TETZAVEH (You Command), Exodus 27:20–30:10; Ezekiel 43:10–27; 1 Peter 2:1–25.

Exodus 27:20–30:10; Ezekiel 43:10–27; 1 Peter 2:1–25. “Command [Tetzaveh] the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning.” (Exodus 27:20). 

In last week’s  study section, God instructed Moses and the Israelites to construct a Tabernacle (Mishkan) in the wilderness.  This week, God commands them to bring pure olive oil for the lamp and to create holy garments for the priests (cohanim).  I would like you to note that Moses wrote all God instructed between Exodus 20 and 24:4 in a book which became the covenant of 24:7.  Then God told Him to come up and get tables of stone on which He will write further laws and commandments (Ex 24:12).  Between Ex 25 and 31 are descriptions for things needed for the sanctuary system; from where Tetzaveh comes.  The tables of stone are given at the end of those descriptions at 31:18.  You decide if 25 – 31 is what was written on those stones.  If not what other references are there as to where and when were they written?   

The Role of Beauty and Splendor in Serving God.

“These are the garments they are to make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a woven tunic, a turban and a sash.  They are to make these sacred garments for your brother Aaron and his sons, so they may serve Me as priests.”  (Exodus 28:4).  In this section, sacred garments are to be made for the priests so they can serve God.  One of them is the Choshen Hamishpat (Breastplate of Judgment). 

The breastplate is associated with the Urim and Thummim, objects used to divine the will of Yahweh God. 

The priestly breastplate was made of embroidered linen sized and shaped into a square cubit.  It contained four rows, each with three precious gems embedded within the plate and surrounded with gold.  Each jewel in the priest’s breastplate represented one of the twelve tribes of Israel, whose names were engraved upon the stones in order.  God would use the individual letters of these names to spell out His judgments for Israel when the Urim was used to consult Him.   "He is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will obtain decisions for him by inquiring of the Urim before YHWH.  At his command he and the entire community of the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in."  (Numbers 27:21). 

In the Brit Chadashah (New Testament), John describes his vision of the New Jerusalem in which the foundation stones of the city walls are adorned with 12 gems.  Some, if not all, of these gems are also in the breastplate.

Some of the stones’ true identities may have been lost, since the Hebrew and Greek cultures shared no definitive gem names, especially during the 1,000 years between the writing of 1 Samuel and the Book of Revelation:  “The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone.  The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst.”  (Revelation 21:19–20). 

What we see in the description of the breastplate and New Jerusalem is that God considers beauty to be glorifying as we serve Him on earth and in Heaven, where it is said, we will one day be surrounded by the brilliant splendor of streets paved with gold and divinely cut jewels embedded in foundations.  God likes natural beauty and unblemished things not artificial.  God also considers certain colours and material that are used in service to Him to be glorifying, such as the garments worn by the Kohen HaGadol (High Priest): “You shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty." (Exodus 28:2). 

The ephod, or garment underneath the breastplate, was made out of fine linen and woven out of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet threads.  Although a priestly garment, it seems that King David wore it when he brought back the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.  “Now David was clothed with a robe of fine linen with all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and the singers and Chenaniah the leader of the singing with the singers.  David also wore an ephod of linen.”  (1 Chronicles 15:27; see also 2 Samuel 6:14). 

Serving God in the Beauty of Holiness.

Everything God creates in His physical world helps us understand His spiritual world. The use of physical gems on the breastplate of the Kohen Gadol is no different.  Since these stones represent the 12 tribes, and the breastplate is connected with discovering the will of God, the stones represent how precious Israel is to Yahweh and His desire to lead them into His will.  The precious stones embedded in the foundations of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:19–20) also represent the 12 tribes.  From this we can understand that Israel retains foundational importance in the Messianic Age.  All Believers in Yahshua play a significant role, as well.  Scripture says that we are a holy priesthood and living stones, a spiritual house through Yahshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah):

“And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Messiah Yahshua."  (1 Peter 2:4–5). 

Like a precious jewel, precisely cut, shaped, and polished by a master lapidary, we each have the ability to uniquely reflect the beauty and glory of God's Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) as we serve Him.  When we fulfill that destiny, we take our place in a spiritual house, whose cornerstone, the One who holds it all together is, of course, Yahshua HaMashiach.  “Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”  (1 Peter 2:6). 

Chapter 29 deals with what God instructed to make Aaron and his sons holy.  It shows the detail and character of God’s requirements.  I suggest we follow His commands to the letter.  Do not alter one word, neither to left nor right if we want to be accepted by Him.  Exo 29:1  And this is the thing that thou shalt do unto them to hallow them, to minister unto me in the priest's office: Take one young bullock, and two rams without blemish, Exo 29:2  And unleavened bread, and cakes unleavened tempered with oil, and wafers unleavened anointed with oil: of wheaten flour shalt thou make them. Exo 29:3  And thou shalt put them into one basket, and bring them in the basket, with the bullock and the two rams. Exo 29:4  And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water. Exo 29:5  And thou shalt take the garments, and put upon Aaron the coat, and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastplate, and gird him with the curious girdle of the ephod: …  Exo 29:12  And thou shalt take of the blood of the bullock, and put it upon the horns of the altar with thy finger, and pour all the blood beside the bottom of the altar. Exo 29:13  And thou shalt take all the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul that is above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and burn them upon the altar…..Exo 29:18  And thou shalt burn the whole ram upon the altar: it is a burnt offering unto the LORD: it is a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto Yahweh God…… Exo 29:21  And thou shalt take of the blood that is upon the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon the garments of his sons with him: and he shall be hallowed, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons' garments with him…. Exo 29:37  Seven days thou shalt make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; and it shall be an altar most holy: whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy. Exo 29:38  Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually. … Exo 29:43  And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory. Exo 29:44  And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest's office. Exo 29:45  And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. 

Exo 30:9  Ye shall offer no strange (non prescribed) incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon. God does not accept non prescribed things or times of man’s traditions or reasoning  (see Lev 10:1, the killing of Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu for offering “strange” incense).  

HOLY GARMENTSPeople say, "It's not the outside that matters; only the heart matters." In reality, the outside often reveals a lot about what is going on in the inside.  YHWH commanded the children of Israel to make special garments for the priests to wear while they officiated in the Tabernacle (Exodus 28:2). The garments of the priesthood were set apart for the purpose of serving God in the Tabernacle. They were not to be used for any other purpose.  Holiness does not mean that there is some kind of a mystical goodness attached to the object, person or place described as holy. It simply means that God does not want it used for anything other purposes than His own. The opposite of something holy is something normal.

Not only were the priest's clothes holy garments, they were vestments for glory. The Hebrew word translated "glory" is kivod, (כבוד). It also means "honour." Its root meaning is closely connected with the Hebrew word for "heavy." To treat something lightly would be the opposite of glorifying it. The priest's garments, as those that should be worn by us when coming before God, were not meant to glorify the priests who wore them.  Instead, the priests' garments reminded the people of God's holiness and greatness. 

The laws of the priestly garments teach some important lessons about clothing. For example, they teach that the way we dress matters to God. Clothing can bring honour or dishonour to God.  In many churches and even in some synagogues, it has become popular to dress casually. Typically people dress better when they are going out to an expensive restaurant than they do when they attend worship services of the Most High. Even in Messianic assemblies people rarely dress their best for keeping the Sabbath.  Jeans and T-shirts on Sabbath mornings? Shorts on Yom Kippur? Immodest, body-revealing clothing is flaunted even in the presence of the holy Torah scroll and place where God is asked to be.  A place where He instructs Exo_20:26  Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon. 

