“Adonai said to Moshe, ‘When you take a census of the people of Isra’el and register them, each upon registration, is to pay a ransom for his life to Adonai, to avoid any breakout of plague among them during the time of census’” (Exodus 30:11-12).
This is the first census taken since the children of Isra’el left Egypt two years earlier. This census, which included not only the original Hebrews, but also the Egyptians who left with them, counted all males over 20 years of age. Each man had to pay ½ shekel based on the sanctuary standard when they registered as a citizen of Isra’el. It was considered atonement money and served as a reminder to the Israelites that Adonai atones for their lives. The money collected was used for service in the Mishkan.
“You are to make a basin of bronze, with a base of bronze, for washing” (Exodus 30:17).
The Bronze Laver, filled with water, was put between the entrance to the Holy Place and the Altar of Sacrifice. Part of being ‘Kadosh l’Adonai’ included physical cleanliness (Psalm 24:4). Before administering a burnt offering, the priests were to wash their hands and feet. After offering an animal sacrifice, their hands and feet would become stained with blood so they washed again before entering the Holy Place.
“So he [Yeshua] rose from the table, removed his outer garments and wrapped a towel around his waist. Then he poured some water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples and wipe them off with the towel wrapped around him” (John 13:4-5).
“Take the best spices – 500 shekels of myrrh, half this amount (250 shekels) of aromatic cinnamon, 250 shekels of aromatic cane, 500 shekels of cassia (use the sanctuary standard) and one gallon of olive oil – and make them into a holy anointing oil” (Exodus 30:22-25).
These spices were blended like a perfume into an anointing oil and were not to be used on an individual’s body, though Aaron and his sons were anointed with this oil as part of their consecration. If anyone used the oil improperly, they would be cut off from Isra’el. The oil was used to anoint the Mishkan, the Ark of the Covenant, the Table of Presence and all its utensils, the Altar of Incense, the Altar of Sacrifice and its utensils, and the Bronze Laver. After being anointed, the objects would become holy and whoever touched them would become holy.
The anointing oil was to be used throughout all the generations of Isra’el, but not replicated. The quantities given were enormous –– to last throughout all the generations of Isra’el would take a miracle of Elohim. This oil no longer exists and, according to the command, it was not to be replicated; therefore, nothing being created for the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem will be ‘Kadosh l’Adonai.’
“Take aromatic plant substances – balsam resin, sweet onycha root and bitter galbanum gum – along with frankincense all in equal quantities” (Exodus 30:34-35).
These plant oils were also blended as a perfume and salted. Some were finely ground and put in front of the Ark of the Covenant. This holy incense was not to be duplicated as it was also ‘Kadosh l’Adonai.’
The Chosen Craftsmen
B’tzal’el from the Tribe of Judah was chosen by Adonai as the lead craftsman. Adonai filled him with wisdom, understanding, and knowledge concerning every kind of artistry. He was a master of design in gold, silver, bronze, cutting precious stones, woodcarving, and every other craft.
Betzal’el has the Hebrew root of tzalem which means ‘image’ and el which means ‘God.’ Betzal’el means in ‘the image of Elohim.’ As the one given the Ruach haKodesh in order to make the dwelling place of Elohim, he is an allusion to the coming mediator between Elohim and mankind, Yeshua.
Elohim gave Betzal’el a helper named Oholi’av from the Tribe of Dan. Oholi in Hebrew means ‘tent’ and av means ‘father.’ Oholi’av means ‘tent of the father.’ The ‘tent of the father’ (Tabernacle) is the helper of Isra’el to see the ‘image of Elohim.’
Hebrew Word Pictures
Betzalel or B’tzal’el – צלם – tzade, lamed, mem
– pull toward and urge forward the mighty
Oholiab or Oholi’av – אהליאב – alef, hey, lamed, yod, alef, bet
– first strength revealed, urging forward the finished work of the first house
All the craftsmen who worked with Betzal’el and Oholi’av were given wisdom to make the Altars, the Laver, the Table, the utensils, the incense, the anointing oil, and the garments for the priesthood. Specifically, they were called to make the Menorah HaTahor or the ‘Pure Menorah.’ Though some translations call it the ‘golden Menorah,’ the original Hebrew uses ‘pure’ as it was the only object Adonai actually showed Moshe on the mountain. Its purity is unique from the golden articles made for the rest of the Tabernacle.
Sabbath – Shabbat
“You are to observe my Shabbats: for this is a sign between me and you through all your generations; so that you will know that I am Adonai, who sets you apart for me. Therefore you are to keep my Shabbat, because it is set apart for you. Everyone who treats it as ordinary must be put to death; whoever does any work on it is to be cut off from his people. It is a sign between me and the people of Isra’el forever, for in six days God made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day he stopped working and rested” (Exodus 31:12-13, 16-17).
