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Parasha Pekudei (Accounts): God’s Divine Presence Enters the Temple

Pekudei (Accounts)
Exodus 38:21–40:38; 1 Kings 7:51–8:21; Hebrews 8:1–12

Last week in Parasha Vayakhel, the people donated the required materials for the building of the Mishkan in such abundance that Moses had to tell them to stop giving.

This week in Parasha Pekudei, an accounting is made of those materials, and the eight priestly garments are made according to the specifications in Parasha Tetzaveh.  The Mishkan is also completed and a cloud appears over it; the Divine Presence has come to dwell within it.

The Mishkan (Bible Primer)

The Mishkan (Bible Primer)

The Glory of God

“Moses inspected the work and saw that they had done it just as the LORD had commanded.  So Moses blessed them.”   (Exodus 39:43)

Parasha Pekudei addresses the mystery of how an unlimited, eternal God who transcends all time and space can possibly take up residence within the limitations of a man-made building.

Once Moses and the people finished the work of constructing the Mishkan, the Glory of God filled it:

“So Moses finished the work.  Then the cloud covered the meeting and the glory [kavod] of God filled the tabernacle.”  (Exodus 40:33–34)

The word for glory in Exodus 40:34 is kavod; it is related to the Hebrew verb kaved, which means to honor, to be honored, and to be heavy.

When we give someone kaved, it means we give them honor or respect — we treat them as a person of substance, importance, of great value.  This same word used in the Ten Commandments, Honor [kaved] your father and your mother.” (Exodus 20:12)

Carrying the Torah at the Western (Wailing) Wall

Carrying the Torah at the Western (Wailing) Wall

In this Torah reading, God chose to place His Glory (known in Jewish literature as Shekhinah) into the finite space of the Mishkan (Sanctuary).  His Presence was unmistakable and of great substance.  It was heavy and inspired reverence.

The Presence of the Lord was so weighty, in fact, that Moses himself was unable to enter.

“Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” (Exodus 40:35)

As the children of Israel moved on from the foot of Mount Sinai, where they received the revelation of the Torah, the manifestation of God in cloud and fire that hovered over the mountain now moved with them to cover the  Tabernacle.

This sign reassured the people of His continual Presence and guidance throughout all of the rest of their journeys.

“For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and there was fire therein by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.”  (Exodus 40:38)

Similarly, Yeshua (Jesus) will always be with us.  He promised, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:20)

As Believers in Yeshua, we do not need to drift aimlessly upon a storm-tossed sea of trials and tribulations alone; the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) has been sent to lead and guide us and to be with us forever.

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.”  (John 14:16)

Israel-Aerial-Jerusalem-Temple_Mount-Temple_Mount_south_exposure

The Muslim Dome of the Rock is thought to occupy the spot on the Temple Mount where the First and Second Temples were located.

The Glory of God Falls on Solomon’s Temple

“When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord.  And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple.”  (1 Kings 8:10–11)

In the Haftarah (Prophetic portion) for this week, the Shekhinah Glory of Adonai filled the Temple in Jerusalem once the work had been completed, just as it had filled the Mishkan in the wilderness when the work was completed.

As in the Parasha reading, it was the end of the work that brought the supernatural outpouring of God’s presence, not the beginning.

Starting any kind of project is usually relatively simple, if accompanied by zeal and enthusiasm, but the true blessing comes upon finishing the work.  This requires patience, diligence, and endurance.

Like the Israelites, Believers have also been given a job to finish:

“My only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Yeshua has given me — the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”  (Acts 20:24)

A woman runs in the Jerusalem Marathon

A woman runs in the Jerusalem Marathon. (Photo by Brian Negin)

The Author and Finisher of Our Faith

When Yeshua died on the Roman execution stake, His final words were, “It is finished.”

He knew that He had completed the work He had been sent to this world to accomplish.  He had fulfilled His calling; He had glorified the Lord, which was His heart’s earnest desire:

“I have glorified You on the earth; I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.”  (John 17:4)

That work involved being the author and FINISHER of our faith!  (Hebrews 12:2)

He is the Aleph and the Tav, the beginning and the end.  Halleluyah!

Sefer Torah-yad

Torah scroll and yad (Torah pointer, literally hand)

We can be secure in the knowledge that God always finishes what He starts.  He did not just begin the work of creation; He finished it: 

“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.”  (Genesis 2:1) 

God is faithfully at work in each one of us, as well.  He will bring the work He began in us through to perfect completion.

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Messiah Yeshua.”  (Philippians 1:6)

When we come to the end of our lives, even if it seems like there is yet much work to be done here on earth, may we be able to declare like the apostle Paul,  “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  (2 Timothy 4:7)

Jerusalem Marathon

Thousands participate in the International Jerusalem Marathon.  (Photo by the State of Israel)

From Slavery to Freedom

The book of Exodus (Shemot) begins with the Israelites enslaved in Egypt.  It ends with a visible demonstration of the Shekhinah Glory of Adonai!

Those who follow the Master, Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah), have personally experienced freedom from slavery.

Before we knew Yeshua, we were enslaved to sin, longing to be delivered from the kingdom of darkness.

Now His Torah is written on our hearts and His Ruach HaKodesh dwells within us, transforming us into the people He has called us to be.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”  (2 Corinthians 3:18)

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