Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #19: T’rumah (Contribution) Sh’mot (Exodus) 25:1-27:19
Haftarah: M’lakhim Alef (1 Kings 5:26-6:13
B’rit Chadashah: Hebrews 8:1-6; 9:23; 10:1
The Priestly story of the Tabernacle in Exodus 25–27 echoes the Priestly story of creation in Genesis 1:1–2:3. As the creation story unfolds in seven days, the instructions about the Tabernacle unfold in seven speeches. In both creation and Tabernacle accounts, the text notes the completion of the task. In both creation and Tabernacle, the work done is seen to be good. In both creation and Tabernacle, when the work is finished, God takes an action in acknowledgement. In both creation and Tabernacle, when the work is finished, a blessing is invoked. And in both creation and Tabernacle, God declares something “holy.” The Tabernacle exhibited similarities with Mount Sinai. Both Mount Sinai and the Tabernacle had three separate areas with increasing levels of exclusivity — one for the general population, one for the anointed class, and one for only the single representative of the people; the tablets of the law a cloud; and God’s presence. God spoke to Moses at both Mount Sinai and the Tabernacle.
But in contrast to Mount Sinai, with the Tabernacle God’s presence was constant; God’s presence was in their midst, no longer distant; and God’s presence was no longer rooted to a fixed place. Nor will it be until the Israelites are settled in the Land when Yahshua returns.
This week we read the detailed instructions given by G-d to Moshe for the Ark of the Covenant, the tabernacle, and all its furnishings. Whoever said G-d is not a G-d of detail has never read G-d’s Torah including this parashah. There is great need for education on this subject as evidenced by the wide variety of explanations of the Ark’s electrical properties; one of which includes the idea that there was a large battery carried inside the Ark to keep it charged! This idea contradicts scripture and illustrates the profound ignorance of man without serious Biblical inquiry. Gold is a good conductor of heat and electricity and reflects infrared radiation strongly. Chemically, it is unaffected by air, moisture and most corrosive reagents, and is therefore well suited for use in coins and jewelry and as a protective coating on other, more reactive, metals.
Like the golden cover for the ark, the menorah is to be made of a single ingot of gold, with its branches, cups, knobs and flowers beaten out into a single composite work. Each of the menorah’s features represent specific aspects of Israel’s history and its connection to G-d, represented by the servant candle; the candle/light in the center of the menorah from which all other lamps are lighted. More information on the menorah can be accessed by going to the website at http://www.rabdavis.org and searching the word “menorah.”
All the things were to be made exactly as HaShem showed Moshe because the book of Hebrews tells us that the Mishkan is a copy of that which is in the heavenlies (8:5). The purpose of the Mishkan is described in Sh’mot 25:8. “Then have them make a sanctuary for me and I will dwell among them.” This tells us something very fundamental about our relationship with YHVH Elohim.
Why did and does YHVH want to dwell among us? It is because He wants us to know Him in a personal and intimate way. He doesn’t have to come down to know us for He is YHVH, all knowing, and He already knows the innermost thoughts of each man, woman, and child. The purpose of the Mishkan” It is to help us know HIM. It is a specific and local revelation of Himself. The structure and levels of the Mishkan teach us how we are to approach Him, when, and how. This reveals one of the great differences between the religion described in the Scriptures and other religious systems. In other religious systems, the quest is always about the adherent trying to find their god, however defined. In the Bible, G-d’s Torah, the constant theme is of YHVH Elohim seeking man. The Bible is replete with scriptures describing G-d revealing himself to man and desiring that mankind know Him. The greatest expression of this is the revelation of Messiah, the Cohen Gadol (High Priest) Who sympathizes with our sufferings, who tabernacles among us giving us a complete revelation of YHVH. He walked and talked with men the way it was in the beginning and the way it will someday be again.
With that idea in mind, the Mishkan also tells us how we get to know Him. The central feature of the Mishkan was the Holy of Holies in which was the Ark of the Covenant. What was in the Ark of the Covenant? It is G-d’s Torah. The primary revelation of G-d is His Torah. The Written Torah and the Manifested Word (Torah) Yahshua haMashiach. In contrast with a book like the Koran and others, Torah is not just rules for life, but it is the way to know YHVH/Yahshua. If you really want to know what Yahshua is like, He can be found in Torah for He is the Living Torah. I’m always amused when I see the bumper sticker, WWJD? (What would Jesus Do?). What would “Jesus” do? He would use his real name and follow the same Torah He inspired chosen individuals to write.
