Category Archives: Peter and Nancy’s Blogs

Reflective Offerings

living-tabenacles

This is the tenth article of our Living Tabernacles series, where we study the Tabernacle in depth. It is exciting to see how each element symbolizes some characteristic of Yeshua.  It is also challenging when we examine what each element means for us, since each of us is now a living tabernacle of YHVH [Yehovah].  We are posting two articles each month as part of this series. YHVH is building His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  A king reigns from his throne and also pronounces judgment from there. 

Our previous article discussed the altar of incense.  Closely connected with that altar is the altar of burnt offering, also called the brazen altar. This altar was reserved for sacrifices and was overlaid with bronze instead of gold.  Bronze is symbolic of judgment.  Without the temporary sacrifice of the burnt offerings and the permanent sacrifice of Yeshua, human prayers (symbolized by incense) would not be acceptable to YHVH.

Using acacia wood, construct a square altar 7 feet wide, 7 feet long, and 4 feet high. Make horns for each of its four corners so that the horns and altar are all one piece. Overlay the altar with bronze. Make ash buckets, shovels, basins, meat forks, and firepans, all of bronze. Make a bronze grating for it, and attach four bronze rings at its four corners. Install the grating halfway down the side of the altar, under the ledge. For carrying the altar, make poles from acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze. Insert the poles through the rings on the two sides of the altar. The altar must be hollow, made from planks. Build it just as you were shown on the mountain (Ex 27:1-8).

The Hebrew word for altar is mizbeach (Strong’s Concordance Hebrew 4196). In Arabic, it means “place of slaughter”.  The bronze altar was placed in the courtyard of the tabernacle and was used for burning sacrifices.  There were several different types of sacrifices made on this altar which are listed below with a brief explanation of each[1].

Burnt Offering:  Sometimes called the whole burnt offering because the whole animal (except for its hide which was given to the priest) was consumed in the fire on the altar.  The Hebrew word is olah (meaning “ascending”).  This entire sacrifice was for YHVH alone and had to be made before other sacrifices would be accepted by YHVH. Burnt offerings dealt with the sinful nature of people and were offered twice daily (morning and evening) with additional offerings to be made on Sabbaths, new moons and feast days and other special occasions.  Burnt offerings were offered before other offerings could be made.

Grain Offering:  Flour and oil were offered to express gratitude to YHVH.  A small portion was burned on the altar and the rest was reserved for the priests.  A drink offering (wine) was poured out on top as a symbol of joy.

Peace Offering:  This offering was optional and ended in a meal that could be shared by the priests and the individuals offering it.  The sacrifices needed to be eaten within two days.  There were three main reasons for peace offerings:

  • Thanksgiving offering for a specific blessing from YHVH (Lev. 7:12-13)
  • Wave offering where the priest’s portion was waved before YHVH (Lev. 7:30-31)
  • Votive offering for a vow or a simple voluntary act of worship (Lev. 7:16-17)

Sin (or purification) Offering for unintentional sin (Lev 4:2-3) in order to cleanse the Tabernacle from human defilement.

Guilt (reparation) Offering:  A ram was offered after confession of the sin.  If YHVH’s sacred property was unintentionally damaged, reparation was to be made (plus an additional twenty percent) (Lev 5:16)

What can we learn from the offerings made in the Tabernacle?  How do they relate to Yeshua and to us?

  • Sin always results in death even if it is unintentional. Atonement is always necessary.  Yeshua is our Atonement.  Only through Yeshua can we approach YHVH and have a relationship with Him.
  • While some of the offerings were to atone for sin, others were voluntary gifts meant to bless YHVH, just as He blesses us abundantly.
  • The animals to be offered were young (usually one year old) and without blemish, thus representing Yeshua who was sacrificed in His prime and who was sinless. We are always to come to YHVH in Yeshua’s name and covered by His blood.
  • The best or the choicest of the herds or other offerings were to be used, for YHVH has offered to us nothing less than His own Son, Yeshua.
  • Burnt offerings were an abomination if the people did not forsake their sins (Is 1:11-15). We can ask for forgiveness and plead the blood of Yeshua over ourselves, but true repentance (teshuva meaning a complete turnaround) only is acceptable to YHVH.
  • Hosea 6:6 states “For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice. And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”  Our primary goal must be always to deepen our relationship with YHVH (Mic 6:6-8).
  •  Burnt offerings were not just for the Israelites, but for all humans. Burnt offerings started long before the time of Moses.  For example, upon exiting from the Ark, Noah offered burnt offerings to YHVH, using some of the clean animals he had taken with him (Gen 8:20).  The basis of YHVH’s covenant with Noah was not because of Noah’s goodness, but rather his sacrifice.
  • Abraham was commanded to offer Isaac as a whole burnt offering (Gen 22:2 NLT).  Abraham was willing to sacrifice his long-awaited only son if YHVH requested it even though Abraham had been promised many descendants through Isaac.   Man had sinned and only through the sacrificial death of a righteous man could mankind be saved.  YHVH did not allow Abraham to go through with the sacrifice of Isaac, but provided His own Son to be the sacrifice.

In Hebrews 10:12 Paul states, “But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand”.  Since the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD the sacrificial system has been suspended.  However, several passages of Scripture indicate that sacrifices will be resumed during Yeshua’s millennial reign (Is 56:6-8, Zech 14:16, Jer 33:15-18, Mal 3:3-4).  Why?  There are numerous proposed explanations and much speculation.  We know that YHVH will dwell with us during this time. Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the Lord  “Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people.  I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you (Zech 2:10-13). We also know that YHVH’s throne is surrounded by fire (Dan 7:9) and that not even the slightest impurity can be in His presence.  The millennial kingdom will be a time of refinement and perfection until we are ready for the new heaven and new earth.  At that time speculation will die away as the mystery of the renewed sacrifices unfolds.  We will then more fully understand how the sacrificial offerings enable us to reflect YHVH’s glory back to Him.