Once again, Adonai reminds His people about His Shabbat and its observance. His people are to follow His example by working six days and completely resting on the seventh. It is to be a day set-apart from the other six days. They are to rest, not work, or they will be cut off from their people. It is to be observed throughout their generations, forever. The importance of the Shabbat cannot be emphasized enough by Adonai. It becomes not only a ‘remember’ commandment, but now it is a ‘sign’ between Him and the people of Isra’el, forever.
“When he had finished speaking with Moshe on Mount Sinai, Adonai gave him the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18).
Not only were the Ten Commandments written on the tablets of stone by the finger of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh, every command that is part of the testimony was written by Adonai. From the Ten Commandments to the orders for the Tabernacle, to the garments for the priests, to the prescribed ways for anointing, to counting the people, and the regulations for Shabbat, everything was written by Adonai.
Signs, Signs, Signs
‘Signs’ have a significant purpose in Elohim’s creation, calendar, covenants and Kingdom. Adonai created the sun, moon, and stars as ‘signs’ to mark the days, months, and seasons for His ‘appointed times’ (Genesis 1:14). Adonai placed a rainbow in the sky as a ‘sign’ that He would never destroy the earth by water again. When He saw the ‘sign,’ He would be reminded of his covenant with Noach (Genesis 9:16). Circumcision was a ‘sign’ of the covenant El Shaddai made with Abraham (Genesis 17:10-11). The blood on the doorposts in Egypt was a ‘sign’ for the Destroyer to pass over that house leaving the firstborn of Isra’el alive (Exodus 12:23). The ‘sign’ of Messiah is that a virgin would give birth to a son and name him Immanu’el (Isaiah 7:14). The ‘sign’ for the shepherds was a baby wrapped in cloths and laying in a manger (Luke 2:12). Had they gone to any other baby born that night, they would not have seen Yeshua. Living in Isra’el with one’s children is a ‘sign’ and symbol that Adonai dwells on Mount Tziyon (Isaiah 8:18). Yeshua gave the ‘sign’ of Jonah for being in the grave three days and three nights (Matthew 12:40). He gave ‘signs’ for the ‘end of the age’ in Matthew 24. A woman’s head covering is a ‘sign’ of authority to pray and prophesy (1 Corinthians 11:2-10). The ‘sign’ of the Son of Man will appear in the heavens and all those who pierced him will mourn (Zechariah 12:10).
Shabbat is also a ‘sign’ a sign between Adonai and His people. It’s the evidence between those who love Him, serve Him, and obey Him have join themselves to Adonai (Ezekiel 20:12, 19-20).
“And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant—these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations” (Isaiah 56:6-7).
The Sin of the Calf
“Get busy; and make us gods to go ahead of us; because this Moshe, the man that brought us up from the land of Egypt – we don’t know what has become of him” (Exodus 32:1).
Moshe’s meeting with Adonai on the mountain took a long time and the Israelites grew weary of waiting for him. They weren’t even sure he would return. They go to Aaron and demand he make gods for them. In spite of all that Aaron had experienced and watched Adonai perform for Isra’el in Egypt, he relents to their pleas. He tells them to strip off their gold earrings and bring them to him.
He melts everything down and shapes it into a het ha’eggel or calf. In Egypt, Apis was the calf deity considered the intercessor between the Egyptians and an all-powerful god. Since Moshe wasn’t there to be their intercessor, they reverted back to the worship of a god they had recently seen destroyed in Egypt. They went even further and claimed the golden calf was the god who brought them up out of Egypt (Exodus 32:4). Seeing the calf and hearing the people claim allegiance to the calf, Aaron built an altar in front of it and proclaimed, “Tomorrow is to be a feast for Adonai” (Exodus 32:5).
The word ‘feast’ in this passage is not mo’ed, but chag meaning ‘holiday.’ As Adonai’s mo’edim had not yet been given to Isra’el, they created their own holiday, mixing the profane calf with the worship of the ‘I Am,’ also known as ’The Sin of the Calf.’
Syncretism is when two religions merge together. This happens when one group of religious people (or person) assimilates so deeply with another religious system, the religions blend together until neither recognizes their own religion because it has been defiled or perverted. This is what the ’Sin of the Calf’ symbolizes, not only because it is referred to as the god that brought the Israelites out of Egypt, but because it was merged into the worship of Elohim.
