Monday, April 16, 2012

Parashah Shemini (Eighth) Vayikra (Leviticus) 9:1 - 11:47

Does not each week begin with the first day?  Why then does Shemini refer to the first day of the week as the eighth day?  The seventh day is a day of completion whereas the first day is a beginning.  Eight is 7 and 1 added together, hence a meaning of resurrection or new beginning.  As an aside, consider also the length of Pesach and Unleavened Bread together, Sukkot, as well as which day baby boys are to be circumcised and named.
There is a new beginning that is occurring in this parashah, the people will now have a place where they can come into (or at least draw near to) His presence on a daily basis, if they so choose.

All the preparation and sanctification of the mishkan (tabernacle) and its articles; as well as Aharon, his sons, and all their garments had been completed (7 = completion) during the prior seven days.  This is the first (1 = beginning) day in which Aharon and his sons will perform their priestly duties in full; the first day of the rest of their lives.

Judgement begins in His House, so Aharon needed to offer the appropriate gifts for his own sin, elevation, peace, and meal offerings.  Though I do not see mention of it, I would assume that his sons also had to offer the required offerings for themselves unless they were covered by the offerings for the whole people of Yisra’el.

Following his personal offerings, Aharon performed the same sacrifices for the people.  Having completed the prescribed offerings Aharon, for the first time, raised his hands toward the people and blessed them.  I would not find it unlikely that he spoke the words of Numbers 6:24 - 27, the priestly blessing, though they had not yet been prescribed in written form by HaShem.  Moshe and Aharon then went to the Tent of Meeting and blessed the people.

The people had been afraid to approach the Lord back at Mt. Sinai.  They asked Moshe to report back to them with what God had spoken to him, but they wanted nothing to do personally with the presence of The Almighty One.  However, His glory now appeared to all the people as promised in verse 6, and it consumed the elevation offerings and the fats.  As I wrote in last week’s posting,

  What emanates from the spirit of man when the Spirit of God moves as He says He
will?  What was the response of the people following the crossing of the Red Sea?  In the
first 15 verses of Exodus 15 the people broke into praise!  The song that Moshe led the
  people in from verses one through 19 was responsively answered by Miriam and the
  women in verse 21 as they danced.  That is the call to all of us, the plant and the grafted
  in ones, in Isaiah 12.

What is it that occurred upon the appearance of His glory?  As it says in verse 24b of chapter 9, “the people saw and sang glad song and fell upon their faces.”  They worshipped; what else could they do?

However, there is a prescribed manner in which worship is to be done, especially by the priesthood.  Perhaps out of ignorance or perhaps as a result of being caught up in the moment, Nadab and Abihu worship in an unprescribed manner and are immediately struck down.  The source of the fire that consumed the elevation offerings and the fats is the same as the fire that consumed these two sons of Aharon.  In both instances, the
words of The Holy One found in 10:3 hold true, “I will be sanctified through those who are nearest Me, thus I will be honored before the entire people.”

I am now going to jump to chapter 11, a reading that reveals the bankruptcy (pun intended) of the teaching of the church regarding food.  God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  There is no shadow of turning with Him.  Yeshua came to validate (fulfill) Torah since He is Torah, the Word of God.  But, when it comes to God’s word regarding food...

I reject the notion of man that there is kosher food and non-kosher food; there is food and there is non-food.  The Lord God has spoken quite plainly as to what is food and what is not food.  It is fairly easy to determine by His word what land animals, water-life, and bugs/insects are food.  Due to some translation difficulties fowl is a bit difficult to determine with certainty in some instances, but we still have a good idea of what to eat and what not to eat.  If we as a people are His Temple, what are we putting in His Temple?  Really, are we any different than Nadab, Abihu, or even Uzzah (II Samuel 6)?  Is there not one prescribed way to worship, one given manner to transport the ark, and is there not one definition of what food is?  How is The Almighty being sanctified through us, how is He being honored before all the people (9:3)?

Vayikra 11:24 - 43 seem to be instructions regarding hygiene.  I have often heard it related about how the Jews seemed to be exempt from the ravishes of the Great Plague of London because of their following the laws of hygiene as presented by God.  If only the Christians had followed these guidelines!  However, obedience goes beyond just following the guidelines, Pharaoh could have followed these guidelines and have
his health, but there still would have been no relationship with God.

Obedience is required, yes, but is not the obedience required also a form of worship?  Is not worship voluntary?  I would like to posit that we are worshipping the Creator whether we are at His House, eating, or keeping the hygiene guidelines.  Sacrifices are important (and required), but does He not also say He does not desire our sacrifices and burnt offerings (Jeremiah 6:20)?  What a dichotomy; does He want our sacrifices or
not!?  It depends on whether we are simply going through the motions or whether we are truly worshipping.  If we are worshipping, our sacrifices will be acceptable and will also have a sweet aroma for Him.

In conclusion I would like to have us contemplate Vayikra (Leviticus) 11:43 - 45 followed by 9:6.

“Do not make your souls abominable by means of any teeming thing; do not
  contaminate yourselves through them lest you become contaminated through
  them.

For I am HaShem your God - you shall sanctify yourselves and you will be holy,
   for I am holy; and you shall not contaminate your souls through any teeming
   thing that creeps on the earth.  For I am HaShem Who elevates you from the
  land of Egypt to be a God unto you; you shall be holy, for I am holy.”

“Moshe said, 'This is the thing that HaShem has commanded you to do; then the
  glory of HaShem will appear to you.”

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