Messiah.

  1. Burnt offering – Olah offering. First something about the name. Olah means to go up or that which rises. It is important to understand why sacrifices were brought in the first place. Usually they were brought as gifts to G-d. When you love someone you want to give them a gift. One way for man to express his love for G-d was through the giving of a sacrifice. They were a means of drawing close to G-d. The Olah offering was such an offering. It was not a sin offering. It was the only sacrifice completely consumed on the fire. Nothing was given to the priest or to the offerer. More than any other it represented a total and complete abandonment to G-d – everything was given.

How can we relate this to Messiah. He was totally and completely dedicated to doing the will of His father. He spoke only as He was directed. (Matthew 26:39) He like the smoke of the Olah offering ascended to G-d. (John 6:62), John 3:13-15. He ascended as a sacrifice before the disciple’s eyes. He was the perfect living Olah sacrifice to G-d.

In Leviticus 1:4 it says the Olah was brought as atonement for the giver. The word atonement means covering or ransom. The sacrifice covered the giver that he might draw near to G-d without dying. It also paid the ransom for the giver so he could enter the Presence of G-d without fear. Yeshua’s blood covers us and protects us. By it we can enter into G-d’s presence. He is the ransom paid for our lives. He died for us.

The grain offering: Levitcus 2:1. Not all sacrifices were blood sacrifices. This one is a grain offering mixed with oil and frankincense. In this offering part was offered on the altar and the priest kept part. Again it was offered as a token of a life lived to its fullest to G-d. Yeshua compared Himself to bread many times. He was even born in a place called House of Bread (Bethlehem). The grain offerings were unleavened. Why? Leaven was a sign of corruption. Yeshua was free of sin and corruption. In John 6:41 He declares Himself to be the bread of heaven. Also the part of the grain offering burned on the altar is a memorial. Yeshua uses the same word at the Passover meal with His disciples when He breaks bread with them.

Peace Offering: Leviticus 3:1 (Shalom) In this offering the giver keeps part and shares it with family and friends. Priests get part and part (the fat) is given to G-d. Also there are several kinds of Peace offerings – Thanksgiving offering, freewill offering. Passover lamb was a peace offering, (Why?) The family ate it. This offering very much represented fellowship and peace between man and G-d.

For sure we see Messiah in this offering. He brings fellowship between us and G-d. He is a representation of peace between us. John 14:27. In I Cor. 5:7 Paul says, “Our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed.” Passover offering was not a sin offering but a peace offering.

Sin offering: Leviticus 4:1 This offering was brought for an unintentional sin. First let me give you another way of reading this verse. “Shall a soul sin” We do but we should be so close to the Father that it is the exception not the rule. So for us I see this as a call to holy living. Sin should not be a common part of our day to day life. Our lives should reflect G-d so much that this question should characterize our life, “Shall a soul sin!”

Of course in our life when we do sin the sacrifice of Messiah covers us and cleanses us from the sin. John 1:29, Hebrews 9:28. As the blood of the sin sacrifice was sprinkled on the altar so our sins are forgiven by the sprinkling of His blood.

One last point. In II Cor. 5:21 we read “G-d made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf. How does Yeshua become sin? Maybe a different look at this will make it easier. The Greek word used here is “amartia” which translates as either sin or sin offering. So we could read this as “G-d made Him who knew no sin to become a sin offering for us. Of course His sin offering cleanses us from all sin not just the unintentional one.

Last is Guilt offering: Leviticus 5:19 – 7:7. It says the laws for the sin and the guilt offerings are the same. You could say that the guilt offering is a specific kind of sin offering. The issue here is that a person bringing a guilt offering also had to make restitution for what he had done. So it is like the restitution goes to the person and the sacrifice to G-d. For us we may be able to make things right with our fellow man but we are completely unable to make it right with G-d outside of Messiah. He is our ashem (guilt) offering.  Isaiah 53:10-11

So in all these offerings we are able to see Messiah at work covering us and allowing us to come into G-d presence. No wonder a total of 3 chapters are written to cover the offerings here. They provide us such a beautiful picture of what G-d through Yeshua has done for us.