Parashat Tetzaveh (You Shall Command)
Shemot (Exodus) 27:20–30:10
Haftarah: Ezekiel 43:10–27
The phenomenon that the Creator of the Universe wants to dwell with us kept coming back to me as I studied this week's Parashah. Think about it for a minute: God, the One who created the heavens and the earth and everything within it, the same and only One who was from the beginning, who still is and always will be, wants to dwell with you and me. Wow!
However, the reality is that that same God is a holy God, and in order for Him to be able to dwell with us, it must according to His ways. You may agree or disagree, but the fact was, is, and will always be, that in order for God to dwell in our midst, it must be in accordance to His standards. In other words, we come to God on His terms - He does not come to us on ours. I sure am thankful that God is love, because otherwise, it would never be possible on our own.
Our Parashah this week is a direct continuation of last week's Parashat Terumah, which spoke of the building and dedication of God’s dwelling place. This week, we read of the detailed dedication of the priests in their service to God. Chapter 28 describes in detail the priests' holy clothing, which is a fascinating study in itself, and chapter 29 describes the actual process of the priests' dedication.
In Exodus 29:38-42 we read of the daily sacrifices that were to take place:
Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two one-year-old lambs each day, continuously. The one lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight; and there shall be a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with a fourth of a hin of beaten oil, and a fourth of a hin of wine for a drink offering with one lamb. The other lamb you shall offer at twilight, and shall offer with it the same grain offering and the same drink offering as in the morning, for a soothing aroma, an offering by fire to the LORD. It shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the doorway of the tent of meeting before the LORD, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there.
And immediately following in Exodus 29:43-46, we find the reason for all of God’s precepts regarding the work of the Priests and the sacrifices:
I will meet there with the sons of Israel, and it shall be consecrated by My glory. I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar; I will also consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve as priests to Me. And I will dwell among the sons of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God who brought them out of the land of Egypt, so that I might dwell among them; I am the LORD their God.
In other words, God has appointed that place for the children of Israel to be sanctified with His presence, honor and weight. His desire is to dwell among Israel, to be their God, and for Israel to know that He is the Redeemer who redeemed them in order to be with them.
In our Haftarah portion, we read of the description of God’s house, its laws, and the laws of the altar, which is interestingly given to the prophet Ezekiel in a vision. The final verses in our Haftarah portion are very important because they connect in an amazing way for God’s purpose with regard of the sacrifices that He requires:
'When they have completed the days, it shall be that on the eighth day and onward, the priests shall offer your burnt offerings on the altar, and your peace offerings; and I will accept you,’ declares the Lord GOD.
Ezekiel 43: 27
The number eight in Scripture will oftentimes be connected to the Kingdom of God, redemption, newness, or renewal. Is it possible that the specific set of sacrifices outlined here in Ezekiel is in order for one to be accepted, welcomed, and reconciled through God’s grace, by being redeemed by the blood and becoming renewed?
Does that ring a bell? I am reminded of what is written in Leviticus 17:11:
For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.
and this from Rav Sha'ul (the Apostle Paul) in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (TLV):
Therefore if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
God and the truth of His Word do not change; just as it was in the days of old, so it is today. He requires a blood sacrifice to atone for sin, in order for one to enter His Kingdom, to be redeemed, renewed and become new. Only that this time we don’t need to offer a blood sacrifice of our own, since God Himself provided an everlasting sacrifice on our behalf, through whom we can be redeemed by His grace, become renewed, and enter the Kingdom of God. And one day He, His Son, the one who was sent to us, will dwell once again among us for all eternity!
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