Parashat Pequdei (Accounts Of)
Shemot (Exodus) 38:21-40:38
Haftarah: 1 Kings 7:51-8:21 (Ashkenazi) 1 Kings 7:40-50 (Sephardic)
In this week’s reading, we find a concept that I am not sure, today, we really understand. Oftentimes, I hear people say something like “the presence of the LORD was in this place…” and use it very casually. I have been known to say this, too. I must confess that while I am very careful not to be judgmental, I think about the Scripture from this week’s reading, which makes me think that we do not actually know what this phrase really means.
The presence of the LORD is an awesome and terrifying thing to experience. Awesome because there is nothing else like it, and terrifying because God’s glory cannot be fully experienced in the human flesh without death. In our Parashah portion of this week, which happens to conclude our reading from Exodus (Shemot), we read of a very profound moment of God’s presence:
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.
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.”
Once again, we see that no one - even the priests - could stand (or minister) when the kavod of the LORD was in a place.
In 2 Chronicles 7:1–3, we find another example of what happens when the kavod of the LORD fills a place:
Now when Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the house. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. All the sons of Israel, seeing the fire come down and the glory of the LORD upon the house, bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave praise to the LORD, saying, “Certainly He is good, certainly His grace is everlasting.”
When the kavod of the LORD was in a place, the people were with their faces to the ground as they worshiped the LORD, acknowledging that it is only because of His grace that they survived that experience.
My dear brothers and sisters, we must not treat God, or His presence, casually. Our reverence for His “kavod” is something that, I believe, we have lost in our modern times. We easily confuse feeling His Spirit with experiencing His glory/kavod, but these two are not the same thing. Yeshua gave us the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, when He left the earth, and the Spirit is always with us. But, the awesome and terrifying presence of the LORD is something I reckon most of us have not experienced in the flesh.
I exhort each one of us to take the time to seek the LORD for areas in our lives that we have lost our reverence for Him. He is the Almighty God, the Creator of the universe! We owe Him every part of our lives, and all our heart, mind, and soul.
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