To build a kingdom

Vayak’hel (He Assembled) Exodus/Sh’mot 35:1-38:20

Haftorah Reading: I Kings 7:13-26

Today I want to urge you to be in prayer concerning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, going on now. We as G-d’s people have a responsibility to hold this situation before the Father. Many people have already died and sadly many more will likely die. However, we know the Ruler of the universe and we must seek His answer to this tragic conflict.

In some ways our Torah portion this week should encourage us. In this portion we read one of the two times the details of the construction of the Mishkan is laid out. We read the details of the construction already in Exodus 25:1-31:17. Now, again in Exodus 35:1-38:20 we read another account of the instructions to build this structure. However, there is one marked difference in these two accounts. In Ki Tisa, Exodus 25, the command of the Sabbath appears at the end of the details of construction while here today we read of the command of the Sabbath at the very beginning of Moshe speaking to the people Why the difference? On a simple level we might say that when G-d created man he, Adam, experienced Shabbat as his first day living on this earth but as G-d’s saw it, it was the last day of creation or the seventh day.

However, on a deeper level we could say that G-d knows the beginning and the end of all things. (Isaiah 46:10) G-d knows the course of time. We are different. We have a difficult time being able to see the end of a task when we begin it. We see this issue all the time. A good example is the current crisis between Russia and Ukraine. We can speculate on the outcome but to know definitely is impossible, except for the fact we know G-d. We can pray and trust the Father to do His will.

In that same way let’s examine the second rendition of the building of the Mishkan in our portion today. The people had just come through the terrible experience of the golden calf. There, we saw them at their worst. Rebellion and all manner of evil had been done by G-d’s people. How do you think they felt? Maybe some of us can relate, having been in a similar place at some point in our past lives.

So, here in our portion Moshe spoke to the people and his first words gave them strength. He assembled them. The word assemble in Hebrew is the root of the word for congregation in English. It must have encouraged them to hear those words. G-d was still there. He still loved them and still spoke to them in a way that gave them hope. He then told them about Shabbat again. Before anything else He showed them the beauty and rest they could enjoy, a gift of the Shabbat from the Father. G-d showed then that this weekly time would remind them of their faith and their G-d.

This day followed by the building of the Mishkan gave them an assurance of the building of a people, a nation who were G-d’s very own chosen people. As I considered this this week I thought of us, our little assembly and all the other assemblies around the world filled with people who have put their faith in the Messiah. I have thought of the assurance this gives us. Nothing can pluck us from the hand of our Father. We know, as these people knew, G-d has not left us. He still loves us and cares for us. We can hold on to that truth no matter what comes. I think G-d gives us these examples to help us grasp what our final goal is so we will not get lost on the way and give up. “G-d made known the end at the beginning.” Isaiah 46:10. Remember, only those who know where they are going will get there, no matter how fast or slow they go.

Now to the word kehila or assembly. Assemblies based on faith are so important in our world today. They transcend political affiliations, social clubs or any other gathering in our world.  From these faith based assemblies we see people of vastly different backgrounds coming together, cooperating together to help people who are poor, giving to charities. We see these people doing volunteer work, reaching out to people in need, visiting the sick, sharing their faith with the lost. All this also comes from the word kehila.  Moshe, when he came down from the mountain saw the people were running wild, in chaos and sin. Aaron had lost control of the situation. Moshe then united the people as an assembly to build the Mishkan. Their focus on this project, along with the Shabbat were two powerful ways of rebuilding what had been lost in the golden calf incident.  They went from a chaotic group of people worshiping an idol to a cohesive group serving G-d. May it be so in our day. May we see G-d’s people building communities of strong faith and helping to rebuild what the devil is actively working to destroy.

Here we see G-d working through people who met in His name doing His work. May we too be focused on His work here, giving our best to build His kingdom where we are. Politics will not serve us. Only G-d Almighty can do that as we look to Him for vision and purpose. Bless each of you this day and every day as you work for Him.