You can bookmark articles to Read Later

Parasha Tzav (Command): The Sacrifice of Praise

Tzav (Command)
Leviticus 6:1–8:36; Jeremiah 7:21–8:3, 9:22–23; Hebrews 10:19–25

“These, then, are the regulations for the burnt offering, the grain offering, the sin offering, the guilt offering, the ordination offering and the fellowship offering, which the Lord gave Moses at Mount Sinai in the Desert of Sinai.”  (Leviticus 7:37–38)

Temple Mount-Dome of the Rock

Jerusalem: the Dome of the Rock sits on the Temple Mount where the First and Second Temple once stood.  In the background is the Mount of Olives, where Yeshua (Jesus) appeared to His disciples after His Resurrection.  He also ascended into Heaven from this spot, and Orthodox Jewish rabbis know that according to the Messianic prophecy of Zechariah 14:4, this is the exact spot where the Messiah will arrive when He comes to earth.  In the book of Acts, the angels tell the disciples that from this place where Yeshua ascended to heaven, He will also return.  (Acts 1:9–11)

In last week’s Parasha, God gave to Moses the laws of the korbanot (animal and meal offerings).  Those offerings include the olah (ascending offering), minchah (meal offering), shelamim (peace offering), chatat (sin offering for unintentional sin), and the asham (guilt offering).

In this week’s Torah portion, God describes the different laws of sacrifices, providing a distinction in the processes for sin offerings, burnt offerings and thank offerings.

God also gives the priests an ordination offering.

While such offerings seem strange, even outrageous, to modern man, understanding them ultimately helps us to understand what Yeshua (Jesus) did for us on the execution stake, and why His death was necessary.

These offerings also shed light on the New Covenant (New Testament), in particular the challenging Epistle to the Hebrews.


A Jewish girl reads from a Torah scroll in her synagogue.

Torah of the Burnt Offering

“The Lord said to Moses:  ‘Give Aaron and his sons this command: ‘These are the regulations [Torah] for the burnt offering.’”  (Leviticus 6:8–9)

The burnt offerings, which are blood sacrifices of innocent animals, impressed upon the penitent the seriousness of their sin before God.

Tzav describes the burnt offerings which were offered every morning and evening on a fire that burned continually.

“The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.”  (Leviticus 6:13)

That eternal flame is a good analogy for our love for God.  Let us tend to the fire in our heart for God and never let it go out.

Orthodox Jewish man-praying-Western (Wailing) Wall

An Orthodox Jewish man praying at the Western (Wailing) Wall

Suffering Outside the Camp

“The High Priest [Cohen Hagadol] carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp.  And so Jesus [Yeshua] also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through His own blood.”  (Hebrews 13:11–12)

Leviticus specifies that the Cohen (priests) were to carry the ashes of the burnt offerings outside the camp (Leviticus 8:11).

In prophetic fulfillment of this, Yeshua (Jesus) also gave himself as an offering outside the gates of the camp.

Although, we are required to go ‘outside the camp to Yeshua’ where we may become objects of reproach and be considered unclean, we are in God’s sight holy as He is holy.

“Let us, then, go to Him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace He bore.”  (Hebrews 13:13)

Although we might be hated by men, and sometimes feel defeated and downcast, we know we are deeply accepted by our Beloved Father in Heaven (Ephesians 1:6).

May God so fill you with the deep knowledge of His love that you will be willing to suffer outside the camp and stand alone in the Truth if need be.

God delights in you!

Haifa-street party

Street party in Haifa

 Thank Offerings – The Sacrifice of Praise

“If he offers it as an expression of thankfulness, then along with this thank offering he is to offer cakes of bread made without yeast and mixed with oil, wafers made without yeast and spread with oil, and cakes of fine flour well-kneaded and mixed with oil.”  (Leviticus 7:12)

The peace offering of thanksgiving is so important that when King David brought the Ark of God back to its place in the Tabernacle, the first thing he did was offer burnt offerings and peace offerings.

He also appointed some of the Levites to minister before the Ark of the Lord, to thank and praise the Lord God of Israel with psalms, stringed instruments, harps, cymbals and the shofar.

“He [David] appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord, to extol, thank, and praise the Lord, the God of Israel.”  (1 Chronicles 16:4)

tehillim-Book of Psalms-violin

The Hebrew title for the Book of Psalms is Tehillim.  In the Hebrew division of the Bible, they are included in the section called Ketuvim (Writings), which also includes Proverbs, Ruth, Daniel, and Chronicles, among others.

God is good, merciful, faithful, and He has done so much for us.

There are times when all we can do is stand in awe and say, “Thank you Abba (Father).”

