Parashat Tzav (Command)

VaYiqra (Leviticus) 6:1–8:36

In this week’s Scripture portion, we read:

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Command Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the law for the burnt offering: the burnt offering itself shall remain on the hearth on the altar all night until the morning, and the fire on the altar is to be kept burning on it.  And the priest is to put on his linen robe, and he shall put on undergarments next to his flesh; and he shall take up the ashes to which the fire reduces the burnt offering on the altar, and place them beside the altar. Then he shall take off his garments and put on other garments, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place. And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it. It shall not go out, but the priest shall burn wood on it every morning; and he shall lay out the burnt offering on it, and offer up in smoke the fat portions of the peace offerings on it. Fire shall be kept burning continually on the altar; it is not to go out.’”
Leviticus 6:1-6 (6:8-13 in the English Bible)

As I read this portion about the burnt offering, it brings to mind a very similar account in Exodus 29:38–42 and in Numbers 28:3–10. All three accounts speak of the burnt offering, which in Hebrew is called “HaOlah”, meaning “to go up.” The command was that twice a day—in the morning and in the early evening—the Priests were to offer sacrifices to the Lord. This act was to be a continuous act, which suggests that there was a continuous need of the forgiveness of sin. I believe that on a spiritual level, it was also something that would actually draw Israel closer to God, because they would be ever mindful of their need for God’s forgiveness.

The requirement of the continuous sacrifice is a very interesting connection to the work of our Messiah, as described in the book of Hebrews:

Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Messiah did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; nor was it that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood not his own. Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Messiah also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.
Hebrews 9:23–28

Isn’t the continuity of God’s plan incredible! Through Messiah’s permanent sacrifice, he gave us access “to go up” and draw closer to the Father!

This weekend, I would like to encourage us all to reflect upon His final work for us, and to encourage us to keep His fire continually burning in and through our lives.

Shabbat Shalom,

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