Weekly Torah Readings: T’tsaveh – One New Man Bible – Feb 23, 2018

T’tsaveh

Exodus 27:20- 30:10

light

27:20. “And you, yourself, will command the children of Israel to bring you pure olive oil beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always. 21. In the Tent of Meeting outside the veil, which is before the Testimony, Aaron and his sons will order it from evening to morning before the LORD*. (Acts 7:44) It will be a statute forever to their generations on the behalf of the children of Israel.”

Priestly Garments

28.1. “And take for yourself Aaron your brother and his sons with him from among the children of Israel, so he can minister to Me in the priest’s office, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Elazar and Itamar, Aaron’s sons. 2. And you will make holy garments for Aaron your brother for glory and for beauty. 3. And you will speak to all who are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, so they can make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, so he can minister to Me in the priest’s office.

28:4. “And these are the garments which they will make; a breastplate, an ephod, a robe, a tunic woven with a pattern, a turban, and a belt, and they will make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons, so he can minister to Me in the priest’s office. 5. And they will take gold, blue, purple, and scarlet, fine linen.

28:6. “And they will make the ephod of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet, fine woven linen, with skillful work. 7. It will have its two shoulder-pieces joined at its two edges, and so it will be joined together. 8. And the belt of the ephod, which is on it, will be of the same skillful workmanship; gold, blue, purple, and scarlet, fine woven linen. 9. And you will take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the children of Israel: 10. six of their names on one stone and names of the rest on the other stone, according to their birth. 11. With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, you will engrave the two stones with the names of the children of Israel: you will make them to be set in settings of gold. 12. And you will put the two stones upon the shoulders of the ephod for stones of memorial to the children of Israel and Aaron will bear their names before the LORD* upon his two shoulders for a memorial.

28:13. “And you will make settings of gold; 14. And two chains of pure gold at the ends, you will make them of twisted work and fasten the twisted chains to the settings.

28:15. “And you will make the breastplate of judgment with skillful work, after the work of the ephod you will make it of gold, of blue, of purple, and of scarlet, you will make it of fine woven linen. 16. It will be four-square, being doubled: a span will be its length and a span will be its width. 17. And you will set in it settings of stones, four rows of stones: the first row will be a sardius, a topaz, and an emerald; this will be the first row. 18. And the second row will be a ruby, a sapphire, and a diamond. 19. And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst. 20. And the fourth row a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper: they will be enclosed in settings of gold. 21. And the stones will be with the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet, each one with his name will they be according to the twelve tribes. (Rev. 21:12)

28:22. “And upon the breastplate you will make chains at the ends of braided work of pure gold. 23. And you will make upon the breastplate two rings of gold and will put the two rings on the two ends of the breastplate. 4. And you will put the two braided chains of gold in the two rings on the ends of the breastplate. 25. And the other two ends of the two braided chains you will fasten in the two settings and put them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod before it. 26. And you will make two rings of gold and you will put them upon the two ends of the breastplate in its border, which is on the inside of the ephod. 27. And you will make two rings of gold and put them on the two sides of the ephod underneath, toward the forepart of it opposite its other coupling, above the belt of the ephod. 28. And they will bind the breastplate by its rings to the rings of the ephod with a lace of blue, so it will be above the belt of the ephod and so the breastplate would not be loosed from the ephod. 29. And Aaron will bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart when he goes in to the Holy Place, for a memorial before the LORD* continually. 30. And you will put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastplate of judgment and they will be upon Aaron’s heart when he goes in before the LORD*, and Aaron will carry the judgment of the children of Israel over his heart before the LORD* continually.

28:31. “And you will make the robe of the ephod all of blue. 32. And there will be a hole in the top of it, in the middle of it: it will have a binding of woven work around the hole of it, as it were the hole of a coat of mail, so it will not be torn.
33. And upon its hem you will make pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet around its hem, and bells of gold between them all around, 34. a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe all around. 35. And it will be upon Aaron to minister and its sound will be heard when he goes in to the Holy Place before the LORD*, and when he comes out, so he will not die.

28:36. “And you will make a pure gold plate and engrave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD*. 37. And you will put it on a blue lace that will be on the turban. It will be upon the forefront of the turban. 38. And it will be upon Aaron’s forehead, so Aaron can bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel will sanctify in all their holy gifts; and it will be always upon his forehead, so they will be accepted before the LORD*.

28:39. “And you will weave the tunic of fine linen and you will make the fine linen turban and you will make the belt of needlework. 40. And for Aaron’s sons you will make tunics and you will make belts for them and you will make hats for them, for glory and for beauty. 41. And you will put them upon Aaron your brother and his sons with him, and will anoint them and consecrate them and sanctify them, so they can minister to Me in the priest’s office. 42. And you will make linen breeches to cover their nakedness; they will reach from the loins even to the thighs, 43. and they will be upon Aaron and upon his sons when they come into the Tent of Meeting, or when they come near to the altar to minister in the Holy Place, so they will not bear iniquity and die. It will be a statute forever for him and his seed after him.”

