DESHEN

DESHEN (ASHES)

 “When the fire has consumed the burnt offering on the altar, the cohen, having put on his linen garment and covered himself with his linen shorts, is to remove the ashes and put them beside the altar. Then he is to remove those garments and put on others, before carrying the ashes outside the camp to a clean place.”

(Leviticus 6:10,11)

It is in these verses we first see what the ‘old boy’, the Levite older than 50 years of age, does in the Tabernacle. These levites/cohanim were responsible for gathering the ashes from the daily and the special burnt offerings, carrying them outside the camp and depositing them in a clean place. Read carefully the first verse: . . . the cohen, having put on his linen garment and covered himself with his linen shorts, is to remove the ashes and put them beside the altar. Obviously, the daily practising cohen would not carry out this task; however, a former cohen, who has reached the age of 50, is still referred to as a cohen; even as today a retired rabbi, pastor, minister or priest, is still called by his/her title, even when retired and no longer functioning in their former roles.

Now, look at the next verse: Then he is to remove those garments and put on others, before carrying the ashes outside the camp to a clean place. The once esteemed cohen now becomes a janitor, carrying the garbage outside the camp of the Israelites. I find this most intriguing, not for what it says about the roles of retires Levites/cohanim, but for what it says to and about us today.

No one but a cohen may wear the linen garments. The objects they touch are holy and, as such, they must only wear holy garments, lest they contaminate the holy with the vulgar and common. Then, when the ashes are away from the altar, he is to change from his holy garments to his ‘street’ clothes and take them outside the camp, to a place that is spiritually clean, that is a holy place, where nothing but sacrificial remains are deposited.

I can hear the concern raised, immediately: ‘Why do we care about this? The Temple no longer exists and there are no longer any cohanim, priests’. That is true; however, when the third Temple is built, as prophesied in Scripture (Amos 9:11; Isaiah 2:2,3; 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4; Revelation 11:1,2), we will see cohanim functioning with levites. There are men in Israel, principally in Jerusalem, who have been trained to function in the third Temple and are only waiting for it to be built.

However, there is an even more important message for us today. In today’s western culture, people are often labelled by the work they perform; for example, a doctor is held in greater esteem than is a clerk, and a lawyer is regarded more highly, usually, than is a janitor. Is that how Adonai sees us?

In Leviticus 6, we are given a glimpse of Adonai’s perspective of human activity. Here we see a former cohen, a high priest, who now collects the ashes of the daily offerings and carries them outside the camp – the role of a janitor.

Our first indication comes to us from Genesis 3:19, where we are told: You will eat bread by the sweat of your forehead till you return to the ground — for you were taken out of it: you are dust, and you will return to dust.” Here we see the first ‘work’ man does to provide for his family. This charge came after Adom (Adam) & Chava (Eve) rebelled against Adonai’s command and ate from the Tree of Knowledge.

In Proverbs 16:3 we find the following teaching – If you entrust all you do to Adonai, your plans will achieve success. In this short lesson, we learn that all we do is for Adonai, no matter how minuscule it is. Thus, even the most common of daily chores becomes worship. How do we know this? Again, let’s examine Scripture. In Genesis 2:15, we read – Adonai, God, took the person and put him in the garden of ‘Eden to cultivate and care for it. This was before the ‘Fall’, so what Adonai is ordering here is not a consequence of sin; it is worship of Him, through labour. Then, in Colossians 3:23,24 we find – Whatever work you do, put yourself into it, as those who are serving not merely other people, but the Lord. Remember that as your reward, you will receive the inheritance from the Lord. You are slaving for the Lord, for the Messiah. Clearly, then, this passage informs us that the work we do is not only to help others, it is primarily work for Adonai. By doing our work for Him, we are receiving Adonai’s inheritance for us – eternal life.

Beloved, do you perceive the daily work you do, no matter how mundane you perceive it to be, only to earn money to support your and/or your family’s lifestyle? Or, do you perceive this work to be fulfilling God’s work through you?

CONSIDER: However you perceive the work you do will determine how close you are to our Maker and our Master. If you perceive yourself working for Him, then you are His true believer. If you do not, then you are acting against Him. Consider the ramifications of these two positions carefully.

ACTION: Examine carefully the position you take, regarding the work you do. Focus on what King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:9 – What does the worker gain from his efforts? And then in Ecclesiastes 5:9,10 – But the greatest advantage to the country is when the king makes himself a servant to the land. The lover of money never has enough money; the lover of luxury never has enough income.

Prayer: Abba B’Shamayim, Heavenly Father, I pray you help all your believers to regard the work we do as worship of and for You. We do desire to worship You in everything we do, say and think. B’Shem Adonai Yeshua, Mashichainu. Amen.

May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you fully and richly.

By heartformessiah

Dr. Michael Wodlinger is a Messianic Jew, living in Quebec, Canada. He has been a university professor and a rabbi of a Messianic Fellowship.

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