Do Our Traditions Honor God?

Parashat Shemini (Eighth)
Leviticus 9:1-11:47
Shabbat HaChodesh (Shabbat of The Month) : Exodus 12:1-20
Haftarah: Ezekiel 45:16-46:18

This week we have a special reading for what is known as Shabbat HaChodesh, which is the Shabbat before- or sometimes, the first Shabbat of - the Month of Nissan in which we remember the LORD’s Passover. As we enter this very special month approcahing Passover, I have some reflections that I would like to share regarding God and His Word. These reflections come from a desire to exhort us to look deep into our lives and ask what primarily influences us: God or culture, friends, family, traditions, etc.?

In Leviticus 10:1–2 we read:

Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on the fire and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD

Every time that I read these words, I ask myself if I am offering a “strange fire” to the Lord, which He has not commanded me to offer? While we may have good motives in what we do, I wonder if we ever stop and think if it is the Lord’s desire or not. Another way to look at it is if you knew that the “fire” you are offering is strange to the Lord and as a result you may die, would you continue to offer it?

At times we may get confused about what we are supposed to do and what we are to avoid doing. Perhaps the better questions are “How does obedience to God bless & enrich my life, and what can I learn about His character in the process?” A wonderful way to answer such questions is by observing the Lord’s appointed feasts. Let’s look at our special reading from Exodus 12:1-13:

Now the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year for you. Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are, each one, to take a lamb for themselves, according to the fathers’ households, a lamb for each household. Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; in proportion to what each one should eat, you are to divide the lamb. Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to slaughter it at twilight. Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails. And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall completely burn with fire. Now you shall eat it in this way: with your garment belted around your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in a hurry—it is the LORD’s Passover. For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and fatally strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the human firstborn to animals; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will come upon you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”

The above verses are so rich, and clearly point to an amazing prophetic reality that the blood of the lamb will cause the angle of death to “pass over” us. We know and believe that Yeshua is that ultimate sacrifice; however, that is not where God’s story ends, but rather where it begins. One can’t ignore Exodus 12:14-15:

‘Now this day shall be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance. For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove dough with yeast from your houses; for whoever eats anything with yeast from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.”

Here we see in a very clear way that the Lord’s desire and command is for us to remember the Passover “as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance” meaning, without end.

This appointed time is such an important and vital one because it reminds us of God’s amazing faithfulness, love, and endless grace toward us. When we observe the Lord’s Passover, we remember not only what He has done for us in the past, but also today in our daily lives. We remember the amazing sacrifice that is found in His Son!

Our traditions can either draw us closer to God or pull us away from God. They can even be forms of “strange fire” if we are not careful. The most important thing is for us to approach everything with a spirit of humility, being open to conviction and correction when necessary.

I pray and hope that you remember that each of us will have to give an account of ourselves to God. Are you offering a strange fire to the Lord which He does not require? Or are you doing that which He does require?

Shabbat Shalom,

Check out previous blogs on this parashah!

Did you know? — Lone Soldier

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One Comment on “Do Our Traditions Honor God?”

  1. This year, I sent out “New year’s greetings” e-mails to some of my friends, quoting Exodus 12:2, mentioning upcoming Passover, asking people to pray for the peace of Jerusalem with me, and reminding people of the 134 hostages being held.

    I got a few positive responses, but this was the response from one person:

    “Who is the ‘you’ that God is talking to? Are they gentiles or are they Jews?
    It really doesn’t matter though and that’s the Good News.
    If our faith is in Jesus, the year can start when we choose.”

    This is the attitude of far too many people. It matters more to them to find a way to dodge what God says – to dismiss scripture by asking such a question rather than asking WHO said it – than to accept and apply God’s word. The special irony here is that this man’s mother was Jewish.

    By this logic, we might as well dismiss all of scripture. Even the Messianic Writings can be dismissed. Shaul’s letters were addressed to people in specific places … not to me or anyone outside of those places today. Jacob’s letter was addressed to the twelve tribes scattered abroad … not to me.

    Thank you for this article. It is a reminder to hold God’s Word as precious and true, even in – maybe even more in – a context where even those who claim to believe in God do not honor, respect, or guard what He says.

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