Tzav - Give an Order
This Torah portion continues the discussion of the sacrifices. It begins with the burnt offering and ends with the consecration of Aharon and his sons for serving in the office of cohen. The entire portion would take up too much space for a blog entry so I would like to concentrate on the burnt offering.
Aharon is commanded to keep the fire of the burnt offering burning at all times. The burnt offering stays on the altar all night so that the fire will not go out. In this way, the altar is always prepared for the sacrifices and offerings brought by the people. This also served as an example for the priests that they must always be ready. As priests through Yeshua, shouldn't we also look to this example? We must always keep our fire burning and be prepared when someone comes to us looking for YHVH. The priesthood never took a day off. Individual priests may take time off and rotate duties, but the priesthood was always on duty. The same is true today. As priests of Yeshua, it is our duty to ensure someone is ready to assist those who wish to approach our King.
As anyone who has ever gone camping can attest, keeping a fire burning constantly creates a large amount of ash. That ash, if left alone, will eventually overcome and smother the fire that created it. The same can happen in our own lives with our spiritual fire. How many times have we seen someone come into study of Torah and burn with a blazing fire of zeal for YHVH, only to see that fire dwindle and fade away? Their faith snuffed out by their own intensity. In their desire to offer everything of themselves, they forget to take time to clean up the ashes. We all do it at times. We learn something new that draws us closer to Him and stokes our fire. It burns hotter and we feel it burning away the old "knowledge" and misunderstandings. Then we repeat the process and more misunderstanding is burned away. It is all turned to ash. But we never remove those ashes. We continue to carry them as a bitter reminder of things we have given up; of times we were deceived; of misunderstandings that kept us from truth for so long. Instead of removing them and letting ourselves be a clean altar to build our fire, we begin smothering that fire. The ashes get deeper until they take over and the fire dies.
The priests were commanded to clean the ashes out of the altar each morning to prevent such an occurrence on the physical altar. Should we not do the same spiritually? Cleaning out ashes was a dirty, thankless job. If you have ever cleaned out a fireplace, you know how unpleasant it can be. And yet, the priest cleaning the altar was commanded to do it wearing his fine linen garments. Even the seemingly trivial jobs are worthy of our finest when done for YHVH's glory. When we serve our Elohim, there is no trivial job. As I mentioned above, even if it seems like something small, it could be the very thing keeping the fire from being snuffed out.
Once the ashes were removed from the altar, the priest was to change out of his fine linen into other garments before carrying the ashes outside the camp. This illustrates a great picture of the priest doing important work in the service of YHVH with no special attention or fanfare. By removing his fine garments before walking through the camp, he is no longer visibly different. He is not drawing attention to himself when performing his duties among the people. Does this not bring to mind Yeshua rebuking the Pharisees for doing just the opposite? Trying to draw attention to themselves as they did their work. Making themselves the object of importance. In Moshe's day, the priest was just a man carrying ashes. The importance was left at the altar, where the attention was on YHVH.
However, there remained another step to be done with the fire. Just removing the ashes would not keep the fire going. It had to be kindled and fed. The priest had to add more wood to the fire and another burnt offering. In the same manner, we must continually add fuel to our fire. We must learn more of His Word so that the fire stays strong. We must give more of ourselves as the offering each day. Otherwise, it is just a campfire burning without a reason. The fire on the altar was not the end goal. The fire was not the purpose. The tasks to keep that fire going were never about the fire. Everything was about the offerings and the One to whom they were being offered. Without a fire, the offerings were just dead animals. Without a fire in us, our knowledge of Torah, our professions of belief, and even our teaching His Word, is dead.