Developing the Theme of Family through the Torah Portions. Number Twenty.

Dr Clifford Denton.

Tetzaveh: Exodus 27:20-30:10.

24th February 2024/15 Adar1

And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. (Exodus 28:2)

Picture by Helen McNeill

Last week we suggested a family project based on the construction of the Tabernacle. It is a project that can take place over several weeks and include an additional component from this week’s Torah portion. It is Hebraic to study, to do and to teach, in that sequence. This was what Ezra did (Ezra 7:10). Of course, making a model is not to the same scale as rebuilding the Temple after the Babylonian captivity and bringing back the laws of God to the returned exiles! Yet, in a small way, there are similarities, when we consider the importance of restoring Christian families to the foundation of our faith. Doing is a fully Hebraic step in the learning process. It brings involvement and through participation, our faith becomes dynamic and not static.

An extension to our family project is to make a model of the High Priest, each family member making certain garments to scale from paper or cloth. A cardboard cut-out model of Aaron, say about a foot tall, could then be gradually clothed in the garments and discussion take place about the significance of each garment.

Note the care with which God gave Moses the instructions. Nothing was left to chance – the materials, the colours, and the precious stones. Consider the words that were used pertaining to the appointment of Aaron and his sons – holy, consecration, skilfully woven, judgement, heart, anointing, blood, sacrifice, priest, glory, beauty. Each of these words is loaded with meaning and a point for prayerful discussion.

Note how Aaron and his sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar were chosen by name. The calling and appointment was clear and there was no doubt about any part of God’s design for the Priesthood.

To study, be involved in and discuss all these details is sufficient of itself to gain understanding of the order of God’s Kingdom on earth and in Heaven. What an incredible privilege it was for the priestly family to be called into God’s presence day by day. God allowed men to draw near to Him in a new way such as had not been known since the creation of the earth. No wonder it was to be so dignified, so clearly structured, so awesome, so holy.

Through the wilderness years and then through many years when the Temple replaced the Tabernacle, through the doing of God’s instructions, the character of God would be known more clearly and also the character that God determined that mankind should have. These lessons are no less important today.

Yet this is only a beginning! Once we have reflected on the visible and practical structure of the Holy Priesthood, we should be ready to internalise the principles and apply them to the greater priesthood to which all disciples of Yeshua belong. As the writer to the Hebrews said,

Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.

For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore, it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. (Hebrews 8:1-6)

Once we have considered carefully Aaron’s priesthood, we have a template (a shadow – Hebrews 8:5) of the Heavenly reality – the High Priestly ministry of Yeshua HaMashiach. If the earthly representation at the time of Moses and Aaron was so full of glory, honour and holiness, how much more the reality that is Yeshua. That is why our study this week is so important as a preparation. God does not teach in a Greek philosophical way. He teaches through example and through participation, so that truth is imparted to our hearts.

It may seem to be almost a childlike activity to make a model of Aaron and his garments, but in miniature we are doing exactly what the Israelites did and so we can touch on the teaching that God gave to them. The simplicity of God’s teaching is always deeply profound.

The result of our lesson recognises that God has made a way for us to come to Him, and learn to approach God both confidently and reverently. We may find ourselves reviewing some of our Christian practices, which at times are not so reverent, as we consider the way that God taught through Moses.

There is yet another consideration. Just as God called by name those who were to be Priests in the days of Moses, so He calls each of us by name today. We will not build an earthly Tabernacle but serve as priests in the Heavenly reality. As Peter wrote,

You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light, who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. (1 Peter 2: 9-10)

This week, each of our families have the opportunity to study together the principles on which our privileged call to the presence of God is based and come to a fresh realisation of our disciplined yet free response to His call to holiness.