Vayakhel (And he Assembled)
Torah: Exodus 35:1-38:20 Haftarah: 1 Kings 7:40-50 Brit Chadasha: I Peter 1:13-25
I don’t want to revisit everything from last week’s reading but it appears that Yah is ‘harping’ on this Sabbath thing. Maybe harping isn’t the correct word to use here but clearly there has to be some importance to this Sabbath thing because it keeps being brought up over and over again in the ears of the children of Yisrael.
“Work is done for six days, but on the seventh day it shall be set-apart to you, a Sabbath of rest to יהוה. Anyone doing work on it is put to death. Exodus 35:2
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if something is mentioned more than once especially an instruction it should be pretty important and we might want to do that one. That is how it is with the Sabbath. I mentioned the Sabbath in the last Parasha, Ki Tisa, so I will not go back over that, but I would to submit some food for thought.
I believe we are instructed so many times about Sabbath because it sets us apart as the people of Yah and glorifies His Set Apart name. We are even commanded not to take the name of the Creator in vain.
“You do not bring the Name of יהוה your Elohim to naught, for יהוה does not leave the one unpunished who brings His Name to naught. Exodus 20:7
My point is this. I believe when we don’t keep the Sabbath we are taking the name of the Eternal in vain; we are taking something Set Apart (holy) and are making it profane i.e. common. I believe that is why in this portion we see the death penalty for disobeying the Sabbath. It’s not because Yah is a harsh God like some might wrongly think. No, it’s because He shares His esteem with no one and He surely can’t stand idolatry. I am of the opinion that when we are disobedient to keeping Sabbath we are creating our own idol or image of the Creator of the Universe and He doesn’t want to be turned into an idol. He doesn’t sit too well to competition and thus the penalty for not obeying the instructions of our loving Eternal Father are tough because He doesn’t sit well to having someone else making up the rules as they go along. Our English word, to bring, doesn’t do justice for the meaning of what is being set before us. The Hebrew gives us a clearer picture. It says don’t bring the name of Yah to naught; in other words, don’t place something on the Eternal that doesn’t represent Him. Jeff Benner states that it means to continue to grab hold to or lift up a burden or load and carry it. I have to say all of us have taken His name in vain in some shape, form or fashion. I was brought up being taught that using God in front of a dirty word was taking the name of the Creator in vain and the spectrum is so much broader and grander than this. What happens when our actions misrepresent the Father in front of others? Are we taking the name in vain? Have our actions placed a load or something on the Father that doesn’t need to be there? When we stumble in taking His name in vain, we are presenting not only something about ourselves but we are portraying the Father in a different light to the rest of the world than what He really is. I understand what Jeff Benner is saying in that it continues to grab hold… When a child or someone is continually grabbing hold of us is gets annoying and we feel like they are just stuck to us like glue. Well this is what I see taking the name in vain is all about. In a nutshell it’s misrepresenting the Creator and placing or attaching a load or things on Him, i.e. things that we do causing a stigma or something being attached or stuck on the Father that isn’t a part of Him, which causes harm and damage to others around us due to the misrepresentation. So just be reminded that it isn’t saying that dirty word and that alone; there are numerous ways that we can cause the name to become common in our midst.
Starting a fire
Next, we see an instruction about kindling a fire in your dwellings.
“Do not kindle a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.” Exodus 35:3
If you read commentaries especially Orthodox ones you will see all kinds of flaky things. I just simply see it as they were out in the wilderness and this whole commandment dealt with having to go look for wood, gather it and preparing a fire. In a nutshell that falls under the heading of ‘work’ and work shall not be done on the Sabbath. Also, another way to look at this commandment or I could say spiritualize it is arguing. When we argue with one another it causes anger or better stated causes our ‘blood to boil’. So we should be as peaceful as we possibly can and not ‘kindle a fire’ on Sabbath i.e. begin to argue with one another. This is a great lesson for children. When my children begin to argue and fight on Shabbat, I always remind them of the commandment of not kindling a fire on Shabbat. That is just another way I believe we can look at this instruction also.
We see again YHVH asking for a voluntary offering from the people of not only gold and silver but also of materials and other objects. I have talked about this before so I will not spend a lot of time here but I feel that we need to really be cautious of those who manipulate for money. The spirit of mammon is crippling the assembly of Yah and has even to some extent paralyzed it. All of our actions should come from a willing heart and not come out of manipulation or obligation.
