From: Messianic Bible
Sent: Saturday, March 10, 2012 1:33 PM
Torah pointer (yad) and the Hebrew Scriptures
Welcome to this week’s study of the Parsha (Torah Portion).
Today’s portion of Torah, Ki Tisa (When you take), will be read in
synagogues around the world this Shabbat.
The reading of the Torah, in Aish Synagogue, Tel Aviv, Israel
KI TISA (When You Take)
Exodus 30:11 –34:35; 1 Kings 18:1–39; 2 Corinthians 3:1–18
In last two parshiot, Terumah and Tetzaveh, God gave detailed instruction
on how Israel should construct the Mishkan (Sanctuary) in which He would dwell.
This week’s Torah portion begins with the Lord commanding Moses to take a
census of Bnei Yisrael (Sons of Israel).
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “When you take a census of the Israelites to
count them, each one must pay the Lord a ransom for his life at the time he is
counted. Then no plague will come on them when you number them.”
The Hebrew word used for ransom in this verse is koper, which comes from the
root K-P-R, or kaphar, meaning ‘to atone for’ as in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Although for the building of the Mishkan, the Israelites were to give whatever
their hearts dictated (Exodus 25:2), for the census, every person 20 years or
older who was counted was to give a half shekel as a ransom for their soul.
“Each one who crosses over to those already counted is to give a half
shekel.” (Exodus 30:13)
Rich and poor were to give the exact same amount, and it was to be used for the
service of the Tent of Meeting.
“Receive the atonement [kippur] money from the Israelites and use it for the
service of the Tent of Meeting. It will be a memorial for the Israelites
before the Lord, making atonement [kaphar] for your lives.” (Exodus 30:16)
Seeking God at the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem
Creativity and the Shadow of God
“See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah,
and I have filled him with the Spirit of God [Ruach Elohim], with skill,
ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts.” (Exodus 31:2 – 3)
In this parsha, God designates a man named Bezalel (Betzalel), who has a
special calling or anointing, to be in charge of the construction of the Mishkan.
God tells Moses that He has filled Bezalel with His Holy Spirit, wisdom,
understanding and ingenuity for all manner of artistic workmanship so that the
furnishings of the Tabernacle, the priests’ vestments, the anointing oil, and
the incense could be created.
Here in Israel, Bezalel’s name carries such weight that one of the main streets
of downtown Jerusalem is named after him. Also named after Bezalel are
schools of art here in Israel, and Jewish academies around the world.
Bezalel Academy in Israel, with the Dead Sea in background.
Bezalel’s name provides a fascinating clue about his gifting. His name comes
from the combination of three Hebrew words: be (in), tzel (shade), and El
(God), and can be translated ‘in the shadow of God.’
The shade or shadow (tzel) of the Lord is such a secret, special place of refuge.
“I will take refuge in the shadow (tzel) of your wings until the disaster has
passed.” (Psalm 57:1)
Yeshua made reference to this place of refuge when he wept over Jerusalem,
knowing the calamity that was about to befall the city.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, … How often I longed to gather your children
together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not
willing.” (Matthew 23:37)
Mother goose with chick under her wing
The desire to hide our children under the shadow of our wings and keep
them safe from every threat and danger is often associated with a maternal,
Such a connection exists also in Scripture. God’s name, El Shaddai, which
comes from the Hebrew word for a woman’s breast, reveals His maternal
qualities and is used in Psalm 91 in conjunction with the idea of abiding in
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High [Elyon] will rest in the shadow
[tzel] of the Almighty [El
Shaddai].” (Psalm 91:1)
One of God’s creations resting safely in the rocks
of the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem.
Creativity and Worship
It is interesting that this name, Betzalel, which can be translated as “in
God’s shade” was given to the first artisan mentioned in the Bible.
Bezalel reveals that the act of creating can be an act of worship.
Indeed, there is something about creativity and art, the act of creating
itself, that seems so holy and close to God.
Our fast paced, goal-oriented modern society doesn’t place much importance on
creative pursuits, but the Hebrew language reveals that art and crafting are
very closely related to God, who is the ultimate Creator.
Since we are created in God’s image, we are also endowed with creative ability
that is just waiting to be released.
A historical re-enactor serves as a carpenter building furniture using hand
tools at Nazareth Village, a historical re-creation of Nazareth as it would
have been at the time of Messiah (Christ).
The word artist in Hebrew is aman from the Hebrew root aleph, men, and nun,
meaning reliable, faithful, confirmed, have faith, and to be firm.
These three letters are also the root of the word we use at the end of our
prayers–amen–meaning so be it, verily, and truly.
The same three letter Hebrew root word also forms the word emunah which
May this study inspire us to let our creativity flow and no longer consider
creative endeavors ‘non-productive’ and a waste of time.
If we just look at the amazing variety and colors and incredible designs in the
natural world, we can see that God values beauty for its own sake, and enjoys
the process of creating.
Ashkenazi Synagogue of Istanbul, Turkey: this Aron
Kodesh (Holy Ark) is filled with Torah scrolls covered in
colorful, elaborately embroidered Torah mantles (covers).