In contrast to most Christian sources, which only explain what a verse means in historical context (past, present or future), commentary from Jewish sources explain what a verse or word means in relationship to YHVH and what it says about Him. This primary use of Torah was not limited to Moshe’s time, but it is true for all those who follow Messiah Yahshua. If we really want to know Messiah and the revelation of Elohim through Him, we must seek to increase our understanding of Torah. We must study Torah under the guidance of the Ruach HaKodesh and qualified Torah teachers because it speaks of Him (Lk. 24) and teaches us what we need to know in order to win the race.
What does this mean for us in our daily lives? It means that the study of Torah should be our top priority. Nothing should come before Torah studies including prayer or service. Why? Because prayer and service, while vitally important to our spiritual growth derive from our study of Torah. Each of these aspects of spiritual learning and practice are circular; they originate with HaShem in His Torah and they flow through us and back to Him. Study is the key, for in it we discover Him, get to know Him more intimately. Torah study is a conversation in which we do the listening and G-d does the talking. As we listen to Him, we learn about Him and what He expects of us if we are to be included as Yahshua’s bride one day. The more we understand his lifestyle and the concepts of his teachings, the better prepared we become to emulate him through love and obedience; fear and trembling (Ps. 2:11; Acts 17:11; Eph. 6:5; Deut. 5:29; Phil 2:12. This intimate relationship is G-d’s deepest desire for humankind (2 Pet 3:9): The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,] not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” Notice it does not say that everyone will be saved or than no one will perish. He set the “table” with Torah. It is up to us to come, sit at His feet, and “dine” on His instructions that we might be saved when we stand before Him. Just as a child must obey the house rules as long as he lives in his father’s house, if we want to live in our Father’s house, we must also obey the “house” rules. Acacia wood is mentioned several times in the construction of the sanctuary so let’s look at the properties of this special wood and why G-d may have chosen it for the sanctuary.
Acacia seyal, the Red acacia, known also as the shittah tree (the source of shittim wood), is a thorny, 6–10 m (20–30 ft) high tree with a pale greenish or reddish bark. Acacia wood is beautiful, light, and practically indestructible. It was used extensively in the structural framework of the Tent of Meeting and in Tabernacle furniture. Poles made of Acacia seyal wood were used to transport Tabernacle furniture, e.g., Ark of the Covenant, Table of Showbread, and Altar of Incense. God would not allow these sacred objects to be transported in wagons or carts. (This is why Uzzah was killed when he reached out to steady the Ark when it was being transported on a cart) (2 Sam. 6: 2 Chron. 13:10). Rather, God instructed that they be carried on the shoulders of the Kohathites (second son of Levi) by means of the wooden acacia poles that were part of their construction (Numbers 4: 1 – 15).
Acacia trees and acacia wood has taken on meaning beyond a common wood used in construction. The acacia wood used as the foundation of the Tabernacle symbolizes the humanity of G-d in the role of Yahshua while the gold overlay of the boards and poles symbolizes His deity. Isaiah (53:2) describes Yahshua as “a root out of dry growth” similar to the acacia tree growing out of arid desert soil. Volume and shape of acacia timber is very durable, hard, and tough; has good strength and flexible qualities, it has low shabbiness (it is resistant to scrape). It is impermeable and it is water resistant. From the European woods acacia is the most durable. Unprotected and untreated will last 40 years. It is immune to dry rots and pest infestation.
Could the acacia wood represent the humanity of Yahshua enveloped with the glory of YHVH? In other words, could the acacia wood represent the humanity symbolized by wood that was created and grows from the ground “up” to the deity of the G-dhead symbolized by gold that has been discovered to have come from meteors “down” to the earth as G-d came down to Sinai? This hypothesis provides one explanation of the acacia wood and the overlaying gold — the incorruptible humanity and the absolute deity of the Son of God and G-d as YHVH. May it be a theme of precious meditation and worship here, as it will be throughout eternity, where the glories of Yahshua are displayed in all that is perfectly human and all that is absolutely divine, in one Person, the “Echad.” As the acacia wood and gold overlay are inextricable, so is the “Echad” of G-d. YHVH/Yahshua is the Way to YHVH’s salvation by His very Name! Yet, He is G-d as evidenced by the Alef-Tav in Genesis 1:1 and in many other places in the Old and” New” (Renewed, refreshed Covenant) Testaments. The description of Acacia wood as only one of the materials used in the construction of the Tabernacle should prompt us to explore the deeper meaning of the other articles used. This knowledge is extremely valuable in understanding why G-d dictated the use of specific materials and colors.
