We’ve entered Leviticus! This Parsha takes us from Leviticus 1:1-5:26 and the Haftarah is from Isaiah 43:21-44:23.
Last week we looked at the completion of the Tabernacle and God’s presence dwelling in the midst of the children of Israel as a cloud resting on the Tabernacle. Moses is unable to enter the Tabernacle because of the power of the glory of the Lord. Leviticus begins with section 1 of how to deal with this problem. The problem is that God is holy and people are not, not even Moses is holy enough to be in the presence of God. Leviticus begins by talking about offerings for worship and sacrifices for atonement for some intentional and unintentional sins. As we talk about the parsha this week we are going to focus on the Haftarah portion from Isaiah 43:21-44:23 rather than the Torah portion. Leviticus is a hard book to sit down and read, even in small chunks, and the Isaiah portion talks about the core issues that come up in Leviticus.
Isaiah 43:21-22 says, “I fashioned this people for myself that they might declare my praise. But you did not call to me, O Jacob, for you grew weary of me O Israel.” So, in Isaiah we have God speaking to Isaiah and to the people of Israel. The situation between God and Israel is not good because the same sacrifices that are being set up in Leviticus, God is describing as being abandoned and neglected in Isaiah. God gave Israel a system and opportunities to have their sin temporarily covered so that they could have a relationship with him and Israel has bailed on the sacrifices and at times taken up worship to other gods. But, God is not like us. In response to the people’s failure to honor him he doesn’t bail on them. Instead, he reconfirms that it was Israel he had chosen in the first place.
There are so many words of promise in this section. When Israel sins and forgets God, God responds by saying he will forget Israel’s sin, but he will not forget Israel. God’s commitment to his people is everlasting. In Leviticus the people are given a sacrificial system that provides temporary covering for their sins so that God can continue to dwell in the midst of the camp of Israel. In Isaiah God is looking at the people and their rebellion and promising a day when he will pour out his spirit on their offspring and when all people would turn to him and call him their God. We have a redeemer:Yeshua–God in the flesh came and made his dwelling among us. When we put our trust in him, it is not our sin that God remembers, but the sacrifice of Yeshua (Jesus) who gave himself up for us, once and for all to satisfy the requirements of the law forever.
I would encourage you to read the whole Isaiah section and leave your favorite verses or reflections in the comments, because I was really encouraged by this reminded of God’s commitment and love to his people even when we blow it. Be blessed as you remember that God formed a people for himself that they might return praise to him. He formed us in the womb, called us out, chose us, dwelt among us, and redeemed us.
Shabbat Shalom, Camp Gilgal.