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April 15, 2023: Parashat Torah Portion Shemini

This week’s Parashah Torah Portion Shemini is taken from Leviticus 9:1-11:47. Join Dr. Jeffery Myers, as he relays the historical moment when the first service of the Mishkan began and how ELOHIM leaves a trace of His Presence on earth, when we surrender whole-heartedly to Him!

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 Parashah Torah Portion:

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

What a historical moment…the 8th day. The day when the service of the Mishkan will begin. It was the first time that man had reached beyond himself and summoned Elohim’s presence. The 8th day is not the 1st day, because this day followed 7 days of training. You can’t separate the training period from the day, because it was the training that made this day possible. Every achievement and success sit upon a foundation of instruction and training without which it could never succeed. Where you are today is because of what you went through yesterday. All earlier instruction is the foundation of our success now and future. We need to take what we have learned and build on it. If we abandon that foundation (ancient paths) it is a betrayal of our training; but to be shackled by it is to miss the entire point of the training.

On the 8th day Aaron did not abandon his training he adhered to it but also improved upon it when he saw the opportunity. He validated his training by doing so. In this parashah, the entire people have played their part in constructing what will become the visible home of the Divine Presence on the earth. Each of us, as part of His Kehillah plays a part in who we are while revealing to the world Who He is. In one single moving verse the drama reaches its climax: Leviticus 9:23. “Moshe and Aaron entered the tent of meeting, came out and blessed the people. Then the glory of Adonai appeared to all the people!” However, in Leviticus 10:1-3, tragedy struck, the offering of “strange fire” like we talked about earlier.

In order to understand the significance, we must go back to the first principle of covenant and conversation and remind ourselves of the meaning of holy. “Kadosh” is that segment of time and space Elohim has reserved for His Presence. Therefore, the mikdash (sanctuary) is the home of the “holy”. Creation involves concealment. We see the word “olam” (universe) is linked to the word “Neelam”, which means hidden. If we go back to Genesis where man was created, we see that Elohim breathed into us and made us in His image. In so doing, He gave us some of His own creative powers—the use of language, the ability to think, communicate, understand, imagine alternative futures and choose between them. Elohim created a space for human action…He created tzimtzum. This displays the love and generosity of Elohim. As we encounter Him in the Torah, He is like a parent who knows He must hold back, let go, and refrain from intervening if His children are to become responsible and mature. But there is a limit…He can’t leave the world entirely or He would desert His own children. The Scriptures tell us in Deut. 31:8 and Hebrews 13:5 that He will never leave us, abandon us or forsake us. Amen and Halleluyah for that wonderful promise.

How does Elohim leave a trace of His Presence on earth? There is a difference between Divine creation (Human freewill) and Divine Presence (Empirical world in which we reflect, choose and act). In Hebraic thought there are holy times, holy people, and holy spaces. The holy is that point of time and space where we meet Elohim. Where Elohim made space for us and we make space for Elohim by an act of self-limitation because it is no longer about us. He has set in place “appointed times” and “holy convocations”. The holy is where Elohim is experienced as absolute Presence but this requires absolute obedience. It requires us to surrender to His seasons, festivals and sabbaths. The most fundamental mistake, the mistake of Nadav and Avihu, is to take the powers that belong to man’s encounter with the world and apply them to man’s encounter with the Divine. Listen…you can go to any doctor when you want, to the movies when you want, eat when you want, work when you want but don’t try to do what you want when it comes to the spaces Elohim has created! You can’t steal His time without consequence. You can’t use your own initiative in the arena of the holy…this is where Nadav and Avihu messed up and this is where we mess up. We can’t assert our own presence in the absolute presence of Elohim. We can’t push Yeshua out and at the same time serve Him. This is a contradiction in terms and that is why they died.

Christianity attempted to define itself as the religion of love by making us think Elohim was jealous, angry, harsh, the cruel Elohim of the Old Testament. The Tanakh, Torah proper, is a love story through and through. The passionate love of the Creator for His creation that survives all the disappointments and betrayals of human history—sending His Son just for us! Elohim needs us to encounter Him, not because He needs mankind but because we need Him! If we are going to experience His Kingdom, we must leave the “I” behind and encounter the fullness of being in all its glory. That is the function of the holy- the point at which “I am” is silent in the over-whelming presence of “There is".

Just like Nadav and Avihu we forget that to enter His holy space or time requires complete humility, the total renunciation of human initiative and desire. Please open your ears to hear…when we confuse Elohim’s will with our will, we turn the holy (the source of life) into something unholy and a source of death. In I Cor. 11:27 it says, “Therefore, whoever eats the Lord’s bread or drinks the Lord’s cup in an unworthy manner will be guilty of desecrating the body and blood of the Lord.” This is where we need insight because the Torah is life and death, blessing and cursing…it depends upon you doing His will or doing your own will. Look again at the Nadav and Avihu and the Cain and Abel narrative. These two horrific scenes took place because of an act of worship. Worship generates power which can be benign but can also be profoundly dangerous! We see 3 kinds of fire in the episode of Nadav and Avihu: 1st: fire from heaven, a fire of favor that consumed the burnt offering; 2nd: strange (unauthorized) fire where two sons took their censors and put fire in them and added incense; 3rd “counter-fire” from heaven came from Elohim and consumed the two sons.

The lesson is clear…crystal clear! Don’t misrepresent Elohim! One of the reasons Jewish people don’t accept Yeshua as their Messiah is because we offer strange fire as we misrepresent Elohim putting our own will into His. Relationship and religion are not mute, marginal or wild…it is a fire and like a fire it warms but it also burns! We are guardians of the flame!

Shabbat Shalom Mishpocha!

Join us every Wednesday at 7 pm for Bible study and every Saturday at 11 am for Sabbath service at:

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Choose the space that Elohim has created…come and worship Him. Let His power fall fresh on you that you might serve Him effectively in these last days. Come and let us gather. See you at the altar!

Shalom Aleicheim

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