Torah Portion: P’kudei (Accounts)(Sh’mot) Exodus 38-40
Haftorah Reading: I Kings 7:40-8:21
Tonight we read the last section of the book of Shemot/Exodus. The book reaches it climax here with the setting up of the Mishkan and the filling of it with the Presence of G-d. We have followed the people from their exit from Egypt and hundreds of years as slaves to Pharaoh to this point where they, having done all that G-d commanded, became in every sense the people of G-d with His presence dwelling in them. We have seen them at their lowest making the golden calf to here where scripture says that they have done everything G-d has commanded. They are G-d’s segula or treasured possession.
So tonight I want us to look specifically at Exodus 40:34-38 which recounts the Spirit of G-d coming and dwelling in the people. G-d’s presence was so strong Moshe was not able to enter the Mishkan. In Exodus 39:32 we read where the people of Israel, “did all according to all that HaShem commanded Moshe.” Israel fully followed and completed what G-d had given them to do. Sometimes we may fail terribly, as the children of Israel did with the golden calf, but there is still hope if we get up and repent. We can still fulfill what G-d has asked of us.
For Israel this was truly their defining moment. G-d had kept His Word. The Cloud of Glory, His manifest Presence was now dwelling among them. His Presence is what mattered most to them. If what we do does not culminate in His dwelling among us then we have to ask why are we doing it? This Presence of G-d is not relegated to just the time we come together but should be evident in our work, our family life and everything we do. Why do we serve Him? Is it only because of His promises to us? No, the point is not what He does but Who He is. Back in Exodus 33:15-16 we see Moshe’s response when presented with just such a situation. Moshe wanted none of it. He knew it was G-d and G-d alone that he desired.
If you remember back earlier in this book we read about the cloud of G-d that led Israel. When it moved they moved, when it stopped they stopped. So it should be in our lives. In I John 2:27-28 we read where this Spirit, which we have received, abides in us as surely as the Presence of G-d here dwelt among His people. This relationship must be as close as a husband has with his wife. It should be a connection beyond once in awhile but is an inward, intuitive knowing that comes from our own transformed being into a new creation.
Here in our Torah portion it speaks of all the material used in the Mishkan – 15 different materials. Fourteen of the 15 were things that people were to give whatever they were moved to give. However one was different. Every person (Ex. 38:25) was required to give ½ shekel of silver no matter if you were rich or poor. Everyone gave the same thing. This was then used to set the sockets of the foundation of the Mishkan. So what is important here? In G-d’s eyes we are all equally important. One is not better than the other. The Father loves us all as His children. For us this is very important. We all are viewed as G-d’s children with an equal responsibility before Him to do our part. This means we can’t rely on what our parents or spouse believes or what they have done for G-d. We are all responsible to work out our own salvation. We are precious to Him and He has a plan for each of us.
Here in this portion we see another important principle. In these last verses we read about the journeys of Israel. Usually we think of leaving Egypt on the way to the land of Israel as THE journey. However, Torah always describes each time the cloud moved and then came to rest as a journey. I think the point here is that our spiritual life can’t be lived just looking at our final destination – heaven. In scripture the journey is each day’s experience with G-d. Even our physical bodies are not meant to be sedentary. We need movement or we can become sick. The same applies to our spiritual lives. Psalms 1: 1 reads, “Happy is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of the scornful.” This is a life lived badly that ended in “sitting.” Scripture is about moving ahead. In Genesis 17:1 it says Abraham was told by G-d, “Walk on ahead of Me.” At the age of 99, after being circumcised, scripture says Abraham, “ran to meet the three guests.” The righteous do not sit still. Here we see the Mishkan was made to be portable. For Israel and for us each day with the Father is a journey. We as G-d’s people are on a series of journeys and until they pitch dirt on our dead bodies we are on our journey to do His will in this world.
As we finish the last Torah portion in Exodus we say:
Hazak, hazak, v’nit’chazek!
Be strong, be strong, and let us be strengthened!