Emor – Say Leviticus 21:1 – 24:23 Ezekiel 44:15-31; Ezekiel 13:10-16 Mark 2:23-3:5; Luke 4:14-32; Matthew 5:38-42
Requirements for Priests
This portion is written to define to the priests of Yahweh what the requirements are necessary for them to stay holy. The interesting thing is that all these restrictions are outward. First it gives us a series of regulations concerning Levitical priests: how they are to live, the kind of women they are to marry, how they are to stay away from dead things and consecrate themselves as holy unto Yahweh. The portion also gives a variety of sundry laws for the priests and how they are to conduct their day-to-day affairs. Who can be buried or married, what can’t be shaven or cut or marred. Verse 17 through 23 speaks about the deformed, damaged or sick in the priestly line, and forbids their approach to present offerings. Yahweh says these rules are established because the priests are leaders, and that they may not profane His name, the sanctuary or the consecration of the anointing oil.
Its purpose is to enlighten us as sons of the Almighty God of Israel, of the great responsibility that we have been given to be the kingdom of priests and the holy nation that the Holy One Himself has chosen for the purpose of being a light unto the other nations. From the beginning chapters of Vayikra/Leviticus,where the laws of Sacrifice (chs 1-7), to the inauguration of the sanctuary services (chs 8-10), to descriptions about how the priesthood was to function (chs 9-11), the laws of purity (chs 11-16) which include the dietary laws and the laws of purification, the prohibitions of unlawful marriages and sexual morals (chs 17-18), to the manual for moral instruction (chs 19-), the book has been developing a code of behavior that will literally set the children of Israel apart from all the other nations. As the previous Torah portion was appropriately named Kedoshim or Holy Ones, the requirements for Israel is to be a holy nation. Now He imparts further enlightenment and instructs Moses to speak even more instructions to the priests and the sons of Aaron.
It also details some very important ordinances that help form the foundation of the Biblical society of Israel. Since the nation of Israel is to become a “nation of Priests,’ with this requirement to be forever and without end, then it is important for followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to understand the responsibility that priesthood carries. We are in essence to be God’s representatives on earth. It is upon our heads, because we have been given His revelation, to communicate it effectively to all the other nations so that they will to be drawn into an eternal and saving relationship with the Holy One of Israel. Consequently, it is incumbent upon the sons of Israel to not only “talk the talk,’ but most importantly, “walk the walk. ' These expressions are useful because in this day and age, as the lines of demarcation between the children of God and the followers of the Evil One are being drawn, it is imperative that the commonwealth of Israel stand up for the Truth as embodied in the Holy Scriptures. One of the most obvious ways we can do that is by first hearing the Word, then obeying the Word and ultimately walking it out.
In chapter 21 Yahweh demands higher standards of righteousness, obedience and holiness for those in leadership over his people. The higher up in leadership you desire to go the more your walk must characterize service, death to self and a holiness (See 1 Tim. 3:1-13; Tit. 1:5-9). Standards of holiness rise as one moves closer to Yahweh. Yeshua condemned the religious leaders of his day for not practicing what they preached (hypocrisy), for living lives of pretense and show (whited sepulchers full of bones), for greediness and pride. The priests were given a prominent role in the service to the Temple. With this role came many spiritual benefits that the common people did not receive. These privileges were balanced by additional responsibility, accountability and a higher level of discipline.
Leviticus 22:1-31 In this section of Torah Yahweh makes some strong delineations between that which is profane, polluted or contaminated and that which is kadosh or set-apart unto Yahweh for use in service to Him. To come into His presence demands that men follow high and exacting standards. This is to teach sinful man that although Yahweh is high and lifted up above the mortal and mundane plane in kadosh-ness (holiness) and righteousness, He is not unapproachable by men who prepare themselves properly to come into His presence (Read Ecc. 5:1-2.). He wanted to impress this upon the Israelites as they began the service of the Tabernacle. Therefore Yahweh specifies that certain offerings brought to His altar which are contaminated will be rejected if
(a) the offerer is in a state of physical contamination,
(b) one is contaminated through improper marriage,
(c) one is offering a blemished animal.
In the Book of Hebrews we are called priests. Yeshua is the guarantor of our priestly covenant (Heb. 7:22) He is our High Priest, without weakness or flaw, eternal. And under His priestly reign Paul says “Torah will be put in our minds and written in our hearts” (Heb. 8:10). So, our calling is more than outward, (although we do have instruction in how to appear). Our calling is deeper, it reaches the mind and the heart and calls us to honor our High Priest, to follow Him in being a servant and to move beyond outward observance of Torah to the inward life of obedience. Not the sacrifice of animals or grains, but the sacrifice of praise, the broken and contrite heart that Yahweh can use, and the renewed mind that has wisdom from above. Thanks be to Yahweh and the Messiah Yeshua that in Luke 14 Yeshua makes clear that the deformed, the damaged and the sick will be made welcome at His feast. We are the imperfect, made whole through His sacrifice, and we are the priests called to bring honor to His name.