Instructions to Sanctify Priests

29.1. “And this is the thing that you will do to sanctify them to minister to Me in the priest’s office. Take one young bull and two rams without blemish, 2. and unleavened bread, unleavened cakes tempered with oil, and unleavened wafers spread with oil, you will make them of wheat flour. 3. And you will put them in one basket and bring them in the basket with the bull and the two rams. 4. And you will bring Aaron and his sons to the door of the tent of meeting and will immerse them in water. 5. And you will take the garments and put the tunic on Aaron and the robe of the ephod, the ephod, and the breastplate and gird him with the belt of the ephod. 6. And you will put the turban on his head and put the holy crown upon the turban. 7. Then you will take the anointing oil and pour it upon his head and anoint him. 8. And you will bring his sons and put tunics upon them. 9. And you will gird them with belts, Aaron and his sons, and put the hats on them, and the priest’s office will be theirs for a perpetual statute, and you will consecrate Aaron and his sons.

29:10. “And you will cause a bull to be brought before the Tent of Meeting and Aaron and his sons will put their hands on the head of the bull. 11. And you will kill the bull before the LORD*, by the door of the Tent of Meeting. 12. And you will take of the blood of the bull and put it upon the horns of the altar with your finger and pour all the blood beside the bottom of the altar. 13. And you will take all the fat that covers the innards and the appendage above the liver, and the two kidneys and the fat that is upon them, and burn them upon the altar. 14. But the flesh of the bull and its skin and its dung, you will burn with fire outside the camp: it is a sin offering.

29:15. “You will also take one ram and Aaron and his sons will put their hands on the head of the ram. 16. And you will slay the ram and you will take its blood and sprinkle it all around the altar. 17. And you will cut the ram in pieces and wash its innards and its legs, and put them with its pieces and with its head. 18. And you will burn the whole ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the LORD*, a sweet savor, an offering made by fire to the LORD*.

29:19. “And you will take the other ram and Aaron and his sons will put their hands on the head of the ram. 20. Then you will kill the ram and take of its blood and put it on the tip of the right ear of Aaron and upon the tip of the right ear of his sons and upon the thumb of their right hand and upon the great toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood all around the altar. 21. And you will take of the blood that is on the altar and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it upon Aaron and upon his garments and upon his sons and upon the garments of his sons with him, and he will be sanctified and his garments and his sons and his sons’ garments with him. 22. Also you will take the fat and the rump of the ram and the fat that covers the innards and the lobe of the liver and the two kidneys and the fat that is on them, and the right shoulder; for it is a ram of consecration. 23. And one loaf of bread and one cake of oiled bread and one wafer out of the basket of the unleavened bread that is before the LORD*, 24. and you will put all in the hands of Aaron and in the hands of his sons, and you will wave them for a wave offering before the LORD*. 25. And you will take them from their hands and burn them on the altar for a burnt offering, for a sweet savor before the LORD*: it is an offering made by fire to the LORD*. 26. And you will take the breast of the ram of Aaron’s consecration and wave it for a wave offering before the LORD*: and it will be your part. 27. And you will sanctify the breast of the wave offering and the shoulder of the heave offering, which is waved and which is heaved up, of the ram of the consecration, of that which is for Aaron and of that which is for his sons. 28. And it will be Aaron’s and his sons’ by a statute forever from the children of Israel; for it is a heave offering and it will be a heave offering from the children of Israel of the sacrifice of their peace offering, their heave offering to the LORD*.

29:29. “And the holy garments of Aaron will be his sons’ after him, in which to be anointed and to be filled in them. 30. And that son that is priest in his stead will put them on seven days when he comes into the Tent of Meeting to minister in the Holy Place.

29:31. “And you will take the ram of the consecration and boil its flesh in the Holy Place. 32. And Aaron and his sons will eat the flesh of the ram and the bread that is in the basket, by the door of the tent of meeting. 33. And they will eat those things with which the atonement was made, to consecrate and to sanctify them, but a stranger will not eat of it, because they are holy. 34. And if any of the flesh of the consecrations or of the bread remains in the morning, then you will burn the remainder with fire. It will not be eaten, because it is holy.

29:35. “And thus will you do to Aaron and to his sons, according to all things which I have commanded you: for seven days you will consecrate them. 36. And you will offer every day a bull for a sin offering for atonement and you will cleanse the altar when you have made atonement for it, and you will anoint it to sanctify it. 37. Seven days you will make atonement for the altar and sanctify it and it will be an altar most holy: whatever touches the altar will be holy. 38. Now this is what you will offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually. 39. The one lamb you will offer in the morning; and the other lamb you will offer at evening. 40. And with the one lamb a tenth of an ephah of flour mixed with the fourth part of a hin of beaten oil and the fourth part of a hin of wine for a drink offering. 41. And the other lamb you will offer at evening and will do according to the grain offering of the morning and according to the drink offering, for a sweet savor, an offering made by fire to the LORD*. 42. This will be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the Tent of Meeting before the LORD* where I shall meet you, to speak there to you. 43. And there I shall meet with the children of Israel, and it will be sanctified by My glory. 44. And I shall sanctify the Tent of Meeting and the altar. I shall sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to Me in the priest’s office. 45. And I shall dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God.
46. And they will know that I AM the LORD* their God, who brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, so I could dwell among them. I AM the LORD* their God.”

