For the week of February 12, 2000 / 6 Adar 5760
Torah: Shemot / Exodus 25:1 - 27:19
Haftarah: I Kings 5:26 - 6:13

God's Pattern

Make this Mishkan and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you (Shemot / Exodus 25:9).

This week’s portion contains the beginning of the detailed instructions that God gave concerning the structure and furnishings of the Mishkan (English: Tabernacle). Moses was told by God, "Make this Mishkan and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you" (Shemot / Exodus 25:9).

The reference to a pattern suggests that God revealed to Moses more than what we read in the Torah. A pattern shows how parts of a thing fit together. Without a pattern details have no relation to each other. God showed Moses how the parts of the Mishkan were to work together.

We too need God to show us his pattern. The Scriptures contain many details, but we often fail to see how these details work together. As a result we tend to miss what God intended in what he has said.

How often do we try to figure out God ourselves instead of looking to him to guide us? When we study other ancient writings, we have to rely on human expertise for understanding. If an author is dead all we have is the writings themselves, possibly other contemporary references to those writings, plus the opinions of others following that time. Wouldn’t it be nice if we were able to talk to Plato, Aristotle, or Shakespeare and ask them, "What did you mean when you wrote this or that?"

But since God is alive, we can ask him for help. As we read the Scriptures, we can go to him, who inspired them.

I know that this is not as simple as I am making it sound, but what I am getting at is that when we study the Bible, we should be relying primarily upon God and not upon human expertise.

Reading the Bible without perceiving its pattern leaves us with many unrelated details. As a result people then try to impose their own patterns upon it. This results in humanly derived themes and emphases. This frequently occurs as people unquestioningly accept the interpretations of this or that group rather than seeking God themselves when reading.

But God wants to reveal more to us than just the details of Scripture. He wants also to show us his pattern, for only he understands how it all fits together.

It is when we humbly seek God for understanding ourselves that the Scriptures take their proper place in our lives. It is as God reveals his pattern to us that the parts of Scripture come together. As God’s pattern becomes clearer, we will know how to live out the things he has told us in the way he intended.

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