Posts Tagged ‘Levitical priesthood’

Parashah 24: Vayikra (He called) – LEVITICUS

Leviticus 1:1-6:7

“Adonai called to Moshe and spoke to him from the tent of meeting” (Leviticus 1:1).

Leviticus or Vayikra means ‘he called’ and begins with Adonai calling Moshe into the Mishkan to explain the order of worship in the Tabernacle.  He explains the burnt offerings, the grain offerings, the peace or fellowship offerings, the guilt, and sin offerings.

Offerings and sacrifices are ordinances for the Tabernacle (and Temple) services. Many believe that when Yeshua died on the cross, these sacrifices and offerings were no longer required. This is not true. If all of the sacrifices and offerings ended when Yeshua died, Sha’ul would have known. However, in Acts 21:22-26, Sha’ul offers what the Torah requires for purification including the sacrifice so that those who were saying he apostatized from Torah would be silenced.

The sacrifices and offerings stopped in 70 CE because there was no longer a Temple where they could be done. In other words, whenever there is a Temple, there will be a sacrificial system. In the coming Millennial Kingdom, another Temple will be built.  According to the prophet Ezekiel, there will be an Altar of Sacrifice in this Temple and there will be regulations for its consecration as well as its offerings (Ezekiel 43).   The ‘prince’ will be obligated to present burnt offerings, grain offerings, drink offerings, sin offerings, and peace offerings on the Altar for the House of Isra’el (Ezekiel 45:17).

An Altar of Sacrifice is a very important detail when constructing another Temple. For the Jews to build any Temple without an Altar of Sacrifice is contrary to Torah. They know the Torah has regulations for the Temple, including regulations for sacrifice as well as the Levitical priesthood. They know they need a sacrifice for their personal sins as well as corporately for the nation. They cannot offer a Pesach lamb or have an authentic Yom Kippur without a Temple. With veiled hearts and minds toward Yeshua, they mourn the loss of the only way to have a relationship with HaShem (2 Corinthians 3:14).

The Temple Institute in Jerusalem has been preparing all of the objects necessary for rebuilding a third Temple, not the Millennial Temple described by the prophet Ezekiel.  Outside the Temple Institute for public viewing is their perception of the Menorah.

Whenever there is a Temple, there are regulations. Having regulations for offerings does not negate or minimize the work of Yeshua; they prove his ‘reality’ in the ‘shadows.’ Those who are resurrected as the royal priesthood to serve Yeshua, the High Priest, in the Millennial Temple will serve according to the regulations described by Ezekiel.

“Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings anywhere you please.  Offer them only at the place the Lord will choose in one of your tribes, and there observe everything I command you” (Deuteronomy 12:13-14).

Offerings or Korbanot

“But you say, ‘If someone says to his father or mother, “I have promised as a korban…’” (that is, as a gift to God)” (Mark 7:11).

The Hebrew word for ‘offering’ is korban and includes all offerings consecrated to Adonai whether or not they involve blood as not all offerings included a blood sacrifice. Some were grain and drink for fellowship and peace offerings.

“A person’s gift clears his way and gives him access to the great” (Proverbs 18:16).

There is a tradition of bringing a hostess gift to someone you’re visiting. Korban is a similar concept. When visiting Adonai in His House, a gift is presented as one would present a gift to a King opening the way for a relationship. This was the purpose and intent of the Tabernacle system –– to make a way into the presence of the Holy One of Isra’el.

Many of the offerings also became the provisional sustenance for the Levitical priesthood during their Tabernacle/Temple duties. They were given meat, grain, and drink by their Israelite brothers and sisters.  Only a few of the offerings were kept for Adonai Himself.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Offering or korban – קרבן – kof, resh, bet, nun
– what is behind the highest authority of the house of life

Korban Olah – Burnt Offerings

“When any of you brings a [burnt] offering to Adonai, you may bring your animal offering either from the herd or from the flock. If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he must offer a male without defect…. The cohen is to make it go up in smoke on the altar, on the wood which is on the fire, as a burnt offering; it is an offering made by fire, a fragrant aroma for Adonai”
(Leviticus 1:2-3, 9).

This is an offering which rises up into heaven as a fragrant aroma to Adonai. The term olah is first used in Genesis 22:3 in reference to the burnt offerings of Noach and when Abraham offers the ram on Mount Moriah. This offering was a completely voluntary offering and brought no profit to the worshiper or the administering priest except the blessing of being consumed in worshiping Adonai. It was used in conjunction with other offerings and sacrifices as well as the daily morning and evening sacrifice.

Requirements and Regulations
The animal for the korban olah could be a bull, goat, sheep or even a bird.  It had to be a male without defect.  A bull (or other animal) was brought to the entrance of the Mishkan and the offerer laid his hands on the head of the animal so that it would be accepted by Adonai for his atonement.  This was called semichah.  It implied a physical ‘leaning’ on the animal so that the weight of the man was transferred to the animal, symbolic of transferring the identity of the man onto the animal.  In this way, the animal represented him before Elohim and became his substitute sacrifice.

The offerer slaughtered the animal. A sheep or goat was to be slaughtered on the northern side of the Altar.  A dove or pigeon was be taken by the cohen to the Altar where he snapped off its head. The atonement made by the animal was called kaphar meaning ‘covering’ or ‘ransom for one’s life.’  Kaphar was used when Noach ‘covered’ the inside and the outside of the Ark with pitch.  

The priests, the sons of Aaron, presented the blood to Adonai by splashing it against all four sides of the Altar of Sacrifice.  The animal was then skinned and cut into pieces, the entrails and lower parts of the legs were washed with water. The blood of the dove or pigeon was drained out on the side of the Altar. The food pouch and feathers from its neck were removed and discarded on the ash pile on the eastern side of the Altar.

After arranging pieces of wood on the Altar, the animal parts, the head, and the fat were put on the wood along with the entrails and lower parts of the legs.  For a bird offering, the priest pulled it open with a wing on each side (without tearing it in half) before placing it on the fire. Everything was burnt on the Altar and went up in smoke. This offering became a fragrant aroma before Adonai.

Minchah or Grain Offering

“Anyone who brings a grain offering to Adonai is to make his offering of fine flour; he is to pour olive oil on it and put frankincense on it” (Leviticus 2:1).

The Hebrew word minchah does not mean ‘grain offering’ nor does it include ‘meat’ as is found in some translations. A minchah is a ‘gift or donation’ and is also the name for the afternoon prayer service in Judaism. The gift of grain was a free-will offering and became food for the priests.

