Tetzaveh (You Shall Command)

Torah: Exodus 27:20-30:10 Haftarah: I Samuel 15:1-34 Brit Chadasha: Ephesians 6:11-18

“Blessed are the clean in heart, because they shall see Elohim. Matthew 5:8

The Weight of it all

As we begin this week, we see right out of the gates a command for pure olive oil.

“And you, you are to command the children of Yisra’ĕl to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually. In the Tent of Meeting, outside the veil which is before the Witness, Aharon and his sons are to tend it from evening until morning before יהוה – a law forever to their generations, from the children of Yisra’ĕl. Exodus 27:20

This is a loaded verse and many times I believe we read over verses like this and don’t take the time to stop and really examine them the way we should.  The verse instructs about bringing pure olive oil to put in the menorah, the seven branched candelabrum.  Before we get into the oil; let’s look at something interesting in the text here.  The Scriptures version of the Bible correctly translated the Tabernacle as the Tent of Meeting.  When we read in the tabernacle of the congregation we lose the meaning of what is trying to be portrayed there and just see it as the tabernacle of Moshe.  Tent of Meeting in Hebrew is the ohel moed.  I know we are all familiar with the word moed which means meeting or divine appointment.  The picture the Hebrew gives us here is that Moshe’s tabernacle is way more than just that.  It was THE MEETING PLACE!

“Speak to the children of Yisra’ĕl, and say to them, ‘The appointed times of יהוה, which you are to proclaim as set-apart gatherings, My appointed times, are these: Leviticus 23:2

So it could be said here in this verse concerning the meeting times of Elohim which you are to proclaim as set-apart gatherings, My meeting times are these.  Many times I think that we get caught up in the hustle and bustle and fellowship with one another at the Feasts that often times we may lose track that the Father has set these times aside to specifically meet with us on these specific days. So the ohel moed is in the Mishkan and it is the time and the place where Yah and his people meet, where he met and spoke with Moshe, and where the sacrifices were brought unto Him.  So there is something to these specific meeting times and they always carry a weight of importance.  Next time we have a ‘meeting time’ ordained by the Father why not take a time to pause and see if He wants to ‘meet’ with you and me.  Many times we are so busy talking and doing that I believe we forget to sit down, stop, shut up, and listen to what the Father is saying.  I fail in this area just as much as anyone else.  So again let’s not get so caught up in the festivities of the meeting times that we forget to remember the reason as to why these meetings were set up in the beginning.

Ok so let’s go back to the pure olive oil.  The people of YHVH were to bring it to Him.  This means that they had to process it themselves and it had to be pure.  The word in Hebrew for pure is an interesting word which means removing the impurities by washing or refining to make pure.  We clearly see here that Yah is asking His people to bring Him oil that is clear and free from impurities.  Now is the picture becoming a little clearer?

Olive press

For those of you who don’t know or haven’t really looked at the process of removing the oil from olives, it’s very detailed.  There has to be a crushing of the olives not just once but many times.  I watched a documentary once about this process over in Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel).  There was this huge round stone that was in the shape of a tire and it was connected to a horse.  This stone must have weighed at least three hundred pounds or so and the horse just kept going round and round in circles while the weight of the stone just pulverized the olives.  What began to happen was the liquid began to be separated from the olive itself and was strained into a holding vat.  What was left at the end of this process was pure transparent olive oil and the pulp was discarded because there really wasn’t a use for it.

So the picture that we are given here is even deeper than what we read at face value.  In my opinion we are seeing what Yah wants from us.  He doesn’t want a mixture of pure and profane.

[i] He wants something pure something set apart.  This is why we are commanded to be set apart.

because it has been written, “Be set-apart, for I am set-apart.” 1 Peter 1:16

So what is the picture that we see here?

When you and I mix ourselves with the things of the world or allow the things of the world to get into our pure oil it contaminates the oil.  This renders the oil not fit for our King.  You and I have to make it a continual daily effort to not allow foreign materials into our set apart lives thus profaning the oil.  Yahweh wants His people to be a set apart people because when we are set apart we represent Him to the fullest and we demonstrate His glory in the earth thus bringing honor to our King and Creator of the Universe.

Have you ever tried burning impure oil?  If not, you need to try it sometimes.  It’s hard to light and stay lit and it usually emits a putrid smell and soot that would definitely make the ‘green police thugs’ show up at your house and arrest you for polluting the earth but then you could always just pay a little carbon tax to good ole Al Gore and get off the hook.  Ok sorry I was being sarcastic.  You and I are called to be set apart people and our oil should be pure so that the light will continually burn thus dispelling the darkness everywhere we go.  We shouldn’t run from that big crushing wheel that I was referring to earlier.  I know it is displeasing to our flesh when we are in the olive press but in the end it for the best because after the process what is left is something pure, translucent and fit for use.  So next time trials and tests come your way sit down and take a big deep breath and know that it will be tough and uncomfortable but in the end what is left can be used by the King.  We can’t afford to allow the world to mix into our lives or allow our attitudes to mix in with the pure transparent oil because again it will not be fit for use and the Creator doesn’t like at all a mixture.

Let’s move onto something that I heard mentioned one time in a Torah study a few years back and I thought wow that is super cool so maybe you will find it interesting as well.  Jeff and I have discussed once saved always saved a few times and the verse I’m going to share will help possibly bring some light to the subject.  So in this portion we don’t see the name of Moshe mentioned.  E-sword says the word Moshe appears 765 times in the Older Testament but strangely in this portion it starts out and says and you, you are to command… but never actually uses the name Moshe.  Why?  Well there seems to be a reason for this.  We do find Aaron being mentioned multiple times though.  This portion begins to gives us the ordination of Aaron and his sons as priests that will serve in the Mishkan.  So we can see a shifting of the ministry of Moshe over to Aaron and his sons or it could even be said that the honor is moved over to Aaron now.

Brad Scott has a series called Words Mean Things and this is so true.  I remember just a few portions back the children of Yisrael grumbling and complaining about oh that we would die out here in this wilderness and I can see the Eternal saying oh ok I can organize for that to happen.  Well let’s jump ahead to next week’s portion and see something that Moshe said and see if words mean things.

“And now, if You would forgive their sin, but if not, please blot me out of Your book which You have written.” Exodus 32:32

This is the golden calf incident and Moshe didn’t see how Yah could forgive Yisrael for such a sin as this.  Yah is upset and Moshe probably doesn’t know what to do and so Moshe says something that I believe really reveals his heart.  He asks to be blotted out the book.  Now what in the world is this all about?  The Hebrew word for book is sefer מספרך and at the end of this word is the letter kaf which has the numerical value of twenty.  Well guess what if you count up how many Torah portions that we have read so far you will find that we are in the 20th portion this week and Moshe’s name isn’t mentioned or could possibly be said is blotted out from this portion or out of the sefer or this portion of the Torah scroll.  So I always wondered why Moshe would ask to be blotted out if it weren’t possible.  Maybe he really didn’t even know what he was asking for but was granted his request by Yah in that he didn’t completely get blotted out as in losing his salvation but just blotted out of the 20th Torah reading if you will.

[i] Profane in our culture has a different meaning that what it means in Hebrew.  It means something that is common.  As in don’t profane the name of YHVH i.e. don’t make the things of the Eternal common.