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March 23, 2024: Parashah Torah Portion Vayikra

This week’s Parashah Torah Portion Vayikra is taken from Leviticus 1:1-5:26. Join Dr. Jeffery Myers, as he begins the book of Leviticus with the amazing definition of what "Leviticus" means and how it pertains to “Vayikra”, “And He called”, which happens to be the first word of the book, and the underlying theme of the book for us!

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 Vayikra "And the Called" - Leviticus 1:1-5:26

Lion of Judah Speaks: Parashah Torah Portion Vayikra - Leviticus 1:1-5:26:

The 3rd book of the Torah is known as Leviticus, a word deriving from Greek and Latin meaning “pertaining to Levites.”  It is reflecting that fact that in Judaism the priests – descendants of Aaron – were from the Tribe of Levi, and that the ancient rabbinic name for the book was “Torat Kohanim”, “the laws of the priests.”  It dealt with the sacrifices, rituals, and priests and their functions as guardians of the sacred.  By contrast, the traditional name; “Vayikra”, “And He called” seems merely accidental.


Vayikra just happens to be the first word of the book and whether you see it or not it has a connection to the underlying message of the book as a whole.  Let’s look…Exodus closes with a description of a location where we can draw close to Elohim, the Tabernacle or Tent of Meeting, which is a model of restored creation of which the Torah speaks.


He is the Shekinah – visible glory of Elohim. A place where no one can approach and yet Leviticus opens with a word of invitation from within the Tent.  Leviticus seems to open in mid-sentence – connecting to Exodus with its first word, Lev. 1:1 says, “And He called to Moshe, and Adonai spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting…”  Adonai does not want to leave us with the awe-inspiring distance of the end of Exodus, but is eager to call us close to Himself, to approach the place that is closer to the divine than any other.


It's not just an invitation but a far more personal phrase that is calling you and I personally!  Calling is the language of affection, the voice of Elohim would go and reach Moshe’s ears, and all of Israel would not hear it.


Vayikra reveals a unique characteristic of the Yah of Israel --- He is ultimately unknowable, unapproachable but He is the One who calls us close to Himself, out of His mercy and kindness.  He is the transcendent Yah who issues eternal instructions to Moshe, but He does so in words of intimacy and affection.  He is the omnipresent Elohim who fills the universe, but He provides a location where we can draw near to Him!


Vayikra brings us back to the beginning.  We encounter the word in the story of the Garden of Eden, “Vayikra Adonai Elohim El haAdam” in Genesis 3:9 which translates as “And Adonai Elohim called to man.”  Genesis 3:10 reveals that when Adam and Chava heard His call, they hid because to them Elohim is fearsome and best kept at a distance.  Yet the same Yah is seeking them, calling out to them to return to Him (Language of affection).  Yah of Israel is both fearsome and near!


Genesis 3:9 reaches out to Adam and Chava by calling, “Where are you?”  It is an invitation to come clean and come near.  Adam responds only to Yah’s fearsomeness in Genesis 3:10. Elohim desires restored intimacy, but in the end, must expel them from the Garden because of their sin.  However, He covers their nakedness, clothing them in skins of animals.  They are sent into exile, but are not abandoned!  The skins serve as a reminder that they need not hide from Elohim.


So Leviticus shows us…The Yah who is holy and unapproachable seeks to bridge the distance between Himself and His people!  Elohim calls out to Moshe and instructs him how to draw near.  He provides the way of access through a detailed system of sacrifices – first hinted at in the skins of animals He gave as a covering to Adam and Chava.  This reaches its fullest expression in the person of Messiah, in whom the transcendent Yah comes near to mankind.  II Cor. 5:17-21 says, “Therefore, if anyone is united with the Messiah, he is a new creation – the old has passed; look, what has come is fresh and new!  And it is all from Elohim, who through the Messiah has reconciled us to Himself and has given us the work of that reconciliation, which is that Yah in the Messiah was reconciling mankind to Himself, not counting their sins against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  Therefore, we are ambassadors of the Messiah; in effect, Yah is making His appeal through us.  What we do is appeal on behalf of the Messiah, “Be reconciled to Yah! Elohim made this sinless man to be a sin offering on our behalf, so that in union with Him we might fully share in Elohim’s righteousness.”


When it comes time for this Messiah to choose those who will represent Him before others, He first calls them near to Himself.  Mark 3:13-15 says, “Then He went up into the hill country and summoned to Himself those He wanted, and they came to Him.  He appointed twelve to be with Him, to be sent out to preach and to have authority to expel demons.”  Elohim calls us to His fearsome nearness.  Only as we respond and come near are we able to bear His image before a world that needs a glimpse of the divine!


We must not expect that the Presence of Elohim in history will always be as clear as it was during the exodus from Egypt and parting of the Red Sea.  Because much of the time, it will depend on our own sensitivity.  For those who look, it will be visible!  For those who listen, it can be heard!  However, you first have to look and listen!


If you choose not to see or hear, then Vayikra will become Vayikar which means the call will be inaudible.  History will seem mere chance and that there is nothing incoherent about such an idea.  Those who believe it will have much to justify it!  If you believe that history is chance then it will become so!   However, in truth…it is not so!  The Presence of Elohim is in this place and in our lives.  Our lives are not mere chance because there is purpose to our existence!  It is no mere coincidence that the first word of the central book of the Torah is Vayikra, and He called!


As a believer, disciple, Messianic follower, Hebrew, Jewish or engrafted in people to believe that what happens to us as a people is Elohim’s call to us…to become “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”  As followers of Messiah, we must live a hidden life near to Elohim if we are to live a public life representing Elohim.


Leviticus 1:1…Adonai called to Moshe and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting. And said, “Speak to the people of Israel.”  Speak to each and everyone of us and say Romans 12:1, “I exhort you, therefore, brothers, in view of Yah’s mercies, to offer yourselves as a sacrifice, living and set apart for Yah.  This will please Him; it is the logical “Temple worship” for you.” 


The only problem with a living sacrifice is it wants to crawl off the altar!  Our bodies are to be “living” sacrifices, not slain!  We are to give back to Elohim our bodies that have been made alive from the dead and sanctified to His service!  The Levitical offering (victims) was offered facing the Holy of Holies in the Temple.  So, we present to Elohim our bodies that are holy, separated from the world, and reserved for Elohim’s use alone!  Do I hear an AMEN!


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Make yourself available to Him!  Live a Holy life!   Make your body the instrument of His grace instead of instruments of sin.  Let me ask you this question:  Am I responding fully to Elohim’s invitation to draw near to Him?  Only you can answer!  Have a blessed and awesome Sabbath.  See you at the altar!


Shalom ALeichem



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