For the week of March 8, 2008 / 1 Adar II 5768
Torah: Shemot / Exodus 38:21 - 40:38;
Bemidbar / Numbers 28:9-15;
Shemot / Exodus 30:11-16
Haftarah: 2 Melachim / 2 Kings 12:1-17; Isaiah 66:1,24
Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. (Shemot / Exodus 40:34,35; ESV)
In this, the final portion of the second book of Moses, we read of the completion of the construction of the Mishkan (English: tabernacle) The Mishkan was the elaborate tent-like structure which God directed his people to build as the center of worship for the nation. When the Mishkan was completed, we are told that the special cloud that had been guiding and protecting the people during their wilderness travels, covered it and God's glory filled it. This was not simply a fog or a mist, since we are also told that Moses could not enter because of it.
Glory or, in Hebrew, kevod is a term that expresses the outward manifestation of a person's inner reality. The demonstration of what a person is really like is what is called their glory.
So when we read of God's kevod filling the Mishkan, the normally unseen reality of God was being demonstrated within the special cloud. While God is invisible, he never intended to be completely hidden from his people. He desired to make his presence truly known. The God of the Torah is not simply a concept of higher thinking or consciousness through which the Jewish people could rise above the surrounding cultures. The legacy of Israel was not to be one of philosophy or sophistication, but rather of the reality and presence of the one true God.
Through the revelation of God's kevod, he established that his presence was with his people. This occurred again centuries later when Solomon completed the temple, which was a permanent version of the Mishkan.
In a most tangible way God made clear that he was in the midst of his people.
But where is God's kevod today?
The prophet Ezekiel saw God's kevod leave Solomon's temple in the days of the Babylonian captivity (see Ezekiel 10). He did see it return, but to where? It was to a temple that has never been built (See Ezekiel 43). This temple that Ezekiel describes could very well be a spiritual rather than literal temple, which would be a reasonable explanation for some of its details.
The spiritual nature of Ezekiel's temple is underscored by the New Covenant's references to the community of believers as the temple of God in which his Spirit dwells (see 1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 2:21). It is in and through the lives of the Messiah's followers that God's kevod is to be manifested.
The kevod of God as seen in the Messiah was to be just as real in the lives of his followers. This is what Yeshua referred to in a prayer he prayed shortly before his arrest:
The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. (John 17:22,23)
God's kevod, his inner reality, was to be demonstrated in and through the lives of the Messiah's followers. The same kevod which guided and protected Israel in the wilderness, the same kevod which dwelt in the Mishkan and the temple, the same kevod which was seen in the Messiah is now present in his followers.
As we trust in the Messiah and humbly submit to his ways, the reality of God - his kevod - will be made manifest.
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