One explanation for the lining of the Ark inside and out over the acacia wood with gold is found in the rabbinic literature of the Chumash. The dual covering symbolizes the Talmudic dictum that a Torah scholar (anyone for that matter) must be consistent; his or her inner character must match his or her public demeanor. An individual’s actions must conform to professed beliefs. Bais Halevi (House of Levi) derives from this inner-outer coating of gold that the community should feel a responsibility to provide an adequate livelihood for its Torah teachers; that they should be prosperous inside their own homes as well as in their outer service of the public.
Finally, if we use the concept of deity to which the gold is ascribed, we may deduce that G-d knows our inside (heart and motivation) above and beyond the outside behavioral manifestations. Nothing is hidden from the L-rd. (Mark 4:22; Luke 8:17; Hebrews 4:13). Our soul that resides in our deepest being is from and will return to G-d when our physical being (acacia) returns to the earth. Then there will be nothing to separate the inside (soul) and outside (the gold= totality; unity) from its Creator.
Haftarah: M’lakhim Alef (1 Kings) 5:26-6:13
This week’s haftorah describes the construction of the Holy Temple under the direction of King Solomon, echoing this week’s Torah portion which discusses the construction of the desert Tabernacle.
The haftorah discusses the manpower — both Jewish and non-Jewish — that Solomon recruited for the building of the Holy Temple. Also discussed are the hewing and transportation of the stone, the laying of the foundation, as well as the dimensions of the Holy Temple, its components and materials. One major difference between those who served and donated in the construction of the first Mishkan described in our parashah and those who worked under Solomon was that in the first case, only those whose hearts were predisposed to giving were instructed to do so. Solomon “conscripted 30,000 men from all Israel for forced labor” (1 Kings 27).
The haftorah ends with G‑d’s word to King Solomon: “This house which you are building, if you walk in My statutes, and execute My ordinances, and keep all My commandments to walk in them; then will I establish My word with you, which I spoke to David your father. And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake My people, Israel.” We cannot deny G-d’s requirement to follow His ordinances and commands as it is written throughout the Bible. Sadly, Solomon, who was blessed with wisdom from above and wealth beyond al other kings eventually fell from grace with G-d by turning to the gods of his pagan wives and building high places for sacrifices made by his wives (1 Kings 11:4-10). As a result, the kingdom of Israel was split with disastrous consequences (1 Kings 11:1-40).
B’rit Chadashah: Hebrews 8:1-6; 9:23; 10:1
The passages in our parashah describing the specifics of the Tabernacle refer to the earthly copies of the things in heaven. That is, every detail of the Tabernacle was patterned after the heavenly Temple and associated concepts. This may explain the fastidious detail G-d demands of humans as the pattern of the heavenly Temple is copied on earth. The purification process required of Yahshua as He ascended into heaven after his death was far and above the purification process mandated and performed with earthly sacrifices. Heb. 10:1 pulls these passages together: “For the Torah has in It a shadow of the good things to come, but not the actual manifestations of the originals.” We cannot get to heaven by “toning down”, abrogating G-d’s commands and ordinances by our own authority, or re-translating G-d’s Torah into politically correct verbiage for the time. In today’s terminology Yahshua might tell those such as Nadav and Avihu who tried to worship G-d their way. There is only One who is qualified to instruct humans on construction of a heavenly likeness of that in heaven, how and when to worship Him, and that every detail, every law, mandate, and regulation has significance. Let us not forget this truth as we continue our spiritual walk. There are no shortcuts. Matthew 7:13-14 validates this statement: “Go in through the narrow gate; for the gate that leads to destruction is wide and the road broad, and many travel it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Let us not skip the details; the original Blueprint is perfect.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart