Va-Yakhel & Pekudei
For the week of March 13, 2010 / 27 Adar 5770
Torah: Shemot / Exodus 35:1 - 40:38 &
Shemot / Exodus 12:1-20
Haftarah: Ezekiel 45:16-46


The Lost Art of Preparation

Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. You shall kindle no fire in all your dwelling places on the Sabbath day. (Shemot / Exodus 35: 2,3; ESV)

One of the necessary implications of God's Sabbath laws is the need of preparation. The prohibition against making fires on Shabbat was not intended to force the people of Israel to freeze during bouts of cold weather. It was not that they couldn't be in the presence of fire on Shabbat; it was that they were forbidden from purposely starting a fire. If a household neglected getting a fire started before the beginning of Shabbat, then they risked being unnecessarily cold for a day. Weekly Sabbath observance as commanded by God would help develop in the culture the art of preparation. Effective preparation requires us to have an accurate understanding of the future and the wisdom to know exactly what to do in face of what is to come.

In today's instant culture, preparation is quickly becoming a lost art. More and more we expect to get what we want as soon as we want it. Not only are information, goods, and services instantly available at the press of a button, we have an economic system that encourages us to acquire things we can't afford. We can have whatever we want, whenever we want, whatever the cost.

Our instant culture tells us that we don't need to think ahead, we don't need to prepare. In fact, those who drive this way of life don't want us to. That's because they fear what would happen if we realized that we don't need this or that right now. What would happen if we actually thought about the implications of our actions before we act, before we buy, before we speak, before we make relational decisions?

Yet we have been led to believe that we don't need to be concerned about the implications of our actions. We think we can always deal with it later, expecting that the problems we cause in an instant today will be fixed in an instant tomorrow. But we are only fooling ourselves, if we think that consequences such as divorce, abortion, drug addiction, and bankruptcy are fixes. Perhaps you haven't come to such extremes, but I wonder how many of us are living lives in the cold, so to speak, having failed to prepare the fire in advance.

While we shouldn't worry about tomorrow, effective living demands wise preparation. Worry is being concerned over those areas of life of which we have no control. Preparation is required for those things for which we are responsible. A farmer needs to prepare his field for harvest; a chef prepares a menu and ensures all necessary ingredients are available; an athlete spends great amounts of time in training to be ready to compete. In the same way God calls us to arrange our lives today in light of what is required of us in the future.

Considering God automatically confronts our instant culture. It is God who dictates to his people that if they want to be warm on Shabbat, they better think ahead. They better be prepared.

Following God means following him at his pace, to make time for what he says we should make time for, to set the priorities of life based on his priorities, to structure our lives based on how he says life should be lived. If our instant culture prevents us from being properly prepared to obey God, then it's the culture that has to give way.

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