Nothing in the universe is left up to chance. We do not live in an unpredictable, unplanned cosmos wrought by the hidden uncontrolled hand of statistical randomness. The universe, all creation, runs according to the rules set down by the only G-d, of Avraham Yitzchak and Ya’akov. It is not a cold unfathomable place, hostile to humanity, far from it. It is a warm and above all righteous place perfectly designed for humanity to live in and thrive there, if we follow the moral code, the guidelines by which all things run and prosper. To attempt to operate the ‘kit’ in a different way will result in an inevitable crash, a universal blue screen of death. The Torah, the complete Mitzvot, outlines for us the user instructions that make the universe tick. And one of the main lessons we are to learn from the Torah about how the universe ticks is included in this week’s portion. It is here that we read of the building of the Tabernacle/ Mishkan, and the offerings brought in order to build it.
A fundamental lesson is learnt not so much as asking WHY the Mishkan was built (although that is a very good question), but HOW. And as we consider this it is no wonder that we see something very special about the construction. Let’s ask the obvious question: What does all building work begin with? The foundations. You dig deep in order to build up, a basically vertical concept. But this is not so with this construction. What we see here is that the construction work begins in the middle and works out: the Ark, followed by the Holy of Holies and so on until we reach the outside badger skins and the opening flap. It is a horizontal concept. From this we learn that all building work undertaken by the Lord G-d starts with Him. He is at the centre and everything extends out from Him. The design has His fingerprints all over it; He says effectively, if this building project will stand and last, and be used as it should be, ‘fit for purpose’, then G-d has to be at the centre and everything emanates from Him outwards to us, not vice versa. The work is always from G-d’s perspective not ours. We think ‘up’ He thinks ‘out’. G-d has planned that His presence will come to us, we need to learn that we can’t ‘find’ G-d (and people have tried). We can call upon His name, and the Torah says He will be found, but that is as He responds to our desire to know Him and be with Him. In Psalm 127:1, it says that unless Lord builds the house we labour in vain. If we think we can build anything for G-d we are wrong. Our own ideas are effectively worthless in comparison to HIS eternal ideas. In fact with the Mishkan not only did G-d tell Moshe how big it was to be and what materials to use, He even told him who was to build it, Bezazel and Aholiab, men who had been gifted to build it. Nothing was left to chance or random design, this place was to represent the footstool of G-d on this earth. His will is interpreted to us through His designs, choices, callings and giftings. This place was the ‘Palace’ if you like of our G-d on earth, He rules from there. The Kingdom of G-d begins to take shape amongst our people, a theocracy where His rule is absolute, a benign dictator.
Messianic Judaism is a reformational, revived form of Judaism. Whenever such reconstruction work is undertaken you should always take a look at the foundations before starting to build or add to. Our foundations as Jews in our Jewish lives is drawn from Torah, and not just as text or a historical narrative, but as revelation from G-d. Within it we read of core, foundational principles as we see here in the construction of the Mishkan. It is why in Messianic Judaism we uphold and teach the centrality of G-d Himself in our midst. Upon this Rock we shall build and have safe foundations, through Him alone will we see this reformational work grow and extend out to fill the anticipated and projected borders, physically, theologically and ethnologically.