Parasha Tzav (Give an Order)
- Vayikra/Leviticus 6:1-8:36; Jer. 7:21-8:3, 9:22-23; Mal'achi/Malachi 3:4-24; Messianic Jews/Hebrews 8:1-6.
Tzav or "Command" continues to deal with many types of animal sacrifices and the duties that the priests were to perform concerning them. Tzav details the guilt offering, the priests' role in the offerings, and the admonition to keep the fire on the altar burning. It ends telling us about the consecration of Aaron and his sons.
Sacrifices and their importance are something that we may question in regard to the importance of studying other than for historical purposes. Is Yeshua not our final sacrifice?
But if we are to appreciate the final sacrifice of Messiah at Calvary, we must know about what our ancestors had to sacrifice previously for their sin, which gave a foreshadowing of His sacrifice that would cover all sin. As we learn about the sacrifices and the priestly tasks that the Ancient Israelites had to experience, we can appreciate the fact that today we can presently go right to Yeshua and apply His sacrifice for our sin, and we do not have to sacrifice animals.
The Service of the High Priest
In Leviticus 6:13-23 there is instruction for the priests for their daily grain offering which is called, the Minchah.
It is noteworthy that the High Priest (Kohen Gadol) was obligated to bring a grain offering each day. Despite his exalted status, the only sacrifice that he was duty-bound to bring was not animals, but of humble grain. Furthermore, in the same way that the community brought a twice-daily burnt offering (Tamid), the High Priest (Kohen Gadol) himself offered a twice-daily offering of grain.
Before he can serve as the “messenger” of the people of Israel, the priest (Kohen) must first purify himself through the atonement of this Minchah. Also, it is significant that the Torah draws a comparison between the daily Minchah of the Kohen Gadol and the initiation Minchah of every other Kohen (priest): Each day, the High Priest (Kohen Gadol) must dedicate himself anew, as if it were the day of his first consecration.
Here is what the High Priest (Kohen Gadol) would do each day: First, he would take an tenth of an ephah of whole flour that belonged to him and, using the measurements of the Sanctuary, divide it into two, preparing one part for the morning and one part for the afternoon. Then he would mix the flour with three logs (a liquid measure) of oil, because the Torah commanded with oil, meaning extra oil. The mixture was then scalded in boiling water and the High Priest (Kohen Gadol) would knead six loaves out of each half. This means that, each day, he would offer a total of twelve loaves, corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel, which he must represent.
Afterwards, the Kohen Gadol would bake each loaf partially, and then fry it in a pan using his own oil, but again not cooking it too much. Then he would divide each loaf into two, so he could offer half in the morning and half in the afternoon. Each half was bent and then broken into pieces. The six halves were burnt completely on the altar, together with a handful of frankincense, in the morning, at the community’s burnt-offering; the other six loaves were similarly offered with the community’s afternoon burnt offering, which closed the day’s sacrificial order.
The Minchah is usually the offering of the poor. The High Priest is elevated above all of Israel, but he must remember his lowliness before the Master of the Universe and come before Yahweh as one of low status bringing his own offering. He is to offer a Minchah from his own goods everyday and to burn it in its entirety, to show that his own standing before Yahweh is on his own merits and not upon his position or the service he performs to the people.
The Law of the Burnt Offering (6:8-13)
The fire for the burnt offering on the Altar of Sacrifice was to never go out, it was a permanent fire. The priest was to stoke up the fire each morning after it had died down during the night. This speak of the need to have the fire of our devotions to Him always burning, ready for any sacrifice we may required to make for Him. In the morning he was to attend to it, clean out the ashes and restoke it. If the relieving priest came in the morning and found that the fire had gone out, he would go and find the sleeping priest and set his clothes alight. He then would have to tear off the burning garments and run naked to get new clothes.
This is the allegory in Revelation 16:15 "Behold I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he that watches and keeps his garments. lest he walk naked and they see his shame." If we do not stay awake spiritually alert and keep our flame of devotion alight, we shall be caught and exposed without our robes of righteousness to cover us. In the morning before we start the day is the time to deal with any 'ashes' that remain in our lives so as to start the day with a 'clean slate' and renewed devotion. The term "morning devotions" has been used to designate the need for this time of prayer before we begin our day's service.
"Then he shall take off his garments and put on other garments, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place." This short excerpt from Tzav tells us how the ashes from the burnt offerings were to be removed and disposed of. Concerning this, the ArtScroll Chumash states "The Kohen scoops up a shovelful from the innermost ashes on the Altar and places it on the floor of the Courtyard, east of the ramp that leads to the top of the altar". v.11
As the priests were to remove a shovelful of ash to symbolize a daily national declaration of serving Him, we as living sacrifices before God (Romans 12:1) must make daily declaration to serve Him. Can Yeshua as our Priest interceding at the Temple in Heaven take a daily scoop of the "ashes" from our ever-burning self-sacrifice symbolizing that we are indeed "on fire" for Yahweh and are continually being purified, ready for the Master's assignments?
