Vayikra / And He Called
To Hear the Call…
This Shabbat we begin the third part of the Torah, Vayikra/ the book of Leviticus. Vayikra is different from the other books of the Torah as it does not contain any journey. It is set entirely at Sinai, occupies only a brief section of time - a single month and has almost no narrative. Looking closely at Vayikra, is the key to understanding the children of God as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
This parsha begins with God calling Moshe to speak to the children of Israel regarding the protocol of bringing an offering before Elohim. Just like the specific details of the building and maintaining of the Tabernacle, God requires an order, a series of steps, a sequence specific to Adonai, concerning the correction and repentance of sin for the Israelites.
God calls Moshe to speak to the Israelites and then immediately details the various kinds of sacrifice the Israelites were to bring to the Tabernacle. There were five offerings: the burnt offering (ola), the grain offering (mincha), the peace offering (shelamim), the sin offering (ĥatat), and the guilt offering (asham).
Without studying the Torah, we miss the connection between God’s commands, the sacrifices and the connection of Yeshua. We miss the importance of the sacrifices and the connection of the anger of the prophets.
Sacrifices were very important in the religious life of biblical Israel. The later Prophets during the time of the first Temple were angered at the people and their sacrifices. Samuel rebukes Saul in 1 Samuel 15:22-23 ‘So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.”
In Amos 5:21-22 Amos says in the name of God, “I hate, I despise your feast days,
And I do not savor your sacred assemblies. 22 Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings.”
Hosea had a similar message to Ephraim and Judah, ‘O Ephraim, what shall I do to you?
O Judah, what shall I do to you? For your faithfulness is like a morning cloud, and like the early dew it goes away. 5 Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of My mouth;
And your judgments are like light that goes forth. 6 For I desire mercy and not sacrifice,
And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.’ Hosea 6:4-6.
The strongest rebuke is when Isaiah calls Judah to repentance in chapter 1, specifically Isaiah 1:11-13a “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” Says the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats. 12 “When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand, to trample My courts? 13 Bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to Me.’
Psalms 51:15-17 leads us towards the right direction, ‘O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. 16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise.’
This Torah portion comes right before the celebration of Purim. In the book of Esther, we see Queen Vashti expelled from the Kingdom. Why? Because she refused the King’s command to show her royal crown and beauty, but rather made her own feast.
Esther 1:5 ‘And when these days were completed, the king made a feast lasting seven days for all the people who were present in Shushan the citadel, from great to small, in the court of the garden of the king’s palace.’
Esther 1:9 ‘Queen Vashti also made a feast for the women in the royal palace which belonged to King Ahasuerus.’
Esther 1:10-12 ‘On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus, 11 to bring Queen Vashti before the king, wearing her royal crown, in order to show her beauty to the people and the officials, for she was beautiful to behold. 12 But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command brought by his eunuchs; therefore, the king was furious, and his anger burned within him.’
Peter stresses obeying God, ‘Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29.
What are the reasons why man does not obey God? The answers lie in the bottomless pit of our hearts which then become the idol of our heart.
We do not understand or refuse to understand that the heart is deceitful. We believe that the Torah was replaced and that grace and mercy abound even with our lack of obedience. We are under wrong and bad theology. We are consumed with self; we are in the presence of bad company. We suppress the truth, refusing to admit in our stiff-necked stubborn ways.
What is obedience? It is a demonstration of our love for God. Obedience is our roadmap for our lives. Obedience is an act of witnessing to the nations and increasing our knowledge of His Ways. Obedience is an act of worship and an act of faith. Obedience contributes to quality in our lives and gives us blessings. Obedience strengthens our walk and brings joy to God.
Do we obey the call if we answer the call with our own ways? Psalms 95:8 and the author of Hebrews warns about rebelling against the true call of God and instead to obey His call in the truth of His Divine ways.
Psalm 95:8 ‘Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, as in the day of trial in the wilderness…’
Hebrews 3:7-8 ‘Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you will hear His voice, 8 Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness…’
Hebrews 3:14-15 ‘For we have become partakers of Messiah if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 15 while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
Hebrews 4:6-7 ‘Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, 7 again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said: “Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.”
Vayikra / And He Called
HafTorah Isaiah 43:21-44:23
Brit Chadasha Hebrews 10:1-18
We begin the third book of the Torah, Vayikra – And He Called, which is named from the first paragraph. Notice that God calls Moshe to speak; ‘Now the Lord called to Moses, and spoke to him from the tabernacle of meeting, saying, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of the livestock—of the herd and of the flock.’