[1] OFFERINGS IN LEVITICUS–WHAT THEY WERE AND WHY THEY MATTERED.  Wayne Stiles, https://www.waynestiles.com/offerings-in-leviticus-what-they-were-and-why-they-mattered/.

Reflections of Incense

living-tabenaclesThis is the ninth article of our Living Tabernacles series, where we study the Tabernacle in depth. It is exciting to see how each element symbolizes some characteristic of Yeshua.  It is also challenging when we examine what each element means for us, since each of us is now a living tabernacle of YHVH [Yehovah].  We are posting two articles each month as part of this series. YHVH is building His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  A king reigns from his throne and also pronounces judgment from there. 

As we continue our study of the Tabernacle, we come across a relatively small altar that holds a powerful significance in our relationship with YHVH.  The altar of incense was square with each side measuring 1.5 feet and was three feet high.  It was made of acacia wood and overlaid with pure gold. Four horns protruded from the four corners of the altar.  The altar of incense, also called the Golden Altar, (mizbach hazahav in Numbers 4:11), stood just outside the Holy of Holies.  A special mixture of incense, reserved exclusively for YHVH, was burned on this altar every morning and every evening, thus sending up a continual waft of pleasant odor to YHVH.

The incense altar was the place where YHVH met with Moshe.  Place the incense altar just outside the inner curtain that shields the Ark of the Covenant, in front of the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—that covers the tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant. I will meet with you there.  (Ex. 30:6 NLT).  

On Yom Kippur the incense was burned atop the Ark of the Covenant.  The high priest would fold back the curtain concealing the Most Holy Place, put the censer with the burning coals on the top of the Ark of the Covenant, then throw the two handfuls of incense into the censer.  This was the only day and time that any one (and then only the high priest) was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies, thus foreshadowing the work of our High Priest that would permanently  rend the separating curtain.

What does the incense altar represent in the spiritual realm?  It symbolizes our prayers to YHVH (Is 56:7, Ps. 141:2).  The fragrant incense also represents the prayers of Yeshua, who makes continuous intercession on our behalf (John 17:1-26, Rom 8:34) as our High Priest.  The continuous rise of the burning incense reminds us to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17).

The daily burning of incense corresponded with the lighting of the menorah.  Scripture indicates that the incense was to be burned at the same time the menorah was to be cleaned and relit (Ex 30:7-8).  According to the Talmud five of the lamps on the menorah would be cleaned, then the incense would be burned before the other two lamps were cleaned.  The menorah and the Golden Altar seem to be interconnected.  If we understand that the menorah represents the light of Yeshua, then Yeshua’s light in us results in worship, praise and petitions to our Father.

In order to burn the incense, fire was taken from the brazen altar (which will be discussed in the next article) and transferred to the altar of incense (Lev 16:12-13), thus symbolizing that the fire of Yeshua’s sacrifice becomes the fire of blessing.  The horns of the golden altar were sprinkled with blood from the animal sacrifice to cleanse and purify it from the sins of the Israelites (Lev 4:7, 16:18). “Just as the horns on the brazen altar represent the power of Christ’s blood to forgive sins, the horns on golden altar signify the power of His blood in prayer as we confess our sins and ask for His forgiveness.”  (The Altar of Incense, the-tabernacle-place.com).  We come to Father in prayer only through Yeshua, cleansed from our sin by His blood and wearing His righteousness, for we have nothing of value to offer on our own.

Before Yeshua’s death on the cross, a heavy curtain separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Tabernacle, illustrating the separation from YHVH that sin had caused.  That veil has now been torn, so that there is no longer any separation, just as there is no separation in the heavenly Tabernacle.

The heavy curtain illustrates YHVH’s eagerness to be near His people.  He would come to them despite the barrier of sin using a curtain until reconciliation would be accomplished through Yeshua’s precious sacrifice.  The horns on the corners of the incense altar represent power, the power of prayer and intercession in this case.  Now that the curtain has been torn, YHVH not only meets with our representative (Moshe, Yeshua), but with each of us individually.

When we are offended by others, we tend to withdraw from them.  Our Father, on the other hand,  seeks all the more to be reconciled and united with us.  We are to forgive those who offend us, love them and always seek union with them if we desire to do as our heavenly Father does.  Are there curtains of separation that need to be torn down in our lives?

We, as living tabernacles, have the privilege of offering the continuous incense of our prayers and intercessions, even prayers for our enemies (Matt 5:44).  Just as the incense was a special mixture reserved solely for YHVH, our worship and prayers too must be reserved for our Father.  We are not to worship or pray to any foreign gods.  To whom are you offering your incense?

Reflections of His Light

This is the eighth article of our Living Tabernacles series, where we study the Tabernacle in depth. It is exciting to see how each element symbolizes some characteristic of Yeshua.  It is also challenging when we examine what each element means for us, since each of us is now a living tabernacle of YHVH [Yehovah].  We are posting two articles each month as part of this series. YHVH is building His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  A king reigns from his throne and also pronounces judgment from there. 

This article focuses on the significance of the lampstand [Menorah] that YHVH instructed His people to build and place in the Holy Place, along with the Table of Showbread and the Altar of Incense.  In Exodus 25:31-32, YHVH said to the Israelites: “You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work. Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and flowers shall be of one piece.  And six branches shall come out of its sides: three branches of the lampstand out of one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side”.

The seven-branched Menorah held individual lamps that represented God’s perfect light. The lamps contained pure olive oil inside almond-shaped containers, suggesting the seven eyes of YHVH mentioned in Zechariah 4:2.  The Menorah and its seven lamps were referred to as the Perpetual Lamp (ner tamid), a source of light that illuminated the Bread of Presence and the Altar of Incense within the holy place. The lamp was to be attended to every morning and evening during the time of the burning of the sweet incense (symbolizing prayer), and was never to be extinguished (Lev 24:2).  The priests obeyed this command because they understood that light represented the word of YHVH (Ps 119:105, 150). It was the word of YHVH that sustained their lives and all that YHVH created.

A close look at the Menorah reveals a middle shaft, with the six branches extending out from this shaft.  The seven branches were a single beaten piece of gold.  The Hebrew word for this shaft is generally translated as thigh, loins, or body. The six branches extend out from the central shaft, but yet they are one with the shaft.  Note that in Romans 11, believers in Messiah Yeshua, whether Jew or non-Jew, are referred to as branches.   Even more significantly, note that these branches are said to all be one with the olive tree, which is referred to as the Body of Messiah.  Yeshua uses the lampstand to refer to His kehillat (assembly or “church”) in Revelation 1:20.

From ancient writings, the center candle was said to be the only one that always stayed lit.  After the Temple was destroyed and thus all Temple sacrifices were stopped in AD 70, the center candle of the Menorah no longer stayed lit from morning until evening, but had to be re-lit in the evening.  The six outside lamps all faced towards the center lamp, which was called the Servant lamp [Shamash].  This served to focus the light towards the center of the Menorah, making the Shamash candle even brighter.  Let’s look at a couple of the Scriptures that focus on Yeshua as the true Light of the world:

  • John 8:12: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
  • John 12:46: “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”

Yeshua is the Light of the World.  The Menorah was hammered from one solid piece in order to support the six branches, just as Yeshua’s arms and legs were hammered for our sins.  In John 15:5 Yeshua says that He is the Vine and we are the branches.  The branches were also hammered, warning us of our own persecution.  We are now living as “children of light” (Ephesians 5:8) who draw our source of light from Yeshua, the one true Light.  Just as the other six lamps of the Menorah face towards the Servant [Shamash] lamp in the center, we as His followers are to keep our focus on Yeshua and magnifying His light throughout the Kingdom.

Revelation 2-3 accurately describes the condition of His branches today. In Revelation 2:1-7, there is a description of the church at Ephesus, and it begins by mentioning one of the aspects of Yeshua’s ministry. “…who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands”. Yeshua commends this group by reminding them of their dedication to removing imposters, of their good works, and their patience. However, He then tells them what He has against them. They have lost their first love, and will not go back to their first works and repent. He says that if they continue, He will remove their lampstand from its place.  Our love and passion for Yeshua must remain strong.

The Menorah was made of pure gold (not gold plated) and had seven branches. Pure gold is a representation of the deity and perfection of Yeshua.  Seven is the number of completeness in the Bible. The believer is made complete by the perfection of Messiah.

The Most Holy and Holy Places are completely covered in various linens and skins, which means that these inner sanctuaries were very dark.  Only the light of the Menorah was to illuminate the Holy Place, or the place of ministry.  This tells us that ministry (worship) is to be driven by the light of YHVH and not by people’s plans or desires.  Our minds are to be illuminated by God’s light. His light shines forth from His Word (Torah). It is this light that is to be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105).  Are we reflecting Yeshua’s light in this dark world?

[Author’s note: we have tried to cover the main aspects of the Menorah as they relate to Yeshua and our own spiritual light, but there is so much more to cover that we might someday consider “branching out” to a deeper study (pun intended )]

Reflections of His Presence

This is the seventh article of our Living Tabernacles series, where we study the Tabernacle in depth. It is exciting to see how each element symbolizes some characteristic of Yeshua.  It is also challenging when we examine what each element means for us, since each of us is now a living tabernacle of YHVH [Yehovah].  We are posting two articles each month as part of this series. YHVH is building His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  A king reigns from his throne and also pronounces judgment from there. 

This article focuses on the significance of the “Table of Showbread” and the Showbread itself that YHVH instructed His people to place in the Holy Place in front of the Holy of Holies.  In Exodus 25:23-30, YHVH told the Israelites to: “Make a table of acacia wood, 36 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 27 inches high.  Overlay it with pure gold and run a gold molding around the edge.  Decorate it with a 3-inch border all around, and run a gold molding along the border.  Make four gold rings for the table and attach them at the four corners next to the four legs. Attach the rings near the border to hold the poles that are used to carry the table. Make these poles from acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. Make special containers of pure gold for the table – bowls, ladles, pitchers, and jars – to be used in pouring out liquid offerings. Place the Bread of the Presence on the table to remain before me at all times”.

This table (often called the “Table of Showbread”) was to be set up next to the lampstand (Menorah) outside the Holy of Holies, so that the light from the lamps could illumine the table.  As with the Ark of the Covenant and the lampstand, this was made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold, so we know it was meant to be one of the most precious items YHVH wanted to be in His holy place.  We have spoken in earlier articles about the special place that both gold and acacia wood hold in YHVH’s heart, so we can say that the Table had to be made of materials worthy of the King of creation – our King, Messiah Yeshua.  The acacia wood covered in gold that composed the Table of Showbread can also be seen as symbols pointing to both the humanity and divinity of Yeshua.

I will just mention one other thing about the Table – in a typical Hebrew home at that time, it would have been common to have a table set with plates and dishes for bread and incense, and pitchers and bowls for liquid offerings (although probably not of pure gold!).  By having this Table in the Tabernacle, YHVH was showing that He wants us to regard the Tabernacle as His house – this includes both the Earthly tabernacle as well as His heavenly Tabernacle (after which the Earthly tabernacle was modeled).

Moving on now to the bread that Abba instructed His people to place on the Table, we see that “Showbread” is not an accurate translation.  The original Hebrew phrase for this bread is Lechem haPanim, which literally means “Bread of the Presence” or “Bread of the Face [of God]”.