Requirements and Regulations
The minchah was a fine flour mixture with olive oil and frankincense poured on it. A grain offering could be baked in an oven like matzah, cooked on a griddle like a pancake or in a pot like a matzah ball. No grain offering was to include chametz or ‘soured dough’ leaven because neither leaven or honey was to be burned up in smoke. A small portion or ‘reminder’ of the offering was burnt up on the Altar as a fragrant aroma to Adonai. The remainder was given to Aaron and his sons as food.

Leaven was allowed in a Firstfruits offering, but it was not burned up on the Altar. A Firstfruits offering was made from kernels of fresh ears of grain, dry roasted with fire and covered in olive oil and frankincense.

Zevah Shelamim or Peace/Fellowship Offerings

“If his offering is a sacrifice of peace offerings, then, if he offers before Adonai an animal from the herd, then, no matter whether it is male or female, it must be without defect…. Aharon’s sons will make it go up in smoke on the altar on top of the burnt offering which is on the wood on the fire; it is an offering made by fire, a fragrant aroma for Adonai“ (Leviticus 3:1,5).

The Hebrew word zevah means ‘slaughter’ and shelamim has its root in shalom or peace and suggests harmony, health, and prosperity. This peace offering was a ‘slaughter offering’ of complete well-being. Like the burnt and grain offerings, the peace offering was voluntary. Thanksgiving offerings, free-will offerings, and Passover lambs were all considered peace offerings. These offerings were never brought as atonement for sin or guilt; it was an offering that symbolized the fellowship between Adonai and man. The worshiper who brought a peace offering would invite his family and friends to eat of the sacrificed meats.

Requirements and Regulations

“It is to be a permanent regulation through all your generations wherever you live that you will eat neither fat nor blood” (Leviticus 3:17).

A slaughter ‘peace offering’ came from the herd or flock.  It could be male or female, but it had to be without defect. The worshiper laid his hand on the head of the offering and slaughtered it at the entrance to the Tabernacle. The cohanim, the sons of Aaron, splashed the blood against all four sides of the Altar. The offering consisted of the fat in and around the inner organs, the two kidneys with their fat, and the covering of the liver. The fat was burnt up on the Altar as a pleasing aroma to Adonai. The rest of the meat and the organs were cooked on the Altar and became food for the priests, the worshiper, and his guests.

Korban Chatat or Sin Offering

“If anyone sins inadvertently against any of the commands of Adonai concerning things which should not be done, if he does any of them”… (Leviticus 4:2).  

In Hebrew, korban chatat is a purification offering made for inadvertent and unintentional sins. There is no purification for intentional sin as Adonai didn’t want His people to think they could intentionally sin, offer a sacrifice, and go off to sin again. The korban chatat did not atone for sin;  it was the means of spiritual purification –– a confession and repentance of sin.

There were two ways to sin inadvertently: personal and corporate. If an individual or priest, sinned unintentionally by breaking one of the instructions of Elohim, a korban chatat was necessary. For the nation of Isra’el that sinned unintentionally, a korban chatat was necessary for purification of the nation.

Requirements and Regulations
There were different regulations for this offering depending on whether it was an individual, a leader, a priest or the whole community of Isra’el. The priest’s inadvertent sin brought guilt on the people he served and the Tabernacle itself. When the community of Isra’el sinned, it made the whole community guilty.

When an individual became aware of his sin, he would offer a female goat or lamb without defect. He laid hands on the animal’s head and slaughtered it at the same place as the burnt offerings in the presence of Adonai. A leader was to bring a male goat without defect. He also laid hands on its head and slaughtered it at the same place as the burnt offerings. A cohen was to offer a young bull without defect. He was to bring it to the entrance of the Mishkan, lay hands on the bull’s head, and slaughter it in the presence of Adonai. When the community of Isra’el sinned unintentionally, a young bull was offered by the leaders at the entrance to the Tabernacle. They were to lay hands on the bull and slaughter it in the presence of Adonai.

All the fat from the bull was removed just as in the peace offering and then burned up on the Altar of Sacrifice as a pleasing aroma to Adonai. The rest of the bull in its entirety, including the dung, was taken outside the camp to where the ashes from the Altar were emptied. The bull’s remains were to be burned up on a wood pile.

When making the offering for the community of Isra’el, the cohen took some of the bull’s blood and brought it into the Mishkan.  In front of the veil, he was to dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle some of it in the front of the veil. He was to sprinkle the blood seven times in the presence of ‘I Am.’ He was also to put some of the blood on the horns of the Altar of Incense as a fragrant aroma before Adonai.  The rest of the blood was poured out at the base of the Altar for burnt offerings.

“In fact, according to the Torah, almost everything is purified with blood; indeed, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22).

This is the only mention of a priest taking an offering into the Holy Place. Sin, breaking Adonai’s instructions is an offense against His holiness. In order to purify the individual, leader, cohen or the nation of Isra’el, the veil separating man and Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh must be purified with blood in order to restore fellowship. Sin also affects a person’s prayers in the ears of Elohim (Proverbs 28:9). It is at the Altar of Incense that the prayers of Elohim’s people rise like incense and must be purified from sin (Psalm 141:2).

The priest was to sprinkle the blood seven times. Seven. Sheva.

There are seven days in a week. Seven days that one can sin and need purification. Seven days that each individual needs to search their heart to make sure there is no sin of anger or bitterness that goes beyond the setting of the sun. Sprinkling the blood seven times is a reminder to live the next week with wholehearted devotion to Adonai because there has been purification from sin. The sprinkling of blood seven times may have been to remember the seven-fold spirit of Elohim that would one day rest on Yeshua (Isaiah 11:1-2).

Seven is also the number of completion. When the blood was sprinkled seven times, the purification for the individual, the leader, the cohen, and the nation of Isra’el would be completed and their conscience would be restored.

“Therefore, let us approach the Holiest Place with a sincere heart, in the full assurance that comes from trusting — with our hearts sprinkled clean from a bad conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22).

Asham or Guilt Offering

“If anyone sins inadvertently against any of the mitzvot of Adonai concerning things which should not be done, if he does any one of them, then, if it is the anointed cohen who sinned and thus brought guilt on the people, he is to offer Adonai a young bull without defect as a sin offering for the sin he committed” (Leviticus 4:2-3).

Asham means ‘guilt’ or ‘trespass’ offering. A guilt offering is different from the purification offering in that it recognizes sin and its consequence of guilt. This offering included restitution because a sin against another person was a sin against Elohim. Torah doesn’t say the offering made atonement for the sin, but if a person confessed their sin, “He will be forgiven in regard to whatever it was he did that made him guilty” (Leviticus 5:27).

