This week’s Parasha is entitled Emor, which means “speak.” It covers Leviticus chapters 21 through 24 and deals with several subjects: the priesthood, the sacrifices and the holidays. However, holiness is the theme that ties all these subjects together.
A priest was not to make himself ceremonially unclean by touching a dead person, or even being in the same house with a dead person, except in the case of the death of his father, mother, son, daughter, brother, or his unmarried sister.
Priests were held to very high standards of moral and ceremonial purity. No daughter of a priest was permitted to live if she became involved in immorality.
Because of his high position, and the anointing from God, the high priest was held to even higher standards for marriage and mourning rites. For example, the High Priest could only marry a virgin, presumably in order to assure the nation that the next High Priest was truly his own son.
Adonai always expects more from His leaders.
Chapter 22 tells us that the animals the priests offered to the holy God had to be without physical blemishes. These sacrifices foreshadowed Messiah, who would be the perfect and final sacrifice, and so the animals which pointed to Him needed to be flawless.
The animals offered by the priests were then eaten by the priests and their families, who themselves had to be ceremonially clean in order to eat them. A holy God wanted a holy people, with a holy priesthood who offered holy sacrifices in a holy place.
Chapter 23 tells us that God also gave His people holy days – times of rest and refreshment, of fellowship and worship, times of celebrating and remembering with thanksgiving all that God had done for them.
These 7 holy holidays were:
- The Holiday of Unleavened Bread
- The Holiday of First Fruits
- Shavuot (Weeks), or Pentecost
- The Day to Blow the Shofar
- The Day of Atonement
- Sukkot or the Holiday of Tabernacles.
The first holiday was Passover. This was to be a perpetual reminder of God’s redeeming Israel out of slavery in Egypt. But, it also is a prophecy – pointing us to the much greater salvation of both Israel and the nations through the blood of the Lamb of God, Yeshua our Messiah, who actually died on Passover.
Next was the holiday of Matzah, Unleavened Bread, which coincided with Passover. The Jewish people were to eat only unleavened bread and remember their hasty departure from Egypt. And because leaven is a symbol of sin, this holiday was also a prophecy. It pointed to the coming Messiah, who because of His divine origin, would be without sin.
The holiday of First Fruits taught the Israelis that it was the Three-In-One God of Israel who was the Giver of all their bountiful harvests and blessings. This holiday would also serve as a prophecy. It falls on the third day after Passover, and it was the third day of Passover week that Yeshua was resurrected – the FIRST to rise from the dead.
Next is Shavuot, also called the Holiday of Weeks or Pentecost. It is exactly fifty days after the holiday of First Fruits. It’s purpose is to thank God for His provision of the wheat harvest.
Next is Yom T’ruah – the holiday of blowing the ram’s horn. Today it is commonly referred to as Rosh HaShanah. This is a time for believers to look deep within their hearts, their souls, and wage war against anything and everything that doesn’t line up with the Word of God.
This holiday will be fulfilled to the utmost at Messiah’s Second Coming. Rabbi Paul wrote: “For the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet (the shofar) of God.”
The next holiday is the most sacred and serious of all; Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement. On this day the entire nation was to confess its sin and appeal to Adonai for forgiveness; to get right and be right with God.
The final appointed time is Sukkot, the Holiday of Booths or Tabernacles. It’s the final harvest festival, in which Israel is to give thanks to Adonai for the Fall harvest.
Revelation chapter 21 tells of when this holiday will realize it’s fullness. The Apostle John wrote, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the Tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them.’”
Chapter 24 records that the Israelis were to provide olives from which pure olive oil would be made, and this oil was to burn continually in the Tabernacle in a lampstand – a menorah made of pure gold, in order to provide light for the priests to minister, since there were no windows in the Tabernacle.
Our parasha ends with the incident of a man blaspheming God. This man was stoned to death. A holy people cannot use unholy words about a holy God.
The theme of parasha Emor is holiness. God is kadosh, kadosh, kadosh – infinitely holy. Holiness must be honored. Defilement is dangerous business. It can result in Divine judgment. Serving the Lord is not child’s play, but extremely serious business.
Christians and Messianic Jews are to be holy. We are set apart and dedicated to serve this same holy God. And though positionally we are already holy because we are joined to Messiah, God wants our daily life to match our position.
Unlike the requirement for the Jewish priests, Adonai doesn’t demand physical perfection. The New Covenant emphasis is on holy living. Our entire mind, body, soul, and spirit should be holy – set apart for God and His service.
Like the priests of old, let’s live sanctified and holy lives, so that our actions of worship, praise, prayer, and deeds will be acceptable to our holy God.
Let’s keep ourselves unstained by the pollution of this world. Let’s learn and practice the holy Word of God.
Let’s always remember that Messiah Yeshua, the holy Lamb of God, is our righteousness.
May the world see that we are different, and be drawn to Adonai. Let’s all pray that this polluted world turns from unrighteousness and unto our good, perfect and holy God. Amen?