Imitating Him

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘On the first day of the first month, you are to set up the tabernacle, the tent of meeting.’” (Exodus 40:1-2).

George Bernard Shaw once said, “Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery – it’s the sincerest form of learning.” As the fabrication of the elements of the tabernacle were completed, the Lord instructs Moses to consecrate Aaron and his sons for their positions as priests among the children of Israel for a period of seven days (Ex. 29:35); on the eighth day they would begin their ministry (Lev. 9).

It was during this seven-day period of consecration that Aaron and his sons learned, not only the service of the tabernacle – its sacrifices and offerings – but also how the tabernacle was assembled. They learned this by observing Moses, and they would later imitate him as they matured into their ministry. The rabbis explained that over the seven days of consecration that Moses assembled and disassembled the tabernacle before the eyes of Aaron and his sons – a feat that is actually physically impossible for one man to accomplish.

The priests of Israel did not flatter Moses by imitating him, rather, they fulfilled their solemn duty and learned the pattern of ministry established in heaven. Imitation in our modern culture is often frowned upon – as it is considered “unoriginal.” Yet, in biblical faith imitation of the Lord, Yeshua/Jesus, and elders in the faith is considered a serious matter indeed; as Messiah said:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another (Jn. 13:34; cf. Matt. 16:24).

To fulfill this commandment, we must consider closely just how He loved us, and how to replicate His actions of love. Additionally, we can consider these examples:

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1; cf. 1 Cor. 4:16; Eph. 5:1).

“For to this you have been called, because Messiah also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Pet. 2:21).

“Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 Jn. 2:6).

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us” (Phil. 3:17; cf. 1 Thess. 1:6).

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Messiah loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:1-2).

“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Phil. 4:9).

When we consider the above examples from Scripture, we find the same pattern at work in the New Testament model, as we do in the Levitical model; and this for good reason, as the priesthood of Messiah was the original pattern that Moses witnessed upon Mt. Sinai. Just as Aaron and his sons watched and closely observed how to administer the ministry of reconciliation, the Body of Messiah must also closely watch, observe and pattern itself on the examples of godly faith that has preceded us.

The key is that we must, as much as possible, follow His pattern. In Exodus 40:34, when the tabernacle and its furnishing were properly set according to the pattern shown to Moses, the presence of the Living God filled the tabernacle and dwelt among his people. Following that same pattern, whenever two or more are gathered in the name of Messiah Yeshua/Jesus, He is in their midst – the fullness of his prophetic name Emmanuel: God with us, God among us, and God in us.

Be well. Shabbat Shalom.

The Song of the Mountains

verse XXIV – Pre-Tending to Imitation

Escalating complexity. 

Having climbed the “Matterhorn” of the Sermon on the Mount, of loving neighbor, stranger, enemy, going the extra mile, giving to those who ask, and praying for those persecuting you, Yeshua/Jesus concludes Matthew chapter 5 by saying, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). With the aforementioned challenges to our human nature and sensibilities, He now speaks an even greater challenge: be perfect. Not perfect as compared to those around us, but as our Father in Heaven is perfect.


Most of us would agree that this seems beyond our ability and perhaps, even a bit unfair; after all, how can we be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect? He is perfect in wisdom, knowledge, love, mercy, grace and patience to name but a few; personally, being a bit self-reflective, I am perfect in precisely none of these areas.

So what is Yeshua telling us?

This is a complex command, yet not unduly complex if we think, search and reflect on how the Apostolic Writings instruct us. Based on Matthew 5:48, there have been many Christian sects that have attempted to live perfect, to go so far as claiming that they live perfectly without sin. That being said, is this what Yeshua is expecting or asking of us? After all, the apostle James says, “We all stumble in many ways, and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man” (Jas. 3:2). James, the brother of Yeshua and the first leader of the Church in Jerusalem is not contradicting Yeshua, but telling us, in his unique way, that none of us are perfect, in ourselves. 


If we simply examine the teachings of Yeshua, specifically the Lord’s Prayer, we find that He is not expecting us to walk in unnatural perfection, or pretend supernatural perfection, devoid of our humanity – as He taught us to pray, “Forgive us our trespasses and we forgive those who have trespasses against us.” The Greek word translated “perfect” means “mature, complete, of full age.” The Hebrew equivalent was used to describe sacrificial animals without defect; but also Noah and David, to very imperfect human beings.

Like Father, like son.  

Yeshua is calling us, in Matthew 5:48, away from an urge to mature in our own perfection, resulting in a self-righteous attitude, to mature in our imitation of our Father. Imitation in the Hebraic culture was a high form of devotion and love for your teacher, as Paul writes, “Imitate me as I imitate Messiah” (I Cor. 11:1). As a parent, have you ever noticed, whether you like it or not, your children imitate you? While this can be something negative, it can also be positive.  

Based on the teachings of Yeshua that we have examined thus far in the Sermon on the Mount: 

  1. We should control our temper and measure our words carefully.
  2. We should resist the temptation to lust and desire after what the Lord has not given to us.
  3. We should not use the Lord’s name in order to puff ourselves up.
  4. We should pray for our enemies daily.
  5. The above are only some examples of the many ways that we should seek to imitate our Father in Heaven.

As the teachings of Yeshua are implanted in our lives on a daily basis by the Holy Spirit, in faith, relying on His grace and mercy, then and only then, do we begin to imitate our Father’s perfection. 

How did He treat you?  

What exactly are we imitating? How the Lord treats us – we will treat others in like manner. Yeshua isn’t expecting us to reach a moral perfection now that has heretofore eluded us. He is reflecting on how the love of the Father is in and works through our lives. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, in faith, we are no longer controlled by the objects outside of us and our immediate control, but by our commitment to the way the Father has loved us in Yeshua. In this perfection, we will not allow the attractiveness, worthiness, or loveliness of a person, object or situation create a conditional response, neither will we love only those we can rely on for a positive return. We are controlled by the love of the Father who first loved us, even while we were yet sinners.

A sinless perfection?   

Matthew 5:48 is not speaking of a sinless perfection, that is in realty, unattainable for us; no, Yeshua is directing us to walk in faith maturity that is attainable. Generosity, gentleness, guilelessness, genuineness, and graciousness, these attributes are not only attainable but, as Yeshua directs us, they are expected of us as His disciples. We are to become imitators of Him. 

Imago Dei. 

Our ethical responsibility is to imitate God, exactly what Yeshua is directing us to do in Matthew 5:48. We are made in His image (Gen. 1:26-27), and this fact distinguishes our nature from that of other creatures. Should we behave like animals? No, we are called to a higher way of living as ethical creatures in God’s creation. We are to reflect the light of heaven, and the Lord’s moral purity. 

As the image of God in Messiah, we are to show forth the character and nature of who He is, respond as He would respond, and do what He has shown He would do. Let us, then, imitate our Father in Heaven, let us mature in the faith so that, as the apostle Peter commanded us, we can be “examples to the flock” (I Pet. 5:3).

Shalom. Be well.