Torah Portion: Tetzaveh (You Shall Command) Sh’mot Exodus 27-30
HafTorah: Ezekiel 43:10-27
This week our Torah portion is Tetzaveh and it covers the clothing worn by the priests as they carried out their duties before the L-rd in the Mishkan and ends with the Incense Altar, its construction, and how to do the burning of incense on the altar.
As I mentioned last week, theses all have relevance to us in our lives today as G-d’s grafted in people. I would like to explore both the clothing of the priests and the incense ceremony and see what we can learn and apply to our own lives. However, before getting to that I want us to take some time and talk about Purim. This holiday begins tonight and ends tomorrow evening. In the book of Esther we read of the attempted annihilation of the Jewish population of Persia on the order of the King Ahasuerus. (Esther 4:13-15) This seems to be the first case of anti Semitism in recorded history. The entire Jewish population of the country was to be wiped out because of the hatred of one man. This was to occur on the 13th day of the 12th month which begins tonight at sundown. G-d had other plans however, and a young Jewish girl, Esther, or Hadassah, at the urging of her uncle, went before her husband the King, with a plan to save the Jews of the land. In many ways this book ties in with our Torah portion tonight.
In the first verse of our Torah portion, Exodus 27:20, we read, “You shall command the children of Israel that they bring you pure oil of pressed/crushed olives for the luminary to cause the lamp to burn continually.” There are a couple of things here that draw our attention. Usually when G-d communicated with Moshe He would do so with these words, “G-d spoke to Moshe” or “G-d commanded Moshe” to do His bidding. However, here G-d says, “You shall command.” Here it would seem G-d wants Moshe to be more personally involved in this process. The “process of crushing” to give light should give us some insight into our spiritual life. The same idea is carried over into the New Testament orMessianic writings in James/Ya’acov 1:2-3. When G-d allows crushing to come into our lives its purpose is to give us the opportunity to grow, to mature. This is exactly what James said in James 1:2-3. Strangely it seems we grow the most during testing. When things go well we are tempted to relax, to settle down and become satisfied. During times of testing we are to become pure oil for the Lamp Stand of G-d.
So here in the Purim story was such a time of testing, of crushing. Jews met the challenge of this crushing and came together and overcame this order handed down by the king. It all began with a young girl who stepped up for such a time as this. There is no doubt we will be tested. Things will come to test us. Our choice is, how we will react. Will we produce oil or will we be crushed completely by the test. From our Torah portion we see that the oil was the driving force used by G-d to bring light, so may it be with us.
This brings us to the incense altar and the commandment that it be burned everyday, in Hebrew it says, in the morning, in the morning. Exodus 30:7 What can we learn from this process? We have talked before about the Hebrew word for offering, “Korban” which at its root means to bring near or be near. This word gives us the true meaning of offering. The purpose was to bring us close to G-d. Incense takes this process further. The Hebrew word for incense is, “Ketoret” which has the basic meaning of connect. At its deepest this word takes us to the place of total connection with G-d, praising Him always. When we are connected with the Father our life will be that sweet smell before Him. And this is how our life is to be each and every day. Our life is meant to be that offering from morning until evening, to always be before Him. The High Priest wore on his forehead, “Holy to the L-rd” Exodus 28:36. We are holy to the L-rd, not just when it is convenient but always. It affects everything about our life, even to the clothes we wear. Here in our Torah portion we see the priest was to wear clothing that set him apart. If he came before the L-rd without those clothes, just in his everyday clothes, he would not be fulfilling his role as priest.
Our lives belong to G-d and how we live our life is important. The Torah is our guide on how to live. Yeshua and His disciples never wavered from following Torah. So, as you study each week look deeper and discover what the verses say to you about your daily walk.