Developing the Theme of Family through the Torah Portions. Number Twenty-Two.

Dr Clifford Denton.

Vayakhel: Exodus 35:1-38:20.

9th March 2024/29 Adar1.

Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was               willing, and they brought the Lord’s offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments. (Exodus 35:21)

Helen McNeill’s illustration recalls the widow who, observed by Yeshua, also gave from her heart all she had (Luke 21:3-4)

See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. (Exodus 35:30)

Then Moses called Bezalel and Aholiab, and every gifted artisan in whose heart the Lord had put wisdom, everyone whose heart was stirred, to come and do the work. (Exodus 36:2)

What a wonderful privilege to be called by God by name for a particular work. Bezalel, with Aholiab, were given oversight of all the other artisans to construct all the parts of the Tabernacle. They themselves had skill in metalwork, in carving wood and cutting jewels for setting and in making and working with cloth. They may not have been aware of the fact that when they were in Egypt honing their skills as craftsmen that God had a special purpose for them one day. Yet God had been with them throughout their life for this purpose, knowing them by name, watching them develop in every part of their lives. It was not for their skill alone that they were called. It was, as for all the other artisans, that their heart was stirred towards the service of God.

What a very special task they were given. Each part of the Tabernacle, described in the exact detail which God had given, had to be constructed with artistic and engineering precision for beauty and lasting purpose.

Throughout history, in like manner, craftsmen have constructed beautiful cathedrals and Church buildings across the world where God’s people meet in dignity and worship of God. New Covenant expression of our places of meeting with God can be compared with the beauty of the Tabernacle of Old Covenant worship.

Yet this is not the most important comparison to make. Indeed, our buildings may be beautiful, but our hearts may be cold towards God. It is not the beauty of our buildings that pleases God most: it is the beauty He finds in the character of a person.

The structure of the Tabernacle points to God’s living Temple of His people – you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5)

Just as the structure of the Tabernacle in the wilderness was to be exactly according to pattern, so must the family of God be according to pattern, built with the same care as the craftsmen who were called by God at the time of Moses. The entire community of God’s people are to have an inner beauty and an outward witness to this.

Each family must also be built according to pattern. We must search the Scriptures to discover God’s pattern for family, which the Apostle Paul emphasised clearly in the Epistle to the Ephesians.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Saviour of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So, husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless, let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-33)

The stability of the family is the basis on which the entire family of God is built and in which children are brought up to take their place in the next generation.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honour your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth.” And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1-4)

Like Bezalel, we are called by name within our family to be master builders with God, also taking our part in the building up of the entire body of believers. What Paul wrote in Ephesians is the foundation of building the family.

On this foundation is also built the community of believers, by those master builders whom God knows by name.

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-14)

Just like it was for Bezalel when he was growing up, in preparation for the task ahead, God will be with us as we help our children grow into their walk and purpose with God. Neither they nor we may know just where this is heading but there is a purpose in God for each of us.

Proverbs 22:6, Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it, does not mean that we should decide on God’s purpose for our children’s lives, but that we should help them find it through study of His ways, developing heart commitment to His purposes. This is as sensitive a task as it was for Uri and Hur, the father and grandfather of Bezalel.

This is the way that Yeshua grew as a child in the family of Joseph and Mary, who were privileged to care for the perfect Son of God when He was a child. The exact details of even Yeshua’s ministry, including the way He would be sacrificed, would not have been known to them, as they trusted God for His future and walked the road of life with Him.

Our role in building up the living Temple is no less important than that of the artisans who built the Tabernacle, for beauty, holiness, and purpose. Our building is for eternity. Let us consider this as we read this week’s Torah portion, prayerfully considering how the family of God might be strengthened and how the next generation will be trained for the purposes God has for them. Whether our comparison is with Moses, Bezalel, Uri or Hur we all have a part to play, and God knows us by name. What a privilege, what a responsibility!