The historian Josephus indicates that the Bread of the Presence was unleavened, pointing to Yeshua as our sinless Savior who is the true Bread of the Presence.  In John 6:35, Yeshua said: “I am the bread which gives life! Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever trusts in Me will never be thirsty”.   Then in Verses 48-51 of John 6, Yeshua says that He is the true Bread that came down from Heaven and that if anyone eats of this Bread, they will live forever.  Yeshua gives us life to the fullest; life more abundant on this Earth and life everlasting in Heaven!

When we look again at the Bread of the Presence in the Tabernacle, we see that it symbolized being in YHVH’s presence, so when the priests ate the bread they were fellowshipping with Abba Father in His presence, face-to-face.  The bread on the Table in the Tabernacle, as well as the bread in Messiah’s communion, reminds us that our life is in the true Bread from Heaven, Yeshua HaMashiachYeshua went even further than this, though, because He told His disciples [talmadim] that he didn’t need physical bread to eat (John 4:32-34),  but rather He had “food to eat that they knew nothing about”.  When they asked what food He had, He said that His food was to do the will of the Father (the One who sent Him).  When Yeshua shared the communion bread of His body, He was teaching His disciples to be filled with the Bread of His presence, satisfied with doing the will of our Father.

Yeshua gives us more spiritual food when He says in Matthew 4:4 that people do not “live by bread alone, but on every Word that comes from the mouth of God”.  In Matthew 6:11, He also teaches us to pray to our Father that He will give us our daily bread, but I believe this means spiritual Bread as well – that He will tell us what He desires for us to do each day.  I want to leave you with a story about one of my favorite composers – it is said that when Handel wrote the Messiah, food trays stacked up outside his door for 17 days.  He was too busy and too fulfilled to eat – he was eating the Bread of life, the Bread of the presence of YHVH, and it sustained and nourished him.  What is the Bread of YHVH’s presence for you?

Covenant Reflections

This is the sixth article of our Living Tabernacles series, where we study the Tabernacle in depth. It is exciting to see how each element symbolizes some characteristic of Yeshua.  It is also more challenging when we examine what each element means for us, since each of us is now a living tabernacle of YHVH.  We are posting two articles each month as part of this series.

YHVH is building His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  A king reigns from his throne and also pronounces judgment from there.  The Ark of the Covenant was designed to be the throne of YHVH on earth.  There are two carved cherubim on the lid of the ark, just as there are live cherubim who protect the throne of YHVH in heaven.  The Ark of the Covenant is one phase of the continuing saga of YHVH building His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  We see this clearly by examining two other “arks” mentioned in Scripture.  Let us first examine two words that are translated as “ark” in the Bible.

The word that is translated as “ark” for the Ark of the Covenant is aron (Strong’s Concordance, Hebrew #727).  It is most often used in Scripture (194 times) to refer to the Ark of the Covenant.  It is used six times in Scripture to refer to a chest (for money offerings, for example) and one time to refer to Joseph’s coffin (Gen 50:26).  Another word that is translated as ark is tebah or tevah (Strong’s Concordance, Hebrew #8392).  It means a box or a chest and is used in reference to Noah’s ark and the ark (basket) where Moshe was placed as an infant.  Both words are of uncertain origin but since both Noah’s ark and the Ark of the Covenant were personally designed by YHVH, we can speculate on the origin of those words.

There are numerous striking similarities with the three arks.  We will cover several in this article, but this is by no means an exhaustive list.  As we study the three arks we find recurring themes as YHVH continues with His kingdom building plan.

Noah’s ark was used as a sanctuary to protect and preserve the tiny remnant of people and animals that it housed.  From those people would eventually come the Messiah.  Moses’ ark sheltered the infant until he was rescued.  Moses later became the leader of the Israelites and brought them out of Egyptian slavery.  Messiah Yeshua is a descendant of the Israelites.  The Ark of the Covenant was YHVH’s earthly throne, but was also referred to as the “mercy seat”, a sanctuary for the Israelites and, by extension, all those who choose to be part of His kingdom.  We are spiritual descendants of YHVH.

There is a covenant associated with each of the three arks.  YHVH made a covenant with Noah and his descendants to never again destroy the earth by flood.  YHVH made a covenant with Moses and the Israelites to be their God and they would be His people.  YHVH makes a covenant with us to be a part of His kingdom.

Water also plays a significant role in each of these stories.  The inhabitants of Noah’s ark were surrounded by water for many days.  Moses was drawn from the waters of the Nile.  The water of the Nile would later be turned into blood.  He and the Israelites would miraculously cross through the waters of the Red (Reed) Sea.  The walls of water then collapsed and destroyed their enemies.  The waters of the Jordan River parted as the Ark of the Covenant and the Israelites crossed into the Promised Land (Joshua 3).  We are immersed in water at baptism and are filled with the living waters of the Holy Spirit.

Noah’s ark was covered with tar or pitch, a covering to keep it watertight and to protect the humans and animals inside.  Moshe’s ark (basket) was covered with tar or pitch to keep out the waters of the Nile and to protect the infant inside.  The blood of sacrificed animals was sprinkled on the mercy seat once a year (on Yom Kippur or the day of covering) to protect the Israelites from judgment.  Yeshua is the Savior who covers and protects us with His blood.

The ark Noah built did not have any oars.  The ark’s inhabitants were totally dependent on YHVH for their salvation, and could not rely on navigational skills.  Moses’ ark was also at the mercy of YHVH to stay protected in the Nile until Moses was discovered and rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter. The Ark of the Covenant had poles attached through gold rings, but the Ark was to be moved only at the direct order of YHVH.  We are helpless to save ourselves and must rely totally on YHVH for our salvation.  We even rely on His gift of faith to receive our salvation (Eph 2:8).

