Va-Yakhel
For the week of March 5, 2005 / 24 Adar 5765
Torah: Shemot / Exodus 35:1 - 38:20
Haftarah: 1 Melachim / 1 Kings 7:40-50

A Great Invitation

All who are skilled among you are to come and make everything the LORD has commanded. (Shemot / Exodus 35:10)

One of the most wonderful things in the universe is that Almighty God has invited each one of us to meaningfully participate in his creation. From the beginning when we were commanded to subdue the earth, to the call upon Abraham to be a blessing to all nations, to the Messiah's mandate to make disciples of every man, woman, and child, the plans and purposes of God have been dependant upon our involvement.

What a contrast to the meaninglessness that pervades many cultures today. Perhaps the most common world view in the western world is secularism. Secularism assumes that we are the product of a cosmic accident. Any meaning in life, therefore, is the meaning we give to it. No matter how intelligent this viewpoint is made to sound, it is an expression of how lost human kind really is. Having rejecting God's compass, so many people spend their lives wandering about, lost.

There are many other viewpoints old and new, which try to provide an alternative to the lost-ness of secularism, but none come anywhere near the Bible's divine invitation for us to join the Creator in the work of the restoration of creation. Some religions claim that God is moving history in such a way that we can do nothing about it. This fatalistic view removes us from all responsibility. Others claim that God has simply set the universe in motion and that we would be best off to simply figure out where we little cogs fit into this grand machine. Others attest that the world as we know it is an illusion. Spiritual reality is found in freeing our minds from the depravity and grief that confronts us each day. Only through this kind of detachment can we find meaning a meaning which actually has no meaning at all.

Throughout history there are those who while claiming to believe the Bible, have in reality held variations of these wrong views. Some have focused on God's rule over nature and history to the point that they refuse to take responsibility for their own lives. Others believe that the universe is simply made up of principles. It is as we learn how those principles work that we can live effective lives. Still others pursue a spirituality that disconnects them from the realities of life, thus rendering themselves both irrelevant and infective to what God really wants from us.

This week's portion contains another example of God's invitation to us. God commanded Moses to build the special place of worship, called the Mishkan (or in English, the Tabernacle). Within the community of Israel were people who possessed the skill needed to build the Mishkan. It would talk a great variety of artists and craftsmen to build this elaborate structure along with its furnishings and accessories. And so the invitation went out to all who are skilled in doing such things to come and make the things the Lord commanded.

This is the same invitation that God is giving today. There is so much that God wants done in the world, and he is looking to you and me to join him in his work. He has given us all sorts of different skills in order to accomplish his purposes. It is now up to us to respond.

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