Book Reviews

Check out these Adonai Shalom blog reviews of several recently published books! Each image below is a link to the review!

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The 5 Offerings of Leviticus and the Good News

Parashat V’yikra (V’yikra/Leviticus 1-5)

Does Leviticus top your list of favorite books of the Bible?

It is pretty safe to say most people would not list Leviticus as one of their favorite books of the Bible.

When I served as a chaplain, I would often ask patients to share their favorite verse or book of the Bible.

9 times out of 10, the patient would cite the Psalms, regardless of their denominational tradition.

And it’s no wonder. Psalms engage the emotions – they help us make sense out of suffering, bring comfort in times of need, and help us verbalize our praise of our Eternal Father.

Psalms, Proverbs, the Gospels, these books tend to be among the favorites.

Leviticus . . . not so much.

Holiness, Holy-days, and Hope

I do know one Torah observant sister who did tell me that Leviticus is one of her favorites. I told her she is unusual. 😉

But you see, she understands that there is more to Leviticus than lists of burnt offerings and rules.

Leviticus: Holiness, Holy Days, and Hope

Leviticus is about holiness.

Yes, Leviticus outlines the sacrificial system and it can get to be a bit difficult for our modern sensibilities to read about killing bulls and doves, but I assure you, there is more to Leviticus than that. The sacrificial system was needed in order for us to understand the magnitude of what Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) came to do for us.

The LORD is holy and He requires us to be made holy. ” . . . be holy, for I am holy . . .” (Leviticus 11:44). In order to enter into a true relationship with our Heavenly Father, we must first understand the gravity of our sin – the depraved state we find ourselves in without our Savior. We realize through a thorough reading of Leviticus just what exactly is required to obtain holiness. This deepens our gratitude for what Messiah accomplished through His death on the cross! He has made a way for us to be holy as He is holy, if we believe and trust in His Name.

Leviticus is about holy-days.

Who doesn’t enjoy holidays? Leviticus defines for us the holy-days of the LORD. It is in Leviticus that what are known as the moedim (the appointed times) are explained in great detail. The appointed times refers to specific dates and times of year when the LORD desires to meet with His people. Divine appointments. Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles are two of the better known celebrations.

Sorry to be the bearer of unwelcome news, but Christmas and Easter are not moedim – they are manmade holidays of pagan origin reappropriated by some of the Christian church. Certainly the Lord Yeshua (Jesus) is our Emmanuel and our Triumphant Redeemer. The intent is good! But these holidays fall outside that which is Scripturally mandated and at worse, perpetuate many untruths.

Leviticus is about hope.

Ultimately, as I have alluded, Leviticus is about salvation and hope.

If we know what the LORD expects and what pleases Him, we can strive to live our lives for Him. But we know we will fall short. “There is no one righteous—no, not one” (Romans 3:10).

The Good News of salvation is available to all, and part of that reality started way back in Leviticus. How could we understand our need for a Savior if we didn’t know our shortcomings?

We are so blessed to be living in these days because we know the fullness of the Good News – that the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) came to the earth, lived, ministered, was crucified, buried, rose again, ascended into heaven, and poured out His Holy Spirit (Ruach haKodesh) upon His people.

The offerings outlined in Leviticus help us understand the Good News

Leviticus 1-5 describes the different offerings that were required in order for people to make themselves right with God again. We can gain a greater understanding of so much of what occurred in the New Testament (Brit Chadasha) if we understand more fully these offerings.

Offerings & Wholeheartedness

It can be hard for us in modern times, especially in the United States, to conceptualize the 5 offerings listed in Leviticus. We are accustomed to giving “an offering” – a sum of money apart from our tithe that we feel led to give to the LORD’s work. Notice, our modern understanding of an “offering” is almost always monetary.

When I traveled to Mexico and preached in the village church, I noticed something very profound. Most of the congregation members are quite poor, but like the widow who gave her mite, the brothers and sisters did not come empty-handed. One sister would bring flowers, a fragrant gift to adorn the pulpit area. A brother would carry a basket of fruit or vegetables, a first fruits offering that would bless the pastor’s family or another family in need. These offerings required planning, love, and care.

It is easy to take out our wallet and toss a few dollars into a collection plate. It would require more forethought on our part to go out to the garden (if we even have one!) and share of our harvest. If we can learn one thing from our brethren in Mexico it is to give our offering wholeheartedly.

Following the time of Leviticus all the way through the Second Temple period, money would have been exchanged (think of the Temple moneychangers) in order to obtain what was needed for the offerings, but the money wasn’t just tossed nonchalantly into an offering plate. The individual seeking pardon had to be more involved than that to obtain purity.

Voluntary offerings and Mandatory offerings.

The offerings in Leviticus can be divided into two types: voluntary and mandatory.

The Voluntary Offerings

  1. The Burnt Offering

The burnt offering had to be a male without blemish out of the cattle or sheep, or doves or pigeons, depending upon one’s financial ability. the Bible calls this a food offering, an aroma that pleased the LORD. It was to be killed at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting (Leviticus 1:3).

That it would be killed at the doorway is significant because Yeshua (Jesus) said, “I am the Door.” The Good Shepherd laid down at the threshold of the doorway and ultimately gave up His life for His sheep. The Lamb’s blood on the doorposts prevents death from entering our lives.

2. The Meal/Grain Offering

This offering consisted of unleavened flour & oil mixed with frankincense and salt placed over fire. Mmmm . . . if you enjoy fresh baked bread, imagine the smell of a perfumed version! Throughout the Bible, oil represents anointing and sanctification – the Presence of the Spirit of the LORD. Salt was a preservative and was even involved in covenant-making! Because of its preserving quality, salt indicates an everlasting Covenant.

2 Chronicles 13:5 “Don’t you know that ADONAI, God of Israel, has given kingship over Israel to David forever—to him and his sons by a covenant of salt?”

John 7:42 “Didn’t the Scripture say that the Messiah comes from the seed of David and from Bethlehem, David’s town?”

The meal offering, as simplistic as it may seem, gives us a picture of the Everlasting Covenant we have as children of the Most High.

3. The Shalom/Peace Offering

Similar to the the burnt offering, the shalom offering had to be of cattle, lamb, or goat. This reconciliation offering restored fellowship. It foreshadowed the shalom (peace) that we receive through the sacrifice of our Savior.

The Mandatory Offerings: Sacrifices for Unintentional Sins

4. The Sin Offering (Leviticus 4-5:13)

If you have been following this blog, you may have read about the 13 (Biblical) Attributes of God listed in the book of Exodus.

Attribute 12, נֹשֵׂ֥א חַטָּאָ֑ה Nosei Chatah, describes the LORD as the “Forgiver of sin.” This verb refers to unintentional sins, meaning He forgives our mistakes and the sins we commit it ignorance.

A form of this Hebrew term is found beginning in Leviticus 4. Chata’at means to “miss the mark,” to “miss the target.”

So the sin offering was a mandatory offering for unintentional sins against God. This offering had to be completed before a person could make any other type of offering.

