For the week of February 8, 2003 / 6 Adar 5763
Torah: Shemot / Exodus 25:1 - 27:19
Haftarah: 1 Melachim / 1 Kings 5:26 - 6:13
Behind the Curtain
Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the Testimony behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place (Shemot / Exodus 26:33).
The Torah is a book about God. From the Torah we learn that there is only one true God - the God who revealed himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Torah teaches us that he has no equal and that he is the Creator of all things. From the Torah we learn that God is good and just. He is a spirit who cannot be contained or adequately expressed through man-made images.
The Torah also teaches us that God has made himself known to human beings. He is not an impersonal force, but personal and knowable.
One of the necessary elements in our process of getting to know God is the realization of the separation that exists between him and us. If we don't understand this separation, we will never overcome it. That is what the verse above is all about.
The Mishkan (English: Tabernacle) was the structure that God told Moses to build in the wilderness. It was to be the center of worship for the people of Israel. One of the purposes of the Mishkan was to demonstrate to the people the state of their relationship with God. This design was later carried over to the Temple, the more permanent version of the Mishkan, built by Solomon.
It is through the Mishkan that we learn that God's presence was among his people. But while he was among them he was also separated from them.
Inside the Mishkan was a two part structure. The first part was called hakodesh (the Holy Place). Each day certain priests served there. The second part was called the kodesh hakedashim (Holy of Holies or the Most Holy Place). No one was ever to go in there except the Chief Priest and even he could not go in whenever he wished. He was only allowed to enter the Most Holy Place once each year.
There was a curtain in front of the Most Holy Place. The most inner sanctum of the God of Israel was not open to people, not even to the many priests who served in the Mishkan. All sorts of religious activity took place in the vicinity of the Most Holy Place. But you and I could never enter it.
One of the many dramatic things that occurred around the death of Yeshua the Messiah was that this curtain tore "by itself" from top to bottom. It was his death that removed the great separation. Through him we can now know God personally.
Yet for many the curtain still stands. Like the priests of old we can be near to God, yet still very separate from him. Religious activity and spiritual pursuits may give us the impression that we have entered into God's presence, when we are actually still on the other side of the curtain, so to speak. We can be involved in the things of God without really knowing him.
What does it take to find ourselves behind the curtain? Only the Messiah Yeshua can escort us into that place – the kodesh hakedashim – the Most Holy Place – into the very presence of God. By putting our trust in him and what he has done for us, we can know God in the way he intended for us and nothing need ever separate us again.
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