Building the Tabernacle and the Shabbat
“The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations
to come as a lasting covenant.” (Exodus 31:16)
The work of building the tabernacle was an immensely important task! And yet
in the midst of the instructions to build it, God reminds the Israelites to
keep the Sabbath (Shabbat) – to rest.
As important as any of our works are, even for the Lord, resting on Shabbat
Even the work of God was not permitted to be elevated above the command to
rest on the Sabbath.
It is to be observed as a perpetual covenant, throughout time and generations.
Why is keeping Shabbat so important? Because it’s a special sign between God
and His people.
“It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the
Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and
was refreshed.’” (Exodus 31:17)
Prayer at the Western (Wailing) Wall: Scripture prohibits doing any
form of melakhah on Shabbat. Although melakhah is commonly
translated as ‘work’, a better definition is deliberate activity involving
creativity or exercising control over the environment.
Keeping the Shabbat is a sign that we are in a covenant relationship with the
Almighty God. We are a peculiar people!
While many stay busy seven days a week, the Jewish People are to work only
six days and rest on the seventh, just as the Creator rested on the seventh day.
For this reason most of the convenience stores here in Israel are not open
24/7, but 24/6. Hallelujah!
By honoring Shabbat, we honor God. He will bless us for our obedience and for
putting Him first.
The question remains, however: does this apply to non-Jewish or Gentile
Believers? When it comes to the Shabbat for the foreigners (non-Israelites)
who have joined themselves to the Lord (through the blood of Yeshua the
Messiah), the Word of God is not silent:
“And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to serve Him … 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 … for
My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isaiah 56:6-7)
Replica of the Second Temple
The Golden Calf
“As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what
has happened to him.” (Exodus 32:1)
We now come to the account of the shameful sin of our Israelite ancestors with
the idolatrous golden calf. Throughout our history, the Israelites have shown
their tendency of unfaithfulness towards God.
When the people saw that Moses was delayed in coming down from the
mountain, they “gathered around Aaron and said, ‘Come, make us gods (elohim
—or a god) who will go before us.’” (Exodus 32:1)
The Adoration of the Golden Calf, by Nicolas Poussin
Thinking the worst had happened to Moses, the Israelites sought a ‘visible
representation’ of God to worship.
Of course, the second commandment of the Ten Commandments, which
Moses had received while he was atop Mount Sinai with God, was being
broken by the Israelites who were at the bottom of the mountain creating an
idol – the golden calf.
There on the mountain, God was angry with the people of Israel. So much so
that He momentarily disowned them, saying to Moses, “Go down, for your
people that you brought up out of the land of Egypt have dealt corruptly.”
Although God prepared Moses for the scene at the foot of the mountain, when
Moses saw the people’s sin, he smashed the tablets written by the finger of God.
Moses with the Ten Commandments, by Rembrandt
Moses: Great Leader and Humble Shepherd
“‘I have seen these people,’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘and they are a
stiff-necked people. Now leave Me alone so that My anger may burn against
them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great
nation.’” (Exodus 32: 9 – 10)
Because God will never forsake His covenant, He proposed to use Moses to
start all over again and to wipe the rest of the Israelites out completely.
Moses, a true shepherd and the most humble man on the face of the earth,
declined God’s offer, and reasoned with God that such an action would cause the
Egyptians to think that God intended to destroy them all along.
Further to this, Moses reminded God of the covenant He made with Abraham,
Isaac and Jacob (Exodus 32:11 – 13).
Torah scroll with yad (Torah pointer)
Christians Need to Understand the Covenant with Israel
Moses understood the covenant very well.
Today, however, there are many people who do not understand God’s intents
and purposes for the nation of Israel.
Because of a shaky understanding of God’s covenant with Israel, many in the
Church believe that God has disowned Israel for their sinfulness and has
started all over again with the Christian Church.
This erroneous doctrine is called Replacement Theology.
Paul warned the Gentile Believers to be on guard against this kind of thinking.
He explained that God has put a temporary blindness upon Israel in order that
the fullness of the Gentiles may come in.
“I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may
not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full
number of the Gentiles has come in.” (Romans 11:25)
Once the fullness has come in, then “all Israel will be saved,” as it is written:
“The Deliverer will come from Zion; He will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
And this is My covenant with them when I take away their sins.”
(Romans 11:26 – 27)
Jewish man praying at the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem
The Power of Intercession
“Then the Lord relented and did not bring on His people the disaster He had
threatened.” (Exodus 32:14)
Moses’ intercession – his standing in the gap and pleading for Divine mercy on
a whining, complaining, ungrateful rag tag bunch of people who were sinful,
faithless, and disobedient–is nothing short of amazing!
And his prayers made all the difference for Israel.
May we have the same merciful, humble spirit that Moses had, and not sit in
judgment when we see the sins and faults of others; instead, we must plead that
God may forgive them.
We are grateful for the faithful intercessors who are pleading for the
nation of Israel today.
We know from Scripture that those prayers make a difference.
“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)
May Adonai bless you and keep you.
Shabbat Shalom from all our ministry staff.
I will bless those who bless Israel. (Genesis 12:3)
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