The name of this week’s parasha is Vayikra, which means “and he called,” and covers Leviticus 1:1-6:7. This parasha begins the book of Leviticus and presents instructions for making burnt offerings, grain offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings. Whenever someone brought an animal for a burnt offering from the herd or flock, the animal must be a male without defect. The person presenting this animal must lay their hand on the animal’s head, so that it will be accepted for their atonement. After the animal was killed and the preparations for offering the animal to Adonai were complete, the priest burned the animal on the altar, which was pleasing to God.
A burnt offering from the turtledoves or young pigeons was also acceptable to Adonai – this was presented by those who couldn’t afford to present an offering from the herd or flock. After the priest prepared this offering, he burned it on the altar, which was pleasing to God.
Instructions for presenting grain offerings are given in chapter 2. This offering was composed of fine flour with oil poured on it and frankincense put on it. The priest would then burn some of the flour and oil with all its frankincense on the altar, and it was pleasing to God. The rest of the grain offering was for Aaron and his sons. Additional instructions were given for making and presenting grain offerings.
Every grain offering was to be without leaven since leaven and honey were forbidden to be burned in offerings to God; however, they could be presented as a first fruits offering. All grain offerings must be seasoned with salt; no grain offering could be without the salt of the covenant with Adonai. The chapter ends with instructions on presenting a grain offering of early ripened things to Adonai.
Procedures for presenting peace offerings are given in chapter 3. If someone offers a peace offering from the herd or the flock, the animal must be a male or female without defect. Once the animal had been prepared according to Adonai’s instructions, the priests would burn the peace offering that was from the herd on the altar, and it was pleasing to God; if the peace offering was from the flock, the priest would burn it on the altar. The chapter ends with a reminder to the Israelis that all the fat belongs to Adonai, and they must not eat any fat or blood.
In chapter 4, God gives Moses the required procedures for sin offerings to atone for unintentional sins. Specific penalties were designated based on the guilty party’s status within Israeli society – a bull was required for the sin of the anointed priest, and for the sin of the Israeli community; a male goat was required for an Israeli leader’s sin; a female goat or lamb was required for the sin of a common person. All these animals were to be without defect.
Chapter 5 presents instructions on making a guilt offering – this is required to atone for sins such as not giving public testimony regarding what someone has viewed or known, or by touching anything which is unclean, or by taking a careless oath. The guilty person must admit their sin and provide the required offering (based on what they could afford) to the priest, who will make atonement for them.
Adonai tells Moses that if someone sins unintentionally regarding God’s holy things, the guilty person must bring Adonai a ram without defect and accurately valued in silver shekels based on the sanctuary shekel as a guilt offering. When making restitution, the guilty person must add 1/5th of the value to this offering as well and present it to the priest, who will make atonement for their sin. Anyone who sins unintentionally must bring a ram without defect and of appropriate value for a guilt offering to the priest, who will make atonement for them.
The parasha ends with penalties for sinful actions directed towards someone else’s property. The guilty person must make full restitution, add 1/5th of the restitution’s value to it, and give everything to whom it belongs on the same day they present a guilt offering – a ram without defect and of appropriate value – to the priest, who will make atonement for them.
Parasha Vayikra shows us the seriousness of falling short of God’s holy standards, even if it’s done unintentionally. Anyone who desires to be in a right relationship with God must do so on His terms, not their own. To atone for their sin before God, every sinner needs someone to intercede for them by presenting the required restitution and making atonement for them, because sin separates them from God.
It’s important to note that the atonement provided through these sacrifices was only temporary and wasn’t permanent; therefore, the priests had to continuously offer these sacrifices that were never able to provide permanent atonement. Thankfully, we have a perfect High Priest who provided the once-for-all-time sacrifice for our sins by offering His own life for our atonement – Messiah Yeshua! The writer of the letter to the Messianic Jews (Hebrews) tells us that because Yeshua lives forever, His priesthood is permanent and He is able to save forever everyone who draws near to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them. He is our Advocate with God the Father, and He is the Lamb who is also Lord of lords and King of kings. We truly serve a mighty Savior!
So, if you haven’t done so already, turn from your rebellion and obey what God has commanded by loyally following Yeshua as Lord and Savior, because Yeshua is the way and the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him!