Pekudei – “Amounts Of”

This week our parasha is Pekudei which translates to “the amount or number”.  Pekudei is the last parasha of Exodus and covers Exodus 38:21- 40:38.  This week we will see the establishment of the Tabernacle and the priestly garments that we have discussed these past weeks. Since we are ending Exodus, I will also be discussing the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant in Messiah Yeshua.

Our parasha starts towards the end of chapter 38 and details the materials used for the Tabernacle. After the census was taken 3.8 tons of silver and over one ton of gold was gathered for construction. Conservatively at today’s prices this alone comes to over $44 Million.  The amount of bronze used in the construction of the Tabernacle is totaled at 2 and half tons.

The huge cost and workmanship that went into the Tabernacle, and the temples that would come later, is astounding.  But as majestic as this building was it was still a building, built in the shadow of the true Tabernacle in Heaven.  The Tabernacle’s true worth was not found in the items it contained or the earthly value of its construction. Instead the true value is in the fact this was the place on Earth Adonai chose to dwell with His people, and accept our sacrifices.  This fact sets the Tabernacle apart from any other place on Earth and is what made it truly Kadosh, Holy.

We tend to value things in this world at the cost it takes to purchase them, assigning worth as an amount or a number based on a purchase price. What human beings consider valuable and what God’s Word tells us is valuable are two different standards. Proverbs tells us that wisdom is better than Gold and our Messiah taught us that what is exalted among men is an abomination to the Lord.  We need to see what is valuable through God’s understanding and not the understanding of the fallen world we live in. In our society the sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua is considered of little worth, but what amount of gold, silver, or precious stones can match even a drop of the blood shed on the cross to purchase us?

Under the New Covenant we are temples of the Living God.  He has also chosen to dwell within us, through the Holy Spirit.  All of the Lord’s sanctuaries are set to divine standards; they also are set apart and made holy as a suitable place for Him. We are to live our lives to His standards, not our own.  We are also to live in this world and yet at the same time be set apart, living righteous holy lives.

Chapter 39 details the priestly garments created for Aaron and his sons.  The Ephod of gold and fine linen and the breastpiece is described in detail. The tunics of fine linen are discussed next along with the inscription on the sacred emblem which read, “Holy to the Lord”.

The priestly garments were to show the special duties that the priests had in serving Adonai and our people. The authority of the priests to offer sacrifices came from the Lord, not any earthly source.  It was to Him their allegiance was due.  Under the New Covenant we are priests as well, caretakers of the House of the Lord.  It is to Him our allegiance is due, and our lives should be a living refection of the priest’s inscription, “Holy to the Lord”.

Continuing with chapter 39 Moses inspected all the items of the Tabernacle and priesthood. He then blessed our people for following the Lord’s instructions so diligently.  The 12 tribes came together to craft the Tabernacle and worship Adonai.  Just as the tribes in those days set aside their distinctions, grudges, rebellious attitudes, and past failures, to join together in worship, we need to as well.

Now in chapter 40 the completed Tabernacle was set up and established for the first time.  Moses anointed all the items of the Tabernacle as the Lord had commanded as well as anointing Aaron’s sons.  Moses erected the entire Tabernacle and placed the tablets of the law into the ark and the ark into the Most Holy Place.  With the entire Tabernacle assembled by Moses the book of Exodus concludes with these words in verses 34-35:

Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.

The book of Exodus ends with the establishment of the Tabernacle and the Lord dwelling within it.  The Tabernacle on Earth is a reflection of the true Tabernacle in Heaven, which is why it was so important for the people to follow the Lord’s instructions so closely.  But a Tabernacle on Earth, no matter how majestic or costly, cannot completely atone for the sins of the fallen human beings who offer sacrifices in it, day after day and year after year.  Even Moses, because of his fallen nature, was unable to enter the Most Holy Place.  Though Moses was a righteous man he had only the blood of bulls and rams, not the blood of Yeshua – which is infinitely superior to these sacrifices!

Even the high priests were only allowed to enter God’s presence once a year. Not with their beautiful clothing but in simple white linen to offer a limited sacrifice for the sins of our people.  This also could only take place after offering a sacrifice for themselves. They dared not violate the standard the Lord had set with their own, because they knew it would lead to disaster.

Exodus is not merely interesting history but has important principles for us today. The Mosaic Covenant provided limited atonement for our sins and allowed limited fellowship with Adonai.  It was given to our people at a specific time for specific purposes.

Now if the Sinai Covenant could not allow Moses to stand in the Most Holy Place, then how much less can the man-made forms of Rabbinical Judaism practiced today atone or provide fellowship with our Creator? Under the Law, the standard of God, we on our own stand condemned. Mitzvahs cannot redeem, nor can we redeem ourselves, rather it is God who has redeemed us through Yeshua’s sacrifice. Without accepting the Messianic salvation by Grace we have been offered we cannot dwell with our infinitely holy Father within the true Tabernacle in Heaven! It is the Messiah that redeems us!

He is also the great High Priest of the New Covenant, fully God and fully man, who did not need to offer sacrifices to become outwardly clean like the other High Priests of old.  Without sin He laid down His life to atone for all sins throughout all time.  Standing before Adonai in the true Tabernacle of Heaven He intercedes for us now, having purchased us at the cost of His precious blood.

The writer of the letter to the Messianic Jews puts it this way:

For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Yeshua, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God!

The writer of Hebrews living in the time of the Second Temple makes the point that where sin has been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer required. He concludes: By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.

Of all the items we read about in Exodus none remain.  From both temples we have but a single, exterior wall of the temple complex.  But we have no need to wail, rather rejoice in the things of the New Covenant; which are as superior to the Old as Messiah Yeshua’s ministry is superior to the priests of old!

So, what is the conclusion we are to reach from these things?  We are called to persevere together in our faith, drawing near to the Lord and rejoicing in the complete redemption we have through the price Yeshua paid for us!  Through Yeshua’s blood we can stand before God washed of our sins!  This is the conclusion reached in the letter written to the Messianic Jews:

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Yeshua, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful!