Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #21 Ki Tissa (When you take)
Haftarah: M’lakhim Alef ( 1 Kings 18:20-39)
B’rit Chadashah: Acts 7:35-8:1
This parahsha starts with the command for collecting money in connection with the census of the people. The ideas of the census and the money involved were twofold. In the case of the half-shekel which is about the same as a fifty-cent piece. The money was a census tax in that rich and poor alike were included for all those over the age of 20. The census indicates a change in status. The nation Israel was being elevated for the service of cleansing the Land G-d had promised. The shekel provided the “cover-charge” to be included in the army without incurring sin. Interesting that Adonai commanded the census during the 40 days Moshe was on Mount Sinai but did not implement it until Numbers 13. In this way, the command matched the upcoming task of cleansing the Land. By paying the ransom half-shekel, was able to “cross over.” The kofer which is a t’rumah offering would atone for the soldiers’ lives. It is paid by someone who is guilty of taking a human life but not in such a way that would constitute murder. So, the soldier pays his offering when he assembles with the others and is counted as an equal whether he be rich or poor. This demonstrated G-d’s justice and non-prejudicial attribute. Neither the rich nor poor was excused from making this offering; it was essentially an “all for one and one for all” concept. The offering had another purpose and that was to be used for the service in the tent of meeting as a constant reminder to the people to atone for their lives before Adonai.
The instructions for the washbasin, the anointing oil and the incense follow with G-d then designating the artisans that He gave special wisdom and skill to complete the things that were commanded by G-d to be made. This verse is one of many that should bolster our trust and faith in G-d that all things are possible through Him and that we will never be given a task we cannot successfully complete when done in His Name with His guidance by the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). This truth may be expanded to include that we have all we need to be successful in serving our G-d and glorifying His Name. We simply need to hear, internalize, and follow G-d’s Torah and He will do the rest.
Verses 12-7 in Chapter 31 reiterate the command to observe Shabbat. Adonai repeats this command four times in these verses so one should think we humans would “get it” that we are to keep the Sabbath on the seventh day; not the first day of the next week (Sunday) as changed by the Catholic Church. This command is not “just for the Jews” as many argue but the scriptures don’t even say “Jew” in these passages. It says, “the people of Israel” ( 31:13,16,17). This makes a significant difference when we are talking about “all Israel being saved.” This statement does not mean all biologic Jews, anyone living in Israel at the time of Messiah Yahshua’s return, or those on all of the other sects of Judaism. All Israel are those who are considered true believers, true Jews by YHVH/Yahshua, the supportive scriptures numerous in the Tanakh and the B’rit Chadashah. I would refer the reader to start with reviewing Romans chapters 2-3; John chapter 14, and the Seven -Fold Witness found in the Book of Revelation as just three sources for this truth concerning who will be saved when standing before Yahshua for the judgment.
With concentration centered on building the tabernacle, furnishing it, and setting apart Aharon and his sons for service in the tabernacle, a sad testimony to the arrogance, lack of trust and faith that many still hang on to as destructive attributes in humans if not tethered and replaced with a Torah attitude. The people become very impatient as Moshe is on the mountain with G-d and demand that Aharon make other gods to lead them for they fear Moshe will never return from the mountain. It is easy to judge Aharon and wonder why such a man of G-d who would be set apart for the priesthood in the near future would give in to the people’s demands. However, we must remember there were over a million people involved and that many demanding dissatisfied people might intimidate anyone.
Adonai was ready to put an end to them but for Moshe’s pleading on their behalf. Adonai relented and changed his mind for the time being.
Moshe was not done with this situation. This time he drew the line and demanded that whoever was for Adonai was to assemble around him. Sadly, only the descendants of Levi rallied around him (32:25-6). This is where the rubber met the road so to speak. Adonai said “Each of you put his sword on his side; and go up and down the camp, from gate to gate; and every man is to kill his own kinsman, his own friend, and his own neighbor!” The sons of Levi did just that and three thousand people died. By their faithfulness to Adonai in separating themselves from the rest of the people, they had consecrated themselves to Adonai in more ways than one. They would soon be anointed and the priestly tribe of Levi ; Aharon would become the high priest, and his descendants would be anointed as priests. We never know what G-d has ins store for us. We must make ourselves available for His use just as the Levites did the day they separated themselves from the others. On the other side of this issue, Adonai assured Moshe that those who sinned against him [Adonai] will be punished and their names blotted out of the book of life (32:25-35).
