For the week of February 28, 1998
2 Adar 5758
Have them make a sanctuary for me and I will dwell among them
Here begins the many requirements for the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), its furnishings and the directions for the making of the priestly garments.
Many have difficulty reading these sections. This is because we are so culturally removed from those days. But once we grasp the point of all this, the details will matter much more. The importance of these chapters are in the fact that they are the next stage in God's revealing himself to the world.
God told Abraham that the world would be blessed through his descendants. That blessing is most realized when we ourselves come to know God. The rituals of the Mishkan were designed by God to that end.
There is a great deal in the design of Israel's worship and service of God that was in contrast to that of the other nations around them. True morality, honest sacrifice, just restitution, and forgiveness were key elements introduced to God's people through this institution. These qualities as well as the various symbolic acts would help them get to know God.
The ritual demonstrated to the people, on one hand, how far God was from them. Israel was given no physical or material representation of God. There was nothing that anyone could point to and say, "That is God."
On the other hand we read that God's purpose was to be near them, in fact God wants to actually live with his people, as he said, "I will dwell among them."
God wants to live with us. He is not a concept through which religious and political leaders are to control our lives. He does not exist just to motivate us to live in a certain way. In reality he is like a parent who is longs to be reconciled to his estranged children. After all he is our Heavenly Father, who, having created us, wants nothing more than to be with us.
We were not meant to be alone. Just like the Mishkan was right in the center of the nation of Israel, so God wants to be right in the middle of every aspect of our lives.
It is when God comes to live with us that we will find ourselves truly at home.