Regulation and Requirements
When a person realizes they are guilty of sinning against Adonai, they are to confess their sin and bring a guilt offering for the sin that was committed. The offering can be either a lamb or goat and the priest will make atonement for the person’s guilt. Two doves or two pigeons are acceptable offerings for those who cannot afford a lamb or goat; two quarts of fine flour without olive oil or frankincense is acceptable for those who can’t afford doves or pigeons.   Atonement for guilt will be made, forgiveness granted, and the remaining meat or grain is given to the priest as food.

A person is guilty of sin who is a witness to an event, is sworn to testify, but refuses to tell what he has seen or heard. A person is guilty of sin if they touch something ‘unclean,’ whether the dead carcass of an ‘unclean’ wild animal, a domestic animal or a reptile, or even a (ritually) ‘unclean’ person, whether or not they realize the person is (ritually) ‘unclean.’ A person is guilty of sin who speaks an oath, whether or good or evil.

If anyone acts improperly in regard to the holy things of Elohim, they are guilty of sin. Improperly handling the things of Adonai requires an asham of a ram without defect or its equivalent in silver shekels. Restitution is also required for whatever was done wrong with regard to the holy thing along with an additional 20 percent to be given to the cohen.

Anyone who breaks any of Adonai’s instructions is considered guilty of sin. Even if they are unaware, they must bear the consequences of their sin.  An asham of a ram without defect is required or its equivalent according to the appraisal of the cohen.  The priest will make atonement for the sin and the person will be forgiven of his guilt before Adonai.

Anyone who deals falsely with his neighbor with regard to a deposit or a security entrusted to him steals from his neighbor through extortion; anyone who deals falsely regarding an object that was found or swears to a lie is guilty of sin. All of these sins require a guilt offering and restitution of payment plus 20 percent given to the person who was wronged.

Yeshua, the Sacrifices

“But when the Messiah appeared as cohen gadol of the good things that are happening already, then, through the greater and more perfect Tent which is not man-made (that is, it is not of this created world), he entered the Holiest Place once and for all. And he entered not by means of the blood of goats and calves, but by means of his own blood, thus setting people free forever” (Hebrews 9:11-12).

The Bull
baqar – בקר – bet, kof, resh
– house behind the highest authority

The bull, a symbol of strength and service, was completely burnt up as ‘that which ascends’ for a fragrant rising offering to Adonai.

“So then, after he [Yeshua] had spoken to them [the talmidim], the Lord Yeshua was taken up [ascended] into heaven and sat at the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19).

The Ox
shor – שור – shin, vav, resh
– consume the binding of highest authority

The first letter of the Hebrew alphabet is an alef with the word picture of an ‘ox’ symbolizing ‘first’ and ‘strength.’ It represented the first of the Ten Commandments of having no other gods before Adonai. The alef is also part of the alef-tav –- את –– inserted between words throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, the ‘sign’ of Yeshua.

The ox is a castrated bull which makes it easier to control. Oxen are yoked together to plow and pull wagons. Two oxen pulled the Ark of the Covenant when David wanted to take it to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:6).

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).

seh – שה – shin, hey
– the consume and reveal

Sheep symbolize Isra’el and ultimately those who join with her through faith in Messiah. Sheep were offered for burnt offerings, sin offerings and guilt offerings. Both ewes and rams were offered on the Altar of Sacrifice.

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harried and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).

tela – טלאים – tet, lamed, alef, yod, mem
– twist urging forward the first strength, the mighty finished work

A lamb is a baby sheep and symbolizes innocence and purity. It is generally weak and needs a lot of attention until it becomes a ewe or ram. Lambs were used for burnt, fellowship, sin, and guilt offerings. On Mount Moriah, Abraham looked forward to the provision of ‘the lamb’ when Isaac asked about the missing sacrifice.

Yeshua, like a lamb, was born in a sukkah. He grew up “like a tender shoot and though mistreated, he was submissive — he did not open his mouth. Like a lamb led to be slaughtered, like a sheep silent before its shearers, he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

“The next day, Yochanan saw Yeshua coming toward him and said, ‘Look! God’s lamb! The one who is taking away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29)

“You should be aware that the ransom paid to free you from the worthless way of life which your fathers passed on to you did not consist of anything perishable like silver or gold; on the contrary, it was the costly bloody sacrificial death of the Messiah, as of a lamb without defect or spot. God knew him before the founding of the universe, but revealed him in the acharit-hayamim [last days] for your sakes” (1 Peter 1:18-20).

ayil – איל – alef, yod, lamed
– first strength finished work urges forward

A ram is a male sheep and symbolizes divine strength, leadership, and resurrection. Though Abraham looked for ‘the lamb,’ the immediate provision was a ram caught in the thicket. Through this provision, Abraham understood the concept of resurrection.

“By trusting, Avraham, when he was put to the test, offered up Yitz’ak as a sacrifice. Yes, he offered up his only son, he who had received the promises, to whom it had been said, “What is called your ‘seed’ will be in Yitz’ak.” For he had concluded that God could even raise people from the dead! And, figuratively speaking, he did so receive him” (Hebrews 11:17-19).

When Yeshua returns, he will not be a quiet, submissive lamb. He will be a resurrected ram, a warrior, who contends for his people, the nation of Isra’el.

“Next I saw heaven opened, and there before me was a white horse. Sitting on it was the one called Faithful and True, and it is in righteousness that he passes judgment and goes to battle. His eyes were like a fiery flame, and on his head were many royal crowns. And he had a name written which no one knew but himself…. And out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down nations…. It is he who treads the winepress from which flows the wine of the furious rage of Adonai, God of heaven’s armies” (Revelation 19:11-16).

aze (Female) – עז – ayin, zayin
– see the division

attud (Male) – עתוד – ayin, tav, vav, dalet
– see the sign of the binding pathway

Goats from the herd were an option for the korban if someone couldn’t afford a lamb. Two goats were used for the atonement of Isra’el and the removal of sins. Goats also represent the Adversary and the worship of goat-gods in foreign nations. In the Middle East, goats and sheep are similar in appearance which is why Yeshua said that he will separate the sheep from the goats –– to the world they look the same.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, accompanied by all the angels, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. The ‘sheep’ he will place at his right hand and the ‘goats’ at his left” (Matthew 25:31-33).

parah – פרה – peh, resh, hey
– source of the highest authority revealed

A cow symbolizes the Truth in the Word of God (Isaiah 30:23). A heifer is a young cow that has never had a yoke or has given birth. Even more specifically, a heifer has never been with a bull. The ashes of the red heifer were used for purification.