Incense Altar

30.1. “And you will make an altar on which to burn incense: you will make it of acacia. 2. A cubit will be the length of it and a cubit the breadth of it. It will be four-square and its height will be two cubits: its horns will be of the same. 3. And you will overlay it with pure gold, the top of it and the sides of it all around and its horns, and you will make a crown of gold all around it. 4. And you will make two golden rings for it under its crown upon each of its two sides, by its two corners and they will be places for the poles to carry it. 5. And you will make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 6. And you will put it before the veil that is by the ark of the testimony, before the cover that is over the testimony, where I shall meet with you. 7. And Aaron will burn sweet incense on it every morning. When he dresses the lamps, he will burn incense upon it. 8. And when Aaron lights the lamps at evening, he will burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the LORD* throughout your generations. 9. You will offer no strange incense on it, or burnt offering, or grain offering: neither will you pour a drink offering on it. 10. And Aaron will make atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements: once in the year will he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy to the LORD.


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B’ha’alotkha – When you set up – “Prophets All”

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B’ha’alotkha

When you set up

Numbers 8:1-12:16
Zechariah 2:14-4:7

“Prophets All”


by Mark Huey
mark@outreachisrael.net

As we look at this week’s Torah portion, B’ha’alotkha or “When you set up,” we are directed to the continuing saga of Ancient Israel, and some of the trials and tribulations of its sojourn through the wilderness wanderings. Among the things we encounter, Moses is given the design for the menorah or lampstand that is to be placed in the Tent of Meeting.[1] This seven-branched candelabrum is to illuminate the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant is located. Specific instructions are given for the Levites, who are dedicated to serve the Almighty.[2] It is also noted that the requirements for sojourners who have joined themselves to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are identical to those as the native born.[3]

In one of the unique passages of the Torah, Numbers 10:35-36 are actually separated out by two inverted Hebrew letter nuns.[4] These are editorial markers that have been placed in the text by copyists, to denote that this is something which needs to be paid attention to:

V’yehi binso’a ha’aron v’yomer Moshe, “Qumah ADONAI v’yafutzu o’vekha v’yanusu mesanekha mipanekha, u’venuchoh yomar shuvah ADONAI riv’vot alfei Yisrael

Numbers 10:35-36 are certainly important verses in the Torah, communicating how Ancient Israel would move in the desert, and they implore God to protect Israel from its enemies:

“Thus they set out from the mount of the LORD three days’ journey, with the ark of the covenant of the LORD journeying in front of them for the three days, to seek out a resting place for them. The cloud of the LORD was over them by day when they set out from the camp. Then it came about when the ark set out that Moses said, ‘Rise up, O LORD! And let Your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate You flee before You.’ When it came to rest, he said, ‘Return, O LORD, to the myriad thousands of Israel’” (Numbers 10:33-36).

A theological explanation, for the two inverted nuns, is obviously so that Torah readers can pay attention to the significance of these verses.[5] Textual explanations also exist, in that there is some doubt as to whether or not Numbers 10:35-36 are actually in their correct place within the Hebrew text, possibly being dislocated,[6] as the Greek Septuagint testifies to a slightly different arrangement for Numbers 10:33-36. This is not at all something, though, that communicates any difference of content:

[33] And they departed from the mount of the Lord a three days’ journey; and the ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them a three days’ journey to provide rest for them. [35] And it came to pass when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Arise, O Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered: let all that hate thee flee. [36] And in the resting he said, Turn again, O Lord, the thousands and tens of thousands in Israel.[34] And the cloud overshadowed them by day, when they departed from the camp.[7]

From Numbers 10:35-36, we see a significant declaration issued by Moses, indicating how critical it would be for the Israelites to appeal to the Lord and His power prior to moving the Ark of the Covenant. These verses undoubtedly communicate a sincere reverence for the Word of God, and its Divine inspiration. By remembering that God has the power to scatter the enemies of His people, each of us today must entreat the Holy One to protect us and preserve us—as opposed to us relying on our own human strength. It should not be surprising for us to know that Numbers 10:35-36 is recited, along with Micah 4:1-3 and Isaiah 2:2-4, every Shabbat in the traditional liturgy of the Jewish Synagogue before the Torah scroll is removed for reading.[8]

Following this important word, B’ha’alotkha now turns to the incessant complaints of the Israelites, and how the Lord dealt with their insurrection and demands for food and the culinary comforts of Egypt.[9] The introduction of the quail for food, and the response of Moses to the judgment that is meted out upon these recalcitrant people, gives us a real sense of Moses’ heart and love for them. Moses has a real willingness to step out for the Israelites, in spite of their negative and thankless attitudes:

“So Moses said to the LORD, ‘Why have You been so hard on Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all this people on me? Was it I who conceived all this people? Was it I who brought them forth, that You should say to me, “Carry them in your bosom as a nurse carries a nursing infant, to the land which You swore to their fathers”? Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me, saying, “Give us meat that we may eat!” I alone am not able to carry all this people, because it is too burdensome for me. So if You are going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in Your sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness’” (Numbers 11:11-15).

At this point in Israel’s experiences, we see that Moses is ready to offer himself for the needs of his people. The solution to the frustration that Moses felt, even though he surely served Israel without reservation, was that Moses’ leadership responsibilities would be divided among seventy elders. Moses would not have to lead Ancient Israel, presumably mostly by himself:

“The LORD therefore said to Moses, ‘Gather for Me seventy men from the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and their officers and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. Then I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit who is upon you, and will put Him upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you will not bear it all alone’” (Numbers 11:16-17).

