For the week of March 12, 2016 / 2 Adar II 5776
Torah: Shemot/Exodus 38:21-40:38
Haftarah 1 Melachim/1 Kings 7:40-50
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. (Shemot/Exodus 40:34-35)
Who likes interruptions! We live in a busy world. Places to go; things to do. But interruptions are a fact of life these days especially. Phone calls, text messages, tweets, emails all vie for our attention. Already while I have been writing this message I have been interrupted by a text and a phone call. I know I could probably do a better job at resisting the buzzes and bells of these attention grabbers, but you know how it is.
Some people are better than others at not being interrupted. They are very focused individuals that are so keenly aware of their responsibilities that nothing will get in the way of their goals.
Hold on, my daughter is texting me.
Okay, I’m back. Where was I? Oh yeah, focused individuals—
Focused individuals can be so good at resisting interruption that they might actually be missing what God is trying to do in their lives. You might wonder how that could be possible. If God is God, then how can he be resisted? We’ll get to that in a minute.
In this week’s Torah portion, Moses is interrupted by God. After completing the building and setup of the Mishkan (English: Tabernacle), we read that the glory of God filled it in such a way that it prevented Moses from going into the special tent where he normally met with God. That means that this tangible manifestation of God kept Moses from doing his regular God duties.
I imagine most people reading this would consider it amazingly wonderful that God’s presence would be among people in such a spectacular, awesome way. But that’s the perspective of an objective reader. It’s another thing when you are in the middle of it. In Moses’s case, he may not have had much of a choice, but how about when God interrupts our lives in other not-so-obvious ways? When great unexpected events happen to us—the kind that have the potential to completely change the course of our lives, what then? I am not saying that every such event is a divine interruption, but I wonder how much we might be missing—or worse—resisting.
The greatest divine interruption in history was the coming of the Messiah Yeshua. The Jewish people had been prepped by God for centuries for his arrival. By the time he came, messianic expectation in Israel was at a fever pitch. As he began to teach and perform signs and wonders, crowds of people began to wonder if he might indeed be the One. The leadership was hesitant, just as established leadership tends to be. But then most of the leadership became more than hesitant. They became outright resistant; hostile, in fact. Even though they were the ones who had taught the people about the Messiah in the first place, he was interrupting their lives by not doing things exactly as they expected. They had successfully built a community of survival within a very oppressive society and were legitimately afraid that change would undermine their rule. Therefore, interruptions could not be tolerated. They may not have been conscious of how much their insistence on staying on course blinded them to God, so that most of them failed to see that the Messiah was in their midst.
This should be a great warning to us all. These leaders, for the most part, were acting out of a good motive as they sought to fulfill their God-given responsibilities. But if experts and keeners out of their earnestness could resist a divine interruption, how much more we? Do we think that we are not susceptible to being so focused on our agendas, our plans, and our ways of doing things, that we wouldn’t ever push God away when he shows up?
This is not to say that every interruption in our lives is from God and should be wholeheartedly embraced. But let’s be careful that in our desire to stay focused we don’t miss how God might be trying to get through to us.
All scriptures, English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible