Shemini (Eighth)

Torah: Leviticus 9:1-11:47 Haftarah: II Samuel 6:1-7:17 Brit Chadasha: Galatians 5:19-26

I want to start out this week by quoting a snippet of commentary by Glen McWilliams.  Therefore what purpose do these sacrifices and offerings serve? The offerings and sacrifices taught in great detail throughout the book of Leviticus are all proclamation. Each of these sacrifices and offerings are a shadow picture of the true and efficacious sacrifice of Y’shua. Every offering and sacrifice reveals some aspect of the Messiah’s sacrifice. Thus when the children of Israel gave their offerings and made their sacrifices they were not putting their faith in the blood of bulls and goats, but in the promise of the Holy One to send a true Deliverer, Redeemer, and Savior. Until then it was their faith, as demonstrated in their obedience, to offer their sacrifice that provided them atonement. But there is yet a secondary proclamation made through these offerings and sacrifices. The name of these offerings and sacrifices in Hebrew is korban, from the root Kof, Resh, Vet, which means “to draw near.” The purpose for bringing korban is to demonstrate to YHVH ELOHIM one’s desire “to draw near” to Him. The lessons of this Torah portion teach us that there is a protocol to follow and a grave danger in presuming to draw near to Him in our own will and way.

Heart Problems

This week we have the portion about Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s sons.  As reading the Scriptures what I began to see was how just important it was to be separate or be set apart (Holy).  We are coming up on the feast of Unleavened Bread where we are to abstain from eating leavened bread for seven days.  Leaven is a type of sin and Messiah taught using leaven and even warned us to stay away from the leaven of the Pharisees.

And יהושע said to them, “Mind! And beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” Matthew 16:6

If you’ve ever baked bread you know just how fast leaven can spread throughout the whole loaf of bread and infect it if you will.  This is the effect of sin in our lives if we aren’t watching and keeping ourselves clean from the ‘leaven’ of the world then it will not take long for the ‘whole lump’ to become full of leaven.  Remember sin usually starts out private but it never ends up that way and if we don’t deal with it and allow the Father to deal with it well it usually comes out in the open and gets exposed.

So maybe as we are celebrating the seven days of Unleavened Bread this year possibly it would be beneficial to really stop and think about what this feast entails and not just nibble on a piece of unleavened bread and say hey I’ve done my part and fulfilled the commandment so let me move on and continue on with my life and what I want to do. Folks as we are nearing the closing of this age I believe its super important in living a leaven free life.  May we have a sober attitude this year of watching more closely to be sure that we don’t mix ourselves with the leaven of the world!

Isn’t this what we all should be doing in our lives watching and occupying until He comes?  I have seen something that seems to be infecting the Hebrew Roots movement these days.  It is the status quo.  What do I mean?  There are many folks who have a chip on their shoulder as to that we are Yisrael and we are ‘the ones’ if you will but when it comes to walking out the commandments it seems as if doing the commandments isn’t coming out of a pure obedient heart.  Seems as if there is a growing coldness to many people in the movement; I don’t want to become cold in my worship and obedience to YHVH.  I don’t want to just go through the motions because this is what we have to do.  No, I want to do it right and come before the King the way He says in order that I might be pleasing to Him.  Remember the Eternal doesn’t take to well to mixture, and it is very clear in this portion about that point.  He gets kind of ‘hot’ and ‘fired up’ if you will no pun intended.

And fire came out from יהוה and consumed them, and they died before יהוה. Leviticus 10:2

Strange fire

Since we are on the subject of mixing and fire, why not talk about Nadab and Abihu?  Here we have two men who were with their father and they had been separating themselves for seven days.  On the eighth day they were told to bring sacrifices for themselves and the people before the Creator and He would meet with them there.  Everything seems fine and dandy, right?  Well one slight problem.  Nadab and Abihu decided to step out of protocol and do it their own way.  It didn’t end very well for these guys.

