Parashat Vayakhel-Pekudei (And assemble… - Accounts)
23rd of Adar, 5778 / March 10th , 2018
By Eric Meiri
This Week’s Readings:
Torah: Exodus 35:1 – 40:38
Haftarah: Ezekiel 36:16-38
Brit Chadashah: Acts 2:1-4, 42-47
One thing I know for sure, and many of you know this about me, is I love rules. I can’t say I have always been like this. In fact, before becoming a Believer in Messiah Yeshua I made quite the habit of breaking rules. But now, I have a very different opinion about rules. I strongly believe that rules, when applied with good logic and provided with clarity and explanation, ensure high standards of accountability and discipline. Now that I am a father I can look forward to upholding many rules for my son to observe, which I am sure will set him up for a life of excellence (either that or many years of therapy). Of course, I know ultimately that rules on their own are sterile. Without the proper heart intention, motivation, and humility, a life of strict discipline will be meaningless and perhaps even detrimental. If my children do not discover their need for grace and G-D’s help in abiding by the “rules” of life, they will be lost indeed.
This double Torah Portion begins with the last reiteration of one of G-D’s most important rules, keeping the Shabbat. We also see the first instance of G-D empowering someone with His Ruach in order to accomplish a commandment. This shows us a very early example of G-D’s love in His willingness to fill someone with His Ruach, but it also shows us the necessity of being filled with the Ruach in order to accomplish great things and abide in G-D’s commandments. We also see the ultimate purpose of such an action: so that G-D’s glory can be seen and known through His people, starting with Israel.
The Haftarah Portion has G-D calling out Israel’s disobedience in not following His rules in a very harsh way. G-D is holy and does not need to tolerate and forgive such disobedience. But since He is gracious and merciful, He not only forgives our disobedience, but He also offers us hope. He will give us a new heart and will put His Ruach within us to cause us to walk in His laws so we will keep His rulings and do them. What a promise! But what does this look like? Is He just going to make us into perfect and obedient followers of His rules?
The Brit Chadashah Portion shows us what this promise is to look like. The Scriptures state that those who acknowledge Yeshua as Messiah, repent of their sins, and make a public declaration of their faith through immersion “will receive the gift of the Ruach ha-Kodesh”. And what is the fruit of the Ruach as seen in Acts 2? Devoting yourself to the teaching of Yeshua’s emissaries, to fellowship, to breaking bread, and to prayers. This is what true obedience to G-D’s Torah is to look like.
I can only hope that in my children’s life experiences that they move beyond the simple act of following rules and are able to understand the values behind them. I pray that they will move into a life of principled devotion that is focused on these values rather than obedience to the letter, and that their obedience would flow naturally from this way of life. I know that G-D can take people on many different paths with varying levels of challenge and difficulty in order to get to this place and it will likely involve me needing to be gracious in their disobedience. May G-D lead us on the path to genuine faith in Yeshua and the gifting of His Ruach so that their obedience to Him would be like those we see in the Brit Chadashah Portion.