Temple and Sacred Objects

Temple and Sacred Objects

"You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess serve their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. You shall tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and burn their Asherim with fire, and you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods and obliterate their name from that place. You shall not act like this toward the LORD your God." (Deuteronomy 12:2-4)

This negative commandment literally says that we should not destroy the places where we serve G-d, tear down G-d's altar, or obliterate G-d's name. These were the things Israel was commanded to do in regards to gods of the nations they dispossessed when they entered the promised land.

"You shall not plant for yourself an Asherah of any kind of tree beside the altar of the LORD your God, which you shall make for yourself." (Deuteronomy 16:21) The literal commandment of this verse tells us that we should not plant an Asherah [pole] of any kind of tree beside the altar of the LORD our G-d.

"Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it." (Exodus 25:8-9) The literal commandment given to the Israelites was for them to construct a "sanctuary" (Hebrew miqdash: a holy place). Since G-d is a Holy G-d He does not just show up and "hang out" with the Israelites. His Holiness requires a holy space in the midst of the Israelite camp.

"If you make an altar of stone for Me, you shall not build it of cut stones, for if you wield your tool on it, you will profane it." (Exodus 20:25) Profane literally means "marked by contempt or irreverence for what is sacred". If the Israelites make an altar of cut stones (i.e. using metal) then they will make the stones (and thus the altar) a common thing. Common things are not treated with the reverence that G-d demands in our activities involving Him.

"And you shall not go up by steps to My altar, so that your nakedness will not be exposed on it.'" (Exodus 20:26) The Levites were commanded not to go up by steps to G-d's altar.

"'You shall keep My sabbaths and revere My sanctuary; I am the LORD.
(Leviticus 19:30) The Hebrew word translated here as "revere" literally means "to fear", "to revere", or "to dread".When we consider the sovereign G-d over all creation dwelling in majesty in the tabernacle it is indeed a place of power, might, and awe. Like we might be in fear and dread around a 10,000 volt high power line, we should have an even greater fear and dread of the Most High dwelling in His sanctuary.Nadab and Abihu (the sons of Aaron the high priest) did not approach G-d and the sanctuary with the appropriate reverence but offered strange fire before Him and they were consumed by fire that went out from His presence (Levitcus 10:1-2). That pictures the consequence of violating this commandment.

"But bring with you also your brothers, the tribe of Levi, the tribe of your father, that they may be joined with you and serve you, while you and your sons with you are before the tent of the testimony." (Leviticus 19:30) This commandment is literally for Aaron and his sons (the Aaronic priests) to be "before the tent of the testimony" (the Tabernacle). The Hebrew word that might suggest "guarding" [shamar] is not present in this verse. Their presence, however, might suggest guarding in order to prevent injury or harm to those who are improperly prepared to come into the holy precinct of the Tabernacle.

"So you shall attend to the obligations of the sanctuary and the obligations of the altar, so that there will no longer be wrath on the sons of Israel." (Numbers 18:5) This commandment is literally for Aaron and his sons (the Aaronic priests) to attend to the obligations [Hebrew: mishmereth- guard, watch, charge, or function] of the sanctuary. The last part of the verse ("so that there will no longer be wrath on the sons of Israel") refers to the rebellion of Korah" (Numbers 16 & 17) that was settled by G-d in Numbers 17:8.

"You shall speak to the sons of Israel, saying, 'This shall be a holy anointing oil to Me throughout your generations." (Exodus 30:31) Earlier in chapter 30, G-d commands a specific mixture of spices to be created for anointing the tent of meeting, the ark of the testimony, and the other furniture and utensils of the tabernacle. This verse indicates the commandment is an ongoing and perpetual commandment.While Scripture says the creation of the oil shall be "the work of a perfumer"" (Exodus 30:25) it does not specify a male or female perfumer nor does it specify that a Levitical priest should create it.

