Unholy to holy
Torah Portion: Vayak’hel (And He Assembled) Exodus (Sh’mot) 35:1-38:20 and P’Kudei (Accounts) Exodus (Sh’mot) 38:21-40:38
Haftorah Reading: I Kings 7:13-26, 7:40-8:21
Today we finish the book of Exodus by reading the last two portions of the book. Both of these books have a great deal to say to us in our life today as G-d’s people. These Torah portions are especially important to us in light of the world events that either has or will affect us all in one way or the other.
I would like to start with my thoughts on the first section of Vayak’hel. This word, Vayak’hel, can mean either “gather” or “assemble.” Interestingly we also saw this same word in our section last week. In Exodus/Sh’mot 32:1 we read where the people assembled around Aaron and demanded he make them gods to go before them since Moshe was absent. Today, in our opening verse of Vayak’hel, we read this word. Here we read where Moshe assembled the people to contribute to and take part in the construction of the building of the Mishkan or Tabernacle.
The same word was used to describe two drastically different events What made the difference in the outcome of these two cases? If you look at the verses describing what happened when the people gathered around Aaron how would you describe this gathering? First, they were without leadership. You could say they were a crowd or a mob, each demanded and acted in a way that suited themselves. They did things they would never have considered doing individually. They acted in a frenzy, the Torah explains, each doing whatever suited them. Have any of you ever been around a mob such as this? Jean and I were in the middle of one such mob in Jerusalem years ago when Arabs rioted on the Temple Mount over the rumor that a non-Muslim had fired a gun on the Temple Mount. We were over a half mile away with no involvement in the incident. However, we actually had to flee from a crowd whose intent was to harm anyone they came in contact with. This mob was leaderless so everyone was free to do whatever they pleased to whomever they happened to come across.
Now compare the mob mentality to what we see in our first Torah portion this week. Here we see people who were committed to a common goal. They were together in contributing to and working toward the construction of the Mishkan. They each had a personal interest in the completion of this building. They were united in a common purpose. They became a community not a mob or crowd. Each had their own personal task or contribution. They chose to take part in the community purpose. Each had value. Each had worth. The result was the Mishkan or Tabernacle. All the people helped. Each had made a contribution. They had ownership in the results. The process between Exodus/Sh’mot 32:1 with the mob and here in 35:1 is community.
This is so important to us today. Will society react to the challenges of community, all working together to help or will we find the shelves of a store stripped bare of essentials because we have little concern for anyone but ourselves.
Our world and country stand at a defining moment. Are we a community or a mob? As believers I pray we all do not forget who we are and what we are called to be. I pray we all look out for the welfare of those around us.
This brings me to my second point. When we look at the anointing oil and incense discussed in our section this week in Exodus/Sh’mot 40:9, we see where these items became holy when mixed as they should be. They were then used in the Mishkan to anoint items and people as well.
The question arises, these items used in the Mishkan became holy when set aside for use in the Mishkan. It was the act of making it that set it apart as holy. In scripture we read many verses, both in the Messianic scripture and in the Hebrew Scriptures, that speaks of G-d’s people as being holy for G-d is Holy. We see this in Leviticus/Vayikra 19:2, 20:7and 20:26 to name a few. In I Peter 1:14-16 we read this same thought, “You shall be holy for I am Holy.” What does it mean for us to be holy? We are holy because G-d has taken us out of the dust and made us holy by our faith. If this is so, then what does this mean in our daily lives? We are to be different, set apart. We are to live differently than the world. In II Cor. 13:11 Shaul says, “Aim for restoration, comfort one another, live in peace.” We are to live holy set apart lives. We are to be the light of G-d. May this be so this day. May we be known by our works. We are to be holy for our Father is Holy.
Can we lose our holiness? The items in the Mishkan would lose their holiness if misused. As the verses referred to earlier set out, I believe we are to live our life as G-d’s people as a holy life. If not, we can lose our influence and effectiveness as a believer. This is not to say we lose our salvation. But we can certainly lose our effectiveness in bringing His light into the world. May none of us fall away during these times.
And as we say when we complete a book of the Torah…
Hazak, Hazak, v’nit’chazek? Be strong, be strong and let us be strengthened!