Acharei Mot (After the Death)
Torah: Leviticus 16:1-20:27 Haftarah: Amos 9:7-9:15 Brit Chadasha: Ephesians 5:1-6
For it is impossible for blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Hebrews 10:4
I find it very interesting that this verse is one of the most misunderstood verses in many believers’ lives. When a person begins to talk about the sacrifices this verse will almost always seem to come spewing forth from a perspective that Yah made a mistake in the Older Testament by commanding sacrifices to be given to Him. It is used to justify against the sacrifices. This shows the ignorance of a person because they clearly haven’t studied what these sacrifices were all about. Although I would have to agree with the verse above; the blood never ‘took away’ sin but it did COVER it. So next time you want to use this verse to prove your point against sacrifices please go study Scripture first so that you get the whole picture and not a picture from one verse out of one chapter. I say this all the time: don’t read what you believe but believe what you read!
Going Through the Motions
This week’s portion details the instructions about Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This day for me is very sobering because it is a day of repentance, which everyday should be days of repentance but this is a special time for me to really come before the Father and petition Him for forgiveness in all aspects of my life. I think there is something hidden in the deeper meaning of the text here in chapter sixteen of Leviticus that possibly sheds light on an attitude that many of us have. It was brought up in a Torah study one night that isn’t it interesting to see the what we would call ‘tedious’ steps that Aharon went through in the process of bringing the sacrifices before YHVH.
Although it may seem monotonous or overkill to you and me, nothing is written in Scripture just to fill up the pages or fill up the chapter with the exact word count that YHVH prescribed. What can we learn from these detailed instructions? It seems that the underlying picture is very clear. There is nothing casual in these instructions for the Yom Kippur sacrifice.
How many times do you and I get in a rut or groove of kind of just going through the motions and doing things out of rote instead of doing it from the heart? How many times are we ‘casual’ in our approaching the Father? If you’ve watched movies that had kingdoms and kings in them, one thing that stuck out to me was that when people approached the king it was in a gesture of honor and respect, very humble manner and nothing was casual about it at all. Matter of fact the king was the one who made the rules and if something didn’t please him then he had the power to utter the words, “off with their head.” So you better believe folks didn’t approach their king with some nonchalant casual attitude or demeanor. I’m glad our King is a bit more patient with us and loves us.
I think we should ask ourselves a question. Are we guilty of having a casual approach to the things of the Creator? I know I still slip up in this area even today. This is human nature but it still doesn’t give us a license to pull out and use to say I have permission to be like I am or it’s ok for me to take the casual approach towards the things of YHVH; He knows my heart, right? I think this washing and changing of the garments on several occasions was given to us to teach us about korban. Remember korban means simply to draw near in Hebrew. So it is something that is very serious and there is ‘changing of the garments’ and ‘bathing’ involved in this process because no matter what the popular idea in religious circles today is; we just can’t run right up to YHVH and say hey dude I need for you to do something for me. Although many times this is the approach but scripturally it is very clear that we must be clean and not profaned = common.
So this idea of just running into the chambers of the king and acting like we own the place is not the route that we are to go. We are to first look at and begin to examine our life, heart, motives and spirit; if any of these areas need to be worked on then we ‘take the garments off and bathe’ thus putting on ‘new’ garments so that we are clean (clean means not contaminated with a foreign substance) and can approach the King. So next time we read about the detailed process of sacrifices please don’t just read over it as if it is repeating itself. Take time to examine the aspects of what is written and the purpose of it and how it applies to our lives as believers. There is much that can be learned from examining every aspect of the sacrifices so this is not just written to fill up pages in the Scriptures. If we have been guilty of approaching Yah casually then the time to stop and reexamine what we are doing is now. He is the Creator of the Universe and deserves our best and not something that is casual or status quo.
Respect for Life
Some of you have heard my story of having to kill an animal last year (had to slaughter a friend’s cow). I remember reading chapter seventeen of Leviticus and finally understanding why this experience was different than all of my other experiences of growing up hunting animals and killing them with really no regard for their life. This time it was different especially after understanding Torah and how Torah views life.
for it is the life of all flesh. Its blood is for its life. And I said to the children of Yisra’ĕl, ‘Do not eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood. Anyone eating it is cut off.’ Leviticus 17:14
I think over time our culture has numbed us to the fact of how sacred life is to the Creator. We have fallen into the trap of well this isn’t affecting me so I will not worry with it. You know how many times do we stop and think about the lives of the innocent that have been murdered in the U.S. (50 million and counting) by abortions? How many times do we stop and think about the life of the person who may have died in an earthquake? YHVH takes note of it. Life is a sacred thing to YHVH, it’s something that He has gifted mankind with and expects us to be good stewards over it.
When I sat and watched the blood drain from the cow’s neck that I slaughtered; I just had a somber sobering sense about me. I couldn’t explain it until after reading chapter seventeen of Leviticus and it hit me. Life is truly in the blood. As the blood drained I was watching it spill out into the earth and there was some type of reverence in my spirit as to I just had to take a life and this was not some ‘fun’ hunting trip or a sport. This was a respect and seriousness that I had never experienced before. I can say now when I eat meat; I have a different outlook on it. I am more respectful and aware that an animal gave its life in order that I could be partaking of its meat. It really helps put things in perspective and will make you think twice in being wasteful when it comes to food. If you have never seen a kosher kill or been a part of one, I would encourage you to experience it because it will give you a greater respect for the animal’s life and open up the whole sacrificial system to you in a way you have never seen it before. You will understand truly that something was innocent and blameless and it gave its life. Does this sound like someone we know who willingly laid down his life in order to obey and please the Father?
Spring Cleaning in the Fall Time
“And he shall slaughter the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, and shall bring its blood inside the veil, and shall do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the lid of atonement and in front of the lid of atonement. “And he shall make atonement for the Set-apart Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Yisra’ĕl, and because of their transgressions in all their sins. And so he does for the Tent of Meeting which is dwelling with them in the midst of their uncleanness. Leviticus 16:15-16
I think this verse gives us a great picture about atonement. Many times we try and apply atonement with sin as if they are almost like synonyms. Here is a clear example where atonement is doing its job in covering the sin. So we see the tabernacle having to be atoned ‘covered’ for because it was dwelling in the midst of an unclean people and in my opinion became polluted by mankind if you will. So I think this needs to be asked; did the tabernacle sin? No, so it must have gotten ‘polluted’ in that it was being atoned for. At least this is the way I understand it to be but none the less this passage gives us I think a pretty clear picture of what atonement’s job truly is meant for. Also, I think we should re look at this whole clean and unclean thing. This passage in Leviticus 16 helps us look at it in perspective in that when many folks hear the word unclean it’s as if it is equivalent to the word abominable.
If Jachin, my son, goes out and has done this on several occasions I might add, if he goes out and plays in the mud hole and gets dirty; now all along is having a high hoe time and enjoying himself and not causing harm to anyone else and just doing his thing; would you say he was clean or unclean? I would say very much so unclean. Now would you say he was set apart or abominable? See how this analogy somewhat puts clean and unclean in perspective that it isn’t something that’s untouchable or abominable. It’s just unclean or common maybe we could even throw the word normal in there but that might be getting a little too abstract but my point is unclean isn’t this black plague epidemic that has to be ran away from and feared every second of the day.
So to finish up here I see Yom Kippur not only being spring cleaning in the fall time of the year, if you will, in the folks but it was in the Tabernacle as well. Clearly the Father setting up His ways naturally so that mankind could see them and understand then and apply then to their lives or at least that is the picture that I am seeing from this. So may we not grow weary in just going through the motions of reading the Word or doing what the Word says and lose out on the deeper and greater meanings of the applications of the commandments to our lives.
Kedoshim (Set Apart Ones)
Torah: Leviticus 19:1-20:27 Haftarah: Amos 9:7-9:15 Brit Chadasha: Ephesians 5:1-6
For those of us who have children, we all have a desire in us for them to go further than we did and accomplish more than we did. Well the last portion began with the death of Nadab and Abihu due to their disobedience. I think what we have here is a theme that has started in last week’s portion as well as continuing on into this week’s. That theme is obedience in our lives keeps us out of trouble and disobedience brings trouble.
And יהוה spoke to Mosheh, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Yisra’ĕl, and say to them, ‘Be set-apart, for I יהוה your Elohim am set-apart. Leviticus 19:1-2
as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts in your ignorance, instead, as the One who called you is set-apart, so you also should become set-apart in all behaviour, because it has been written, “Be set-apart, for I am set-apart.” 1 Peter 1:14-16
We are commanded to be set apart not only in the Older Test. but the Newer as well. Isn’t it interesting how this Older Test. stuff has been done away with and no longer applies to us but yet Kefa or Peter in the Newer Test. is telling us the same exact thing as Leviticus 19? Isn’t that interesting? Peter is telling us to do something that we no longer have to do. What is mind blowing to me and how I never saw this even when I was a ‘holiness’ preacher many years back. How Kefa is pretty much quoting a verse in the Older Test., which in my simplistic way of thinking, if this was Older Test. then the definition of this word had to have already been established thus we can’t go and apply our definition today of holiness or even a Newer Test. xtian view of holiness or set apartness. Why? Well because Peter is using Older Test. scriptures when delivering his message in these verses that I read earlier. So as Brad says it’s not new it’s only true. This holiness thing or set apart thing can’t be a Newer Test. concept because we see this idea going all the way back to In the beginning… So we should be able to find what it means to be holy or set apart in the Older Test. and we sure can but before I get to that I want to touch on something else as well.
