The Torah Portion for Sunday 27th March is Leviticus 9-11:47 called Shemini which means the “Eighth”. 8 is the number of New Beginnings and here it represents 8 days of preparation of the First month of the Biblical New Year called “Nissan”. Prophetic portion: 2 Samuel 6 1-7:17 New Testament John 5:39; 2 Timothy 2:15
Leviticus Chapter 9 begins with the words “On the 8th day Moses summoned Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel. He said to Aaron, “Take a bull calf for your sin offering and a ram for your burnt offering, both without defect and present them before the Lord. For today the Lord will appear to you”.
You will remember from our last study in Leviticus, that the whole burnt offering was to “draw close” to God, and the sin offering was mandatory for the “atonement” for repentance of the sin of the golden calf which restored relationship with God.
Now Moses and Aaron are preparing the Grand Opening of the Tabernacle which will be next week – The first day of Nissan. So, starting today, these are the 8 days of preparation. Moses anoints Aaron as the High Priest in preparation.
This passage is connected to the last chapter in Exodus 40:1 “Then the Lord said to Moses “Set up the Tabernacle, the tent of meeting, on the first day of the first month…..vs 16 says “Moses did everything just as the Lord commanded him”. It is good to remember that when God calls us to set up a Tabernacle, we should do everything as the Lord commands. There are consequences if we do not as we shall discover.
When we obey, Exodus 40 verse 34 assures us that “The Glory of the Lord will fill the Tabernacle.
However back in Leviticus, Aaron did everything as Moses commanded. He lifted up his hands to bless the people and said - the Aaronic Blessing – “May the Lord bless you and keep you, may the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you, may the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace”. That was the first time Aaron blessed the people as High Priest.
Aaron sacrifices the sin offering, the burnt offering and the fellowship offering. Everybody is waiting for the Glory of the Lord to fall and nothing happens….
Moses and Aaron go into the Tent of Meeting to seek the Lord’s face. Had Moses forgiven Aaron for the incident of the Golden Calf and had Aaron forgiven himself for the incident. It says they both went into the Tent of Meeting to pray, “when they came out, they both blessed the people” then the Fire fell. This speaks to us about unity within the brethren because it was the unity that caused the Glory to fall.
The fire fell from heaven. Not from a match or a butane lighter, it was fire falling from heaven and “BOOM” - like a massive lightning strike – it says the people “screamed”. Chapter 9 vs 24 reads “Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar and when the people saw it, they shouted for joy and they fell face down” ….. but then the party crashes.
What on earth has happened? Everyone is in shock and silent.
Chapter 10: Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense. They offered “strange fire” before the Lord, contrary to His command. So, fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.
Can you imagine that! This is the biggest party they had ever celebrated. It was THE first day of the opening and dedication of Moses’ Tabernacle, filled with the Presence of the Lord. Everybody is screaming and shouting and singing Hallelujahs and then the fire comes out of the presence of the Lord and destroys Aaron’s sons right in front of him.
Moses tells Aaron what the Lord had said, Chapter 10 vs 3 “Among those who approach me I will show myself Holy, in the sight of all the people, I will be honored” or “I will be Glorified”.
Aaron is in shock and is devastated and remains silent.
His sons have been microwaved. They were incinerated from the inside out. Their clothes were still intact and Moses summoned Mishael and Elzaphan, sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel and said to them, “Come here, carry your cousins outside the camp away from the front of the sanctuary. So they came and carried them still in their tunics outside the camp, as Moses ordered. Moses told Aaron and his other sons Eleazar and Ithamar not to mourn the loss of their relatives and to stay in the Tent of Meeting or they too would die because the Lord’s anointing was upon them and “the show must go on!”
On a personal level, when my little boy was just 4 years old, I told him not to touch the hot plate on the stove when it's red because it will burn him – so he tried it, and guess what – it burned him! He never did it again.
When he was 8 years old, (an interesting number for the month of Shemini, meaning 8th), he stuck a pair of scissors into the electrical socket when I had told him not to stick anything into the sockets, and of course, when he was little I put plastic covers over them.
