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!

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!

We’d love to hear your thoughts about the Biblical priesthood and the priesthood of all believers! Please leave a comment, like, and share with your friends!

Shabbat shalom, mishpocha!

“Remember Yom Shabbat, to keep it holy. Ex.20:8, TLV

May you have a peaceful and restful Sabbath, dear friends.

So Bnei-Yisrael is to keep the Shabbat,

to observe the Shabbat throughout their generations

as a perpetual covenant. 

It is a sign between Me and Bnei-Yisrael forever,

for in six days Adonai made heaven and earth,

and on the seventh day He ceased from work and rested.’”

Exodus 31:16-17

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Ex.20:8, KJV

The Ten Commandments are favored even by postChristian society. They are considered the Tanakh commands that remain “relevant.” Nevermind the 603 other commandments that just so happen to reveal the heart of the Father…. It would be good to at least begin with the 10 that are well-known. Perhaps if we can learn to obey these, we will be on our way to obeying the others. Do we obey out of obligation? No. We obey because we love YHVH.

Why not begin with such a special command? The command to take time on the 7th day of the week to spend time with your Creator.

“Worship God! For the testimony of Yeshua is the Spirit of Prophesy.” Revelation 19:10cd TLV

Faith under construction

Parashat Terumah (Shemot/Exodus 25:1-27:19)

If you have spent any time in a large fellowship or congregation, surely you have been a part of a building project or have been asked to contribute a donation to such a project. Whether locating a facility for the first time, renovating an existing building, expanding, or setting out to build a brand new sanctuary, building projects can feel overwhelming. There is fundraising to do and often many of the congregation members will kindly volunteer time and labor to help.

Buildings and Renovations

Building is a natural outworking of our faith. As a community of believers grows, there needs to be a gathering place for worship. The point of the gathering space is to worship, yet so many congregations focus more on physical comforts than on a space that will truly function as a Biblical worship center.

My husband and I visited a church for several months when we were recently married. We were struck by the intensive efforts the church’s leadership was going through to push forth a building campaign agenda. It was clear that the pastor wanted a new space. But we wondered if the congregation truly needed a new space. Was the church growing? It appeared to be. Were there enough parking spaces? Always. The new building didn’t seem to be an immediate need, but we appreciated the fact that the church had plans to grow and to witness in their community. What felt unsettling were the enormous posters containing illustrations of the proposed sanctuary, auditorium-like with movie theatre type chairs and all the opulence of a modern American megachurch.

Humility vs. Comfort

You know what church buildings are my absolute favorite? The small ones. The humble ones. The ones where you can tell the people came together and worked to create a space for worship. The village churches in parts of Mexico that we have visited where all they have are some wooden benches and a pulpit. The people gather because they love the LORD. And He meets them where they are.

John 4 23 24

Even here in the U.S., a lot of thought used to go into the worship space from the perspective of how it would facilitate the worshipper to concentrate on the LORD. I grew up in a church that had Congregationalist roots. The design of the sanctuary is one of the best I have ever seen, and I don’t just say that because I grew up there. It is very simple, and the choir was placed in the back of the church. This was done so that the choir was considered part of the congregation and their voices would be heard easily by all. The idea was that regular church members would be inspired to participate in the congregational singing.

Today, most every church arranges for their music team to stand in front on a platform singing at everyone, very much like a concert. The music is so loud that nothing is missed if folks don’t feel like singing along. I am not against having some leadership up in front, but careful consideration about the design of our services and gathering places is warranted. Building campaigns can be a good thing if our focus remains on pleasing the LORD and our spaces have room for genuine, pure, Biblical worship & song, freedom in the Spirit, and Biblical dance.

What is most important in any building is the collective effort put forth in its construction.

Not everyone is a skilled contractor, but everyone can contribute in some way beyond just financially.

Building the Mishkan (Tabernacle)

In Parashat Terumah, Shemot/Exodus 25:1-27:19, we can see that building design and collective involvement is important to YHVH. He gave extremely specific instructions about how to the build the Mishkan (Tabernacle).

In Exodus 25:2, there is an unusual Hebrew construction (pardon the pun): v’yiqchu li terumah. “Take for Me an offering/a portion/a donation.” The phrase in Hebrew: וְיִקְחוּ־לִ֖י תְּרוּמָ֑ה. The full verse reads: “Tell B’nei-Yisrael to take up an offering for Me. From anyone whose heart compels him you are to take My offering.”

