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
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 is totally contradictory to scripture and illustrates the profound ignorance of man without serious Biblical inquiry.
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 of the universe unfolds in seven days, the instructions about the Tabernacle unfold in seven speeches. In both the creation and Tabernacle accounts, the text notes completion of the task. In both the creation and Tabernacle, the completed work is seen to be good. In both the creation and Tabernacle, when the work is finished, G-d acts in acknowledgement. In both creation and Tabernacle, when the work is finished, a blessing is invoked. And in both creation and Tabernacle, G-d declares something “holy.”
The Tabernacle exhibited similarities to 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 exclusively for the single representative of the people; the tablets of the law, a cloud; and G-d’s presence. G-d spoke to Moses at both Mount Sinai and the Tabernacle.
But in contrast to Mount Sinai, within the Tabernacle, G-d’s presence was constantly in their midst, no longer distant. G-d’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.
There is no doubt that the construction of the tabernacle was directed by G-d with detailed, extensive forethought and planning. But it is remarkable that in His providence He had already made provisions for the materials that would be required some 400 years prior to the construction. We read in Genesis 15:13-14: “And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.” Much of the tabernacle was made from that which the Israelites took from Egypt. Everything else that was needed was obtained through the loving contributions of the people, including their skills and talents. G-d in his wisdom knew that people feel “invested” in anything to which they have contributed. Taking voluntary contributions for the construction of the tabernacle was no exception.
I want to delve a little deeper into the skins used for the tabernacle because there is some debate over exactly what type of skins they were. There are just two verses that provide information concerning these skins (Ex. 26:14; 36:19). Ram skin was the skin of a male sheep which was dyed red and used for the second covering of the tabernacle. Badger skin was used for the outermost covering of the tabernacle. Confusion arises when we attempt to correctly identify what animal is meant by the word “badger” because there are seven species of badger found globally with none of them indigenous to Egypt or Sinai. According to the derivation of the word “badger,” a marine animal would be the logical choice. Other animals have been suggested including dugong, which is like a manatee, seal, and porpoise. Dugongs and seals were commonly found in the Red Sea. Porpoises were commonly found in the Nile River and the Mediterranean Sea during the time of the tabernacle construction. Badger skin from whatever animal was used was also used for shoe leather (Ezek. 16:10). It is very durable, lending itself to superior protection for the outside covering of the tabernacle.
Badger skins were very valuable as shoe leather which took a sincere and loving heart for contributing it as a freewill offering for the tabernacle. We read of how G-d rewarded the faith of those who so willingly gave to the construction of the tabernacle specifically in the context of their footwear in Deuteronomy 29:5 where Moshe reminded the people at G-d’s instruction of the covenants made between G-d and the people at Horev and Mo’av. The people were reminded they were in the led by G-d through the desert for 40 years and neither their clothes nor shoes wore out.
The events surrounding G-d’s instructions for the tabernacle point to just one indication of its importance, often disregarded by Christians simply because they do not understand the connection between the tabernacle and the Israelites and the fact that G-d exercises mercy without abrogating His laws. Another reason some Christians do not understand the importance of the tabernacle and the fact that it is an antitype of the heavenly tabernacle is that there is a general belief that it was only used for 40 years. It was actually used for 647 years (Dewitt, 1993,p.21).When the tabernacle was no longer used, the Israelites went to Jerusalem to Solomon’s Temple using the same protocol for approaching G-d. Therefore the same system was used for worshipping G-d from the birth of the nation of Israel to Yahshua’s crucifixion, a period of 1,700 years.
Another example that points to the importance of the tabernacle is its location. It was constructed in the center of the camp with the Levites camping nearby to protect it. During marches, the tabernacle was also carried in the center of the caravan.
The timing of G-d’s instructions to Moshe for building the tabernacle also points to its importance. The pattern was given to Moshe on his sixth ascent of Mount Sinai when G-d gave the law. When G-d provided a greater revelation of His law, there was also a greater revelation of how the people were given the opportunity for reconciliation to G-d; a vital first step to becoming a true Israelite/believer; being reconciled to G-d that is described in the book of Revelation as “carrying the testimony of Yahshua.” The second part of the equation for salvation is “guarding the commands of G-d” also found in tandem with the first condition in the book of Revelation. The principles for worshiping G-d and becoming a true believer have not changed. When G-d gave his laws to the Israelites, He gave them to the whole world In Deuteronomy 4:8 we read “What nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgements so righteous as all this law?”
Indeed, these laws and judgments are at the core of safe and moral societies. Without them chaos and lawlessness will spread and destroy them just as we are witnessing today. The Bible records the importance of G-d’s laws and the consequences of rebelling against them- divine punishment. G-d’s judgment demands punishment for disobedience just as a G-d-fearing parent exacts on disobedient children. Without the borders of G-d’s laws and punishment for disobedience, rebellion is born. G-d wants to extend His mercy to us as he desired for the Israelites, but this requires loving obedience on our part.
So we see the main importance of ordering construction of the tabernacle and the associated sacrificial system. It would be through the tabernacle and the sacrificial system that G-d would demonstrate using the antitype of the heavenly tabernacle and the sacrificial system how He would extend mercy without abolishing His laws. The sacrificial system will be reinstituted during the millennial reign, but the sacrifices will be reinstated only for those who have not accepted Yahshua as Messiah, L-rd, and King, yet if ever to become reconciled to G-d through His sacrifice. This time will be a final chance for those who have not yet chosen this critical reconciliation and a loving commitment to follow G-d’s Torah/Instructions/Laws to make that free-will choice. Contrary to those who teach and believe in bedside confessions, there will be a time when it is too late to choose YHVH/Yahshua (John 9:4; Matt. 25). The gospel of the Kingdom was taught to the Israelites by object lesson. That is through the tabernacle, the priesthood, the rituals, offerings, and furniture. It was based on the same principles described in the B’rit Chadashah. Again, neither G-d nor His Law changes. G-d did not have two gospels; the gospel of profession held by Christianity does not exist. True believers whether Jew or Gentile are required to follow the same laws of G-d available to all who have ears to hear!
Haftarah: M’lakhim Alef (1 Kings) 5:26-6:13
This week’s Haftarah theme is consistent with that of our parashah. Both readings describe the construction of places for G-d to dwell. I want to call your attention to the last part of the Haftarah that I believe is most important. G-d tells Solomon that “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 I will 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.” It doesn’t matter how lavish the house; without G-d dwelling within it, it will never be a home.
B’rit Chadashah: Hebrews 8:1-6
This haftarah describes the fact that Yahshua is now our High Priest and there is no need for earthly priests and sacrifices to communicate with or relate to G-d. Yahshua is G-d who manifested himself in a tangible earthly form so that we humans could related to Him on a physical level. He spent his earthly ministry teaching us how we are to interact with humans and G-d, and he suffered for every sin of man although he was blameless. His example and teachings leave mankind no excuse for not hearing, internalizing, and acting upon His Word/Instructions/Torah. Scripture tells us that it can be done and Yahshua provided living proof to that fact (Deut. 11-14; Matt. 11:28-30).
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart