Tetzaveh – You Shall Command

This week’s parasha is Tetzaveh, meaning, ‘You shall command,’ and covers Exodus 27:20- 30:10.  At the end of chapter 27, the oil is mentioned for the golden lamp or menorah that sits in the Mishkan, the Tabernacle.  Pure olive oil was to be used in this lamp, and it was to burn day and night

In chapter 28 God instructs Aaron and his sons to wear priestly garments in the Tabernacle. Only Aaron and his sons are permitted to wear these. While the tribe of Levi was chosen by Adonai to take care of the Mishkan, only Aaron and his sons, the kohanim would provide avodah, or service to God’s chosen people. God is very particular as to what the priestly garments should be made of and how they should look. Like the men who wore them, these garments were to be holy, set apart for this sacred and unique work – to bring glory to God. They were beautiful garments, and included an Ephod, a robe, a breastplate, a turban and a sash. The Ephod was to be made of cloth with beautiful colors of blue, purple, scarlet and gold.  The breast plate of judgment stood for the 12 tribes of Israel, each tribe represented by a stone, such as sardius, emerald, sapphire and others.

In chapter 29 God gives instructions as to how Aaron will be consecrated with his sons.  There will be an offering of one bull and two rams without blemish, as well as unleavened bread. Aaron and his sons will be washed with water and then Moses will put the special garments on them to set them apart for all time as priests.  The bulls and rams will be sacrificed as sin and burnt offerings and some of the blood will be poured on the altar.  We should note that everyone, including the High Priest, had to have atonement for sin and to follow the Law, Yes, Aaron was a sinner just like us.  He had to have atonement for his sin, just like us.  Those sacrifices were not permanent, but our sins as believers are forgiven and atoned for once and for all by the One whose sacrifice was perfect. Yeshua the Messiah’s sacrifice is sufficient forever.

In chapter 30 God instructs the Israelis to build an Altar of Incense made of acacia wood.  This is a very hard wood and was used throughout the Mishkan. Acacia is only found in this region of the world. The altar of incense was to be 18 inches wide, 18 inches long, 36 inches tall, and overlaid with pure gold.  The poles that would be used to carry it were also to be made of Acacia wood and overlaid with gold. This altar would be placed just outside the veil, and would be used day and night, just like the menorah that burns the oil. Once per year Aaron would make atonement for their sins on the horns of this altar.

All this takes place in the Tabernacle where Adonai would dwell with His people.

About 1,500 years later, God would again “tabernacle” with mankind, this time in the flesh, through the Person of Yeshua our Messiah, whose words and works always brought glory to the Father, who gave His life willingly as the atonement for our sin, was raised from the dead, and now sits at God’s right hand. Though

Yeshua shared our humanity, He is perfect, and unlike us was never tainted by sin.

Let me share a few thoughts about Parasha Tetzaveh in conclusion:

1. Just as the Tabernacle included a Golden Menorah, the light of which was never to go out, we have a light, a greater light, one that will never diminish, and one that does not need oil to illumine our path. Messiah Yeshua brings us His greater light every day, every night, and forever. He is, in His own words, Or HaOlam – the Light of the World.

2. Think about all the furnishings that Adonai commanded for the Tabernacle. Instead of minimalism, He instructed Israel to bring beautiful, richly-colored fabrics and precious and semi-precious stones. The Altar of Incense and even the poles for carrying it were to be overlaid with gold. This teaches us that Adonai loves beauty and artistry. We can see it all through His Creation: in flowers, species of birds, brightly-colored and unique fish of the sea, the eye in the feathers of a peacock, the stripes of a tiger, and the spectacular change of color in the fall leaves. What God does, He does with excellence, and that should inspire us to do whatever we do with excellence.

3. It is so reassuring to know that in Messiah Yeshua we have a better High Priest. The parasha reminds us that every human being, including Israel’s High Priest, had to have atonement for sin, because every human being has failed in various aspects of the Torah. Rabbi Paul told us “All have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God.” But Yeshua is the perfect God-man, who never sinned. He Himself is the one perfect High Priest.

The author of The Letter to the Messianic Jews (Hebrews) said a great deal about the significance of the High Priest and how Yeshua’s Priesthood is superior. He wrote, “Therefore, since we have a great High Priest who has gone through the heavens, Yeshua the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are– yet was without sin.”

4. In Exodus 28:36-38, Adonai commands that the inscription Kadosh L’Adonai (“Holy to the Lord)” to be inscribed on the Plate on Aaron’s Turban. What is really fascinating is that in Zechariah chapter 14, the prophet declares that in the days of Messiah’s reign on earth, the bells on the horses’ bridles will have that same inscription. The prophet goes on to say that in those days even the cooking pots will be holy to Adonai. That tells us that all things can be set apart for His glory and dedicated to His service.

In 1 Peter 1:16, the great Emissary of Messiah Yeshua reiterates that we are to be holy as the Lord is holy – that we have been set apart to do the Lord’s work. And in Revelation 1:16 we are described as a kingdom of priests. But holiness only comes about through a right relationship with El Gibbor, the Mighty God. And to be in a right relationship with the Father, we must embrace the Son, transferring our loyalties completely to Messiah Yeshua as our only Savior.

Do you know him?  He is the Prince of Peace, the Wonderful Counselor. Brothers and sisters, there is no one who loves you more than our Messiah, who gave His very life for us, even though not one of us is worthy of such a gift.  It is one thing to help a good friend or family member who will return the favor or love you back. It is a completely different thing to give your life for someone who is not worthy of such love.  Praise God that our faith in Him brings us undeserved grace and mercy. May such knowledge make us want to serve Him all the more!