This Shabbat is the second week that we are reading from Leviticus 6:1-8:36. Parashat Tzav. Haftarah: Malachi 3:4 – 3:24, From the New Testament the reading is Hebrews 7:23 – 8:6.
One of the most complex issues to understand in the whole bible is the issue of the sacrifices and the sacrificial system. What makes it so difficult is the mixed signals that the Word of God gives us on this subject. We have clear commands and great details to sacrifice animals and how to do every aspect of approaching the altar of sacrifice. On the other hand we have instruction that God doesn’t need or even want our sacrifices.
Here are just a few examples of both the command to sacrifice and also the degrading of the sacrifices and the proclamation that God doesn’t really need the sacrifices:
“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Command Aaron and his sons, saying, “This is the law of the burnt offering: The burnt offering shall be on the hearth upon the altar all night until morning, and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning on it.”’” – Leviticus 6:8,9 [NKJV]
“‘“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” ‘Therefore, I said to the children of Israel, “No one among you shall eat blood, nor shall any stranger who dwells among you eat blood.”’” – Leviticus 17:11,12 [NKJV]
Here is the other side of the issue:
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat meat. For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, saying, “Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.” Yet they did not obey or incline their ear but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.’” – Jeremiah 7:21–24 [NKJV]
In the prophets there is no rejection of the sacrificial practices of Israel according to the Torah.The rejection and condemnation of the Prophets of the temple cult in Jerusalem, was continued by the community of (Essenes) from Qumran. The desire of the Lord creator of the Universe according to Isaiah and Jeremiah was not to cancel the sacrifices in the temple, it was to put the worship in the Temple in Jerusalem and the sacrificial into a perspective that is built on relationship of the worshiper with the almighty God of Israel.
The prophet Daniel more than 400 years earlier than the fall of the Temple in Jerusalem in the year 70 C.E., prophesied the fall of the Temple and the end of the sacrificial system in Jerusalem, and the death of the Messiah.
“And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined. Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week, He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.” – Daniel 9:26,27 [NKJV]
The interpretation of this chapter of Jewish history is not simple. The nation of Israel is just now in the process of regrouping and returning home to the land of Israel and to the city of Jerusalem. Israel as a nation, and the return of the exiles back home, and the resurrection of the dry bones as described in Ezekiel 37, all these processes are in the middle of the road, but the direction is clear.
All of the promises of God are in the process of fulfillment of the words of the prophets. Even with predictions visibly becoming a reality it is important for all of us, the disciples of Yeshua, to come and join in the work and vision of the restoration of Israel, physically and spiritually.
The desire to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem is deeply engrained in the very soul of the Jewish nation. We sing in our national Hymn “Hatikvah” that as long as there is a Jewish soul living in us, as long as we dream and hope and work to see the restoration of Jerusalem and the land of Israel restored, our hope will not dry up, but we will serve and build and bring the Aliyah of Jews who have been forced to convert to Catholicism back home to the land of Israel and to the city of Jerusalem. We will see the North American Jews packing up their suitcases and their bank accounts and returning home to the land of Israel.
We will see the restoration of Israel and the freedom from the shackles of East European Orthodox Jewish manmade traditions and attitudes. We will see the restoration of a practicing Jewish faith with Yeshua of Nazareth being crowned and anointed as the King of Israel. Every word that the prophets of Israel recorded in the Word of God will become a reality just as the prophets in the Bible envisioned it! The desert will rejoice, and the dry grounds will become rivers of fresh water and flowers will cover the dry land with colored blankets of many-colored carpets.
The Messiah will come down from heaven and every eye will see and every ear will hear the shofar blast announcing the return of the son of David to Jerusalem. The glorious system of priests and Levites in Jerusalem with the magnificent energy that is described in our Torah reading in Leviticus will be restored and functioning perfectly without the sins and the corruption that existed during the Second Temple Period.
If the Temple will be rebuilt, I don’t know. Personally, I don’t need a temple and I don’t need to kill animals just in order to burn them on the altar. I also don’t think that in the 21st Century the Lord will require such sacrifices, because He Himself is our atonement and the ultimate living sacrifice for all of humanity.
However, I do believe the words of Isaiah the prophet and all the words of all the prophets that promised the restoration of Israel and the restoration of the Land and the blossoming of the desert. Let us receive these promises of God through the words of His prophets and seek ways to participate and to work and join in the physical and spiritual work of the rebuilding and restoring of the land and of the people of Israel.
We are called by Isaiah and by the other prophets to be His witnesses from Zion to the rest of the world. Let us pray and seek every way to be a part of the fulfillment of these promises of God and not be on the sidelines.
Yeshua is packing His suitcases and preparing for His return to Zion and we ought to be preparing and be ready to receive Him and to follow Him in the parade dressed in white and to gather around His throne ready to sing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb.
“‘Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?” says the Lord. ‘Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?’ says your God. ‘Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you who love her; Rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her; That you may feed and be satisfied with the consolation of her bosom, that you may drink deeply and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.’ For thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream. Then you shall feed; On her sides shall you be carried and be dandled on her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.’” – Isaiah 66:9-13 [NKJV]
This article originally appeared on Netivyah and is reposted with permission.