Exodus 35-40 (building and putting together God's dwelling place)


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PARASHA: VaYakhel (and he assembled) and P’Kudei (Accountings of)

EX 35:1-38:20 and EX 38:21-40:38…………….1 KINGS 7:13-8:21…………. MARK 9:1-50

Before embarking on this Parasha, there is one point from last week that I would like to bring to light. It is in Exodus 34:7 “Keeping mercy” (Notzer Chesed). In the Hebrew Bible, the first letter of the word “Notzer” is enlarged, a large “Nun”. Yet why? Some rabbis say that it is the first time that this word is used. If we were to look at the word “notzer” in Paleo-Hebrew symbolism, would see the word as; “The first righteous one who gives life”. Since the “Nun” is enlarged, perhaps we could look at it as “life-eternal” something “bigger” than our life on earth.

Who is it that “keeps mercy” for many thousands, if not millions who trust in Him? Is it not Yeshua who was raised in “Nazareth” (Natzeret) as a (Notzri) Nazarene? In both words, we have the same three letters, “Nun” “Tzadik” and “Resh” “N” “TZ” and “R”. Can we say that Exodus 34:7 is a shadow of “Yeshua” who is the one who “keeps mercy” reserved for all who trust and believe in Him? I would say so!

These are the final chapters of Exodus (Shemot) and Moshe talks about honoring the Sabbath day, the prohibition of lighting a fire on the Sabbath, gathering an offering to build the tabernacle and its furnishings, the appointment of persons to make certain items, and finally, the building project in detail and the outcome. All these are worth talking about.

” Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh day shall be a holy day for you, a Sabbath of rest to YHVH”

” You shall kindle no fire throughout your dwellings on the Sabbath day.”

These are very important statements, commandments repeated from before. Even before the building project begins, YHVH wants his people to know the work days, rules, and regulations. In this “work-a-holic” world in which we live, the believer should know when to stop and rest. YHVH commands it, for our own good and mental soundness. Too many people work all seven days a week, perhaps 10 or more hours each day to make a “lot of money” only to spend the extra money at the hospital when they have a nervous breakdown because of all the extra work hours.

The Sabbath is a day to spend with the family, at the family’s place of worship., be it at a synagogue or at a church. It is a time to spend with the LORD, to worship, learn from HIS WORD, and fellowship with other believers. It is a time to leave the things of the house alone, perhaps eat out, and return home at the end of the Sabbath. It is intended as a “day of rest” so, “rest” means exactly that, “rest”.

When we look at the commandment; “Thou shalt kindle no fire throughout your dwellings on the Sabbath” we need to ask ourselves, what was fire used mainly for? Probably for cooking! To boil water, prepare food in different ways. Manna fell from the sky and the Israelites perhaps ate it as is, or boiled it, and made it into bread, they probably roasted goats or lambs from the flocks, and heated ovens for “Manna flat bread” It was a task and a half to start and maintain a fire, cooking, preparing and all that. So, YHVH is saying STOP! just for the Sabbath, and take a break from it all. Stop slaving over the hot stove and rest, prepare something on Friday, that is why HE gave a “double-portion” of Manna on Friday.

Today, how can we put that “mitzvah” into good use without “overdoing it” as some Jewish sects do, not, turning on a light switch, not driving a car, etc? Well, to start, we can prepare meals for Saturday on Friday, and on the Sabbath, just heat them up. Another idea, eat something light like salad and sandwiches. Many churches and synagogues have the custom of eating out or eating “in”. Some Jewish synagogues have “Oneg” a lunch prepared for the members and guests after service. Some church Sunday school classes go out to eat as families after services on Sundays. Why not? Give the housewife or house-husband a break from kitchen duty! Don’t they deserve it? Anyway, the Sabbath was made for man and woman, to “rest” take it easy, and enjoy the some time with God. Another way we can look at this commandment is that “kindling a fire” could also refer to our “tempers” many have very hot tempers which flare up. The Sabbath is a time of peace, not to sow arguments over this and that, just take it easy and relax, let our temperaments be cool and calm. If someone wants to start an argument on the Sabbath, just walk away and leave it alone. It can wait for another day.

