Exodus 27:20-30:10 Parasha T’tzaveh

Israel has been redeemed from slavery in Egypt with great power, signs and wonders, and by the deaths of the Passover Lambs. We are a free people. We have crossed through the Red Sea on dry ground. God is providing for our needs, even miraculously, with manna and water that came from the rock that Moses struck. We’ve fought and defeated the Amalekites by  relying on the Lord, symbolized by the hands of Moses being lifted up – then there was victory. God then manifested His presence on Mount Sinai, and the voice of God was heard by all of Israel, and the Ten Commandments were given. Other laws were given. Israel accepted the covenant with God. Animals are killed, and blood is sprinkled on the people.

Then Moses and Aaron, Nadav and Avihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, climbed Mount Sinai, celebrated this covenant with God. They had a meal on Mount Sinai, and they saw the God of Israel, who manifested Himself to them. Then the Lord called Moses up on Mount Sinai by himself, where God gave him two stone tablets, and other laws. Now it’s time to build a tent, so that in spite of the Fall of man, and our sinfulness, God could still dwell among us, and be close to us, and so that we could learn how to draw near to Him.

It was made of the most valuable and precious materials,  gold, silver, skins, oil, spices, and precious stones, telling us that God, and the things connected to God, are precious and valuable. A Terumah – an offering, was taken up, to build the Mishkan, but only from those who freely wanted to give. And we should want to give our best to build up the work of God in our day.

In the Most Holy Place of the Mishkan was the Ark and the Ark Cover. There was a Table for the Bread of God’s Presence. There was the Golden Seven Branched Menorah. There were curtains, boards, and veil, all of which were designed to keep people at various distances from God. Outside the Holy Place, but in the Court, was the Bronze Altar, telling us that God made provision for our sins through the sacrifices that were offered on it.

That brings us to this week’s Torah portion: Parasha T’tzaveh, Exodus 27:20-30:10. I want to mention the highlights, and then help us understand how we can apply these things to our lives.

First, the Golden Menorah that provided light in the Mishkan needed fuel – pure olive oil. What gives us spiritual fuel? The indwelling Holy Spirit. Do you have the Holy Spirit? Has He come into your life? He has, if you believe in Messiah, and have truly turned your life over to Him.

A hold priesthood needed holy garments – special, beautiful clothing. They included a breastplate, a square piece of beautiful material, with twelve precious stones, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. The breastplate was placed on the front of the ephod, which was a short, close-fitting jacket. It had two onyx stones with the names of six tribes carved on each stone. When the High Priest wore the ephod and breastplate near his heart, the Lord saw the stones, and remembered His love and promises and covenants with Israel.

Under the New Covenant, Messiah Yeshua is now our High Priest, who carries us on His heart, into the presence of God, who remembers us with love and mercy as He sees His Son!

And, in the breastplate were the Urim and Tumim, the “Lights and the Perfections.” We are not exactly sure what they were – if they were the same as the breastplate with the twelve precious stones, or something else distinct from them. They were used to get guidance from the Lord.

There was a beautiful blue robe, worn under the ephod. The blue robe had a hem of golden bells interspersed with pomegranates of blue and scarlet and purple material. When the priest served in the Holy Place, the bells made their sounds, and the Lord would not kill the priest.

The priest was to wear a hat – a turban, with a gold plate, with the words, “kodesh l’Adonai – holy to the Lord” telling us that the head of the priest, and by implication, whole priest, was set apart by God to accomplish God’s purposes, and God would accept the priest, who represented the nation of Israel, and mediated on behalf of the Jewish people. These were the garments of the high priest. Ordinary priests had tunics, sashes and caps, and linen underwear.

Chapter 29 tells us that the priests needed to be made holy before they could serve the Lord. And, there were several ways to make them holy. They had to be washed, clothed with their beautiful clothes, their heads anointed with oil, serving with God’s blessing and the power of the Holy Spirit. Then a bull and two rams, were slaughtered. The priests had to lay their hands on the heads of the animals, symbolically transferring their sins onto the animals, so that the priests were clean.

Under the New Covenant, every Messianic Jew and every Christian is a priest. We know God, and we bring the knowledge and blessings of God to the rest of the world. A priest needs to be prepared for this great task. He needs to be clean. Have you transferred your sins onto the head of the Ultimate Sacrifice, the Messiah, by believing in Him, His death and resurrection, and confessing your sins to God? Have you been washed by the waters of baptism? Do you continue to be washed by the cleansing that comes from exposure to the Word of God? Are you clothed with the beautiful new spiritual garments of salvation, and the robes of righteousness?

Parts of the sacrificed animals were burned, parts were eaten by Moses, who was the one who actually offered them, and some parts were eaten by Aaron and his sons. Some of the blood of one ram was put on the priests ears, so that their ears would be dedicated to the Lord, so they could hear God and obey. Are your ears dedicated to God? Can you hear Him?

Blood was put on their right thumbs, so that their hands might be dedicated to serving God. Are you serving Him? Are you doing something for Him? Anything?

Blood was put on the big toes of their right feet, that they might walk with God, and live according to His ways. Are you?

Blood and anointing oil was then sprinkled on the priests, because blood and oil cleanse, sanctify, enable us to fulfill God’s purposes. Are you sprinkled with the blood of Messiah? Atoned for? Do you have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, so you are empowered to serve Him?

Not only the spiritual needs of the priests were provided for, but also their physical needs. Several kinds of bread were offered up to the Lord. Some was burned, and the rest was eaten by Aaron and his sons. God provided for His priests, physically and spiritually. They ate the meat and at the bread at the Mishkan, in the presence of God. Eating is a sign of intimacy, friendship. The priests were close to the Lord, close enough and on good enough terms with Him to eat in His presence.

Do you give thanks that the Lord meets your physical needs and spiritual needs? Are you close to Him? Are you friends with Him?

Chapter 29 and verse 38 gives the instructions for the regular daily offerings. Every morning and every evening the priests were to offer a lamb, a sacrifice on behalf of all Israel. Likewise, we should make special efforts to pray to the Lord every morning, and at the end of every day, thanking Him, declaring His goodness and His power and His mighty acts, asking for His help and forgiveness where we fall short.

Chapter 30 gives the instructions to build the golden altar of incense, which was put in the Holy Place. Every morning, and every evening, k’toret samim – fragrant spices were burned on it, ascending upward to Heaven, like our prayers and praises should at the beginning and at the end of every day.

The Mishkan is gone. Everything in it is missing or destroyed. We have no High Priest with his beautiful clothes, with the ephod, the Urim and Tumim. The other sons of Aaron, the other priests, are not serving. There are no sacrifices being offered to make atonement. No fragrant spices.

But Messiah, who is the Substance to which the Shadows pointed, remains. He is our Sacrifice. He is our Atonement. He helps our prayers and praises ascend up to God and be accepted by Him. He is our Great and Holy High Priest. Even thought the High Priest from Aaron’s line wore a gold plate with the words, “holy to the Lord,” the High Priest of Israel himself was a sinner. But Yeshua, our High Priest is inherently holy, infinitely pure, completely separated from sin.

And, He makes us a kingdom of priests. Each believer is a priest. We are like the priests serving under our High Priest. Do you know Him? Do you have Him? Are you friends with Him? Are you serving Him as a priest to the rest of the world?