But what type offerings do we bring to Yahweh’s altar? Our time, our money, our energy, our talents and giftings, our devotion? Do we give him the best? Do we pray and study His Word consistently and give Him the best quality time? Are the offerings and tithes which we give the leftovers after other commitments are met?
Sanctifying His Name
Leviticus 22:2, 32 This parasha begins and ends with Yahweh commanding His people to not desecrate His kadosh/holy name, but to sanctify or to keep it set-apart. In Hebrew thought a name is not only one's name, but is a reflection of one's character and identity. This is part of our worship and He requires us to not offer profane, polluted or contaminated offerings. In Exodus 20 we find the Ten Commandments (or Words), the first word or command in the Hebrew text is prefaced by "I am Yahweh your God... " then "You shall have no other gods before me..."
His character, His identity, is set before us for us to honour all that He is, to give Him the pre-eminence in all things. Our actions and behaviour reflects on Him and affects His reputation before the world and the respect they therefore will give to Him. If we act in a holy manner befitting children of God, His name is sanctified. If we act in a godless or wicked manner, Yahweh’s Name and reputation is defiled. A significant amount of ethical standards are formulated around the idea of sanctifying the Name of Yahweh. Every choice we make in life will in someway or another reflect upon God. Our every interaction with other human beings will in one way or another say something about the God we serve.
To sanctify God’s Name means to treat His Name with the respect, honor and consecration that He deserves. But in the broader sense, it refers to obedience and uprightness of character. The Torah explains that the formula for sanctifying God’s Name is obedience to the commandments. “So you shall keep My commandments, and do them; I am Yahweh.” (22:31) The Master concurs: “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) He is saying that when we do good works, we bring glory to our Father in Heaven. Our sins rob God of the glory that He is due. This is part of the meaning of the words the Master taught us to pray. “Sanctified be Your Name, Your Kingdom Come, Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven,” are all parallel statements. When God’s will is done on earth, His commandments are being kept. His reign and rule are being exercised on Earth, and His Name is then sanctified.
Set Apart Times.
The Torah declares times (Shabbat and festivals), persons (priests and Levites), objects (e.g., articles in the Tabernacle) as kadosh or set apart. In the Torah and in traditional Judaism times are designated set-apart (23:2) through ritual, prayer or declaration. People are declared kadosh or set apart for service through initiation involving anointing and the laying on of hands. In our Christian culture of extreme informality, casualness and personal independence, the kind of formalities that Torah contains when it comes to recognizing set-apart people, times and places can seem foreign, awkward and unnecessary.
Leviticus 23:1-3 “Yahweh spoke to Moshe, saying: Speak to the Children of Yisrael and say to them: Yahweh’ s appointed festivals that you are to designate as holy convocations – these are My appointed festivals. For six days labor may be done, and the seventh day is a day of complete rest, a holy convocation, you shall not do any work: it is a Sabbath for Yahweh in all your dwelling places."
The appointed times of Yahweh in this chapter are the weekly Sabbath/Shabbat (v. 3), Passover (v. 5), Unleavened Bread(vs. 6-8), First Fruits (vs. 9-14), Pentecost/Shavuot(vs'. 15-22), Trumpets (vs. 23-25), Day of Atonement (vs. 26-32),Tabernacles (vs. 33-43), and the Eighth Day Assembly/Shemini Atzeret (v'. 36b).
On these appointed feasts, Yahweh calls his people together to have a special meeting with them. In these appointed feasts, He has decided to reveal his entire Messianic, prophetic program for the redemption of man and creation.
All these feasts that Yahweh has established are prophetic pictures of what is going to happen in the future. They are said to be "holy convocations". They are intended to be times of assembling and gathering together. The word used for 'convocation' is mikra and means 'a rehearsal' . Rehearsing something enables you to get it right for the main event. Now, if these feasts are rehearsals for something greater that will be in the coming age, what will happen to those who did not want to take part in the rehearsals.
