Tzav

Tzav

Give an order

Leviticus 6:1[8]-8:36
Jeremiah 7:21-8:3; 9:22-23

“Sacrificial Aroma”


by Mark Huey

The previous week’s Torah reading, Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1-5:26[6:7]), encompassed the first five chapters of Leviticus, continuing God’s instructions to the Ancient Israelites on the various sacrificial offerings that were to be presented to Him. Now as we turn to Tzav, the emphasis is seen on specific commands to Aaron and his sons, who constituted the Levitical priesthood, and how it was to prepare, handle, and offer the different sacrifices. Details are given regarding not eating animal fat or blood, with Tzav concluding with a description of the actual consecration of Aaron and his sons. Providentially perhaps, this week’s study precedes the annual commemoration of the Passover. Allow this timing to seriously prepare your hearts to obey the instruction for God’s people to remember the Passover—and by extension, all of His appointed times. After all, Tzav ends with the admonition that Aaron and his sons complied with all of these ancient commands of the Lord:

“Thus Aaron and his sons did all the things which the LORD had commanded through Moses” (Leviticus 8:36).

From a relatively passive explanation about how individuals were supposed to offer up sacrifices in Vayikra (Leviticus 6:1-7), our Torah portion describes an imperative command that was to be adhered to by the Levitical priesthood (Leviticus 6:8-9). We then see meticulous details specified for the different offerings, which include: the burnt offering (Leviticus 6:10-13), the grain offering (Leviticus 6:14-23), the sin offering (Leviticus 6:24-30), the guilt offering (Leviticus 7:1-10), and the peace offering (Leviticus 7:11-16). While there might be some different classifications provided by readers for the different offerings or sacrifices to be made in Leviticus chs. 6-7, one overarching theme really struck me in reviewing them all. The Holy One desired His chosen people to be continually offering different sacrifices from evening to morning:

“Command Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the law for the burnt offering: the burnt offering itself shall remain on the hearth on the altar all night until the morning, and the fire on the altar is to be kept burning on it’” (Leviticus 6:9).

The Lord was very particular about how the Levitical priesthood was to maintain the sacrifice, and He reiterated the command to keep the fires burning without interruption:

“The priest is to put on his linen robe, and he shall put on undergarments next to his flesh; and he shall take up the ashes to which the fire reduces the burnt offering on the altar and place them beside the altar. Then he shall take off his garments and put on other garments, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place. The fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it. It shall not go out, but the priest shall burn wood on it every morning; and he shall lay out the burnt offering on it, and offer up in smoke the fat portions of the peace offerings on it. Fire shall be kept burning continually on the altar; it is not to go out” (Leviticus 6:10-13).

From these instructions seen in Tzav, it is evident that the Lord desired a continual sacrificial offering, between Himself and His chosen people. We can see how a perpetual pattern of spiritual service was established for the future generations of followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to pursue.

Post-Resurrection Sacrifices

In ancient times, before the destruction of the Second Temple, the Levitical priesthood presented the various sacrificial offerings, as specified by Torah portions like Tzav. But since the ultimate sacrifice of Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) and His resurrection from the dead—coupled with universal availability of the Holy Spirit—we definitely see a shift toward the responsibility of God’s people to offer “sacrifices” to Him in the form of the worship offered by born again Believers. The Apostle Paul communicated how,

“[D]o you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Most frequently, this has been interpreted from the perspective of individual Believers being filled with the Holy Spirit. While absolutely true, it can also be viewed from the perspective of “body” pertaining to the Body of Messiah or whole community of faith as well. Certainly, the actions performed, by a claiming individual Believer, are to be reflected within the whole Body of Messiah, as we all strive to build one another up—or in some cases, tear one another down. With this in mind, consider Paul’s preceding admonition:

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

The body of Believers—whether it be individuals redeemed from sin, or corporate bodies of Messiah followers—is to be consecrated to God because of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Paul, being the teacher of Israel’s Scriptures that he was, would have understood the significance that according to instructions like those seen in Tzav, not only were the sacrificial offerings considered holy, but even those who touched the offerings were consecrated in their duties:

“Now this is the law of the grain offering: the sons of Aaron shall present it before the LORD in front of the altar. Then one of them shall lift up from it a handful of the fine flour of the grain offering, with its oil and all the incense that is on the grain offering, and he shall offer it up in smoke on the altar, a soothing aroma, as its memorial offering to the LORD. What is left of it Aaron and his sons are to eat. It shall be eaten as unleavened cakes in a holy place; they are to eat it in the court of the tent of meeting. It shall not be baked with leaven. I have given it as their share from My offerings by fire; it is most holy, like the sin offering and the guilt offering. Every male among the sons of Aaron may eat it; it is a permanent ordinance throughout your generations, from the offerings by fire to the Lord. Whoever touches them will become consecrated” (Leviticus 6:14-18).