As I started out by mentioning that we all have aspirations for our children, what are the Father’s aspirations for you and me? Have you ever stopped to think about that? If we are His children and He is our Father; then what really are His aspirations for His kid’s? I think it could be simply put, be set apart. When you and I are set apart, our light is shining at its fullest and we are what I call ‘super salty’. This in my opinion is how we bring glory, honor, and praise to the Creator of the Universe. This was the plan from the very beginning, I believe. When we are set apart everything else falls right into place because we are walking in His ways and not ours. The command here in Leviticus wasn’t to be a good person or donate all your money to charity, although these have merit. No, the command that still rings true today is be set apart because I am set apart. HalleluYah.
Holiness or set apartness doesn’t mean righteousness like our culture defines it. It just means to be separate. Remember the Father doesn’t take too well to the whole mixing and mingling thing. Also, if you have fine china; you probably have separated or set it apart and only use the china once in a while for special occasions. Does that mean that the china is righteous? No! It just means it is separate or been set apart from the other dishes. The picture that I see for set apartness from the Scriptures is this say you have a polluted environment or a stream that is polluted. You give someone a glass of water from this stream and that is a good deed but it is polluted. Well that isn’t so well. So what Father is wanting is for us to come out of or separate from that polluted source. We must have a ‘separate’ source that hasn’t been polluted and is pure. Folks if all of our good deeds are coming from a ‘polluted’ source then what good are they really? In my opinion Yah looks at those good deeds that are coming from that polluted source and says what good are they? So I guess my point is it needs to come out of a separate source. We must first get out of the polluted stream or environment or separate, set apart ourselves then what comes from that will be holy and acceptable to the Father.
Many folks today are running around doing good works and I commend that but more importantly are we a separate people or do we look like the polluted environment in which we find ourselves? Are some of those contaminants seeping over into our source or have we even checked to see? I guess now would a good time to answer the age old question of how do we achieve set apartness? Answer is we can’t! The Father takes us and separates us or sets us apart. So in other words the Creator makes us holy or set apart. Our job in my opinion is to take that set apartness and walk in submission to the instructions of our loving Father to lead and be our guide in life as well as allowing the Ruach (Spirit) to rule over our flesh.
I know I harp on this all the time but it’s just not doing this or doing that or checking our little commandment check list off in order to hurry up and finish our requirements. What is our motivation? Where is our heart when we obey the commandments? Do we do the commandments just because we have to or does it come out of a heart that wants to serve and bring pleasure to the Father? I think these are questions we have to continually keep before us guys in our walk. It’s also not just about the do not’s that we don’t do but is also about having self-control on what is permissible but maybe save that for another time. We should consider these things more often in my opinion though.
‘Each one of you should fear his mother and his father, and guard My Sabbaths. I am יהוה your Elohim. Leviticus 19:3
The Father says to be set apart because He is set apart and then starts to explain how this set apart thing is to work. Here I see something very interesting. 1 Corinthians 15:46 talks about the natural and the spiritual; the Father takes natural things to teach us spiritual things. Here we see in verse three the instruction is to fear or give respect and honor to mother and father. Again, we see a natural picture of a spiritual concept. The Father uses our parents and the rules and guidelines of the house to teach us about His rules and guidelines for His house. I’m referring to righteous parents here and not just all parents.
The enemy has made it a big priority in his efforts against the Creator in that he has attacked the family and the family unit specifically. I think the enemy knows that if he can keep the family from being a unit or whole or complete then he can continue to disrupt the plan of the Father. It has been pretty effective because look at the fruit it has produced in our society and culture today. Anything goes and just be who you are and do your own thing and if it makes you happy and so forth and so on. Well the Father will deal with spirit in His time and not ours. Our job is to continue to live in that set apart state where we are separate from the world. There is a Newer Test. concept in John that basically teaches us that even though we are in the world we are not to be of the world.
I am not referring to completely removing yourself from civilization by hiding in a cave somewhere or becoming a monk and praying all day. That isn’t what being separate or set apart is all about either. We can be separate and still impact our family, friends, community, region, and nation. Matter of fact I think that could fall under a characteristic of what being set apart is all about. That set apartness is what makes us a peculiar people I believe and sparks interests in others and causes them to ask us things or different questions. I see this all the time with some secular friends that I have. They have respect and courtesy when they ask me questions and I really enjoy that for a change. They always say I’m not trying to be nosey or offend you but what are these string things or what about that passage. I’m sure many of you have had similar responses as well. That is what being separate is all about. Folks see something is different and sometimes they even see they are lacking what you have and want to inquire and possibly receive what you have to offer.
This false concept of what makes one holy is the color of the tzit zit, how long the beard is, white hair, how expensive the suit is, etc. etc. must stop. In my opinion those things are meaningless if our altar isn’t pure. We can have it all right but how are we treating others? How do we act when there aren’t folks around to really see who we are? That pure altar is what being separate is all about as well. We saw a few portions back about the house cleaning that went on at Yom Kippur and the details in how to atone for the altar so you better believe that our altar needs to be checked from time to time checking to see if it has become defiled by the things of the world and sin. If not then great and continue maintaining that pure altar but if it has become defiled then take the proper measures to get it pure again so that the command to be set apart will be not only heard but seen thus bringing glory to the Father’s Name and Word.