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Vayikra/Leviticus 8:33 And you shall not go out from the door of the Tent of Meeting [for] seven days ... for He will fill your hand [for] seven days.
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These words of Moshe to his brother Aharon and his four nephews comes towards the end of the first day of the installation or ordination of Aharon as the Cohen Gadol that started - byHaShem's instructions - at the start of chapter eight. This recounts Moshe putting into practice the instructions he was given earlier:
Thus you shall do to Aharon and his sons, just as I have commanded you. You shall ordain them through seven days, and each day you shall prepare a bull as a sin offering for expiation; you shall purge the altar by performing purification upon it, and you shall anoint it to consecrate it. Seven days you shall perform purification for the altar to consecrate it, and the altar shall become most holy; whatever touches the altar shall become consecrated. (Shemot 29:35-37, JPS)
The phrase , which appears twice in the text, means "seven days", the 'for' in square brackets above being added to improve readability.Ibn Ezra makes the point that "it is not clear whether the wording means 'at the end of seven days' or 'for a period of seven days'", a point to which we will return later. Targum Onkelos changes the last phrase to - "sacrifices must be sacrificed" - implying that Aharon and his sons must be part of those sacrifices for the whole of the seven days. Baruch Levine, also referring to the earlier instructions, adds that there "it is explicitly ordained that a sin offering was to be offered each day for seven days and that the altar was to be repeatedly anointed for seven days. Here it merely states that the 'filling of hands' was to last for seven days."
The Qal meaning of the verb root is "to be full, to be filled" (Davidson). In its Pi'el stem, it is used with the noun , 'hand' - "to fill the hand" - to refer to the process of ordination to the priesthood. Richard Elliott Friedman refers to its use in the Torah - "they shall have priesthood as their right for all time. You shall then ordain Aharon and his sons" (Shemot 29:9, JPS) - and explains that "this term means to assume the role of priest". With another noun, "to fill/bend the bow", it carries the idea of doing something with one's full strength. Here, the verb is Pi'el, prefix, 3ms, followed by the direct object indicator, and , "your hand" - "he will fill your hand". Although textually quite far away from the nearest mentions of HaShem (verse 29 or 35), the subject is implied to be HaShem by the CJB - "Adonai will be consecrating you for seven days" - the ESV and others make the phrase passive: "it will take seven days to ordain you". Our text and its various words and translations seem to be suggesting that there is something significant about waiting out the full time that we have been given before moving off into a new task or venture, and about obeying the instructions for that time carefully so that it serves its purposes and accomplishes whatever is needed for what is to follow.
When the prophet Samuel anointed Saul as king of Israel, he told him, "You are to go down to Gilgal ahead of me, and I will come down to you to present burnt offerings and offer sacrifices of well-being. Wait seven days until I come to you and instruct you what you are to do next" (1 Samuel 10:8, JPS). Saul was immediately surrounded in conflict with the surrounding nations: first the Ammonites and then the Philistines. He had summoned the army at Gilgal and waited for Samuel: "seven days, the time that Samuel had set. But when Samuel failed to come to Gilgal, and the people began to scatter," (13:8, JPS) Saul panicked. He was afraid that his army would disperse, so "Saul said, "Bring me the burnt offering and the sacrifice of well-being"; and he presented the burnt offering" (v. 9, JPS). As king, but not a priest, Saul was not allowed to make offerings; things went downhill from there. Samuel arrives, rebukes Saul for not waiting as he was instructed and ignores his fears about the army, before telling Saul, "You acted foolishly in not keeping the commandments that the L-RD your G-d laid upon you! Otherwise the L-RD would have established your dynasty over Israel forever. But now your dynasty will not endure. The L-RD will seek out a man after His own heart, and the L-RD will appoint him ruler over His people, because you did not abide by what the L-RD had commanded you" (vv. 13-14, JPS). Not waiting cost Saul the kingdom, both for himself and for his descendants.
