Parashah #31 Emor: "Say"
This week's Torah portion contains the priestly rules governing marriage and the physical blemishes that would disqualify a descendant of Aharon from being a priest. It continues with HaShem's calendar in Vayikra 23, and concludes with the carrying out of a death sentence for blasphemy. In the middle of all of this is an ordinance revealing another facet of G-d's Heart toward His people when properly understood. Vayikra 24:5-9 says: ""You are to take fine flour and use it to bake twelve loaves, one gallon per loaf. Arrange them in two rows, six in a row, on the pure table before ADONAI. Put frankincense with each row to be an offering made by fire to ADONAI in place of the bread and as a reminder of it. Regularly, every Shabbat, he is to arrange them before ADONAI; they are from the people of Isra'el, as a covenant forever. They will belong to Aharon and his sons; and they are to eat them in a holy place; because for him they are, of the offerings for ADONAI made by fire, especially holy. This is a permanent law."" This command to set bread before HaShem every week is a covenant as stated in the above quoted passage. In Middle Eastern cultures, the process of making a covenant is concluded by eating a meal. this symbolizes the bond between those who have entered into the covenant. (See, for instance B'reishit 21:22-34). Thus, whenever Torah speaks of either the priests or the people eating before HaShem, it is a most incredible invitation. Each meal eaten before HaShem is a reinforcement of the bond between Him and His people. In this week's passage, the covenant is celebrated every week when the priest eat the showbread. Though the priests eat it, the people of Yisrael are an integral part of this memorial as each of the twelve loaves of bread correspond to a tribe of Yisrael. Our L-rd Yeshua employs this same concept with us as believers.
We are familiar with the Nizkor or L-rd's Seder. We eat the bread and drink the cup to remember what our Messiah has done for us. Through His death, burial, and resurrection, He has purchased us to Himself and brought us into covenant relationship. Beautiful as this is, there is a poignant side to this covenant concept that we as believers cannot afford to ignore.
In Revelation 2-3, our L-rd Yeshua addresses the seven Messianic communities of Asia Minor. When He comes to address the community in Laodicea, He must rebuke these believers for being self-satisfied when they are "wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked" (Revelation 3:17). They have kept Mashiach Yeshua at a distance. Have we done the same? Do we who are so prosperous in these United States think we are rich and don't need a thing when in our L-rd's sight, we are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked? Do we keep our L-rd Yeshua at arms' length, forgetting the covenant we have entered into? Let us turn back to Him with all our hearts. He longs to draw us close to Him. As it is written: "As for me, I rebuke and discipline everyone I love; so exert yourselves, and turn from your sins! Here, I'm standing at the door, knocking. If someone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he will eat with me." (Revelation 3:19-20) Like the priests, let us eat the Bread of Life (John 6:35), keeping His especially holy covenant (Leviticus 24:9).