What does He mean when He says "arrange the lamps" so that the lights "give light in front of the lampstand"? Why does it matter which way the flames from the lamps face?
The Menorah itself is highly symbolic. It represents the entire Word of God, which, according to Psalm 119:105 is the "Lamp unto our feet and the Light unto our path." There are 66 pieces that make up the lampstand itself. "Coincidentally," there are 27 pieces on the right side of the Menorah and 39 on the left when you include the center base of the candlestick. In the same way, there are 27 books of the New Testament and 39 in the Old, which is the foundation of the entire "candlestick." It also represents the 7 spirits of God, the 7 churches of Revelation, and the Torah itself, which is the instruction that brings light to the 7 continents.
Within the candlestick itself there's a hierarchy. The center lamp is called the Shemash and is the head servant candle. This candle represents Yeshua. The other six candlesticks represent those that are his. Six is the number of man. When the text says that the lamps need to be arranged, what that actually looked like in real life was that instead of the wicks coming directly out of the center of each bowl that was filled with olive oil, the lamps on the left of the center would have their wicks coming out of their bowls on the right side and the lamps on the right of center would have their wicks come out from the left. It is as if each wick was an individual that was staying inside their own bowl but leaning out as far as they could toward the center lamp. In this way, all the flames of the three branches on the right were leaning toward the center lamp and all the flames of the branches on the left were leaning toward the same center lamp, as if they were paying it homage. This is the meaning of "toward the front."
In Hebrew, "front" is actually the word "paynim" (paw-neem), which means "face," like the face of a person, or "presence." In Hebrew thought, the center candle that supports the other 6 branches was the "face" or "presence" of the entire lampstand. It is from this thought process that they are commanded to make sure the other six flames did their part to face the "face" of the lampstand. In the same way, we are to let our light shine in such a way that we are illuminating the face of God to a dark and weary world.
Read: Mathew 5:14-16, 1 John 1:5-7, and 1 John 2:3-11
The Levites could not just walk into their calling and present themselves to God. They had to prepare to encounter their king.
Read Exodus 19:5-6 and 10-11.
"The waters of purification." These are the ashes of the red heifer that were mixed with water. The entire red heifer sacrifice is a beautiful picture of the death, burial, and resurrection of The Messiah. From the scarlet thread, hyssop, cedar beam, newly-hewn grave, three days, mixture of blood and water, etc...all the same elements are present in both. But the real significance is in the fact that it was from this special sacrifice and water that the entire priestly system could be initiated. This was the water that was used to cleanse the entire Temple each time it needed to be rededicated. In the same way, it is the actual Torah itself (the water) that when mixed with the death of Yeshua (the ashes) allows us to enter into new priestly service to Him. It was His death that brought about a new kind of temple service, where everyone sprinkled by His blood would become priests and kings.
They were also required to be a wave offering unto Yahweh. A wave offering is an offering that is waved before the Lord from something that is fully mature. Like the two loaves of bread that are waved during Shavuot, fully mature from seed to bread, so these priests have become mature and complete, accomplishing all that was asked of them in preparation to go into service.
Read Romans 12:1-2
In Numbers 8:10, why does Yahweh ask the Israelites to "lay hands" on the Levites? What is in His mind when He gives such a command?
Read 1 Timothy 4:14, 5:22 and Mark 16:18.
Why all this laying on of hands? What is so significant about it?
Well, the word in the Hebrew is "sawmak" and it literally means "to lean on" for the purpose of "having confidence in." When you lay hands on someone to ordain them into service or lay hands on the sick, you are, in reality, saying, "I have confidence in you. I believe in you. I can trust you and lean on you for this work." Or, in the case of the sick, "I am literally leaning on you as if you were strong and healed. I have confidence in your body becoming whole." The laying on of hands was a serious thing in biblical culture and was not taken lightly. It is the one laying on the hands that is saying that he's leaning on the one being anointed! He is saying, "You are worthy to be trusted."
So when Yeshua was anointing and laying His hands upon His disciples, what was He really doing? What was He really saying to them? "I trust you. I'm leaning on you to do My work. I have confidence in you."
Read 1 Timothy 2:8
With all this in mind, why are we lifting up our hands to Him? You got it. With that action we are saying symbolically that we are wanting to lay our hands on Him because our confidence is in Him, our trust is in Him, and we are leaning upon Him.
Read Proverbs 3:5-6
How much do you lean on your own understanding and how much do you really trust Him? Do you get upset when things don't go your way? Trust remains in a state of shalom knowing that He has it all under control and He is trying to teach us something.