“For if sprinkling ceremonially unclean persons with the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer restores their outward purity; then how much more the blood of the Messiah, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself to God as a sacrifice without blemish, will purify our conscience from works that lead to death, so that we can serve the living God!” (Hebrews 9:13-14)

Dove or Pigeon
yonah – יונה – yod, vav, nun, hey
– finished work of the binding of life revealed

Doves or pigeons were also acceptable korbanot for those who were poor. A dove was sent out by Noach and brought back an olive leaf showing life had been restored to the earth. The olive leaf, bitter in taste, symbolizes a choice to serve Elohim rather than serve the world. In Judaism, the dove is a symbol of the human soul. The nest of the dove is considered the ‘dwelling place’ of Yeshua’s soul until he comes.

“When the time came for their purification according to the Torah of Moshe, they took him up to Yerushalayim to present him to Adonai and also to offer a sacrifice of a pair of doves or two young pigeons, as required by the Torah of Adonai” (Luke 2:22-24).

“As soon as Yeshua had been immersed, he came up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, he saw the Spirit of God coming down upon him like a dove, and a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; I am well pleased with him’” (Matthew 3:16-17).

A Covenant of Salt

The eternal covenant of salt is mentioned three times in Scripture. It was given to Aaron and his sons as a promise of the eternal priesthood.

“All the contributions of the holy things which the people of Isra’el offer to Adonai, I have given you, your sons and your daughters with you; this is a perpetual law, an eternal covenant of salt before Adonai for you and your descendants with you” (Numbers 18:9)

It was given to David and his sons regarding an everlasting kingdom as an eternal covenant.

“Don’t you know that Adonai, the God of Isra’el, gave rulership over Isra’el to David forever, to him and his descendants, by a covenant of salt?” (2 Chronicles 13:5).

The covenant of salt began with Isra’el with regard to their free-will or grain offerings, the minchah, as something they are to do forever.

“You are to season every grain offering of yours with salt — do not omit from your grain offering the salt of the covenant with your God, but offer salt with all your offerings” (Leviticus 2:13).

The worshiper brought the salt-seasoned grain offering to the priest. The cohen took a handful of the mixture of salt and grain and placed it on the Altar of Sacrifice to burn up. This small portion was the reminder portion for Adonai, an offering made by fire that was a fragrant aroma to Him. The rest of the salted grain offering belonged Aaron and his sons as an especially holy offering.

Throughout history, salt has been considered a mineral of great value.  Those who work hard are ‘worth their weight in salt.’ In some countries, salt was considered a source of life and its distribution was controlled by the ruler of that country. 

With the grain offering, there is a combination of ‘bread and salt.’  Breaking  bread generally means a time of table fellowship.  Sharing salt symbolizes having peaceful table fellowship. Who has not asked for or passed the salt during a meal with another person? During the breaking of bread, a host will treat his guests with respect and even protection until even a short time after they leave. Breaking bread together bonds people together and makes them ‘family’ for a short time. Being filled with salt, there is peace in our fellowship with others.

Here is an interesting observation about salt and table fellowship: “Where enmity subsists, the fiercer Arabs will not sit down at the same table with their adversary; sitting down together betokens reconciliation…. It is not customary among Arabs to place salt on a common table.”

Salt is also symbolic of blood. Ancient people who did not have salt or could not afford salt substituted fresh blood for the mineral.   Dr. Livingstone, a missionary to South Africa, noted that when he was among people who had difficulty procuring salt, fresh-killed meat seemed to satisfy the natural craving.  Today in hospitals, saline solutions are given intravenously when blood is not readily available in an emergency.

After the flood, Elohim told Noach that blood was forbidden as food (Genesis 9:4).   The Israelites were also told not to consume the blood of the animal (Deuteronomy 12:23). It was always drained from the animal and poured out at the Altar.  Jewish kosher dietary laws involve shekita or the humane way of killing an animal that drains its blood forcing Jewish people to salt their food because their meat has no blood.

Salt also represents life.  Elohim says that the life of an animal is in its blood (Leviticus 17:11).  Therefore, if salt is synonymous with blood and blood is the source of life, then salt and life are synonymous. As we say, “He was the life of the party,” the Arabs say, “he was the salt of the party.”

After Elisha replaced Elijah as a prophet, he was met by some men from Jericho who told him the water was bad and was causing miscarriages.  Elisha tells them to bring him a new jug and put salt in it. He took it to the source of the water, threw salt into it and said, “This is what Adonai says: ‘I have healed this water; it will no longer cause death or miscarriage.’ The water was healed and has remained healed to this day” (2 Kings 2:19-22). Salt changed ‘death water’ into ‘living water.’

In some cultures newborn babies are washed and salted. In the Middle East when someone says, “He wasn’t salted when he was born,” it refers to a person lacking common sense or wisdom. When the prophet Ezekiel reproaches Jerusalem for their foolishness, he uses the same symbolism, “As for your birth –– on the day you were born, nobody cut your umbilical cord, washed you in water to clean you off, rubbed salt on you, or wrapped you in cloth” (Ezekiel 16:4).

It is still customary to observe the salt covenant on Shabbat. Some people sprinkle salt on their challah as it is passed around the table. I put salt on top of my challah before baking it. With the symbolism of blood, peace, and life, salt is an eternal ‘covenant’ reminder of Yeshua whose free-will offering of his poured-out blood brought peace and life to Isra’el.

Yeshua, the Offerings

Sin Offering

“God made him who had no sin to be a sin offering for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Guilt of Sin

“We all, like sheep, went astray; we turned, each one, to his own way; yet Adonai laid on him the guilt of all of us” (Isaiah 53:6).

Purification from Sin

“The blood of the Messiah, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself to God as a sacrifice without blemish, will purify our conscience from works that lead to death, so that we can serve the living God!” (Hebrews 9:14)

Peace and Fellowship with God

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

Grain Offering of Fine Flour

“Yes, indeed! I tell you that unless a grain of wheat that falls to the ground dies, it stays just a grain; but if it dies, it produces a big harvest” (John 12:24).

Salt Covenant for Eternity

“So have salt in yourselves –– that is, be at peace with each other” (Mark 9:50).

Burnt Offering Ascends to Heaven

“After saying this, he was taken up before their eyes; and a cloud hid him from their sight” (Acts 1:9).

The Pleasing Aroma of a Free-will Offering

“So imitate God, as his dear children; and live a life of love, just as also the Messiah loved us, indeed, on our behalf gave himself up as an offering, as a slaughtered sacrifice to God with a pleasing fragrance” (Ephesians 5:1-2).

©2018 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this Torah portion, the weekly readings of the Prophets and New Testament, and springboard for midrash, please purchase Open My Eyes: Wonders of Torah.

