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Weekly D'rash and Parsha Tetzaveh

The Torah portion for this week continues the description of the instructions for building the Mishkan or Tabernacle. At the end of chapter 29, we have a nice summary that reminds us of the purpose of these instructions. As we said last week, what they are building is a holy place (25:8). Its purpose was to represent the dwelling place of God. The priests served as representatives of the people before God. That is why they wore the stones for each tribe on their breastpiece when they entered the holy place (28:29). The purpose of the Dwelling Complex or Tabernacle was so that the people would know that God was traveling with them. It also served the purpose of making atonement and interacting with God. The phrase "dwelling with them", and variations of it, occurs in only a handful of verses in the Bible. They are Exodus 25:8; 29:45; 1 Kings 6:13; Ezekiel 43:9; and Zech 8:3. What is also interesting is the little clause, "I will be their God." In the Torah, this clause is used only in Genesis 17:6 and in our Torah portion in Exo 29:45. However it is used a few times in the prophets to describe the days of Messiah (see, e.g., Jer 24:7; 31:33; 32:38; Ezek 34:24; 37:23; 37:27; and Zech 8:8). This means that in our Torah portion we learn that the building of the Tabernacle points to the future. It points to the day when God will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, in the midst of the people. When Yeshua came, He gave us the opportunity to experience a taste of this when the Spirit of God was poured out. He dwells in the midst of the body of Messiah wherever we physically may be. While this should encourage us, it is also an exhortation to live in a godly fashion. In 2 Corinthians 6:16, Paul likens the community of Messiah followers to ancient Israel in the wilderness with God dwelling in their midst. We have a particular testimony in this world that we must all guard. Paul exhorts them to not be in association with ungodliness. This does not mean that we can never interact with those who are not Messiah Followers, but we must not become entangled in sinful relationships that will cause us to be identified with ungodliness. It should cause us as individuals and as a community to think deeply about our relationships with people, institutions, and ideas. We have a great opportunity today to manifest the presence of God. May we not confuse it, dilute it, or substitute it with ideas and institutions that do not bring transformation and take away from the Good News of Messiah! Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Howard Graphic by Gerd Altmann at Pixabay

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