Messianic Torah Portion Acharei Mot
Acharei Mot"After the death"
Vayikra (Leviticus) 16:1- 18:30
Obedience without forgiveness is legalism, and forgiveness without obedience is lawlessness. Both of these components work together to prefect us into the image of Yeshua. The sacrificial system, demonstrated the importance of obedience. However, without forgiveness sacrifices become vain attempts to please HaShem. In Psalm 51:16-17 King David understood this when He wrote "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. For thou desire not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delight not in burnt offering." David knew that no sacrifice would atone for the sins he committed when his uncontrolled desire for Bathsheba caused him to commit adultery and murder. Therefore, David did not choose to bring a sacrifice, he relied entirely on HaShem's mercy. Without HaShem's mercy, David could not be forgiven. David knew that forgiveness was the only way; he could ever be reconciled to HaShem. However, David also understood that forgiveness was only the starting point. We can see this in the final verses of Psalm 51 which state "Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar". David realized that, after he was forgiven his obedient offering of sacrifices would please HaShem. Therefore, David understood that forgiveness and obedience work together to change hearts and transform individuals. Acharei Mot / Kedoshim is a good example of how forgiveness and obedience work together changing hearts and transforming individuals into the image of Yeshua.
The Day of Atonement is one time that the sins of the entire nation of Yisrael are forgiven. Therefore, the Day of Atonement requires the whole nation to participate as Vayikra 16:5 states "And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering". The two goats the congregation chose on the Day of Atonement were for a single offering, with two meanings. One goat was selected to be the sacrifice, and the other goat was selected to go free. Two goats for one sin offering is one aspect that made the offering on the Day of Atonement unique. However, this was not the only aspect that made this sin offering unique. The casting of lots also made this offering unique. Vayikra 16:8-9 states " Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD'S lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering". The casting of lots determined which animal would be sacrificed to the Lord and which animal would be set free. The casting of lots symbolized that HaShem would decide the animal chosen for the sacrifice. Therefore, the sacrificial animal's fate was totally surrendered to HaShem. The Children of Yisrael had no control over which goat was sacrificed and which goat was set free.
Another unique difference between the sin sacrifice offered on the Day of Atonement and an individual sin sacrifice is freedom for one of the goats. Vayikra 16:21 states "Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness". The goat sent to the wilderness symbolized HaShem's forgiveness. HaShem was allowing one goat to go free even though it symbolically carried the sins of Yisrael. The living goat is a graphic example of HaShem forgiving individuals and granting freedom to them despite the sins, they have committed. The Day of Atonement was also unique because it was a day for the entire nation to experience affliction. This gave the entire nation, the opportunity to repent. Vayikra 16:29 states " this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourns among you" Every individual in Yisrael was required to afflict themselves by remembering past sins. As a result, the Children of Yisrael could seek forgiveness for the sins they had committed. Therefore, the Day of Atonement was a solemn time to reflect and pray for forgiveness. The Day of Atonement taught the Children of Yisrael that HaShem's forgiveness allows the opportunity to repent, and brings freedom from affliction and punishment.
Vayikra 17:3-4 states "What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat, in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp, And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto the LORD before the tabernacle of the LORD; blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people". Bringing all sacrifices to the tabernacle guaranteed that the priests could preside over the offerings and assure that the sacrifices were presented exactly like HaShem commanded. This was established to prevent Yisrael from returning to idolatrous forms of worship. Vayikra 17:7 states " they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto demons, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations". Acceptable sacrifices had to be presented the way HaShem commanded. Requiring all sacrifices to be offered in the tabernacle and under the supervision of the priests taught Yisrael to walk in obedience. The priests assured that every sacrifice was offered exactly as the sacrificial commandments of HaShem dictated. Individuals were prevented from offering sacrifices any way they wanted. The Children of Yisrael were forced to offer sacrifices to HaShem the way He wanted. As a result, the sacrifices the Children of Yisrael presented were acceptable and pleasing to HaShem.
In Acharei Mot, two of the central themes are forgiveness and obedience. In Vayikra 16 forgiveness of the whole nation is accomplished through sacrifice, freedom, repentance, and prayer. The Day of Atonement symbolized HaShem's forgiveness, because on the Day of Atonement the Children of Yisrael were freed from their sins and given the opportunity to pray and repent. In Vayikra 17 HaShem exemplifies the importance of obedience. We can see this by the requirement that all sacrifice was to take place at the tabernacle. This insured obedience by requiring the Children of Yisrael to offer their sacrifices under the supervision of the priests. As a result, the sacrifices that were presented to HaShem were presented the way He commanded. Therefore, the Children of Yisrael were prevented from offering idolatrous sacrifices. As a result, the sacrifices were acceptable and pleasing to HaShem. Acharei Mot / Kedoshim is a good example of how obedience and forgiveness work together to transform us into the image of Yeshua by giving us the opportunity to repent, and allowing us to serve HaShem in a way that is pleasing to Him.
Torah Portion Study Questions For Each Weeks Torah Portion
These questions and answers are to use in individual study or as a foundation for individuals creating Shabbat School lessons. Feel free to use the Torah Portion comments as templates to enhance your Torah study.
Acharei Mot Study Guide Questions
- How does obedience start?
- What is required before we can surrender our fleshly desires?
- What example is used in the beginning of Acharei Mot to remind the readers of consequences of willful disobedience?
- What are we reminded to continue doing in the last verse?
- Did the children of Yisrael have control over which goat was chosen by HaShem? Explain why?
- What was the reason for the placement of the hands on the goat that was sent into the wilderness?
- Why was every person in Yisrael required to afflict them selves?
- Why did HaShem not want the sacrifice to occur anywhere besides where He placed His name?
- What are the two most important teaching that we learn form Acharei Mot?
Acharei Mot Study Guide Answers
- With a change of heart
- A broken and contrite heart
- The Sin Nadab and Abihu
- Keeping the commandments.
- No, the goats were separated and selected by the casting of lots.
- This is a symbolic gesture of removing the sins of Yisrael and sending the sins into an area that was uninhabited.
- To be reminded of the affliction of sin
- He wanted Yisrael to Remember Him when the sacrifices occurred at the tabernacle. This helped prevent Yisrael’s desire to turn the sacrifices of HaShem into idolatrous sacrifices. This also guaranteed uniformity in the sacrificial system.
- A broken and contrite heart prevents sin, and that all believers should be unified by worshiping HaShem exactly like He commands.
By Rabbi Yaakov benYosef ABOUT-Torah.org© 2010 About Torah