Living Sacrifices

What duties do you faithfully perform as a Believer in the Messiah Yeshua? In your quest to obey the Lord, are you continually sanctified more and more, as you serve Him in the world? One of the most classic passages, as it concerns Messiah followers’ sacrifice before the Father, is Romans 12:1-2:

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2).

Romans 12:1-2 speaks about the people of God and the worship they are to offer before Him. What happens when we enter into worship, either individually or corporately? Hopefully the many differences we think are important to us—those human achievements or status identifiers that we think make us “special”—become far less important in view of Him and His supreme holiness. What Yeshua the Messiah has done for us, as the sinless Lamb of God, has opened full access to the Father:

“By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Messiah Yeshua once for all. Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET [Psalm 110:1]. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:10-14).

Think about the power of these statements the next time you enter into worship. Think about how much we might take Yeshua’s sacrifice, and the permanent atonement and forgiveness it offers, (utterly) for granted. In view of what the Messiah has done for us, perhaps we can better understand what Paul says in Philippians 3:8:

“I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Messiah Yeshua my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Messiah.”

Believers in the accomplished work of the Messiah can discover great joy, fulfillment, and purpose for their lives—if they can place what He has done at the center of their being. This requires a steadfast willingness to surrender to the will of God, being an imitator of God, and walking in the love of God:

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Messiah also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Ephesians 5:1-2).

Just like the fragrant aromas of the sacrificial offerings found in Tzav (Leviticus 6:15, 21; 8:21, 28), we find that the Messiah’s sacrifice was also a fragrant aroma offered unto the Father. Yet, when we offer ourselves up to the Lord in service, are we a fragrant aroma to Him—or something else? As you consider the various sacrificial offerings found in this week’s Torah portion, perhaps it would be spiritually beneficial to focus on your personal choice, to offer yourself to Him. None of us want to be a smell of burning, stinking garbage before the Lord!

Do you want to be a pleasing aroma to the Lord in all that you do? What about the privilege of being a witness for the gospel, as the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Yeshua permeates everywhere you go?

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Messiah, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Messiah to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Messiah in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 2:14-17).

While one can spend much time this week focusing on the details of the different offerings described in Tzav, perhaps it might be more necessary for you to consider just how you are personally offering yourself as a living holy sacrifice to the Lord’s service. Will this at all affect you in your approach to the Passover, which is soon coming? What about all of the things that you have to do, as a man or woman of faith?

Vayikra

Vayikra

He called

Leviticus 1:1-5:26[6:7]
Isaiah 43:21-44:23

“Faithful Confessions”


by Mark Huey

In the Book of Leviticus, Torah students get an opportunity to mainly study the sacrificial system, which was formally instituted, to cover the transgressions of human sin. The Ancient Israelites in the desert have just completed the construction of the Tabernacle, and have witnessed God’s glory descend upon the structure. The weight of His presence was so intense, that Moses was not able to enter the Tent of Meeting in order to communicate directly with the Almighty (Exodus 40:34-35).

At the end of the Book of Exodus, Moses’ credibility with the people of Israel was at its pinnacle. The instructions on how to build the Tabernacle, its furniture, and the elements needed for the priesthood, were followed to precision. The result had to be an awesome sight, to these former Egyptian slaves, who were privileged to participate in the construction projects. From a distance, they were all eyewitnesses to the pillar of fire and cloud that was guiding them by night and day.

A Sacrificial System

The main theme of the Book of Leviticus, easily seen from a survey of the text, is that it details the intricacies of the priesthood and sacrificial system, which are to regulate Israel’s national life. Without any significant interruption, it appears that the Holy One, from His new location in the midst of the community, began to address the need for individual atonement for the sins of the people:

“Then the LORD called to Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, “When any man of you brings an offering to the LORD, you shall bring your offering of animals from the herd or the flock. If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer it, a male without defect; he shall offer it at the doorway of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the LORD. He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, that it may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf.” He shall slay the young bull before the LORD; and Aaron’s sons the priests shall offer up the blood and sprinkle the blood around on the altar that is at the doorway of the tent of meeting’” (Leviticus 1:1-4).

