Exodus 30:11-34:35 Parasha Kee Tisa

30:11-16 A census of the people was to be taken, but every male 20 years and above had to pay a quarter of an ounce of silver to atone for himself. Why? I think the best explanation is that numbering the people was dangerous, since we could start trusting in our numbers, in our own strength, in our own power and ability, and not trusting in the Lord. Atonement had to be made.

30:17-21 deals with the Keeyor N’cho-shet – the Bronze Basin. Priests must be clean to serve the Lord, especially their hands and feet, which represents their actions and their life. Are you doing the right things? Living the right way? Is there dirt that needs to be washed from you life? Sins you need to confess, and ask the Lord’s help to turn away from?

30:22-33 deals with the Special Anointing Oil. It was olive oil mixed with nice smelling spices. This special oil was used to anoint the Mishkan, the various items in the Mishkan, and the priests. Oil is a symbol for God’s Holy Spirit, so this tells us that the presence of the Spirit of God is essential for true religion, real atonement, for a real drawing near to God to take place. Do you have God’s Spirit in your life? Is He living in you, helping you draw near to God, and serve the Lord, and accomplish His purposes?

31:1-11 describes the builders of the Mishkan. It was the Spirit of God who gave these artisans their artistic capacities, their gifts and talents and skills, just as the same Spirit gives you every talent, every skill, every ability that you have. These men made the Mishkan and its items and the priests’ clothes beautiful, because God is beautiful, and the things associated with Him should also be beautiful. Art enriches our lives, and there is a special place for beautiful art in religion.

31:12-17 describes the importance of Shabbat. A Holy God demands a Holy People, with Holy Priests, serving in a Holy Place, with a Holy Day.

  • The Sabbath accomplishes many purposes: it helps us understand that it is the Lord who makes us holy. We don’t make ourselves holy. He has given us a way of holiness, with a holy book, and holy sacrifices, with holy commands.
  • It is to be a Shabbat Shabbaton – a Sabbath of rest, a complete rest – no ordinary work is to be done.
  • It is an “ot” – a sign between God and Israel. The holy day points us to a holy God. Like a sign, it points us to the Creator, and that our God made the entire universe in six days. That’s how powerful He is. It is a sign pointing us to Israel’s unique relationship to God. The holy day points us to the holy people.
  • It is a Breet Olam – an eternal covenant.  It is part of our covenant obligation with God. It is to be observed throughout our generations, including our generation. It is to be perpetually observed, eternally celebrated.

Therefore the Shabbat is an essential part of a healthy Jewish life, including a Messianic Jewish life. I know that in my own life, it has become, and continues to become, even more important.  I want so much that all Jewish Believers everywhere would really take this seriously, and enter into the importance of the Sabbath.

31:18-32:35 tells us that Moses had now been on Mount Sinai for forty days getting these various instructions. Before Moses comes down, the Lord presents Moses with the two tablets of the Ten Commandments – they are called the Testimony, because they summarize all the commandments, and testify what God expects Israel to do. The are made out of stone, because they are to be enduring. They are written by the finger of God, telling us that they, and all of Scripture are given by God, and divinely inspired.

Meanwhile, at the bottom of Mount Sinai the majority of the Jewish people are already losing sight of God, and His commands, and our covenant obligations. That tells us that it doesn’t take very long for God to fade from our sight – only forty days – less than two months. If we lose sight of God, then we will start reverting to the ways of the world around us.

So what happens? Israel starts combining our religion with the religions of the world around us. We make a golden calf – other nations had visible representations of their gods, so why shouldn’t we too? O, we won’t deny the God of Israel altogether, but let’s compromise the truth a little, a worship God and have an idol too. Even Aaron, the brother of Moses, the high priest, gets carried along.

Well, God is not taken in, and calls us a people with a stiff neck – we won’t bend to God’s will and ways. We will not readily cooperate with God – and that’s been true throughout our history, and it continues to be true to this day.

Things go from bad to worse. We won’t stay within proper theological boundaries, and since things go with things, the majority of the people don’t stay within moral boundaries. They ate and drank and began to “play” – it seems that a drunken orgy was taking place!