The rest of these two Parashot have to do with the Tabernacle. The order to build it, to take up an offering of materials, to assign workers, to “build it” to “put it all together” and finally, to invite YHVH to come down and dwell in it, which he DID, at the close of the book of Exodus. So, go ahead and read the chapters. How can we look at this in light of our lives as born-again believers in Messiah Yeshua?

The “tabernacle” today is YHVH’s dwelling place which is each and every “Kehilah” (congregation) where born-again believers meet to worship the LORD, singing praises and teaching his WORD. The tabernacle is also the body of all believers, with the Ruach HaKodesh dwelling inside of us! YHVH has given each and every believer some gift and talent to “maintain” the “Mishkan of Believers” as YHVH chose different individuals to build the furniture of the Mishkan, so HE has selected different believers with different talents to maintain the Kehilah.

The root word of “Mishkan” are the letters SH+K+N, (Shaken) meaning to “dwell with” or one could say “to live among” This is the Hebrew word for “Tabernacle” (Mishkan). If we are to look at this word from an ancient Hebraic view, the letters would be “Sheen” (the all-consuming fire) “Kaph” (anointing), and “Nun” (life). We can see the symbolism in these three letters; “The All-consuming fire (Adonai) wants to anoint the lives (of all believers) through HIS presence and ministry of teaching from his Torah, through his chosen teachers, preachers, rabbis, etc. He inhabited the Tabernacle with HIS divine presence and ministered to the People of Israel through the Levites and the priests.

When we look at the gematria for the letters “Sheen” “kaph” and “Nun” we get 300+20+50 = 370. We can look at this sum through symbolism seeing; Elohim (300) who is perfect (7) is eternal (0). 3+7+0=10. 10 is the number of the Law (Torah) His Word is Perfect, for all eternity.

So, what does every article of tabernacle furniture symbolize in relationship with Yeshua and believers?

1. The Mishkan itself with the curtains, poles, staves, etc. = A “fence” to keep holiness in and ungodliness out!
Once inside, you are in the holy place, where YHVH dwells, and where the priests minister. Our Kehilot are “holy places” where the LORD dwells and where we join for fellowship with other believers.

2. “Aron HaKodesh” (The Ark of the Covenant) the “heart” of the Mishkan, where the tablets of the commandments are kept, together with a pot of Manna, and Aron’s rod. It symbolizes the believer who “should” shine like “gold” both inwardly as well as outwardly. We should be mindful of the commandments to put them into action as “unto good works” Yeshua is our “Manna” the “Bread of Life” and the Rod of Aron is our “Rod of authority, our high priesthood of believers” the “Shekinah glory” which rested above the mercy seat is the everlasting presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

3. “The Table of Incense” it symbolizes our prayers as they go up “like smoke” unto the heavenlies, even to the Throne of Grace. One thing to point out, all the furniture with the exception of the Menorah, was made of Acacia wood overlaid with gold, the wood symbolizes the humanity of Yeshua and the gold “purity”. The incense was made of various ingredients but making an exact replica of the original substance is forbidden, most worshippers today that use incense use a mixture of Frankincense and Myrrh, which is readily available. It is a relaxing aroma that helps one to go to sleep at night.

4. “The Golden Menorah” was made of one solid piece of gold, hammered, and formed into a seven-branch candlestick. It had seven lamps which were filled with olive oil and burned all night. In the morning, the priest would come into the Holy Place and trim the wicks and re-fill the lamps with olive oil. We look at the Menorah as “Yeshua Ha Or Olam” (Yeshua who is the light of the world, the Eternal Light) we are the 6 branches that are on either side of the “Shamash” the helper lamp which is in the middle, Yeshua said, “Ye are the light of the world” that means “every believer is a light in dark places” but our light comes from Yeshua” we have no light of our own, like the moon, moonlight is sunlight reflected off the lunar surface. The oil symbolizes the Ruach Ha Kodesh, (The Holy Spirit) and the wicks are “us” we need to be in contact with the “oil” in order to have brightness.

