Shemot (Exodus) 35:1–38:20 & 38:21–40:38
This week, we have a double Scripture (Torah) portion. Because there aren’t enough Shabbats in the Jewish calendar to read the entire 54 Scripture portions, there are seven double (or combined) portions. This week marks the conclusion of our reading in the Book of Exodus (Shemot in Hebrew, which means “Names”). The book ends with a very dramatic moment in the lives of the people of Israel, as they completed the construction of the Tent of Meeting (Tabernacle):
“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.”
—Shemot (Exodus) 40:34–38
Men prepared the “Mishkan”, the place of dwelling for the Almighty, yet it was the Almighty Himself who had the final act over it. In Hebrew, it’s written, “…the ‘kavod’ of the Lord (YHVH-The One who was, is, and will always be) filled the place of dwelling.” This word has so much more meaning than the English word, “glory.” It shares the same root as the word “heavy” in Hebrew, and can mean respect, honor, esteem, or dignity. It could also be translated as “weight of glory”. With this in mind, we can understand the reason that Moses could not enter God’s dwelling place!
My dear friends, the dwelling of God is neither a joke nor a game. It is something beyond what we can imagine or comprehend in our human understanding. One cannot handle this kind of weight, and in the book of Revelation it even represents judgment:
“And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory (Kavod) of God and from His power; and no one was able to enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.”
It is interesting that, in Exodus, the people of Israel would not move unless the cloud signifying God’s presence went up. As I read this, I am thinking about my own life, the way I speak, talk, and act. When I consider God, am I giving Him the honor or the “weight” that He deserves? Or in other words, do I take Him lightly? Do I come before Him casually, or with the utmost respect that He deserves? Am I following His lead every step of the way?
My dear friends, our God, the One in whom we believe and choose to follow, is not a different God than the one we read about in the Scriptures. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob, and the God of Moses. Yes, His Son is His Word that became flesh and dwelled among us. He died, resurrected, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. His Spirit dwells in our hearts and is at work in us, and around us all the time! Just as the people of Israel gave Him the utmost respect and honor when His presence was among them, so should we! In everything that we do…
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