Parashat Tetzaveh (You Shall Command)
Shemot (Exodus) 27:20–30:10
The weekly Scripture portion (parasha) starts with a very interesting verse that says:
And you shall command the sons of Israel, that they shall take to you pure olive oil of crushed olives for the light, to make a lamp burn continually.
There are two key elements in this verse that we should take note of: the directive to use pure olive oil and the need for a continuously burning candle/lamp. Let’s look first at the significance of the olive oil. An olive in itself is good for nothing — it’s hard, bitter, and will give you a stomach ache if you eat it raw. But when you crush the olive in the olive press, you get pure olive oil!
Olive oil has many uses, from culinary to medicinal to spiritual. One of its many popular uses is for anointing someone; in fact, this is where the Hebrew word, Moshiach (“Messiah” — Anointed One) is derived from. It is not by coincidence that Yeshua chose a place called (in Hebrew) Gat Shemanim (Gethsemane), which means “Olive Press”. That is the place where He chose to crush His will and submit to the Father’s will. (Matthew 26:36–46)
Now, what about the continuously lit lamp? As our verse from Exodus tells us, olive oil was to be used to light this lamp. The Hebrew translation of “lamp continually” is “נֵ֖ר תָּמִֽיד” (Ner Tamid). I found a very interesting commentary on this phrase that suggests in the days of the Tabernacle, the “eternal lamp” was the middle candle of the menorah that was always lit until twilight, the time between sundown and when the stars become visible. All the other lamps were extinguished at dawn once the sun began to rise, and relit from the “Ner Tamid” once twilight fell. The “Ner Tamid” was rekindled at twilight, as far as we understand.
There are a couple of interesting connections for us here. First, Yeshua is the Light of the World, whose light never grows dim. He is the Eternal Flame, the One that brings light and whose light shines through us. Secondly, let’s not miss the importance of the “twilight”, which is the time that Yeshua laid down His life for us. This is not by coincidence! He fulfilled His role at that time as the Messiah — the perfect sacrificial Lamb — and charged us to be the “light” in the world.
In order to be His light in this world, we need to crush our will in submission to the Father’s will, just like Yeshua did. It is only then that we can walk in the fullness of His anointing over our lives. Just like the children of Israel were charged to make God known throughout the world, so are we! We are to daily crush our will — deny ourselves — and walk within His anointing as He shines His light in and through our lives.