Different sacrifices were acceptable depending upon an individual’s rank/social status. A bull had to be sacrificed for the sins of Israel as a whole. A male goat was brought to be sacrificed on behalf of a leader. The ordinary folk were to bring a female goat or a lamb. The poor could bring a dove or pigeon to be sacrificed as the sin offering. Did you realize this was the type of offering Mary and Joseph brought when they went to Jerusalem to present the Holy Child to the LORD?

As Allen P. Ross writes in Holiness to the LORD: A Guide to the Exposition of the Book of Leviticus, “The point is that no one was barred from access or from worship on the basis of income or ability (Ross, 89).

5. The Guilt (Trespass) Offering (Leviticus 5:14-6:7)

Like the sin offering, the guilt offering was a mandatory offering but rather than it being for unintentional sins against God, this offering is for unintentional sins against another person.

Restitution was required because the offender was guilty of trespassing against or defrauding another person. If someone’s rights had been violated, a guilt offering was necessary to make things right again. We are so very guilty, but our Savior, Messiah Jesus (Yeshua) has come to save us and take all our guilt away.

Leviticus gives us a portion, and the Gospel gives us the full picture

I hope you have been able to see how each one of the offerings in the book of Leviticus relates to the Good News! As Rabbi Sha’ul (Apostle Paul) said, it may seem as though we are looking through a glass dimly, but we know that one day we will indeed see Him face to face. If we study the Scriptures in depth, we will find that passages that seem obscure or completely irrelevant to us can actually be extremely revelatory and far more intriguing than we initially expect.

I hope you found this short study on the five offerings of Leviticus 1-5 of blessing to you. I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below or consider subscribing to our monthly newsletter!

Review: “Witness at the Cross: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy Friday” by Dr. Amy-Jill Levine

Witness at the Cross: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy Friday by Amy-Jill Levine

Abington Press has generously provided me with a copy of Witness at the Cross: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy Friday by Dr.Amy-Jill Levine, Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School in exchange for my honest review. Thank you both to Abington Press and to Audra Jennings for the arrangement.

Last September, I had the privilege of being asked to review Dr. Amy-Jill Levine’s book, The Difficult Words of Jesus (here is a link to that review, if you are interested).

Now, as of December 2021, Dr.Levine has released a new book titled, Witness at the Cross: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy Friday and once again, I have the privilege of reviewing it for you! It is timely with Passover and the celebration of Messiah’s resurrection coming up so soon.


Witness at the Cross reads like an advanced Bible Study – something aimed at first or second year seminary students, but accessible to anyone willing to look deeply at the Scriptures.

I found the book’s topic intriguing because there are few authors willing to focus specifically on the events of the crucifixion day, since all of us want to jump past that to the magnificent victory of Messiah’s Resurrection. Dr. Levine does not avoid discussing the somewhat unpleasant details related to Jesus’ (Yeshua’s) death and subsequent burial. For example, she explains the significance of when Pilate granted the “corpse” released to Joseph of Arimathea rather than the “body” (Levine, 119) and the Roman tradition that “corpses of people executed by the state could be returned to friends and family as part of the celebration of the emperor’s birthday” (Levine, 120).

As I clarified in my review of The Difficult Words of Jesus, Dr. Levine is a Jewish feminist theologian who teaches New Testament at Vanderbilt. I point this out because Witness at the Cross is aimed at Christian readers, yet Dr.Levine denies the divinity of Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God. She offers up some certainly unique and interesting considerations, but there are some serious matters that would need to be addressed if this book were being used in a congregational setting.

Book Review

In the introduction to the book, Levine jumps right into some heavy topics like ethnic cleansing, matters of conscience, and credibility. But she does so in her characteristic style that makes it totally accessible. If her classes are anything like her writing, I’m guessing Levine is a very popular professor with her students! She introduces the reader to the idea of looking to each of the witnesses of the crucifixion to gain greater perspective into the Gospel accounts.

Throughout the book, Levine consistently compares the different Gospel accounts and helps clarify some of the differences between the Synoptic Gospels and John. Levine gives voice to those who often get ignored such as the bystanders and the scoffers who witnessed the events on Calvary’s hill. She begins chapter 2 describing classes she teaches at a prison in Tennessee and talks about the different perspectives of criminals, victims, and the reality that one person might call someone a terrorist who for another is a freedom fighter. Chapter 3 is focused on the soldiers, 4 on the beloved disciple, and 5 on the women.

Chapter 6 discusses Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. Most of what Dr.Levine shares here is very interesting. However, let me quote her so you will get a sense of her own attitude toward discipleship. Dr. Levine writes, “Once again, Nicodemus does the right thing, and once again he does not become a disciple. I am liking him more and more” (Levine, 133).

I have sat in Divinity School classes where a comment like this might make us laugh (albeit uncomfortably) and to the right audience, Dr.Levine’s humor and conversational style is attractive. But, as I suggested earlier, a book like this would have to be used with care and in the right context.

My recommendation:

If you are looking to supplement your Bible study time with a book that will get you focused on the witnesses of the crucifixion and their roles in the unfolding of history, you will enjoy this book. I would recommend it to mature, discerning students of the Bible.

Pastora Jennifer Mieliulis Fuentes, M.Div., Duke University

About the Author: Dr.Amy-Jill Levine

Amy Jill Levine

Amy-Jill Levine (“AJ”) is Rabbi Stanley M. Kessler Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Hartford Seminary and University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies Emerita, Mary Jane Werthan Professor of Jewish Studies Emerita, and Professor of New Testament Studies Emerita at Vanderbilt University.

An internationally renowned scholar and teacher, she is the author of numerous books including Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial RabbiEntering the Passion of Jesus: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy WeekLight of the World: A Beginner’s Guide to AdventSermon on the Mount: A Beginner’s Guide to the Kingdom of Heaven, and The Difficult Words of Jesus: A Beginner’s Guide to His Most Perplexing Teachings. Her latest release is Witness at the Cross: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy Friday. She is also the coeditor of the Jewish Annotated New Testament.

 Levine is the first Jew to teach New Testament at Rome’s Pontifical Biblical Institute. In 2021 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. AJ describes herself as an unorthodox member of an Orthodox synagogue and a Yankee Jewish feminist who until 2021 taught New Testament in a Christian divinity school in the buckle of the Bible Belt.

Professor Levine has done more than 500 programs for churches, clergy groups, and seminaries on the Bible, Christian-Jewish relations, and Religion, Gender, and Sexuality across the globe.

Witness at the Cross: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy Friday by Amy-Jill Levine

Title: Witness at the Cross: A Beginners Guide to Holy Friday
Author: Amy-Jill Levine
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Release Date: 
December 28, 2021
Genre: Religion/Holidays/Easter&Lent

ISBN-13: 978-1-7910-2112-2

PURCHASE LINKS:  Amazon Barnes & Noble | Christianbook Books-A-Million

witness at the cross Amy Jill Levine

Thank you for taking the time to read this book review! Have you had a chance to read Dr. Levine’s book yet? What did you think? Leave a comment!

Biblical Feast Days and significant dates: FREE Printable!

