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This Shabbat we have a double parashah, which brings us to the end of the book of Exodus.
Moses gathers all the people and asks that they voluntarily give the materials needed for the construction of the Tabernacle. The people give freely, and in fact, they give so much Moses has to tell them to stop bringing any more because there is too much for the work. God appoints men with extraordinary skills to supervise the work and both men and women help. This is a totally united effort, and the chapters relate in great detail every single item, how it was all constructed in exacting detail and in perfect accordance to God’s commandments.
The Haftarah for these readings are from 1 Kings telling about all the work Hiram led in the construction of the Temple in Jerusalem and Solomon’s prayer.
After the Tabernacle is set up and anointed God’s presence fills it with a cloud so thick Moses cannot enter. This also happens in 1 Kings after the construction of the Temple is completed. In both these cases, the work was done in a whole-hearted way to honor God, and once completed as God ordered it was acknowledged by God as acceptable in a very visible manner with the indwelling of His Ruach (Spirit) in physical form.
Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 6:19:
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?
We are also a temple when we invite the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to dwell in us. As such, are we constructing ourselves with as much fervor, love and obedience to detail that the people did in these readings? Do we voluntarily give of ourselves to others, and these people did to God? (That which you do tho these, my brethren, you do unto me-Matthew 25:40)
When we read these passages, it seems redundant and a little boring, if you will, because there is so much detailed minutia about every little thing. The reason for this is to show how all the people paid attention to what God told them to do. Now, it’s one thing to build a structure and another thing altogether to build up holiness in ourselves. Yet, the message is the same for both: when we do what God asks of us, as He asks us to do it, we will be successful and then God will bless our efforts with His presence.
When I first came to God I did so intellectually, and after three months or so of attending Messianic Shabbat services, I felt I wasn’t any different from before. That’s because I was still being an intellectual Believer, not a spiritually open Believer. It wasn’t until I was spiritually open and emotionally empty that I was able to receive an anointing from the Rabbi and then I felt the Ruach haKodesh enter my body. That was a moment that has lasted my entire lifetime. If you are interested in hearing it, you can go to this video: Steve Bruck Testimony
Over the years I am afraid I have become inured to that wonderful sensation of the Ruach filling my soul, and I miss it. I know that it’s my fault I don’t feel it as often as when I started to believe. In Psalm 51 King David asks God to “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation;” : I also want to feel that joy again, that elation when I first felt the Ruach enter me.
My “temple” needs repair so that I am once more in accordance with God’s instructions. And those instructions aren’t as detailed as the ones we read this Shabbat; no, they are very much simpler. In fact, they are in Micah, 6:8:
And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?
I want the Tabernacle of my body to be acceptable to the Ruach haKodesh, and to allow it to fill me so much that I can’t be inside it any more. We call that “Dying to Self” and it is the aim (or should be) of everyone who worships God. I am not confessing I have fallen from faith; no, not at all! It is my faith that makes me want to be better and be more acceptable to God than I am now. But I do confess I need to work at it more, just as Shaul told us in Philippians 2:12-13:
–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
Let each of us, starting this very moment, renew the work on our own Tabernacle and continue to perform whatever maintenance we need to do so that we are always acceptable to God, so that His Ruach can fill us as He filled the Tabernacle in the desert and the Temple in Jerusalem.
This completes the book of Exodus (Sh’mot), and in accordance to tradition we cry:
Hazak, hazak, v’nit’chazek!
Be strong, be strong, and be strengthened!