Torah Portion: P’kudei(Accounts) Exodus 38-40
HafTorah: I Kings 7:40-8:21
I would like to start today by looking at the title of this week’s section, P’kudei. In Hebrew it means, “Accounting”, not the profession but taking stock of what has been entrusted to us. Here Moses is settling accounts on everything the people had contributed during the building of the Mishkan or Tabernacle. This caused me to think of my own life and also I would hope it would cause you to stop and take an account from time to time of what G-d has given or entrusted to you. Have we, or are we using what He has given to us? Have we been faithful to use the spiritual gifts we have? Are we faithful in fulfilling G-d’s plan for our lives or have we been so caught up in living we have forgotten what or who we are to be living for. It is very easy to lose our way unless we take account from time to time. The path is before us. We are to walk in it, not just from time to time but everyday. He loves us and has a plan for us but we have to be part of fulfilling His will and using His gifts in our lives. It really is a partnership between us and the L-rd.
My first question this week had to do with G-d filling the Mishkan at its dedication and also later in history, filling the First Temple in Jerusalem that Solomon built. Here in our Torah section Exodus 40:33-38 we read where the glory of G-d filled the Mishkan and it was so powerful Moses could not enter. This cloud of G-d served as a guide for the people on their way through the wilderness. Later, in II Chron. 7:13 we read the same thing happened at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple. In these incidents this cloud was a representation of the cloud that hovered over Mt. Sinai when G-d spoke with all the people.
Here in Exodus it fell when the nation of Israel came together to cooperate in the construction of the Mishkan. Even at Solomon’s Temple the entire nation was part of the construction, each tribe sent men to work on the Temple.
However, in Ezra 3:10-13 we read of the laying of the foundation of the Second Temple and then in Ezra 6:15-22 we read of the completion and the dedication. But there was no cloud of glory that appeared. Why?
In Ezra 3 we read of a hint. At the laying of the foundation there was both joy and sorrow. Why was there sorrow? Historically it is said that only a small percentage of the people returned from Babylon. Most of the people stayed in the dispersion or Galut. We might say they had lost their way. They were not able to break out of the assimilation in which they had been living. They did not take account of who they were and what G-d had done for them. Also they had forgotten what they said in Exodus 24:7, “All that the L-rd has said we will do and be obedient.” Instead of returning to Israel they stayed in Babylon. No cloud appeared because they were not united as a people. For the most part they had lost the vision G-d had given them and they chose not to return to Israel until 1950 when they were driven back to Israel as refugees. It is important that we not lose our way. G-d has a plan, it has not changed. Each of us has a part to fulfill in His plan.
This brings me to my question of yesterday. How are we to look at Hebrews 8:7-13? At first glance it appears G-d has changed and His plan has changed. When we read these verses it may seem to be saying that the first covenant was replaced by the second. Well that didn’t work maybe this will. However when looked at more closely and also when looking at other verses we realize this passage can’t mean that. In Romans 7:12 Paul says the Torah is holy, just and good. In Acts 24:14 Paul again says that he has lived his life according to Torah. Acts 25:8 He has not transgressed Torah. So how are we to understand Hebrews?
In Hebrews 8:7 we read where the first covenant was flawed so there was the need for a second. Interesting that in Greek the word covenant never appears. Only the words first and second. So what was flawed was us – we are imperfect people. The problem was us not Torah. In Jeremiah 31:34-40 we read what the second covenant really is. So us the people did not continue in my covenant (Hebrews 8:9) What is aging and becoming obsolete is this world, not G-d’s Word. The coming of Messiah started the process of redemption, the old is passing and the new (heaven and earth are coming.)
So here the problem is not Torah but us. G-d sent the Messiah to save us, not to change His Word. Through Yeshua we can live as G-d always intended. We do not have to lose our way. When we give account before the throne we can bring a life of being what G-d meant for us to be.