When we read the account of the golden calf or watch the debauchery around the golden calf in a movie like The Ten Commandments, we probably wonder how they could do such a thing. They had just been delivered from Egypt through the Red Sea, fed manna, drank living water from the ‘rock,’ and watched their enemies be defeated. They had heard the voice of Adonai from the mountain and watched Him descend in fire and smoke. Yet, they turn their back on their intercessor, choose a man who is more favorable to their present whims, and begin to worship a familiar spirit in a way they believe honors Elohim.
Syncretism is what Constantine advanced in 300 CE when he blended the Roman Saturnalia with the birth of Yeshua, the Greek mythology of Ishtar and Tammuz with the resurrection of Messiah, and the Egyptian Venerable day of the Sun-god with the Biblical Sabbath. Each of these holidays have a golden-calf root that has been dedicated to Elohim. It is syncretism: Egypt, Greece, and Rome merging with the worship of Adonai that birthed a religious system that is known today as Christianity.
Early the next morning, the Israelites get up, make burnt offerings, and present peace offerings to the calf. Then, they sit down to eat and drink. They indulge in sexually immoral activities. Only a little research into the roots of church holidays, one will find that sexual immorality is central to each one. Many will justify these holidays by claiming “that’s not why I celebrate them.” The Israelites would have made the same claim. Their man-made holiday with its golden calf was right in their own eyes, but they took no time to consider what is holy, pure and right in the eyes of Adonai.
The Anger of Adonai
“Adonai says to Moshe, ‘Go down! Hurry! Your people, whom you brought up form the land of Egypt, have become corrupt! So quickly they have turned aside from the way I ordered them to follow! They have cast a metal statue of a calf, worshiped it, sacrificed to it and said, “Isra’el! Here is your god who brought you up from the land of Egypt!” I have been watching these people; and you can see how stiff-necked they are. Now leave me alone so that my anger can blaze against them, and I can put an end to them! I will make a great nation out of you instead!’” (Exodus 32:7-10)
Just like in the Garden of Eden, nothing escapes the eyes of Adonai. He watches His people and sees they are stiff-necked. The neck is considered the pathway from the head to the heart and being ‘stiff-necked’ implies that a person is incapable of moving his head to listen to their guides. Being stiff-necked toward the commands of Adonai brings chaos and destroys His revelation.
Hebrew Word Pictures
Stiff-necked is three Hebrew words or am k’she oref – עם–פשה–ערף
ayin, mem – peh,shin, hey – ayin, resh peh
– understand chaos – the mouth consumes revealed –
understand the highest authority and source
Adonai is so angry with the behavior of the Israelites that He wants to destroy them and start over with Moshe. Moshe pleads with Adonai to relent from His anger; for if He destroys the people He delivered from Egypt, the Egyptians will consider His intentions evil. Moshe reminds Him of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob –– to make their descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and to give them the Promised Land. Adonai relents with Moshe’s intercession and changes His mind about destroying His chosen people (Exodus 32:11-14).
Why do we think that Elohim who is the same, yesterday, and forever doesn’t get angry with our syncretism and assimilation with other gods? Isn’t He still a jealous Elohim? Doesn’t He desire pure worship from those He has delivered from sin and death at the cost of His own Son?
“Rather you are to demolish their altars, smash their standing stones and cut down their sacred poles; because you are not to bow down to any other god; since Adonai – whose very name is Jealous – is a jealous God” (Exodus 34:13-14).
Moshe goes down the mountain with the “two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets inscribed on both sides, on the front and on the back. The tablets were the work of God; and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets” (Exodus 32:15-16).
The Faithfulness of Levi
Joshua waited faithfully for Moshe’s return and is rewarded when Moshe takes him to the Tent of Meeting outside the camp. Joshua is allowed inside the Tent of Meeting with Moshe and never leaves (Exodus 33:11). Joshua’s faith is strengthened through his personal encounters with Adonai. When he enters the land of the giants, he knows faith in Adonai is all he needs; and his faith allows him to become one of only two people who left Egypt to enter the Promised Land.
Joshua and Moshe hear noise in the camp and Joshua thinks it is the “sound of war” while Moshe says it’s singing. Why do two men hearing the same noise of the same crowd perceive two different sounds?
Isra’el has already faced war and perhaps to Joshua the sound is reminiscent to a war cry. Perhaps his ears are being fine-tuned to recognize the cry of war as he eventually becomes the warrior leader who takes Isra’el into the Promised Land.
Moshe hears singing. The Hebrew word for ‘singing’ in this verse is ana and means ‘answer, testify, afflict, oppress or humble.’ It can even mean ‘sing’ in the sense of the earth and heaven responding to each other.