The Ark of the Covenant was made of acacia wood and covered with gold. Yeshua was sacrificed on a wooden cross.  He has now exchanged His crown of thorns for a crown of gold (Rev 14:14).

Let us examine now the contents of the Ark of the Covenant:

  • Manna, the bread from heaven. Yeshua is the Living Bread that came down from heaven.
  • Aaron’s budding rod showed “who is holy (set apart), who is His and who He chooses to come near to Him (Numbers 16 and 17). Yeshua is our High Priest and King, worthy, able and appointed by YHVH to be our representative and leader.
  • The stone tablets with the Ten Commandments which are a summary of the Torah. Yeshua, our Rock, is the Living Torah.

In each story, there was threat of death, yet at least some people were spared so that YHVH could continue with His kingdom plan.  In His justice, YHVH must condemn the guilty, yet His desire is to show mercy.  We, as citizens of His kingdom, are condemned for our guilt, but are also redeemed by His loving sacrifice.  Our King is our true shelter in the storms of life.

Covering Reflections

This is the fifth article of our Living Tabernacles series, where we study the Tabernacle in depth. It is exciting to see how each element symbolizes some characteristic of Yeshua.  It is also more challenging when we examine what each element means for us, since each of us is now a living tabernacle of YHVH.  We are posting two articles each month as part of this series.

We have examined each element on YHVH’s list for building the Tabernacle.  Now it is time to begin construction.  The first thing YHVH gave designs for was the Ark of the Covenant.  However, it was not the first to be constructed.  The coverings and framework for the outer walls of the Tabernacle were constructed first.

The coverings had to be in place before the Ark of the Covenant or other precious items  could be constructed and properly protected.  This is similar to creation.  First, YHVH created the universe, then He prepared the earth with a balance of land and water, plants and animals, and finally people.  We see a similar theme in the construction of the Tabernacle.  First the outer coverings were made (the universe).  Next the Tabernacle itself was prepared (preparation of the earth) and finally the people were invited in.  After the Tabernacle was ready special attire was made for the priests who were the only ones allowed in the Tabernacle.   At this point, we still have separation between YHVH and people due to the fall of Adam and Eve.

As mentioned before in our second article entitled “Material Reflections”, there is significance in each of the items chosen for the framework and covering of the Tabernacle.  We will touch on these briefly here, but for a fuller explanation of each, please refer to “Material Reflections”.

The linen curtains provided the necessary separation from YHVH, Who is Holy (set apart).  The curtains were protected by other coverings, just as we through Yeshua are protected by many coverings.  The linen curtains were embroidered with scarlet, blue and purple threads.  Each of these colors has deep significance as explained in “Material Reflections”.

Cherubim were embroidered on the linen curtains.  Cherubim were assigned to protect the Garden of Eden after the expulsion of Adam and Eve (Gen 3:24).  We will examine the Ark of the Covenant and the role of the Cherubim in the next article in this series.

Goat hair and the skins of goats and rams also covered the Tabernacle.  Two goats were chosen on Yom Kippur (Day of Covering).  One goat was selected by YHVH to be sacrificed for the sins of the people and the other goat was set free after all the sins of the people had been transferred to it.  Both goats represent Yeshua, who took on our sins, was sacrificed in our place, and who bore our sins away as far as the east is from the west.   Yeshua is the sinless, perfect Lamb and through Him we are no longer goats, but righteous sheep.

The linen curtains were fastened with gold clasps, signifying purity and royalty.  The goat hair and goat and ram skins were fastened with bronze clasps, signifying our sin and judgment that were placed on Yeshua.

The framework was made of acacia wood which is virtually indestructible.  Yeshua is our Way, Truth and Life and He is indestructible.  His work provides the framework for our redemption and our future life in the Kingdom of YHVH.  Yeshua became our curse and guilt so that we might become His righteousness (The Divine Exchange, Derek Prince)

Ten linen curtains were made and fastened together.  Ten is the number of a minyan.  Recall Abraham pleading for Sodom and YHVH said that if there were ten righteous men He would withhold His judgment.  It has become Jewish tradition that in order to publicly pray, there must be a minyan (ten Torah observant Jews over the age of 13).  Ten  represents governmental rule, whether it be YHVH’s (Ten Commandments), man’s (minyan), or hasatan’s (ten toes and horns mentioned in Daniel and Revelation).

There were eleven of the other curtains.  Eleven is the number of disorder, chaos and judgment.  In Genesis 11, people rebelled against YHVH and built the Tower of Babel. Jehoiakim, one of the last kings over Judah, ruled for 11 years (609 to 598 B.C.).  After overcoming the city, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon appointed Zedekiah as a puppet ruler of Judea. Zedekiah, however, soon rebelled against his masters. His reign ended in 586 B.C., after only 11 years.  The apostle John saw 11 things in connection with the final judgment (Revelation 20:12 – 14).

Several men were gifted to construct the Tabernacle, but two are mentioned by name.  Bezalel  whose name means in the shadow (protection) of God and Oholiab whose name means father’s tent.  Through the precious sacrifice of Yeshua and His covering, we are now invited into Father’s tent.  There are no longer any barriers to keep us out unless we create them ourselves.  Let us tear down any barriers we may have created and welcome the covering of Yeshua.

 

Precious Reflections

This is the fourth article of our Living Tabernacles series, where we study the Tabernacle in depth. It is exciting to see how each element symbolizes some characteristic of Yeshua.  It is also more challenging when we examine what each element means for us, since each of us is now a living tabernacle of YHVH.  We are posting two articles each month as part of this series.

In the first article in this series, Nancy studied the significance of the metals used in the Tabernacle.  In the second article she examined the items YHVH specified in Exodus 25:4-5 as materials to construct and cover the Tabernacle.  In my article last week, I discussed the oil and spices used for the anointing oil and incense in the Tabernacle (Ex 25:6).  This week I will cover the next verse (7) in Exodus 25, which specifies: “onyx stones and setting stones for the [priest’s] ephod and for the breastplate”.

