Torah Portion for week 19: Exodus 25:1 – 27:19
Did you know that God wants to be involved in your life, be a part of your life, and actually dwell in your heart and fill your entire being? Sounds crazy! Let me explain: In this week’s Torah portion we reach a climax in Israel’s journey and birth as a nation. After redeeming Israel from slavery and giving his holy commandments at Mount Sinai, God’s full redemption plan is at a peak. Now preparation is needed for God to be able to dwell among his people in full glory once again.
God’s burning desire for a relationship with mankind, the relationship that once was cut off and destroyed by sin in the Garden of Eden, lays a foundation for a restored relationship by ordering the construction of the tabernacle. In Exodus 25:8 God says, “And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst,” asking Israel to offer willingly from their hearts the finest materials necessary for building the tabernacle (Exod 25:2-7). God gives a revelation to Moses of a simple yet divine worship structure in order to make atonement for sin and offer intimacy with God. But we need to take a step back for a moment to understand the big picture and how this relates to Messiah Yeshua, who became the only way to enter into a right relationship with God.
Step 1 began in Genesis when God enjoyed a relationship with Adam and Eve with no shame or separation by sin. Once sin entered, this unique relationship sadly ended. We read about Step 2 in this week’s portion: God gives the tabernacle as a temporary solution for sacrifice and atonement for sin, which enables God’s presence to dwell among his people once again. After Israel entered the “promised land,” the time came for Step 3. The temporary tabernacle of Israel that hosted the famous Ark of the Covenant and God’s divine presence was put aside for the sake of the temple in Jerusalem; this became the center for worship of the God of Israel.
But a key prophecy in Daniel 9:26 explains that before the destruction of the rebuilt temple “an anointed one shall be cut off.” This is what provides the way for God’s ultimate solution for sin, thus making possible God’s divine dwelling among all mankind. And this brings us to the climax of Step 4, as we read in the Gospel of John: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Messiah’s coming into our world as prophesied in Daniel just before the destruction of the temple was the ultimate fulfillment of Exodus 25:8 – the son of God in flesh came to dwell among his people. The tabernacle and temple were a shadow of this historic event, shouting out from the pages of Scripture: The Son of God has come to dwell among his people and become the way, the altar, the sacrifice, the cleansing water, the light, the bread of life, the altar of incense, and the very presence of God with man.
I remember thinking as a child that knowing God or even obeying his commandments was enough; when I examined John chapter 1 in light of this weekly portion, my thinking changed. Think about it for a moment. Can you imagine a bride and groom who are completely in love living in separate homes after their wedding day? That would seem crazy! So why do we live in a world that thinks we can please God by marking checks on our spiritual task lists, instead of giving him complete freedom to enter our entire life and fill us with his presence by his Spirit?
Yes, God loves you and wants to be a part of your life and dwell in your spiritual home – your heart! Yeshua is the one who can take away your sin, clean up the rooms of your heart, and fill you with God’s presence. Maybe this truth was one of the reasons why the people of Israel decided to give willingly and generously as described in Exodus 36; Moses had to actually tell the people to stop their giving because it was so abundant.
May we give God the freedom to dwell in us and fill our life with his presence so that our words and deeds will represent God dwelling in man, rather than man being full of self and trying to be God. I encourage you to give to God generously just as Israel did – see what God can build out of your life.