Priest – Hebrew: Cohen


Cohen means ‘priest’ as in the Levitical priesthood. It means ‘one who officiates.’ Cohen is found 286 times in the Old Testament; 72 in the new.

The priests of Israel descended from the Tribe of Levi, the high priests from the Levitical family of Aaron. The Levitical priesthood had responsibilities within the Tabernacle. They were also to be teachers of Torah. They received no land inheritance because their inheritance was to be a priest of God.

“Summon the tribe of Levi, and assign them to Aharon the cohen, so that they can help him” (Numbers 3:6).

“But the L’vi’im have no share with you, because the office of cohen to Adonai is their inheritance; and Gad and Re’uven and the half-tribe of M’nasheh have received their inheritance beyond the Yarden to the east, which Moshe the servant of Adonai gave them” (Joshua 18:7).

“Yes, he will rebuild the temple of Adonai; and he will take up royal splendor, sitting and ruling from his throne. There will be a cohen before his throne; and they will accept each other’s advice in complete harmony” (Zechariah 6:13).

“Her cohanim [priests] have done violence [destroy] to my Torah, profaned my holy things, made no difference between the holy and the common, not distinguished between unclean and clean, hidden their eyes from my shabbats, and profaned me among themselves” (Ezekiel 22:26).

“Ezra the cohen brought the Torah before the assembly, which consisted of men, women and all children old enough to understand. It was the first day of the seventh month” (Nehemiah 8:2).

“Adonai has sworn it, and he will never retract — “You are a cohen forever, to be compared with Malki-Tzedek” (Psalm 110:4).

Hebrew Word Pictures

כ Kaf – A Wing means ‘to open’ or ‘to allow.’

ה Hey – A Window means ‘reveal’ or ‘behold.’

ן Nun – A Fish means ‘life.’

The Hebrew Word Picture for cohen: to open the revealing of life.

©2019 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

Temples in Jerusalem

The Tabernacle

The Tabernacle, the dwelling place of ‘I AM’ among His people was built in the wilderness.  It was a shadow of the Tabernacle in the heavenly realm and took one year to construct. The objects within the Tent of Meeting were created from specific instructions given to Moshe.  The Menorah was built according to what Moshe was shown on the mountain.  The Temple services were performed by a Levitical priesthood with a high priest from the lineage of Aaron, Moshe’s brother (Exodus 35-36).   This Tabernacle was where Adonai met with and lived with His people.

“Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of Adonai filled the tabernacle. Moshe was unable to enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud remained on it, and the glory of Adonai filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:34).

The First Temple

The first Temple was built by King Solomon, the son of King David, on what is traditionally accepted as the Temple mount.  (There is some speculation that this Temple was actually in the City of David near the Gihon Spring.)  This Temple was geometrically similar to the Tabernacle and took seven years to build (1 Kings 6).   It replaced the traveling Tabernacle and all of the ‘high places’ in Isra’el. King David desired that Adonai should not live in a tent, but in a beautiful building made of stones.  Because he was a warrior, he was not allowed to build it.  His son, Solomon, who was a man of peace, built it.  It was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzer and the armies of Babylon on the 9th of Av in 556 BCE (2 Kings 24-25). 

“When Shlomo had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of Adonai filled the house,  so that the cohanim could not enter the house of Adonai; because the glory of Adonai filled Adonai’s house. All the people of Isra’el saw when the fire came down, and the glory of Adonai was on the house; they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the flooring; prostrating themselves, they gave thanks to Adonai, “for he is good, for his grace continues forever” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3).

The Second Temple

After being exiled to Persia for disobedience, the Jews returned to Jerusalem and through the leadership of Ezra, and Nehemiah rebuilt the Temple, the Altar and the walls around Jerusalem.  The rebuilding process took about 23 years.  The second Temple was expanded by Herod the Great.  It was in the second Temple that Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the Altar of Sacrifice with a pig and set himself up as God.  After the Jewish people fought against Antiochus’ Hellenization of their faith and regained their Temple, they cleansed it from the defilement of an ‘anti-messiah.’  This became known as the Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah.

“But in the first year of Koresh king of Bavel, Koresh the king gave authorization to rebuild this house of God. Moreover, the gold and silver articles belonging to the house of God, which N’vukhadnetzar had removed from the temple in Yerushalayim and brought to the temple of Bavel, Koresh the king took out of the temple in Bavel; they were turned over to a man named Sheshbatzar, whom he had appointed governor. He said to him, “Take these articles, go, put them in the temple in Yerushalayim, and let the house of God be rebuilt on its original site” (Ezra 5:13-15).

Yeshua was circumcised, redeemed as a firstborn, and came with his parents to celebrate the Feasts of the LORD at the second Temple.  He taught in its Courtyard and threw the money changers out of the area designated for prayer for the gentiles. Outside the city gates and walls of the second Temple, he was crucified.  he disciples gathered in the second Temple courts on Shavuot and received the outpouring of the Spirit of Adonai (Acts 2).

During the second Temple period, the Word of God became flesh and delivered the nation of Isra’el from sin.  Miracles were performed by the disciples outside the second Temple courts. On the 9th of Av in 70 CE, this Temple was destroyed by Roman armies leaving no stone upon another as was predicted by Yeshua (Matthew 24:2).

No Temple

For two thousand years,  there has been no standing Temple in Jerusalem.   There has been no Altar for the offerings and sacrifices.  There has been nowhere for the Levites to serve Adonai and draw the people of Isra’el closer to Him.  There has been nowhere for the glory of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh  to be revealed except through His Son, Yeshua. 

The Third Temple

The third Temple is referenced by Yeshua in Matthew. He quotes the prophet Daniel and the coming “abomination of desolation.”   Yeshua had already told his disciples the Temple standing in Jerusalem would be destroyed so he was alluding to another Temple that would be defiled.  The purpose of the third Temple would be to show how easily Isra’el, along with the nations, can be deceived through a sincere desire to serve God.  This Temple will only be partially used because the gentiles, non-believers,  trample some of its holy areas making them desolate. Also, the anti-messiah will place himself in this Temple to be worshiped; he will deceive the whole world except for the elect.

“So when you see the abomination that causes devastation spoken about through the prophet Daniel standing in the Holy Place” (let the reader understand the allusion), “that will be the time for those in Judah to escape to the hills.  If someone is on the roof, he must not go down to gather his belongings from his house;  if someone is in the field, he must not turn back to get his coat.  What a terrible time it will be for pregnant women and nursing mothers!  Pray that you will not have to escape in winter or on Shabbat.  For there will be trouble then worse than there has ever been from the beginning of the world until now, and there will be nothing like it again!” (Matthew 24:15-21). 