Originally at Mount Sinai, it was the firstborns who were going to be chosen to be priests before Him. This would make a priest in every family. He chose them from the moment of the last plague. From that moment, the firstborns were His. But because of the golden calf incident, they could no longer serve as priests. Because the Levites chose Yahweh, He chose them instead. They became the new priests.
Read Revelation 1:6 and Exodus 19:6
The priests had to be dedicated to Him.
Do you know what the Hebrew word for "dedication" is?
Read John 10:22
In the Hebrew, Hanukkah literally means to "dedicate, initiate or inaugurate." But what's interesting is the root word "Hanuk" means "to train or discipline," which is the prelude to the dedication or initiation. Just like the priests of the Temple, we are to be trained, discipled and disciplined in His word so that we can truly be used in service for Him. What's amazing is the training itself is the dedication! In Greek thought, the training is separate from the inauguration or dedication. In Hebrew thought, the training IS the dedication. Both Yahweh and the priest are dedicating themselves to the work that needs to be done.
Read 1 Corinthians 12:7-11
How "dedicated" are you to following Yahweh and how much do you work on destroying the works of the flesh through the power of His Spirit? He matches your dedication level. He empowers and seeks to assist those who are seeking Him.
Yahweh does not choose to reveal Himself to us outright and in the open. He shrouds Himself like a king surrounded by his entourage. He is hidden in plain sight within the cloud itself. The darker the cloud the more His presence is manifest. In 1 Kings, the cloud was so thick when they dedicated Solomon's temple, the priests had to stop their worship service because they couldn't see! In the same way, sometimes in the darkest clouds of our lives, we find God at His closest.
What is He trying to teach His people by having a pillar of fire and a cloud 24 hours a day? Why does He have one at all and why is it only over the tabernacle? What is He trying to teach them by moving it, then not moving it, etc.? (Discuss)
Turn to Ps 119:105. Does it say that we are the ones holding the lamp? No. The purpose of the fire and cloud is to teach us that it is only by His presence that we can truly navigate the wilderness of life. If we lose sight of the presence, we lose our way. He places it over the tabernacle to teach us that we are to be looking constantly and checking our place of worship and making sure that He is still there. His presence should be manifest. It should be observable and His glory should be tangible. We should always be looking ultimately toward the temple inside us to make sure the Spirit is still manifesting there. We are the temple of the Ruach and we should be constantly making sure that the Spirit is operating in its fullest by keeping our temple clean. We want others to see the presence (the face) of God in our lives.
Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-4
Why two silver trumpets when they already had rams' horns? In the bible, silver always represents redemption. The fact that there are only two and they are of "hammered work" is not insignificant, either. I believe the two silver trumpets represent the two kingdoms of Israel that are being "hammered" by their Maker into an instrument that is worthy to be put to His lips for the purpose of alarming the nations that the King is coming. On the other hand, the rams' horns represent salvation and mercy. The four corners of the altar were in the shape of these horns and were called the horns of the altar. These were the horns that men grabbed when they were being chased by the avenger of blood after they'd killed someone. As long as they grabbed a hold of those horns, they could not be touched. They were safe. The ram's horn, or shofar, was far more common and was used by the common people and in war. The silver trumpets were more priestly in nature and were mainly used by the priests according to the instructions given to Moses.
How can you apply those concepts today using the "white fire," the spiritual word behind the black fire text? How do the ram's horn and trumpets relate to us today? (Discuss)
We are to be the witnesses of Yahweh in the earth realm, allowing Him to mold us and make us through the trials and tribulations of this life so that we are available to be used when He desires to use us. They were designed to gather, declare, warn, and correct positions in war formation and be used for celebration and encouragement. We are to be used in the exact same way. Read 2 Timothy 4:2 and Acts 1:8. What frequency are you emitting?
After 13 months (one for each tribe including Manasseh), the Israelites break camp for the first time. This would be the first of 38 camps over the next 40 years. Sometimes they were in one place for just days. Other times it was for weeks or months. Although it was their sin that caused them to have to do it the hard way, He was still faithful to lead them each step of the way through the wilderness.