I see several things here as problems.  First thing was they didn’t follow what Yah had prescribed.  How knows maybe it was easier or more convenient for Nadab and Abihu to get and take the strange fire and incense before the Eternal.  Maybe they didn’t really care and were just trying to go through the motions to be able to ‘fulfill’ the commandments.  Maybe just plain old what was truly in their hearts was manifesting on the outside?  All of these are possibilities in my opinion but one thing is for sure there were consequences for their actions.

In today’s society which has seemed to deem the word morals as archaic, it seems as if there might be a Nadab and Abihu attitude present.  Now I am not trying to condemn them or be hard on them because these were Aaron’s children but the point that I am trying to make is that I feel in today’s society we have lost a sense of something costing us.  Many of us have had handouts for so long that it has caused us to become numb and honestly expect others to do it for us or give it to us.  It doesn’t matter if it is bad business or tainted practices seems the only thing that really matters is how quick and painless and effortless it will be for us to do something or get something in this day and age.  The spirit of entitlement is ravaging our society and hard work is shunned and if you are a hard worker and honest that is also looked by others as strange and outlandish.  More gain for the less money or less price I have to pay seems to be the attitude fueling our society today and the gas tank is full to the top in my opinion.

We seem to have become numb to the mixture effect that the enemy has sown into our lives.  This is what happens when everything comes easy or is laid up for us or handed out to us.  This affects you and me not only just folks in the world.  We begin to stray a little from this commandment or fudge a bit on that one until one day we look up and we’ve managed to climb over the barrier that Yah put up to protect us.  If this attitude is in us then hopefully we can realize it quickly enough and run and climb back over the barrier and get back where it is safe and sound (shoov=repent=return to where you strayed off the path).  Folks, we can’t fall into the trap of thinking that we can mix ourselves with the ‘leaven’ of the world and not have to pay a price for it.  That price was Nadab and Abihu’s life because they came before the Creator of the Universe or brought Him something that had been mixed.  They brought something that was profane (not set apart) as if it was set apart (holy).

How are you I today in our service to the King?  What are bringing before Him?  Is it worship out of a true pure undefiled heart or is it something that is strange or mixed because we are just going through the motions because this is what is written so we have to do it?  If this is our attitude we need to reexamine ourselves in the area of obedience that comes from the heart and not from following the letter of the law.

Aaron is a great example of heart issues.  This priest just watched YHVH destroy his sons for a mixture and Moshe had a problem with him because he didn’t partake of the sin offering.  We see that Aaron got it and understood that though the sacrifices were important; what was in the heart was just as important also.  He was grieving the death of his two sons and was in no condition to partake of this with mixed things, feelings, or emotions in his heart.

And Aharon said to Mosheh, “See, today they have brought their sin offering and their burnt offering before יהוה, and matters like these have come to me! If I had eaten the sin offering today, would it have been right in the eyes of יהוה?” Leviticus 10:19

He learned from his son’s mistake if you will.  He knew that YHVH wanted the worship to come from a pure heart and not be mixed.  What would we have done in that situation?  Would we have went ahead and partaken of the offering just so that we fulfilled the commandment or would we have done the same as Aaron and said you know what I am in no condition to draw near to my King because of what is in my heart?  How’s this any different today when we are only doing the commandments in order to fulfill them because it is what has been written for us to do.  You know just going through the motions if you will.  If this is what we are doing with the commandments of Yah then we are taking something that is set apart and making it profane (common) and nothing about the Father is common and everything about Him is set apart.

So since we are talking about the heart and mixture why not address at least one of the misconceptions out there in religious circles which in my opinion are no different than golden calf worship.  Xmas in my opinion is the most common pagan holiday in which you will hear folk’ acting like Pavlov’s dog giving the knee jerk reaction/response in which almost ten times out of ten when you put Scriptures on them they will eventually respond, “Well God knows my heart.”  Let’s talk about that for a moment.  My first question is who makes the rules up, Yah or what we conjure up in our hearts and minds?  Secondly, this is what Scripture says about our hearts.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9

Yikes that is a sobering Scripture, huh.  Then it seems that Yah does know our heart and it isn’t quite the way we have conjured up in our minds to be.  So next time we want to try and justify our disobedience please don’t incriminate ourselves anymore by saying that Yah knows our heart and we are doing this out of our heart to Him.  Another question that I have is does Scripture say in the heart of two or three witnesses?  No it says in the mouth of two or three let the Word of Yah be established. What we ‘feel’ can’t trump the written Word or what ‘the Sprit is saying’ can’t trump the written Word because they both say the same exact thing.  If the ‘spirit’ is telling us something different than what is written then we have to examine what ‘spirit’ we are listening to and being led by.  I would like to focus on Yisrael having the same attitude or mind set towards YHVH in their worship of Him.  This concept of well God knows my heart wasn’t something that was dreamed up a few years back, no.  It’s been around for some time now.