Rethinking holidays and the resistance we got from pastoral colleagues

When our children were born (they are close in age), my husband and I started really thinking about the Biblical feast days. We thought through the types of holidays and traditions we would want them to grow up with. We were familiar with the Jewish holidays and had participated in Passover seders and church-sponsored Feast of Tabernacles events, but we still celebrated Christmas and Easter. We were good about keeping the celebrations as focused on the LORD as possible – never incorporating santa claus or Easter eggs, but we definitely enjoyed the Christmas Eve candlelight services and the Easter sunrise services. We are both pastors, so of course we loved these events! We were trained to lead them!

Sometimes we were met with resistance from our colleagues. They wondered why we always refused to host Easter egg hunts. Pastors in the community would invite us to host joint activities of this type and we would never participate. Many would ask questions like, “Why would you turn down an opportunity to get extra visitors into your church?” They’d move from questioning us to judging us: “This is a great church growth model, and you are not taking advantage of it.” Sorry, but we have always cared much more about Truth than numbers. And we’ve been blessed because of it.

Sadly, when we tried to share what we knew about the Biblical Feast Days, most of our pastoral colleagues made it clear they’d rather just keep the status quo. Today, few church leaders want to embrace anything that might mess with the Sunday morning offerings.

So, we decided to be different. And it has been an awesome adventure!

Biblical Feast Dates
Biblical Feast Dates: Free Printable available!

Choosing to celebrate Biblical feasts rather than Christmas/Easter

Colored eggs inspired by the Ishtar or Eostre’s fertility cults never seemed to make sense to us as a positive testimony of the Resurrection victory of our Savior. (For consistency, let me inform you we do not use the boiled egg on our seder plate as is also customary in Jewish tradition). If the Messiah, the Son of God, rose from the dead in victory, is that not enough of a powerful message? Why do we need the help of rabbits to tell the Good News in a compelling way? The Resurrection really doesn’t need embellishment.

Similarly, “everybody” knows that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25. So why continue to perpetuate this day as Jesus’ birthday? Instead of giving the world ammunition to accuse Christians of being delusional and embracing idolatry, why not learn how Jesus’ (Yeshua’s) birth fits into the holy-days given by God Himself? Christmas trees have nothing to do with a baby in a manger. Bunnies don’t lay eggs nor do they rise from the dead. My question has become a simple one: Why, my dear Christian brothers and sisters, why do you participate in these traditions?

We decided that our children should be raised with the holidays given to us by the LORD and described in detail in the Bible. We began to realize there are so many of them that they wouldn’t be missing out on anything! The LORD has given us so many wonderful feast days that help us see His handiwork in our lives throughout the year.

Christian testimony would be stronger without some of these traditions

2022 list of Biblical Feast Days, traditional Jewish holidays and other dates of interest for the year

Here is a list of the Biblical holidays, traditional Jewish holidays, and other notable dates for 2022. The appointed times described in Leviticus 23 have exact specifications as to their dates so some people attempt to more closely align the dates using lunar calculations. I respect this attempt since the Gregorian calendar does not perfectly match, but our family uses the commonly accepted dates of the Jewish calendar.

Each of them has major significance to any believer who recognizes that they are part of Israel. The appointed times (moedim) are, of course, set feasts that our LORD established as “appointments” with us. He wants us to gather, to assemble, and He wants to meet with us and celebrate with us! He wants us to understand the fullness of the salvation reality – that our Passover Lamb has come, has been sacrificed, and has been raised again as the Firstfruits of the Resurrection harvest!

Some believers choose not to celebrate Purim or Hanukkah. I find there is great value in both, and will write about that another time. Similarly, one might wonder if you are not living in Israel, why care about Yom HaShoah or Israel’s independence day? But remember, whether you were born ethnically Jewish or have been grafted into the community of Israel, Israel’s victories are your victories, just as Israel’s sorrows are our collective sorrows. We weep with those who weep and we rejoice with those who rejoice.

2022 Biblical feast days

Dates for your calendar

Here is a listing of the Biblical feast days. If you would like a FREE downloadable PDF, subscribe to our newsletter, and you will receive it straight to your inbox!

March 16 Purim

April 15 Passover/Pesach

April 16-23 Unleavened Bread

April 17 Firstfruits/Yom HaBikkurim/Resurrection

April 27 Holocaust Remembrance Day/Yom HaShoah

May 3 Israeli Memorial Day/Yom HaZikaron

May 4 Israel’s Independence Day

May 28 Jerusalem Day (Yom Yerushalayim)

June 4 Shavu’ot

September 25 Yom Teruah/Feast of Trumpets/Rosh HaShanah

October 4 Yom Kippur

October 9-16 Feast of Tabernacles/Sukkot

December 18-26 Hanukkah

May your year be most especially blessed!

If you are new to celebrating the Biblical feast days and need some help or encouragement, please don’t hesitate to reach out. It can be a lot of information to take in when you are new to it all! We’d be happy to guide you or give you some pointers! Shalom!

Looking for a gift or home decor?

Here are some ideas. I remember when I was given the Bible Hebraic Stuttgartensia by a congregation I served as a student pastor when I was in undergrad. I still use it today, one of the most thoughtful and useful gifts I have ever been given! I am an Amazon affiliate so I do earn a little when you purchase something, but it won’t cost you anything extra.

Ukraine in Ezekiel’s prophecy

Ezekiel 38 & 39 describe an invasion from the north

The invasion of Ukraine under orders from the President of Russia has raised many questions as to whether or not these current events relate to Ezekiel‘s prophecies.

“You will come from your place out of the extreme north—you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great company and mighty army. You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud covering the land. It will happen in the last days. I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me—when I am sanctified through you, Gog, before their eyes.’” Ezekiel 38:15-16 (emphasis added)

Who is Gog? And Magog?

“The word of ADONAI came to me saying: ‘Son of man, set your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.'” Ezekiel 38:1-2a

Scripture does not give many details about Gog, but it is clear that Gog is allied with Magog. The Bible does not specifically state that Gog is the leader of Russia. However, most scholars reasonably interpret Gog as Russian due to Ezekiel’s prophetic declaration that Gog would come from the “extreme north.”

Gog is the ancient name for an historical king who was a foe of Israel. According to Tyndale’s Old Testament Commentary on Ezekiel by John B. Taylor, it is most probable that Gog was Gyges of Lydia (a portion of modern day Turkey). However, scholars do not have consensus as to his exact historic identity. Everyone can agree, though, that Gog makes unholy alliances serving hasatan‘s (satan’s) evil purposes.

Josephus wrote about Magog

The reputable Josephus wrote about Magog and the Scythians: “Magog founded those that from him were named Magogites, but who are by the Greeks called Scythians” (Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews, 1.6.1; emphasis added).

You may recall from history class that the Scythians were nomadic Iranians. Their tribes spread as far as Mongolia, Siberia and Ukraine. If you take out a map and look at the amount of terrain they covered, you will be astounded.

Ezekiel 38:5-6 “With them will be Persia, Cush, and Put, all of them with shield and helmet, Gomer and all his troops, the house of Togarmah from the extreme north and all his troops – many peoples with you.”

Gog’s alliances with Persia (modern day Iran), Cush and Put (Northern Africa), and Togarmah (Armenia) are already formed. The Scythians (Magogites) and Gomer inhabited lands north of the Black Sea. In order for Gog to increase his alliances with Magog, the entire region north of the Black Sea will ultimately serve Gog.