Judah starts out the caravan because he was given the priestly blessing by Jacob. The double portion was given to Joseph, which was, in turn, passed to Ephraim. It is Judah that goes out in front of the rest of the tribes. Likewise, it is Yeshua, who is from the tribe of Judah, who proceeds out in front of the rest of the tribes, leading with His mighty right hand. All the tribes were led by "standards," or banners, the symbols of their characteristics and who they are. The banner of the Messiah is shown to us through the story of the Song of songs when it is said "His banner over me is love." Yeshua's character is love and we are to be known by our love. In a real sense, "love" is what is supposed to go first to lead all the tribes. All the rest of the Torah hangs off the two greatest commandments of love.
Moses saw the value in Jethro going with him. He recognized his wisdom (eyes) and desired him to go with him.
Who we surround ourselves with is critical. Choose to surround yourself with fools and you shall become foolish. Wisdom begets more wisdom.
I love this passage. Moses understands that it is the presence of God that scatters their enemies. The Light of the Most High destroys the children of darkness. They cannot stand to be in its way. It was as if Moses was saying, "Look out everyone! Here we come and our God reigns! Yahweh, destroy your enemies through every single step we take!" Then, when the cloud came to a rest and the people were given rest, Moses prayed that Yahweh would come back from smiting their enemies and minister to the people in the camp.
When we are truly walking in the will of Yahweh with the banner of love as our guide, there is no such thing as "enemies," for they are smitten before we take our first step.
"No weapon formed against me shall prosper" (Isaiah 54:17), "nothing can separate us from the love of Christ" (Romans 8:35-39), "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7). When God is for us, who can be against us?
There is simply nothing that cannot be accomplished for those who truly love Him with all their soul.
This is a great example of the dangers of not being close to Yahweh. When you play around on the outside of the camp and never really fully engage with Him but find yourself constantly complaining, the fire of Yahweh is bound to burn up any blessings that you otherwise would have received. If we cannot be trusted to be thankful for the small things we have, but instead complain about them, how can He trust us and bless us with greater things?
This is about as real as it gets between Moses and Yahweh. "If this is the way it's going to be...just kill me now!" He simply could not handle the constant complaining, all over food. They complained over the manna...not realizing that they would be the only generation on earth that would ever get fed with food that is not of this world. In response, God says, "I'm gonna give you meat alright...I'm gonna make you eat it for a whole month until it's coming out of your nostrils!" You gotta love this exchange. It shows the humanity of Moses and that the Creator of the universe actually has a sense of humor...although He was also quite serious!
How many times does God answer our prayers and give us fresh manna and we don't like His answers or don't heed His voice? This will undoubtedly lead to complaining, which He hates. Complaining is always looking at the glass half empty instead of half full. It creates an atmosphere of negativity and does nothing to lift anyone's spirits. On the contrary, for those in leadership, it makes them weary and resent the very job they were given to do. Make a commitment this week not to complain but to give thanks to the Lord in everything. Take your potential complaint and see how you can look at that glass as half full.
This passage tells us so many things:
- Yahweh is the one that chooses who to use as His delegated authorities. When we gossip and speak out against His authorities, it angers Him greatly, for we are speaking out against Him and His authority. This is especially true when it happens behind their backs. Yahweh hears everything and, as Mathew 12:37 says, we will be "justified...and condemned by our words." Whether they are good authorities or not-so-good, we are never to speak evil against them, but are to approach them in love if they are in sin. Otherwise, we are to intercede for them in prayer.
- There is a consequence for rebellion and Lashon Hara, the evil tongue. In Miriam'scase, that consequence was leprosy. Leprosy spreads throughout the limbs of the body, drying them up until they fall off. In the same way, gossip infects all the parts of the body of Christ, especially the outer extremities that are not as close to the heart, with a disease that causes them to lose life. It destroys all parties. Read Proverbs 6:16-19...How many of those sins are connected to the mouth?
There are few sins that Yahweh immediately condemns, but this is one of them. Why? Because Miriam's statement could have really affected how Aaron viewed Moses. And once a leader starts to view another leader in a negative light, it is only a matter of time before there is division. The poison would have no doubt traveled through Aaron's sons, then the other priests and out to the rest of Israel. Sometimes, the seeds of division can start out as just a casual conversation with a close friend, and then before you know it, it's on Facebook!
We have no doubt covered much in this week's Torah Portion. That is why it is designed to be read and studied every day. Shabbat is supposed to be the community connection and the opportunity to receive from others' revelations. But to only feed on those revelations is to not have a real relationship with the Spirit yourself. He wants to give YOU fresh manna every day. Commit to Him that you will take the time for Him the best you can. There is nothing wrong with learning from those that are gifted in teaching and are called to ministry, just don't ever let it replace that personal manna that He so desires to give to anyone that seeks Him.