In Exodus 25:7, Abba tells Moshe that he is to ask the people to gather special types of precious stones to be used for the high priest’s ephod and breastplate.  From Torah passages (Ex 28:4, 29:5, Lev 8:7) the ephod signifies a garment, which is part of the official dress of the high priest, and was to be made of threads of various colors.  What can be gleaned from these passages is that the ephod was held together by a girdle sewed on to it (Ex 28:8); it had two shoulder-straps, which were fastened to the front of the ephod by golden rings, to which the breastplate was attached by golden chains (Exodus 28:6-14) which were fastened to the ephod in front (Ex 28:27).

From this description, it appears that the ephod was some type of apron, with the two onyx stones fastened to the shoulder straps. The breastplate was then to be hung down from the ephod straps, and the 12 different types of precious stones were attached to the breastplate, one for each of the tribes of Israel, inscribed with the name of the corresponding tribe (Ex 28:21).  It is interesting to look at the prophecy of the “end times” New Jerusalem in Revelation 21.  We know from Verses 12 and 13 that will be 12 gates to the New Jerusalem, with one of the names of the 12 tribes of Israel on each of the gates.   Then from Verses 19 and 20, we see that there were 12 stones in the 12 foundations around the wall of the city, and the stones are very similar (and probably identical if we knew the Hebrew-Greek correlation) to the 12 stones in the breastplate in Exodus 28.

We know that the New Jerusalem is a direct reflection of the Holy City in Heaven (since it comes down from Heaven), so the foundations of the New Jerusalem are a reflection of the foundations of the City in heaven.   From this we can infer that YHVH plans to build His  earthly Kingdom according to His pattern in heaven, using the stones representing the 12 tribes as the foundation stones – thus He is building His new Kingdom on Earth on the foundations of the 12 tribes of Israel.

Somewhere near the heart of the high priest, among the stones of the tribes of Israel, the Urim and the Thummim were placed on the “breastplate of judgment”, to be used so that YHVH could guide the high priest in judging between right and wrong, especially in cases of deciding the guilt or innocence of the people.  This passage points to Yeshua as our High Priest, who is the Righteous One (as it says in I Cor 1:30: He became Righteousness for us).  While the high priest of Israel determined right from wrong in difficult cases of judgment by allowing YHVH to speak to him through the Urim and Thummim, Yeshua did not require this type of physical sign to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh).  The Ruach HaKodesh spoke directly through Yeshua, and because He has sent His Ruach to dwell inside us, we now have the same Ruach speaking to and through us.

Sha’ul (Paul) reminded us that we live on a spiritual battlefield, and that we must protect ourselves by putting on the whole armor of God.  One of the key elements of our armor is the breastplate of righteousness, but whose righteousness are we putting on?  This breastplate of righteousness refers to the righteousness purchased for us by Yeshua at the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). The breastplate He gives us is specially designed by God to protect our heart and soul from evil and deception. Our own righteous acts are no match for Satan’s attacks (Isaiah 64:6). The breastplate of righteousness has Messiah’s name stamped on it, as though He said, “Your righteousness isn’t sufficient to protect you; here – wear mine”.  Yeshua offers us His breastplate of righteousness; it is up to us to accept it and wear it.

Although sometimes it would be comforting to have physical evidence of YHVH’s guidance in our lives when we make decisions, or discern between good and evil, we have something even better than the Urim and Thummim.  We have the Ruach of YHVH Father and Yeshua His Son living within us, guiding us in every part of our lives.  It is not always easy, but our part is to draw close to YHVH, so we are able to hear Him better and understand what is He is saying to us.  We do not need precious jewels and an intricately woven breastplate to hear Him as He guides us – His thoughts and insights are precious jewels to us.  What we need is to know the thoughts and intents of His heart as He knows ours, by sitting in His lap and leaning against His heart.  That way, we can truly call Him Abba Daddy and He can call us His beloved children.

Fragrant Reflections

This is the third article of our Living Tabernacles series, where we study the Tabernacle in depth. It is exciting to see how each element symbolizes some characteristic of Yeshua.  It is also more challenging when we examine what each element means for us, since each of us is now a living tabernacle of YHVH.  We are posting two articles each month as part of this series.

In the first article in this series, Nancy studied the significance of the metals used in the Tabernacle.  In the second article she examined the items YHVH specified in Exodus 25:4-5 as materials to construct and cover the Tabernacle.  In this article we will cover the oil and spices to be used for the anointing oil and the incense in the Tabernacle.

In Exodus 25:6, Abba tells Moshe that they are to gather from the people…”olive oil for the lamps; spices for the anointing oil and the fragrant incense”.  Later on, in Exodus 27:20, YHVH tells Moshe: “Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil of pressed (beaten or pounded) olives for the light, to keep it burning continually”.  Yeshua is continuously our pure Light.  When we think of Yeshua as the Light of the world, and His command to us to shine that light throughout the world, then we can see how important it is to keep that light shining through us 24/7.

In Exodus 30:23-24 YHVH provides details of the ingredients and preparation for the anointing oil listed in Exodus 25, and how it is to be prepared – He says to Moshe: “Collect choice spices—12 1⁄2 pounds of pure myrrh, 6 1⁄4 pounds of fragrant cinnamon, 6 1⁄4 pounds of fragrant calamus, and 12 1⁄2 pounds of cassia—as measured by the weight of the sanctuary shekel. Also get one gallon of olive oil”. In Verse 25, He then explains how these ingredients are to be mixed together: “Like a skilled incense maker, blend these ingredients to make a holy anointing oil”.  Note that YHVH has added yet another qualification to the anointing oil – as I highlighted in the last verse, it is referred to as a “holy anointing oil”.  This tells us that it is to be set apart and made in a very special way compared to all other oils, such as the oil for the lamps.  Yeshua baptizes us with the anointing oil of the Holy Spirit.

