In the Torah reading נשא Nasso (“take up” or “carry,” i.e., conduct), we witness a type of “harvest,” not of grapes or wheat but of people. The LORD’s Tabernacle is the embassy set up to receive them, and the priests and ultimately the people are the ambassadors sent out to proclaim His message.
Shavuot for Jews. Pentecost for Christians. We can have a great dialogue with our brethren in faith in the Holy One of Israel about the lessons taught in this memorial of the revelation of God. The Word was spoken and written at Sinai, become flesh in Yeshua the Mashiakh (Jesus the Christ), and put into action by the transformation of the Spirit.
At the end of the book of Vayiqra (Leviticus) in dual Torah reading בהר Behar/בחקותי Bechukotai, we look back at the journey through the parable of the Tabernacle. At the end of the book of Shemot (Exodus), the LORD moved into the newly created Tabernacle, and everyone had to get out. “And He called out” (Vayiqra) from the Tabernacle at the beginning of Leviticus for the people of Israel to draw near to Him. Vayiqra teaches how God is helping us move closer to Him and to each other.
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Yeshua the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:14–16 NASB)
Here’s the lesson of Yom haKippurim (Day of Atonement): The LORD wants us to enter His “rest.” He wants our old way of life to be covered over and the guilt taken away, so we can enter His presence.
This study of the combined Torah reading אחרי מות Acharei Mot (“after the death”) and קדושים Kedoshim (“holinesses”), covering Leviticus 16–20, will be focusing on Hebrews 4:14–10:39. This teaching dives deep into the role of Yeshua (Jesus) as our High Priest, so we can learn Heaven’s lessons in the parables of the Tabernacle and Yom haKippurim.
In this study of Leviticus 12–15, we will be taking a step up and a step back the topics discussed. Some of it is unsettling, and it is easy to lose ourselves in some of the more distasteful details, while forgetting the important life lessons the Holy One of Yisra’el is communicating to us.
Yisra’el has a long history of forgetting what makes people “holy,” what makes them “clean” to approach the Presence of the Name. The LORD does that; the person doesn’t make himself or herself holy. It’s also often been lost that being declared tamé (“unclean”) doesn’t make one sinful or wicked either. Understanding the parable of “clean” and “unclean” is key to understanding Yeshua’s instructions on hand-washing in Mark 7 and Peter’s vision of unclean meats in Acts 10.
Yeshua’s frequently argued with the Pharisees over their emphasis on their man-made traditions over the plain word of scripture and how their man-made traditions were doing more to keep people away from God than bringing them into God’s embrace.
Even after Yeshua’s death and resurrection, these false ideas about the inherent holiness of the Jewish people and the inherent wickedness of the Gentiles was hindering God’s goal to lift up, bring near, make clean and declare holy believers from the nations in the same way Heaven does for the “native-born.”
None of these sacrifices or offerings of the Tabernacle or Temple of ancient Israel apply to us today, yet all of them apply to us today. That paradox comes to us because forgiveness for diverging from the Creator’s plan has always come to mankind the same way: the old way of life must die. Offerings of blood and food never accomplished that — and never were meant to.
So then, what’s the deal with all the detailed instructions in the Bible about killing animals, pouring and sprinkling blood, burning carcasses and bringing in offerings of produce? Yeshua the Mashiakh taught in parables, and the Word of God teaches through the parable of the Tabernacle.
The punchline of the parable: When we sin, something has to die. The offerings that involved death of the animal teach that the contrite person — humble and seeking change — is transformed on the approach toward God, ultimately coming face to face with the Creator by way of the blood of the perfectly pure and innocent presented at the Tabernacle doorway. This parable memorializes Heaven’s mercy in forgiving humanity’s oopsies, carelessness, wanton disregard and even rebellion against the LORD by the Offering that only needed to be offered “once for all” (Heb. 9:11–14; 10:8–10).