"'It shall not be poured on anyone's body, nor shall you make any like it in the same proportions; it is holy, and it shall be holy to you. Whoever shall mix any like it or whoever puts any of it on a layman shall be cut off from his people.'" " (Exodus 30:32-33) This commandment is for the sons of Israel (Ex 30:31) and provides a prohibition for them to make any anointing oil in the same proportions as the holy oil described earlier in the chapter (Ex 30:23-24) that is supposed to be made explicitly for the purpose of anointing the Levitical priests, the tabernacle and its furnishings.

"'It shall not be poured on anyone's body, nor shall you make any like it in the same proportions; it is holy, and it shall be holy to you. Whoever shall mix any like it or whoever puts any of it on a layman shall be cut off from his people.'" (Exodus 30:32-33) This passage provides a prohibition against anointing anyone other than the Aaronic priests (Ex 30:30) with an anointing oil made with a specific mixture of spices and specifically prohibits putting any of it on "a layman" [Hebrew: tzur- a stranger or foreigner].

"The incense which you shall make, you shall not make in the same proportions for yourselves; it shall be holy to you for the LORD." (Exodus 30:37) This negative commandment provides a prohibition against making incense in the proportions given in Exodus 30:34-35.

"You shall not offer any strange incense on this altar, or burnt offering or meal offering; and you shall not pour out a drink offering on it.
(Exodus 30:32-33) This commandment provides a prohibition against pouring out anything other than incense upon the golden altar of incense.

"The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be removed from it." (Exodus 25:15) G-d commanded Moses to build the ark of the covenant. The ark was to have two staves/poles that were placed through rings on the sides of the ark. This commandment instructs us not to remove the staves from the ark.

"They shall bind the breastpiece by its rings to the rings of the ephod with a blue cord, so that it will be on the skillfully woven band of the ephod, and that the breastpiece will not come loose from the ephod." (Exodus 28:28) The commandment indicates that the breastpiece should not "come loose from the ephod". The Hebrew word translated as "come loose" (above) suggests intentional removal. The Hebrew word zachach is literally translated as "shove" or "remove"{footnote}New American Standard(r) Updated Edition Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible with Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries, Copyright (c) 1981, 1998 by The Lockman Foundation. All Rights Reserved.{/footnote}... both intentional acts.

"Command Aaron and his sons, saying, 'This is the law for the burnt offering: the burnt offering itself shall remain on the hearth on the altar all night until the morning, and the fire on the altar is to be kept burning on it." (Leviticus 6:9) The literal commandment is to keep the fire that is on the altar burning.

"The fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it. It shall not go out, but the priest shall burn wood on it every morning; and he shall lay out the burnt offering on it, and offer up in smoke the fat portions of the peace offerings on it." (Leviticus 6:12) The literal commandment is that the fire on the altar shall not be allowed to go out.

"Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it; he shall burn it every morning when he trims the lamps." (Exodus 30:7) Aaron the high priest was to burn "fragrant incense" on the golden altar of incense every morning when he trimmed the lamps of the menorah. Verse 8 indicates that he should also burn incense when he trimmed the lamps at twilight. Verse 8 concludes with this: When Aaron trims the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense. There shall be perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations." (Exodus 30:8)

"You shall charge the sons of Israel, that they bring you clear oil of beaten olives for the light, to make a lamp burn continually. In the tent of meeting, outside the veil which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall keep it in order from evening to morning before the LORD; it shall be a perpetual statute throughout their generations for the sons of Israel." (Exodus 27:20-21) The literal commandment is to keep the lamp (the menorah) lit continually.

"You shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before Me at all times." (Exodus 25:30) The Hebrew word translated here as "bread of the Presence" literally means "bread [of the] face". To be "in the face" of G-d is to literally be in His Presence. The King James translates this as "shewbread".

"He shall make restitution for that which he has sinned against the holy thing, and shall add to it a fifth part of it and give it to the priest. The priest shall then make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering, and it will be forgiven him." (Leviticus 5:16)