Light from the Sidra


Exodus 27:20 - 30:10

There are some things we cannot do for ourselves; we just have to have someone to do it for us or to represent us. Getting Saddam Hussein to agree to comply with United Nations resolutions may be something you would like to do, but only one man represents the view of the international community: the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Iraq listened to him because he was appointed by the nations of the world to speak on their behalf. In Sidra Tetzaveh the High Priest is presented as just such a person; someone to represent Israel before the LORD. In Sidra Terumah we recognised a problem: God is holy and we are not, therefore we cannot approach him. Aaron did for Israel what they could not do for themselves. His sons assisted him, but he was the key figure.

All that Moses tells us about the High Priest teaches us that he met Israel’s need. God appointed him and anointed him with oil, so God’s blessing was on him. He lit the menorah lamps so that he symbolically brought the light of God’s truth to Israel. Aaron bore the tribes of Israel before God as he symbolically carried them on his shoulders and on his heart, and his offering of incense was his intercession for them. He offered daily sacrifices on behalf of the people. He even bore their sins regarding the holy things of worship in his own person.  What a key person the High Priest was for Israel to approach God! There was simply no way to draw near to God without him.

Do you want to know God? Do you want to approach him with confidence as well as awe? Do you feel you cannot? That is not surprising if you have no high priest to represent you.

But when Messiah comes all will be different won’t it? And isn’t that because he will be the great High Priest? Perhaps you have never thought about this before. Well, consider what Scripture says. Aaron was appointed by God to be High Priest; so too is Messiah, as we read in Psalm 110:4, “You are a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchizedek”.

In chapter 42 of his prophecy, Isaiah tells us several things about Messiah:

God will anoint Messiah: “I have put my Spirit upon Him”.
He will be: “A light to the Gentiles”.
The people will be on his heart: “A bruised reed he will not break; a smoking flax he will not put out”.
In chapter 53:12:
Messiah will pray for the people: “He made intercession for the transgressors”.
He will bear their sins: “He bore the sin of many”.

Messiah will do all that Aaron did. In fact Aaron’s service was only a picture of what Messiah will do. This must be so, because several things in the Sidra show that Aaron’s priesthood was inadequate. Like the people he represented, he was a sinner himself and could not boldly enter God’s presence for Israel for he needed bells on the hem of his robe to announce that a sinner was entering the Tabernacle. By contrast, the Messiah will be perfect, for we read in Isaiah 53:9, “He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth”. And so God will welcome him, “My elect one in whom my soul delights” (Isaiah 42:1). He will become the sacrificial offering that God will accept, as Isaiah tells us in 53:10, “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he has put him to grief. When you make his soul an offering (asham) for sin.”

So what about Jews who follow Orthodoxy today? They have no High Priest, Messiah has still not come and so they have no access to the Almighty. Is it surprising that so many who follow Judaism today feel that God is far off? So they try all sorts of techniques to feel closer to him. But those methods of approach to God can never work because only Messiah, the true High Priest, can bring us to God.

The Good News is that Messiah has come. We have a High Priest. Jesus of Nazareth had God’s Spirit on him and worked mighty miracles. He taught Torah and wept at Israel’s sufferings. He died as a sacrifice for sin and rose from the dead. Through him we can now approach God with confidence, knowing he will welcome us. Hallelujah!

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