Parsha Vayakhel-Pekudei - Shemoth/Exodus 35:1 - 40:38
Imagine knowing exactly how to navigate through this journey called life. Knowing where you’re supposed to go, what you’re supposed to do, and when you’re supposed to do it. Not questioning, not wondering, just knowing.
Imagine not ever having to worry about anything. Not worrying about how you’re going to meet all your needs. Not worrying about ‘bad stuff’ happening. Not worrying or being anxious about anything - just living in peace and security.
That’s what life was like in the wilderness for the children of Yisrael.
Though they mumbled and grumbled, there really was no need to - everything was taken care of for them. They had bread from heaven and water from a rock if they needed it. They didn’t need to worry about where they were going because YAH led them. He protected them and defeated their enemies.
Yisrael had it so good for one reason and one reason only: YAHUAH was with them.
The children of Yisrael built a Dwelling Place for YAHUAH so He could dwell in their midst (Shem/Ex. 25:8, 29:45).
In the final chapters of Shemoth (Exodus), when all the wise-hearted completed their work, Moshe assembled the Dwelling Place, anointed it, and set it apart. Then, the esteem of YAHUAH filled the Dwelling Place. His Presence was seen as a cloud by day and a fire by night:
(34) And the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the esteem of יהוה filled the Dwelling Place.
(35) And Mosheh was not able to come into the Tent of Meeting, because the cloud dwelt on it, and the esteem of יהוה filled the Dwelling Place.
(36) And when the cloud was taken up from above the Dwelling Place, the children of Yisra’el went onward in all their journeys.
(37) But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up.
(38) For the cloud of יהוה was on the Dwelling Place by day, and fire was on it by night, before the eyes of all the house of Yisra’el, in all their journeys.
Wow! This is what we want in our lives!
We want the Presence of Elohim so strong and so apparent that we know that He is with us. We want to know exactly where to go, when to go, and what to do when we get there. We want His protection and His unfailing provision.
We want His Presence!
If we want the peace and security that Yisrael had, then we too have to build Him a Dwelling Place.
We have to make set-apart space for Him in our lives. The more set-apart our life is, the more His Presence can be with us.
This week’s Parsha gives us an indication of how to get started at building a dwelling place for YAHUAH.
Now, the topic of how to make our life set-apart will take a whole series of articles to cover completely (hence the name of our blog: “Set-Apart Living”), but if we were to focus on just this week’s Parsha, we’ll see one major component in the process:
It’s using our gifts.
A crucial ingredient in building a Dwelling Place for the Most High YAHUAH is using the gifts that He has given us - for His esteem.
Exchange the Material for the Spiritual
First, we have to give material gifts to YAHUAH.
Yisrael gave large contributions from their material wealth. Everyone whose heart moved him brought gifts from their possessions to give to YAHUAH’s Dwelling Place.
They brought gold, silver, bronze, fabric, skins, leather, oil, spices, precious stones, and more. They brought so much that the craftsmen reported to Moshe that they had more than enough, and Moshe had to tell the people to stop giving!
Yisrael used their material possessions for YAH's esteem.
That really is the whole point of having material possessions. It’s not to feel better about ourselves. It’s not to look good in the eyes of others. It’s not even to take care of our needs really - YAH can take care of us in a barren desert.
Everything is for YAH's esteem.
When we give our material possessions to be used for His esteem, then our whole life is given meaning. We’re not laboring just to get more money, to pay the next bill, and to buy more stuff.
We’re laboring for something greater, a massively, universally important cause - to make YAHUAH known in the earth.
Giving brings this spiritual purpose to our labor and our existence. Without giving of our material possessions, our existence and our labor is purely worldly.
Giving also shows that the material things we have are not important. YAHUAH and our relationship with Him is more important than our accumulation of wealth and material goods. We do not serve our possessions and the work of our hands. We serve YAHUAH.
So, one step in bringing the Presence of Elohim into our lives is to make our life more set-apart by giving a portion of our physical goods to Him.
Some ways to do this:
What do you own that can be used for His purposes? Begin using it for Him or give it to someone who would use it for Him.
Got something that someone in need could use? (No, not stuff that’s ready for the trash) Give it to them, and tell them to thank YAHUAH.
Just got paid? Give YAH His tithe. Make an offering or give a contribution to be used for His esteem.
Any way that we can give a portion of our material possessions to be used for YAHUAH and His esteem will make our life a little more set-apart for His Presence.
Time for Work
In addition to giving our physical gifts, we also contribute our inner gifts - our skills, talents, and abilities.
All the wise-hearted of Yisrael came and made all that YAHUAH commanded (Shem. 35:10). Betsalel and Oholiab led the construction.
Moshe said of Betsalel that YAHUAH “filled him with the Spirit of Elohim, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all work,” and of Oholiab, “He has put in his heart the ability to teach” (35:31, 34).
Along with these two, YAHUAH gave “every wise-hearted man in whose heart יהוה had given wisdom, everyone whose heart lifted him up” (36:1,2). Women were obviously included among this group as they did much of the spinning and weaving (35:25-26).
YAHUAH blessed all the craftsmen with wisdom, understanding, and knowledge, and He gave them His Spirit and a wise heart. He blessed them with the ability, talent, and skill to do the work, and they did it. They used all their inner gifts for the esteem of YAHUAH.
So too we must do.
Our society teaches us to use our all for material pursuits. Use your talents, skills, and abilities to make as much money as you can and become "successful."
YAHUAH did not bless us with His gifts to use only for our own gain. We’re supposed to use them for His esteem. To do something for His Name. To somehow make our life and the world more set-apart for His Presence to dwell.
We all have a gift. YAHUAH has blessed every individual with a special talent or ability. Everyone has a 'knack' for something. That 'something' is a gift to be used for His purpose.
We have to identify what we’re good at. Not to boast about it, but to humbly give YAH thanks for His gift, and then to use it!
If we don’t acknowledge what we’re good at, then we're basically ignoring YAH's gift to us, and we won't use it for His esteem.
Once we acknowledge our gift and tell YAH "thank You," then we have to find a way to use it for Him.
Is there a way to use your gift to spread knowledge of Elohim in the world?
Can you do something to help those who are already spreading knowledge of Elohim?
Also, think about how you can help people. When we serve others, we show love for our neighbor, and love for our neighbor is love of YAHUAH. So, whatever we can do to help others is serving YAH.
How can you use your gift to help others?
Many of us do these to some degree already, but making it a priority in our life is what makes all the difference.
Making it a priority means to be serious about it.
Seriously think about the gifts YAH has given you. Answer this question: What are you good at?
Then, seriously think about how you can use that gift to esteem YAHUAH or to help other people. Answer this question: How can you put your gift to use?
Finally, seriously think about when you’re going to do it. Yes, we’re all busy, but make it a priority. Make the time to use your gift. Answer this question: When will you set aside one hour to do something for the esteem of YAHUAH or to help someone else?
And that’s how we begin to bring the Presence of Elohim into our lives.
We elevate our lives from mere earthly and physical existence by giving a portion of our material gifts to be used for His esteem.
Then, we go to work - for YAH. We utilize the inner gift He’s given us for His esteem. To serve Him directly or by serving His people.
When we make whole-hearted contributions and do the work, we make our lives more set-apart. Our lives become more and more inviting to His Presence.
Then, He can dwell with us - leading, guiding, protecting, and providing - just like He did with the children of Yisrael.
What more can a person want?