“The Lord called to Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting.” (Leviticus 1:1)
In last week’s Parasha, the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was completed and the cloud rested over it, signifying that the Divine Presence had come to dwell within it.
In this week’s Parasha, God reveals to Moses the laws for the sacrifices performed in the Temple, including the sin offering and the guilt offering.
This Shabbat is also the first Sabbath (day of rest) in the Hebrew month of Nisan, which God ordained as the first month of the Biblical calendar. Biblically speaking, then, we are in a new year!
Traditionally speaking, however, there are four different new years in Judaism:
- The new year for kings and festivals on Nisan 1;
- The new year for tithing cattle on Elul 1;
- The new year for the reckoning of years on Tishri 1 (Rosh Hashanah); and
- The new year for trees on Shevat 15 (Tu Bishvat).
God made Nisan the first month of the year because it was the month in which the Jewish people were freed from slavery in Egypt and became a nation.
Nisan is regarded today as the start of the ecclesiastical new year, but the first of Tishri, which is the seventh month, is regarded as the start of the civil year.
Before the tenth plague came upon Egypt, the Lord told Moses that Nisan would be the first month of the year.
“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, ‘This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year.’” (Exodus 12:1–2)
According to Jewish tradition, the Israelites received the first commandment to sanctify the New Moon as the first day of Nisan after being delivered from Egypt.
So, in the Hebrew reckoning of time, the month of Nisan begins at the New Moon, and a day begins at sunset, in keeping with the creation account in Genesis.
“… and the evening and the morning were the first day.” (Genesis 1:5)
In following this lunar calendar, the Israelites made a solid departure from the Egyptian solar tradition of Ra worship.
Leviticus: Finding a Deeper Revelation of Yeshua (Jesus)
“You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:6)
The oldest name for the Third Book of Moses is Torat Kohanim (Law of the Priests). It describes the Temple sacrifices, the functions of the priesthood (Kohanim), and the duties of Israel, the priestly nation.
Leviticus has so much information about how to serve God that, even though there is no longer a Temple or Temple sacrifices, Jewish children begin their study of Torah with this book.
Far from being irrelevant to New Covenant Believers, Leviticus can bring deeper insight and fresh revelation that will enrich our relationship with the Lord.
Moreover, a failure to understand the spiritual principles that are behind the blood sacrifice and substitutionary atonement makes it truly difficult to understand the significance of Yeshua’s (Jesus) death on the Roman execution stake.
The significance of Yeshua’s shed blood cannot fully impact our soul until we come to understand the laws of blood sacrifices and sin-offerings found in Leviticus.
They are foundational to understanding our faith.
Who Can Bring an Offering to the Lord?
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)
Chapter 1 of Leviticus deals with the various types of burnt offerings and sacrifices.
In Hebrew, the offering is called a Korban, which is derived from the word karov, meaning near. So, the offering made a way for the person to draw near to God.
When we take even baby steps to draw near to God, just like the father of the prodigal son, our Heavenly Father will see us from afar and run to meet us!
The Lord instructed Moses to speak to the children of Israel about bringing their offerings to the Lord.
“When any man [adam] of you brings an offering to the Lord…” (Leviticus 1:2)
The Hebrew word for man in this verse is adam, which is the root of adamah, meaning earth, ground, or even dirt.
In this context, the word adam means not only man, but all of humankind, regardless of race or gender.
“So God created the man [adam] in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
This reveals that it was not only a Jewish male who could bring an offering to the Lord, but anyone—even a foreigner’s offering would be accepted by God.
“If any of you—either an Israelite or an alien living in Israel—presents a gift for a burnt offering to the Lord, either to fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering, you must present a male without defect from the cattle, sheep or goats.” (Leviticus 22:18–19)
Even a foreigner could come to the Temple to pray and God would hear their prayers and answer them, so “that all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your people Israel.” (1 Kings 8:41–45)
Peter received an incredible revelation in realizing that “God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.” (Acts 10:34–35)
We are all created in God’s image: Jew and Gentile, male and female, “according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Gentile nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Messiah is all and in all.” (Colossians 3:11)
An Offering Without Blemish Means Giving Our Best
“If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, you are to offer a male without defect [tamim]. You must present it at the entrance to the tent of meeting so that it will be acceptable to the Lord.” (Leviticus 1:3)
Leviticus specifies that the burnt offering was to be without blemish. The Hebrew word for without blemish is tamim, from tamam, which means pure, perfect, undefiled and whole.
On a personal application level, we can see that God doesn’t want the leftover, tainted, or blemished stuff that we were going to throw away anyway.
All too often, our gifts and offerings to God and to others consist of what is extra, what we don’t really want, or what is easy to give.
Such gestures are not sacrifices at all, and can even be interpreted as an insult. When we give anyone our leftovers or garbage, we convey a message that “this is not good enough for me, but it is good enough for you.”
A sacrifice must cost us something.