Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #22: Vayak’hel (He assembled) Sh’mot (Exodus) 35:1-38:20
Haftarah: M’lakhim Alef (1 Kings) 7:13-26
B’rit Chadashah: Revelation 11:1-13
Shabbat is the first order of business this week. It is a mandated day of complete rest for us to honor Adonai. Whoever does any work is to be put to death. Then we are told not to kindle a fire in any of our homes. This would seem to be a superfluous command, out of place, but As Messianic believers we know the significance makes this command perfectly placed. We are not to start arguments during Shabbat; a type of fire kindling. In the context of the Temple, G-d clarifies we are not to start a fire like the fire that is to be kept burning perpetually (Ex. 27:20-21). Although the Menorah light represents the Light of Yahshua and our light that is to shine perpetually for Him to the world, the command not to start a fire in the home clarified why it was permitted in the Temple, even on Shabbat.
Moshe solicits the assistance of all who would be moved in their hearts to assist with the work of making the ritual garments and the Tabernacle. We see that everyone who was moved to do something had the resources; money, time, skills. Both men and women came; both were involved in this blessed task and rightly so. We are all held to the commands of G-d, though the Orthodoxy chose to make their own rules concerning this in their Oral Torah. G-d prepares us for the task He has for us and for opportunities presented to us throughout our lives. Have you ever wondered how an opportunity presented itself at just the “right time” when you were available? I hope you took advantage of it and performed the mitzvah accordingly. Keeping with this, Adonai singled out B’tzal’el meaning in the shadow[protection] of G-d; the son of Uri, the son of Hur from the tribe of Judah for a special task. G-d prepared him with wisdom, understanding, and knowledge concerning every kind of artisanry including gold, silver, and bronze design, stone cutting, and wood carving. He was also given Oholi’av meaning father’s tent, from the tribe of Dan the ability to teach others. He provided them every skill needed for every kind of work, including embroidery and weaving. So, why are these two mentioned by name? The Talmud Exodus Rabah 40:4explains that Judah was the greatest of the tribes, whereas Dan was the least among them. G-d mentions B’tzal’el, a noble of the exalted Judites, descendant of Kelev and Miriam (Sotah 11b, Numbers 13:2-3, Megilla 14a), grandson of Hur, a leader recognized by Moshe, alongside Oholi’av who was a lowly Danite, notable only in his comparative commonality to protect him from embarrassment and B’tzal’el from his ego. The point is that there is no respect of persons with G-d. All are equal before G-d. This is a truth also taught in the B’rit Chadashah in Romans 2:11. This statement is in the context of everyone being accountable to G-d according to his deeds (Rom. 2:6). Reading from verse 9: “Yes, he will pay back misery and anguish to every human being who does evil, to the Jew first, then to the Gentile; but glory and honor and shalom to everyone who keeps doing what is good, to the Jew first, then to the Gentile. For G-d does not show favoritism. All who have sinned outside the framework of Torah will die outside the framework of Torah; and all who have sinned within the framework of Torah will be judged by the Torah.” Singling out B’tzal’el and Oholi’av provides another example of G-d’s including the “greatest: and the “least”; just as He singled out Y’hoshua (Jew) and Kelev (Gentile convert) to be saved from a corrupt generation. Thus, under the direction of these two men who were endowed with every skill necessary to accomplish the building of the Tabernacle, those who were moved to help completed the task with love.
B’tzal’el also made the two k’ruvim of gold; one for each end of the cover of the ark cover of a single piece of gold. The k’ruvim had their wings spread out above, so that their wings covered the ark; their faces were toward each other and toward the ark cover. The fact that they were made out of a single hammered piece of gold tells us something about how we should approach reaching our life goals. We should not do things in fits and starts, especially when it comes to Torah study. We must not wait to learn until it is convenient for us, studying perhaps a few minutes here or there, and skipping days in between. This kind of piecemeal work lacks continuity resulting in many gaps in our Torah learning. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 reminds us that we are to make Torah study/love of G-d our priority on a daily basis. Like setting goals by making a list of objectives to meet along the way, we need to set times aside for Torah study.
Another explanation of why the K’ruvim were made of one mold is in our understanding of what they represent. The Sages say that one represents YHVH and the other B’nai Ysrael. The K’ruvim made from one piece og gold show the strength and connection between G-d and B’nai Yisrael. WE know that anything made form a single mold is stringer than something made from two. There are no seams that might make it break under pressure. It is a picture of believers becoming one with YHVH Elohim so that we might successfully overcome all adversities of life. Being one with the Creator in focus and direction assures us of ultimate success. Another point is that the K’ruvim were placed on the base of the ark covering the Torah. Just as the Aron served as the base for the K’ruvim, so too must the Living and Written Torah serve as the basis of our connection with G-d, making our tie with YHVH unbending and pure.
Haftarah: M’lakhim Alef (1 Kings) 7:13-26
This passage reflects the reality that G-d provides those who love Him what they need when they need it to accomplish His purpose for their lives. In this case, it is Hiram from the tribe of Naftali who was “a bronze worker filled with wisdom, understanding and skill for all kinds of bronze craftsmanship. He came to King Solomon and did all his bronzework.” The challenge for those who submit to laws\decisions by the rabbis or other religious leaders is to compare what is given as halakha or law to G-d’s Torah. It is also wise to pray for wisdom and understanding on your own behalf. Clergy do not have a monopoly on wisdom and knowledge as the Torah makes very clear.
B’rit Chadashah: Revelation 11:1-13
The focus of this passage is the two witnesses of whose identity there exists much debate. It seems logical these two will represent grace and law as they are described as “the two olive trees and the two menorahs standing before the L-rd of the earth.” Perhaps these two will be Enoch and Elijah. These are the two individuals identified in the Bible that did not die before being taken to heaven. Or could one of them be Moshe? We will not know for certain until the designated time. These two will be given what they need to accomplish G-d’s purpose for them as described for others who served G-d in the parashah and the haftarah. Of this provision, we can be sure if we are serving G-d. These two witnesses are given the power to destroy, hold back rain, turn the waters into blood, and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want. However, to whom much is given, mush is required. After 1,260 days of calling people to repentance as evidenced by their sackcloth garments, the Antichrist will kill them. Their bodies will lay in the streets of Jerusalem for 3 ½ days while those who reject their prophesies and G-d, laugh, rejoice, and exchange gifts as they celebrate their deaths. But there is more to come. After the 3 ½ days G-d calls them to heaven. Once this witness for G-d is gone, there is a great earthquake killing 7,000 and causing others to give glory to the G-d of heaven. This does not mean these people became believers. Many people give glory to G-d in a time of fear. Nevertheless, this is the end of the second woe. The worst is yet to come for those who will not repent. But for the true believer, the finish line will not be far off with the prize of eternal life with our G-d, El Gibbor, Sar Shalom, Aviyad to come.
Rabbi Tamah Davis