As you consider the requirements for leadership in the camp of Ancient Israel, you can read that Moses simply knew who those were, intended to be chosen to “have experience as elders and officers of the people” (NJPS). Moses chose individuals of the highest caliber.The instructions witnessed in the Torah, for the leaders of Ancient Israel, affected later generations of Israelites as the Promised Land was settled, as well as informed the leadership structures of the Jewish Synagogue during the time of Yeshua and the emerging Messianic movement of the First Century.

After Moses chose the seventy elders who would assist with the administration of the Ancient Israelites, the Holy One then was able to pour out His Spirit upon them. As a result of this occurring, we see that various individuals in the camp of Israel began to prophesy:

“So Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD. Also, he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people, and stationed them around the tent. Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him; and He took of the Spirit who was upon him and placed Him upon the seventy elders. And when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do it again. But two men had remained in the camp; the name of one was Eldad and the name of the other Medad. And the Spirit rested upon them (now they were among those who had been registered, but had not gone out to the tent), and they prophesied in the camp. So a young man ran and told Moses and said, ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.’ Then Joshua the son of Nun, the attendant of Moses from his youth, said, ‘Moses, my lord, restrain them.’ But Moses said to him, ‘Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!’ Then Moses returned to the camp, both he and the elders of Israel” (Numbers 11:24-30).

In an incredible display of God’s grace toward His people, He placed His Spirit upon the seventy elders who had been selected for leadership. Apparently, there were two who were chosen to lead, but who did not attend the initial outpouring of the Spirit upon the other sixty-eight. All of a sudden within the camp, Eldad and Medad were found prophesying in the camp, and Joshua came and reported this activity to Moses, having thought that perhaps they were out of order.

The response of Moses is quite interesting, as he admonished Joshua for his concern. Moses already knew that God wanted the seventy to help lead Israel. Moses’ response, “I wish that all the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!” (Numbers 11:29, NIV), indicates that he was desiring all of Israel to be in a position to prophesy or speak forth God’s truth with clarity.

Being able to speak forth important admonitions, from the Lord, is something that our Heavenly Father surely desires for all of His children. In the Apostle Paul’s description of various ministry functions within the Body of Messiah—whether one is an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, or a pastor or a teacher—all are to be guided by the Holy Spirit and speak forth the Lord’s message with clarity and maturity:

“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Messiah; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Messiah. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Messiah” (Ephesians 4:11-15).

The goal of these, and various other jobs to be performed within the Body of Messiah, is so that all Believers may attain unity within the faith, and be mature. All of the Believers, properly functioning together, are to necessarily point to the Head or the Source of all: Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ).

One of the critical aspects required for any leadership position, within the Body of Messiah, is the ability to speak forth God’s truth in love. The only way to do this is by allowing the agapē love of the Holy Spirit to speak through us. This requires a person not only to be born again, but also to be committed to a life of holiness and steady growth in the Lord. Just like Moses desired that all of Israel would prophesy, so too are gifts of prophecy and many others, to be present among the community of Messiah followers today.

The other Apostles also give us fair warning about the need to be able to discern what are truly genuine words originating from the Spirit of God, and what are not. The Apostle Peter warns about the need to discern between a true prophetic utterance and what is not, emphasizing how he was present at the Mount of Transfiguration when he saw Yeshua the Messiah in all of His exalted glory:

“For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased’—and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:16-21).

In this day and age, when we have been warned incessantly throughout the Scriptures that many false teachers and false prophets will arise to deceive people, we need to be mindful of the imperative to check everything we hear through the grid of the Bible. This is why it is so critical that we establish a working knowledge of Scripture, beginning with the laws of the Torah, and consistent with the actual Prophets and Apostles of God themselves. Here is an extremely worthwhile example to consider, because it is very clear that God Himself is going to send false signs and wonders to test His people, and determine if they are following Him or some other spirit:

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him” (Deuteronomy 13:1-4).

Imagine a statute of “the Virgin Mary” crying with actual tears coming from the stone or marble. To many in the world, this sounds like a tremendous sign or miracle that one might even witness with his or her very own eyes. What is one to do, especially when the people who are showing you this sign are trying to impress you?

First of all, given the fact that there have been many “manufactured miracles” witnessed in the course of Roman Catholic history, it is appropriate that a critical person question whether something supernatural has really transpired. There are many perceived supernatural or spiritual occurrences, which are actually man-made.

Secondly, just because something “supernatural” occurs, does not automatically mean that it originates from God. Those who know the Torah, or Law of God, should be instinctly aware of the Second Commandment, and its prohibition of making statutes or carved images to be used in worship:

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth” (Exodus 20:4; cf. Deuteronomy 5:8-9).

When you know that God does not permit graven images to be used for, or in, worship, a statue of the Virgin Mary apparently crying can be immediately disregarded as originating from Him. This is something that would violate the Second Commandment.

Can you think of any other examples of so-called “signs” or “miracles” that might occur today, but clearly do not align with the character of the Holy Scriptures, or the testimonies that it gives us of the kinds of signs we should legitimately expect to see? There are probably many supernatural occurrences you have either seen or witnessed, which are “supernatural” only in the sense that human beings are not responsible for them—and they actually come from the forces of darkness. It is a sobering and scary thought, but we each need to realize that demonic signs will actually become more treacherous, slippery, and commonplace the sooner we get to the return of Yeshua. The need to know what the Scriptures say about these things is absolutely critical, for discerning what is from the Lord, and also what is from the Adversary. Yeshua Himself warned His Disciples that false signs will be prevalent in the Last Days:

“For false messiahs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you beforehand. If therefore they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go forth, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner chambers,’ do not believe it” (Matthew 24:24-26).

This is a stern warning that false messiahs and false prophets “will appear and produce great signs and omens” (NRSV) that will challenge the elect of God to discern from where these manifestations emanate. I would urge you to be warned of many false signs and wonders that do not line up with instruction of God in the Torah, or any part of the Bible for that matter. For those of us who are trying to reestablish a firm foundation for our faith, we should exhibit some skepticism when we hear about many of the “miracles” present throughout Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity today. Are they genuine, or are they deception?

We need to all know the Word of God and inculcate it into our hearts and minds every day! Certainly, Moses desired that all would prophesy. But, he also wanted all to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit, as the Spirit through His people would do the prophesying. This is available today as we submit our wills to His will. As we seek to be led by the Spirit and walk by the Spirit, we can let all of the Lord’s words come forth from our innermost being. May this be the testimony for one and all!


NOTES

[1] Numbers 8:1-4.

[2] Numbers 8:5-26.

[3] Cf. Numbers 9:14.

[4] See Karl Elliger and Wilhelm Rudolph, et. al., eds., Biblica Hebraica Stuttgartensia(Stuttgart: Deutche Bibelgesellschaft, 1977), 231; and Aron Dotan, ed., Biblia Hebraica Leningradensia (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2001), 213.

[5] Cf. Hertz, Pentateuch & Haftorahs, 613.

[6] Cf. Kelley, Mynatt, and Crawford, pp 34-35.

[7] Sir Lancelot C. L. Brenton, ed & trans., The Septuagint With Apocrypha (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999), 188.

[8] Hertz, The Authorised Daily Prayer Book, pp 473-475; Scherman and Zlotowitz, Complete ArtScroll Siddur, pp 471-473; Harlow, Siddur Sim Shalom, 139.

[9] Numbers 11:1-35.

TorahScope – Pequdei (Accounts) – “Weight of Glory” – FEBRUARY 28, 2014

Pequdei (Accounts) – “Weight of Glory”

The eleventh and final parashah of the Book of Exodus comes to an exciting conclusion with the appearance of the glory of God in the completed Tabernacle. Exodus 40:34 tells us, “the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the Presence of the Lord [kavod Adonai, hwhy dAbk] filled the Tabernacle” (NJPS).

For the past ten weeks, since the introduction of Moses in Shemot, the Israelites have been set on a soul-searching journey into the wilderness. It began with the deliverance and Exodus from Egypt, and it now culminates with God’s glory residing in their midst. If you did not know any better, you might think that a considerable amount of time has passed because the people have been through an intense period of getting to know their Creator. But instead, it has just been over one year since Moses first appeared and demanded that the Egyptian Pharaoh let them go. The Tabernacle was assembled on the first day of the first month of the second year following the Exodus (Exodus 40:17). With the Tabernacle now constructed and ready to go, the assembly of Israel would pack it up and move at the Holy One’s explicit direction:

“Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And throughout all their journeys whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the sons of Israel would set out; but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out until the day when it was taken up. For throughout all their journeys, the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and there was fire in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel” (Exodus 40:34-38).

In just over a year, this camp of Hebrew men, women, children, and integrated sojourners, constituted the emerging nation of Israel. This former rabble of slaves was now a body of free men and women chosen by God to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6), being raised up as a light to the world to convey His goodness to all (cf. Isaiah 42:6).

Through Moses, the Lord has revealed just enough about Himself and what He requires for His glory to reside among humans with various sinful inclinations. For the first time since the Garden of Eden, God’s glory can dwell with people in a somewhat tangible and observable manner. The instructions for the Tabernacle, its implements, and the courtyard surrounding it have been followed explicitly. Then at the appointed time, Moses anointed and consecrated the Tabernacle and everything in it. He then washed Aaron and his sons and anointed them in their holy garments: “Thus did Moses: according to all that the Lord commanded him, so did he” (Exodus 40:16).

One can only imagine the excitement that was running through the hearts of the Ancient Israelites as the construction project came to completion. Remember that over the course of the previous year the Lord had revealed a tremendous amount about who He is and what He requires of His people. Israel had witnessed the judgment upon Egypt. They saw the ten plagues and the devastation they caused, and they benefited from the Passover offering by avoiding the death of the firstborn. The miracles at the Red Sea crossing were still etched in their memories. The trauma of hearing the voice of God from the trembling mountain and the unanimous decision to let Moses be their mediator could never be forgotten. Receiving the Ten Commandments and other instructions started to outline rules and regulations for human interactions and how Israel would be formed as a nation.