In modern Western culture, it has become common to regard dress and apparel as inalienable rights that are essential expressions of the individual.  What is more, we have adopted some sort of assumed piety in dressing down. The reasoning proceeds along these lines: God does not look at the outside. God looks at the heart. Therefore, the outside should not matter.  Ironically, those who wear blue jeans and T-shirts to worship services seem to regard themselves more intrinsically spiritual than the "stiffs" who still dress formally, because they assume that their casual dress reflects a more genuine heart.  The laws of the priestly vestments prove that God looks at the outside as well as the inside, and He is concerned for how His people present themselves in the eyes of the world. The way we dress often reveals what's going on inside us. It also reflects on God. To dress disrespectfully on His holy days in His holy houses of worship is to disrespect Him. 

The Daily Continual Burnt Offering:  A day in the Temple began with the sacrifice of a lamb and it concluded with the sacrifice of a lamb.  God ordained a daily worship service in the Tabernacle called the continual burnt (tamid, תמיד) offering.  Every day, the priesthood offered two male lambs as burnt offerings for the daily service.  The continual burnt offering began each morning with a male lamb offered as a burnt offering (olah, עולה). The priests slaughtered a lamb and placed it on the fire of the altar as the first sacrifice of the day. The lamb burned on the fire all day, a continual burnt offering. The priests placed each subsequent sacrifice they made on top of the pyre on which the lamb was burning.

When the day’s service concluded and the priests had completed all the sacrifices for that day, they brought a second lamb. They slaughtered it as an olah and placed it on top of the remains of that day’s offerings, sandwiching the whole day’s services between the two lambs of the continual burnt offering. They left the second lamb on the altar to burn through the night. The next morning, the priests removed the ashes and slaughtered a lamb, placed it on the altar, and started the process all over again.  In this way, a lamb remained continually burning on the altar before the YHWH.

The continual burnt offering set a baseline pattern as the most basic and regular function of the Tabernacle and the Temple. The prayer services, the singing of psalms, the lighting of the menorah, and the burning of incense all occurred in conjunction with the continual offering. The two lambs of the continual burnt offering, offered at the set times of sacrifice, created the structure upon which the rest of the Temple services hung. To this day, the Jewish times of prayer correspond to the hours at which the continual burnt offering used to be made.  The same times of daily prayers Act_3:1  Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. 

The continual burnt offering commemorated the offering made during the Exodus 24 covenant ceremony at Mount Sinai.  It remained continually upon the altar as a permanent token of the covenant.  Its blood, splashed daily against the altar, provided a constant reminder of the “blood of the covenant” that Moses applied to the altar and to the people at Mount Sinai (Ex 24:7).  John the Immerser alluded to the continual burnt offering when he identified Yahshua as “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29). 

Priests of a Different Kind:  What's the difference between the priests in the Bible and Christian priests / pastors? More than you might think. They aren't even related.

Not long after separating from Judaism, Christianity (Catholicism) developed a clerical class responsible for shepherding the people, officiating at services and conducting the sacraments. The clerical class of presbyters came to be called priests. However, the various priesthoods of Christendom are different from the priesthood of the Bible. The biblical priesthood is unrelated to the priesthood (pastors) that operates within Christianity.  In the interest of managing the article size, I will leave the point there.  You can study in your bible who can be a priests and their duties.

Aaron, the high priest, received a special anointing, as Torah says, “Then you shall take the anointing oil and pour it on his head and anoint him” (Exodus 29:7). The Torah refers to the high priest as haKohen haMashiach, (הכהן המשיח), that is, “the anointed priest,” or to put it a different way, “the messiah priest.” Messiah means “anointed one.”

The Bible makes reference to three offices that received a symbolic anointing with oil: the priests, the prophets, and the kings. Yahshua functions in all three. He is the prophet, the priest, and the king. In His first coming, He ministered as a prophet. After His resurrection, He ascended to His priesthood of the order of Melchizedek. When He returns, He will rule from Jerusalem as King. 

A golden plate on the high priest’s turban said, “Holy to YHWH.” The high priest, therefore, carried the name of God and acted in the authority of that name. The words “Holy to YHWH” indicated God’s exclusive proprietorship over him.  As the Messiah entered into His spiritual role of priesthood after His resurrection, He received the name above every name, as Scripture says, “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:9).