Writing out of his own experience in waiting for the L-rd's timing to become king of Israel, David says, "Wait for the L-RD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the L-RD!" (Psalm 27:14, ESV), then later on he adds, "Wait for the L-RD and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land" (37:34, ESV). Isaiah reminds Israel why they wait for Him: "the L-RD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him" (Isaiah 30:18, JPS). That blessing is more than simply stuff or land possession for those who wait for HaShem to give them justice: "Then you will know that I am the L-RD; those who wait for Me shall not be put to shame" (49:23, ESV). Micah dismisses the behaviour of those around him, saying, "But as for me, I will look to the L-RD; I will wait for the G-d of my salvation; my G-d will hear me" (Micah 7:7, ESV); he knows where his hope and faith are anchored.
Waiting is involved for those who follow Yeshua. Some of the first disciples found that out to their cost; after celebrating Pesach with them, Yeshua took Peter, James and John out to a garden on the Mount of Olives and told them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch" (Mark 14:34, ESV). After He had prayed alone, He came back and found them asleep: "Are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (vv. 37-38, ESV), then after praying again, "again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer Him" (v. 40, ESV). This time, it was too late, the crowd had come to arrest Yeshua and they could do nothing: "the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, My betrayer is at hand" (vv. 41-42, ESV). Yeshua had waited, but the disciples lost the plot and the moment. He was ready and prepared both to challenge the crowd and to reveal who He was - "Yeshua, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, 'Whom do you seek?' They answered him, 'Yeshua of Nazareth.' He said to them, 'I am.' Judas, who betrayed Him, was standing with them. When He said to them, 'I am,' they drew back and fell to the ground" (John 18:4-6) - while the disciples simply fled.
After the resurrection, Yeshua told the disciples, "not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, He said, 'you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now'" (Acts 1:4-5, ESV). Then they did wait, and ten days later they were filled with the Ruach with tongues of fire on their heads as the Spirit was poured out to fulfill the words of the prophet Joel. The time was right, the disciples had waited - praying together and growing in unity - and so the Spirit was free to come and empower them. Can you imagine Peter's sermon attempted a day or two earlier, without the power of the Spirit's endorsement and leading?
How often do we jump before the preparation process is complete? That isn't, of course, an excuse for sitting on our hands and never doing anything, just always 'waiting'. But there are times when G-d gives us a vision of what He wants to do and directs us to wait and prepare so that we are ready when He has worked everything into a straight line. We have to wait for our anointing, our filling with the Spirit. Just as becoming an ordained minister takes several years of study, practice, mentoring and on-the-job training before a candidate is ready to be ordained and can be considered safe and trustworthy to set in as leader of a congregation, so for any work of the kingdom: there are times of incubation, preparation, prayer, discernment and waiting - waiting until the process of preparing us and the preparing the people and the work are all complete to bring together. No time is wasted as we study to refine the vision, learn the language or context into which we are called, and clear our hearts and minds of distractions and complications which might impede the work. When everything is ready, G-d will let us know and release us into the operational phase - then we will be glad that we waited and completed our time of preparation.
Be it an hour, seven days or several years, G-d's timing is always perfect: "the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end -- it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay" (Habakkuk 2:3, ESV). The vision and our hand - like those of Aharon and his sons in our text - will be full, fully equipped to fulfill G-d's purposes and give Him the glory!
Further Study: Isaiah 40:28-31; Luke 2:25-32; Titus 2:11-14
Application: Do you rush off as soon as the race is announced, or do you bed down, dig in and wait for the starting gun before pushing for the tape? Today is the time to get properly under The Starter's orders and be ready for the race of your life!
© Jonathan Allen, 2017
Comment - 22:01 04Apr17 Patrick Mchenga: The five foolish women whose lamps had run out of oil, failed to wait and were found at a wrong place during the crucial time and they missed the coming of the master. It's my prayer that GOD increases my faith, and give me HIS Spirit to help prepare to wait for HIM.
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