Thank offerings are regarded by the Rabbis as a supreme type of sacrifice.

According to Rabbinic tradition, in the Messianic Era, all sacrifices will have completed their educational mission – all except the one duty of gratitude.

This sacrifice of praise is to remain and continue forever.

Even in eternity, we will be singing with the angels, “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good and His mercy endures forever.”  (Hodu l’Adonai Ki tov; Ki l’olam chasdoh.)

Jewish man-tallit-prayer shawl-Tanakh-Hebrew Scriptures-reading

A Jewish man draped in a tallit (prayer shawl) reads from the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures).

“Through Jesus [Yeshua], therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess his name.”  (Hebrews 13:15)

Offering our thanksgiving and praise to God is perhaps, the greatest sacrifice we can give – especially when things don’t seem to be going our way and our flesh doesn’t feel like praising and thanking the Almighty.

“He who sacrifices thank offerings honors Me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.”  (Psalm 50:23)

Gratitude is so important.  Becoming a truly thankful person is transforming!


“My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music.”  (Psalm 57:7)

We need to notice the good things that God does for us each day, and cultivate an attitude of gratitude for those people God has placed in our lives.

Albert Einstein, the most famous Jewish physicist said, “A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depends on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the measure as I have received and am still receiving.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945), who was a Lutheran Pastor killed by the Nazis in WWII for his stand for the Jews, said:

“In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.  It is very easy to overestimate the value of our achievements in comparison to what we owe others.”

Jerusalem-street-ultra-Orthodox Jews

Ultra-Orthodox Jews stroll on a street in Jerusalem.

The Consecration of Priests

“Moses slaughtered the ram and took some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot.  Moses also brought Aaron’s sons forward and put some of the blood on the lobes of their right ears, on the thumbs of their right hands and on the big toes of their right feet.”  (Leviticus 8:23–24)

In the eighth chapter of Leviticus, we read that Moses consecrated Aaron and his sons to serve the Lord by taking the blood of the purification offering and putting it upon their right earlobe, the thumb of his right hand, and the big toe of his right foot.

This represented the consecration of the entire body for the priestly service.  It also provides an important lesson for the type of lives we are to lead as Believers.

To live a consecrated life, we must have the following:

  • Consecrated ears that are attentive to God;

    “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”  (John 10:27)

  • Consecrated hands that are ready to do His will and the good works He has pre-appointed for us to perform;

    “…bearing fruit in every good work…”  (Colossians 1:10)

  • Consecrated feet that continually walk in His holy ways;

    “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him.”  (Psalm 37:23)

Western Wall-Jerusalem-night

Men pray at the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem at night.  (Photo by Wayne McLean)

The Haftorah (Prophetic Portion)

“When I brought your ancestors out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, but I gave them this command:  Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people.  Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you.”  (Jeremiah 7: 22–23)

In the Haftorah (prophetic) portion of Tzav, the Prophet Jeremiah denounced unthinking acts of worship that were part of an ungodly and unrighteous lifestyle.

God’s blessing comes with worship accompanied by real obedience.

It remains a central teaching of the Tanakh (Old Testament Jewish Scriptures) that God desires obedience and a right heart rather than empty compliance to the sacrificial system.

Yeshua (Jesus) also drew attention to the problem of going through the motions of worshipping God, when the heart was in reality far from God.  Quoting Isaiah 29:11, He said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.”  (Matthew 15:8–9)

Reading-Torah Scroll-Western Wall-Bar Mitzvah-young man

Young man reads from Sefer Torah (Torah Scroll) during his Bar Mitzvah at the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem

The people of Israel held an almost superstitious belief that Temple rituals would guarantee their spiritual security, even while being divorced from God’s moral laws regarding justice and righteousness.

As followers of Yeshua, we can fall into the same trap, believing that going to a congregation and singing worship songs equals a right relationship with God.

Worshipping God is so much more than “punching in and out of the time clock” at congregational services.

Religious ritual cannot justify us or save us.

If we want to progress in our spiritual journey, to move forward, and not backward, then God has to be our beginning, end, and centre.  We need to obey God at all times (Jeremiah 7:24).

boys-prayer-Western Wall-Jerusalem

Jewish boys pray at the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem.

 If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that our sin nature resists God.

“For the sinful nature is always hostile to God.  It never did obey God’s laws [Torah], and it never will.”  (Romans 8:7)

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; …  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”  (Ezekiel 36:26–27)

Nevertheless, in Messiah Yeshua we are transformed into a new person, and our innermost being comes to desire a life that follows in the footsteps of the Master to do His good works, and to also share the Gospel of His love with the world.

report article corrections