These last chapters complete not just the detailed narrative of the building of the Tabernacle, but the book of Exodus, as well. And, as you may have noticed, this Shabbat we have a double parashah.
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The details of the Tabernacle,. from the itemization of the articles to the size and breadth of the coverings, to the number of support beams, is exacting. We are told about every single item in such detail that it is almost easy to picture them in our minds.
Moses asks the people to voluntarily give the materials needed, and they give so willingly that he later has to tell them to stop because they gave so much more than was needed. The workers were also volunteers, and God gave divine wisdom to them in order that they could perform all the work required.
Once everything was done and put in place, Moses saw that the people had done everything, just as God said, and he blessed them.
The book ends with the Tabernacle completely put together, and God’s shekinah so filling the tent that Moses could not even enter it.
And when we come to the end of a Torah book, we say:
הזק חזק ונת חזק
(Be strong, be strong, and let us be strengthened)
Every time I read these last chapters of Exodus, and drag myself (sorry, but that’s the truth) through every, single, exacting detail of the Tabernacle, I always wonder why such a detailed listing? Why do we need to know exactly how many beams, how many footings for the beams, how many rings in the curtains, etc.? Will knowing this help me to become saved? Will knowing the exact number of pomegranates that were attached to the Cohan Gadol’s robe secure my place in heaven?
Obviously, not. So why do we have to know this? And while we’re at it, why do we have to know such exacting details in Ezekiel and Revelation when the temple is measured?
If you think that now I will give you the answer, well…you’re wrong. I don’t have an answer: that’s why I keep wondering about it. DUH!
But I do know one thing, and that is this: it is there for a reason.
Just because I don’t know what that reason is, doesn’t mean there isn’t one, and my acceptance of this condition, i.e. I have no idea why but I know it is for a reason, is what we call faith.
Maybe one day, who knows? I might read this and find some divine revelation in the numbers that are there. Now don’t get me wrong- I do not believe that Numerology is a legitimate form of biblical exegesis, but I do recognize that God often plays around with words and numbers, so there can be a meaningful message somewhere in all these details. I just don’t see it, yet.
And the reason I said I don’t see it, yet, is because I will not allow my not understanding today to interfere with trusting that one day I will understand. It may not be until I am dead and resurrected, at which time it probably won’t matter to me, but in any event, I will know. Someday.
And until then, I will keep reading it, no matter how boring or tedious it feels at the time. And yes, I confess, there are things in the Bible I find a little tedious to get through, but I read them, anyway. It comes back to that faith thing, trusting that one day God will reveal to me whatever message he has in there because he wouldn’t have put it there if it didn’t mean something.
And that is all we need to know.
That which is referred to as The Word of God– the Bible- is not entirely the words God said. In fact, the places where God actually speaks directly to the people are mainly in Exodus and Leviticus. Throughout these books we read at the beginning of almost every new chapter the words, “And God spoke to Moses, saying…”, indicating that what Moses then relates to the people are the exact words from God. We also read God’s direct words in the books of the prophets, where he tells the prophet exactly what to say to the people. Almost everywhere else we read where people relate that which God has said in the Torah. The New Covenant has absolutely no direct instructions from God, other than in Matthew 17 when he speaks at the transformation on the mountain and tells the Apostles with Yeshua to listen to him. That’s it!
Everything else in the New Covenant, especially the Epistles from Shaul to his congregations of newly converting Gentiles, is a person relating what God said in the Tanakh, but it is not God speaking.
Faithful trusting is demonstrated by accepting that you won’t understand everything in the Bible, not now and maybe never, but knowing what is in there, especially where God himself is talking, is important.
So, nu… if you have been raised as a Christian and found your biblical training mainly within the New Covenant, you really need to consider giving the “New” a rest and getting into the “Old” for a while because that is not just the word of God, but the only place you will find the very words FROM God!
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That’s it for this week; l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!