Parashat Pekudei (Commandments or Charges of)
Shemot (Exodus) 38:21–40:38
This week’s parasha (Scripture portion) brings us to the end of Exodus (Shemot), in which God’s truly awesome glory is revealed to and dwells among the children of Israel. I’ve previously written on this parasha, and I’d like to share some thoughts similar to what I wrote last year.
Exodus (Shemot) ends with a very dramatic moment in the lives of the people of Israel, as they complete building the Tent of Meeting that God has commanded them to build:
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle (mishkan). And Moses could not come to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And throughout all their journeys whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the sons of Israel would set out; but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out until the day when it was taken up. For throughout all their journeys, the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and there was fire in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel.
Can you imagine what an incredible moment this was for Israel? I don’t think we can truly fathom how awesome it was to experience God’s presence actually come down to fill the tabernacle. While the hands of men prepared the mishkan, it was the Almighty Himself who had the final act of wonder over it. In Hebrew, it says that the “kavod of the Lord (YHVH)” filled the place of dwelling. This word is so full of meaning, that translating it as “glory” really doesn’t do it justice. In fact, it is better translated as “respect, honor, esteem or dignity.” In fact, the root of the word is “kaved”, which means heaviness or to weigh heavily upon.
God’s presence is heavy! It is not to be taken lightly. Sadly, I believe our modern attitude is too casual toward the Almighty. Often we followers of Messiah forget that the God that we believe in and worship is the same God that Moses served! I find it interesting that even Moses, who was very beloved by God, could not enter the tent due to the presence of God that dwelled in that place. Do we even understand what we mean when we say, “The presence of the Lord was in that place”? I’m not sure we do.
My dear brothers and sisters, my goal is not to criticize, but to exhort us all to be careful to not be casual when we come before the Lord. Although God calls us His friends, He is also our Father and so worthy of all honor, respect, glory, and praise. Let’s return to a place where we give God the utmost “kavod” that He deserves. And let’s not take Him lightly.