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Parasha 24: Wayikra (He Called) Vayikra/Leviticus 1:1 – 5:26 (6:7)
As we enter into our third sefer/book of Torah, we come to Wayikra, or as it is known in English…Leviticus. The latter is derived from the fact that much of this sefer/book is written concerning the functions of the Levitical priests. As is usual, the Hebrew title comes from the first few words of the opening verses.
Wayikra/Leviticus is quite a pivotal portion of YHWH’s Torah. Out of the 613 commandments that have been established by Judaism in the Torah, 247 of them are found in this sefer/book! So important is this sefer/book of Torah that it is one of the first sections that is taught to Jewish school children. Why? It is within this sefer/book that we learn about purity, holiness, and the worship of YHWH. Another witness to Wayikra’s importance is found on two levels. 1) It is known as Torat Kohanim, or The Priest’s Manual. 2) In rabbinical Judaism Wayikra is simply known as Sifra or The Book. It has taken on its own peculiar identity.
While Wayikra does center on the actions of the Levi’im/Priests, it is quite interesting that most of the instructions of the priests are not found there. They are found in the next book of Torah, Bamidbar/Numbers. However, it is here in Wayikra that we find more on the function of the priests than anywhere else. Indeed, we see that YHWH gave authority to the Levi’im/Priests to teach the people to discern the difference between the holy and the profane, and between the clean and the unclean. It was YHWH’s express desire to dwell among the whole camp of Yisrael. In order for this to happen, the people must be taught how to maintain both moral and physical/spiritual purity. Any violation along these lines would result in the withdrawal of YHWH’s Sh’kinyah/Manifest Presence. When this happened, it was the priests who helped facilitate both the cleansing of the Ohel Moed/Tent of Meeting from defilement, along with the people, individually or corporately, depending on the violation. Those who wish to throw away the Torah do not realize unwittingly that they have thrown away the holiness part of the ReNewed Covenant.
The True Meaning Of The Animal Korbanot
We find here in the opening of our Torah parasha YHWH’s call to Moshe to establish the type and order of the korbanot system. There was a prescribed type of offering which was to be brought, and an order by which these korbanot were to be made. Let me say right here, that to most of us, the offering of animals is not only foreign to us, but to most of us, the thought is acutely offensive. We are in fact long removed from what in modern thought is characterized as purely barbaric. Yet, what is so painfully true is the fact that what set all of this in motion was sin. It was our forefather Adam that caused this korbanot system to be instituted to begin with. He willingly forsook the charge of his Creator to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was not merely a mistake or an oversight on his part. It was a planned act of rebellion! It was his refusal to take upon himself the yoke of heaven and lovingly, willingly deny himself. The truth is the execution stake is an eternal principle. It is Adam’s rejection of that execution stake as a guiding inner principle that caused it to have to become an outward physical reality. Our blessed Master Yeshua, the Last Adam, fully embraced that execution stake. He lived by it in His heart, and died upon it with His body, and has called all who would follow after Him to that same path. (Luke 9:23-24) The only life YHWH has is resurrection life! The only way to get it is by learning to follow our blessed Master. Life out of death, this alone is the determining process that identifies what truly is the way of YHWH.
The Torah was given in order to identify the two realms that surround us…death and life. In Devarim/Deuteronomy we are told to choose between those realms. In fact, we are even told what to choose…Choose life! (Devarim/Deuteronomy 30:19) Here in Wayikra/Leviticus we are being pointed to life. Yet, in that process, we are being brought face to face with death. The innocent animals whose lives are placed on the altar are His provision of mercy, because in reality it should be us who are being made to die. The Torah teaches us in glaring stark terms, there are consequences when we sin. In His mercy, He allows that innocent animal to be our substitute. Life for life, that’s what sin, which end result is death, requires. This is what YHWH wants us to internalize into our being.
Now, what makes all of the above even more poignant is that when these Yisraelites brought their animal korbanot, it wasn’t simply turning it over to the Levitical/Aharonic priests to do the dirty work. No! Read your Scriptures. The Levi’im of Aharon were merely there to help facilitate the process. Each Yisraelite did the deed himself. Beloved that changes everything. I must take the knife. I must draw it across that innocent animal’s throat. The Levi’im of Aharon would help catch the blood and pour it out in its proper order, but I was the one who actually took the life from that animal. The whole time during the process, the thought keeps reverberating inside me; that should be me…that should be me.
Here is the point in all of this. Was it just the offering of these animals that brought about YHWH’s forgiveness? In other words, in order to restore the breach between YHWH and one’s heart because of a sin, was all that was needed to find the prescribed animal, go through the right process, and things would be ok? The answer is a resounding NO! No more than offering a few Scripture verses on forgiveness when we pray can restore our heart in true fellowship with YHWH today!