In these opening verses of Vayikra, we discover that the sacrifices for transgressions are a very personal thing. The one who was guilty of a sin offense was to place his hands on the head of the animal, to transfer his personal guilt to the offering. The animal was then to be personally slayed by the sinner, and Aaron and his sons were to take the blood and disperse it in the appropriate places.

Can you imagine the impact this ceremony would have on you, if you were required to participate in this ritual? If you have ever slaughtered an animal—which the great majority of modern-day people have never done—you might have some understanding of the significance of what was mandatory. But can you visualize actually placing your hands on an innocent animal’s head, with the knowledge that your transgression has required a blood atonement, that (temporarily) returns you to a right relationship with your Creator?

Many of these thoughts are difficult to fathom, but as you read through the the Book of Leviticus, the variety of offerings and their significance for the array of sins of commission and sins of omission, can be overwhelming. It is understandable that many, especially in the past two millennia since the destruction of the Second Temple, have had a tendency to not really comprehend what is being communicated in the Torah about sacrifices. In the post-resurrection era, after all, final atonement for sins has been accomplished in the sacrifice of Yeshua the Messiah (Hebrews 9:28; 10:10). The propensity for Believers to focus on His atoning work can help us understand why there has not been a great deal of Christian examination of Leviticus. The ability to personalize the gravity of sin and what was required to restore a right relationship with God has been mitigated. Many just claim the “blood of Yeshua” when they transgress God’s Instruction, if they are aware of such commandments.

If we are mature Bible readers, then Torah students should be able to properly value the sacrificial instructions of Moses’ Teaching—even with salvation history having moved forward, with a permanent sacrifice for human sins available.

Personal Confession

Having a greater, conscious awareness of what God defines as sin—is one of the primary reasons why the Lord is inspiring many people to return to a foundational understanding of their faith, through a consistent study of the Torah of Moses. For by actually reading through something like Vayikra this week, and meditating upon the sins that require atonement, a man or woman should certainly be able to analyze areas of his or her life where some “fine tuning” would be appropriate. For who among us is not personally guilty of various sins of commission or omission at times? Consider the following words of the Apostle John:

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10).

Some have been known to describe 1 John 1:8-10 as a kind of “Christian confessional bar of soap.” If people can acknowledge themselves as fallen sinners, then they can know that they need redemption—something that God is surely faithful to provide! A little further on in the Epistle of 1 John, the Apostle goes on to describe some of the benefits of a true salvation experience for those who have become the children of God:

“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:1-10).

We are found to be in Him and abiding in Him—with everything about who we are as people focused on and around the Lord—then we will not sin. The problem is that in our spiritual journey, the sanctification process is not often something instantaneous. We must each learn to abide more and more in Him, and pressing into the Lord must be exercised by our free will and desire to mature.

Where do you stand in the Lord today? Take this one example from Vayikra as a starter in your personal, confessional appraisal:

“Now if a person sins after he hears a public adjuration to testify when he is a witness, whether he has seen or otherwise known, if he does not tell it, then he will bear his guilt” (Leviticus 5:1).

Have you ever been in a predicament where you were a primary eyewitness to some sinful circumstances that were being investigated or adjudicated by some authority? This could be a civil or criminal offense, from a minor misdemeanor to felony. Perhaps you did not want to be involved in the investigation or prosecution, because of your relationship to the offender. Or perhaps you were concerned about your potential loss of time. Nevertheless, for a variety of reasons, you might have justified your decision to disobey this command. On the other hand, by thinking and meditating on many of the different implications from this Torah commandment, you could hopefully become a better corporate citizen to the community where you live—especially when you realize that if you do not come forward as a credible eyewitness, then you will bear the guilt of the offender! Think about this.

But what if you are an employee at a company, and you witness some people stealing some of the company pens and paper for their own personal use? What if the owner of the company asks all the employees to report any known offenders? Are you going to come to the employer and report what you have witnessed? Or are you going to remain silent and bear the guilt of the offender?

On a spiritual level when we witness fellow Believers in sin, there is an admonition that allows us to deal with our brethren in love. In his closing word in his epistle, James gives us a strong encouragement to go to a brother or sister, turning them back to the truth:

“My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20).