Notice, present day Ukraine is directly north of the Black Sea.

If Ukraine is part of this future alliance, it would seem to suggest that sooner or later, Ukraine will indeed fall to Russia and will eventually adopt the spirit of Gog’s hostile attitude toward Israel.

The invasion of Crimea was a precursor to all of this, as that region is now also under Russian rule.

The spirit of gog at work

Indeed, the spirit of Gog continues to be at work in our modern world.

Remember, Gog is prophesied by Ezekiel to “come up against” the LORD’s “people Israel” like a “cloud covering the land.”

The Russian President has chosen to invade Ukraine. Are you aware that Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish? According to the Jerusalem Channel, President Zelenskyy is the grandson of a Holocaust survivor. Ukraine has a long history of being home to many Jewish families.

Russia – Gog – is coming against the LORD’s people Israel. Gog has come in with tanks and missiles like a cloud covering the land. In the future, Gog will attack the nation of Israel.

End-time battle against the nation of Israel

“When the thousand years has ended, satan shall be released from his prison, and he shall come out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for the battle. Their number is like the sand of the sea. And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the kedoshim (the saints) and the beloved city – but fire fell from heaven and consumed them.” Revelation 20:7-9

As you can see, Gog will remain an integral part of satan’s team even until armageddon. The Good News is, when Jerusalem is besieged for the last time, Gog will be no more.

Ezekiel has prophesied these events and we are seeing them come to pass.

Look straight at the enemy and do not fear

Did you notice in Ezekiel 38:2 the LORD tells Ezekiel to set his face toward Gog?

Ezekiel is to stand firm and look at the reality of Gog’s ambitions. Gog devises evil in his heart to invade the unwalled villages and the quiet people living securely. The prophet is told to prophesy against him that God the Most High will “put hooks into [their] jaws.”

Yikes. It is a lot of violence. But the LORD’s people are to confront evil and remain strong in their faith. We are not to look away. We are to look forward and look toward the enemy, recognizing that victory will come.

The LORD says the purpose of all of this is “I will make Myself known in the eyes of many nations, and they will know that I am ADONAI.” (Ezekiel 38:23).

Meanwhile, while the war in Ukraine is so hard to watch, we must pray for all of the innocent families and especially the children. We must remain confident in the LORD.

The LORD’s people are to confront evil and be strong in their faith.

Though an army camp besieges me, my heart will not fear.
Though war breaks out against me, even then will I be confident.” Psalm 27:3

Psalm 27:3

We pray for a Purim victory. That Haman’s plan would fail and God’s people would prevail!

Please pray for the people of Ukraine. I hope that through Biblical prophecy, you can find hope that even when it doesn’t seem like it, the LORD is in control and there is hope. Please leave a comment so we know you are praying with us and we can pray for you, too!

It is finished: How the Completion of the Tabernacle relates to Calvary’s Victory

Parashat P’kudei (Shemot/Exodus 38:21-40:38)

Completion of the Tabernacle

This passage starts out where we left off discussing the Tabernacle’s skilled artisans, Betzalel and Oholiab. They were the wise-hearted, skilled artisans who were responsible for the craftsmanship associated with the building of the Tabernacle.

Betzalel & Oholiab

Betzalel, of the tribe of Judah “made all that the LORD commanded Moses.” Exodus 38:22. He was like an ideal congregation member. He would hear the pastor/leader’s vision and make it happen.

Likewise, Oholiab, of the tribe of Dan, was “a craftsman, a skillful workman, and a weaver of colors, in blue, purple, scarlet, and fine linen.” Exodus 38:23.

Tabernacle set-up

The final chapter of Exodus details how Moshe (Moses) set up the Tabernacle. He followed the instructions of the LORD very carefully.

Exodus 40:33 “He set up the courtyard around the Tabernacle and the altar and set up the screen at the gate of the courtyard. So Moses finished the work. (emphasis added)

Moses finished that work. It was necessary and surely it was arduous, but it was done. The tabernacle was built to foreshadow the unfolding of the story of salvation.

When the work was finished, then the glory of the LORD could come and fill that place.

And that’s exactly what happened!

Exodus 40:34 “Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of ADONAI filled the Tabernacle.”

It is finished

The glory of the LORD filling the Tabernacle would have been absolutely amazing. Can you imagine being there!? But as awe-inspiring as that was, the salvation story was still being written.

You see, One greater-than-Moses would come: Yeshua haMashiach (Jesus the Christ). He would finish a greater work. He would complete the story of salvation. A story which is HIStory – the truest, greatest story ever told.

On the cross at Calvary’s hill, Yeshua said, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

John 19:30

Now, let me remind you what is truly remarkable.

Yeshua, Himself the Temple of the Holy Spirit, imparts to us His Spirit. He died and rose again, and breathed upon the disciples so that they could receive the Holy Spirit (Ruach haKodesh). Our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Just as the Glory of God came to fill the Tabernacle, He is willing to come upon you and to fill you with His Spirit. If you have not yet received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, please let us know and we will pray for you!

We end our reading of Shemot/Exodus as the Tabernacle is completed and gloriously filled with the Presence of the Most High. The book of Exodus is a book about freedom. The Greatest Freedom you can ever experience is the freedom from sin and death.

Will you trust Yeshua (Jesus) as your Savior today? He alone can free you from all bondage and give you eternal life.

As you can see, the Bible is full of amazing connections that demonstrate the continuity between the time of Moses and the time of Yeshua! Maybe you have a favorite? Let us know in the comments and please consider subscribing to our newsletter! Are you placing your trust in Messiah Yeshua for the first time? Are you renewing your commitment to Him? Let us know how we can pray with and for you! Shalom!

The Tabernacle’s skilled artisans

Parashat V’yekhel (Shemot/Exodus 35-38:20)

Skill + Dedication + Divine Inspiration

Exodus 35-38 describes the preparations needed for the realization of the Tabernacle’s construction. It answers these types of questions:

What materials? How much would people need to contribute? Who would gather the measurements? What other objects would be made? Who were the Tabernacle’s skilled artisans?

Along with the Tabernacle would be the tent, pillars, bases, the Ark of the Covenant, a menorah, table, incense altar, and holy anointing oil. It was quite an undertaking!

Exodus 35:14

It would require skill.


And, some divine inspiration.

Exodus 35:10 says “Let every wise-hearted man among you come and make everything that ADONAI has commanded . . .” (emphasis added)

The High Value of Artisanship

Some translations read “gifted artisans” here. Every gifted artisan was to come help with the project. At that time, to be an artisan wasn’t some undervalued, underfunded craft. The Tabernacle budget wasn’t cutting out art! Quite the contrary! Artisanship was so important that the very Spirit of the LORD filled selected individuals with the gifts needed for intricate, beautiful art. God invested in the Tabernacle’s skilled artisans!

And lest you think this was a select club for men only, worry not!

