Acharei -Mot / Kedoshim
Torah – Leviticus 16:1-20:27 Haftarah – Ezekiel 22:1-19; Amos 9:7-15 Brit Chadashah – Hebrews 9:11-28; 1 Peter 1:13-16; 1 Corinthians 6:9-20
This week is a double portion in our studies of the parashot. Acharei-Mot, which is translated as “after the death,” and Kedoshim, which means “Holy ones.”
Our main focus will be in Acharei-Mot, but we will touch upon Kedoshim and even travel back in time a bit to parasha (portion) Shemini (eighth.)
There is quite a bit to cover this time around, but before we dive in I want to remind you that the Word is much like a diamond with many facets. As you turn the diamond in your hand and look at it from different angles, it reflects the light in many different ways and will appear as many different colors. They are all true parts of the same, one light that is coming in. So no one interpretation discounts the others, but rather comes together to paint a broader picture of the amazing deep reservoir of knowledge that is available to us in Torah and throughout our Bible.
If you follow along with the weekly studies, it may, at first glance, appear to be disjointed and odd. Something like watching a modern Hollywood movie with many twists and turns and flashbacks or jumps ahead that at the time you watch may seem difficult to understand, but by the end of the movie everything suddenly comes together and makes perfect sense.
The Word is like that. For example, in chapter ten of Leviticus right in the middle of the reading for parasha Shemini we read the account of the sons of Ahron (Aaron) that were consumed by the L-RD for offering up “strange fire.”
Leviticus 10:1-10, “Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aharon, each took his censer, and put fire in it, and laid incense on it, and offered strange fire before the L-RD, which he had not commanded them. 2 And fire came forth from before the L-RD, and devoured them, and they died before the L-RD. 3 Then Moshe said to Aharon, “This is what the L-RD spoke of, saying, “‘I will show myself holy to those who come near me, And before all the people I will be glorified.'” Aharon held his shalom. 4 Moshe called Misha’el and Eltzafan, the sons of `Uzzi’el the uncle of Aharon, and said to them, “Draw near, carry your brothers from before the sanctuary out of the camp.” 5 So they drew near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp, as Moshe had said. 6 Moshe said to Aharon, and to El`azar and to Itamar, his sons, “Don’t let the hair of your heads go loose, neither tear your clothes; that you don’t die, and that he not be angry with all the congregation: but let your brothers, the whole house of Yisra’el, bewail the burning which the L-RD has kindled. 7 You shall not go out from the door of the Tent of Meeting, lest you die; for the anointing oil of the L-RD is on you.” They did according to the word of Moshe. 8 The L-RD spoke to Aharon, saying, 9 “Drink no wine nor strong drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the Tent of Meeting, that you don’t die: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations: 10 and that you are to make a distinction between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean.” (HNV)
The account is given to us and then moves on. In fact, the following two weeks of study, Tazria and Metzora break away with accounts and instructions concerning ceremonial cleanliness with regards to child birth and then in Metzorah to teach about the ceremonial instructions when it comes to leprosy.
Now this week it “seems” like Moshe (Moses) remembers to go back and finish telling us about Nadav and Avihu with “after the death,” which is clearly talking about their deaths.
Leviticus 16:1-4, “The L-RD spoke to Moshe, after the death of the two sons of Aharon, when they drew near before the L-RD, and died; 2 and the L-RD said to Moshe, “Tell Aharon your brother, not to come at all times into the Most Holy Place within the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark; lest he die: for I will appear in the cloud on the mercy seat. 3 “Herewith shall Aharon come into the sanctuary: with a young bull for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering. 4 He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches on his body, and shall put on the linen sash, and he shall be dressed with the linen turban. They are the holy garments. He shall bathe his body in water, and put them on.”
Clearly, we now pick up where Shemini left off. There are many things going on here, much of which points to pictures of the Messiah Yeshua. We will touch on a few. It is not a coincidence that our study this week goes back to Shemini which means “eighth.” The number eight points to new beginnings, the millennial reign and the Messiah. Then you will recall some of the lessons from Tazria and the time of purification and the correlation to the age of Yeshua at his execution. There are many more connections than this, but for the sake of time and space we will move on.
Typically, in churches that even mention the sons of Aaron and the strange fire, they normally talk about the negatives. They mention that there were sins of pride, impatience, drunkenness and so many other things are taught. Some of the sages have taught that there was also a good side to this story. Beyond all the things that were done wrong and outside of the parameters for this Divine service, there was still the motivation of drawing nearer to G-d. There are also teachings that this boldness opened up their generation to a closer relationship to G-d in that as a result of what happened, G-d introduced Yom Kippur the Day of Atonement.
See verses 2 and 3 of the last portion given above. These are the instructions concerning Yom Kippur.
There is so much more here, but I want to focus on two instructions to the High Priest for this Holiest of services, which has great application to us today.
The two sacrifices that are to be brought before G-d are a goat and bull (Ox). Why these two sacrifices? It is significant in that when we look deeper, beyond the surface we begin to understand something with great meaning today. A goat is a destructive animal. It will eat a field destroying it because it will even take up the roots. This leaves the field barren and dead. Many of our sins are not only destructive to our own souls, but have ramifications that reach out and destroy others around us. The Ox is a constructive animal in that it is used to carry and to move heavy loads. It can be harnessed to till the ground for cultivation of crops. When we come to the Holy of Holies and make teshuva (repentance or turning away from sin), we lay down both our sin, but also give back to the L-RD even that which is good, for it all belongs to Him.
The story of Nadav and Avihu is one we should take to heart. Perhaps they did have good intentions at the root of what they did. We can see how this tragic event did indeed ultimately get turned around to bring good not only to their generation, but to every generation that followed. But it reminds me of the lesson taught in Isaiah chapter one. In the first seventeen verses, we learn that the right thing done in the wrong way is still wrong! There is one way to please G-d, and that is to walk in His Way.
Finally, let’s look at verse four of chapter 16 of Leviticus. Even something like the instructions of the linen garments that the High Priest was commanded to wear has great significance and speaks to us today.
Linen points to the idea of being Echad, or one with G-d. The plant where linen comes from bears one stalk from one seed. At the very smallest level, in a linen garment there is a picture of oneness. We too should be certain to not only be covered with the Oneness of G-d, but for us to be woven into that oneness and be Echad with our beloved G-d.