This week’s Parasha is Pekudei, from Exodus 38:21 to 40:38.[i] Along with the accounting of the terumah used for the construction of the Mishkan and the priestly garments, this week’s reading marks the one-year anniversary of the Israel leaving Egypt with Moshe being commanded, “On the first day of the first month, you will set up the Tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting,” Exodus 40:2. (Remember in Parasha Bo, Exodus 12:2, Nissan was established as the first month of the year.) The celebratory event of this one-year commemoration is the setting up of the Mishkan with all of its utensils and furnishings, the dressing of the kohanim and the levites, and the subsequent indwelling of the Mishkan with the Presence of ADONAI.
Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of Adonai filled the Tabernacle. ~ Exodus 40:34
The visible Presence of the LORD would then provide guidance for Israel as they embarked on their journey to the Promised Land, when the Cloud moved, Israel moved; when it remained still, Israel stayed put, Exodus 40:36-38.
The indwelling Presence of the LORD is one of the connectors that intertwine this week’s Parasha and Haftarah. The Haftarah is I Kings 7:51-8:21. Solomon’s Temple is set-up and dedicated and as in the Mishkan in the desert;
Now when the kohanim came out of the Holy Place, the cloud filled the House of Adonai, so that the kohanim could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of Adonai filled the House of Adonai. ~ I Kings 8:10-11
The visible Presence of the LORD once again dwelt among the children of Israel, this time in Jerusalem, the City of David; an occurrence that had been prophesized to Moshe;
But when you cross over the Jordan and settle in the land that Adonai your God enables you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies around you, you will dwell in safety. Then the place Adonai your God chooses to make His Name dwell,there you are to bring all that I command you—your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes, the offering of your hand, and all your finest vow offerings that you vow to Adonai. ~ Deuteronomy 12:10-11 (Parasha Re’eh)
The Word of ADONAI is assured, if He said it, it will happen. The writer of Hebrews noted that the Word of God is “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword—piercing right through to a separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart,” (Hebrews 4:12) while the Torah reminds us concerning ADONAI, “God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes His mind! Does He speak and then not do it, or promise and not fulfill it,” (Numbers 23:19, Parasha Balak)? If He has said it, He will bring it about! This is why Rav. Shaul could say with great assurance, “I am sure of this very thing—that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the Day of Messiah Yeshua,” (Philippians 1:6).
Before leaving this week’s Haftarah, I need to make a confession. When I read the passage from I Kings, I was immediately struck by the statement in I Kings 8:9 concerning the contents of the Ark. “Nothing was in the ark except the two tables of stone that Moses put there at Horeb, when Adonai cut a covenant with the children of Israel when they came out of the land of Egypt.” The problem that I had was that I have always understood that there were a couple of other items in the Ark as a testimony to the faithfulness of the LORD; the jar of manna (Exodus 16:32, Parasha Beshalach) and Aaron’s rod which blossomed (Numbers 17:10, Parasha Korach). This seems to have been verified by the Apostolic Writings as the writer of Hebrews wrote that within the Ark, “…was a golden jar holding the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant,” (Hebrews 9:4b). I searched and searched to try and discover why in dedication of Solomon’s Temple, the emphatic statement, “nothing was in the ark except the two tables of stone.” I found a number of opinions but nothing definitive, and that really bothered me. Then I came across this comment by D. F. Payne in the IVP-New Bible Commentary, which put my searching into a proper perspective. He observed that “the importance of the ark did not lie in what it contained but in the fact that it signified the presence of God, or more precisely the presence of God’s glory, with his people.”[ii]
Why do I mention this “confession”? Simply put, it is easy to get side-tracked at times in trying to sleuth out the minute details that the bigger picture is blurred almost to being overlooked. In concentration on the supposed missing items, I neglected the intense Presence of the Glory of the Almighty. There is nothing wrong with the search, the asking of questions, the attempt to reconcile perceived discrepancies or paradoxes. But none of these exercises must be allowed to detract from the power and authority of the Word itself. Search out the intricacies and nuances of the Scriptures but never lose sight of the glory and majesty of ADONAI.
[i] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from the Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.
[ii] Wenham, G. J., D. A. Carson, J. A. Motyer, and R. T. France. New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition. Inter-Varsity Press, 1994. p 394