God’s Weighty Presence

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Parashat Pequdei (Accounts Of)
Shemot (Exodus) 38:21-40:38
Shemot (Exodus) 38:21-40:38
Haftarah: 1 Kings 7:51-8:21 (Ashkenazi) 1 Kings 7:40-50 (Sephardic)

Do we really understand the “weight” of God’s glory? This is something I have been thinking about, especially as I read the Scripture in preparation for writing this commentary. I would like to encourage you to read with an open heart as I share with you some thoughts that I also find personally challenging. 

When I look at scriptures such as the one from this week’s reading, it is clear to me that we treat God’s presence too casually. I believe that although we mean well, we are far from truly understanding the weight of His holiness and presence. It is very easy to look at God and His Word through the lens of our own human understanding. This can cause us to lose sight of His divine purpose (at best) or bring God down to our level to justify our behavior in doing whatever we want to do.  

In Exodus 40:34-38 we read:

Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Throughout 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 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. ”

In the English translation of Scripture, the Hebrew word “כָּבוֹד” “kavod” is translated as “glory”, but in essence there is a much deeper meaning to this word.  This word contains the essence of something of value, of great appreciation, wealth, honor and weight. The moment that the “kavod” of the LORD is in a place, its value, honor, and weight are virtually incomprehensible; we humans cannot grasp it. This is the reason that when the “kavod” of the Lord filled the tabernacle, no one - including Moses - could enter the tabernacle. 

It is common among followers of Messiah to say things like, “God was in this place” or “The presence of the Lord was here”. But I think we may miss the true meaning of God’s presence in a place. According to Scripture, when God’s presence fills a place, humans cannot comprehend it (or even endure it). That does not mean we do not experience God; on the contrary, I have been in many situations where I experienced the Lord’s Spirit and have been deeply changed by it. I just think that we need to be more precise in how we explain experiencing God, otherwise we risk taking His actual presence for granted.

In the Haftarah portion from 1 Kings 8:10-11, we read: 

And it happened that when the priests came from the holy place, the cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.” 

As we can see, no one - even the priests - could stand (or minister) when the “kavod” of the LORD was in a place. 

My dear brothers and sisters, I write this not as a judgment but instead to have us consider how we treat God and His Word. Do we treat them in a casual way? When we use the term the “presence of the Lord”, do we truly understand what it means? Or are we getting swept up in our own emotions, causing us to miss God altogether? 

I think this could also apply to another term that we like to use, “The Lord told me…” We must be very careful about what we attribute to God versus to ourselves. Treating God’s communication with us too casually can be a slippery slope in our walk with Him. Not only can it cause us to act contrary to His Word, but it can also cause others to do the same. Is that something we want to be responsible for?   

I would like to challenge us to be more judicious about what we say and to whom we attribute our thoughts and actions. Words have real consequences, both in the natural and spiritual realms. Whatever we do in His name is ultimately a reflection of the One we serve.

Whatever we do, may we do it with the fear and respect that He is worthy of.

Shabbat Shalom,
Moran


Check out previous blogs on this parashah!

Did you know? — Lone Soldier

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3 Comments on “God’s Weighty Presence”

  1. Thank you for the word, Moran. Very apt these days. And all days… We’re still praying for all of you. May He protect you in your ministry and have mercy on us all.

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