Of course, the incident of the golden calf had horrific consequences. Not only did judgment fall upon the people by the sword-wielding Levites, but a plague sent by the Lord judged all whose hearts were not right (Exodus 32:35). If you will recall, the material needs for the Tabernacle were mentioned in the text before the rebellion of idol worship occurred. God used the remorse, and perhaps even guilt, of these incidents, to generate an overwhelming response when the material was finally gathered. As we reviewed last week in V’yakheil(Exodus 35:1-38:20), hearts were stirred and the outpouring was so great that the people were ordered to stop.

God’s Glory

As I meditated upon this week’s Torah portion, a summary of the Book of Exodus kept coming into my mind. It was incredible to comprehend what happened to Ancient Israel in just a little over a year of real time. From the bonds and burden of human slavery to encampment around the Tabernacle, this was quite a journey. The weight of God’s glory (kavod, dwbK) was now in their midst—rather than the yoke of servitude. Once the glory of God fell, Moses was unable to enter the Tent of Meeting:

Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting, for the cloud rested upon it, and the glory of Hashem filled the Tabernacle” (Exodus 40:35, ATS).

Apparently, the presence of the Holy One of Israel was so intense that human interaction with Him was difficult to achieve. Even the beloved Moses was hindered from entering the Tent of Meeting. As I thought about this, I wondered about other recorded times that the glory of God fell upon Israel.

The completion of Solomon’s Temple was a time when the glory of God fell upon the Israelites gathered. Similar to what occurred in the wilderness, the priests were unable to enter because of the intense presence of God:

“It happened that when the priests came from the holy place, the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord” (1 Kings 8:10-11).

“[I]n unison when the trumpeters and the singers were to make themselves heard with one voice to praise and to glorify the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice accompanied by trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and when they praised the Lord saying,He indeed is good for His lovingkindness is everlasting,’ then the house, the house of theLord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God” (2 Chronicles 5:13-14).

According to the statements about the completion of the Tabernacle, and the testimonies from when the Temple of Solomon was dedicated, the manifestations of the glory of Godwere so intense that those gathered were either prevented from moving, or perhaps even forced to bow down. While considering these passages, I wondered about the times when I have felt the literal weight of God’s glory in my own spiritual experiences over the years.

Psalm 22:3 immediately comes to my mind: “Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.” There have been times during praise and worship when I have felt the weight of God’s glory in the room where I have been worshipping. These have been very special times when the Lord has ministered to me.

As I pondered this thought, I was reminded of a vision from the Prophet Isaiah, which in some way conveys how one might respond if he or she were standing before the Throne of God:

“In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.’ And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts’” (Isaiah 6:1-5).

For some reason, whenever I think of this passage, I envision Isaiah prostrated on the ground, barely looking up at the Throne of God, crying out for our mercy before the Holy One in light of the exposure of his human sins and limitations. Here, Isaiah confesses his state of total sinfulness. Isaiah says that he is a person of unclean lips, and lives with those who likewise have unclean lips.

Contemplating this passage, I was reminded of the title of this week’s text, Pequdei or “Accounts.” As it begins, we see the amount of actual weight in the precious metals and jewels used in the Tabernacle project (cf. Exodus 39). For some reason, the Lord reminds us that He is very mindful of particulars. Then without hesitation, I recalled a passage in the Gospels from the lips of Yeshua:

“But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37).

I thought about all of the careless words that come from human beings’ unclean lips. Note how Yeshua made this statement when He was being accused of being demon possessed:

“But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters. Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of hisevil treasure what is evil” (Matthew 12:28-35).

This week (in 2003) I was made aware of a person who believed that a gospel presentation which was recently given was actually from Satan. This was rather interesting, because it was made from viewing a videotape. If this individual had looked a bit more closely at the video, then he would have observed a number of people prostrated on the floor and on their knees. Saying that something comes from the Devil is a major accusation. Was the presence of God present at the event recorded? In my opinion, there certainly were many evidences of His presence from the testimonies that came forth. I dare say it would have been best for this person to reserve his judgment, pending future evaluation.

While reflecting on these things, I caught myself and began praying for the person who believed the work of the Holy Spirit was demonic. I began praying for his soul, knowing that he may be unable to discern or differentiate between the acts of the Devil and the acts of the Most High. I prayed that he was simply immature in his spiritual walk, and that the Lord convict him of any wrongdoing. I also found myself confessing any unloving thoughts I had when I initially heard these accusations. To be fair, I know that I can also misunderstand the ways of the Lord and make incorrect conclusions.

Weight of Glory

As you can see from Pequdei, we have come a long way from meditating on the history of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt to the introduction of God’s glory in the Tabernacle. In many respects, this is how the study of God’s Word is to cleanse us of unrighteousness—by reminding us of our shortcomings and our need for a Savior. Without Yeshua’s precious blood covering us, and the unconditional love He has shown for us—those of us with unclean lips, living among those with unclean lips, would never be able to come into God’s presence. My prayer is that each of us would seek the place where the weight of His glory would be upon us continually as our lips offer Him praise!

“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15).