What is unusual about v’yiqchu li terumah is that it doesn’t say, “Have the children of Israel give to Me.” It seems to suggest more of a compulsion – they are to give! They are to give of themselves – and their hearts ought compel them! If a member of the community will volunteer of their time and talent, they are to do so wholeheartedly!

Furthermore, “for” is a word inserted for us as English speakers. The Most High says, “Take Me.” Take Him into your heart; your body His temple. The tabernacle was designed as a meeting place and He wants an appointment with you, Child of the Most High. Mishkan” literally means “Adonai will dwell within.” God is asking for a donation – He wants you.

Will you allow the Eternal One to dwell within you?

Will you allow Him to build up your faith and construct in you something beautiful of His own design and perfect plan? Will you focus on what really matters instead of the external accoutrements that tempt us to start church shopping? Will you put on the garments of praise, seek Him in His holy place with all your heart and allow Him to adorn you with the beauty of holiness?

Each of us is a work under construction. The Great Architect has a blueprint, that if you’re willing to follow, you will stand tall as His magnificent work of art. Remember, every building needs a strong cornerstone, and Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) is our Chief Cornerstone:

“You have been built on the foundation made up of the emissaries and prophets, with Messiah Yeshua Himself being the cornerstone. In Him the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple for the Lord. In Him, you also are being built together into God’s dwelling place in the Ruach.” Ephesians 2:20-22.

Ephesians 2:20-22

Baruch atah Adonai!

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Escaping Egypt

Parashat B’shalach Shemot/Exodus 13:17-Exodus 17

“After Pharaoh had let the people go . . . ” Ex.13:17a

These words of Scripture are well-known to the children of the LORD because here the Word of God describes what happened “after Pharaoh had let the people go . . .” (Ex.13:17a).

We know this book in English as “Exodus” precisely because of this very central event.

Building a new dream

The oppression was over. No longer would the children of Israel (b’nei Yisra’el) be forced to build up Pharaoh’s dreams of towering monuments and elaborate buildings. Now they could build up the dream that had nearly been buried within them – a dream to live in freedom under the authority of their King, the King of kings, the God of Israel.

Adonai brought them out of Egypt and was wise in the way in which He led them to their next destination.

Leaving Egypt in faith or in fear? Probably a little bit of both!

Undoubtedly, some of the people of Israel would have been walking out of Egypt as though on eggshells, fearful that their previous masters would come and round them up to shackle them back into their previous enslavement. Their trepidation was not unfounded.

Surely the young ones would have tried to run ahead to get away as quickly as their youthfulness could carry them.

The elders who had the wisest of faith could walk with their heads held high – confident that the LORD had been with them all along, and would not fail them.

They would have sang their own songs just as Moshe (Moses) and Miryam (Miriam) sang and danced in the desert after the Red Sea Crossing.

Exodus Shemot 15 11

The LORD’s faithfulness to His people to bring them out of Egypt and through tough times has inspired so many expressions of this truth.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come.

‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.

Amazing Grace, John Newton, 1779

Did you know that the author of “Amazing Grace,” John Newton, had been a slavemaster? A pharaoh of his time, it is said that Newton experienced a heart change and wrote that famous hymn.

How great a salvation that can change hearts so dramatically.

Things could have been different for the Pharaoh of Moses’ time, but he refused to repent and found his end at the bottom of the Red Sea.

The LORD has done something wondrous in your life! Be confident therefore that He who promised you is faithful (Hebrews 10:23). As Rabbi Sha’ul (Paul) wrote to the Philippians: “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the Day of Messiah Yeshua.”

It is easy to become fearful, especially when you sense the dangers in life.

The enemy wants to paralyze you with fear, but you can fight back.

Allow the Ruach haKodesh (the Holy Spirit) to endue you with His Holy power and help you to walk in the wisdom of faith.

Philippians 1:6

How to handle enemy threats: remember the LORD alone is Sovereign

One road out of Egypt would have led the Israelites straight into the land of one of their enemies: the Philistines.

This passage begins with the concern from the LORD Himself that “. . . .The people might change their minds if they see war . . .” Exodus 13:17

You may be interested to observe that this parasha also ends with talk of war (Ex.17:8ff).

You can be living a very holy life, full of faith, and walking in the freedom granted to you by faith in G-D’s Son, Messiah Yeshua (Jesus), but that doesn’t mean you will not face difficulties.

The enemy will want to surround you, but the LORD Most High decides when He will allow this. The enemy isn’t all-powerful and he must submit to his limitations. Only ADONAI is All-Powerful. Only ADONAI is All-Merciful and All-Knowing, Ever-Present, and Worthy that we put our trust in HIM alone. He will give you the Victory over the enemy!

