Miles to go
Torah Portions: Vayak’hel (He Assembled) Sh’mot/Ex. 35:1-38:20
P’Kudei (Accounts) Sh’mot/Ex 38:21-40:38
Haftorah Readings: I Kings 7:13-26; 7:40-8:21
Our teaching today covers the last two Torah portions of Exodus. The name of the first portion is Vayak’hel which means, gathering of people of like mind. It is the modern word, Kehila or congregation. It is the word we use for Road to Zion.
The second portion is Pekudei and means something like giving an account or counting. Today it is the source of the modern Hebrew word pakeed or clerk. You can add these words to your Hebrew vocabulary.
Before we get to the main topic I want us to look at Exodus 35:1-3. Here we see Moshe reminding the people of the importance of the Sabbath and reiterating the commandment of rest on this day. I think this is so important for us. This may seem like a strange choice, to open his talk with a discussion of the Sabbath. I think he was making a very important point here. We must set priorities in our lives and in our daily walk with the Father. Rest and coming before the Father should never take second place to other issues that push in on us. This has always been a challenge for people. It is much easier to get distracted or wrapped up in things of no eternal significance. Spending concentrated time in the presence of the Holy One and time with our family should be first on our list.
It is clear everyone needs to work and support themselves but it cannot be the over-riding thing that consumes us. When time moves on we cannot go back and recover lost moments or hours. Time of reading, praying and worshipping G-d Almighty with give us peace and direction.
Now, to turn to my request to each of you this week. It is based on Exodus 40:36-38. I asked you to read from your own bible these verses. In these three verses we read of the journeys taken by the people of Israel in the wilderness. In both verse 36 and verse 38 we read the same identical words, “In all their journeys.” These words have a great deal to say to us in our lives as believers.
The first verse, 36, is straight forward. It describes the fact that the people moved when the cloud of the L-rd moved. They set out on their next journey as the cloud led them. In verse 38 there is a subtle difference. This verse describes the time when the cloud of the L-rd was stationary, yet here the term, “In all their journeys” was used again.
This means even when they were stopped for a period of time, it was still described as a journey. So, as long as they and we have not reached our final destination we are still on a journey. Robert Frost stated this thought beautifully in his poem.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
Our journey is not complete. We have miles to go before we sleep. We are all on a trip, traveling. Each experience is just a stop on our way home.
When we look back over history most pagan lands worshiped gods who were seen as regional in their power and influence. Perhaps Egypt would be the most familiar to us. When we read Exodus 5:2 we read of Pharaoh telling Moshe, “Who is the L-rd that I should obey Him, I do not know the L-rd and I will not let you go.” Here he is telling Moshe, “Here in Egypt I am divine not your G-d.”
However, as we have read in the Torah G-d is not bound by time or space. He is the “Great I Am.” He is everywhere. He is our G-d, our everything, always, no matter if our journey is a time of moving to a new place or living life in one place that we have lived in all our lives. Here in our verses today we read of a people who were on a journey, no matter if they were settled in for a period of time or on the move.
Such is our life too. This has caused me to do a great deal of thinking this week about how I see life. The temptation is to relax and just let time pass. Retirement is not in G-d’s dictionary. This scripture has reminded me that each of us, including me, is still on a journey. We have not yet reached our destination. Psalms 23:4 expresses it well. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me.”
I expect sometimes all of us feel that we are just wandering with no real purpose. Let me tell you, that is not an accurate picture of who you are. You are a child of the King. You are on a journey. G-d has a special journey that fits only you. Never get comfortable just going through your days. We have miles to go before we sleep. Bless each of you this week with a new resolve to check if you are on the journey G-d has for you and rejoice in it.