Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #20: Tetzaveh (You are to order) Sh’mot (Exodus) 27:20-30:10
Haftarah: Yechezk’el (Ezekiel) 43:10-27
B’rit Chadashah: Philippians 4:10-20
The first paragraph of this parashah provides us with continued scriptural support that we are to let our lights so shine before men in order to glorify G-d. Recall that the middle lamp in the Menorah represents Yahshua from which all other lamps (true believers) obtain and maintain our lights as long as we stay connected to the Shamesh Lamp (Yahshua) just as the other lamps were connected to the Shamesh lamp as a single piece of gold. “ You are to order the people of Israel to bring you pure oil of pounded olives for the light, and to keep the lamp burning continually… keep it burning from evening until morning before Adonai. This is to be a permanent regulation through all the generations of the people of Israel.” It is not difficult to see that this statement applies to ALL who would call themselves true believers as the “people of Israel” means all true believers and not biological Jews exclusively. Furthermore, we read that the olive oil (fuel) for the lamp must be pure oil obtained only through pounding them. Again the symbolism is clear. Our lights can neither shine with the brightest light reflecting the Light of YHVH/Yahshua nor glorify Him to the utmost without personal spiritual growth obtained only through the refinement or pounding process. This truth is validated here in the Tanakh and in the B’rit Chadashah where Sh’aul speaks of the attitude with which we should endure that which is allowed by G-d for our ultimate good (Romans chapter 8). 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 reads “Therefore, to keep me from becoming overly proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from the Adversary to pound away at me, so that I wouldn’t grow conceited. Three times I begged the L-rd to take this thing away from me; but he told me, ‘My grace is enough for you, for my power is brought to perfection in weakness.’ Therefore, I am happy to boast about my weaknesses, in order that the Messiah’s power will rest upon me. Yes, I am well pleased with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties endured on behalf of the Messiah; for it is when I am weak that I am strong.” This is the concept we spoke of last Friday evening that is at the heart of kabbalah; we cannot ascend in our relationship to YHVH/Yahshua unless we die to self, submitting our entire being to His will. The only way to accomplish this is to teshuva (repent), delve into G-d’s Torah, and learn to love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart, soul, and might (mind; resources). This can only be accomplished by hearing, internalizing, and acting upon the words of G-d’s Torah.
Let’s now take a look at the meaning behind the clothes and the man.
The High Priest wears eight articles of clothing:
The innermost layer right next to the skin is representative of the most basic and primitive human emotions. If we are honest with ourselves, we know that our daily comings and goings are not any more important than anyone else’s. However, in our hearts, we are willing to kill anybody who gets in the way of my plan to fulfill my desires. Accordingly, the tunic is a kapara (expiation, atonement; forgiveness; covering for these aggressive impulses. As we move forward, let us be reminded of the kapara of Yahshua’s sacrifice. We can immediately draw a correlation with being clothed with the righteousness of G-d as the new priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) as we read this section! The kohen’s behavior towards others is governed by the commandment of “love your brother as you love yourself” (Leviticus 19:18] and reflects his mind rather than his heart. So it is or should be with anyone who claims to be a true believer.
In our minds, we realize the utilitarian purpose of our sexual drives are to populate the world; be fruitful and multiply, and deepen the relationship between man and woman with the bond of romantic love. But, in our hearts, we just want sex to satisfy our animal lust. Uh oh; the animal inclination raises its head once more! Accordingly, the trousers are a kapara for the sexual impulse, because the wearer’s behavior in this area is governed by the laws of the Torah.
In our minds, we realize that our significance in the scheme of things is not superior to that of other human beings. We are all created to glorify G-d and make His name known among the nations. Furthermore, we each have a particular mission that G-d has planned just for each person that has a special place in His universal tapestry. But, all too often, in my mind, I am no different in my thinking than my little Chihuahua, Yofi. I feel that the whole universe revolves around me! The turban acts as a kapara for these feelings of haughtiness in us as we learn to dedicate ourselves to act towards others with humility.
