Torah Portion: Vayakhel (And He Assembled) Exodus 35:1-38:20
HafTorah: I Kings 7:40-7:50
II Cor 9:6-11; I Cor 3:11-18
Tonight we look at the Torah section, “And He Assembled.” The root word in Hebrew Khal is the word usually translated as assembly. In the Hebrew Scriptures this word often refers to the people in the tabernacle or temple as the assembly. You have heard me often refer to the group here as the kehila which is the assembly. When the Hebrew Scriptures were translated to Greek, in the 2nd or 3rd century BCE, this word passed over into Greek as ekklesia. It appears throughout the Septuagint in place of khal. However, when this same Greek word appears in the New Testament it is almost always translated by the English word “church.” What does it matter? A recent letter to the editor in the Pensacola News Journal highlights this problem by stating, “The Old Testament is Jewish scriptures; those living under it are living under the law. Although it is our history, for Christians it has been replaced with the New Testament. Those living under the New Testament are living in the age of grace, which was ushered in by the resurrection of our Lord….” This gives the impression that the church is an exclusive New Testament term and draws a stark boundary between the two sections of the Bible. It is a way of disconnecting us from our Jewish roots as believers. Another even more striking example is the Hebrew word “eda” translated in Exodus 35:1 as congregation. When it came into the Septuagint it was translated with the Greek word “sunagogay”, it was usually linked to the place the “eda” met. However in places like James 2:2 the Greek again was translated into English as assembly. Paul uses the same word in I Cor. 11:16. The effect of such translation biases has been to hide any connection between Judaism, from which we sprung and Christianity. We as believers are the worse for it. We have to a large extent been deprived of the sweetness and spiritual food of the Hebrew Scriptures because of these sort of deceptions. And I for one count us most blessed that we have begun to restore some of what has been lost for almost 2000 years.
As we look at this weeks scriptures I want us to look at it with open eyes to what it holds for us as believers today and not as unrelated to our lives. Here we see Moses coming down the mountain for the second time. Spiritually I think we can look at this as a shadow of Messiah on His return. With that in mind, what did Moses do first? He gathered the people, in the same way we can look forward to Messiah gathering His khal from the four corners of the earth.
The next thing Moses did was set out the Sabbath again. There are several important things here. What does Sabbath signify spiritually? One is the Messianic age or reign. Also, as part of that we will be free from the cares of this world and will be consumed with the worship of G-d. Nothing else will concern us.
Moses then goes into the commandments about the Tabernacle. To what can it be compared? G-d had the people living in sukkas during their wandering. The tabernacle can also be looked at as G-d’s sukka. King Solomon dedicated the first Temple when? During the Feast of Tabernacle or also called Sukkot. Solomon made the connection between the holiday and G-d’s temple. Also it is the seventh of the biblical holidays. So, like the Sabbath it can spiritually be linked to Messiah’s return. In Judaism it is even seen as a Messianic link where peace will reign and the Messiah will rule from Jerusalem. Isaiah 4 gives a beautiful picture as well as Isaiah 2:1-2.
Now I want us to look at the building of the Tabernacle for a minute and see what we can draw from it spiritually. One thing is that the people, each doing what they could by using their gifts, built the Tabernacle. Who are we? We are G-d’s spiritual temple on earth. In I Cor. 12 Paul uses this model to describe how the body of Messiah works together each doing our part. Also in Eph. 2:19-22 we see Paul’s using this model of the believers being built together for a dwelling place of G-d in the Spirit.
Now, lastly I want to go on with this idea of the body of Messiah with Yeshua as the head, in Eph. 5:23 this point is made clearly. On Friday night a wife is honored by her husband with the reading of Proverbs 31:10-31, “A Woman of Worth”. Since spiritually the body of the Messiah is viewed also as the bride of the Messiah, I want us to look at this section of Proverbs to see how it might help us understand how we relate to the world and the Messiah. For example, Proverbs 31:10 “Her worth is far above rubies or jewels.” We have been purchased by His sacrifice, His blood. What could be more precious? Proverbs 31: 11-12, “she does him good not evil.” As the bride, our role is to do Him good and not evil as a wife would do her husband.
Proverbs 31:13-14, “Looks for wool, flax and works with delight.” As the bride our focus should be on building up the Tabernacle not made with hands. As the people of Exodus (Ex. 35:25) states this should be our delight not a burden.
Proverbs 31:14-15 “Rises while it is yet night” We need the food of G-d –that is scripture and it might cause us to rise early or stay up late to get it into our spirits.
I would like you to continue on with this scripture and see what other spiritual parallels you can draw. From this lesson I hope you appreciate our connection with the vine and how it enriches our life.