Exodus 35:25 “Also all the women who were wise-hearted spun with their hands, and brought what they had woven—the blue, purple, scarlet and fine linen.” (emphasis added)

Chakam-lev חֲכַם־ לֵ֖ב

The term found in Scripture here is chakam-lev. It refers to the skilled, to those who literally are wise of heart. Most English language Bible translations translate this term as “gifted or skilled artisan.” The TLV (Tree of Life Version) Bible translation chooses the literal translation of “wise of heart.” Thus, the TLV is expressing more literally this Hebrew term. Nevertheless, the NKJV and NIV’s translations using “skilled craftsman” or gifted artisan” help us more wholly understand the term.

So to be a “gifted artisan” is to be “wise of heart.”

Now isn’t that interesting?

“Chakam-lev” literally means “wise of heart”

It is rare to use the word “wise” to describe artists in our society. Most do not receive well-deserved compensation for their efforts, and they live in the shadows, somewhat outcast due to lack of funding and perceived instability.

Indeed, artists are often misunderstood.They have to defend their work because most of us don’t quite “get” their level of creativity. Just the other day, I had an email conversation with the author/illustrator of the Word for Word Bible Comic I reviewed for him. I wasn’t grasping why he had chosen to use a specific image for a page in his forthcoming Gospel of Luke graphic novel. I imagine he finds himself explaining many different illustrations to people who might have different perspectives.

Being an artist isn’t easy!

Yet talented artists have a gift that most of us do not possess.

And that gift comes from God! God who Himself is an Artist: the Potter who molds us and the Painter who created the beautiful canvas of the universe.

Isaiah 64:7

The LORD chose two men, Betzelel and Oholiab, for the artisan work needed for the Tabernacle.

Again, notice Scripture describes the Tabernacle’s skilled artisans as “wise-hearted” and “filled with wisdom of heart.”

Then Adonai spoke to Moses saying, “See, I have called by name Bezalel son of Uri son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, understanding and knowledge in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make ingenious designs, to forge with gold, silver and bronze, as well as cutting stones for setting and carving wood, to work in all manner of craftsmanship. Also look, I Myself have appointed with him Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. Within the hearts of all who are wise-hearted I have placed skill, so that they may make everything that I have commanded you.” Exodus 31:1-6 (emphasis added)

“Then Moses said to Bnei-Yisrael, “See, Adonai has called by name Bezalel son of Uri son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. He has filled him with the Ruach of God, with wisdom, understanding and knowledge, in all manner of craftsmanship,  to make ingenious designs, to work in gold, silver and bronze, as well as cutting gemstones for setting, wood carving, to make all kinds of skillful craftsmanship.  He has also placed in his heart the ability to teach—both he and Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. He has filled them with wisdom of heart to forge all the works of an engraver, an artisan, and an embroiderer in blue, purple, scarlet and in fine linen, as well as weaving—they can perform every craft and ingenious designs.” Exodus 35:30-35 (emphasis added)

The Tabernacle was literally built with Wisdom!

By wisdom a house is built,
by understanding it is prepared,
 and by knowledge its rooms are filled
with every rare and pleasing treasure.

Proverbs 24:3-4

Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) is Wisdom Incarnate. (The Proverbs express Wisdom as personified). Thus, He was ever-present in the Tabernacle! From start to finish, Wisdom inspired the craftsmen. He chose to dwell among us and prepare a meeting place.

Now, are you ready for this?

Betzalel’s name in Hebrew means “under the protection of God!”

And Oholiab (also spelled Aholiab) means “the Father’s tent“!

Oholiab was working on the Tent of Meeting! It was to be the Father’s tent!

And when you are in the Father’s tent, surely you are under the protection of the Almighty One!

Our Heavenly Father wanted His Presence to be near us, despite the separation that was occurring due to the curse of sin and death. The Father’s tent was the place where heaven could meet earth, even if only temporary. He made a temporary way, a temporary dwelling place, but the veil was still separating us. The Holy of Holies was restricted to the high priests and the yearly days of atonement. But He sent His Son! God’s selfless Son, Messiah Jesus, came to restore what had been lost. He was the Word Incarnate and came to dwell among us. Now, His Spirit dwells within us!

See how every aspect of Scripture points to the Good News?!

Isn’t that absolutely stunning?

It leaves me speechless (which, if you know me, that’s incredibly hard to do!).

The Tent of Meeting

Truly, the Tent of Meeting was the Father’s tent.

Tents are so important to God there is even a Biblical feast featuring them!

Every year, during the Feast of Tabernacles (aka Sukkot), all of Israel is to build temporary structures (tents!) to live in for the duration of the feast. Many English Bibles translate these tents as “booths” or “tabernacles.” The Hebrew term for these temporary dwellings is “sukkah.”

Nearly every Christian believer is familiar with John 1:14a: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

But most people do not realize that the term “dwelt” there literally means “tabernacled.” The TLV translates it this way:

“And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.” (John 1:14a, emphasis added)

John 1:14

I hope you are able to see how the sukkah represents so much Biblical revelation! He came to dwell among us, to tabernacle with us – to celebrate the goodness of Life and to show us the Way of His Salvation.

More than enough

Exodus 36 describes how Betzalel and Oholiab led the work and many other wise-hearted men joined in the effort.

The people worked wholeheartedly and selflessly. So much so, the Tabernacle’s skilled artisans noticed. They said to Moses, “The people are bringing much more than enough for the work of this construction that ADONAI has commanded to be done.” Exodus 36:5

What an example for our congregations today!

They actually had to stop making so many preparations!

Moses gave an order to restrain people from bringing anything more.

For the work material they had was sufficient for all the work, with much left over.” Ex.36:7

When we do our work in alignment with the will of our Father, there will always be abundance. There will always be enough and more than enough. There may be setbacks and times when we don’t sense any bit of abundance, but if we persist in faith, it will come.

Final thoughts for today

Finally, if there is just one thing I would want my readers to take away from this is that every tiny detail in Scripture always points back to revelation of God. Even the clasps of gold for the curtains were to be coupled together by the Tabernacle’s skilled artisans “so that the Tabernacle was One.” (Ex.36:13). This immediately brings to mind the Shema, that the Lord is One. When you read the Bible, look for these small details! They may seem insignificant, but I assure you, they aren’t.

So, I hope you have enjoyed delving a bit into Exodus today and learning a bit more about the Tabernacle’s skilled artisans! I would love to hear your insights. What is it you have found in the Scriptures today? How is this passage of encouragement to you? Do you know any artists or architects who have felt under-appreciated? Is there someone you can encourage today with the Word of God? Please leave a comment and share on social media! Let’s increase Biblical literacy among believers so we can be a light for unbelievers!

Review: Gospel of Mark: Word for Word Bible Comic: NIV

Bible Gateway Blogger grid Member

Simon Amadeus Pillario, author/illustrator, has generously provided me with an ebook copy of the Word for Word Bible Comic (NIV) in exchange for my honest review. This was made possible through the Bible Gateway Blogger’s Grid. Here is a link to his blog:

Book Review

Word for Word Bible Comic: The Gospel of Mark (NIV) by Simon Amadeus Pillario.
The book is also available in Spanish:
El Evangelio de Marcos: Verso a Verso Bíblica-Cómic : Traducción NVI

The Gospel of Mark: Word for Word Bible Comic: NIV is available in both in English or Spanish (NVI). Since my husband and I have pastored Spanish language and bilingual congregations, the fact that this is available in both languages right from the start is very appealing. In other words, there’s no need to wait for a publisher to finally get around to offering it in Spanish. My first reaction to seeing the cover was, I need to show this to my tweens and see what they think! So I did. And as expected, they said, “Looks cool, yeah, we’ll read it.”