The second mention of the third Temple is by Sha’ul in 2 Thessalonians. The only person to have taken a seat in the Temple of Adonai, proclaiming himself to be God, was Antiochus Epiphanes.  Because this happened 200 years earlier,  Sha’ul prophesies about another ‘son of perdition’ who will sit in ‘another temple’.

“Now concerning the coming of our Lord Messiah Yeshua and our assembling to meet him, we beg you, brethren, not to be quickly shaken in mind or excited, either by spirit or by word, or by letter purporting to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God,” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4).

A third reference for the the desecrated Temple is given by John in Revelation 11:1-2.

“I was given a measuring rod like a stick and told, “Get up, and measure the Temple of God and the altar, and count how many people are worshiping there!  But the court outside the Temple, leave that out; don’t measure it; because it has been given to the gentiles, and they will trample over the holy city for forty-two months.”

The Temple Institute in Jerusalem is preparing to rebuild the third Temple.  They have made the Menorah, the Altar of Sacrifice, the Table for the Bread of Presence, the Bronze Laver and the Altar of Incense.  They are only waiting for the Messiah to sit in the Temple and begin the Levitical priestly service with the offerings and sacrifices. 

The third Temple will be made by the hands of man and a false messiah will sit in its holy place.  The artifacts will not be made through the Spirit as they were in the days of the Tabernacle and King Solomon.

Sadly, the Jewish people and their leaders do not accept the prophecy in Daniel about the coming Messiah in the context of the destroyed Temple in 70 CE.  According to the prophecy, the Messiah must come before the destruction of the Temple. Yeshua came before the destruction of the second Temple and was ‘cut off’ (Daniel 9:24-27).  Because of willful ignorance, the Jewish people will be deceived and follow a false messiah who will be the Adversary’s puppet.  Only when Yeshua returns in the clouds and the glory of Adonai is restored to Jerusalem will their eyes be opened. 

The King, the Priests, and One Thousand Years

“Then I saw thrones, and those seated on them received authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for testifying about Yeshua and proclaiming the Word of God, also those who had not worshipped the beast or its image and had not received the mark on their foreheads and on their hands. They came to life and ruled with the Messiah for a thousand years.  (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were over.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is anyone who has a part in the first resurrection; over him the second death has no power. On the contrary, they will be priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will rule with him for the thousand years.”

From where will King Messiah rule in Jerusalem?  A King needs a throne.  From where will Yeshua, the High Priest, serve?  A High Priest needs a Temple.   Who will serve as His priesthood?  A Kingly High Priest needs a royal priesthood who knows and understands His rules. 

“Take silver and gold; make crowns; put one on the head of Y’hoshua (yeshua) the son of Y’hotzadak, the cohen hagadol (high priest);  and tell him, ‘Adonai-Tzva’ot says: “There is coming a man whose name is Tzemach [Sprout]. He will sprout up from his place and rebuild the temple of Adonai.  Yes, he will rebuild the temple of Adonai; and he will take up royal splendor, sitting and ruling from his throne. There will be a cohen (priest) before his throne; and they will accept each other’s advice in complete harmony” (Zechariah 6:11-13). 

The Fourth Temple – The Millennial Temple

According to Zechariah, the returning Messiah will build a fourth Temple.  He will have ‘royal splendor’ like a King and rule from a throne.  He will have priests that minister before his Altar as he is High Priest.  These priests will be resurrected saints who will serve him before the throne for one thousand years.

Peter states that believers in Messiah who obey God’s commands are considered the King’s priests, the royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9).  According to Sha’ul, those who sleep in Messiah are waiting to be resurrected to receive immortal bodies (2 Corinthians 5:1-5). The royal priesthood will be raised from the dead at the first resurrection and transformed into immortality ‘in the twinkling of an eye’  to rule and reign with Yeshua from Ezekiel’s Temple.  

Ezekiel’s Temple Vision

Ezekiel’s vision for the Millennial Temple are found in the last eight chapters of Ezekiel. He was given a tour of the Temple by a “man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze, and who had a line of flax and a measuring rod in his hand” (Ezekiel 40:3). 

The Millennial Temple will be larger than any of the previous Temples.  It will be about 875 square feet and will sit in a ‘holy district’ that is north of the city of Jerusalem (Ezekiel 45:1-8).  There will be a place where the royal priesthood will minister to Yeshua, and a place for the Levites to minister to the people of Isra’el.

The Tabernacle and the first and second Temples had a mortal Levitical priesthood with a mortal  high priest.  The Millennial Temple will have both a mortal Levitical priesthood and an immortal royal priesthood with the resurrected and living High Priest, Yeshua.  As the Tabernacle and the previous three Temples were “shadows of the things that are coming,” Ezekiel’s Temple will be a memorial to what has already been revealed and begins the vision of what is to come. The Millennial Temple will reveal the holiness of Adonai to Isra’el and the world without any interference by the Adversary.

In the Millennial Temple, there will be no wall of partition to exclude the nations from worshiping Adonai with Israel.  There will be no Laver, no Table of Presence, no Menorah, no golden Altar of Incense, and no Ark of the Covenant because Yeshua the personification of each of those Temple objects (John 7:37-39, the bread of Presence (John 6:35), the Menorah of the world (John 8:12), he is mediator between his Father and man (Hebrews 9:15) and his Father’s presence on the throne of the Kingdom (John 10:30).

There will be no veil in the Millennial Temple. The veil between the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place was torn in half at Yeshua’s death (Matthew 27:51).  The Millennial Temple will be a memorial to what Yeshua has done, and the spiritual veil over the eyes of Isra’el and the Jewish people will be removed and they will clearly see the Son of Man in all His glory (Zechariah 12:9-11, 2 Corinthians 3:15, Revelation 1:7).

There will be an Altar of Sacrifice.   It will be approached by stairs, not a ramp,  from the east and not the south.  The top of the Altar will be called an ariel meaning ‘Lion of God’ in Hebrew (Isaiah 29:1, Revelation 5:5).  Burnt offerings and sin offerings will be re-instituted in the Temple; when there is a Temple, there must be regulations for its use.

The Kingdom of Yeshua on earth will be a joyous time for Jerusalem and the redeemed people of Adonai. Isra’el will receive their Messiah and there will be life from the dead!  Satan will be in the Abyss, no longer blamed for mankind’s sinful and destructive behaviors.   Sinners born will be instructed in matters of God’s Torah by a faithful priesthood from the lineage of Tzadok.  These royal priests are so holy that they are instructed to change their linen clothes and turbans when they enter the Courtyard so their holiness will not be passed to the people.  For allowing idolatry within the Temple, from the start of the Levitical priesthood through the anti-messiah sitting on the throne, the  Levites will lose the privilege of ministering to Yeshua; they will only have the responsibility of maintaining the Millennial Temple.