God called Moshe to speak His words to the people, not to speak his opinion or interpretation or ideology of what God wanted, but rather to speak clearly to the children of Israel exactly what God wanted him to say. This goes in line with the prior Torah portions, where God is very explicit and exact on the building of the Tabernacle.
In Vayikra, God continues with instructions for the five offerings:
- Leviticus 1:1 | The Burnt Offering Olah ( עלָה ), an "ascending offering": This was a freewill sacrifice that was consumed entirely by the fire on the altar. The sacrificial victim must be an animal or a bird that is without defect. As the animal is slaughtered, the kohen catches its blood in a pan and sprinkles it (zerikat hadam) on the altar. The animal is then cut up, salted, and entirely burned.
- Leviticus 2:1 | Grain Offerings Minchah ( מִנְחָה ), "meal offering": This was a nedavah also a freewill offering of flour (prepared with fine flour, olive oil and frankincense), usually brought by a person of modest means. Part of the meal offering is burned on the altar, and the remaining part is eaten by the kohanim.
- Leviticus 3:1 | Offerings of Well-Being Shelamim ( שְׁלָמִים ), "peace offering": This was a nedavah a freewill offering given as a way of expressing thanks to God, where praise to Adonai is offered.
- Leviticus 4:1 | Sin Offerings Chatat ( חַטַּאת ), "sin offering": This was a chovah a required offering to make atonement for certain sins committed unintentionally.
- Leviticus 5:14 | Offerings with Restitution Asham ( אָשָׁם ), "guilt offering": This was a chovah a required offering as part of the penitence required for certain improper acts such as retaining another's property by swearing falsely. In each case, the wrongdoer was required to restore the property plus an additional amount.
Whenever Moshe spoke to the children of Israel, he spoke God’s Words, God’s calling. This is an important piece of information, as we have been brought up in a Hellenistic culture to speak our interpretation of what we think someone should hear. We speak to people what we think we should say to them according to how we have either been raised in the word, or how we interpret it.
But is this the correct way? Is this how we should treat God’s holy word? Do we defile His Word when we change it, add to it or twist it? Deuteronomy 4:2 ‘You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.’ Revelation 22:18-19 ‘For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.’
What is the character of the One who calls upon us?
Ephesians 4:1-6 ‘I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.’
This verse is pretty clear that there is one body, one God and one spirit, one faith and one mikveh. In 2 Peter 1:20-21, we see that prophecy was not the will of man, but rather given by the Holy spirit, which would never contradict the word of God. ‘Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.’
2Timothy 1:9 also clarifies the conduct of the calling, ‘…who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Yeshua HaMashiach from all eternity…’
1 Peter 1:15 ’…but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior…’ Leviticus 11:45 ‘For I am the Lord who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy.’” Leviticus 19:2 “Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.’ Leviticus 20:26 ‘Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine.’ Deuteronomy 23:14 ‘Since the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you and to defeat your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy; and He must not see anything indecent among you or He will turn away from you.’
One of the most important calls from God is the call of the Sabbath.
Exodus 20:8-11 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.’
Mark 2:27 ‘And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.’
Leviticus 23:3 ‘Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places.’
Genesis 2:3 ‘So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.’
We know from Scripture that there is not one Brit Chadasha/New Testament verse that cancels the Sabbath, or confirms that Paul changed the Sabbath to Sunday. On the contrary:
‘Again, “The Catholic Church, … by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday” (The Catholic Mirror, official publication of James Cardinal Gibbons, Sept. 23, 1893).
“Protestants do not realize that by observing Sunday, they accept the authority of the spokesperson of the Church, the Pope” (Our Sunday Visitor, February 5, 1950).
“Of course the Catholic Church claims that the change [Saturday Sabbath to Sunday] was her act... And the act is a mark of her ecclesiastical authority in religious things” (H.F. Thomas, Chancellor of Cardinal Gibbons).
The Catholic Church claims that “the church is above the Bible, and this transference of Sabbath observance is proof of that fact” (Catholic Record of London, Ontario Sept 1, 1923).
In this simple but astounding change, the enemy has managed to change the very word of God, something as holy as Shabbat, and has His people worshiping God their way on their day, instead of His Way on His day. When we replace Sabbath, do we replace His Word? What about His sign?
Exodus 31:13 ‘But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My Sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you.’
Ezekiel 20:20 ‘Sanctify My Sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.’