The inner turmoil and confusion that leads us astray comes from our inability to distinguish between the thoughts that are generated by the desires of our hearts, from those that are the products of pure reason. The belt that the kohen wears represents the determination to eliminate this confusion by testing every thought against the dictates of the Torah.
These four articles are worn by the high priest and by all priests (remember we are the new priesthood; 1 Peter 2:9). The remaining four are worn only by the high priest.
The word for clothing in Hebrew is beged – composed of the letters beth, gimel, and daleth. The Hebrew word for treason or betrayal is spelled with the identical letters. These letters are also sequential; they are the 2nd, 3rd and 4th letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Clothes have a dual aspect. They are either a disguise worn by the traitor to help conceal his treachery, or they flow naturally out of the number one, and allow us to trace the wearer back to his true Source. Our clothing should reflect the inner man/woman and the hidden beauty within that is expressed through our behavior. Clothes should not be the object that attracts attention, just as the priestly garments were not ostentatious. The priestly garments were designed by G-d to reflect our human challenges and a tangible expression of G-d’s ability and love for us by providing garments of salvation we may obtain IF we follow His ways out of love and obedience.
Haftarah: Ezekiel 43:10-27
The Book of Ezekiel began when he was shown now the Shechinah, the Presence of G-d, was withdrawing from the Temple, leaving it an empty and desolate structure prone to imminent destruction by the Babylonian army. It is important for us to realize that although G-d removes His Presence from places, He will neither leave nor forsake those who love Him by following His commands. This is a promise that is clearly stated in the Old Testament and the B’rit Chadashah.
1 Deuteronomy 31:6, Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; “He will never leave you nor forsake you.”
2 Deuteronomy 31:8, The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
3 Joshua 1:5, No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
4 1Kings 8:57, “May the LORD our God be with us as he was with our fathers; may He never leave us nor forsake us.”
5 1Chronicles 28:20, David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work.”Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.”
6 Psalms 37:28, For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. “They will be protected forever, but the offspring of the wicked will be cut off;”
7 Psalms 94:14 “For the LORD will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance.”
8 Isaiah 41:17 “The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the LORD will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.“
9 Isaiah 42:16 “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; “I will not forsake them.”
10 Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Throughout Ezekiel’s “career” of warning the nation of the consequences of its falling away from G-d, G-d made it clear to him that Israel (all true believers) would remain His people, that He would share their exile, and that He would bring them home again. In the concluding chapters of the book, Ezekiel saw the vision, the architecture, the dimensions, the laws of the Third Temple and the reinstatement of the sacrificial system. Finally, he saw the vision of the Shekinah’s return; the same Shechinah whose departure he had tearfully witnessed 20 years earlier. Note that it is Yahshua who will return to the Third Temple for His Millenial Reign… Yahshua is G-d; Echad; One!
The chapter of the Haftarah opens with that vision. The Haftarah begins in the middle of the chapter, with Ezekiel’s vision of the Altar, upon which the reinstatement of the sacrificial system and the offerings that would cleanse the Altar, preparing it for its holy task. Therefore, this passage is consistent and appropriate to our parashah, with its instructions for the Tabernacle and the Kohanim, and the procedure of offerings that would consecrate them and the Altar.
Interestingly, for certain parts of the Altar, Ezekiel uses “symbolic” names that are not used anywhere else in Scripture. “Harel” literally meaning “mountain of G-d,” refers to the Altar’s upper four cubits; “Ariel.” Literally meaning “lion of G-d.” to the site of the sacrificial fire atop the Altar; and “Azarah” meaning courtyard to the entire roof of the Altar, including the walkways at its sides for the Kohanim. The use of these terms should not be a mystery for the Messianic Jewish believer, for they all refer to Yahshua!
