torah portion tzav rabbi ralph messer

Torah Portion – Tzav – The Command- Rabbi Ralph Messer

“The Command for Priestly Service”

Torah Portion: Leviticus 6:1 – 8:36
Haf Tarah: Malachi 3:4-24
Brit Chadashah:  1 Corinthians 11-16

The Torah Portion “Tzav” speaks about your service to others in the form of offerings. Leviticus Chapter 7 outlines the different offerings of God and the purpose and intent for which they were given. As the offerings are given, God’s purpose is established. The thanksgiving offering is given to elevate your brother, but it also speaks about you personally as a thanksgiving offering to God.

“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”
(1 Corinthians 3: 16-17 NKJV)

God instructs you to not let the fire on the altar of your heart go out. As the Priest would light the earthly fire, the heavenly fire would light within him. Every aspect of the physical Sanctuary has its counterpart within the soul of the Hebrew. The outer and inner Sanctuary refers to levels within your heart – its surface personality and its essential core. Every believer constitutes a Sanctuary to God and where there is a Sanctuary, there is His presence.

The offerings in Leviticus were designed to keep Israel in right-standing with God and man. As Israel strayed from God, they began to offer profane sacrifices and pagan-idolatry worship. In Matthew Chapter 16, Yeshua warned about this as the “leaven” of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. He described it as a religious spirit that drives people toward paganism, rather than drawing people closer to God.

In Matthew 12, Yeshua speaks about the pagan goddess Pan and its practice (Pantheism and a Pantheistic mindset). Yeshua spoke these words from the geographic setting of Caesarea Philippi in Israel. It was in this place that people would offer their children as a sacrifice to Pan. It was here that Yeshua instructed the people not to allow or teach their children the pagan practices of their forefathers. And it was in Caesarea Philippi that the religious leaders launched an attack against Yeshua.

“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
(Matthew 12:40 NKJV)

Pictured is the area of Caesarea Philippi called “the gates of Hades” or “the belly of the earth”. It was here that evil spirits came to influence the people to sacrifice their children on the stone pillars erected for the goddess Pan. Yeshua was alluding to evil spirits that would influence you in your own heart, “…the belly of the earth”.

“Peter answered and said ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Yeshua then said, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you, that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.’”
(Matthew 16: 16-18NKJV)

From the “gates of Hades” in Caesarea Philippi, Peter gave witness of the Messiah and Yeshua declared that the gates of Hades would not prevail against His church. Through Yeshua’s sacrificial offering and your acceptance of Him, you also have victory. This is your thanksgiving offering to God.

What practices characterize your life today? Are you participating in relationship with God and the Torah, or are you practicing in religion and the idolatry of paganism? Your mind is your world. What happens in your mind will happen in time. It is within the dimension of your soul – the place of contemplation and understanding – that God begins to deal with your heart.

The thanksgiving offering is holy before God. Your body is the Temple of God and your heart is His altar. This is the only offering that will remain when He returns for His body. Your Temple is His dwelling place, where He desires purity – a Sanctuary of holiness, without spot or blemish.

Yeshua the Messiah was sacrificed once and for all! His death, resurrection and appearance “before the face of God”, purged your conscience of sin and forever changed the nature of worship. As you present yourself as a thanksgiving offering to God, your service to God and man causes “Tzav – The Command for Priestly Service” to take command of your life.