There is no argument to conclude that any prophet, or disciple or writer of the Brit Chadasha/New Testament would change God’s sign, His Sabbath, or creation.
May you be blessed as you enter into study of Vayikra.
Vayikra / And He Called
Leviticus 1:1-5:26 (6:7)
Haf Torah Isaiah 43:21-44:23
Brit Chadasha Hebrews 10:1-18
In Vayikra, the beginning of the third book of the Torah, we learn of the five different types of offerings. The Burnt Offering, The Grain Offering, The Fellowship Offering, The Sin Offering and The Guilt Offering.
The Burnt Offering was a voluntary act of worship and atonement for sin. It was an expression of devotion, commitment and surrender. The offering was to be a bull, ram or male bird without defect and was to be totally consumed.
The Grain Offering was also a voluntary act of worship, in recognition of God’s goodness and provision. The Grain Offering was also an expression of devotion to God. The offering was grain, fine flour, olive oil, salt and incense. It was to contain no yeast or honey and could be baked, fried or uncooked.
The Peace or Fellowship Offering was also a voluntary act of worship which represented thanksgiving to God. The offering was to be any animal from the herd without defect or a variety of breads.
The Sin Offering was a mandatory atonement for a specific sin, a confession of sin, a forgiveness of sin and cleansing from defilement. The offering was to be a bull for the High Priest and nation, a male goat for the leader, a female goat or lamb for a person, a dove or pigeon for the poor, and a tenth ephah of flour for the very poor.
The guilt offering was a mandatory atonement for a specific sin. It was to make restitution and to be a defilement cleansing. The offering was to be a ram without defect.
Over two thousand years later, it is hard to relate the beginning chapters of the book of Leviticus to the present time we live in. What exactly is an offering to God? What exactly is it that we give God when we offer a sacrifice? How do we even offer a sacrifice?
Leviticus 1:1-2 ‘Now the Lord called to Moses, and spoke to him from the tabernacle of meeting, saying, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of the livestock—of the herd and of the flock.’
This is the way the verse reads when translated from Hebrew to English. However, in Hebrew the word order of the sentence is strange and unexpected. We would expect to read: adam mikem ki yakriv, “when one of you offers a sacrifice”. Instead what the Hebrew really reads is: adam ki yakriv mikem, “when one offers a sacrifice of you”. The essence of sacrifice, said R. Shneor Zalman, is that we offer ourselves. We bring to God our energies, our thoughts and emotions. We deny ourselves. The real sacrifice is mikem, “of you”. We give God something of ourselves. We obey the Shema when we offer a sacrifice….Hear O Israel, The Lord is One…Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul…
Leviticus 1:1-2 in the Hebrew reads:
‘דַּבֵּ֞ר dabber speak / אֶל־ el to / בְּנֵ֤י be’ne sons / יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ Yisrael Israel
וְאָמַרְתָּ֣ ve’a-mar-ta and say / אֲלֵהֶ֔ם a/le-hem to them / אָדָ֗ם a’dam anyone
כִּֽי־ ki when / יַקְרִ֥יב yaq-rib brings / מִכֶּ֛ם mik-kem of you / קָרְבָּ֖ן qar-ban an offering
לַֽיהוָ֑ה YHWH to Yahweh …’
When we offer ourselves, when the sacrifice is of us, we give our lives to God. The prophet Samuel breaks it down to what is the sacrifice, ‘So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.’ 1Samuel 15:22.
Psalm 51:17 says ‘The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.’
Our bodies are a living sacrifice, ‘“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” Romans 12:1.
Our praise is a sacrifice ‘“Through Yeshua therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess His Name” Hebrews 13:15.
The theme of Sefer Vayikra (The Book of Leviticus) is korbanos, the sacrifices brought in the Tabernacle and, later, in the Temple. It was a Divine service of the Israelites to accommodate the transition of the people going from the extreme lies of idol worship to the extreme truth of worshipping one true God. Prayer, Torah study and walking in the ways of Elohim is the ultimate way to serve God and come closer to Him, for those methods involve our heart, soul and mind. At the same time, we are created with physical needs and therefore driven to relate to God in a physical, tangible way. We are a tangible, physical people learning to walk in the spiritual and we need both physical and spiritual oneness with God.
Vayikra is a book that opens the door to the nefesh; the soul. It is through Vayikra that we learn the importance of the offering, which is the gift of ourselves unto Elohim.
May you be blessed as you begin your study of Vayikra.