Let us look at the spices to be used in the anointing oil in more detail:

  • Myrrh is a pale yellow gummy substance extracted from a small thorny shrub, typically used in spices and ointments. It is very costly and is known to be purifying to the body, and has a pleasant fragrance.
  • Fragrant cinnamon oil is distilled from the bark of a special type of cinnamon tree. It is very tasty and is often used to flavor food because of its pleasant aroma.
  • Fragrant (or sweet) calamus is a tall wetland plant with scented leaves – it is a fragrant cane whose root is highly prized as a spice. When it is crushed, it exudes a sweet fragrance. The more it is broken and crushed, the more of the fragrance that is exuded. In its spiritual application, the calamus speaks to us of brokenness, and reminds us that Yeshua was crushed and broken for us.  There are times in our lives when we must be crushed or broken in order to be purified.
  • Cassia comes from the aromatic bark of a Middle Eastern tree, and represents the true humility of anointed worship. It is sometimes used as a natural medicine. Cassia is derived from the Hebrew root “quadad”, meaning to bend or bow. This can be seen to represent us as God’s people, who are to bow down in humility before the strong hand of God (1 Pet. 5:6).
  • The main ingredient by volume in the Holy Anointing Oil is olive oil, which has both secular and sacred purposes. The olive tree is very important in secular life for cooking, cosmetics and soaps, and as a fuel for oil lamps. The olive tree has been a symbol of peace and prosperity since the time the dove returned to Noah’s Ark with an olive branch.

Let us now take a look at the spices YHVH specified to be used in the Tabernacle:

  • When Frankincense is burned it emits a fragrant odor, and hence the incense became a symbol of the Divine name (Malachi 1:11) and an emblem of prayer (Psalm 141:2; Luke 1:10; Revelation 5:8; 8:3).
  • Stacte is generally understood to be the purest kind of myrrh; and as the Hebrew name implies a drop, it would seem to refer to this type of myrrh as dropping from the tree of its own accord, without any cutting. This makes me think of Yeshua’s precious teardrops of blood in Gethsemane.
  • Onycha: Hebrew shechelet is thought to be the resin from a Mediterranean shrub that has been used for medicines and sweet perfumes for hundreds of years.
  • Galbanum: this rather foul-odored spice, when mixed with all the other spices, produces a perfect mixture for the incense. An ancient story tells of a perfumer who experimented with the biblical incense recipe and discovered that when the galbanum was left out of the mixture, the other ingredients still produced a pleasant fragrance. However, when the galbanum was added, something quite wonderful happened chemically: “the full mixture of the spices, including the foul galbanum, smelled infinitely more delicious than the mixture without galbanum”. The experiment showed that the galbanum transformed the sweet spices to produce the most beautiful incense possible. In the same way, as saved believers, we are transformed through the cleansing of our “foul” sins into beautiful children of God.

It is wonderful that YHVH explained to His people the precious spices they were to gather and use in the holy anointing oil and the incense, but we need to always remember that our obedience to Him is the sweetest aroma we can sacrifice to Him (1 Sam 15:22).  Our prayers are the most powerful incense we can offer up to YHVH (Rev 5:8).

The holy anointing oil that was to be used in the tabernacle can also be related to the oil of the Holy Spirit, flowing through our own tabernacles, purifying us and making us holy to stand before YHVH in His heavenly Tabernacle.  Let us welcome the oil of the Holy Spirit to keep our bodies and souls pure and set apart from the lusts of the world, such as power, greed, arrogance, hostility and envy.  We are called to be set apart to be with YHVH for all of our days, both here on Earth and forever in Heaven.

Material Reflections

living-tabenacles

This is the second article of a new series (Living Tabernacles)  where we study the Tabernacle in depth. It is exciting to see how each element symbolizes some characteristic of Yeshua.  However, it is more challenging when we examine what each element means for us, for each of us is now a tabernacle of YHVH.  There will be two posts each month for this series.

In the first article in this series, we studied the significance of the metals used in the Tabernacle:  gold, silver and bronze.  In this article we continue examining the list YHVH gave to Moshe itemizing the components He desired to build His Tabernacle.  We will cover the items listed in verses 4 and 5 of Exodus 25: colored threads, fine linen, goat hair, ram skins, fine goatskin leather and acacia wood.

Thread is interwoven throughout the material just as the spiritual significance of these threads should be interwoven throughout our lives.  The scarlet thread symbolizes cleansing, purification, sin, riches, a marker, and/or clothing of a valiant man.  We know what “valiant Man” has died for our sins, cleansing and purifying us.  He still wears those markers on His hands and feet.  He has gained for us untold wealth.  In Him, we must root out the sin that is interwoven in us, so that His cleansing and purifying may permeate every part of us.  We are abundantly wealthy in Yeshua and we wear His mark on us (Rev. 7:2-3).

The blue thread symbolizes holy covering, heavenly, holy service, chastening and water (Spirit).  We are no longer naked in our sin (Gen 2:25, Is 47:3), but are covered with Yeshua’s righteousness.  Yeshua came down from Heaven for the express purpose of establishing (or perhaps re-establishing) YHVH’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  Yeshua baptizes us with the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit fills us, chastening, strengthening and preparing us for holy service to YHVH.

The purple thread symbolizes royalty and riches. The Roman soldiers placed a purple robe on Yeshua during his trial in order to mock Him.  Little did they realize that Yeshua, above any other human, is entitled to wear the color of royalty.  Yeshua is our King and High Priest.  We are a royal priesthood and adopted children of YHVH.  Our wealth is in Messiah Yeshua, for without Him we have nothing and with Him we have an abundance of treasures.

