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April 06, 2024: Parashah Torah Portion Shemini

This week’s Parashah Torah Portion Shemini is taken from Leviticus 9:1-11:47. Join Dr. Jeffery Myers, as he explains the three main commonalities between these three chapters, how one can only be made clean through the mediation of YHVH’s appointed priest, and why YHVH is so strict with regard to Torah, Mishkan sacrifices!

Follow along in the AUDIO PODCAST, by clicking on the play button below, and reading along with the notes, as you listen to today's Torah Portion:

Parashah Torah Portion Shemini is taken from Leviticus 9:1-11:47

Lion of Judah Speaks: Parashah Torah Portion Shemini - Leviticus 9:1-11:47:

In these 3 chapters in this Torah portion, we have clear division:  Chapter 9 relates to the first sacrifices for the congregation of Israel by the hand of the High Priests and the appearance of YHVH’s glory in the Mishkan, which includes the consuming fire that burned up the offering on the altar.  Chapter 10 records the sin of Aaron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu and the death sentence that YHVH administered on the spot.  Chapter 11 outlines the prohibited species that form the definitions of what characterized kosher food.  Is there any coherence or theme – related unity in the arrangement of these chapters?


It would seem that chapter 9 is related to chapter 10 by the theme of sacrifice …the joyous occasion of the Mishkan is connected to the death of the sons as a clear reminder that the sacrifices were holy – sanctum to YHVH!  The violations of the laws and regulations of the sacrifices were a direct disregard for Elohim and His commandments with the result that His holiness is compromised…this could not be allowed!


Elohim was not and is not seeking innovation of the priests but obedience.  He had instructed them regarding the divine service – their duty was to carry out His commands.


How does chapter 10 connect to chapter 11?  The sages see a strong connection as they argue that maintaining a kosher diet was connected to worship.  As followers of Yeshua, we believe and know that there is no substitute for sacrifice, as events in chapter warns us away from

innovation when it comes to Elohim’s requirements.  But why does Moshe arrange the chapters this way?  Maybe we are being asked to understand sacrifices in a wider perspective:  Sacrifices can be merely external ritual, in which case they are without effect, as Isaiah taught the people of his day.  Perhaps the link to a kosher diet is that the person who intends to bring a true offering to Elohim MUST HAVE COMMITED himself to a life of holiness, not just a religious act.  Nothing defines the continuity of life as much as our food, and anyone who keeps kosher knows that to commit oneself to Elohim’s principles in food affects one’s entire life.  So, the connection with chapter 11 is to teach us that our corporate religious expression should not be separated from our individual daily lives.  Our corporate worship is seen to be nothing more than a charade if our daily living does not match it!


Sacrifices are to be an outward display of one’s inner motivations to honor Elohim in all of life, not just in religious ritual.  Simply put:  The inner connection of this entire parashah is a call to make the meaning of our corporate worship an all-inclusive one, something that applies to one’s entire being and life, not to just a day, a time or an event.


The primary issue of chapter 9 is the appearance of Elohim’s glory to the people in connection with the sacrifices and service of Aaron and sons.  Elohim’s purpose in redeeming Israel, even choosing her in the first place was that He might dwell in her midst.  Covenant fellowship, this is the goal – that Elohim and man might once again experience a genuine friendship as with Adam in Gan Eden.


Notice that chapter 9 occurred “on the 8th day”, a motif (something that is repeated throughout) that foreshadows the final reign of Elohim in the world to come.  Elohim wants to enjoy the beauty of His creation and to receive His proper praise from it.  This requires that His creation be holy, for He cannot dwell in the presence of sin.  To dwell in the midst of mankind, to dwell in companionship with anyone of us, it was necessary for us to be made clean – to be righteous by Elohim’s standards – to have our sins covered by the blood of an innocent sacrifice.


The fundamental theology of the Tanakh is that Elohim desires to dwell with His people and therefore He has made a way for them to be holy.  This makes the sacrifice, not first and foremost as a remedy for man’s plight, but as the necessary means by which YHVH’s purpose to dwell with man is realized!  Sacrifice, at its primary level, is Yah-ward!


As we look at the priest – until a priest was clean himself, he could not affect atonement for anyone else.  However, how could he become clean?  How can he who is unclean make himself clean – if he can then any of us could make ourselves clean.  Here is the point:  YHVH intended that we learn a primary lesson from the priestly ritual.  One can only be made clean through the mediation of YHVH’s appointed priest- this is messianic!


How does atonement get its beginning?  In the symbolic metaphor of the Mishkan, the priest is able to “start the whole process” by which others could be made clean.  This is the foreshadowing of the Messiah, who, though a man, was never unclean and could therefore offer a true sacrifice for sinners since He did not need first to offer one for Himself.  Essential to the whole ritual of the priestly service was this truth:  One cannot make himself clean – only Elohim’s appointed priest can affect atonement for the sinner.


In I Peter 3:18 it states that Yeshua would “bring us to YHVH.”  “Korban” describes those elements set aside for sacrifice used regularly of offering a sacrifice…meaning “to draw close.”  Sacrifice as envisioned in the Tanakh has as its primary purpose the drawing together of man and YHVH.  In other words, sacrifice has its ultimate purpose in the restoration between YHVH and His creation!


Oh…I believe Yah dwells with man…to accept this is an intellectual truism which means you have lost the heart of the matter.  It is not merely a philosophical reality or theological words on a page.  Elohim actually does dwell with us!  We are simply too often numbed by our self-serving, self-centered existence to recognize His presence!   However, if we lift our eyes from our self-absorbed existence and contemplate the reality of Elohim’s dwelling with us, we are overwhelmed by His greatness!


If the very purpose of the sacrifices was to teach us that Yah and man draw close, then most assuredly the zenith of all sacrifices, that is, the selfless sacrifice of our own Messiah Yeshua, has forever drawn us together with the Almighty! 


Now we understand the actions taken by YHVH against Aaron’s sons; they spoiled the picture that YHVH had given about the unique place of the High Priest.  They were messing with the picture of the Messiah!  How are we spoiling the picture of YHVH to our own friends, family, children and work associates?


 Where did they come up with their own idea to offer strange fire?  Beyond that what lessons can we learn:  Elohim desires to be worshipped as He has prescribed, not by our creative innovations.  Sometimes our own inventive “worship” contradicts what Elohim has given and is therefore not only rejected but may incur His wrath!


Why is YHVH so strict with regard to Torah, Mishkan sacrifices?  Because these rituals were given as a foreshadowing of His own Son, Yeshua and the work He would accomplish in securing the salvation of His people.  To change these foreshadowing rituals was to alter the revelation and skew it, rendering it ineffective.  In the end, the sanctum of the Mishkan and its service was to reveal Messiah!  It therefore could NOT be changed!  Not then…Not now!


Shabbat Shalom Mishpocha,


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Stop misrepresenting Yeshua and be the example of Him not of you.  Enjoy this sweet Sabbath day as we gather to worship our King Yeshua.  Surrender all you are and allow Him to move mightily in your life.  See you at the altar!


Shalom Aleichem

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