Both men perceive there is a war happening in the camp. Joshua hears the sound of a physical war; Moshe hears the sound of spiritual war. He hears the battle between the ‘god of this world’ enticing the people into idolatry and he hears Adonai in the heavens responding back with the command to judge the people. To Moshe, this noise sounds like singing.
When Moshe arrives at the camp and sees what is happening, he throws down the stone tablets and they shatter at the base of the mountain. He seizes the golden calf, melts it in the fire, grounds it to powder, and scatters it on the water. He makes the Israelites drink the polluted water.
“What did these people do to you to make you lead them into such a terrible sin?” (Exodus 32:21)
Moshe asks Aaron an excellent question. He has been Moshe’s right hand man and spokesman in front of Pharaoh. He has witnessed the judgments against the gods of Egypt. He has walked on dry ground through the Red Sea. What would make this man chosen by Adonai cave to the whims of the people?
Aaron takes no responsibility for his actions; his justifications for the sin are weak. He tells Moshe not to be angry and then blames the people and their determination to do evil. He rationalizes that because Moshe had been gone so long on the mountain, they could make a god so he collected all their gold. His story becomes completely preposterous when he claims that the calf just popped out of the fire (Exodus 32:22-24).
I can almost hear Moshe’s thoughts: “Really Aaron? I shouldn’t be angry? Adonai was angry and I interceded because I didn’t want Him to destroy these people and you with them! Really Aaron? Because the people are so faithless and bent on evil, you not only joined them, but helped them? Really Aaron? You threw some gold into a fire and a calf just miraculously appeared? Really Aaron? Did I just spend 40 days and nights on the mountain with Adonai while He wrote with His own hand His instructions for creating His holy nation? Yes, Aaron, the people are out of control and because of you, our enemies will ridicule us.”
Moshe stood at the entrance to the camp and shouted, “Whoever is for Adonai come to me!” (Exodus 32:26)
All of the descendants of Levi, Moshe’s own tribal family members, assembled around him. With righteous judgment, Moshe commanded them, “Each of you, put his sword on his side and go up and down the camp from gate to gate; and every man is to kill his own family members, his own friends and his own neighbor!” (Exodus 32:27)
The Levites did as Moshe ordered them and three thousand people died. Because they went against their own sons and families, the Levites were set-apart for Adonai. Their willingness to do what Moshe commanded brought an eternal blessing on the Tribe of Levi.
Judgment: Books and Plagues
“The next day Moshe said to the people, ‘You have committed a terrible sin. Now I will go up to Adonai; maybe I will be able to atone for your sin’” (Exodus 32:30).
Moshe interceded for a nation of people while on the mountain and returns to the same mountain to atone for their sins. He is so serious about atoning for the sins of Isra’el that he is willing to lose his own favor with Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh. He begs Him to “blot me out of your book which you have written” if you cannot forgive them. Adonai responds, “Those who have sinned against me are the ones I will blot out of my book” (Exodus 32:33).
Moshe asks for his name to be ‘blotted out’ of ‘the book.’ His request implies that names can be blotted out. There are several references in Scripture of names being blotted out or not even inscribed in ‘books.’ The most descriptive verses are found in Daniel and Revelation. Daniel details a scene in a courtroom where there are thrones, and the Ancient One takes his seat. The description of the Ancient One’s clothing and hair are the glorified Yeshua. Millions upon millions of people stand before his Throne as books are opened.
“As I watched, thrones were set in place; and the Ancient One took his seat. His clothing was white as snow, the hair on his head was like pure wool. His throne was fiery flames, with wheels of burning fire. A stream of fire flowed from his presence; thousands and thousands ministered to him, millions and millions stood before him. Then the court was convened, and the books were opened” (Daniel 7:9-10).
According to John, at the last judgment of the Great White Throne, books will be opened that have recorded what everyone has done in their life. The dead from the sea and the grave will be judged by what is written in these books. There is also the Book of Life. Those whose names are written in this Book will not experience the second death in the lake of fire.
“Next I saw a great white throne and the One sitting on it. Earth and heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, both great and small, standing in front of the throne. Books were opened; and another book was opened, the Book of Life; and the dead were judged from what was written in the books, according to what they had done. The sea gave up the dead in it; and Death and Sh’ol gave up the dead in them; and they were judged, each according to what he had done. Then Death and Sh’ol were hurled into the lake of fire. This is the second death — the lake of fire. Anyone whose name was not found written in the Book of Life was hurled into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-15).
Adonai took action against the Israelites and struck them with a plague. There is nothing specific written about the plague except that the people were afflicted. Yeshua will vomit out of his mouth those who mix the holy and the profane, so it seems possible drinking water contaminated with the ashes from the golden cafe made the people vomit (Revelation 3:16). They had become lukewarm and the living water, the precious commodity that came from the ‘Rock,’ was mixed with the profanity of their sin. Moshe made the Israelites ingest the contaminated water so they would physically understand how their sin affected Adonai. He used the plague to make them understand the gold from Egypt was not to be used for casting idols, but for making Adonai’s dwelling place –– the Tabernacle.
The Short Journey Begins
Adonai tells Moshe to begin the Israelites’ journey toward the Promised Land. He promises to send His angel in front of them to drive out their enemies, but He Himself will not go with them. Their stiff-necked ways may make Him want to destroy them so He must keep His distance for their own protection. When the people hear this, they mourn the loss of Adonai’s presence and remove their adah or ‘ornaments.’
When Adonai came to speak with them at the base of Mount Sinai, they wanted Him to remain at a distance and speak through Moshe. Now that they have sinned against Him and He remains distant, they mourn because they desire His presence. When Adonai tells them to remove their ornaments, they obey Him for the first time showing a sincere desire to turn back to Him, to repent of their sin.
Adah or Ornaments
There are several different references to adah or ‘ornaments’ in Scripture. Ornaments are the earrings and foreign gods in Jacob’s house (Genesis 35:1-4). Ornaments are part of the plundered gold jewelry –– brooches, earrings, rings, and ornaments (Exodus 35). In Judges 8:21, crescent ornaments hung around the camels’ necks of Zebah and Zalmunna implying these Arabian ornaments depicted the moon god, Allah. The prophet Isaiah speaks of the ornaments that dangle from the ankles of the women of Tziyon who strut along haughty and flirty (Isaiah 3:16). These ornaments all involve idolatry.
The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah also describe ornaments, not as idols, but as bridal accessories.
“Lift up your eyes and look around; all your children gather and come to you. As surely as I live,” declares the Lord, “you will wear them all as ornaments; you will put them on, like a bride” (Isaiah 49:18).
“Does a young woman forget her jewelry, a bride her wedding ornaments? Yet my people have forgotten me, days without number” (Jeremiah 2:32)).
Perhaps Adonai says, “Keep the ornaments off for a while” for reasons other than mourning their idolatries (Exodus 33:5). Perhaps He wants the Israelites keep their ornaments off because He is reconsidering them as His wife. They had gone whoring after other gods which defiled His marriage covenant before He even gave it to them. Until He could decide their fate, they were not worthy of being His wife and adorning themselves with bridal ornaments.
Panim el Panim – Face to Face
“Adonai would speak to Moshe face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33:11).
“I no longer call you slaves, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is about; but I have called you friends, because everything I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).
The Tent of Meeting was pitched outside the Israelite camp. In fact, it was ‘far away’ from the camp. If anyone wanted to consult with Adonai, they had to go a long distance from the camp. Whenever Moshe would head out to the Tent of Meeting to meet with Adonai, every man would stand at his tent door and watch until he had gone into the Tent of Meeting. After he entered the Tent of Meeting, the column of cloud would descend and station itself at the entrance. When the people saw the column of cloud, they would prostrate themselves at their tent doors.
Some of the first Hebrew words I remember hearing were panim el panim or ‘face to face.’ This is how Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh would speak with Moshe, as a man speaks to his friend. In the Tent of Meeting, Adonai was able reveal Himself as the One who would become salvation for all the world.
An interesting aspect of ‘face’ or panim is that it is in the plural suggesting that a man, and even Adonai, have many ‘faces’ or ‘facial expressions.’ A person can have a downcast face or a face of delight. He can have a lifted countenance and smile or a red face of anger. He can have a furrowed brow of disgust or confusion. Through facial expressions Moshe and Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh communicated panim el panim.
“You have said, ‘I know you by name,’ and ‘You have found favor in my sight.’ Now, please if it is really the case that I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways; so that I will understand you and continue finding favor in your sight. Moreover, keep on seeing this nation as your people” (Exodus 33:13).
“Set your mind at rest – my presence will go with you after all” (Exodus 33:14).
It is important the presence of Adonai go with Isra’el as they travel. It is a sign to the nations that they have found favor in the sight of ‘I Am.’ Moshe points out that it is the presence of Adonai that distinguishes Isra’el from all other nations on the earth.
“Yes, many peoples and powerful nations will come to consult Adonai-Tzva’ot in Yerushalayim and to ask Adonai’s favor. Adonai-Tzva’ot says, ‘When that time comes, ten men will take hold — speaking all the languages of the nations — will grab hold of the cloak [tzizit] of a Jew and say, ‘We want to go with you, because we have heard that God is with you”’” (Zechariah 8:22-23).
During the Millennial Kingdom, the favor of Adonai will continue to be on the nation of Isra’el and the Jewish people who have been His chosen people for millennia. Many god-fearers in the nations will want to join with Isra’el so they can know the favor of Adonai. It will be like the years of Isra’el wandering in the wilderness when all nations around them knew and understood the grace of Elohim was with them, only it will be the entire world.
“I beg you to show me your glory!”
“I will cause all my goodness to pass before you, and in your presence I will pronounce the name yod-hey-vav-hey. Moreover I show favor to whomever I will, and I display mercy to whomever I will. But my face you cannot see, because a human being cannot look at me and remain alive. Here, is a place near me; stand on the rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you inside a crevice in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand, and you will see my back, but my face is not to be seen” (Exodus 33:19-23).
Moshe stood on holy ground at the burning bush in the presence of Adonai and heard Him speak His memorial name Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh. Moshe is the only one who heard it and knew it. Now Moshe is going to be allowed to see the Shekinah and again hear the memorial name pronounced.
Moshe is told to hide in a crevice of a rock for protection. Adonai is going to cover him with His hand until He passes by. He will then remove His hand and Moshe will only see His back. Being covered by the hand of Adonai alludes to Yeshua who is the ‘right hand of salvation’ that Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh uses to save His people (Psalm 60:7, 108:7). Being covered by Adonai’s hand implies Moshe was protected by Yeshua.
Selah is the modern-day Petra and known for being a formidable rock fortress. It is located next to the Wadi Musa which means ‘Valley of Moses’ and is the traditional place for where Moshe struck the ‘Rock’. Petra is full of crevices and seeing photos to the entrance of Petra, it would seem that a crevice the size found in Petra would be perfect to protect Moshe from seeing the face of Adonai and dying.
“For it is the God who once said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness, ’who has made his light shine in our hearts, the light of the knowledge of God’s glory shining in the face of the Messiah Yeshua”
(2 Corinthians 4:6).
Moshe speaks to Adonai face to face, yet is not allowed to see His face.
The Marriage Covenant with Isra’el
Adonai tells Moshe to cut two more tablets of stone like the first ones. He would inscribe the same words on the tablets as the first ones. I was taught that Adonai only wrote the first tablets. How the second tablets were written remained a mystery (maybe Moshe took notes) becoming another way of keeping believers from realizing the significance of the tablets of stone. The truth, found in Exodus 34:1, says that Adonai also wrote the second tablets.
Moshe did as he was told and goes up the mountain a third time. Adonai descends in a cloud and stands with him. Adonai proclaims His name in Moshe’s presence along with His eternal character.
“Adonai passed before him and proclaimed: ‘YOD-HEH-VAV-HEH!!! yod-hey-vav-hey is God, merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in grace and truth; showing grace to the thousandth generation, forgiving offenses, crimes and sins; yet not exonerating the guilty, but causing the negative effects of the parents’ offenses to be experienced by their children and grandchildren, and even by the third and fourth generations’” (Exodus 34:5-7).
He humbles himself before Adonai by bowing his head to the ground and prostrating himself. He asks Adonai to go with the Israelites even though they are stiff-necked and continue to sin. Moshe still wants them to be Adonai’s treasured possession.
“Here, I am making a covenant; in front of all your people I will do wonders such have not been created anywhere on earth or in any nation. All the people around you will see the work of Adonai. What I am going to do through you will be awesome. Observe what I Am ordering you today” (Exodus 34:10-11).
With the second set of stone tablets, Adonai, the great and compassionate Elohim, who shows grace to generations, forgives sins, and allows the consequences of guilt to be experienced by the progeny to the third generation makes a covenant with Isra’el through Moshe. This covenant will be witnessed through ‘signs and wonders’ that Adonai will perform for the nation of Isra’el, wonders which “have not been created anywhere on earth or in any nation.” Isra’el’s response to the covenant must be to observe whatever He orders them to do.
“Adonai [yod-hey-vav-hey] – whose very name is Jealous – is a jealous God” (Exodus 34:14).
Adonai will drive out the enemies of Isra’el before them. The Israelites are not to make any covenants with the people in the lands where they are going so they won’t be ensnared with their gods and go astray within their own borders. They are to demolish the altars of the foreign gods, smash all standing stones, and cut down sacred poles in order to remove the temptation to worship other gods. They are not to offer sacrifices to other gods, share in sacrificial meals or give their sons to foreign daughters who will prostitute themselves to their own gods. They are not to cast metal gods.
The modern-day state of Isra’el does not adhere to this part of the covenant. Though the Land of Isra’el is full of archaeological digs that prove the extinction of the Emorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perrizites, Hivites and Jebusites, idolatry abounds because of Isra’el’s acceptance of all religious systems. There is the Baha’i Temple on Mount Carmel, the same place where Elijah stood against the gods of Jezebel. There are the numerous catholic churches protecting Biblical landmarks likes Peter’s house in Capernaum, the supposed place of Yeshua’s crucifixion in the Old City of Jerusalem, and what is believed to be Miryam’s home in Nazareth is controlled by Muslims. There are loudspeakers on every Islamic mosque in the Land of Isra’el that blast the call to Muslim prayer several times a day. The Dome of the Rock sits on what is considered the Temple’s foundation. Adonai is a jealous Elohim and He will eventually destroy all of these high places with their altars, standing stones, and metal statues along with the worship of other gods. He must cleanse His Land of Promise and restore the city of Jerusalem before He is able to live among His people again.
“You are not to boil a young goat in its mother’s milk” (Exodus 34:26).
From this one command, a whole slew of dietary or man-made kasrut regulations have been developed. Kasrut includes kosher certifications and dietary limitations on certain food combinations. From this one verse, kashrut has come to mean that milk and meat should not be cooked together. Thus, a cheeseburger is not kashrut. Subsequently rules for double cooking and eating utensils have evolved –– one set for cooking meat and one for cooking dairy.
Rashi reasoned that the verse did not mean ‘all meat’ and dairy, but only those mammals that produced milk. In other words, chickens do not produce milk, therefore, their meat can be eaten with cheese or dairy products. So, according to Rashi, enjoy your delicious chicken divan!
The verse, however, specifically refers to goats and their kids. On the surface, boiling or cooking a young goat in its mother’s milk seems unnatural and commands a moral sensitivity to the animal. After all, a baby goat gets its life from its mother’s milk so cooking it in that same milk would be cruel and immoral. Deuteronomy 22:6 gives a comparative perspective in regard to baby birds and their mothers, “If you come across a bird’s nest beside the road, either in a tree or on the ground, and the mother is sitting on the young or on the eggs, do not take the mother with the young.” Even Leviticus 22:8 speaks of kindness to animals when it comes to slaughtering them, “Do not slaughter a cow or a sheep and its young on the same day.”
Ugarit was an ancient port city in northern Syria. Ugarit had close ties with the Hittites and the Canaanites. Stone tablets discovered in the early 1900s shed some light on this regulation. First, the word ‘mother’ is not in the Ugarite text. The word ‘cook’ is more likely ‘slaughter’ and refers to a ‘sacrifice’ and not cooking in a kitchen. The actual translated text from the stone says, “Over the fire seven times the sacrificers slaughter a kid in milk.”
Two of the Biblical references about cooking a kid in its mother’s milk are not found with the dietary commands, but with warnings about idolatry and how to worship Adonai. ‘Boiling a kid in milk’ was part of Canaanite sacrificial rituals. This specific regulation was about idolatry, not a reason for developing kashrut. Take a big bite of that cheeseburger and enjoy it –– except in Isra’el where kashrut is the always the kosher way to eat!
The ‘Appointed Times’
In order to keep the Israelites from filling their need for holidays and merging worship of Adonai with the ways of the nations around them, He gives His people prophetic ‘appointed times’ that are detailed in Leviticus 23. These mo’edim will unite them as a nation, set them apart from all other nations, and give them a vision for the coming Seed of deliverance. For each of the major three ‘appointed times,’ Passover with Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits, Feast of Weeks, and Feast of Tabernacles, all Israelite men were to appear before Adonai. Moshe is given specific instructions regarding the sacrifices and offerings for each of the ‘appointed times.’
Regulations for Sacrifices and Pesach or Passover
Blood is not to be offered with leavened bread. Every communion (wine and bread) I have ever done in church had leavened bread unless it was a weird flaky wafer. Because the church fathers removed ‘communion’ from its root of Passover, no one realizes that leavened bread defiles the whole memorial ceremony.
Regulations for Matzah or Unleavened Bread
For seven days during the month of Aviv, unleavened bread is to be eaten because it was in that month that the Israelites were delivered from Egypt. Aviv is a reference to an ear of corn or newly ripened grain. The first month of the Biblical year begins in the spring with Aviv.
Regulations for HaBikkurim or Firstfruits
The firstfruits of the womb belong to Adonai. The firstfruits of livestock, cattle and flocks, all males belong to Him. Each is redeemed with a lamb. On the fifteenth day of Aviv, the barley harvest would begin by gathering a sheaf of grain. The Israelites were to bring the best firstfruits, the best sheaf of grain, from the land into the House of Adonai.
