Parsha Wayyiqra - Wayyiqra/Leviticus 1:1 - 6:7
Growing up in church, I always heard this saying: "The God of the Old Testament was a God of wrath."
They made it sound like He was always killing or getting ready to kill somebody.
But how wrong they were!
Reading and studying the Torah now, I see clearly that the Elohim of the Tanakh (laws, writings, & prophets), was and is and forever will be:
"[YAHUAH], [YAHUAH], an El compassionate and showing favour, patient, and great in kindness and truth, watching over kindness for thousands, forgiving crookedness and transgression and sin, but by no means leaving unpunished, visiting the crookedness of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” (Shem/Ex. 34:6-7)
That last line may not sound compassionate, but it actually means that YAHUAH is so patient that He will withhold punishment until the third or fourth generation, giving people plenty of time to repent and turn to Him. Now that's compassion!
This week's Parsha, as we begin Wayyiqra/Leviticus, is a clear example of these different ways of thinking. Though it may look like a bunch of killing and blood splattering, truly the offerings were an example of YAH's great compassion.
A Little Background
We ended Shemoth (Exodus) last week with the completion of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and the Shchina (Presence) of YAHUAH dwelling within in it. The whole book of Shemoth was to meet this moment.
YAHUAH brought His people out of slavery in Mitsrayim, gave them His laws and commands to set them apart, and then He dwelt in their midst (like at the beginning of Creation in the garden of Eden).
Wayyiqra is a continuation of Shemoth, though at first glance it may not seem like it. It seems more like a procedural manual than anything else. It's like it pauses the ‘story’ of Shemoth to give a long list of instructions.
Wayyiqra, with all its instructions, actually does continue the ‘story.’ The Mishkan is complete, now YAHUAH tells them how to use it - how and when to make the offerings.
He is dwelling in their midst, so now He tells them how to develop a relationship with Him.
Two Types of Offerings
The korbanot (offerings) were not so much for YAHUAH (as if He ‘needed’ blood and animal flesh) as they were for us - for our sake.
The root of korban (offering) means ‘to draw close.’ Thus, the korbanot were a means to help us draw closer to YAHUAH.
Parsha Wayyiqra has two sections: chapters 1-3 and chapters 4-6:7.
Chapters 1-3 outline the voluntary offerings (burnt, grain, and peace offerings) which any person could bring as a sweet smelling fragrance to YAHUAH.
Whenever anyone desired to strengthen or improve His relationship with YAH - to draw closer to Him - they brought one of these.
Chapters 4-6:7 outline the mandatory offerings (sin and guilt offerings) which a person was required to bring to YAHUAH when he sinned unintentionally. This offering was for forgiveness and atonement.
It was a means to restore one’s relationship with YAHUAH. Sin damages our relationship with Him, and this offering repaired it.
How great is the compassion of our Almighty Elohim!
He not only dwells in our midst, but He also made a way for us to develop a personal relationship with Him.
And since He knows how fallible we humans are, He also made a way for us to be able to fix a broken or damaged relationship with Him.
YAHUAH does not hold our sins against us. He allows us to return to Him. He forgives and grants atonement.
Preparing for Passover
This is an important reminder at this season. We are quickly approaching Passover. Passover is the season of our freedom. YAHUAH will set us free and deliver us from whatever is holding us back from having a relationship with Him.
Whatever stands in the way of us being able to serve Him better, whatever holds us from increasing in love for Him, from obeying Him even more - that He will deliver us from.
If we truly desire it, He will make a way to bring us back to Him.
Before Yisrael was delivered, however, they first had to begin to make changes themselves by turning from sin. Then, YAHUAH was compassionate to forgive them and rescue them.
We too must turn from our sins. As we begin to remove the physical chametz (leaven) from our homes, we must also remove the spiritual chametz from our being.
We don’t have to be a "sinful and evil person" to have sinned. We only need to have messed up somehow or simply fallen short somewhere in our obedience.
As we prepare for Passover, these are the steps we should take:
Search for the chametz - all the ways we messed up, fell short, disobeyed, and did wrong. Admit and confess them.
Seek forgiveness. Seek to repair your relationship with YAHUAH - for even the ‘smallest’ sin causes impurity and separates us from Him. Desire to return to Him and repair the damage to your relationship.
Make an offering to YAHUAH. We don’t slaughter animals anymore. We offer to Him a broken spirit and contrite heart (Teh. 51:17). We offer words of prayer. Humbly apologize to YAH and ask for forgiveness.
Make another offering to YAHUAH, a voluntary offering to improve your relationship with Him - to show Him you’re serious about being His servant. Offer to Him the bull of your lips - words of praise and thanksgiving (Hos. 14:2). Make a heartfelt commitment to serve Him better and more completely.
When we work on our relationship with Him in this manner, at this season, we will see the deliverance.
YAHUAH is our Savior and Redeemer. He will bring us out of our Egypt - to serve Him even better than before.