My husband Tommy and I are scheduled to facilitate our Torah group’s study this week with Torah portion Acharei Mot (Leviticus 16:1-18:20). As I have been reading and pondering, something very profound stood out to me.
“YHVH spoke to Moses after the death of Aaron’s two sons, when they approached before YHVH, and they died.”
Nadab & Abihu tried to approach YHVH in a manner that YHVH had not commanded them.
The sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, each took his fire pan, they put fire in them and placed incense upon it; and they brought before YHVH an alien fire that He had not commanded them. A fire came forth from before YHVH and consumed them, and they died before YHVH.”
Aaron and his sons were consecrated or dedicated for the purpose of serving YHVH in the Tent of Meeting. They took it upon themselves to bring incense before YHVH at a time of their choosing, NOT as YHVH had prescribed.
The remainder of chapter 16 of Leviticus describes the Yom Kippur service, or how the High Priest is to atone for himself, his household, and the entire congregation.
Wait a minute…atone for himself, his household, and the entire congregation? I must have an improper understanding of what the word atone means here.
According to Jeff Benner of Ancient-Hebrew.org, the Hebrew word for atonement is kaphar (To afford protection or security; to hide from sight or knowledge; to cover over as with a lid.)
The Hebrew word kaphar means “to cover over,” but is often translated as atonement. The word atonement is an abstract word and in order to understand the true Hebrew meaning of a word we must look to the concrete meaning. If an offense has been made, the one that has been offended can act as though the offense is covered over and unseen. We express this idea through the word of forgiveness. Atonement is an outward action that covers over the error.
As I was reading Leviticus 16, I also noticed the words “provide atonement”, “atoning”, and “bring atonement”. The word kaphar (atone) in it’s various forms is used 16 times in this chapter!
This week I’ve been discussing with several people how YHVH has led them to count the omer. One person shared that they are taking the numerical day (i.e. day 13), looking up what that number symbolizes, and then praying to have those things revealed (positive or negative) in their lives.
With that in mind, because I noticed the word “atone” was used 16 times in this chapter, I decided to find out what the number 16 symbolizes.
The number 16 is symbolic of …
I immediately thought of love covers.
1 Peter 4:8
“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”
“My brethren, if any among you turns from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
“Hatred arouses strife, but love covers all offenses.”
So what is love?
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (There are 16 ways love is mentioned!)
Love is patient and kind, not jealous, not boastful, not proud, rude or selfish, not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not gloat over other people’s sins but takes its delight in the truth. Love always bears up, always trusts, always hopes, always endures. Love never ends…”
YHVH is love!
1 John 4:8
“Those who do not love, do not know YHVH, because YHVH is love.”
How do we show YHVH that we love Him?
“If you love me, you will keep my commands.”
“Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me, and the one who loves me will be loved by my Father, a I will love him and reveal myself to him.”
Yeshua answered him, ‘If someone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Someone who doesn’t love me doesn’t keep my words – and the words you are hearing is not my own but that of the Father who sent me.’
So, what have I learned from this?
Nadab & Abihu did not show YHVH their love for Him because they did not bring an offering the way He had commanded and they died. Following His ways and keeping His commandments leads to life, not death. YHVH gave the High Priest a way to make atonement for his sins, the sins of his household, and of the congregation. Yeshua, our High Priest, entered the Most Holy Place in the heavens and made atonement for us with His own blood. The sin that should have separated us from YHVH has been covered by the blood of the Lamb. Love covers…
I read all of the Gospel accounts while preparing for Pesach this year and noticed something interesting. John 13 mentions it was just before the festival of Pesach and Yeshua was having supper with his talmidim (disciples). One of the first things He did was wash their feet to set an example (vs15). Do you realize He washed the feet of the one He knew was going to betray Him? Love covers…
The remainder of John 13, 14, 15, 16, & 17 is dialogue that takes place at that same meal! Right after Y’judah (Judas) left the meal, Yeshua says, “I am giving you a new command: that you keep on loving each other. In the same way that I have loved you, you are to keep on loving each other.” (John 13:34)
To quote Jeff Benner again:
“If an offense has been made, the one that has been offended can act as though the offense is covered over and unseen. We express this idea through the word of forgiveness. Atonement is an outward action that covers over the error.”
I have offended YHVH by not always keeping His commandments. As the One who has been offended, He has chosen to “act as though the offense is covered over and unseen” because I have chosen to allow the blood of Yeshua to kaphar “cover” me.