We, as priests, are admonished to be as living sacrifices before Yahweh. We must be burning continually before Him as peace offerings delighting in His Presence. May Yeshua as our Priest in Heaven be able to place the "ashes" of our sacrifice in the Heavenly Temple, indicating that we are on fire for Him.
The Peace Offering
Concerning the peace offering, Yahweh commands "The fire on the Altar shall be kept burning on it, it shall not be extinguished" (vs 6:5, ATS). The peace offerings, or shelemim were to be a continual reminder of the covenant that God had made with Israel and were to be a pleasing fragrance unto Him.
The peace offerings continually offered before Yahweh required a fire that was kept burning. The initial flame in the temple had come from above, it only required the wood to be added each day. Wood is the result of the life and death of a tree. The Torah is a tree of life (Proverbs 3:18) and Yeshua is the living Torah. This teaches us that the flammable material that keeps the flame alive in our hearts is the Torah and the Messiah. The life and death of the Messiah has created enough fuel for us to burn for eternity in the presence of the Eternal. Every morning more fuel must be added to the fire in our heart so that we can burn constantly before the Yahweh. It is a daily activity to add more fuel to the fire by fellowship with Him and reading His Word.
The Law of Peace Offerings 7:11-21
The Rabbis teach that every Israelite should be a human temple. If he is set-apart (kadosh), then his temple is holy (kadosh); if he sins he contaminates it. This is consistent with the teachings of the Apostles. Furthermore, in this parashah we see the high priest donning a "fitted" linen tunic and breaches "on his flesh" an illusion to robes of righteousness (6:3). Most of us have too casual a view of sin: something a righteous and holy God hates and calls an abomination (Psalms 5:5; Prov. 6:16-19). Sin will damn us eternally (Ezekiel 18:4,20). Sin sentenced Yeshua to a hideous death on the cross in our place. Perhaps the greatest area of sin is with our mouths; it defiles our temple probably every day! ( Read Mark 7:14-23 and James 3:1-12)
It sows discord among brethren, speaks vanities, murders and lies - things which Yahweh hates and calls an abomination in Proverbs 6:16-19. The tongue is a world of iniquity, especially behind closed doors where we let down our guard with our family and loved ones. There our tongues rip, slice, slash, murder, speak vanities and hypocrisy against others almost without measure. The word Babylon comes from the Hebrew word bavel meaning confusion or mixture referring to when the languages of men were confounded at the Tower of Bavel. How can we be a righteous and set-apart priesthood offering up praise and worship to our Creator with our lips, when our lips murder our brother? This is confusion arising out of a divided heart. A forked (serpent's) tongue!
Scripture plainly tells us to come out of Babylonish ways (Rev. 18:4). The writer of Hebrews says, Follow peace (shalom) with all men, and holiness, without which no man can see Yahweh" (Hebrews 12:14). If we could but tame the tongue, then we would be able to steer our temple into the glorious harbors of holiness and relationship with man and with our Creator. (James Ch. 3)
The peace offering must be offered in a state of spiritual purity. This relates to both the meat and the eater. If either is impure (including impure thoughts on the part of the person making the offering) the offering is disqualified, and the person may even be liable to punishment (or being "cut off" from the camp of Israel). This teach us that religious activity is only as meaningful and effective as the condition of the individual's heart doing the service.
What did Yeshua teach about those who would leave their gift at the altar, but whose hearts were impure due to offence they had with their brother? Did the Father accept such a gift? (See Matt. 5:23-24)
Yahweh says in Hosea 6:6 says, " For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings" and in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul states that all religious activities, head knowledge and spiritual gifts are meaningless and valueless in the eyes of the Father if not accompanied by a heart of love. Do we keep His commandments out of duty and legalism or out of love and faith? When you offer up your religious service to Yahweh (i.e., praise and worship, prayer, reading and studying the Word, good deeds to others, etc.) do you have impure thoughts of bitterness, anger, or resentment against your neighbor? If so, repent and allow Yahweh's love to cleanse your heart so that you can offer up a pure, undefiled and acceptable sacrifice to Him.
7:28-34 - The peace offering was the only offering where the owner participated in the actual ceremony. In the ceremony both the owner of the animal and the priest took part in this offering with the priest placing his hands under those of the owner who lifted and waved the meat in all four directions of the compass and then lifted and lowered the meat. The purpose of this, according to the rabbis, is to teach us that Yahweh controls existence everywhere (in all four directions, and in heaven and below the earth). This is to teach us that we are to be contented with our lot in life and that all is under the Creator's care and control. What was the Apostle Paul's attitude in life? Philippians 4:11-13 and 19 says: Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Messiah which strengthens me...But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Messiah Yeshua.