God tells Moses that He is so angry, that He is about to destroy the entire nation, and begin a new nation with Moses as the founding father. It’s a good thing I’m not Moses, because think of it – to have a whole nation, the Chosen People, come from you! I probably would have said, “sure, go ahead Lord – smite those wicked people! Make a fresh start with me!” But I’m not Moses, a most humble servant of God. So Moses prays, and asks God not to destroy Israel, but to forgive us.

And, the mighty Lord God, the Creator of the universe, listens to the prayer of this man, and changes His mind, and does not destroy the nation. The prayer of a righteous man, a righteous woman, can affect the destiny of a whole nation! Never stop praying my friends!

The Lord doesn’t destroy Israel, but there will be serious consequences for us. Moses comes down from Sinai, breaks the Two Tablets, written by God Himself, showing us that we had broken God’s commandments. The golden calf is ground up into powder, the dust thrown into water, and the people forced to drink it, showing that we should never make or worship that which is no god. The Levites, who didn’t engage in this debauchery, rally to Moses, and they kill 3000 of the offenders.

The next day Moses prays that the Lord would indeed forgive the nation, and if not, blot him out of the Book of Life – God’s special book that records who lives, and who dies. “Kill me Lord, but not my people”! That’s true love, sacrificial love; that’s humility; that’s the kind of example we want to try and follow.

Then the Lord punishes the people, but does not destroy us, as He promised Moses. That brings us to chapter 33. Due to lack of holiness, and as part of our punishment, the Lord tells Moses that He wants send a messenger, an angel, in His place. He is going to withdraw His closeness to us. The people find out, and go into mourning, removing their ornaments. Moses doesn’t want the Lord to remove His presence from Israel. How would the Chosen People be distinguished from all the other nations? Is it not the presence of the Living God among us? So, Moses prays and intercedes, and again, the Lord listens to a man, and promises not to remove the manifestation of His presence from Israel.

Moses becomes even bolder, and asks God to show Moses more of His glorious presence. Adonai agrees, but warns Moses that he can’t see God’s full reality, or he would die. So, Moses cuts two new tablets of stone, climbs Mount Sinai, and Moses is protected in a cliff, and the Lord descended onto the mountain, passes by in front of Moses, who doesn’t see God’s face, but only His passing, and God reveals Himself in an even greater way to Moses, and declares to Moses His 13 attributes.

God promises to do great miracles among the Jewish people not done anywhere else on Earth, so that all the other nations of the world would know that Israel’s God is the true God who alone can save them, redeem them, restore them to life, which indeed took place, and is taking place God warns us not to worship any other gods, since His name is Kana – Jealous. The Mighty One is extremely protective towards His people and doesn’t want to share our affections with any other “gods.” He demands our complete loyalty. Does he have yours?

The parasha ends with various laws: since our firstborn belonged to God, the had to be redeemed – bought back, especially the firstborn of donkeys, and firstborn sons among Israel.

Three times a year all Jewish men must appear before God at the Temple in Jerusalem, to offer the proper sacrifices that make atonement – which we can’t do today..

No leaven is to be offered among our sacrifices, since leaven is a symbol for sin, and the worship of God must not be contaminated by sin.

We must not sacrifice a baby goat, and boil it in its mother’s milk, like the perverted sacrifices for fertility offered by other nations. By the way, it’s the misunderstand of this mitzvah that has occasioned all the burdensome and unnecessary traditions about separating milk and meat. It was other nations, like the Canaanites, who killed a baby goat and boiled it in its mother’s milk, and offered it to Baal or Astarte, hoping that would please their “fertility gods,” so that they would enrich the offerer. It was this kind of perverted sacrifice that is being forbidden – not a cheeseburger!

So, Moses was up on Mount Sinai for a second 40 days and 40 nights, where he received all these things. He came down again, with the new pair of stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. His face was shining, because he had been in the presence of the God of glory, and the face of Moses reflected some of the glory of God, just as face of the moon reflects the glory of the mighty sun. And, we will radiate the glory of God the closer we draw near to Him and His Son, praying, worshiping, studying, witnessing, fellowshipping.