March 11, 2023: Parashat Torah Portion Ki Tisa
This week’s Parashah Torah Portion Ki Tisa is taken from Exodus 30:11-34:35. Join Dr. Jeffery Myers, as he clearly lays out the simple, yet fundamental day-to-day disciplines of faith, and how to avoid instances like that of the golden calf incident the Israelites had to deal with, in our own lives today!
Follow along in the AUDIO PODCAST, by clicking on the play button below, and reading along with the notes, as you listen to today's Parashah Torah Portion:
Lion of Judah Speaks: Parashah Torah Portion Ki Tisa - Exodus 30:11-34:35
In this portion Adonai is speaking to Moses and the children of Israel have no idea what Adonai has planned for them, not the tabernacle; not the priesthood; not the Torah as a whole. The children of Israel had just come from experiencing some very exciting miracles…they were on a spiritual high but what goes up sometimes must come down. In our lives it is easy to go from a spiritual high into sin and disobedience when the excitement lifts. An example is our own mission trips. We take people on a mission trip and they live and breathe the Ruach, they see supernatural outpourings, healings, deliverances, etc. They basically live 24 hours a day for 10 days in a spiritual high only to return to the status quo of life. It can put you in a tail spin.
We are sometimes spiritual thrill seekers…hoping to live from moment to moment, miracle to miracle and mountain to mountain top moments. However, if we want true success, we need to stay on level routes avoiding the peaks and dips. We need to walk on the simple day-to-day disciplines of faith. We see in Exodus 32:1-4 that the Israelites began to do their own thing. They began worshipping their own way and worshipping Elohim from their own reasoning. When we do that, we end up with golden calves!
As we read the Torah, the golden calf incident, it is not by coincidence that this incident is in conjunction with the instructions of the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle represents Elohim’s way of doing relationship. The Golden Calf represents man’s ways of doing relationship. Both Elohim and the Israelites were trying to create a medium where Elohim could be worshipped and their relationship be celebrated.
The Golden calf debacle was a poor representative (substitute) for the glory of the Tabernacle. Aaron didn’t know that Elohim had chosen him to become high priest over Israel. However, when the people ask him to make a golden calf—he took the role of priesthood himself. If he had waited on Moses to return, he would have learned that Elohim had chosen to install him as priest in the Tabernacle. The Israelites didn’t know Elohim had ordered them to raise a contribution of gold and precious materials for His Tabernacle. If they would have waited it would have saved them from pain and death instead Aaron told them to donate the gold for the idol. The Israelites were to fashion the furnishings of the Tabernacle but instead they fashioned “the idol” with a graving tool and made a calf (Ex. 32:4). Elohim’s children were to build a bronze altar and a golden altar for offerings and incense but Aaron built an altar in front of the calf. They were to offer offerings but instead offered it to the idol. The Tabernacle was to be a place of Divine Presence, an invisible Presence but instead the people made a visible idolatrous representation of Elohim. Elohim doesn’t need anything to represent Him…so set aside man-made traditions, your golden calves…He can represent Himself!
Everything that Israel desired Elohim had already planned to give them. We are spiritual people, yet, without revelation our spiritual inclination is merely an appetite that cannot be satisfied. John 6:35 says, “Yeshua declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
To understand the golden calf, you have to understand idolatry. They didn’t believe the idol was a god but that it was the physical representation of the spiritual power of that god. The deity’s power and essence were thought to be captured within the idolatrous image. The Israelites were not worshipping a golden calf but rather the golden calf was meant to represent Adonai. They knew Elohim was not a golden calf but they imagined that He could be worshipped through the medium of the idol. The calf was a physical token of Him, one they could take along and keep before them as they came to the Promised Land. It’s not that Israel rejected Elohim; it is they simply allowed their spiritual impulses to go unchecked. Please receive this word…
” Anything spiritually OUTSIDE the boundaries of Torah lead to paganism and idolatry. “ We have a tendency to disregard Torah when it stands in the way of our spiritual inclinations. OUCH! Our way is not His way!
As they pursued their spiritual desires over the rule of the Law of Torah, Israel stumbled into idolatry. In I Kings 12 we see Jereboam following the Exodus 32 precedent and has two golden calves erected to facilitate the worship of Adonai. He felt free to change the times and seasons of Elohim’s appointed festivals…wow, that sounds like us! However, faith is not measured by our good intentions. If it were merely the thought that counted the Israelites would not have been punished for constructing the image. Surely their hearts were in the right place. Surely, they had in mind only the worship and honor of Adonai but it is not merely the thought that counts in faith and obedience; it is the deed and action which arise from thought.
Listen…being leaders is hard! We can fail for two reasons: Number 1: External: despite our best efforts—life happens! Number 2: Internal: lack of courage to lead. Sometimes we have to oppose the crowd and say NO to everyone saying YES and that can be terrifying. Crowds have a will and momentum of their own and to say NO may put your career, life, relationships, and family security at risk. This is when courage is needed! There are leaders who follow instead of leading like a dog on a leash. Like Adam blaming Eve or Aaron blaming the people, they both become the victim not the perpetrator in their eyes. But just like Elohim, He extended grace to Aaron because of Moses sincere heart who loved the people and Aaron.
Where did Aaron fail? He took on a role that wasn’t his and failed when he was called on to be a Moses by the people and took it. Aaron was a great leader in his own right but in a different capacity…he wasn’t Moses. Stop trying to usurp what Elohim gave someone else…walk in your calling! Moses and Aaron complemented one another…no one person can do everything!
There is much to learn from this parashah; we need to make our stand and say YES to Adonai and NO to this world! If we fail sometimes His grace can pick us up. However, we must not be afraid of the majority, our actions and deeds make our faith come alive and we become an example to this world. Stop trying to walk in another’s gift that’s not yours. Let’s get rid of the golden calves! Let us be pleasing to Adonai because we do what He wants instead of pleasing our own spiritual inclination!
Shabbat Shalom Mishpocha,
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Get rid of the golden calves in your life as you gather to worship the King this Sabbath. Yield you heart and spirit and honor His name.