“Tell Aharon, when you set up the lamps, the seven lamps are to cast their light forward the front of the menorah.” ~ B’Midbar (Numbers) 8:1-2, CJB
The beginning of Parashah Beha’alotecha begins with this powerful instruction and coupled with it, personal commandments for the cohanim in their service to Adonai! First, Aharon and his sons are told how to setup and position the lampstands in the Most Holy Place (vs. 1-4), and secondly the Lord instructs through Moses to take the Levites (Cohanim) from among the whole House of Isra’el and be set apart ceremonially for service in and about the Mishkan. As such, the Priests of Adonai were tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that the lights of the lampstands in the Mishkan remain lit at all times and to illuminate into the direction of the Menorah at all times. It is in Beha’alotecha that we find that only the cohanim could perform priestly duties in the Most Holy Place, while under the direction and leadership of the prophet Moses (12:7) and in turn they were able to reap the benefits of their ministerial service before Adonai. Not just in our Parashah today, but also through the Sefer B’Midbar (Book of Numbers) two-points emerge whereas Priests, the Cohanim alone were allowed and called of God to serve in the Temple of Adonai, and in retrospect, a non-Levite was forbidden to conduct such service - and a person who was not a Priest was to enact such service, then they would be judged by God, and they could even be put to death!
In Yeshua, this is a strong reminder for us (as both Messianic Jews and likeminded Messianic-Gentile believers) that although each of us are called to serve the Lord, each nevertheless a unique calling within the Kingdom of God. As noted in my drash last week concerning Parashah Naso, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks draws this same conclusion in defining the meaning of “Naso,” in stating that “The answer takes us into one of the most revolutionary of all Jewish beliefs. If we are each in the image of God, then every one of us has infinite value. We are each unique.”
Although the cohanim had specific responsibilities which they alone could perform before God and the people, so within our New Covenant context, we as member of the Body of Messiah each have been graced by God with gifts and anointings uniquely intended for us in the fulfillment of things of God in our generation! Whether it be in the context of our calling to 5-fold ministry (Ephesians 4:11-13) or the Holy Spirit’s gifts as detailed in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 - it must nevertheless also be acknowledged that we are called as both a community and individuals, wherein Timothy notes, “In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” (1 Timothy 2:21-22, NIV) For some, they may point to the ministry of cohanim and falsely conclude that God chose them over and above the rest of the House of Isra’el, but from 1 Timothy we see that in Messiah, no one is “common” or second rate for God purposes, but instead through Yeshua precious sacrifice we are all made holy,[and are] useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” We have all be set-apart for the purposes of God!
~ Rabbi Mark Rantz
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