Are you easily disheartened?

Are you ready for the battles ahead?

The LORD in His Divine Sovereignty knew that many of the people would lose heart and return to their Egyptian taskmasters if they had to face war so soon. “. . . .The people might change their minds if they see war and return to Egypt.” Exodus 13:17

The people were armed (Ex.13:18) but they would not have to fight the Philistines, not yet. The LORD would help them navigate the Sinai Peninsula at a pace that they could handle (since many of them had a grumbling and quarreling habit). Surely the wandering in the wilderness would give them a stamina they would need once they did engage in future conflicts.

Israel faced attack by the Amalekites

It wasn’t long when the Israelites had to indeed fight. They were attacked at Rephidim by the Amalekites. Amalek was a grandson of Esau, and sadly the Amalekites became known as a defiant and evil people. They were so terrible toward Israel that Jewish tradition today equates Amalek to pure evil and darkness. If you know the story of Hadassah (Esther), Haman the evildoer was, you guessed it, an Amalekite. The Amalekites took advantage of the seeming weakness of the Israelites in the wilderness, but by the lifting of hands – Moshe’s in this case – Yehoshua (Joshua) under Moses’ leadership, led the Israelites to victory.

The Amalekites’ behavior was so wicked that ADONAI told Moshe, “Write this for a memorial in the book, and rehearse it in the hearing of Joshua, for I will utterly blot out the memory of the Amalekites from under heaven.” Ex.17:14


It was after this victory that Moshe (Moses) established an altar, naming it “The LORD is my banner:” “ADONAI NISSI.”

You may enjoy this song that speaks to the victories of the Exodus days. I particularly enjoy this song around Passover, but it is perfect for this parasha, and any time of year of course! His victories never fade, and every day, all year, He is worthy of our exaltation and adoration. He has delivered us and brought us a mighty long way!

Egypt – Bethel Music

If you are looking for another beautiful worship song that relates to this parasha, perhaps you will enjoy this lovely song which uses the words of Revelation 15 describing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb.

The Song of Moses by Paul Wilbur

And they are singing the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and wonderful are Your deeds,  Adonai Elohei-Tzva’ot! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the nations! Who shall not fear and glorify Your name, O Lord? For You alone are Holy. All the nations shall come and worship before You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed!” Revelation 15:3-4

The LORD promises to deliver you

Perhaps you are going through a difficult time right now. Many of us are weary from the ongoing pandemic. Some have been affected by the economic uncertainties and the rising inflation. Perhaps someone you know or loved succumbed to Covid-19. You are not alone.

What ever Egypt you find yourself bound up in, the LORD has promised to deliver you. If you have placed your trust in Him, He will help you through this and bring you to a promised land in which you will find rest and comfort, and peace. Do not fear when the enemy tries to attack you from your blindspots.

Do not take a step out of Egypt only to go back into it.

Wait on the LORD and He will guide you safely across the seas of doubt, depression, anguish, illness, or financial ruin.

He will guide you safely across even when the winds of change or storms of fury attempt to sink your lifeboat. Have faith!

You might even graduate from walking through the waters to walking on the water!

Meet your Savior, Messiah Yeshua, Jesus, the One who calls us all to have enough faith to walk on the waters, keeping our eyes fixed on Him!


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Hidden on purpose, for a purpose: Yokheved’s son, Moses

Parashat Shemot Exodus 1-6:1

Exodus (Shemot) 2 introduces us to Amram עַמְרָם and Yokheved יוֹכֶבֶד (commonly rendered Jochebed in English).

It is important to note that their names are not revealed in Exodus 2. We don’t find out their names until a genealogy reports their names in Exodus 6:20.

Amram & Yokheved, of the tribe of Levi

What is revealed in Exodus 2 is this special couple’s status alone. They are of the tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe. Scripture tells us a daughter of Levi is married to a son of Levi and they have a son.

Amram’s name in Hebrew means “Exalted Nation.” Yokheved’s name means “YHWH is Glory.” Their son would be a deliverer through whom the holy nation would indeed be exalted and the LORD’s Glory made known.

If we do not spend time in study of the Scriptures, we would not realize the richness hidden there. These two Levites in Exodus 2 appear nameless and nondescript, yet look how instrumental they were in Adonai’s plan!

Proverbs 25:2 “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter and the glory of kings to search it out.”