Click to http://outreachisrael.net/torahscope/2013-2014/02_exodus/11_pequkei.html

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Shemini (Eighth) – “True Shock and Awe”

“True Shock and Awe”

Leviticus 9:1-11:47
2 Samuel 6:1-7:17 (A); 6:1-19 (S)

Book_of_Leviticus_Chapter_10-3_(Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media)

The title of our Torah portion for this week, Shemini or “Eighth,” points one to the chronological context of the “eighth day” that begins this section of Leviticus. A glance at the concluding statements from Tzav last week, notes how the seven days of consecration which God required of Aaron and his sons has just been completed. Aaron and his sons had been very busy anointing and consecrating the Tabernacle, various implements for sacrifice, different accoutrements for the Tent of Meeting, and even themselves:

“At the doorway of the tent of meeting, moreover, you shall remain day and night for seven days and keep the charge of the Lord, so that you will not die, for so I have been commanded. Thus Aaron and his sons did all the things which the Lord had commanded through Moses” (Leviticus 8:35-36).

Our selection in Shemini begins with, “Now it came about on the eighth day that Moses called Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel” (Leviticus 9:1). Now that the seven days of consecration are completed, the glory of God is ready to manifest itself before the Ancient Israelites. The Tabernacle’s system of offerings and sacrifices is ready to begin its designated function:

“Then Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them, and he stepped down after making the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings. Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting. When they came out and blessed the people, the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. Then fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the portions of fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces” (Leviticus 9:22-24).

This is a very dramatic and exciting section of Scripture to contemplate and imagine in one’s mind’s eye. Now that the anointing and consecration of the Tabernacle have been completed, and all of the required sacrifices have been offered, the glory of the Lord, kavod-Adonai (hwhy-dAbk), appears.

Aaron first lifts up his hands, and then Moses blesses the people. Then, God’s glory falls upon the Tent of Meeting. In a powerful way, a fire comes down and consumes the burnt offering and portions of fat on the altar. The appearance of the all-consuming fire was so overwhelming that the people shouted for joy that their offerings were acceptable and fell on their faces in awe.

Aaron’s Sons Consumed

Following Leviticus ch. 9, there is a distinct break as the scene of the Tabernacle changes from readers seeing the glory of God manifested—to a very tragic incident involving the deaths of Nadab and Abihu. For some unstated reason in the text, the two eldest sons of Aaron decided to offer up some “strange fire” (Heb. eish zarah, hrz va) that was unauthorized by the Holy One of Israel. They soon discover that unsanctioned activities at this sacred place—based on their own volitional choices—have terminal consequences:

“Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord” (Leviticus 10:1-2).

The death of these two men was a stunning and unexpected tragedy. It was a clear display of God’s apparent displeasure with the actions of Nadab and Abihu. Moments before in the text, a holy fire consumes sacrificial offerings. But then, for offering up “unholy fire” (RSV) or “unauthorized fire” (NIV), the heirs-apparent of Aaron are consumed. As the Hebrew verb akal (lka) describes it, they were “eat[en], devour[ed], consume[d]” (AMG Baker and Carpenter, 49). This is the same verb used previously for the consumption of the offering (Leviticus 9:24). The same God who demonstrated His pleasure with the presentation of offerings before Him in Leviticus 9, is now displeased with the presentation of inappropriate fire before Him in Leviticus 10.

Aaron was in total shock after seeing his two sons die by the force of God. Because of the severity of the Levitical service, Moses communicates these direct commands to Aaron, which he had received from the Lord:

“Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘It is what the Lord spoke, saying, “By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored.”’ So Aaron, therefore, kept silent” (Leviticus 10:3).

Certainly, these words from God spoken by Moses, struck a chord with Aaron. Could it have been possible that Aaron thought back to the admonition uttered just before the Decalogue was received at Mount Sinai? Here the instruction was, “Also let the priests who come near to the Lord consecrate themselves, or else the Lord will break out against them” (Exodus 19:22).

At this juncture, Moses was warning not just the Levites, but by extension all of the Ancient Israelites, to not be presumptuous about approaching their Creator. The priests needed to be reminded about the necessity of personal consecration, lest they be punished for presenting something unholy or inappropriate before the Lord.

Leviticus 10:3 is clear how “Aaron remained silent” (NIV) as Moses delivered instruction following the deaths of Nadab and Abihu. Can you imagine what was going through his mind? He was responsible for the golden calf incident in Exodus 32, and yet here he was still standing, in spite of three thousand Israelites slaughtered. For what could seem to be a far lesser offense than committing idolatry against the Holy One, he had to look at the charred remains of his sons. Aaron understood in a very visible way that in order to be in the presence of the Lord, one must be sanctified unto Him.

What can we learn from this today, in the era of New Covenant when Yeshua’s sacrifice has offered permanent forgiveness from sins? The Lord still requires His people to be holy in order for them to access to His presence. He demands that He be glorified and properly honored by His creatures. It is quite possible that Aaron was terrified into thinking that he could be the next victim of the consuming fire of God. While Believers today might have the sacrifice of Yeshua covering their transgressions, even the Apostolic Scriptures admonish us, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

Pleasing the Holy One

There is speculation by the Jewish Rabbis that Nadab and Abihu were perhaps under the influence of alcohol when they made the bad decision to offer up strange fire on the altar (J.H. Hertz, ed., Pentateuch & Haftorahs [London: Soncino Press, 1960], 445). This is a possibility, as they could have been intoxicated so as to not properly follow the procedures that the Lord required of them as consecrated priests. The mention of this prohibition, several verses later in Leviticus 10, is a good textual clue that they could have indeed been drunk:

“Do not drink wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons with you, when you come into the tent of meeting, so that you will not die—it is a perpetual statute throughout your generations—and so as to make a distinction between the holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean, and so as to teach the sons of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them through Moses” (Leviticus 10:9-11).

