Exodus 34:6-7: “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation.”
The ‘parsha’ (‘Torah’ portion) this week, ‘Parsha Ki Tisa’ (when you take), is found in Exodus 30:11 – 34:35 and is the twenty first weekly ‘Torah’ portion in the annual Jewish cycle of ‘Torah’ reading. The corresponding ‘haftorah’ (reading of the prophets) is found in 1 Kings 18:1-39.
Two ‘parshiot’ - ‘Terumah’ and ‘Tetzaveh’ - have already been filled with G-d’s detailed instructions on how the people of Israel should construct the Sanctuary in which He promises to “dwell in the midst of them.”
However, several items remain to be described: The manner in which the silver for the making of the “foundation sockets” should be collected; the making of the ‘kiyyor’ (the Basin); the ‘shemen ha’mishchah’ (annointing oil) and the ‘ketoret’ (incense).
These items, followed by a roundup of all the ‘Mishkan's’ (Tabernacles’s) components, occupy the first thirty eight verses of ‘Ki Tisa’.
The people of Israel were told to each contribute half a shekel of silver to the Sanctuary. Instructions were also given regarding the making of the Sanctuary's water basin, anointing oil and incense containers.
G-d told Moses that He had chosen two skilled artisans, Betzalel and Ahaliav who were to be placed in charge of the Sanctuary's construction, and the people were once again commanded to keep the ‘Shabbat’.
Our ‘parsha’ tells us that when Moses did not return when expected from Mount Sinai, the people became impatient and implored Aaron to make a god for them. Reluctantly, Aaron told them to bring him their gold earrings, and he cast them in a mould and made a golden calf. He then exclaimed: “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt!”
Aaron built an altar before the golden calf and announced a festival of the lord and the people offered sacrifices to the golden calf, ate, drank, and danced.
G-d then proposed to destroy the errant nation, but Moses interceded on their behalf.
Moses then descended from the mountain carrying the Tablets of Testimony, engraved with the Ten Commandments. However, Moses, seeing the people dancing about their idol, broke the Tablets, destroyed the golden calf and put the main culprits to death.
On hearing that G-d did not want to forgive the people, Moses told G-d that if G-d did not forgive them, He should also blot out Moses from the book that G-d had written.
G-d forgave the people, but He told Moses that the effect of their sin would be felt for many generations.
G-d proposed to send His angel along with the people on their journey to the Promised Land, but Moses insisted that G-d Himself accompany His people to the Promised Land.
Moses then prepared a new set of tablets and, once more, He ascended the mountain, where G-d re-inscribed the covenant on the Tablets.
On the mountain, Moses was also granted a vision of G-d…albeit only His back.
As Moses came down from the mountain bearing the two tablets, the skin of his face was radiant, and the Israelites shrank away from him. Moses called them near and instructed them concerning all that G-d had commanded and when he had finished speaking, he put a veil over his face.
‘Parsha Ki Tisa’ ends by telling us that whenever Moses spoke with G-d, Moses would take his veil off; and when he came out, he would tell the Israelites what he had been commanded, and then put the veil back over his face again.
In ‘Haftorah Ki Tisa’, Elijah the Prophet demonstrated the worthlessness of Baal, just as Moses chastised the Israelites for serving the golden calf, as discussed in this week's ‘Torah’ reading.
King Ahab and Queen Jezebel ruled the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and encouraged the worship of the Baal deity as well as other forms of idolatry. To prove that G-d alone was in control, Elijah decreed a drought on the kingdom and no rain fell for three years.
When Ahab accused Elijah of causing hardship for the Israelites, Elijah challenged him to a showdown. Elijah would represent the cause of monotheism, and 850 idolatrous ‘prophets’ would represent their cause.
Ahab accepted the contest, and Elijah, Ahab, the 400 prophets of Baal and the 450 prophets of Asherah, as well as many spectators, gathered atop Mount Carmel where Elijah then challenged the 850 prophets.
Our ‘haftorah’ ends by telling us that Elijah built an altar, laid his offering upon it and surrounded it with water. A fire immediately descended from heaven and consumed the offering, as well as the altar and the surrounding water.
Both this week’s ‘parsha’ and ‘haftorah’ describe G-d’s prophet confronting idolatry to restore worship of G-d.
In the ‘parsha’, we read about Moses’ anger at the golden calf, and in the ‘haftorah’, we read about Elijah’s confrontation with the prophets of Baal.
In both the ‘parsha’ and the ‘haftorah’, the prophet was on a mountain. Both Moses and Elijah invoked the names of Abraham, Isaac and Israel in prayer to G-d.
Both Moses and Elijah called on the Israelites to choose between G-d and the false gods:
Exodus 32:26: “then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, “Whoever is on the LORD’S side--come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him.”
1 Kings 18:21: “And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word.”
We read in 1 Kings 18:21 that the Israelites faltered between two opinions.
Why did Israel falter between two opinions? I believe that the Israelites were at a crossroads; they feared G-d and could not totally abandon him. However, they also feared King Ahab and Jezebel, and they therefore felt that they had to embrace their so-called religion.
Their conscience told them not to embrace other religions, but their fear of man persuaded them to do just that.
How about you? Do you falter between two opinions? Do you serve the trappings of life or do you serve the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? We need to examine ourselves to see if we have idols in our life.
Perhaps the question should rather be: ‘How many idols do I have in my life?’
The test is simple
• What are you doing for G-d?
• Do you even have time for G-d?
• Is your sport, career, hobby more important than G-d?
• Putting this simply, do you find the time to go to ‘shul’ (synagogue) or church, or is that ‘soap opera’ or sports game on TV more important?
• Are you simply too tired to go to ‘shul’ or church?
For those who are born again believers in Yeshua, allow me to ask you:
• How many people have you prayed for in the last month – other than your family?
• How many prayer meetings have you attended in the last six months?
• How many people have you shared the gospel with in the last six months?
• How many times have you fulfilled G-d’s mandate to “provoke the Jewish people to jealousy so that they may be saved” or at least prayed for the salvation of the
Jewish people in the last year?
In other words, do you falter between two opinions – Almighty G-d and idols in your life?
Speaking to the Gentile church, I want to encourage you to take the gospel to all nations, beginning with the Jewish people; to pray for the ‘Peace of Jerusalem’; to comfort the Jewish people, and to publicly and boldly stand with them and with the State of Israel; to constantly pray for the Jewish people and Israel and, most importantly, to provoke the Jewish people to salvation – Romans 11:11: “I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.”
Finally, if you are reading this article and you know that you are not a believer in and follower of Yeshua, will you accept Him as your L-rd and Saviour?
Yeshua sacrificed His life for you, Jews and Gentiles, so that you can receive the forgiveness of sin and have the guarantee of eternal life in heaven.
To accept G-d’s gift of the forgiveness of sin, salvation and everlasting life in heaven, all you need to do is confess your sins, repent of them and ask Yeshua to come into your life. And you can do this by praying the Prayer of Salvation at the end of this article.
We love you.
Scriptures of the week: Exodus 32; 1 Kings 18
Thank you Yeshua for Your love for me.
Thank you for giving up Your life on the cross for me and for taking my sins upon Yourself.
I confess that I have sinned.
I repent of my sins and I turn from everything I know to be wrong.
I invite You to come into my life as my Messiah, my Saviour.
By Your grace I will serve You all the remaining years of my life.