River of Water

In the Millennial Temple, water will flow eastward from under the threshold of the House.   It will flow down from under the right side of the Temple, south of the Altar.  With the Temple mount’s current location, there is no spring or water flowing from or under the mount.  The Gihon Spring in the City of David is the only water source in Jerusalem. In Hebrew, gihon means ‘gusher’ or ‘bursting forth’.  Ezekiel waded through one-third of a mile of the stream trickling from the south side of the Temple area.  The water came up to his ankles.  The second one third of a mile, the water came up to his knees.  The last one-third of a mile of water came up to his waist.  The last measurement became a river that Ezekiel could not cross unless he swam because the water was too deep.  

The river flowed down toward the Dead Sea suggesting the Millennial Temple will be in the same general vicinity as Mount Tzyion in the City of David.   Since the holy district in Ezekiel 48 will be quite larger than the area around Mount Moriah, Jerusalem may be located south of the Temple Mount where the water flows toward the Dead Sea, and where the ancient City of David was located. When the water enters the Dead Sea,  it becomes fresh water with all sorts of living creatures (Ezekiel 47:10-11). 

©2014 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

Tithe to Who?

“Then Melchizedek king of  Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High,  and he blessed Abram, saying,  ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.’  Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything” (Genesis 14:18-20).

Abram heard that five kings had taken his nephew captive along with all the possessions and food in Sodom and Gomorrah. Abram gathered 318 of his trained men and went in pursuit of the kings. They attacked and defeated them. Abram’s men recovered everything that was stolen and retrieved Lot. In the Valley of Shaveh, the King’s Valley, the King of Sodom met him and asked him to return the people and keep the goods for himself. Abram refused to give the King of Sodom anything.

The King of Salem, Melchizedek, also met him. Melchizedek, whose name in Hebrew means ‘King of Righteousness,’ brought out bread and wine. Together Abram and this priest of the ‘Most High God’ had Sabbath fellowship. Melchizedek blessed Abram by the ‘Creator of heaven and earth’ who delivered his enemies into his hand. In response, Abram gave Melchizedek a “tenth of everything” as dividing the spoils of war with rulers and religious leaders was commonplace.

The giving of one-tenth of a part of something to another person is called a tithe. The tithe is as ancient as this exchange between Abram and Melchizedek. It also became part of the Torah given to Israel by God.

“The Torah requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people – that is their fellow Israelites – even though they also are descended from Abraham.  This man (Melchizedek), however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abram and blessed him who had the promises” (Hebrews 7:4-6). 

Levitical Priesthood

From Abraham’s seed came Isaac and his son, Jacob. Levi was the third son of Jacob from his wife, Leah. From Levi’s descendants came the priesthood of God because of their faithfulness in the wilderness. The Levites were given duties in the Tabernacle along with responsibilities surrounding the offerings and sacrifices. The Levitical priestly duties continued throughout the generations whenever there was a Temple in Jerusalem.

The Levites, unlike the other tribes, were not given a tribal land inheritance, but were dispersed throughout the land of Israel. Because they didn’t own land, they had no way of growing their own food or raising their own livestock. God commanded the tithe be given to them as their inheritance for doing His work among the people of Israel. Tithes of grain and oil became their sustenance, along with the meat of a firstborn cow, sheep, or goat.

“I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the tent of meeting. They will receive no inheritance among the Israelites. Instead, I give to the Levites as their inheritance the tithes that the Israelites present as an offering to the LORD. That is why I said concerning them: ‘They will have no inheritance among the Israelites’” (Numbers 18:21, 23-24).

From the tithes of Israel, the Levite priests gave a tithe to God. From everything they received from the Israelites, they were to present the best portion to God. God gave His portion to Aaron and his sons as sustenance. God’s portion was considered holy, and all of Aaron’s sons and daughters were allowed to eat it as their share of the inheritance.

“The LORD said to Moses,  “Speak to the Levites and say to them: ‘When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the LORD’s offering. From these tithes you must give the LORD’s portion to Aaron the priest.  You must present as the LORD’s portion the best and holiest part of everything given to you” (Numbers 18:25-29).

Tithes went to the Levite priests because they ministered in God’s Tabernacle. Each Levite family division had different responsibilities. Some ministered at the Altar of Sacrifice with burnt offerings, fellowship offerings, sin offerings, guilt offerings, and drink offerings while others led worship, supervised weights and scales, witnessed legal agreements, and made judicial decisions. Their greatest responsibility was reading the Torah to Israel in such a way that the people understood it and could obey it.

“The Levites – Yeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Yamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Yozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah – instructed the people in the Torah while the people were standing there.  They read from the Book of Torah of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read” (Nehemiah 8:7-8).

“In keeping with the ordinance of his father, David, he [Solomon] appointed the divisions of the priests for their duties, and the Levites to lead the praise” (2 Chronicles 8:14).

“In Jerusalem also, Jehosaphat appointed some of the Levites, priests and heads of Israelite families to administer the Torah of the LORD and to settle disputes” (2 Chronicles 19:8).

“Hezekiah assigned the priests and Levites to divisions – each of them according to their duties as priests to give thanks and to sing praises at the gates of the LORD’s dwelling” (2 Chronicles 31:2).

Unfortunately, the Levite priests did not always do what they were called to do. They stopped distinguishing between the ‘holy’ and ‘profane,’ taught there was no difference between ‘unclean’ and ‘clean,’ and ignored keeping the Sabbath and ‘appointed times.’ They began to steal from the people and did violence to God’s Torah –– sinning against man and doing abominations against God –– profaning His Name among the people.

“They [the priests] do not distinguish between the holy and the common; they teach there is no difference between the unclean and clean; and they shut their eyes to the keeping of my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them” (Ezekiel 22:25-26).

Since 70 CE and the Roman invasion of Jerusalem, there has been no Temple. There is no Altar of Sacrifice or Holy Place that requires a Levitical priesthood. The Levite priests have been scattered throughout the world waiting for the day when there is another Temple, and God’s promise of an eternal priesthood to Aaron is restored (Numbers 18:8). Accordingly, the tithe is not in force when there is no Levitical priesthood.

Because of the belief that God is through with Israel and the church has replaced God’s holy nation, many Christian leaders teach that the covenant of the eternal Levitical priesthood has also been replaced with a newer one. They teach that God’s Torah is either too difficult to keep or can’t be kept at all. They teach that Jesus’ death on the cross removed everything found in Torah from Sabbath to the Feasts of the LORD to the dietary regulations to –– well, almost everything; they still want the tithe.