This strongly parallels some teaching of Yeshua, in terms of approaching someone about a sin committed:

“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED [Deuteronomy 19:15]. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the assembly; and if he refuses to listen even to the assembly, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17).

The problem we face, on all of these levels throughout the world, is that most people do not know the ramifications of just this one Torah commandment (Leviticus 5:1). If we understood that the guilt of our lack of performance to testify for the society or company or spiritual groups when we have personal first hand knowledge of offenses falls upon us, then perhaps we would follow the instructions. In so doing, our culture would improve as offenders are duly prosecuted. Companies would avoid the loss of assets from internal theft. Congregations and assemblies would function more righteously, as the “sin in the camp” is properly addressed. Most importantly, those who refuse to confront flagrant sin, that they have personal knowledge about, would not be burdened with the guilt that should rest upon the offender, rather than the one who keeps silent.

If you take the time to reflect on all of the different offerings in our Torah portion, I am confident that you will be able to identify with some of the different sins of commission or omission. Let the indwelling Spirit convict you of where you need to confess, repent, and be restored by His grace. The Holy One of Israel is still building a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:6), to bring light to all the nations of the Earth (Isaiah 42:6). If you are one of the called out ones, chosen to represent Him in this generation, then it is your responsibility to be holy, because the Lord God is holy (Leviticus 19:2). Do not take this responsibility lightly!

V’yakheil-Pequdei

V’yakheil

He assembled

Exodus 35:1-38:20
1 Kings 7:40-50 (A); 7:13-26 (S)

Pequdei

Accounts

Exodus 38:21-40:38
1 Kings 7:51-8:21 (A); 7:40-50 (S)

“The Glory of Faith and Works”


by Mark Huey

This week’s Torah reading completes the Book of Exodus, with the final two readings being studied. For a substantial part of the selection, the instructions given to Moses for the construction of the Tabernacle, furnishings, and its components, are essentially a reiteration of the details which have been previously considered (Exodus 35:10-40-33). Apparently, the command to build a formal dwelling place for the Holy One of Israel was of such significance for the chosen people of God, that Moses repeated the specifications for it. After the failings of the golden calf resulted in the execution of some three thousand faithless rebels, Moses and the artisans returned to the work at hand. After an additional forty days and forty nights in the presence of the Lord, the radiating facial appearance of Moses helped further convince the remaining Israelites, that the instructions he was conveying were directly from the Holy One, as noted in the closing verses of the previous parashah:

“Then Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers in the congregation returned to him; and Moses spoke to them. Afterward all the sons of Israel came near, and he commanded them to do everything that the LORD had spoken to him on Mount Sinai. When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with Him, he would take off the veil until he came out; and whenever he came out and spoke to the sons of Israel what he had been commanded, the sons of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone. So Moses would replace the veil over his face until he went in to speak with Him” (Exodus 34:31-35).

With the trauma of violent death having permeated the encampment, the visible reminder that Moses was intimately communicating with the Almighty, prompted the Israelites to respond with willing hearts, as they were stirred to contribute the materials needed for the Tabernacle. Those people, endowed with supernatural skills, were given the opportunity to finally exercise their faith in the Holy One, by completing the work as prescribed:

“Then Moses assembled all the congregation of the sons of Israel, and said to them, ‘These are the things that the LORD has commanded you to do: For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a holy day, a sabbath of complete rest to the LORD; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. You shall not kindle a fire in any of your dwellings on the sabbath day.’ Moses spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, ‘This is the thing which the LORD has commanded, saying, ‘Take from among you a contribution to the LORD; whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as the LORD’s contribution: gold, silver, and bronze, and blue, purple and scarlet material, fine linen, goats’ hair, and rams’ skins dyed red, and porpoise skins, and acacia wood, and oil for lighting, and spices for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense, and onyx stones and setting stones for the ephod and for the breastpiece. Let every skillful man among you come, and make all that the Lord has commanded” (Exodus 35:1-10).

However, before Moses rested these instructions, there was a key reminder that remembering the Sabbath during the construction of the Tabernacle was not to be abandoned. As important as it would be for the Tabernacle to be assembled, so that God could dwell in the presence of His people—He still desired His people to rest (cf. Exodus 31:13-17).

