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
As Messianic Jews who strive to follow G-d’s Torah and not the traditions of men, we have the insight of the B’rit Chadashah (Refreshed, renewed covenant that reiterates and explains much of the Old Testament. Such insight is provided by Matthew 5:16 that echoes the concept of the first paragraph in this parashah. In Matthew, Yahshua says: “ You are light for the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Likewise, when people light a lamp, they don’t cover it with a bowl and put it on a lampstand, so that it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they may see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.” In the first paragraph of our parashah, G-d tells Moshe to order the people of Israel to bring pure oil of pounded olives for the light, and to keep a lamp burning continually. It is to be a permanent regulation through all the generations of the people of Israel (true believers). Note that the light must be pure just as our lights are to be pure of motive. We are to be a testimony for G-d to the world continually. This is no easy task but it is a task of honor; we are chosen to set an example for how G-d wants all people to live; for Him , reflecting His Light; the Light of the world. Just as the olives must be pounded for the oil to produce the light, our lives are pounded so that we may learn to be humble and submissive to G-d’s will, over our own when it is not in synch with His.
Recall that the middle lamp in the Menorah represents Yahshua, the Servant candle from which all other lamps (true believers) obtain and maintain our lights as long as we stay connected to the Shamash Lamp (Yahshua). This also symbolizes how the other lamps were connected to the Shamash lamp as a single piece of gold. The reference to a single piece of gold may foretell how true believers will become one with YHVH/Yahshua when Yahshua comes for His bride (Israel, [all true believers]). Again, Yahshua speaks of this in the “New” Testament in John 14:18-21: “I will not leave you orphans-I am coming to you. In just a little while, the world will no longer see me; but you will see me. Because I live, you too will live. When that day comes, you will know that I am united with my Father, and you with me, and I with you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me, and the one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.” The single piece of gold may correspond to the inseparable complex unity of the G-dhead, rather than a Trinity which is not supported in Scripture. 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 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.” 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 means hearing, internalizing, and acting upon the words of G-d’s Torah. Now we will look at the significance of the clothes and the man who would wear them.
The High Priest wore eight articles of clothing:
The Breastplate: The breastplate was for judging. This makes sense as this is the garment that is closes to the heart of the priest. There was a fold in this garment as the urim and tumim (lightings and perfections) were to be placed in the breastplate for judging (Exodus: 28:30). This provided Aharon the means to judge rightly as he would be given wisdom from Above as he sought the answers to his questions (Yo. 73b) in the Talmud and exodus 28:30. These questions were always presented in the presence of Adonai so there was a very intimate connection with G-d when Aharon was in His presence.
The urim and tumim are said to have been a parchment with the divine names written on it that caused the letters on the stones to light up when Aharon asked questions. Although it was one item, this parchment’s name was double, indicating that its message was “lucid” [urim” meaning “lights”]) and “true” [tumim] meaning “perfections] (Chabad.org).
The Tunic: 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, our human tendency is to kill anybody who gets in the way of our plans to fulfill our 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 (covering) 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.
The Trousers 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, many want sex to satisfy our animal lust. The animal inclination is strong but can be tempered with the right heart. Accordingly, the trousers were a kapara (covering) for the sexual impulse, because the wearer’s behavior in this area was governed by the laws of the Torah.
The Turban: In truth, 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, our thoughts often submit to the animal instinct whereby we think the entire universe revolves around us. The turban acted as a kapara (covering) for these feelings of haughtiness in us as we learn to dedicate ourselves to act towards others with humility.
The Belt: 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 wore represents the determination to eliminate this confusion by testing every thought against the dictates of the Torah.
These four articles were 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 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 how 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 as evidenced by following His commands. This is a promise that is clearly stated in the Old Testament and the B’rit Chadashah: Deuteronomy 31:6; Deuteronomy 31:8; Joshua 1:5; 1 Kings 8:57; 1 Chron. 28:20; Psalms 37:28; Psalms 94:14; Isaiah 41:17; Isaiah 42:16; Hebrews 13:5.
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, and the dimensions, the laws of the Third Temple, and the reinstatement of the sacrificial system. Finally, he saw the vision of the Shechinah’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 Millennial 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 with our parashah, with its instructions for the Tabernacle and the Kohanim, and the procedure used for the 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. “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 Ezekiel’s temple-sketch is unique, presenting features not found in any of the temples actually built. The temple is, in truth, an ideal construction never intended to be literally realized by returned exiles, or any other body of people. 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 Visionary in origin, the ideas embodied, and not the actual construction, are the main things to the prophet’s mind. We discuss this often; that we should strive to understand the concepts over specific scriptures as we learn Torah. Details we may forget. Concepts are more easily integrated and remembered. 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 not only possible, but prophetic. The Third Temple will be unique as he described. The terms previously mentioned that do not appear anywhere else in 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 that will follow. The future Temple will be built in the City of David, not the current Temple Mount which was a Roman fortress. We have the description of what is to come through the very Word of G-d; His Torah; the 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.”
Sha’ul 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 Sha’ul 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 called odours (Revelation 5:8) which are said to be acceptable unto G-d (1 Peter 2:5). Acts of beneficence are called sacrifices with which he is well pleased (Hebrews 13:16). Regardless, the gifts were sent to Sha’ul with pure hearts and Sha’ul 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, Sha’ul 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-Hart