We learn from this that we should not give way to coveting, greed, lust, materialism, striving, anguish and discontent regarding our lot in life. Rather we should thank Yahweh for what we have, for the rich blessings which by His grace He has bestowed upon us, and place any cares and desires upon Him and let him bring them to fulfillment. (See Psalms 37:4-7, 23-25)
It is interesting to note that the parts of the animal waved during the peace offering were the breast (housing the heart) and the right thigh (which is the leg representing power and strength). These body parts speak of heart and action. Good intentions without corresponding action is not really acceptable to the Father. Neither is mechanical and legalistic obedience if it does not come from the heart. Yeshua said to the woman at the well in John 4, that the Father is seeking those who will worship him both in spirit and in truth (verses 23-24)
Being Set Apart and Consecrated
As the laws of the offerings are given we see the following mentioned: fine flour, olive oil and frankincense (6:8); scalding in boiling water, unleavened bread (6:9), repeatedly baked and broken into pieces (6:14); consecration of and anointing oil on the priests (6:15; 8:1ff); contamination and koshering (6:20; 7:19); innards and feet of the sacrificed animal washed in water (8:21); fire offering (7:25) and mikveh or ritual immersion (8:6). This all speaking about holiness before Yahweh. How set-apart or holy (kadosh)is your life? The significance of the priests having a drop of blood from the sacrificed ram placed on the right ear, thumb of the right hand and great toe of the right foot ( 8:23), was to consecrate Aaron and his sons to service in the Tabernacle and symbolise that all we listen to, everything we do and everywhere we go must come under His divine authority and be sanctioned for His purposes.
In 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul says that "all things are lawful" but not all things are beneficial, referring here to the things in life which we engage in. Having been washed and sanctified by the Spirit (6:11) we are not to allow our 'members' (our bodily parts) to become joined to or involved in that which is not in unity with His purposes for our lives.
The Greek word translated "lawful " here is exesti, "referring to moral possibility," referring to things that exist which are morally correct and the Greek word translated as "profitable" is sumphero, speaking of that which is "advantageous, to contribute or bring together for the benefit of another." In other words even things which are not morally wrong, if they are not advantageous for our spiritual growth, we should not engage in them. The rabbis teach that in the world to come after Messiah's coming after the establishment of his eternal kingdom a perfect world will exist without sin therefore eliminating the need for the atonement offering. 7:11-17 Nonetheless, the Thanksgiving Offering will continue as a means to thank Him and to offer praise to Him.
We should develop an attitude of gratitude toward Yahweh and spend time in prayer in thankfulness, praise and gratitude for His goodness and mercy toward us. We are commanded to give thanks to Yahweh for all things (Ephesians 5:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Colossians 3:17). We need to discipline ourself to be grateful to Yahweh for all things both the good and the bad that happens, knowing that if we submit to Him, all things will work together for our good. If we walk with Him in a situation we can find His blessing in it, and have His joy in our heart and mind in all circumstances. To do so is to let your light shine in such a way as to confound the natural mind of man and to cause those around you to wonder at your source of inner strength, joy, love and light. To do so adds health to our bodies and years to our life.
The Superiority of Obedience to Sacrifice
For centuries, the Israelites attempted to follow these commands with varying degrees of zeal and accuracy. As the Ark of the Covenant, the mercy seat and altars migrated through the wilderness, the period of the Judges, on to Shiloh to ultimately rest on Mt. Moriah on the Temple Mount chosen by the Most High to place His Name (Deuteronomy 12:11; 1 Kings 8:29; Ezra 6:12; Nehemiah 1:9; et. al.), a magnificent Temple under the direction of King Solomon was constructed. Thereafter, the children of Israel had a more permanent place to bring their respective offerings. But apparently, by the time of the prophet Jeremiah, the intentions of the offerings had digressed to various perversions that were rampant among the sons of Israel. Their worship declined so badly that they had come down to to idolatry, theft, murder, adultery and even child sacrifice. Jeremiah even prophecies that the Temple will end up like Shiloh and that Judah will be scattered just like the seed of Ephraim many years earlier. From the revelation he was receiving and the voice that he was hearing, he knew that the judgment of God was coming, in just a matter of time, to his contemporaries from Judah. In a like manner, as we study the Scriptures understanding the ways of our Father while coming to know Him more fully, as we learn to listen to His voice, we also know that judgment is coming to the modern world, because His righteousness requires it.