And they received from Mosheh all the contribution which the children of Yisra’ĕl had brought for the work of the service of making the set-apart place. But they still brought to him voluntary offerings every morning, so all the craftsmen who were doing all the work of the set-apart place came, each from the work he was doing, and they spoke to Mosheh, saying, “The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which יהוה commanded us to do.” Then Mosheh commanded and they sent this word throughout the camp, saying, “Let neither man nor woman do any more work for the contribution of the set-apart place.” And the people were withheld from bringing, for what they had was enough for all the work to be done, more than enough. Exodus 36:3-7
I also see here a deeper meaning to this. Everyone who was willing was a part of building the tabernacle for Yah. Isn’t it our jobs as believers to make a contribution to our tabernacle i.e. temple? What I mean is you and I after we are grafted into the natural olive tree; there is not only construction to be done but maintenance also. Many folks believe that they can run down to some steps shed some tears say a prayer get up and go on their merry way and never do anything else in their walk for the rest of their lives and its all hunky dory. No. There has to be the process of beginning to build getting all the right materials together and in order and then once the building has gone up then begins the process of upkeep. This is how a healthy walk with Yah should be in my opinion. ‘Salvation’ should not just be a onetime event. We can find several instances where Yisrael was ‘saved’ multiple times as a group and individuals as well. So I guess I need to ask how we are doing in building our temple. Shaul tells us that we are the temple of Yah.
Do you not know that you are a Dwelling Place of Elohim and that the Spirit of Elohim dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16
Is this just something that we nonchalantly do or think about from time to time?
I hope not because the rest of this Parasha gives us extreme detailed information on the construction of the tabernacle and it wasn’t just haphazardly thrown together by the seat of Yisrael’s’ pants. No it was something that took time and a lot of effort and work went into building the Mishkan i.e. tabernacle and so it should be with you and me. We should willingly give ourselves daily to examine our tabernacles paying close attention to the details so that the Creator will dwell within us and be amongst us.
I have to mention this because it was a manifestation of this week’s portion in my life. I was late in the week of reading this portion. I like to read them at the beginning of the week because I believe these portions aren’t just historical but are applicable to our everyday lives, prophetic if you will in the manner that they play out in our lives. My wife was told by the teacher at my children’s school that there were six students whose families couldn’t afford the $30.50 books for their children this school year. She came back and told me about this and we had already been looking at the kindergarten classroom that doesn’t have a ceiling in it. It has a roof but the trusses and tin and everything else in an attic is exposed and the high winds cause a lot of dirt and leaves to come in and land on the desks and floors and every morning they have to sweep everything off. I told Gaby well let me see if the brothers and sisters in the States would like to respond to these needs. I came home and sent out an email stating those needs. I didn’t beg or give a sermon on giving. I just laid the need out there, and I was blown away at the response. In less than fourteen hours there was $1,200 that came in for these projects. It was so much more than what we needed to complete the work that I thought man we have enough and I need to email the folks and tell them of this praise report and instruct them to no longer give to these projects because our quiver is full so to speak.
So I sent out an email telling everyone that we had met our goal and not to continue to give towards that project and then about an hour later I thought man I need to read the portion for this week because I haven’t and am behind and when I read Exodus 36:3-7 I was just blown away again because Mosheh asked Israel for a voluntary offering and they kept bringing until there was enough and even more than they needed to complete the work that he had to instruct them to stop giving towards the project. What a way to see that this Torah stuff is still alive and well for those who are Israel today!!! This to me is what makes studying and walking in Torah so neat. It’s alive and well and still applicable for Yisrael today.
I can’t begin to praise those of you who gave to this project enough and how such a blessing it was not only for us but how this impacts the lives of children and their parents in the community where we live. They will never be able to thank you guys who gave but I do want you to know that they are all appreciative of your generous gifts and told me to tell all who gave thanks for thinking of them and blessing them.
You know it wasn’t just enough money to complete the projects that we took on. We actually were only going to put a ceiling in the kindergarten classroom only but since there was enough we are able to do the whole building and even still have left over to put towards the orphanage. So what does this say about our YHVH? It tells me that he is able to supply our needs like the Scripture says.
And my Elohim shall fill all your need according to His riches in esteem by Messiah יהושע. Philippians 4:19
It also shows me that the brethren can come together and be echad in times of need and it demonstrates the love and generosity that the brethren has for folks they don’t know who live 1,500 miles away. I was given a word one time in my ordination service or whatever you want to call it. This was a service where I was being sent to Costa Rica to do missions. The minster told me that Yah doesn’t send his troops out into the battlefield without supplying them with ammo and food and all the provisions they need. He said that as long as I fought in the army of the Creator then there would always be provision there in times of need. That word that was given to me over seven years ago was quickened in my spirit due to the way things happened this week in this Torah portion.
The Scriptures are so true and when we obey the Father he literally pours out blessings that we can’t contain. Once again thanks to all who gave to this project and may the Eternal bless you and continue to keep you and my hat goes off to the body of Yisrael and its response to this situation. Not only did you meet a physical need but this has been a great tool to be able to share the love of YHVH and His son with folks who don’t know Him. I have written many times that folks here in Central America have been preached at all their lives and you really get the ear of folks when your actions speak louder than your words. Well guys your actions were being blasted from loud speakers and shouted from the rooftops, if you will and for that thanks and blessings to you all.