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Shemot/Exodus 26:1 And the Mishkan you will make ... cherubim, the work of a craftsman, you shall make them
Commenting on this verse,Rashi says that the images were that of a lion on one side and an eagle on the other. Sifsei Chachamim says that the Cherubim depicted on the curtain were the four images on the Merkavah, the chariot seen by Ezekiel (1:10): a man, a lion, an ox and an eagle. Sforno comments that the curtains were made to reflect the visions seen of G-d in prophecy: "I saw the L-rd sitting on a throne ... seraphim stood above Him" (Isaiah 6:1-2, NASB) and "I saw the L-rd sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left" (1 Kings 22:19, NASB). As the Mishkan, the sanctuary, contained the ark - with mercy seat - the table and menorah, the curtains were part of the imagery that the Israelites were instructed to make: "See and make, according to their form that you are shown on the mountain" (Shemot 25:40).
The Bible records people seeing visions of G-d in many and varied ways, both physical visions of people that looked 'right' and extraordinary visions that stretched their vocabulary to describe. Yet for all the visions that the prophets of old saw, Yeshua told the disciples: "I tell you that many a prophet and many a tzaddik longed to see the things you are seeing but did not see them, and hear the things you are hearing but did not hear them" (Matthew 13:17, CJB). He said this in the middle of telling the Parable of the Sower; after He had told the parable to the crowds, while the talmidim were asking Him to explain it to them, and before the explanation itself. What was it that they were seeing that others before them had not seen? Obviously Yeshua Himself, in one sense, but the Malach Adonai, the angel/messenger of G-d, while not frequently seen had been manifest in Israel on a number of occasions, so simply His physical presence was not what Yeshua was getting at. No, rather it was that the people were being taught openly about the kingdom of G-d and that the kingdom was being shown to them and made available to them in a greater way than ever before in Yeshua's ministry.
Both Yochanan the Immerser and Yeshua started their teaching ministries with the same simple message: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:2, NASB), "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17, NASB). Yochanan preached "an immersion involving turning to G-d from sin in order to be forgiven" (Luke 4:3, CJB) as a prelude to entering the kingdom, while "after sunset, all those who had people sick with various diseases brought them to Yeshua, and He put His hands on each one of them and healed them; also demons came out of many, crying, 'You are the Son of G-d'" (Luke 4:40-41, CJB). The people saw with their own eyes the kingdom of G-d in their midst; they could reach out and touch the kingdom with their own hands; they could enter the kingdom right then and there and follow Yeshua, making G-d's kingdom by acknowledging His rule and authority.
Further Study: Hebrews 11:13-16; 1 Peter 1:10-12
Application: How do you see G-d? Do you see Him only as high and exalted, surrounded by the heavenly host? Certainly, He is that, but He is also to be seen living and working in and among His people as the kingdom of G-d is made manifest - shown to the world - in us.
© Jonathan Allen, 2006
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