Parashat Vayakhel

Why His way is not our way

There are three themes that link together in this portion: The ‎commandments about Shabbat, the freewill offerings given by ‎the people and the building of the Mishkan.‎

Why start this set of three with Shabbat? Interestingly Adam and ‎Chava’s life after they were created began with Shabbat. Man’s ‎thinking would be to start with the first working day of the week, ‎but no, it began with Shabbat. This shows that they couldn’t ‘do’ ‎anything for G-d, make anything, it was all done for them. They ‎inherited it all by sheer dint of the fact that G-d had created them ‎and given them life. They began with rest before they had begun ‎to work! The world can’t understand this, surely you rest after ‎you’ve worked. Not so, in G-d’s way you rest before you are able ‎to work for Him.‎

Thus the building of the Mishkan could only begin once the ‎Shabbat keeping had been established and was secure. We ‎can’t actually work for Him until we enter His rest. First we have ‎to make sacred time, a chronological space, and then we can ‎put something in it. Once we’ve entered that place of rest we ‎realise that everything has been done by G-d already, we just ‎need to walk into our inheritance as He guides us. That is how ‎we walk and work with G-d.‎

And neither was this command to build and have Shabbat given ‎to an individual. We have got so used to thinking ‎individualistically that we forget that these were given to the ‎whole community. In Shemot (Exodus) 35:1 we read that Moses ‎assembled the whole congregation of Israel together to be ‎involved with the construction. Why the focus on the ‎community? The answer lies in the building and the giving.‎
A team of builders will accomplish so much more than a solitary ‎builder. We are now so used to doing our own thing that this ‎concept seems vaguely cultic today, yet it is the bedrock of ‎building G-d’s Mishkan and His work. Likewise a solitary donator ‎achieves little with the finances given to him/her. But a ‎community giving can achieve much for G-d. This ‘body ministry’ ‎is the foundation also in the Messianic Writings, the body of ‎believers who together carry out G-d’s work. If you work in a ‎team you are not able to vault your own work above that of ‎others, you readily recognise that each person has what you ‎lack and vice versa, so you esteem others higher than yourself, ‎in fact you need them! ‎
G-d’s community intention is for our growth, and that is directly ‎linked to how you are connected relationally. Relational growth is ‎biblical, Torah growth.‎

As a body we are called to build not demolish. We are to ‎confront error, convict of sin and bring correction, and it is the ‎Spirit of G-d that achieves these things. But we can become so ‎negative that our initial reaction to anything is ‘it won’t work’, or ‎we habitually criticise any work of G-d or the people leading it. ‎That’s demolishing. Our active response to G-d is of building, ‎working for Him as slaves to righteousness. We are called to use ‎the tools He has given us, even if we don’t like them! G-d isn’t ‎concerned whether you like the person you’re sitting next to, the ‎Leadership or anything else; you are called to work with what G-‎d has provided. Equally what we build may not meet your idea of ‎beauty or conform to your own standards of acceptability or ‎design. This building is G-d’s not yours. It has a purpose higher ‎than yours, and will be built in the way He chooses.‎

So the key to building what G-d wants is to first enter His rest of ‎Shabbat in the fullness of what Shabbat signifies and means. ‎Then He expects us to build and work together for His glory, ‎both in giving as well as in relationships.‎