So they feared YHVH, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places. They feared Yahweh, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence. Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not Yahweh, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which Yahweh commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel; So these nations feared Yahweh, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day. 2 Kings 17:32-34, 41

The background of the Scriptures that I referred to is the children of Yisrael have been taken off into captivity by the Assyrians and the method that the Assyrians used was they would take their people and mix them in with the folks they captured in order to prevent folks from uprising because they wanted to return to who they were and what they had lost. The core of evolution = change through mixing.  This mixing method was used to change the culture, attitude, and history of the nations they conquered. In verse 24 of this chapter we see things were going wrong for the people so they basically set up priests in order to’ make things go better’. So what we see here is how they mixed the worship of Yah with the Assyrian practices. Verse 32 says they feared YHVH.  This is a good thing but continuing on it says and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places (these two things go against Scripture). Did you notice something here?  They did this while fearing Yah.  It’s important to keep that in mind please. Verse 33 says they feared Yah and served their own gods. Uh oh we have a problem.

Notice they are serving their own gods or you could say the desires or imaginations or interests of their hearts; what they value while fearing YHVH. This is no coincidence that the Scripture is emphasizing that they feared Yah but it also points out they sacrificed in high places and served their own gods.  A no no according to the Father’s pattern of worship. Verse 34 says unto this day they do after the former matters they fear not Yah. So we see they feared YHVH but they didn’t fear Him so what in the world is the Scriptures trying to tell us here? The context of why they didn’t fear Yah is found in the later part of verse 34: neither after their statutes, ordinances, nor after the Torah and commandments that Yahweh commanded the children of Yisrael. So what is being said here is they feared YHVH but in their own way and not what was written.  They do not fear Him in the way He said He wanted to be worshiped which was given at Mt. Sinai.

So for someone who goes to a building every time the doors are open and someone who has devoted their whole lives to the Messiah; they fear the Eternal but the way they think they should be living their lives as an expression of fearing the Creator does not match up fully to what He has written in His Word. Their view of how they should fear Yah is something other than the instructions of a loving Father given from Genesis to Deuteronomy where He clearly shows us this is how you fear Me and worship Me. Do it this way because this is how I want My children to express their love for Me.

If you think I am stretching this please read verse 41. So these nations feared Yah, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day. So this mixed worship is still being done to this day. I have a question for you.  If a guy was on a deserted island and knew nothing about YHVH and His Word but found a Bible and read it through which ’holidays’ or feasts would he celebrate after reading the Bible cover to cover?

I finish by stating that many even today actually take Yah and make an idol out of Him according to their own perception of how they view an acceptable way to worship Him (I have been guilty of this myself). For those of you who celebrate Xmas and are reading this I want to address something that you might accuse me of.  A common response that one receives when dealing with this matter is you are a legalist or you are arrogant and who are you to tell me that as I celebrate Xmas and I believe that Y’shua’s the Messiah and I give honor to Him coming into the world to be the Savior of the world at this time of year and that is who we are directing our heart and worship to, then who are you to tell me I am doing something wrong or erroneous?

This normally is the response one receives about this.  Just remember it was also many times the response when the prophets came to Yisrael preaching the true message of repentance.  They rejected that message just as religious people do today because since their heart worship was still directed to the Creator; they would not receive just as most today do not receive the true message of repentance in completely returning to ALL of His Word.  So will we continue to mix our style or flavor of doing things with the Eternal’s way of doing things or will we humbly bow down and admit that He is King and ALL of His Word applies to us no matter if we like it or not?  It’s our choice and the ball is in our court.