As mentioned above, Yokheved had a son. Scripture describes the baby boy as “delightful!” The situation in Egypt was horrifically oppressive at that time, so due to the danger, Yokheved hid her son. She managed to hide the child for 3 months.

Ex.2:3 “But when she could no longer hide him, she took a basket of papyrus reeds, coated it with tar and pitch, put the child inside, and laid it in the reeds by the bank of the Nile.”

Yokheved was a wonderful mother. She did what she could to protect her baby and trusted in the LORD G-D of Israel as she placed the basket upon the Nile’s waters. And protect him, He did, for this would be no ordinary child: floating in that basket was Moses (Moshe), the one who would lead Israel out of Egypt.

The LORD uses the simplest of vessels – from a basket to a manger – to demonstrate to the world that His power is made perfect in raising up the lowly.

The LORD uses the simplest of vessels – from a basket to a manger – to demonstrate to the world that His power is made perfect in raising up the lowly.

Truly, all that our Heavenly Father has done is marvelous, and always exceedingly above any expectation or level of understanding. He created you, and He did so with a purpose.

What is hidden within you?

What is it that you are hiding within you? Has the LORD placed a burden or a talent or a calling deep within you? If you pray and prepare, the time will come when your gift will no longer be able to be hidden!

“A man’s gift makes room for him, and leads him before great men.” Proverbs 18:16

Proverbs 18:16 “A man’s gift makes room for him, and leads him before great men.”

Though Moshe stuttered, the anointing upon his life made room for him even in the presence of the highest authority in the land, and Pharaoh had to cave in and let the people of Israel go. It was a temporary deliverance, but many years later, the Greater Deliverer would come.

And though there was no room in the Bethlehem inn, the Anointed One’s presence alone caused room to be made in the hearts of those who would seek and follow Him. When Messiah Yeshua (Jesus the Christ) came to this world, born in that lowly and humble setting, few understood He was the One who would reign eternally.

Revelation requires an element of hiddenness

Revelation is a key component of Scripture. In order for something to be revealed, it would have to first be hidden. It is a Scriptural principle, and Yeshua taught us:

Mark 4:22 “For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, nor anything kept secret except that it would come to light.”

There is a time and season for all things, and many of those things that were previously unknown or hidden to us have now come to light. Will you faithfully follow the One who has been revealed as Messiah of Israel, the Lamb who was slain, the Savior of all those who would believe, the King of all kings? Will you allow Him to use you, to shield you and to lift you up to impact the nations with the Good News of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus)?

How will you, like Yokheved, trust in the process and witness the LORD’s greatness revealed?

Moshe was of Levitical lineage, which was crucial to the unfolding of Biblical prophecies. If you have come to believe in Messiah Yeshua and have trusted Him with your salvation, you are of royal lineage, too.

1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

Moses was hidden on purpose, for a purpose.

The LORD used him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt!

He made a way where there seemed to be no way, and He can do the same in your life, too.

May the LORD use you mightily and bless you on your journey!

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The increase of Israel’s border, little by little

Parashat Mishpatim (Exodus 21:1–24:18) 5781 B”H

The nation of Israel is truly flourishing. The land is prospering! Deserts are blossoming, becoming lush and full of greenery. Israel is an agricultural marvel and nations around the world are beginning to take note of their agri-tech. This really is no surprise to anyone familiar with the Scriptures:

The wilderness and dry land will be glad.
The desert will rejoice and blossom like a lily.

Isaiah/Yeshayahu 35:1, TLV

Israel has also become a major global contributor in the realm of medicine, developing treatments and conducting significant vaccine research during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The tiny nation of Israel has been able to accomplish all of this, through the blessing of the Most High, despite being

  • a tiny country only about the size of New Jersey.
  • surrounded on every side by nonJewish entities, most of whom are hostile
  • a relatively new country, only 73 years old.

Little by little, that special star on Israel‘s flag is shining brighter and brighter and it is becoming more difficult for the rest of the world to ignore.

Israel’s determination reminds me of one of my favorite childhood stories: The Little Engine that Could! No mountain is too high, no obstacle too complex. A way will be made where there seems to be no way and the nations will stand amazed.

With the odds stacked against them, Israel remains victorious and no one will ever extinguish the Light.

But it has taken time. Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither were the skyscrapers in Tel Aviv. The successes at Golan Heights, too, took time, but serve as an illustration of the promises Adonai has kept that He made to Israel in Exodus/Shemot 23:29ff:

I will not drive them out from before you in a single year. Otherwise the land would become desolate, and the animals of the field will multiply against you. But little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you are fruitful. Then you will possess the land. I will set your border from the Sea of Reeds to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates River. For I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you are to drive them out before you. Make no covenant with them or with their gods. They must not dwell in your land and cause you to sin against Me, for if you worship their gods, they will be a snare to you.”

