Leviticus 1:1–6:7: Getting back into the LORD’s presence

“One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.” (Psalms 27:4 NASB)

Ever been homesick? Or finally woken up to the reality, “There’s no place like home!” The Torah reading ויקרא Vayiqra/Vayikra (“and he called,” Leviticus 1:1–6:7) flows from the end of the second book of the Pentateuch (Exodus 40:35), which ends with the exclusion of Moshe and everyone else from God’s Presence in the newly dedicated Tabernacle. The third book of the Pentateuch gives us God’s instructions for how we return to His Presence.

The entire book of Leviticus, called Vayiqra in Hebrew, teaches that true worship is not about entering a building but entering God’s Presence every day of our lives.

In Jewish tradition, children, from age 5 start their Torah study with the book of Vayiqra. The Midrash attributed this instruction to the Holy One:

“Since children are pure and sacrifices are pure, let the pure come and occupy themselves with things that are pure.” (Leviticus Rabbah 7:3)

Several of these offerings end with the comment that God forgives the giver of the sacrifice but later we read in the Psalms, as well as the words of the Prophets and the Messiah tell us that some sacrifices do not bring forgiveness.

Think of these sacrifices as a spiritual hazmat suit, to protect us from God’s fiery wrath.

The Hebrew word translated as sacrifice or offering is קָרְבָּן qorban (Strong’s lexicon No. H7133a). The root is from the word קָרַב qārab (H7126) which means to come near, draw near or approach. In English, the noun is more important but in Hebrew, the verb is more important. It gives a different picture, of drawing near.

There are two different ways to make a Hebrew word plural: either -ot or -im. The -ot is feminine, the -im is masculine.

5 ways to draw near to the LORD

There are five major categories of korban/qorbanot offerings: ’olah, minkhah, shelamim, khattat and ’asham.

Look for the phrase “come near” or “brought near.” These go together. There’s a difference between boldness or confidence and arrogance. The purpose of the offerings and sacrifices are to “bring near” the worshipper. They are not a ticket to be punched to get us into the door of the tabernacle. The blood and gore of these sacrifices are supposed to shock our consciences (Hebrews 4:16; 7:19, 25; 10:19-22).

The laying on of hands is not just patting something or someone on the head, it’s carries the sense of leaning on. You are imparting yourself onto the animal that is sacrificed. The Hebrew word for this is סמיכה semikhah. The worshiper imparted himself onto the gift, which was going to bring the worshiper near.

Romans 12:1 tells us that we are to be “living sacrifices.” The qorbanot are not merely “get out of jail free” cards. This is about a transformation of the heart.

Leviticus 1:1–17; 6:8–13: קרבן עולה qorban ’olah (burnt offering)

עולה ’olah = that which rises or goes up. Qorban ’olah is totally consumed by fire on the altar.

Leviticus 2:1–16: 6:14–23: קרבן מנחה qorban minkhah (grain offering)

Salt offering (Lev. 2:13)

The grain offering was not usually raw, but made into unleavened cakes. Then the unleavened cakes were smeared with oil in the shape of the ancient Hebrew letter tav, which looks like a “x” or a “t” in English. This is also the Greek letter chai which is the first letter of the word “Christ” which is the Greek equivalent of Messiah/Moschiach.

The “hot cross buns” of European tradition are not a throwback to paganism but a faint “throwback” to the grain qorban offering, which is firmly rooted in Torah.

Yeshua’s phrase about “eating my flesh and drinking my blood” is qorban language.

  • Everlasting covenant for priests (Num. 18:19)
  • Everlasting covenant for David (2Chron. 13:5)

Leviticus 3:1-17; 7:11–36: קרבן שלמים qorban shelamim (peace offering)

This is an offering of contentment: “Peace be with you.” There are to be multiple levels of peace. We are to be at peace with our fellow man and God.

This is the offering we are to leave your gift at the altar if there’s a relationship in our lives that is not at peace.: Matthew 5:21–26

קרבן חטאת qorban khattat (sin offering) (4:1-5:13; 6:24–30)

חטא khatah = to miss the mark, to deviate; to purify

חטאת = purification

Childbirth (Lev. 12:6)

Sin offerings are not just about literal sins. This is also the offering given up when a woman has recovered from childbirth. The child has not sinned and the parents have not sinned by bring the child into the world. The offering for childbirth is an offering of purification, not a punishment for sin.

  • Leper (Lev. 14:19)
  • Nazarite contact with corpse (Num. 6:11)
  • Nazarite finishes term (Num. 6:14)
  • Purify the altar (Ex. 29:36)
  • Cleanse house (Lev. 14:49)

Leviticus 5:14-6:7; 7:1–10: קרבן אשם qorban ’asham (guilt offering)

The “soothing aroma” is the contrite heart, not the blood of the animals. The sacrifices are not about God holding a grudge but to teach His people a lesson.

I recommend you read Isaiah 43-44. It’s a time of Israel’s history just before the exile. Think about all these qorbanot and how the prophets criticizes them for giving these offerings to idols. They were rejecting God and going after deities with no power at all.

The vision God gave to Peter and the unclean animals hits the same theme as the book of Leviticus. That which was unclean and far off is now clean and brought near.

This shows us what a horror show it really is if we are far away from God.

Summary: Tammy

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