The common Torah reading for this week (נָשֹׂא Nasso, “take up” or “carry,” Num. 4:21–7:89) continues the census of the priesthood of Israel, caretakers of the earthly embassy of the Creator. Yes, there’s a Messiah-centered connection between determining who could enter the מִשְׁכָּן Mishkan (“Tabernacle”), testing the faithfulness of a wife, commissioning and decommissioning someone under a Nazirite vow and the 12 days of gifts from each of the tribes of Israel at the dedication of the Mishkan.
All of us will face trying times that will reveal who we really are, our character. The Torah reading בְּמִדְבַּר Bamidbar (“in the wilderness”) over Num. 1:1–4:20 takes us along with our ancient ancestors in faith on a journey toward true rest God provides. That’s a trek that’s as relevant now as it was then.
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.
“during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord.” (Lev. 25:4 NASB)
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28 NASB)
“For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.” (Heb. 4:10 NASB)
We’ve all had days when we are so physically or mentally exhausted that we long to go home and relax, or better yet, nap. The LORD gave our forefathers in faith memorials and reminders in time to nudge us to seek Him Who can truly bring us rest from guilt, fear, loneliness, etc. That’s the lesson in the combined Torah reading that wraps up the book of Leviticus.
In the Torah reading אמר Emor (“to say, speak or tell”), we will spend most of our time together discussing how God instructed the High Priest and the priestly line to respond to the reality of death around them. We will also ponder how God teaches us to give and receive charity and the difference between legalism and obedience in keeping Torah and God’s appointed times, aka the festivals of Yisrael.
The Creator of all that is reveals how different He is from the creation. YHWH’s servants, the priesthood, are called to be different from the world that lives as if the Creator isn’t in control, and the priests are to show the better way — the Way of YHWH.
That’s the message of Torah reading אמר Emor (“say”), covering Leviticus 21-24. It’s a Bible reading that includes teachings from YHWH about special anniversaries, annual reminders of what the Creator is doing, particularly through the Word of YHWH made human — Yeshua haMashiakh, or Jesus the Christ.
“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.