Getting kids that age interested in the Word is a challenge, so that was a win. This looks to be a very appealing format for many tweens and teens to be introduced to the Gospel of Mark!  ¡Excelente!

I love that the Word for Word Bible Comic series is straight from the Gospel text. I could easily see this book (and others in the series) being used for youth ministry in both English and Spanish language congregational settings.

Cultural accuracy and relevance

I also love the Hebraic-styled font on the cover. Anyone who follows my blog won’t be surprised! I love anything that reminds today’s believers of the Jewish roots of our faith. The illustrations inside the book are tastefully done and colorful and it seems very apparent that care was taken to ensure cultural accuracy and relevance.

Additionally, the faithfulness by the part of the author to provide teenage readers the actual Gospel text should be commended. I personally am not a huge fan of the NIV (New International Version) translation. Nevertheless, I am aware that it is popular, especially for outreach. I would be even more impressed by this effort if a version comes out that uses something like the TLV (Tree of Life Version)! Why the TLV? It restores the Jewishness of the Scriptures, most obviously the name of Yeshua which is Jesus’ Hebrew name. But in the meantime, this graphic novel series is more than adequate to express Gospel Truth.

Age Rating

The Gospel of Mark Word for Word Bible Comic is rated for ages 12+ due to infrequent “bloody violence” and “mild alcohol use.” Given the violent world around us and the images kids are bombarded with every day online and on tv, I don’t think many children would be startled by the illustrations in this book. The author included several pages on how he made his designs which I think would appeal to any young person, especially those with artistic interests!

My recommendation

The Word for Word Bible Comic has the potential to greatly increase the Biblical literacy of young people, and the young-at-heart. This book makes the Good News accessible to those who might not otherwise pick up a Bible. I wholeheartedly recommend it!


Matthew, Mark, and coming soon: Luke!

Matthew is available, now Mark, and the creators of this Bible comic are currently in the process of crowdfunding $20,000 for their forthcoming title The Gospel of Luke on Kickstarter.

Here is the link if you are interested. Moreover, if you are able to support this important work, you can give here:

It is very exciting that there will be another book available for the Gospel of Luke!

*Note: at 45-49 seconds into the promotional video on the Luke project, I do want to alert my readers that I was initially concerned about the use of sacred heart/Marion imagery in the video, though I had not come across anything like that in the Mark volume.

Mr. Pillario was kind enough to send a picture of the page in question (at right) and personally responded to me, which I also thought was very kind of him. To clarify, Pillario writes: “. . . it is in the context of Mary prophesying that she will be called ‘Blessed through generations.’ It’s an artistic representation to highlight the fact the prophecy is true: you see there’s white Mary and black Mary and even Japanese Mary.” It is certainly true that regardless of our cultural and denominational backgrounds, the prophecy is indeed true. I find Mr. Pillario’s explanation sufficiently reasonable to continue to fully recommend this book.

Title: Word for Word Bible Comic: The Gospel of Mark (NIV)
Author:  Simon Amadeus Pillario
Publisher: Word for Word Bible Comics
Release Date: 
March 1, 2022
Genre: Religion/Christian Education/Teen

ISBN: 9781914299063

Pastora Jennifer Mieliulis Fuentes, M.Div., Duke University

Additionally, if you enjoyed this book review, you may want to check out these other reviews. I have reviewed Rabbi Jason Sobel’s, “Mysteries of the Messiah” as well as Dr.Amy-Jill Levine’s “The Difficult Words of Jesus.”

Do you know the 13 attributes of God?

Parashat Ki Tisa (Shemot/Exodus 30:11 – 34:35)

Many core beliefs of Judaism are completely unknown to most Christians today despite sharing the same Hebrew Scriptures.

One central doctrine in Judaism has to do with the 13 Attributes of the Holy One.

13 attributes of God

I find that many Christians become quickly dismissive of things like this because they believe this refers to a Jewish tradition rather than Biblical tradition. Judaism is well-known for its inclusion of oral tradition and Mishnah and extraBiblical texts such as the Talmud . . .

But did you know that the 13 Attributes are found in the Bible?

Tell me, when was the last time you heard a sermon on the 13 Attributes of God at your local church?

Do you realize that knowing the 13 Attributes of God can enrich your prayer life?

Can you list the 13 attributes?

By the end of this article, you will be able to name all 13 Attributes of God!

The lamentable separation between Judaism and Christianity

Misunderstanding, prejudice, and even antiSemitic preaching have robbed many of a relationship with the Jewish community. Most Christians do not have a “Hebraic” vocabulary and do not realize what they have been missing from the earliest pages in their Bible. Some Christian groups do not even use the “Old Testament,” citing it as just that – old, outdated, and done away with.

It would be better to realize that Judaism and Christianity have several things in common:

We can all agree there is a Creator who is our Father.

Also, we agree that though mysterious, He is One.

Jews and Christians share the history of Adam and Eve, and rejoice together about the parting of the Red Sea. We share a common history of prophets, battles, and victories. Jews and Christians alike cherish the Psalms and the Proverbs.

Yet doctrines and disputes abound.

Most hotly contested between the faiths is of course the deity of the Son of God: our Messiah Yeshua who was killed and rose again to life in victory.

So there has been a major divergence and many have abandoned any notion of unity because many feel the differences are too great between Christianity and Judaism.

But what if I reminded you, the very first Christians were Jewish Christians? There does not need to be such a sharp divide. Today’s Messianic expressions of faith bring both worlds together.

I encourage all Christians to study Jewish texts and learn as much Hebrew as you can! Your faith will be greatly enriched.

And, you will be a stronger witness if you are ever given the opportunity to share your faith with a Jewish person who does not yet know their Messiah if you know some of Judaism’s basic beliefs such as the 13 (Biblical!) Attributes of God!


Much of Israel rejects Christian preaching because Christians are unfamiliar with these core Judaic Biblical doctrines such as the 13 Attributes

The Jewish tradition is very rich. It is full of wise scholarship, dedication, and quite a dose of seriousness.

Jewish people who do not yet know their Messiah see a lot of the shallow commitments within Christianity and rightfully question the validity of an unexamined faith.

They also know that many Christians do not know much if anything at all about the Torah, the shared first five books of the Holy Bible. That leads many Jewish people to reject anything preached by a Christian. Why? Because they revere the instructions that YHVH gave to them and cannot fathom why most Christians are unfamiliar with them if we claim to worship the same God.

If we are going to reach all of Israel with the saving news of the incarnation and resurrection, we need to truly know the God of Israel ourselves and value Judaism’s contribution to the faith history of Christianity.

How is it that we as believers know about Moses and the 10 Commandments (10 Words/D’varim)? How is it that we know about King David and King Solomon? We inherited these wonderful Scripture texts from our Jewish brothers and sisters! And if we dig deeply enough in the Scriptures, we will discover the 13 Attributes of God in the book of Exodus.

The 13 (Biblical!) Attributes of God

Exodus 34:6-7 lists the 13 Attributes of God.

 וַיַּעֲבֹ֨ר יְהוָ֥ה׀ עַל־פָּנָיו֮ וַיִּקְרָא֒ יְהוָ֣ה׀ יְהוָ֔ה אֵ֥ל רַח֖וּם וְחַנּ֑וּן אֶ֥רֶךְ אַפַּ֖יִם וְרַב־חֶ֥סֶד וֶאֱמֶֽת׃

 נֹצֵ֥ר חֶ֙סֶד֙ לָאֲלָפִ֔ים נֹשֵׂ֥א עָוֺ֛ן וָפֶ֖שַׁע וְחַטָּאָ֑ה וְנַקֵּה֙ לֹ֣א יְנַקֶּ֔ה פֹּקֵ֣ד׀ עֲוֺ֣ן אָב֗וֹת עַל־בָּנִים֙ וְעַל־בְּנֵ֣י בָנִ֔ים עַל־שִׁלֵּשִׁ֖ים וְעַל־רִבֵּעִֽים׃

“Then ADONAI passed before him, and proclaimed, “ADONAIADONAI, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness and truth, showing mercy to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means leaving the guilty unpunished, but bringing the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.” Exodus 34:6-7

At first glance, these two verses may not seem very significant at all. But notice, it is ADONAI the LORD speaking, and the Bible says Moses quickly bowed his head down to the earth immediately following this revelation. There’s something greater going on here than perhaps first grasps our attention.

Indeed, too often we gloss right over these very rich passages in Scripture and completely miss something incredibly poignant.

Dare I say it, most Christian pastors today are more interested in their 13 week hipster sermon series more than digging deeply into the treasure of Scripture. There, I said it.

May the LORD bring a renewed desire for Biblical literacy among believers! May there be repentance starting from the pulpits. May there be true revival once again.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6a

See why I have emphasized the richness of Jewish Biblical scholarship? Passages like Exodus 34 aren’t overlooked in the Jewish tradition, but are instead well-known, beloved aspects of Jewish worship.

YHVH Himself revealed the 13 Attributes

YHVH Himself, the King of kings, “descended in the cloud” and “stood with [Moses] there as he called on the Name of ADONAI.” (Ex.34:5)

Hallelujah! Baruch ata Adonai! As Moses called upon the Name of the LORD, the LORD Himself descended to where he was. Call upon the LORD, dear friend, the LORD will meet you where you are.

Exodus 34:6 records that the LORD Himself proclaimed these attributes. He repeats His Holy Name YHVH twice to begin.

The 13 Attributes of God – Exodus 34:6

Attribute 1:  יְהוָ֔הYHVH. Just as in the 10 Commandments/10 Words, the LORD is revealing that He is God alone and we should have no other. His Name is His essence. He is who He is, He is the Great I AM. He is Holy and we should be in awe of His presence. When you pray, remember who He is, and be in awe of His majesty!

Attribute 2:  יְהוָ֔הYHVH. By repeating His Name, He reminds us that He does not change. His Name should always grasp our attention. Whenever anything is repeated in Hebrew, pay close attention, because the repetition is there to highlight something important. It is common in Jewish tradition to interpret the repetition here as a divine reminder that YHVH is merciful even before we sin and merciful even when we do sin. I am pointing this out as part of Jewish tradition to carefully distinguish between all that is Biblical versus what man has interpreted or added over the years. When you pray, know that He is the unchanging God, the Eternal One, undeniably merciful and ever-present.

Attribute 3: אֵ֥לEL: YHVH is EL, our Elohim, our God. It is a wonder that He is willing to be our God and reveals Himself to us!

Attribute 4: רַח֖וּם Rachum. Rachum means compassionate. According to the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, this term is always only used in reference to God. He is El Rachum – the Compassionate God, full of mercy. The only One who is truly merciful and full of genuine compassion. Pray using the names of God – LORD, El-Rachum, the One who shows you the depths of His care. You may enjoy listening to this touching song, “Rachem” which is a plea for the LORD’s mercy.

“Rachem” (related to Heb.”rachum.”): Mercy

Attribute 5: חַנּ֑וּן Chanan. Chanan means gracious, showing favor. He is El-Chanan, the LORD Most Gracious and by the grace of His redemption, He grants us unmerited favor.

Attribute 6: אֶ֥רֶךְ אַפַּ֖יִם Erech Apayim. Erech comes from a Hebrew root meaning “to stretch” or “to lengthen.Apayim is the word for anger. This is usually translated as “slow-to-anger.” Truly, He stretches out His response when angered, elongating it for our benefit. His compassion is listed prior to any mention of anger – showing us that His compassions fail not and He is truly slow to anger.

Attribute 7: רַב־חֶ֥סֶד Rav Chesed. Rav means “abundant” and “great” and Chesed is “lovingkindness.” His great, abundant lovingkindness sustains us. Kindness is underrated in our society today. Take some time to really think about what it is to be kind. The LORD is so kind to us.

Attribute 8: אֱמֶֽת Emet. Emet is Truth. Rav chesed v’emet: abundant in lovingkindness and truth. The world wants to claim relative truth, but we know that in God we find the Absolute Truth.

The 13 Attributes of God – Exodus 34:7

Attribute 9: נֹצֵ֥ר חֶ֙סֶד֙ לָאֲלָפִ֔ים Notzer chesed la’alafim. “Preserver of kindness for thousands.” [of generations].

Attribute 10: נֹשֵׂ֥א עָוֺ֛ן Nosei Avon. “Forgiver of iniquity.” “Nosei” refers to “carrying”, “lifting”, “bearing”, “taking away.” He promises to lift off our burden of sin. There seems to be a nuance between “avon” and “chatah” – that “avon” is best translated “iniquity.” Nosei avon: He forgives our willful, intentional sin.

Attribute 11:נֹשֵׂ֥א פֶ֖שַׁע Nosei Pesha. “Forgiver of rebellious sins.” The LORD is willing to forgive our defiance and our transgressions, no matter how treacherously we have breached the covenant.

Attribute 12: נֹשֵׂ֥א חַטָּאָ֑ה Nosei Chatah. “Forgiver of sin.” He forgives our mistakes – our unintentional sins committed due to our ignorance.

Attribute 13: נַקֵּה֙ Naqeh. Strong’s Concordance describes the root naqab as “to be empty or clean.” He literally empties us of our impurities.

So, listing the 13 Attributes, we see that

He is the LORD. The LORD God.

He is the Compassionate and Gracious One.

He is slow to anger and abundant in Lovingkindness and Truth.

He is the Preserver of Kindness for thousands.

He is the Forgiver of iniquity, rebellious transgression, and sin.

And He cleanses us.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

All of that in just TWO verses!

Exodus 33:18-19

You may be aware that just one chapter earlier in the Scriptures Moshe (Moses) pleaded with God, “Please, show me Your Glory!” Notice how the LORD responded:

1Then he said, “Please, show me Your glory!”