The fine linen spoken of in Exodus 25 is the Hebrew word bad.  The word is from a root which means “separation”.  The Hebrew word for holy is kadosh which means to be set apart.  The fine linen worn by priests indicated that they were set apart to YHVH. YHVH is set apart and we are called to separate ourselves from the world and be dedicated solely to YHVH.  Our clothing must be the fine linen of Yeshua’s righteousness (Rev. 3:18), for without it we will not be welcome at the wedding of the Bridegroom (Matt 22:12).

Goat’s hair is used in Bedouin camps today for tents, tent ropes and rugs.  Goats’ hair cloth is able to stand the hard usage of a frequently shifting encampment.  We must be resilient enough to follow our Leader wherever He takes us.  Goatskin leather was used as a covering for the Tabernacle.  Yeshua is our spiritual covering.  With Yeshua’s covering, we are able to withstand many trials and persecutions.

On Yom Kippur, two goats were selected and lots were cast for them.  One goat would be sacrificed for the sins of the people and the second goat would bear the sins of the people and be sent out of the camp and into the wilderness, signifying how YHVH has removed our sins far from us (Lev 16).  Yeshua is both the sacrifice that atones for our sin (Heb 9:26) and the One who carries our sins as far as the east is from the west (Ps 103:12).

Tanned lambskins were also used to cover the Tabernacle.  Some versions translate this word as badger skins, but this is unlikely since badgers are considered to be unclean animals.  The skins of lambs have significant spiritual relevancy since Yeshua is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29) and Yeshua is a covering for us.  Some versions translate the tanned lambskins as lambskins died red.  The blood of Yeshua, the Lamb of YHVH, covered His skin as He hung on the cross.  His blood now covers us.

When Adam and Eve had sinned, they realized that they were naked.  YHVH made the first animal sacrifice on their behalf and clothed them with the skins of the animals signifying a much greater and more effective covering to come (Gen 3:21).

The acacia tree mentioned is likely the gum-arabic tree.  It is a gnarled and thorny tree.  Acacia trees are plentiful in the wilderness where the Israelites traveled.  Acacia wood is not desirable to insects and is virtually indestructible.  Was the cross made from acacia wood?  Possibly, but we have no proof of the type of wood used by the Romans in Jerusalem for crucifixion.  We do know, however, that Yeshua, even though He died, is indestructible.  Was the crown of thorns woven from acacia thorns?  We do not know for sure. The tree is formed much like an umbrella, just as Yeshua’s sacrifice provides us protection from the sentence of eternal death.

What is the significance of all the wood being overlaid with gold?  The acacia wood is gnarled and crooked signifying the twistedness of sin and evil.  The long thorns are menacing.  Yeshua willingly allowed Himself to be beaten beyond recognition.  He wore a crown of thorns and was humiliated and despised.  However, the reward He has reaped for Himself and for us is eternal glory and untold riches.  What appeared to be a disgrace and defeat, has turned into triumph and victory beyond measure (Rom 6:4).  Yeshua now wears a crown of unsurpassable glory.  On our own we are defeated, but in Yeshua we are victorious!

As we reflect on these materials, let us, living temples of the Holy Spirit,  be transformed into the image and likeness of YHVH, reflecting His glory.

Joy through Obedience

well-watered-gardenIn a previous blog, I talked about God wanting to bless us with happiness, as He says in Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in YHVH, and He will give you the desires of your heart”.  What brings us the greatest joy on this Earth, though?  We know it is not “seeking after our own pleasure on His holy day” that YHVH speaks against in Psalm 58.  YHVH is speaking about His Shabbat, and He goes on to say in a positive way: “if you call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken”.

This is one of my favorite passages from all of Scripture, and one of the most amazing promises YHVH makes, to bless us to the highest degree possible!  Can we be truly blessed by YHVH if we are not following His instructions in the Torah?  Consider the example of the remnant of Israel who returned from Babylon: they were back in Israel for almost 100 years before they re-discovered the Torah scrolls and the people asked for them to be read.

In Nehemiah 8, when the people came together as one in the city center, they appealed to Ezra the scribe to read the Torah Scriptures to them.  When they heard the words of the Torah, they were convicted of their sins and they bowed their faces to the ground and began to mourn and weep.  It is obvious from their reactions that they did not just come to listen to the scrolls for entertainment or casual curiosity, but rather they wanted to know the truth of the Torah commands they had broken before the captivity.  They came to hear, listen and then obey what they heard.  This is the meaning of Sh’ma in connection with the greatest of the Torah commandments: “Hear oh Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is One” Deut 6:4.  We are to hear YHVH’s word, take it deep down into our hearts, and then act on it by obeying what He says.

Going back to the promise from Isaiah 58, YHVH says that if we obey and honor Him, He will cause us to ride on the high hills of the earth.  When YHVH first brought His children out of Egypt, He also said He would make them ride in the heights of the Earth (Deut 32:13).  We know from the other passages that He meant He would give them prosperity, fruitfulness, and blessings in the land.

In Habakkuk 3:18-19, the prophet says: “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on His high hills”.  God describes Himself as one “Who treads the high places of the earth” (Amos 4:13).   YHVH created us in His image, and He wants us to keep growing closer to Him so that we can walk on His high hills and experience those same high places where He roams in both His earthly and heavenly realms.

YHVH’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours, but He has given us the ability to draw closer to Him through keeping His Torah and His appointed times (Sabbaths and feasts), coming into His presence more and more so that we can enjoy intimate fellowship with Him.  When we walk in our own paths and fail to follow YHVH’s guidance, we are like dry plants in a desert.  I would much rather be a “follower of the way”, keeping YHVH’s commands and enjoying His blessings to be “like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail” (Isa 58:11).  Give it a try – walk with YHVH and follow his instructions and the blessings of joy will flow through your life like a never-ending spring.