Messiah, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
The middle verse of the Tanach says, "Now Moses diligently inquired about the goat of the sin offering, and behold, it was burned up!" (Leviticus 10:16). To understand what happens in this passage we must go back to chapter 9 when the grand-priesthood inauguration begins.
Hashem, who is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24) had established a very serious protocol whereby Israel was to approach him. Moses gave very specific instructions about it. Nadab and Abihu, two of the sons of Aaron were careless in their application of the protocol and were utterly burned by the fire of God as they approached the Sanctuary in an unauthorized manner (Leviticus 10:1—3). Aaron was obviously devastated and in mourning but he and his other two sons were in the middle of the grand inauguration (Leviticus 9) so they couldn’t stop for mourning; Aaron therefore held his peace (Leviticus 10:3).
Some may argue that God’s punishment of Nadab and Abihu was out of proportions and could be qualified as the tantrums of a capricious deity, but instead of reviewing God’s actions, maybe we should review our own sense of what is important and what is not. Intersection with God is not to be taken lightly. There may also be more to the event than meets the eye!
Part of the priesthood’s inauguration was that Aaron and his sons were to eat sections of the goat offered as a olah עולה, burnt offering inside the Tabernacle precinct. Moses couldn’t find that goat so he searched diligently for it until he discovered that it had been fully consumed. The patriarch then got angry and asked for an explanation to which Aaron answered,
Behold, today they have offered their sin offering and their burnt offering before Adonai, and yet such things as these have happened to me! If I had eaten the sin offering today, would Adonai have approved?" (Leviticus 10:19).
What happens here is that Aaron reminds Moses that it was unpleasing to God for a priest to do office while in sadness or mourning (Deuteronomy 26:14; 16:11), a theme even found later among Semitic kings (Nehemiah 2:1-2). So because he was uncontrollably saddened at the death of his two sons, Aaron felt he could not do proper justice to that part of the service which he then forewent. Moses was pleased with the explanation (Leviticus 10:20).
What is to be noticed here is that this center verse of the Torah verse tells us to "search diligently" for the goat of the sin offering which is an early representation of Yeshua’s covering. Therefore the central goal of studying to Torah is the search for Messiah's covering.
The Talmud explains that the death of Aaron’s sons is not really justifiable, so that it can only be counted as the ‘death of the righteous which creates atonement for others’, a very prevalent theme in Biblical text. Whether we agree or not with the Talmud’s interpretation, since Yeshua is our High-Priest as well as our covering (Hebrews 9:25), this is an idea that very much fits the theme of the priestly inauguration.
May we also spend our lives seeking diligently to approach God through the atonement of Yeshua.
P. Gabriel Lumbroso
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