19 So He said, “I will cause all My goodness to pass before you, and call out the Name of ADONAI before you. I will be gracious toward whom I will be gracious, and I will show mercy on whom I will be merciful.”

Exodus 33:18-19

The LORD kept His Promise to Moshe (Moses) made in Exodus 33

As you can see with the revealed 13 Attributes, the LORD kept His promise to Moshe. He said He would cause His goodness to pass before him – which is what happened upon on Mount Sinai. Then, He promised He would call out His Name before him. In the 13 Attributes text of Exodus 34:6-7, the LORD pronounced His Name (twice!) as introduction to the revealing of His merciful characteristics. In the 13 Attributes, we discovered that He describes Himself as the Compassionate and Gracious One, just as He foretold in Exodus 33.

I hope you were able to sense the power behind the words spoken by the LORD to Moses. The Word of God is astounding! There is always something new to learn and discover. May your faith be refreshed and your confidence in His love strengthened.

Shalom, friends.

I hope this study was of blessing to you! May you be able to meditate on the Word of God and these thirteen divinely-revealed attributes! We’d love to hear from you – comment below and share with your friends or congregation! If you would like to receive teachings like this straight to your inbox, please subscribe below!

Do you know the 13 Attributes of God?

Kohanim & the Priesthood of all Believers

Parashat T’tzaveh (Exodus 27:20-30:10)

Hebrews 5:1 tells us “For every kohen gadol [high priest] taken from among men is appointed to act on behalf of people in matters relating to God, so that he may offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.”

This verse shows that every priest

  1. is chosen/set apart from others
  2. is appointed
  3. serves as an intermediary between people and G-D
  4. offers gifts and sacrifices for sins


The priest has garnered a level of favor making him “more worthy” than others to stand before the throne of the Most High.

We must realize that to be the appointee means there is an Appointer. In Torah, we see that the LORD Himself chooses who will serve as His priests. In the B’rit Chadasha (New Testament), the Eternal One reveals that His Son, Yeshua, (Jesus), is the Great High Priest for us, the divine and perfect kohen gadol.

While Aaron, Eleazar, and the other priests (kohanim) certainly did their best in their human capacity to serve this important role of standing between the people and God, they would never be “worthy enough” to completely save the people from their sin. Every year, on Yom Kippur, atonement would be made, but after that appointed hour, sin would continue to hold a grasp on the people and guilt would never be fully eradicated. The sacrificial system was in place to help cleanse an imperfect people of their sin, but a perfect sacrifice was needed: the perfect Lamb of God.

1 Peter 2 exhorts followers of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) to understand that they are now part of the royal priesthood.

Yeshua (Jesus) came for us, served as our Great High Priest, died for us, and is resurrected in eternal new life and is seated at the right hand of God our Father. He lived on the earth in this way to teach us how to live. He served as High Priest not only to save us, but to empower us in our new roles as among the divinely-appointed priesthood. Peter describes our role as to be “pleasing” to God. We obey the LORD, not because we must or should, but because we love Him.

Now, let us consider what is truly remarkable!

From unworthy to made worthy

Formerly, we were all completely unworthy.

We could not be appointed to such a noble task as standing between earth and heaven in the Holy Place.

No sacrifice we would have offered could have ever been enough to earn forgiveness.

No gift, no gold, nothing on this earth could have served as a gift fine enough to present before the King of kings in exchange for His favor and forgiveness.


We were without hope. We were completely dependent upon the mercy of God and the obedience of an earthly priest.

Now, we are appointed as priests, and not just any old priest: we are priests of the royal lineage. We are princes and princesses, sons and daughters of the King of kings, and He delights that we serve Him. No longer does an earthly man stand between us and our Creator. We need only turn to Yeshua (Jesus), who makes intercession for us, and He Himself welcomes us, for He and the Father are One. (John 10:30).

It was revolutionary for our Lord Yeshua to say this. Every day, Jews would recite the Sh’ma, that the LORD our God, the LORD is One (Deut.6:4). So when He said, “I and the Father are One” in John 10:30, many eyes would have been opened to the Truth of His identity. Truly, this is the Son of God!

Sh’ma Y’Israel

Priestly garments

The vestments of YHVH’s priests were very specific. Today, when many people think of priests, they think of the Catholic or Mormon religion or pagan priesthoods. The fact that there are so many different religious groups that have their own priesthoods and priestly rituals shows that humanity in general understands its need for a priestly function, a moderator between us and the divine. Deep down, we know that we ourselves can do nothing and are in desperate need of a spiritual connection with the Holy One.

Unfortunately, everything outside of Scripture is errant, so we must look to what the Bible actually required and instituted. Roman Catholic priests, for example, base their apparel and actions on papal directives, not on Biblical mandate. One most obvious difference – Roman Catholics priests are famously not allowed to marry or have children, but Biblically, we know that Aaron the priest married Elisheba and had four sons.

Let’s look further at what the Bible describes as related to Biblical priesthood.

The priesthood garments of the Bible were made specifically to endow “splendor and beauty.” (Shemot/Exodus 28:2)

Exodus 28:2

The garments were skillfully woven (Ex.28:8), made of finely twisted linen (Ex.28:6, 8), and crafted of the beautiful colors of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet (Ex.28:5, 6, 8). The colors are repeated and reflect the same color scheme used for the Tabernacle. Gold surely reminds us of the Glorious nature of HaShem. Blue was an incredibly expensive color sourced using exotic snails.

I recently saw a documentary that reminded me of this. In it, the presenter explained that the land of Phoenicia translates to the “land of purple,” as the people there were famous for their dyes. Did you know it took more than 20,000 snails to source the ink just to make one purple-dyed Roman toga! It was a costly process and not just anybody could afford purple or blue clothing and tapestries.

The Israelites were a people familiar with oppression and hardship. Can you imagine the self-esteem boost the LORD was giving them by instructing them to use the most expensive of products to prove their esteemed status as the chosen people?

The crimson red reminds us of course of the costly sacrifice Yeshua made, a reality foreshadowed by the tabernacle and priestly vestments and paid for in full on the cross of Calvary.

The priests wore a breastplate covered in precious jewels engraved with the names of the children of Israel (B’nei-Y’israel) (Ex.28:15ff). Notice that in Exodus 28:15, this is a breastplate of judgment. It is reasonable to say here judgment is synonymous with such an expression as discernment rather than a more punishing role.

Yeshua’s people are exhorted to use the full armor of God in Ephesians 6:10ff. Here, the breastplate of the royal priesthood of all believers is called the breastplate of righteousness (Eph.6:14). Good judgment can be termed “right-thinking,” “right-decision-making,” but that which makes us righteous is the shed blood of the Righteous One alone. The breastplate is intended as a protection for the heart – so discernment and judgment become tempered and perfected by the righteousness imputed to the saved ones.

Shemot/Exodus 28:15-21

Today, we wear the breastplate of righteousness and our feet present the Good News of peace. Scholars believe the Israelite priests entered barefoot into the Holy of Holies. We too, ought be bare of anything except the glorious message of salvation. The garments of the priesthood were intended to display splendor and beauty.

May your life be reflective of the splendor and beauty that is yours as a child of the Most High!

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