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Messiah and the Sacrifices

Messiah and the Sacrifices

Vayikra ויקרא : “And he called”
Torah : Leviticus 1:1-5:19Leviticus 1:1-5:19
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Haftarah : Isaiah 43:21-44:23Isaiah 43:21-44:23
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Gospel : Mark 7:1-30Mark 7:1-30
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Thought for the Week:

Why do we start the children with Leviticus and not with Genesis? The Holy One, Blessed be He, said, “Since the children are pure and the sacrifices are pure, let the pure come and occupy themselves with things that are pure.” (Leviticus Rabbah 7:3)

Commentary:

The book of Leviticus begins with several chapters describing the sacrificial services.

It is well understood among believers that there are no sacrifices today and that Messiah fulfills the sacrifices. However, believers often erroneously assume a direct cause-and-effect relationship. We are commonly taught that there are not sacrifices today because Messiah fulfills the sacrifices. In actuality, these are two different things. The sacrifices continued to be offered in God’s Temple for forty years after the death and resurrection of the Messiah. It is true that He fulfills the prophetic foreshadowing of the sacrificial services, but that is not the reason there are no sacrifices today. The reason for the cessation of sacrifice is the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple.

Yeshua’s sacrifice is wholly different, higher and greater, transcending the earthly sacrifices spoken of in Leviticus.

Even when the Temple in Jerusalem still stood, it was a shadow of the heavenly reality, the Temple above. Therefore, the sacrifices on earth are shadows of that greater, higher and holier sacrifice. Although there is no Temple today, there remains for the people of God both sacrifice and atonement, for Messiah “has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” (Hebrews 9:26Hebrews 9:26
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)   He loved us “and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” (Ephesians 5:2Ephesians 5:2
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) He has made atonement by “better sacrifices than these,” (Hebrews 9:23Hebrews 9:23
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) even by His own body and blood, “a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God.” (Romans 12:1Romans 12:1
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) Therefore, you can draw near to God “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things…but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Messiah. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world.” (1 Peter 1:18-201 Peter 1:18-20
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)

But in what respect does Messiah fulfill the sacrifices? We understand fairly well that His death was a sacrifice for sin. However, only one or two of the five types of sacrifices listed in Leviticus are sin related. Consider the burnt offering, the bread offering and the peace offering–these sacrifices were not brought for sin. In what sense does Messiah fulfill them?

Not only does the sacrifice of Messiah fulfill and satisfy the sacrifices, but His death and resurrection is the sacrifice on which the Temple services rest. Long before there was a Temple, long before the days of the Tabernacle, long before God called to Moses from within the Tent of Meeting, before the covenant at Sinai, before the sacrifices of the Patriarchs, before Adam’s sin, the Messiah was “the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8Revelation 13:8
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, NIV)

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