According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia the authors are of the opinion that while, however, there is this historical relation, it is to be observed that Ezekiel’s temple-sketch is unique, presenting features not found in any of the actually built temples. The temple is, in truth, an ideal construction never intended to be literally realized by returned exiles, or any other body of people. Visionary in origin, the ideas embodied, and not the actual construction, are the main things to the prophet’s mind. It gives Ezekiel’s conception of what a perfectly restored temple and the service of YHVH would be under conditions which could scarcely be thought of as ever likely literally to arise. A literal construction, one may say, was impossible. The site of the temple is not the old Zion, but “a very high mountain” (Ezekiel 40:2), occupying indeed the place of Zion, but entirely altered in elevation, configuration and general character. The temple is part of a scheme of transformed land, partitioned in parallel tracts among the restored 12 tribes (Ezekiel 47:13-48:7,23-29), with a large area in the center, likewise stretching across the whole country, hallowed to Yahweh and His service (Ezekiel 48:8-22). Supernatural features, as that of the flowing stream from the temple in Ezekiel 47, abound. It is unreasonable to suppose that the prophet looked for such changes–some of them quite obviously symbolical–as actually impending.
We as Messianic Jewish believers can easily recognize that Ezekiel’s vision is entirely possible and probable. The Third Temple will be unique as described by Ezekiel. The terms previously mentioned that do not appear anywhere else I Scripture attest to the fact that the time during the Third Temple in which Yahshua himself will rule will incorporate characteristics consistent with His atoning sacrifice and iron rule to follow. The future Temple will be built on the mountain where the Mosque now stands (temporarily). We do not need to concern ourselves with the possibility of incongruences of Ezekiel’s vision because we have the description of what is to come through the very Word of G-d; His Torah; written and the Living Torah, Yahshua HaMashiach. We need no other confirmation.
B’rit Chadashah: Philippians 4:10-20
Exodus 29:18 reads “ Then offer up the whole ram in smoke on the altar. It is a burnt offering for Adonai, a pleasing aroma, an offering made to Adonai by fire.”
Sh’aul refers to this type of offering as he praises the Philippians for the gifts they sent through Epaphroditus. He refers to their gifts as a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, one that pleases G-d well. Another reference to this type of offering is mentioned in Genesis 8:20-21 “Noah built an altar to Adonai. Then he took from every clean animal and every clean bird, and he offered burnt offerings on the altar. Adonai smelled the sweet aroma…”
Therefore, we must ask ourselves, what is the significance of the burnt offering?
The ordinary translation in modern versions of the Hebrew “‘olah” (). This term does not mean literally “burnt offering,” but “what is brought up” or presented to the Deity; in this case Adonai. The name is a translation of the Septuagint rendering, which is itself based upon the descriptive phrase often attached to “‘olah” in the ritual prescriptions: “an offering made by fire unto the Lord” (Lev. 1:9). A synonym is, which defines the offering as complete; to be completed; perfect, or to be perfected i.e., when it is placed upon the altar, to distinguish it from the other forms of animal sacrifice (see I Sam. 7: 9). The burnt offering was the highest order of sacrifice in the Old Testament ritual. The bloodless offerings were made only in connection with it. This was a complete offering in which everything was dedicated to G-d. We do not know if the gifts sent to Sh’aul were in the form of animals/food, or money given with a pure heart. We read of other possible forms of unselfish sacrifice such as spiritual sacrifices of the saints, as praises and prayers, are called odours; Revelation 5:8 and are said to be acceptable unto God, 1 Peter 2:5; so acts of beneficence are called sacrifices, with which he is well pleased; Hebrews 13:16. Regardless, the gifts were sent to Sh’aul with pure hearts and Sh’aul reminds the people that this type of giving has significance beyond the physical recipient. Rather, the burnt offerings in whatever form were ultimately for the glory of G-d. Appropriately, Sh’aul ends this letter praying that G-d fill every need of those who love G-d and that G-d receive all the glory forever; a fitting conclusion to this teaching.
Rabbi Tamah Davis