Parashat Vayikra (and He called)

We now start a new book and a new Parsha which is Vayikra (“and He called”) Leviticus 1:1 to 6:7. The chapter numbering in the Massoretic text differs and the Parsha ends on chapter 5 verse 26.

The Lord called Moses to give the Priests details of the sacrifices. Now that the Tabernacle was set up the sacrifices could begin

 Sacrifice Purpose of Sacrifice  Animal used Details
Burnt Offering  Atonement Young Bull. All animals are to be without defect Slaughter it in front of the tent of meeting, splash the blood on the sides of the Altar, skin it, wash its internal organs and burn it on the altar
Male lamb or goat Same but no need to skin it
Dove or young pigeon Wring its neck, drain the blood on the side of the altar, remove the crop and feathers, tear open the wings and burn it on the altar
Grain offering Free will offering Finest flour mixed with olive oil and incense. A portion is to be burned and the rest belongs to the priests. If baked or prepared in a griddle, no yeast or honey to be added
Firstfruits offering Heads of corn Burnt on the altar
Fellowship or peace (Shalom) offering For the well-being of the one offering Male or female from the herd or flock Kidneys, liver, fat, and internal organs to be burnt and the blood splashed on the sides of the altar
Sin-offering The sin of a Priest Young bull Sacrifice it in front of the tent of meeting. Take blood inside the tent, sprinkle seven times towards the veil, put blood on the horns of the incense altar, pour the rest of the blood out by the altar of burnt offering. Internal organs burnt on the altar and the rest of the body was taken and burned outside the camp
Sin of all the community Young bull Same as above
Sin of a leader Male goat Blood to be placed on the corners of the altar of burnt offering, fat and internal organs to be burnt
Sin of community member Female goat Same as above
Guilt offering Disregard or disobedience Ram Blood splashed over the side of the altar

If someone withholds evidence, they must bring a sin offering. If someone touches a carcass or anything unclean, they must bring a sin offering.

If someone doesn’t look after or steals someone else’s property they are to make restitution, add a fifth to the value, and offer a ram from their flock as a guilt offering.

Haftarat Vayikra                     הפטרת ויקרא

The Haftarah for this portion is Isaiah 43: 21 to 44:23. The prophet berates Israel for her apostasy and failing to make the prescribed sacrifices. He mocks those craftsmen who take such pains to make their idols. The connection between the Torah and the Haftarah is the reference to the sacrifices the people were failing to perform.

The passage as with much of Isaiah’s prophecy is a combination of rebuke and promise. God will redeem His people and send his Spirit to water a parched land. God has done something that will make Israel’s sin to be a thing of the past:

I have swept away your offences like a cloud,
your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me,
for I have redeemed you.”
 (Isaiah 44:22 NIV), 

Messianic Message

There are three aspects to atonement namely repentance, restitution, and blood sacrifice. Without any one of these separate components, the atonement is not complete.

It is not always emphasised that when we accept Yeshua’s blood sacrifice as forgiveness for our sin that restitution is also a mandatory part of the process of atonement and needs to be attended to.

Sometimes it is not possible to make restitution. The people we wronged may be out of contact or have died. Loans not fully repaid may have been written off long ago.

We can deal with that by making sure we don’t repeat the action. Sometimes God puts us through the same situation repeatedly until we finally learn how he wants us to handle it

Draw a line under the past and be determined to go forward in life with a renewed mind.

The writer of proverbs says

Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD evil is avoided. (Proverbs 16:6 NIV)

No sacrifice is without cost.  When David found a site for building the Temple, he refused to take it for nothing but insisted on paying the price. (2 Samuel 24:24)

Sacrifice sometimes involves pain. The people of Ukraine know all about that.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise(Psalm 51:17 ESV)

This article originally appeared on the BMJA website and is reposted with permission.