However, he did; it blew him across the room, he hit the wall on the other side, fell to the ground and survived. (In the UK we have 240 volts) it was a miracle he wasn’t killed. It blew out all the electrical fuses in the box – with fire - and melted the tips of the scissors. His brother, who came in just at that moment, threw a book at the scissors to knock them out of the socket to break the current.
My son did not obey me or respect my authority and got the shock of his life.
In the same way, Aaron’s sons did not respect the authority of God nor submit to their spiritual oversights, Moses and Aaron.
It says “They offered “strange fire”. They did not take from the fire that fell from heaven on this auspicious occasion, the Godly fire that fell on the altar. They created their own fire and tried to go before the presence of God with their own fire not the fire that fell from heaven.
This word is speaking to the Priests and Pastors of our Churches. If our priests want to draw close to God they must be Holy and set apart – they must not bring strange practices or ideas not in alignment with the Word of God or lead their congregations astray. The consequences are very severe for “the men of the cloth”.
There were three groups of people in Israel.
There were the ordinary people.
The Levites who had different responsibilities, dismantling and erecting the Tabernacle and setting it in place, keeping it tidy, preparing communion, vacuuming and cleaning the washrooms!
The Priests were different. Not all Levites were Priests but all Priests were Levites. The Priests had to attain a higher standard of holiness before the Lord. There were different standards of holiness. The question is, “How close do you want to draw near to God?”. Do you want to be a “Holy people”, a “Holy Holy steward” or a “Holy Holy Holy Priest”. Israel was called to be a Kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation.
If we want to get really close to God, we must make sure we keep short accounts, repent often, forgive always and love unconditionally so that we may ascend the “Hill of the Lord with clean hands and a pure heart” making sure that when we “draw near” to God we, too, don’t get burned.
It's not a salvation issue. All Israel had been saved out of Egypt. The question is a sanctification issue. If you have received Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, your salvation is secure but it says, “In My Father’s House are many rooms”. Are you happy in the outer court, in the Holy Place or are you seeking access to the Holy of Holies?
Leviticus 10:10 reads “You and your sons are not to drink wine or strong drink when you enter the Tent of Meeting, or else you will die; this is a permanent statute for the generations to come. 10 You must distinguish between the holy and the common, between the clean and the unclean, 11so that you may teach the Israelites all the statutes that the LORD has given them through Moses.”…
Aaron and his sons needed to know the difference between Holy fire and common fire. The sons didn’t bring the coals from the altar of the Burnt Offering when the fire fell from heaven – it seems they brought their own fire. The Lord told Moses when you bring a sin offering to the Lord, it is MOST holy.
We are going to see many exposures of our pastors and priests today who have been playing with fire, and we too will be shocked. They will be exposed unless they repent now or they, too, will be “fired”.
Leviticus 10:16 says, “Moses diligently sought the sin offering, and behold, it was burnt”. This is a very interesting point I am going to make that will surprise you – and I know you love surprises. I learnt this from El Shaddai Ministries this week.
“When you divide the Torah – the first 5 books of the Bible, exactly in half, the passage is “Moses diligently sought the sin offering.” This means that the “People of the Book” are to diligently search and study Torah to find the “sin offering” which is hidden and is a shadow of Yeshua “Jesus” in the Old Testament. Here in the very heart of the Torah. God is saying, “Look for the Sin Offering”.
John 5:39 Jesus said to the Pharisees and the Jews of the day: “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think by them you possess eternal life. These are the scriptures that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life”.
The Torah is all about Jesus. The Glory of the Presence fell in the Tabernacle because the people wanted the Presence of God near to them. It's a shadow of Jesus coming to us as a baby in a manger, Emmanuel, God with us.
2 Timothy 2:15 says, 15 Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”.
When you divide the Torah in half, where do you come to - “Leviticus 10:16 “Moses diligently sought the sin offering” - “The Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world - Jesus.
Notes from El Shaddai Ministries on Shemini
and resources from Rabbi Sacks: Hebrew4Christians