The problem with alcohol may provide some explanation, but we need not overlook some of the verses which appear between the description of Nadab and Abihu’s death (Leviticus 10:1-3) and then the description of how priests were not to drink while on duty (Leviticus 10:9-11). Some intriguing statements are made in Leviticus 10:6-7, succinctly describing how holy God considers the priestly office to be:

“Then Moses said to Aaron and to his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, ‘Do not uncover your heads nor tear your clothes, so that you will not die and that He will not become wrathful against all the congregation. But your kinsmen, the whole house of Israel, shall bewail the burning which the Lord has brought about. You shall not even go out from the doorway of the tent of meeting, or you will die; for the Lord’s anointing oil is upon you.’ So they did according to the word of Moses” (Leviticus 10:6-7).

Aaron’s other two sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, will take the place of Nadab and Abihu as priests. They are all instructed not to mourn for the untimely deaths of their brothers. Then they are told to not even leave the Tent of Meeting, because “the anointing oil of the Lord is upon you” (RSV).

The God of Israel was very serious about His chosen priests honoring the office in which they were to serve. In some respects, you can ascertain that from the shock of the consuming deaths of Nadab and Abihu, a genuine awe and reverence of the Lord has settled in the hearts of Aaron and his other sons. Obedience to these directives was adhered to without question. As this section of Leviticus closes, Moses asks Aaron and his sons why they have not followed the instructions to partake of the “holy” offerings that were clear instructions from the Most High:

“‘Why did you not eat the sin offering at the holy place? For it is most holy, and He gave it to you to bear away the guilt of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the Lord. Behold, since its blood had not been brought inside, into the sanctuary, you should certainly have eaten it in the sanctuary, just as I commanded.’ But Aaron spoke to Moses, ‘Behold, this very day they presented their sin offering and their burnt offering before the Lord. When things like these happened to me, if I had eaten a sin offering today, would it have been good in the sight of the Lord?’ When Moses heard that, it seemed good in his sight” (Leviticus 10:17-20).

Aaron responds to this rebuke with a very heartfelt reply, which indicates that the circumstances of his sons’ deaths, in his mind, prohibited them from eating the sin offering. Having seen his two sons die in a very tragic way, and having heard the admonitions about mourning and leaving the presence of the Lord while under the anointing, Aaron’s heart seems to finally be in the right place.

Even with the potential for immediate Divine retribution, Aaron’s contrite response was, “would the Lord have approved?” (NJPS). Apparently, this was what the Lord was looking for from His high priest and his sons, and Moses was satisfied with the response (Leviticus 10:20). Since Aaron was not consumed for disregarding the requirements for the sin offering, the Lord was pleased with his service as high priest of Israel.

In Shemini, God makes it clear through a very dramatic episode, what He required of the Levitical priesthood. As exemplified in Aaron and his sons, He desires a set-apart people who understand the call upon their lives, and who put His interests as Creator ahead of their own as mortals. Aaron learns from the shocking deaths of Nadab and Abihu that being presumptuous with how someone approaches God can bring significant consequences. Aaron was a changed man. Is it possible that he went through some kind of a mental checklist, asking the question of whether or not God would approve, before every priestly action he took? These initial scenes had to be preparatory for the great responsibility that being the high priest of Israel would entail.

Conforming to His Image

Today, as representatives of the God of Israel in the Earth, we need to approach our service unto Him with the same kind of sobriety that Aaron developed. We need to understand His ways, a very important part of which involves personal Torah study. So much knowledge and understanding about God’s holiness can be imparted to us by a review of the weekly parashah, as we contemplate not only the continuing trajectory of God’s Word, but also His mission and calling for our individual lives.

In Leviticus 11, a part of our Torah portion for this week, we encounter the first major instruction detailing the kosher dietary laws. Many Believers today will casually dismiss these directions given by God, because they think they were only for a previous time or age. But at the same time, several prominent evangelical Christians today—because of the poor health of many in our society—have spoken in favor of the health benefits that are derived from not eating certain meats. Are God’s people to be regulated by Him in simple matters like their diet? Can you learn anything about God’s holiness by what you eat?

As we search our own hearts in these days of “shock and awe” (The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq [2002-2003]), perhaps we should ask the Lord to give us hearts that are reminiscent of Aaron’s heart—hopefully without having to witness the same kind of dramatic encounters that he saw! Learning from Shemini, before we take actions, we should learn to ask the simple question of whether or not God would approve. By training our hearts and minds to such a pattern of behavior, those called into His service can demonstrate how they are being conformed to the image of Yeshua:

“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30).

Let us be reminded that Yeshua only did what the Father instructed Him to do:

“So Yeshua said, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me’” (John 8:28).

By His grace, may we also be reminded that we, as obedient servants, should be doing only that which the Lord has instructed us. By being sensitive to His will, not only will He be glorified—but we might find ourselves truly in awe of His work through us. If we choose otherwise, we may be in for an unexpected shock!

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