The decision to blot the names out of G-d’s book of life in this parashah may be applied to the future judgement. There is more than one judgement and those who are not going to win the race towards the prize of salvation and an eternity with YHVH/Yahshua have not yet been punished. Recall that the first fruits of Yahshua that ascended with Him when He arose from Sheol did not include everyone who had died up to that time. Those who have not been found to be good and faithful servants of the L-rd when Yahshua returns will learn their destiny at the judgement. Until then, they sleep and know nothing. Their bodies lay in the ground, but their souls await the judgement for the souls return to the Creator (Ecc. 12:7). We also find evidence of this in Ecclesiastes where it speaks of the dead knowing nothing. Ecclesiastes is a book written specifically from an earthly perspective; that there is nothing new under the sun. So, when a person dies “under the sun,” the earthly perspective, without G-d, is that it is over. He is no longer under the sun on this earth. There is no more knowledge to give or be given and no further chances to repent and live for G-d. Those who have and will die without Yahshua have nothing left to gain or offer except memories loved ones hold until they are gone. Ecclesiastes states “ even their name is forgotten (9:5).
Another truth about G-d is that he is a “jealous” G-d” (34:14). The people are warned against assimilation and integration with pagan peoples. This command to remain faithful to G-d first and foremost is also in the B’rit Chadashah, Here is another example that the laws of G-d are not “dead” and have not been “nailed to the cross.” In Matthew 10:37 we read “ If you love your father and mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine, or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of me.’
Yahshua did not come to create harmony in all families. He is not the one who needs to change, we are! He is not the one who causes discontent and isolation between family members, we are! The only way to have family harmony is for every member to recognize that we are all sinners deserving of death yet are given the way to obtain forgiveness and salvation through our individual repentance and life changes.
In this parashah that details instructions for the tabernacle as previously discussed run very closely to the need for us to consecrate ourselves as did those who were included in the census, and the Levites so that we may be found faithful to serve G-d in this training venue called our earthly lives. When the millennial temple is built and Yahshua returns, we will finally be able to minister in that Temple with our L-rd and Savior given we carry the testimony of Yahshua, and guard the commands of G-d. May it be so for each of us!
Haftarah: 1 Kings 18:20-39
Eliyahu’s actions at Mount Karmel reflect those taken by Moshe in our parashah. Just as Moshe laid down the line and made the people choose between standing up for Adonai or worshipping the golden calf, so Eliyahu stood alone and challenged the people to decide between Adonai and Ba’al. Just as G-d required those who said they were for Him (Levites) to kill their friends, family and neighbors who chose to deny G-d as sign of their allegiance and consecration to His service, so the prophets of Ba’al were killed. We must make these choices daily in one situation or another. People will have to make this choice in the future, either taking or rejecting the mark of the beast described in Revelation. The price of following G-d may be martyrdom. But physical death is temporary. We need to rise above the belief that this life is reality and focus on our purpose to glorify G-d and make His Name known. We have a race to run, a prize for which we must strive to win, and a Father who wants us to spend eternity with Him and not the adversary. The race is hard, the gate is narrow, but the choice is ours, Torah or torment.
B’rit Chadashah: Acts 7:35-8:1
The context of this scripture places Stephen who was full of grace and power, in the midst of members of the Synagogue of the Freed Slaves (Acts 6:9) comprised of Greek-speaking Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and people from Cilicia and the province of Asia. The Greek syntax suggests that the two aforementioned groups accused Stephen of blasphemy against Moshe and G-d, the holy place, and the Torah (6:11-13). This was a pure smear campaign. Our discussion picks up where Stephen strongly admonishes his accusers and defends Yahshua and his faith with such eloquence as he recounts the history of Israel and the constant rebellion throughout their sojourn through time. He rightly accuses them of idolatry and rebellion, of having the Torah but not following it; of rejecting Yahshua, His message and His talmidim, just as the Israelites in our parashah rebelled against and even rejected Moshe. Finally, these rebellious, self-righteous accusers stone Stephen. True to his faith he calls on the Name of Yahshua to receive his spirit and forgive his accusers. This final act resounds that of Yahshua himself as He hung on the execution stake. This is the longest recorded speech in the book of Acts and testifies to the power of the Ruach HaKodesh in the lives of those who love YHVH/Yahshua and the Torah. Strength and power are given to those who carry the Testimony of Yahshua and guard the Commands of HaShem (Acts 1:8), and G-d will never leave those who love Him (Heb.13:5).
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart