This week’s Parasha, Tetzaveh, is Exodus 27:20-30:10. The passage begins with the Ner Tamid (eternal lamp or flame) that was to burn inside the Mishkan but outside the veil of the Holy of Holies. After that is the description of the clothes and the articles necessary for Aaron, his sons and his lineage throughout the generations to wear as they ministered before the LORD. After this description, Exodus 29:9 states, “And the priesthood shall be theirs by a statute forever. Thus you shall ordain Aaron and his sons.” As a side note, we remember that David was promised that he would always have a male, sitting on his throne (1 Kings 9:5). But, the Levitical priesthood is also a forever promise, in fact it is linked by the prophet with the Davidic promise:
“For thus says Adonai: ‘For David, there will not be cut off a man sitting on the throne of the house of Israel, nor will the Levitical kohanim ever lack a man before Me to offer burnt offering, to burn grain offerings and to make sacrifices continually.’” (Jeremiah 33:17-18)
In other words, as long as there is a Davidic king, there will be an Aaronic priest. How this all works out is beyond current understanding but that does not negate the word of the LORD. The passage in Jeremiah continues:
“And the word of Adonai came to Jeremiah, saying, thus says Adonai: ‘If you can break My covenant with the day and My covenant with the night, so that day and night would not be at in their appointed time, only then may My covenant be broken with My servant David, that he would not have a son to reign on his throne, and the Levitical kohanim would not be My ministers. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea measured, so I will multiply the offspring of David My servant, and the Levites who minister to Me.’” (33:19-22)
The Parasha continues with the process of consecration and sanctification of Aaron and his sons and their lineage forever. The Parasha ends with the description of the use of the Altar of Incense that was also to be placed before the veil of the Holy of Holies. The reason for all of the intricacy and attention to detail is plainly stated by the LORD, “I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God,” (Exodus 29:45).
The Haftarah, Ezekiel 43:10-27, speaks of another, future dwelling place that would once again see the consecration and sanctification of Aaron’s lineage (through the line of Zadok) as well as the consecration and sanctification of the Temple and the Altars. However, the passage begins:
“You, son of man, describe the House to the house of Israel, so they will be ashamed of their iniquities.”
It is almost as if the LORD is reminding Bnei Israel of where they have fallen from and to where they potentially can return. The Ruach echoed this sentiment in speaking to the community at Ephesus:
“I know all about your deeds and your toil and your patient endurance, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. You have tested those who call themselves emissaries and are not, and have found them to be liars. You have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But this I have against you, that you have forsaken your first love. Remember then from where you have fallen. Repent and do the deeds you did at first,” (Revelation 2:2-5a).
Neither Israel’s, nor our own past deeds, however good, can eliminate the discipline or the consequences that may come from continued disobedience. Just as the LORD desired to bless and restore Israel, so is His desire to cause us to dwell in His blessings and grace.
Peter wrote to the elect exiles of the Dispersion (I Peter 1:1), reminding them that they were “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light,” (2:9). To walk in this reality, they had to remain pure and holy, obedient to the Scriptures and the teachings of Messiah Yeshua or like the Ephesians, they stood the chance of having their light removed, (Revelation 2:5b), then they, like Israel in our Haftarah, would “be ashamed of their iniquities.”
The choice is ours, just as the LORD told Israel through Moshe Rabbeinu:
“I call the heavens and the earth to witness about you today, that I have set before you
life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore, choose life so that you
and your descendants may live, by loving Adonai your God,
listening to His voice, and clinging to Him.”