A lesson from today's Torah reading: coming before YHVH
Each week there is a reading from the Torah (specifically the first 5 books of the Bible) in various Jewish groups or even among Messianics and Hebrew Roots folks. Yeshua said we are to live by every word of God, not just the first five books. In fact Scripture also says the whole Torah is to be read once every seven years while at the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), not once a year every year (Deuteronomy 31:10-13). So I try to read the entire word of God, and not just pre-selected scriptures. Having said that, the Jerusalem Conference does seem to allude to this practice of reading Torah in Acts 15:21. So I keep aware of the Torah readings each week – but just feel more of scripture should be read and discussed.
Having said that, it's interesting that this week's reading starts with Leviticus 16, and holiness as we come before the presence of YHVH. The previous chapters dealt with ritual impurity. Now Yehowah deals with purity and holiness in this week's reading. It is also about the High Priest coming before Yehowah once a year on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).
There's something simple, clean and reassuring about the instructions. The High Priest (Cohen Hagadol in Hebrew) had to first be washed in a "mikvah", almost like a baptism (Leviticus 16:4), and only then could he dress to come before holy Yehowah. But this time he didn't don the colorful and ornate full High Priestly regalia – but a simple white linen tunic. Then barefoot, he took the incense into the Holy of Holies.
There may be some things going on here that we don't give enough thought to. Read the rest of this blog for the answer!
When we come before Yehowah, we need to think about what we're doing. We come reverently. In fact the High Priest would normally wear a gold crown on which was written "Holiness to YHVH". We need to be more aware of this as well.
Almighty God not only wants us to wash before we come before Him – but He wants you to know He SEES you as having washed. Apparently Aaron's two sons who were killed by YHVH earlier either didn't come with profound respect, maybe they were even drunk, but perhaps they hadn't washed either.
My first point is: if we obediently wash, God sees us as washed. It's important that WE recognize this. Regardless of whether or not people see one as washed of their past, the One who counts – DOES. We no longer have to feel dirty about any sinful past.
That's also a part of the lesson of the Passover footwashing: we are acknowledging as we wash our brother's or sister's feet, that WE see that person as having already been washed by the Master (John 13:14).
In our case, our washing is repentance and being washed in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 1:5) and in His Word (Ephesians 5:26). Of course most of us adults who follow His Way also had washed in our watery baptism, ideally with flowing water (Acts 22:16; Hebrews 10:22). Ultimately the Holy Spirit is washing us (Titus 3:5). The Great Innumerable Multitude of Revelation 7 is said to have "washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Revelation 7:14).
3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.
4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,
5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,
6 which He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Then the High Priest put on the simple white linen tunic. White, simple, clean. Once again, white is seen as a symbol of purity, holiness and acceptance by our Maker. The absence of the ornate robes depicts humility as we come before His Holy Presence. The High Priest was representing all Israel.
By wearing white he was also showing that repentant people of God are confident in His loving mercy, in His acceptance, and rejoice in His wonderful grace. Yes, in His amazing grace.
Every one of us is in need of atonement – and not just in the Fall at Yom Kippur – but as we live our lives. So none of us should despise any other human being made in the image of God. We all have fallen short of His glory and we all need His grace and acceptance. This reading today reminds us of the High Priest, representing all of us, going before God as washed, barefooted (we must be humble servants of God) and in a white garment of holiness and forgiveness.
There's more to the reading but Leviticus 16:4 made me pause, and rejoice in our Maker's loving grace. The washing, then donning a simple white linen tunic, then approaching humbly and barefooted – but knowing HE sees us as washed, clean and dressed in spiritual clean, white garments. We reach up to Him as He is reaching down to us – uniting us as one in Him, by His amazing grace and acceptance, regardless of what we once were.
Praise you Yehowah, praise you our great Healer and awesome God that you are. You heal our sickness but especially the wounds which sins have inflicted on each of us. We love and profoundly appreciate you, dear Father. We have peace knowing YOU accept us and will never leave us or forsake us.