Regulations for Shabbat or Sabbath
The Israelites were to work six days, but rest on the seventh, even during the plowing and harvest seasons. Living in an agricultural area, I have learned that planting seeds and harvesting crops has only a small window of time to be accomplished. Even so, Adonai commands His people to cease their work on Shabbat during these specific times. They are no longer slaves and are not to work seven days a week.
Regulations for Shavuot or Feast of Weeks
This is the first time this ‘appointed time’ is mentioned. It is a time of celebrating the first-gathered sheaves of the wheat harvest after the barley harvest has been completed.
Regulations for Sukkot or Festival of Ingathering
This ‘appointed time’ is to be celebrated at the end of the year after the harvest or ingathering has been completed.
A ketubah is a written marriage contract similar to the marriage vows two people make to one another, only these vows are legally binding. The husband and wife have individual responsibilities in the marriage covenant that are outlined in the ketubah. One ketubah that I found listed hundreds of responsibilities for the wife while the husband was only required to provide shoes for the children. Though it seems one-sided, putting shoes on a child meant that the father worked hard providing every need for his family –– even to covering his children’s feet!
On the mountain, Adonai presents His marriage ketubah to Isra’el in the form of His commandments. He writes out His part of the ketubah called Torah on tablets of stone. Moshe is also commanded to write down the terms for His Wife, Isra’el (Jeremiah 31:32). When Isra’el said, “Everything Adonai says we will do,” the ketubah legally went into effect.
Moshe came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the marriage covenant, the ketubah. He didn’t realize his face glowed from being in the presence of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh. The Israelites, including Aaron, were afraid to approach him until he called to them. From that day forward, whenever Moshe spoke with the people, he would put a veil over his face, but in the presence of Adonai in the Tent of Meeting, he would remove it.
Yeshua and Sardis
Yeshua reveals himself to Sardis as the one who “has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars.” The seven stars are the seven angels watching over the congregations and with these words he proves that he is the one sending the message. The sevenfold Ruach Elohim is “the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and power, the Spirit of knowledge and fearing Adonai – he will be inspired by fearing Adonai” (Isaiah 11:1-2).
Sardis was an important city of the Persian Empire, modern-day Iraq. It had a strong military presence and was on the major highway leading from the interior of the Aegean coast to the fertile plains of Mesopotamia.
The congregation in Sardis has a reputation of being alive, but is really dead. Yeshua tells them to strengthen what little they still have or it will die too. The Ruach haKodesh is what gives life to a believer and it seems they are missing it (John 6:63).
Yeshua emphatically tells Sardis to “Wake Up!” The believers in Sardis are sleep-walking and unaware of their complacency. If they don’t wake up, Yeshua will come like a thief and they will miss the moment.
“Therefore keep watch because you do not know the day or the hour” (Matthew 25:13).
In Matthew 25 Yeshua tells the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids. The bridegroom takes a long time to arrive and they all fall asleep. Only five of them, when they hear the voice of the bridegroom, have oil in their lamps and go with him into the wedding banquet. The other five who are not ready are left outside when the bridegroom shuts the door. Oil in this parable is symbolic of the Ruach haKodesh. All ten were bridesmaids, but for the five that did not have the Ruach, Yeshua came like a thief in the night leaving them behind.
The works of the people in Sardis are incomplete in Yeshua’s sight. This implies these believers have the lamp of the Word, but no spiritual activity. They have forgotten what they received and heard and no longer obey the gospel message. The result is spiritual deadness. Yeshua compares their incomplete works to soiled clothing or a spotted wedding gown.
“So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him” (2 Peter 3:14).
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27).
There are some followers of Yeshua in Sardis who have not soiled their bridal gowns. They will walk with him clothed in white because they are worthy of his reward. Those who have victory over complacency will receive white robes. Those in Sardis who have spotted gowns and do not overcome complacency will be blotted out of the Book of Life. Though they had been written in the Book, their names are ‘blotted out’ and they spend eternity outside the gates of the New Jerusalem in the darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth –– the place of greatest regret (Luke 13:28).
Sardis was not a living body in spite of its reputation. It was dead and needed to wake up! The overcomer will stand before the Throne of Adonai on the final Day of Atonement when books are opened to find his name written in the Book of Life. Yeshua will call him by name and introduce him to his Father saying, “Well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21-24).
“I saw no Temple in the city … the gates will will never close, they stay open all day because night will not exist there, and the honor and splendor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure may enter it, nor anyone who does shameful things or lies; the only ones who may enter are those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life” (Revelation 21:22-27).
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