March 25, 2023: Parashat Torah Portion Vayikra
This week’s Parashah Torah Portion Vayikra is taken from Leviticus 1:1-5:26. Join Dr. Jeffery Myers, as he explains the meaning of the word “Vayikra” and how this word reveals a unique characteristic of the YAH of Israel, and His intentions to draw us close 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 Vayikra - Leviticus 1:1-5:26
In this parashah, “Vayikra” just happens to be the first word of the book and whether you see it or not has a connection to the underlying message of the book as a whole. Exodus closes with a description of a location where we can draw close to Elohim, the tabernacle, 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 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. Leviticus 1:1 says, “And He called to Moses, 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 that says, “and He called” but “and He called to Moses”, a far more personal phrase. He is calling you and I personally!
Calling is the language of affection; the voice of Elohim would go and reach Moses’ ears and all of Israel would not hear it. Elohim speaks to us corporately but He also speaks to us only in our ear, something personal, just for us, between us and Him.
Vayikra reveals a unique characteristic of the Yah of Israel. He is ultimately unknowable, unapproachable but yet 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 Moses, 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; brings us back to the Garden!
In Genesis 3:9 it says, “Vayikra Adonai Elohim el haAdam”, translated, “And Adonai Yah called to man”. However, when Adam and Eve heard His call, they hid because to them Elohim is fearsome and best kept at a distance since they disobeyed. Yet, the same Yah is seeking them and calling out to them to return to Him. This is the language of affection! Elohim is both fearsome and near! Elohim asks, “Where are you?” He isn’t asking for physical location because He knows where they are hiding. It is an invitation to come clean and come near. But Adam responds only to Elohim’s fearsomeness. Elohim desires restored intimacy, but in the end, must expel them from the Garden because of their sin. However, He covers their nakedness and clothes them in animal skins…a sacrifice for atonement had been made. They are sent into exile, but not abandoned! The skins serve as a reminder that they need not hide from Elohim. II Cor. 4:8-9 says, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
Elohim who is holy and unapproachable seeks to bridge the distance between Himself and His people. He calls out to Moses 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 for the first couple. We see it reach its fullest expression in the person of Messiah in whom the transcendent Yah comes near to mankind. 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!
The fate of the Jewish people (you and I) depends on whether or not we keep our covenant relationship with Elohim. In Adam and Eve’s life, in the life of the Israelites, in our lives…who actually brings the judgment or discipline to us? We do! When we surrender to the workings of this world, giving in to its desires and lust we cause Elohim to withdraw His protection. Just like Israel, we will have to face the world alone without the sheltering Presence of Elohim, we will be removed from the safety of the Garden.
If Israel believes in divine providence, they will be blessed by divine providence. If they see history as mere chance, making their own decisions instead of following the covenant responsibility, they will be left to chance. Let me just say this: “Do 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 and for those who listen, it can be heard. But you first have to look and listen. If you choose not to see or hear then the call of Vayikra will be inaudible. History will seem mere chance. However, in truth—it is not so! The Presence of Elohim is in this place. He is on our lives. Our lives are not mere chance. Hallelujah there is purpose to our existence. Yes, He has called to each and every one of us.
As a believer, disciple, Messianic follower, Hebrew, Jewish, or engrafted people we must believe that what happens to us as a people is Elohim’s call to us. He is calling 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 says that Adonai called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting. He said, speak to the people of Israel, to each one of us, and say to them…Romans 12:1, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of Elohim’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to Elohim—this is your true and proper worship.” 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 offerings were offered facing the Holy of Holies in the Temple. We present to Elohim our bodies that are holy, separated from the world, reserved for Elohim’s use alone! Make yourself available to Him! Live a holy life. Make your body the instrument of His grace instead of an instrument of sin. Two final questions: Are we responding fully to Elohim’s invitation to draw near to Him? Are we able to hear Him speak in our ears? To him who has ears to hear—let him hear!
Shabbat Shalom Mishpocha,
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Have a powerful Sabbath. Let the glory of Adonai rise among us. Be the living sacrifice as you yield your life to the Master. See you at the altar!