The tithe existed long before the Levitical priesthood so the idea of the tithe still has intrinsic value, but only in its ordained purpose for the Levitical priests who ministered God’s Truth to the people. According to God’s instructions, the tithe shouldn’t be given to anyone today as there is no Levitical priesthood.

If modern-day churches want to collect the tithe, they should give it to the ‘priests’ who teach the difference between the ‘clean’ and ‘unclean,’ the difference between the ‘holy’ and the ‘pagan,’ and honor the Sabbath and the ‘appointed times’ –– ‘priests’ who teach Torah.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (2 Peter 2:9).

As faithful followers of Yeshua, we are called the ‘royal priesthood.’ We get our royal status from Yeshua, whose Kingly lineage comes through Judah and King David. We get our priestly status from Yeshua, who is our High Priest in the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4, Hebrews 5:6,10; 6:20). The ‘royal priesthood,’ under the authority of Yeshua, our High Priest, is commanded to equip the people of God through teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness with the God-breathed Scriptures: the Torah, Prophets and Writings (2 Timothy 2:16).

However, it is very difficult to find ‘priests’ today that teach Torah as expected of the ‘royal priesthood,’ a much higher calling than the Levitical priesthood. Most church pastors do not use the full counsel of God’s Word from Genesis through Revelation. They do not teach holy living through obedience to God’s commandments. They don’t teach the difference between ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ or the dietary instructions. They do not accept their place in ‘Commonwealth of Israel’ nor God’s ‘appointed times’ and they close their eyes to the weekly Sabbath.

Most church leaders pick and choose those things in the Bible that promote their personal and financial agenda. They keep their disciples walking in the darkness of the world because the light of the Word conflicts with the ways of the world. Worse yet, they do severe violence to God’s Torah by abolishing Torah and teaching lawlessness (1 Peter 4:17). Consequently, God’s name is not only profaned within the hearts of men where the Spirit should dwell, but also throughout the nations of the world.

Should such leaders, pastors, and teachers receive a tithe? Was the command for the tithe to be given to them?

Gifts and Offerings

Our family struggled with the tithe for years, especially when it came to giving to church institutions and pastors who judged our walk of faith. How can we give teachers who tell us the ‘law is done away with’ the tithes commanded in the Torah? How can we financially support leaders who refuse to distinguish between the ‘holy’ and the ‘profane,’ teach there is no difference between the ‘unclean’ and ‘clean,’ remain blind to keeping the Sabbath and God’s holy days, and give them the tithe belonging to the Levites?

It was through prayer and the guidance of the Spirit that we searched the Scriptures and found Biblical alternatives for the tithe.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress … “ (James 1:27).

Followers of Yeshua are to look after widows and the fatherless. In an agricultural society, the corners of fields were left for the widow, the fatherless, and the foreigner (Deuteronomy 24:19). Though we may not have a field with corners that we can designate for the poor, we do have the means to help them in the time of their distress. We can watch their children, help with the housework, buy food, pay a bill, take them to the doctor, or just be a comfort in the days of their sorrow and struggle. We have a huge responsibility to look after these women and children because we do not live in a culture that encourages supporting the widow and orphan; we leave it to the government. We should never be found on the wrong side of God who “defends the cause of he fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you giving them food and clothing” (Deuteronomy 10:18).

What about ministries that take care of orphans? We have a personal standard that the ministry must not only teach the children about Yeshua and salvation, it must also teach them God’s commandments. We do not support any humanistic, philanthropic outreach. Though they are noble, they are not bringing glory to God or Yeshua. Christian ministry outreaches like World Vision and Compassion International teach children the message of salvation; however, they don’t meet the standard our family has maintained for support –– they don’t teach the commandments of God while they do teach un-Biblical western theologies. Whatever you choose to do with giving, be convinced in your own mind (Romans 14:5).

“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality” (Romans 12:12-14).

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing, people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).

These verses above give two other ways to give to God’s people as part of the ‘royal priesthood.’ Sharing our material goods with those who are in need and practicing hospitality to strangers, shows Yeshua in our lives as we help and encourage people who are homeless, jobless, and penniless (3 John 1:8).

We have found that by keeping the Biblical Sabbath, from Friday evening to Saturday evening, we always have time available to invite people into our home for a meal. Sharing material goods and practicing hospitality can be challenging because there is no guarantee that it will be appreciated. We have experienced criticism numerous times when we have opened our home and treated others generously; however, because we know that God works everything for His glory, we continue to step out and bless, encourage, and offer hospitality.

Paul suggests another way of giving citing examples of what gentile congregations in Asia Minor and Galatia did. They gave their tithe to the Messianic believers in Jerusalem. A tithe per year was required to go to Jerusalem so Paul recommended that gentiles who have come to faith in Yeshua set aside money on the first day of the week (never collected on Sabbath) and give what has been collected to Messianic Jews in Jerusalem. He reasons “the gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings” (Romans 15:27).

“Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do.  On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.  Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem” (1 Corinthians 16:1-3).

“For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem.  They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them.  For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.  So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this contribution” (Romans 15:26-28).

“And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch.  Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea” (Acts 11:27-29).

Giving to ministries in Jerusalem is one that the modern-day ‘royal priesthood’ can actually do with establishment of the State of Israel. There are many ministries not just in Jerusalem, but in the land of Israel that need support, especially those who are Messianic Jews trying to bring the message of Yeshua to their own people. Poverty abounds in Israel especially with immigrants coming ‘home.’ Some of the ministries in Israel that we have supported are: Dugit Messianic Outreach Center in Tel Aviv that does street witnessing for Yeshua; Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund, that supports child victims of war and terrorism; the IDF soldiers; the Magen David Adom, the Israeli Red Cross; Vision for Israel that helps new immigrants; Heart of G-d, a family of musicians who encourage Jewish people around the world to make aliyah or ‘come home;’ and Jerusalem Vistas, a media ministry that sent us a prayer map with a specific street in the Old City of Jerusalem to pray for. We had the wonderful opportunity to walk that street when we visited Jerusalem.

Abram, our forefather tithed the King of Salem, Melchizedek, the priest of God who was eternal (Hebrews 7:3). Like Abraham, we should tithe to those who are ‘priests of righteousness’ who teach Torah, the standard for holy living. Or, as Paul suggests, we should give to our Messianic Jewish brothers and sisters in Jerusalem because they have preserved and guarded the Torah of God allowing us to know and receive the riches of life contained in His Word.

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