3. SHABBAT READINGS & COMMENTARY

Friday, April 07, 2006 |    

Tzav( Command): Leviticus 6:8–8:36; Malachi 3:4-4:6 (Special Haftara)

In our weekly portion, we read detailed instructions for various sacrifices and offerings:

  • the law for the burnt offering (Leviticus 6:9)
  • the law of the grain offering (6:14)
  • the law of the sin offering (6:25)
  • the law of the guilt offering (7:1)
  • the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings (7:11)

    I want to point out the connection between this and the portion taken from the Prophets (Haftara). It is interesting that attached to the portion speaking about sacrifices is a portion from the Prophets including rebukes from the Lord regarding offerings. The people brought their offerings with lip service, not from their hearts. They have put their emphasis on the outward appearance and on religion, becoming an abhorrence and aversion to God!

    The rabbis chose the portion from last week, Isaiah 43, and the original portion for this week, Jeremiah 7, because they both clearly speak about how the Israelites strayed from the truth.

    “Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward and not forward.” (Jer. 7:24)

    “’For the sons of Judah have done that which is evil in My sight,’ declares the LORD, ‘They have set their detestable things in the house (temple) which is called by My name, to defile it.’” (Jer. 7:30)

    However, for this Shabbat, called the Great Shabbat (Shabbat haGadol in Hebrew) which is always before the great redemption feast, Passover, a special portion from the prophets is read from Malachi. Why is it called “great?”

    “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.” (Mal. 4:5)

    God says here that He will judge, “against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me. For I the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” (Mal. 3:5-6)

    Thank God, He is the same – yesterday, today and forever! The second part of that verse is also eternal: His people, the Sons of Jacob (Israel) will never stop existing. Despite of all the attempts by the enemy to destroy Israel and despite Israel’s sins, God “will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.”

    One final word on Passover, which will be celebrated on the eve of April 12 and last for seven days. The Jews are commanded to remember the Exodus from the slavery and bondage of Egypt 3,300 years ago. But the physical Exodus was only the first step. God required the Israelites to be in the desert for 40 years to get “Egypt” out of their minds and hearts before they entered the Promised Land. That’s how it is with our walk with God. The freedom and the redemption from slavery and bondage that we win through the death of Yeshua – our Passover Lamb – is only the first step.

    Let us not be misled saying, ‘Once saved, always saved!’ To be holy and sinless should be our goal. Otherwise, we will be like a thief released from jail who has not changed inwardly and continues to steal. “Remember Lot’s wife,” we read in the New Testament: She was outwardly free, but her heart was still in Sodom and Gomorrah.

    God wants a holy people, people released and redeemed from our “old man” to the “new man,” renewed in mind and spirit. The redemption that occurred on Passover, historically and personally, was and is only the first step!

    Have a blessed Feast of Redemption!
    - Michael Schneider -

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