Give an order
Jeremiah 7:21-8:3; 9:22-23
by Mark Huey
The previous week’s Torah reading, Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1-5:26[6:7]), encompassed the first five chapters of Leviticus, continuing God’s instructions to the Ancient Israelites on the various sacrificial offerings that were to be presented to Him. Now as we turn to Tzav, the emphasis is seen on specific commands to Aaron and his sons, who constituted the Levitical priesthood, and how it was to prepare, handle, and offer the different sacrifices. Details are given regarding not eating animal fat or blood, with Tzav concluding with a description of the actual consecration of Aaron and his sons. Providentially perhaps, this week’s study precedes the annual commemoration of the Passover. Allow this timing to seriously prepare your hearts to obey the instruction for God’s people to remember the Passover—and by extension, all of His appointed times. After all, Tzav ends with the admonition that Aaron and his sons complied with all of these ancient commands of the Lord:
“Thus Aaron and his sons did all the things which the LORD had commanded through Moses” (Leviticus 8:36).
From a relatively passive explanation about how individuals were supposed to offer up sacrifices in Vayikra (Leviticus 6:1-7), our Torah portion describes an imperative command that was to be adhered to by the Levitical priesthood (Leviticus 6:8-9). We then see meticulous details specified for the different offerings, which include: the burnt offering (Leviticus 6:10-13), the grain offering (Leviticus 6:14-23), the sin offering (Leviticus 6:24-30), the guilt offering (Leviticus 7:1-10), and the peace offering (Leviticus 7:11-16). While there might be some different classifications provided by readers for the different offerings or sacrifices to be made in Leviticus chs. 6-7, one overarching theme really struck me in reviewing them all. The Holy One desired His chosen people to be continually offering different sacrifices from evening to morning:
“Command Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the law for the burnt offering: the burnt offering itself shall remain on the hearth on the altar all night until the morning, and the fire on the altar is to be kept burning on it’” (Leviticus 6:9).
The Lord was very particular about how the Levitical priesthood was to maintain the sacrifice, and He reiterated the command to keep the fires burning without interruption:
“The priest is to put on his linen robe, and he shall put on undergarments next to his flesh; and he shall take up the ashes to which the fire reduces the burnt offering on the altar and place them beside the altar. Then he shall take off his garments and put on other garments, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place. The fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it. It shall not go out, but the priest shall burn wood on it every morning; and he shall lay out the burnt offering on it, and offer up in smoke the fat portions of the peace offerings on it. Fire shall be kept burning continually on the altar; it is not to go out” (Leviticus 6:10-13).
From these instructions seen in Tzav, it is evident that the Lord desired a continual sacrificial offering, between Himself and His chosen people. We can see how a perpetual pattern of spiritual service was established for the future generations of followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to pursue.
In ancient times, before the destruction of the Second Temple, the Levitical priesthood presented the various sacrificial offerings, as specified by Torah portions like Tzav. But since the ultimate sacrifice of Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) and His resurrection from the dead—coupled with universal availability of the Holy Spirit—we definitely see a shift toward the responsibility of God’s people to offer “sacrifices” to Him in the form of the worship offered by born again Believers. The Apostle Paul communicated how,
“[D]o you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Most frequently, this has been interpreted from the perspective of individual Believers being filled with the Holy Spirit. While absolutely true, it can also be viewed from the perspective of “body” pertaining to the Body of Messiah or whole community of faith as well. Certainly, the actions performed, by a claiming individual Believer, are to be reflected within the whole Body of Messiah, as we all strive to build one another up—or in some cases, tear one another down. With this in mind, consider Paul’s preceding admonition:
“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).
The body of Believers—whether it be individuals redeemed from sin, or corporate bodies of Messiah followers—is to be consecrated to God because of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Paul, being the teacher of Israel’s Scriptures that he was, would have understood the significance that according to instructions like those seen in Tzav, not only were the sacrificial offerings considered holy, but even those who touched the offerings were consecrated in their duties:
“Now this is the law of the grain offering: the sons of Aaron shall present it before the LORD in front of the altar. Then one of them shall lift up from it a handful of the fine flour of the grain offering, with its oil and all the incense that is on the grain offering, and he shall offer it up in smoke on the altar, a soothing aroma, as its memorial offering to the LORD. What is left of it Aaron and his sons are to eat. It shall be eaten as unleavened cakes in a holy place; they are to eat it in the court of the tent of meeting. It shall not be baked with leaven. I have given it as their share from My offerings by fire; it is most holy, like the sin offering and the guilt offering. Every male among the sons of Aaron may eat it; it is a permanent ordinance throughout your generations, from the offerings by fire to the Lord. Whoever touches them will become consecrated” (Leviticus 6:14-18).
What duties do you faithfully perform as a Believer in the Messiah Yeshua? In your quest to obey the Lord, are you continually sanctified more and more, as you serve Him in the world? One of the most classic passages, as it concerns Messiah followers’ sacrifice before the Father, is Romans 12:1-2:
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2).
Romans 12:1-2 speaks about the people of God and the worship they are to offer before Him. What happens when we enter into worship, either individually or corporately? Hopefully the many differences we think are important to us—those human achievements or status identifiers that we think make us “special”—become far less important in view of Him and His supreme holiness. What Yeshua the Messiah has done for us, as the sinless Lamb of God, has opened full access to the Father:
“By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Messiah Yeshua once for all. Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET [Psalm 110:1]. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:10-14).
Think about the power of these statements the next time you enter into worship. Think about how much we might take Yeshua’s sacrifice, and the permanent atonement and forgiveness it offers, (utterly) for granted. In view of what the Messiah has done for us, perhaps we can better understand what Paul says in Philippians 3:8:
“I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Messiah Yeshua my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Messiah.”
Believers in the accomplished work of the Messiah can discover great joy, fulfillment, and purpose for their lives—if they can place what He has done at the center of their being. This requires a steadfast willingness to surrender to the will of God, being an imitator of God, and walking in the love of God:
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Messiah also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Ephesians 5:1-2).
Just like the fragrant aromas of the sacrificial offerings found in Tzav (Leviticus 6:15, 21; 8:21, 28), we find that the Messiah’s sacrifice was also a fragrant aroma offered unto the Father. Yet, when we offer ourselves up to the Lord in service, are we a fragrant aroma to Him—or something else? As you consider the various sacrificial offerings found in this week’s Torah portion, perhaps it would be spiritually beneficial to focus on your personal choice, to offer yourself to Him. None of us want to be a smell of burning, stinking garbage before the Lord!
Do you want to be a pleasing aroma to the Lord in all that you do? What about the privilege of being a witness for the gospel, as the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Yeshua permeates everywhere you go?
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Messiah, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Messiah to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Messiah in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 2:14-17).
While one can spend much time this week focusing on the details of the different offerings described in Tzav, perhaps it might be more necessary for you to consider just how you are personally offering yourself as a living holy sacrifice to the Lord’s service. Will this at all affect you in your approach to the Passover, which is soon coming? What about all of the things that you have to do, as a man or woman of faith?