The sins of the children of Israel ritually and spiritually defiled the Sanctuary and all its furnishings. The high priest ministered before God, in the name and authority of God, removing the iniquity of Israel from God’s presence within the Sanctuary.  Aaron and the high priests after him accomplished this through means of the daily sacrificial service and the annual purification ceremonies of Yom Kippur. 

In a similar manner, Yahshua ministers on our behalf.  In the name and authority of His Father, He intercedes on our behalf, removing our iniquity from before God, not in the earthly Sanctuary; but in the heavenly Sanctuary. This is the priesthood of Messiah:

Messiah Yahshua is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. (Romans 8:34).  Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25).  Does this mean that Yahshua has replaced the Aaronic priesthood?  Certainly not.  As the writer of the book of Hebrews says, “Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Torah; who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things” (Hebrews 8:4–5). 

Prophetic section.  A Vision of Hope.

"So the altar shall be four cubits; and from the altar and upward shall be four horns."  (Ezekiel 43:15).   Today's prophetic portion falls in the midst of a longer section that discusses the building of the Third Temple.  Today's portion from the Book of Ezekiel begins with God's instruction to describe the coming Temple to the children of Israel who are exiled in Babylon.  The reason for this is not to build anticipation or excitement; but rather to give them hope after expressing shame for the sins that caused the First Temple to be destroyed and the people to go into exile.  God tells Ezekiel that only when the people are embarrassed because of their sins, then He could show them the plan of His House, which reflects His holiness.  There, only 14 years into the Babylonian exile, which lasted about seventy years, the people received a message of hope and comfort “the priests are to present your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings on the altar.  Then I will accept you, declares the Sovereign LORD.”  (Ezekiel 43:27). 

At that point in their exile, they must have thought themselves totally rejected by God, but God reaches into their darkness to show them a vision of eternal redemption.  Israel obviously did repent because the book of Ezekiel goes on to describe the Third Temple in great detail and the coming of the Messiah in the final eight chapters.  God loves Israel, and this timely message of repentance reveals that no matter what predicament God's people find themselves in, they can play a role in God's present and future plans by turning from their sin.  You may have noticed the bible is about Israel, God’s people.  From before their birth, to their final redemption.  You can be part of God’s “my people”.  May each of us put on the garments and actions of holiness and serve Him with all of our strength. 

Similarity with the dedication of Aaron and sons in Exodus 29.  Eze 43:25  Seven days shalt thou prepare every day a goat for a sin offering: they shall also prepare a young bullock, and a ram out of the flock, without blemish.

Eze 43:26  Seven days shall they purge the altar and purify it; and they shall consecrate themselves.

Eze 43:27  And when these days are expired, it shall be, that upon the eighth day, and so forward, the priests shall make your burnt offerings upon the altar, and your peace offerings; and I will accept you, saith the Lord GOD.

1 Peter 2:1-25 notesRemember the specific character of God and His instructions?  1Pe 2:1  Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 1Pe 2:2  As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: [in other words, the truth not the traditions]. 

1Pe 2:5  Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.  [Not of animal sacrifices; but of servitude in sincerity and truth.  One may be sincere; but not serving in truth!]

1Pe 2:6  Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture (Old Test.. read by Israel), Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 1Pe 2:7  Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,

1Pe 2:9  But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: [out of sin and disobedience to light of obedience]. 1Pe 2:10  Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

1Pe 2:11  Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims*, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 1Pe 2:12  Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. [*Sometimes we think, through inherited teachings, the new testament epistles are to non Israelites; but this letter should show they were to scattered Israelites (1Pe 1:1  Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,) Obviously “among the gentiles” also shows he was writing to Jews.  In short, the advice of Peter was to prevent God’s name being defamed through the actions of the people as seen through the eyes of the gentile nations in which they lived).

Shalom and happy studies.

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