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Weekly D'rash Emor

Everyone desires acceptance. It means that we are included or valued within a group. Sometimes acceptance is based on how we look, a particular interest, or a belief. Acceptance can give us identity or a sense of worth. The Scriptures exhort us to accept one another just as the Messiah also accepted us (Romans 15:7). The context of this verse is the acceptance of those who are considered “weak” for the building up of the community. A strong congregation accepts one another for who they are in Messiah.

In his life, Yeshua accepted people regardless of their reputation or past. He accepted people who came from diverse backgrounds, vocations, and opinions. In his atoning death and resurrection, he accepts all who embrace the salvation that he provides. All of this is amazing given the fact that He is perfect and desires holiness in all who approach him.

Our Torah portion for this week describes the priestly requirements for service and participation. Leviticus chapters 21–22 contain a variety of requirements that focus on the acceptance of offerings to the Lord. The priesthood was a unique calling that not only provided a function, but also represented the perfection of God. An animal had to be without blemish or defect to be accepted. “Ratzon” is the Hebrew word used in Leviticus for an acceptable offering. The word is used in the Bible to describe what God finds desirous or pleasant. In Lev 22:19–29, the word “ratzon” is used eight times to describe the offering that God desires.

For example, Whatever has a defect, you shall not offer, for it will not be accepted for you (Lev 22:20); When a man offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD to fulfill a special vow or for a freewill offering, of the herd or of the flock, it must be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no defect in it (Lev 22:21); When you sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the LORD, you shall sacrifice it so that you may be accepted(Lev 21:29). Notice in the last verse that the goal of the offering was the acceptance of the person. For a sacrifice to be accepted it had to be perfect! This was a tall order, but the offering had to meet the holy requirements of God. The result was that the person on whose behalf the offering was made was accepted or considered “pleasant” to God.

Yeshua the Messiah is the perfect sacrifice for sin, and his offering was acceptable or pleasing to God. The result is that we are accepted in the beloved! God accepts us because of the perfect atonement provided by Yeshua. In ourselves, we are unacceptable. Yeshua takes away the guilt and shame of sin and makes us acceptable. He calls us “holy ones.” We all have flaws and weaknesses. People may reject or misunderstand us. To some people we might seem “unacceptable.” But to God we are “ratzon”, a delight! He accepts us the way we are, and through the work of the Holy Spirit transforms us. All of this is because the atoning sacrifice of Yeshua was acceptable to the Lord.

We are a perfect and holy priesthood, and we have responsibility to live in such a way that pleases God and is a delight to him. We read in 1 Peter 2:4–5, And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by people, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Messiah Yeshua. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe (Hebrews 12:28); Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable toGod, which is your reasonable service of worship. And do not allow yourselves to be conformed to this world, but allow yourselves to be transformed by the renewing of your mindset, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

May all the works of our hands and the words that come out of our mouths be a delight to God. May we accept one another just as God has accepted us. How good and pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell together in unity (Psa 133:1). Regardless of what the world may think of you and me, we are accepted by God and loved by him, and he takes great delight in us.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Howard

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