Today we begin Leviticus Chapter 16.
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I think one of the biggest challenges gentile believers face after they have woken up to the Hebrew roots of their faith and the realization that the one whom they call “Lord and Savior” is 100% Jewish is how to properly understand and interpret the Word of God in its proper Hebrew context.
What can make things even more difficult are the many Jewish doctrines and traditions promoted that do NOT accurately reflect what is really written in the Word of God.
A perfect example of Jewish tradition gone hog wild are the dietary laws contained in Leviticus chapter 11.
The contents of the kosher eating laws (KASHRUT in Hebrew) from Leviticus chapter 11 and Deuteronomy 14, if put together, would comprise no longer than about three full pages.
Yet Jewish tradition has turned these simple food laws of God into commentary extending into the thousands of pages and comprised of literally several volumes.
Hence, the challenge that faces serious students of God’s Word is undergoing the hard work of separating Jewish traditions and rabbinic rulings from the original words of HASHEM.
Christian dogma is easy to discard because it’s so anti-Biblical but not always so with Jewish tradition.
Don’t get me wrong.
I’m not saying all traditions are to be thrown in the trash.
There is definitely much useful teaching, truth and meaning in traditional liturgy, yet some traditions can lead us down a false path if we don’t exercise proper discernment.
This is the exact challenge we are going to face when studying the content of Leviticus chapter 16 which deals with YOM KIPPUR (The Day of Atonement).
The truth is that many of the Jewish commentaries, when dealing with Leviticus chapter 16, do NOT directly deal with the content in this chapter.
Instead, the majority of the commentaries go into all of these in-depth explanations of the countless rabbinical rulings and traditions that developed over the centuries concerning the observance of YOM KIPPUR, rather than its meaning.
However, we are going to study the meaning behind the rituals of YOM KIPPUR and the implications it has for modern believers today.
Obviously the most dramatic change concerning the observation of YOM KIPPUR occurred in 70 A.D. when the Holy Temple and the city of Jerusalem were destroyed by the Romans.
Although Jerusalem was rebuilt, the Temple to this day has not yet been rebuilt.
I remind you that ALL of these rituals we’ve been studying in Leviticus including YOM KIPPUR require the Temple, its altars and the Priesthood in order to be observed.
For the past 1000 years or so, the Jewish people have had to re-interpret and modify how to best put into practice these Levitical instructions we are now studying.
So consider this a word of caution.
In our studies, we must be careful to separate God’s actual Words and Laws from those traditions of men that have no Scriptural bearing and this would include some of what the ancient sages have compiled in the Oral Torah.
If the truth be told, much of the grand and meticulously orchestrated liturgy followed by many religious Jews today has a very limited Biblical connection.
And obviously, the same can be said of Christianity.
Again, please understand that I am in no way putting down some of the very beautiful and inspiring Jewish worship practices.
I myself recite the SHEMA and other Jewish liturgy when I go to the synagogue.
In fact, I would love to see the gentile church adopt some of this liturgy, especially the SHEMA.
I know it can be challenging since there is a lot of high emotion attached to long-held traditions.
And it doesn’t help that for over the past 2000 years, the gentile church has tried its best to remove any remnant of Jewishness from its practices.
It’s like we’re caught between a rock and a hard place.
On the one hand, we have to contend with the rock of Jewish tradition, and on the other, we have to contend with the gentile church’s allegorical interpretations.
Yet, it is our duty to distinguish between the consecrated Word of God and the traditions of men.