This parsha covers Exodus 38:21-40:38 (completion of the Tabernacle) and the Haftarah section is 1 Kings 7:51-8:21 (Solomon dedicating the Temple).
This part of the Torah is really focused on the details for the building of the tabernacle. It is really easy to get bogged down in the details and to flip pages ahead to parts of the text that seem more interesting. But, there are really important things to pick up from the details that God wanted Moses to write down so that they would be preserved for us. The key to the importance of the verses that explain the preparations for the tabernacle or the tent of meeting is that it was a place for God’s presence to dwell so that he could be in the midst of the people. God was giving Moses the instructions to make a place so that God’s very presence could hang out in the midst of the camp of Israel. That is an amazing thing. God wanted to be in the middle of his people.
The people listened to what they needed to do in order to have the Tabernacle completed and they obeyed. More than just Moses overseeing the work and blessing the people, we know that the people did what God asked of them because God responded. This is how the book of Exodus ends: “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.”
And so the book of Exodus ends very differently than it began. At the beginning of the book the Israelites are in bondage, under a Pharaoh who does not remember Joseph and they are crying out to the Lord. At the end of Exodus, God has raised up Moses and Aaron who have led the children of Israel out of slavery, through the Red Sea, and they are in the wilderness with God dwelling in their midst. God’s presence has descended on the tabernacle in the form of a cloud and when it is time for the Israelite camp to move, the cloud of God’s presence moves and they follow it. The people of Israel are in a much better situation at the end of Exodus, but they are not to the promised land yet. That journey takes them the rest of the Torah and into the book of Joshua, but they’ve come a long way and God is dwelling in their midst and leading them visibly. It is tradition at the completion of a reading of a book of the Torah to say “Chazak, Chazak, Venischazeik!” which means “Be strong, be strong, and may we be strengthened!” This week may we be strengthened not only by the reading of God’s word, but by the reminder that God came to dwell among us, not only in a cloud that rested on the tent of meeting–but in the person of Yeshua (Jesus) who came to dwell among us on the earth as a man, live a perfect life, and die for our salvation so that we might be in relationship and fellowship with him forever.
Shabbat Shalom Camp Gilgal!