Torah Portion: Vayikra(He called)

Vayikra (Leviticus) 1:1-5:26

HafTorah: Isaiah 43:21-44:23

New Testament: Romans 8:1-13; Hebrews 10:1-14; 13:10-16

Tonight we begin the third book of the Torah. It is the first book that Jewish children study in religious school. It is basically a call to enter the Presence of G-d, and so it should be. I think it appropriate that we start this study on the first day of Aviv. This month begins the cycle of G-d’s appointed times. Aviv is representative of our own beginning as G-d’s called ones in redemption.

In the first verse of Vayikra we read, “He called to Moses.” There are three times when this occurs in Moses’ life. The first occurrence was at the burning bush in Exodus 3:4 and Exodus 24:16 and here in our verse. In each of these cases the word Vayikra gives the feeling of closeness and love. Here also G-d’s name is not used. To use a name can give the limitation to who is talking. The pronoun, He, encompasses all G-d is. He called like a parent calling their child, a call filled with love, unconditional love. This same unconditional love we see from G-d’s call to Moses in this verse is what each of us has felt in our own lives when “He” called to us. All we had to do was answer and as Moses did, go into Him. It did not matter who we had been or what we had done. He called us quietly and moved us to respond to the One who loves us.

We learn from an early age to put a value score on our lives. We look at our assets and liabilities, how do we measure up to others? Sometime we carry this same idea over to G-d and think that is how He looks at us. For sure G-d is pleased when we do well and saddened by our failures but His love for us is not affected by what we have to show for ourselves. It is a love that adores us just for being.

This idea of coming close to G-d and His desire to be close to us carries over now to the offerings that G-d instructs Moses about. The Hebrew word for sacrifice is Korban. It has as its root three letters which mean close. So the sacrifices were meant to give man access to draw near to G-d. We have looked at some of these before but I would like to take a minute and go back over them with the idea of looking at them in light of the Messiah.

  1. 1.Burnt offering – in Hebrew it is called Olah, which means to go up or be completely consumed on the fire. It is a voluntary sacrifice. You could say it was the person’s way of showing a total abandonment to G-d. No one received any worldly benefit from it. It was just for the Father. Yeshua’s life reflects this over and over. Matt. 26:39 (Not my will by yours.) He lived His life here completely given over to His father. And as the olah ascended to G-d as a sweet aroma so did Yeshua. John 3:13-15. Man offered these offerings in the Temple so they might enter the presence of G-d. Lev. 1:3 The sacrifice covered him (atonement) so that when he drew near to G-d he was covered by the blood of the sacrifice. So Yeshua does for us in the heavenly Temple. He enables us to enter the eternal presence of G-d in the heavenly Temple. He is the ransom paid for our lives.
  2. 2.Grain offerings – fine grain, oil and frankincense (Lev 2:1) It was unleavened (Lev. 2:4) or matzah. Only part was consumed on the altar. The rest was divided with the priest. We see many parallels here between Yeshua and this offering. He was born in a town named House of bread. Frankincense was brought to Him. Messiah means anointed one (oil). John 6:41 says He is to be the bread from heaven. Then in Matt. 26:26 He gives the broken Matzah to His disciples as a memorial. This is the same word used here for the part put on the altar.
  3. 3.Peace offering – Here the offering was divided between G-d, priest and person bringing it. The Passover Lamb would be a Peace offering. The Peace offering symbolized a shared meal between person, priest and G-d. Everything was at peace. Yeshua (John 14:27) brings peace between G-d and us.
  4. 4.Sin Offering Lev. 4:29-35 These were for unintentional sins, things we did and didn’t realize they were sins until later. Different animals were required depending on who was the sinner. Of course Yeshua bore these for us. John 1:29, Hebrews 9:28, Hebrews 9:13-14 All of these were to draw us closer to G-d. Yeshua fulfills this for us in Heaven by giving us total access to G-d.