We’re well accustomed by now to seeing news about the current refugee crisis, but some of the recent developments have been quite shocking. In different parts of Germany, buildings that had been set to house refugees (or that actually did house refugees) have fallen prey to arson attacks – some have even caused injuries. Fire seems to be a very effective way for some people to get rid of something they don’t want – in this case, refugees.
But ﬁre also has a positive aspect to it, which is what we ﬁnd in this week’s Torah portion. Still on the subject of sacriﬁces (see last week’s post for more info), God commands Moses to make sure that there is always a ﬁre burning on His altar (see Vayikra/Leviticus 6:6 (or 6:13)). In other words, God wants Moses to set up the world’s ﬁrst 24/7 incinerator!
The obvious question of course, is why. God already showed us that in order to approach Him and to have a relationship with Him, we need be clean from our all the bad things in our life (sin). This was achieved by transferring our sin onto a substitute (in this case, an animal), which was then burned up and our sin was forgiven. After this, we could approach God in fellowship. But why the need for a perpetual ﬁre? I believe that we can learn two things from this – ﬁrst, that God is always available to forgive sin and to enter into fellowship with us. He’s not a “once-a-week” God who only listens to us on Shabbat, but a God who’s always longing to have a relationship with us. Second, it shows us just what a bad state we’re in – the ﬁre needs to burn perpetually in order to deal with the tremendous amount of sin that we commit. There was never going to come a point where there was a lull in our sin problem, so that we’d stay away from God’s altar. Sin was and is a daily issue for us to deal with.
So, that was back then, but what about now? Is God still available and do we still have a sin problem? The simple answer is yes and yes. Although we’re certainly capable of doing good things, our very nature itself is so corrupted, that inevitably we do/think/say bad things – we break God’s standards and don’t measure up. But, He is still available – always, 24/7. In fact, Yeshua the Messiah, who gave His life for us as a substitute and rose again from the dead, is just waiting for us to call on Him to ask Him to forgive us. He promises that if we ask Him, He’ll forgive us and cleanse us and give us a brand new nature and a new life (see 1 John 1:9-10).
I really hope that the arson attacks in Germany stop. But I equally hope that many refugees and arsonists will come to realise that they do need a different type of ﬁre – the ﬁre that represents the availability of God to forgive us and change us and the ﬁre of the Holy Spirit in our hearts to enable us to live purposeful lives as God intended.
Parsha Tzav: Are you a pyromaniac?