Weekly Torah Commentary – Tetzaveh Feb. 19, 2016

Exodus 27:20 – 30:10

This week’s reading continues with the instructions regarding the Tabernacle.  Last week the focus was on its construction.  This week, instructions are given for what was to happen inside the Tabernacle.  Is this only a historical record of what happened back then? What does this have to do with us today?

Much of the reading is devoted to instructions regarding the priests, Aaron and his sons. ‘Call for your brother, Aaron, and his sons, Nadav And Abihu, Eleazer and Ithamar.  Set them apart from the rest of the people of Israel so they may minister to me and be my priests.’ 28:1  The chapter continues with explicit instructions about the clothing the priests were to wear.

HighPriest

Aaron and his descendants have a permanent calling to serve God as representatives of the people.  Anyone not descended from Aaron is not qualified for that unique service.

However, earlier in Exodus 19:6, God declared to the children of Israel:

And you shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

What does it mean that God wants us to be ‘a kingdom of priests’?

The call to priesthood is three-fold:  to be set-apart, to share God’s character and to be brought close to His presence.

As a priest serves as an intermediary between God and men, so each of us who are part of the “kingdom of priests” is called by God to 1) understand that we are set apart for His purposes; 2) we are to emulate His character; and 3) we are to do all in our power to get as close to Him as possible.  Only then are we able to share His Word with others by demonstration and expression.  Wherever we find ourselves in this world, our primary destiny is to reflect the character of the Almighty through how we live.  Our words, our actions, our attitudes, our choices are to be governed by the Word of God and when they are, we become that influence over those around us that God created us to be.

Part of being a ‘priest’ was also to stand in the gap for the people. While you and I may not qualify to exercise that responsibility in the same way that Aaron and his sons did in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, nevertheless we are able to step into that role through prayer.  Turning to God on behalf of others is part of the duty of a ‘kingdom of priests.’

Our world is facing challenges and dangers from many directions.  Thousands are suffering in various and sundry ways – diseases, famines, natural disasters.  Others are struggling with unemployment, homelessness, depression.  The list goes on.  Are we touched with the pain of others? Or are we so wrapped up in ourselves that we pay no attention to the suffering and the persecuted?

Compassion is defined as ‘sympathetic concern for the sufferings and misfortunes of others.’ Whether you are able to give any practical assistance to someone in need or in pain is not the only issue.  Sometimes we can; sometimes we can’t.  But what we can always do is be the ‘priest’ and at the very least, lift them in prayer to our heavenly Father. We can follow the example of Abraham, who seeing the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah and being told that God was going to destroy the city, cried out in prayer for mercy.  “If You find fifty righteous, will You spare the city?” He asked the Lord.   How many times Moses went to God on behalf of the people when they sinned, when they rebelled, when they complained and he interceded on their behalf before God?

That is the duty of a priest.  That is the duty of a kingdom of priests.

In Tune with Torah this week = think about your prayers of the past week, the past month.  Were they primarily focused on you, your family, your needs, your concerns? If so, don’t beat yourself up about it – most of us would probably be in the same boat with you.

But don’t justify it either.  Our hearts need to be expanded so our prayers will be more inclusive of others beyond our immediate circle.  God’s compassion never fails, His mercies are new every morning.  Aren’t we all thankful for that!! We need to be more like Him and cultivate compassionate hearts towards others.

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