While reconsidering the different elements of the Tabernacle and the priestly garments, in light of the prohibition to work on the Sabbath, from this week’s Torah reading—it is significant to note the unique intersection of faithful obedience to a command, and the completion of human works resulting in the presence of the glory of the Lord. For assuredly, when the Book of Exodus comes to a close describing the “finished” work of the Tabernacle, there was the incredible blessing of the “glory of the Lord” residing in the midst of the Israelites throughout their desert journeys:

“From it Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet. When they entered the tent of meeting, and when they approached the altar, they washed, just as the LORD had commanded Moses. He erected the court all around the tabernacle and the altar, and hung up the veil for the gateway of the court. Thus Moses finished the work. Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the sons of Israel would set out; but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out until the day when it was taken up. For throughout all their journeys, the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and there was fire in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel” (Exodus 40:31-38).

Glory or Glorify?

In many regards, the description of the blessing of the “glory of the Lord” filling the Tabernacle could be taken as an example of faith and works combining—in what was then among the Ancient Israelites, a tangible manifestation of God. However, over the course of time, the visible evidence of the “glory of the Lord” has no longer centered on a transportable Tabernacle. Instead, since the resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah, the Holy Spirit of God has taken up universal residence in the hearts of God’s people, which “glorify the Lord” in their actions:

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16).

Modern-day Messiah followers can vaguely imagine the majesty of the “glory of the Lord,” filling the desert Tabernacle. The days of the Ancient Israelites, fearfully observing the presence of the Lord, has largely shifted to faithful Believers willingly allowing the Holy One to accomplish His will through their works. There is now a definite, personal responsibility to “glorify the Lord” through faithful acts of obedience, the good works that Yeshua requires of each of us, as they emulate His fulfillment of the Torah:

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:16-19).

If someone has truly been born from above, indwelt by the Spirit of God, and given a measure of faith (Romans 12:3)—there should be a heartfelt willingness to want to obey the Torah (which has not been abolished or nullified). Such a trusting obedience to the commandments of God should evidence itself in faith, combined with good works, which together ultimately brings glory to the Lord. In his epistle, James the Just specified how it was faith combined with his works, that reckoned Abraham righteous. Faith alone was not enough, because only by demonstrating the right actions could Abraham be truly said to have faith:

“What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, ‘You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’ You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS’ [Genesis 15:6], and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (James 2:14-26).

While this passage from James is commonly quoted to emphasize the relation that faith and works have together, Paul’s teaching is not at all devoid of an emphasis on faith and works. In his letter to Believers in Asia Minor, Paul stated that eternal salvation only comes from grace and not from works—but that we have been created to walk in good works, surely something resultant of salvation:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Messiah Yeshua for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Notice that in God’s sovereign will for humanity, He has actually chosen certain faithful people to glorify Him, by performing good works that were prepared beforehand that they should walk in them. This can refer to artisans like Bezalel and Oholiab (Exodus 31), who had the privilege and God-given skill to help assemble the Tabernacle. It can also surely refer to the Prophets, the Apostles, or for that matter, a multitude of people down through the ages who have been used for critical tasks to glorify the Lord—especially by bringing others to Himself.

Self-Examination

As we come to the end of the Book of Exodus, in considering this week’s reading and trying to imagine the majesty of the glory of the Lord residing in and around the Tabernacle—it would be beneficial to make a personal assessment of just how we are individually seeking to glorify the Lord. After all, since through the ages, the Lord has chosen to use mere mortals to bring glory to Him through their faithful works—we each should take some time to introspectively challenge ourselves, to see that we are fulfilling our God-ordained destinies.

  • Are we truly walking by faith?
  • Are we living and walking by sight?
  • Are we obeying the commandments of God? Or are we trying to pick and choose which to obey?
  • Are we willfully available to let the Lord use us for His glory? Or are we seeking personal glory?
  • Are we doing the good works prepared for us to do? Or are we avoiding works due to selfishness?
  • Are we glorifying the Lord in our marriages, family, and relationships?
  • Are we glorifying the Lord in our neighborhoods and the marketplace?

This sampling of questions only scratches the surface of personal self-examination. More can be added to the above list, but what is most critical is taking the time as admonished by Paul in his instruction to the Corinthians, to test and examine ourselves so we might bring glory to the Lord:

“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves that Yeshua the Messiah is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

May we each be strengthened in our resolve to glorify the Lord, by our faithful works to persevere to the end!