Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Parashat Tzav ("Command!") Leviticus 6:8-8:36 by Jon Eaton

Parashat Tzav ("Command!")   Leviticus 6:8-8:36  by Jon Eaton

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Command Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the law (Torah) of the burnt offering (ha-olah הָעֹלָה) : The burnt offering shall be on the hearth upon the altar all night until morning, and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning on it." (Leviticus 6:8-9)

This week’s parashah continues the theme of sacrifice and holiness with a more direct approach to the priests. 

Considering that we are the priests of the Kingdom of Yeshua, this passage offers much advice for our daily lives.  Now before you go and start slaughtering goats, just hear me out.

For example, the priests were to ensure that the fire on the altar never went out and that the whole burnt offering (olah) was consumed as it burned throughout the night.  It is not remiss to apply those precepts to our daily walk with HaShem.  Certainly, we should walk with an unquenchable desire and fire for His Presence and even during the darkest hours of our life, we must keep the fire burning and continue to shine His light.

Verse 13 of chapter 6 states, “A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out.”  Notice how it does not say “it must not go out”.   This is the hope of our salvation.   Even when we fail to keep the flame going by our own efforts, He has made a way for the fire to burn eternally. Undoubtedly we should also give our whole selves to Him in a way that we are completely consumed in our dedication and love for Him.  In a way we must become His Holocaust - interesting note that the word Holocaust came from the word “Olah”.

“This is the Torah of the ha-olah (עלָה)” (verse9). The Olah offering is an "ascending offering” to be offered during the day.  The Olah sacrifice is a freewill offering although not just any old animal would do – it must be perfect and defect free.  It was anoffering that was completely consumed by fire.    The Talmud states that the whole offering was consumed by a supernatural fire leaving nothing left, although later we read that there were still ashes that needed to removed.  (Yoma 2:2).

In Leviticus 6:11 it says to take the ashes outside the camp.   This daily cleansing and removing of the old ashes speaks clearly to me of making daily habits to clean out the dross that I pick up throughout my usual working day.  Even though my life is made holy through Yeshua, sometimes the ashes build up and I need a good clean out.   

Verse 12 continues “And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order on it;”.   Throughout the Brit Chadashah we are reminded how often Yeshua would wake early every morning to pray.  Even David said in Psalms 5:3 said, “My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You,”.  Laying fresh fuel on the fire of our heart each morning is really the only way to ensure that the fire does not go out.  

The second Aliyah contains further explanation of the five korbonot.

I have already explained the Olah so the next korbanot are the Minchah, Chatat, Asham, Shelamim:

Minchah "grain offering": (Lev 6:14) The word "mincha" means gift and this is another freewill offering which has been called the vegan offering considering that it is a bloodless offering.   It is also considered the poor man’s korban because is it the least expensive.    And just when you now think that this means it is the least important, the Torah directs Mincha offerings to be brought with every Olah and Shalemim offering, with the daily offering of two lambs, with every festival offering and even the Table of Showbread displayed a continual Mincha offering.
It is called in Hebrew “kadosh kadosh”, a most holy of the offerings to Adonai by fire (Leviticus 2:10) and thusly could only be consumed by a son of Aaron, the priest’s, and within the confines of the Tabernacle or Temple courtyard.    The fact that the Mincha was smeared with oil means it was anointed!  Doesn’t seem so insignificant anymore, does it…  

Chatat "sin offering": (Lev 6:25) This is a required offering to make atonement for certain sins committed unintentionally.   No matter where you look in scripture, you will never find a sacrifice that atones for deliberate sin.  Willful sin has always had the same remedy: REPENT! The Chatat is also required in some areas that seem to deal with purification and not sin. For example, a woman after childbirth, a nazarite that comes in contact with a dead body or that completes his vow, and a leper that has been cleansed all must bring a Chatat offering.  None of these mentioned have committed a sin, so a Chatat cannot be understood as simply an offering for sin. 

Asham "guilt offering": (Lev 7:1)  A required offering, the word Asham means trespass, guilt, sin, or offense but the root word is ‘Shem’ which means a name, breath, or character.   The whole character of man is offensive to the perfect holiness of HaShem.  Even our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).  Our whole old nature needs to be killed.  This is why through Yeshua we have become a new creation. 
We can see that the Asham offering shares the exact same instruction as the Chatat offering in Leviticus 7:7 – only the priest get to eat it.

When we consider that the Asham offering dealt with common law issues (theft and damages etc) this offering has more to do with offenses committed against “our neighbour” which by matter of fact is an offense against Elohim.   Remember that if you take the first and last two words of the Ten Commandments you get, “I Am…Your Neighbour.”  This could be Yeshua’s point in Matthew 5:23-24 when he mentions bringing a gift (korban) when we have something against our brother. We first make things right with our brother and then we bring our gift or sacrifice.

Shelamim  "peace offering": (Lev 7:11) is a ‘party’ offering.  It is also another freewill offering  (beginning to see a pattern here) for joyous occasions or thankful praise.   It had nothing to do with sin or purification.  Whilst some of the animal is burned, the rest of the animal is shared between the offerer and the priest who can also then share it with others because the offering is not a “most holy” offering.  However, anyone who partakes of it must be in a state of ritual purity; otherwise, it will be a sin to consume it.  This is the only korbanot that the offerer receives a some of the portions to eat and share.  The Shelamim is often called a "Fellowship" because it is a meal between Adonai, the priests, and the offerer. 

The main purpose of these sacrifices is contained in the word “Korban (קָרְבָּן)” which comes from the root karov (קָרַב) meaning to "draw close" or "to come near."    Adonai’s greatest desire is for us to draw near to Him so that He will draw to near to us.  The English translation into the word “sacrifice” hardly gives it justice.   Another example of why we cannot simply think that the “sacrifices” are all completely done away with when the heart of Korban (drawing near to HaShemm) will last forever.

Jon Eaton

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