Exodus/Shemot 23:29-33, TLV, emphasis added

It’s safe to say that people who love Israel want the Jewish homeland to be safe and secure and Israel’s enemies to be scattered. Today. Now! But God’s wisdom is infinitely greater than our own, and all of the blessing and favor promised to Israel is being realized right before our eyes, little by little.

Sometimes the LORD chooses to do things little by little so we can pay attention and see His handiwork! If a change happens quickly, while it seems miraculous in the moment, we so quickly forget. Whereas if a change happens little by little, generations can live in the light of the ongoing victory.

Perhaps you feel like you’re facing an uphill battle.

Maybe you’ve set a goal that feels unattainable.

Remember, nothing is impossible for God! (Matt.19:26; Luke 1:37)

After the verses that promised the victorious conquest of Canaan, YHWH again spoke through his servant Moshe and the people were unanimous, in one accord, promising that all that Adonai says, they would do. They promised to obey. Sadly, we know humans fall short on their promises, and a Messiah would be needed to save them from their own undoing just as all of us fail to measure up even to promises we make to ourselves! We promise to change. We convince ourselves we will do better next time. But do we? Sometimes. But definitely not always. How great is our need for a Savior! Praise Adonai that He sent His Son, Messiah Yeshua, Jesus the Christ, to save us from so much sin.

The LORD had given so much instruction and law, rules for the people to abide by in order to ensure a positive and ongoing relationship with their Creator and also to establish and ensure a righteous community. There was so much to absorb, so the LORD made it succinct. The 10 Words, or Commandments, would be given to the people, encompassing the heart of Torah. They were written on tablets of stone. Aren’t you grateful His Word is now written on the tablets of our hearts? His Spirit lives inside of us, when we surrender to Him!

It is clear that you are a letter from Messiah delivered by us—written not with ink but with the Ruach [Spirit] of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

2 Corinthians 3:3

“Se alegrarán el desierto y la soledad; el yermo se gozará y florecerá como la rosa…” Isaías 35:1a

Isaiah 5:7a

Boundaries and Breakthroughs: Parashat Yitro

The boundary set at Mount Sinai

Shemot/Exodus 19 describes the awe-inspiring events at Mount Sinai leading up to the giving of the renowned Ten Words, or better known as the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20.

The holiness of Adonai, the Eternal One, is such that specific boundaries are given so that the people would not go up onto the mountain or even so much as touch its border. The consequence wasn’t minuscule: anyone who dared to touch the mountain in disobedience would be killed. Exodus 19:13, “Not a hand is to touch it, but he will surely be stoned or shot through. Whether it is an animal or a man, it will not live.”

This sounds harsh to our modern sensibilities, but this was not just any spectator event. The LORD God – YHWH Himself came down onto Mount Sinai, accompanied by thunderings, lightning, a thick cloud and smoke, fire, and an earthquake.

This was the real deal: real special effects far more emotive than any movie you’ve seen. The bottom line: The people could not handle this.

They needed an intermediary and Moshe (Moses) was the one chosen for the job.

The Almighty Creator came down onto Mount Sinai and called Moses up to meet with Him.

A forbidden breakthrough

Exodus 19:21, “Then ADONAI said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to see ADONAI, and many of them die.”

There is an interesting term: “break through.”  יֶהֶרְס֤וּ (transliteration: yehersu). The Hebrew root here is “haras” הָרַס, but what is interesting is that here in verse 21 and then again in verse 24, this verb appears as the intransitive verb (yehersu,) the only two occurrences in the Hebrew Scriptures. Perhaps it is a greater play on words in the English language than even in Hebrew, as what follows should surely grab the reader’s attention:

Exodus 19:24, “‘Then ADONAI said to him, ‘Go down. You are to come back up, you and Aaron with you. But do not let the kohanim and the people break through to come up to ADONAI, or He will break out against them.”

Many well-meaning devotional books and prayer leaders encourage believers to “pray for a breakthrough” or even “demand” that a spiritual door be opened unto them. These ideas are based off of Scripture, but can contribute to a proud, almost defiant attitude when not balanced with true rootedness in Scriptural teaching. Could this be the very attitude cautioned against in Exodus 19? A self-righteous posture can cause people to cross the line, risking quite the chastisement. The Lord God is Holy and His people must be made holy, brought near only by the blood of the Lamb.

