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Vayikra/Leviticus 9:17 He brought near the grain offering ... and made it go up in smoke on the altar
This verse comes in the middle of Aharon's first day on duty as Cohen Gadol, High Priest. Nachmanides, theRamban, discusses this verse in some detail, considering whether this grain offering is to be brought before, after or instead of the regular daily morning and evening offerings. The conclusion that he sees the Sages reaching is that this is a free-standing offering, offered each day by the High Priest, distinct from the grain offerings or drink offerings associated with any of the other offerings. Why is this important? Why does the Ramban devote a page and a half to reviewing this when the Sages have already discussed it in Torat Kohanim? The reason is because there is a prescribed form, ritual and pattern that Aharon and his sons have to follow - and this shows that they are following it. Aharon's two sons Nadav and Avihu died because they broke that pattern by bringing an offering that G-d had neither requested or authorised. The priests in general and the High Priest in particular were responsible for keeping to the precise form and ritual, for by it they not only demonstrate the constant nature of G-d but also G-d's unchanging attitude towards sin, the need for forgiveness and a right relationship with Him.
Rav Sha'ul wrote (albeit in a slightly different context) "G-d is not a G-d of confusion but of peace" (1 Corinthians 14:33, NASB). In other words, G-d doesn't have several conflicting sets of instructions, leaving us to try and guess which one is appropriate on the day. To borrow a modern saying: G-d doesn't speak out of both sides of His mouth! That is why when Yeshua says, "I AM the Way - and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6, CJB), we can be sure that He knew what He was talking about, and that the offer of salvation in Him is not only unique, but the only way to enter into a relationship with G-d.
Early in Mark's gospel we find the account of Yeshua healing a man afflicted withtzara'at. After He had healed him, "Yeshua sent him away with this stern warning: 'See to it that you tell no one; instead, as a testimony to the people, go and let the cohen examine you, and offer for your cleansing what Moshe commanded'" (Mark 1:43-44, CJB). Yeshua instructs the man, already healed, to submit to the standard procedure for re-admittance to the community once free of the tzara'at skin condition. Yeshua is acknowledging that there is a particular form, ritual, pattern to the proper order of things in the Kingdom of G-d, and teaching us to work that way ourselves by setting the example of doing it Himself. The key words in that narrative are "as a testimony to the people" - doing things G-d's way not only empowers our actions, but is the only way for an effective witness.
Further Study: 2 Samuel 6:6-11; Matthew 3:13-17
Application: Many people, including some who maintain that they are followers of Yeshua, live their lives as if they were following the old Frank Sinatra song: I did it my way. Is that you, or do you always try to do things G-d's way? "In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:6, NASB).
© Jonathan Allen, 2005
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