5. “The Table of Shewbread” was made of hardwood overlaid with gold. Had 12 loaves of bread, symbolizing the 12 tribes of Israel. The table and bread symbolize “Yeshua HaLechem Chayim” (Yeshua the Bread of Life) This reminds us of the "unleavened bread at the time of Passover, that also symbolizes "Yeshua" who bore our sins.

6. Outside the holy place are two items, the bronze laver, and the Brazen Altar. The bronze laver was a huge bronze bowl filled with water. The priests would wash their hands and feet after offering blood sacrifices. It was made of bronze which symbolizes “judgment” when the water was still, the priest would see his reflection in the water. When we look in still water, or in a mirror, we see our reflection, we see who we are, sinners saved by grace, yet we still have a sinful nature, and Yeshua went through “judgment” in our place, we have been “washed” in his blood and made clean. Remember that Yeshua washed the feet of his talmidim.

7. “the Bronze Altar” (Mizbeach) (pronunciation = “ach” like Johann Sebastian Bach) not “beach” which is by the ocean. This was made of hardwood overlaid with bronze, symbolizing the humanity of Yeshua who was judged in the “fires of our sin”. The animal sacrifices were performed on this altar, the blood was poured out at the base of the altar, and the animals roasted on a grill. Think of the Mizbeach as a big BBQ pit. The brazen altar symbolizes the cross of Messiah Yeshua, and the animals symbolizing Yeshua himself who poured out his blood for us sinners, who incurred “our judgment” in his own body.

We see the materials that went into building the tabernacle; gold, silver, bronze, fine linen, wood, blue, purple, scarlet, and animal skins, They all have symbolic meanings; Gold=purity (of Messiah) and the goal of every follower of Mashiach, Silver=redemption (Yeshua redeemed us from the curse of sin) bronze=Judgment (Yeshua was judged for our sins, Fine linen= our new nature and our walk with the LORD, wood=Humanity of Messiah, Blue=Heaven, Purple=Royalty, (we are royalty in Messiah Yeshua, part of his royal family) Scarlet=blood. Animal skins=the covering of our sins before, but now, our sins have been erased, not just covered.

At the end of Exodus, in 40:38 it says that YHVH settled upon the Mishkan in a cloud. Now his presence is visible. Messiah is still with us in the form of the Holy Spirit, WE are the living Tabernacles and the Spirit of God lives in our hearts, as well as within the “Kehilot” of believers who come together for worship.

We read that “Bezalel” was chosen by Adonai to build many pieces of furniture that went into the Mishkan. He was filled with the “Ruach Elohim” (The Spirit of God) so as to fulfill this tremendous task. He was given “Knowledge” (da’at) “Understanding” (Binah) and “Wisdom” or skill (Chochma).

Today, we acquire knowledge from books, or through listening to others, we can read the WORD and acquire knowledge, but hopefully, it will not stop there. From knowledge we get “understanding” and from there, we put those to use in the form of “wisdom” or “skills”.

“Bezaleel” is introduced as “Bezaleel, son of Uri, son of Hur of the tribe of Y’hudah” the rabbis say that he is given three names, or three identities, Bezaleel, Son of Uri, Son of Hur. Even though we know that it is the same person. In a way, we have three names or three identities. One name is the name that our parents gave us. Another name could be how the community around us may call us, like “teacher” “helper” “counselor” “pastor” “rabbi” etc, the third name is the name that Adonai will give us in the World to Come. We will have an “eternal name” that perhaps, may reflect on the kind of life we lived on earth.

“B’tzel’el” means “in the shadow of EL” (God). So, he walked in HIS shadow, as an obedient servant, and was given the blessing of building a great part of the Mishkan.

Together, as members of the family of God, we use our spiritual gifts to build up our congregations.