Indeed, megachurch pastors and TV preachers have coined some phrases that have become extremely popular in Christian circles, but they are not all entirely Biblical:

  1. “The Prosperity Gospel.”

The “Prosperity Gospel” refers to the teaching and focus on the idea that if a person prays hard enough and gives enough of their money (tithe plus offerings) they will automatically be prospered with wealth. It is rooted in a very American mentality of material entitlement.

A righteous person will prosper by faith, but not in the materially-obsessed manner propagated by self-aggrandizing tv “evangelists” who egregiously spend millions of their victims’ dollars on private jets.

Might this be an example of how twisting truth breaks through what is right? How many famous people ultimately end up in shame?

2. “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

Sometimes well-meaning people of faith will use this phrase to attempt to comfort someone in the face of tragedy. The Bible says you won’t be tempted by more than you can handle(1 Cor.10:13), but that is slightly different.

When I have served as a hospital and hospice chaplain, I have found it helpful at times to explain to fearful or grieving people that sometimes God actually does give you more than you can handle. You want to know why? Because then you have to depend on Him and “lean not upon your own understanding.”

The congregation at Mount Sinai didn’t lean upon their own understanding. They obeyed the word of God given through Moses and lived to tell about it.

3. “You need a spiritual breakthrough.”

This one truly seems harmless enough. In fact, it is partly true. Daniel prayed and fasted for 21 days and there was a “spiritual breakthrough:”

“Then [Gabriel] said to me, ‘Don’t be afraid, Daniel! For from the first day that you set your heart to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard. I have come because of your wordsHowever, the prince of the kingdom of Persia resisted me for 21 days, but behold Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me because I had been detained there with the kings of Persia.”

Daniel 10:12-13, TLV, emphasis added

But notice, Daniel’s prayer influenced an outcome in the heavenly realms. In other words, he prayed a breakthrough prayer that benefitted heaven, rather than himself. His was a selfless prayer. The problem is, people get all excited and look to “make a breakthrough,” usually for their own plans or dreams. False preachers profit off of this emotionalism and encourage people to pray for their breakthrough, using quasi-Biblical allusions such as the widow persisting with the unjust judge in Luke 18 or Jacob’s insistence in Genesis 32 that he would not stop wrestling until he received a blessing.

Kingdom of kohanim, Holy Nation

The people were instructed not to come near, but they still had a role. They needed to be clean and part of creating a consecrated boundary around the mountain.

Exodus 19:23 “Moses said to ADONAI, ‘The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for You are the One who warned us, saying ‘Set boundaries around the mountain, and consecrate it.'”

Earlier in the chapter, ADONAI reveals to Moses that He intends for the people to be His own treasure from among all people! He also reveals that He wants them to be a kingdom of priests (kohanim) and a holy nation.

The people responded positively when Moses shared this news.

“All the people answered together and said, ‘Everything that ADONAI has spoken, we will do.'” Ex.19:8

They were later given ten specific boundaries – those commands that would shape their identity, the first one recognizing first and foremost that this God, the God of this people, the God of Israel, ADONAI, YHWH, He alone is God.

Yeshua the High Priest

Moshe was a great leader. The Lord used him for so many mighty works, but there came someone even greater than Moses, the One who was and is and is to come, Yeshua ben Elohim:

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, partners in a heavenly calling, take notice of Yeshua—the Emissary and Kohen Gadol we affirm. He was faithful to the One who appointed Him in His house—as was Moses also. For He has been considered worthy of more glory than Moses, even as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. Now Moses surely was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, for a witness of things to be spoken later. But Messiah, as Son, is over God’s house—and we are His house, if we hold firm to our boldness and what we are proud to hope.

Hebrews 3:1-3, TLV

Yeshua’s death exemplified the reality that holiness and sin can’t mix when He took upon Himself the sin of the world. He took it all upon Himself so that He Himself could consecrate us, and we could now approach the throne of God without fear.

Hebrews 4:16 “Therefore let us draw near to the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace for help in time of need.”

Never forget the majesty and awe that accompanies the holiness of our God. We must not approach Him casually! Yes, Yeshua is our Friend and our Brother, but He is also the Almighty God and King Forever, the Victorious One who conquered sin and death so that we might be saved from the wrath of God and come to His Holy Mountain.

May our response be like those awaiting Him at the base of the mountain: “Everything that ADONAI has spoken, we will do.”

Boundaries and Breakthroughs