In the Apostolic Scriptures, Colossians 2:17 tells us that the substance of these times belongs to Messiah, meaning that in addition to the ancient meaning for honoring these days, which is the shadow, there is yet more fulfillment yet to come. In Yeshua, we know these appointments mean much more than what they were originally established for. They are a "shadow of what is to come." These verses do not say that we should not celebrate these things, but rather the opposite. They say that we should not allow anyone to judge us in the way that we keep them. The shadow is cast by the real object and these shadows help us to have a deeper understanding of the true picture which is the redemptive work of the Messiah. Even when the true object which casts the shadow is present you cannot remove the shadow. These shadows are still pointing to something that is to come in the future. So, when we celebrate these feasts, we rehearse and prepare for what is coming.
The weekly Shabbat heads the list of the ‘kadosh’, set apart, appointed times and is called a “set-apart convocation” (Heb. miqra, Strong’s H#4744) or assembly, calling together, convocation. Obviously, Yahweh takes the weekly Shabbat very seriously. Intimacy with Yahweh demands personal holiness in heart, mind and action (walking it out). Holiness as He sees it, demands recognizing His set apart times. This is part of His statutes which if we honour we shall be blessed. By honoring the weekly Sabbath, we not only have a complete day of physical rest, but we also rest in Messiah by devoting the day to Him and to meditating on His Word.
The Children of Yisrael were provided for during the forty years in the wilderness, by the double portion supply of manna for each weekly Shabbat. Yahweh knew that if men and women everywhere would recognize His Sabbath day, they would attribute creation of the universe to Him and by so acknowledging this truth would look to Him as their source of supply. For this reason He said to them “Speak to the Children of Yisrael saying, Verily my Sabbaths you shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that you may know that I am Yahweh that does sanctify you” Exodus 31:13.
It is a sign that we are in covenant relationship with Yahweh and are prepared to be separated from the rest of the world. We establish our identity by obedience in keeping His commands.
The Feast Days are arranged in chronological order and relate to one’s spiritual walk and development. They contain the plan of salvation and/or the steps man must go through in being reconciled to our Creator God. These Sabbath festivals were also known as High Holy Sabbaths, in which no work is done. They are observed differently from the weekly Sabbaths as they were meant to reinforce our spiritual goals and to inspire us to achieve a more committed walk of sanctification. As a result our walk of intimacy with our Heavenly Father will grow and so will our level of spiritual understanding of His ways and purposes for our lives.
At Passover we not only remember the Ancient Israelites exodus from Ancient Egypt, but we also remember the exodus that we have from bondage to sin into new life through Yeshua, Who is our blameless Passover Lamb and blood covering. We eat matzah for eight days during Unleavened Bread not only to remember how the Israelites had to flee Egypt in haste, but also we recognize that Yeshua is the Bread of Life, leavenless or sinless.
At First Fruits we not only commemorate the early harvest, but we recognize that Messiah is the First Fruits risen from the dead and rejoice in the finished work of the Atonement. This teaches us that Yeshua's resurrection is the foundation for others to be able to take part in the resurrection power, which is symbolized by the grain that comes up out of the earth, as it is written in 1 Corinthians 15:35-44
At Pentecost we are not only reminded of the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai to Moses and the 3,000 Israelites who were killed for their idolatry, but we also remember that the Holy Spirit was poured out in the Upper Room and 3,000 were saved. In the Fall we celebrate the Feast of Trumpets or Yom Teruah, representing the holy convocation of the Israelites and the future gathering of the saints into the clouds to meet Yeshua as He returns to judge Planet Earth after the Tribulation period.
On the Day of the Atonement we fast and afflict ourselves, as it was the day where the high priest would atone for the sin of the nation and there would be national mourning, representative of the time when Messiah will return to judge the nations at His Second Coming - a time when there will be worldwide morning as Gods wrath is poured out.
At Tabernacles we remember our ancestors trek through the wilderness which represents our Father's desire to want to tabernacle or dwell with us - the primary theme of the coming Millennial reign and restored Kingdom of Israel on Earth'. Furthermore, Tabernacles is the probable time when Yeshua was born in Bethlehem. And what of the weekly Sabbath? We devote the seventh day completely unto God and it represents the coming Sabbath Millennium where Yeshua will reign supreme and all will be at rest.
Love in Works and Truth
Love is as a verb, it is a word of action. One who is in love actively pursues their lover. One who is in love cherishes, holds dear, and actively desires to express their passion and devotion to their lover and do those things which please the one they love.
"Hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His Commandments. He that says, I know Him, and keeps not His Commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whosoever keeps His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him." I John 1:3-5
"My little Children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him." "And whatsoever we ask we receive of Him, because we keep His Commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight." I John 3:18-19
"You worship you know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Yehudim (Jew). But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship Him. Yahweh our God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." John 4:22-24