Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah: #19 T’rumah (contributions) Sh’mot (Exodus) 25:1-27:19
Haftarah: M’lakhim Alef (1 Kings) 5; 26-6:13
B’rit Chadashah: Hebrews: 8:1-6; 9:23-4; 10:1
Below is a brief description of the scriptural meaning of colors that may assist you in understanding the symbology used in the construction of the Mishkan. It is by no means exhaustive.
Red- blood and atonement Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews
Blue- Heaven Exodus 24:10
Turquoise- Yahshua (also translated as blue; Exodus 25:4)
Purple- Royalty Judges 8; 26; mark 15:17-18
Silver- Redemption Numbers 18:15-16
Gold- Divinity and G-d’s Glory Exodus 37, 40
Bronze-Brass- Judgment/testing Exodus 27:1-3
This week we read the instructions for the construction of the Mishkan in great detail. Mishkan is a residence denoting wood walls or the frame of the structure. It was also called the Tabernacle, denoting a booth or dwelling. After all, this is to be a place for G-d to dwell, and we should expect nothing but perfection. The description of each section of the Mishkan and the priestly garments are filled with symbology and prophecy.
The first point of interest is the fact that G-d does not demand anything from the people in helping with the construction of the Mishkan. Rather, He tells Moshe to “accept a contribution from anyone who wholeheartedly wants to give” (25:2). This is an extremely important point for all of us. G-d does not want our offerings and tithes if our heart is not in it. We cannot receive a blessing for anything that we give begrudgingly or for any other reason than to glorify G-d. Furthermore, we must come to Him freely through trusting in the faithfulness of Yahshua’s sacrifice and true repentance/return (t’shuvah), which means a complete about-face; a returning to the Source of our soul.
The items include gold, silver, bronze ; blue, purple, and scarlet yarn; goat’s hair, tanned ram skins and fine leather, acacia-wood, oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones and other stones to be set, for the ritual vest and breastplate. All of these items have a significant meaning. As a group of items, they reflect different aspects of our heavenly home described in Revelation chapter 21. Take a look at this and compare the similarities.
Ex. 25:10 describes the requirement for the ark to be made out of acacia-wood. This wood is used throughout the construction of the Mishkan, so I want to address its importance. Acacia wood is also called shittim wood and it is said to signify “the merit of the L-rd’s righteousness.” This wood is not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible except in the Pentateuch (1st 5 Books of the Old Testament) with one exception (Isaiah 41:19) “I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah, the myrtle, and the oil tree.” Otherwise it is in connection with the Mishkan. It is thought to be a special type of cedar tree and it grows in the desert where little else grows. Now, going back to the statement about “the merit of the L-rd’s righteousness, we now can understand that but for the unmerited kindness of G-d through Yahshua’s sacrifice, we would not have the chance to be reconciled to G-d and live. Like the acacia tree, Yahshua was and is an Oasis in the wilderness; Living water in the desert. All of the items that were made of acacia wood according to G-d’s instructions were man-made. However, in every instance they were overlain with pure gold. Another point of interest about acacia-wood is that it is a thorny tree. We may deduce that it was the thorns of our sin Yahshua bore through His sacrifice that provided the way for us to become reconciled to the Father. Similarly, the thorny acacia-wood poles placed vertically ion sockets of silver (redemption) support the Mishkan and represent the connection between man and G-d.
As we read of the ark’s construction, compare it to Noah’s ark described in Genesis 6: 14 “Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; you are to make the ark with rooms and cover it with pitch outside and inside… Put a door in its side; and build it with lower, second, and third decks.” Now to Ex. 25:10-11 “ They are to make an ark of acacia-wood three-and –three-quarters feet long, two-an-a-quarter feet wide, and two-and-a-quarter feet high. You are to overlay it with pure gold- overlay it both inside and outside.” Why the difference in the order of application? The Sages say that this order of layering signifies the Talmudic dictum that Torah scholars are to be consistent inside and out. We know however, that this applies to us all. We should be the same behind closed doors as we are in our public lives. The Sages are silent regarding the Genesis account of Noah. I submit the reverse order of applying the protective pitch was symbolic of us putting the protective coat of Torah around us to protect us from assimilation, Then as we grow and learn G-d’s Word, we become protected on the inside as in Deuteronomy 6:4.We love the L-rd our G-d with all our heart first, then our soul and might (resources). It takes time to develop such a love for him that we yearn to please Him from our soul and through our resources.
Verse 21 reads: “Inside the ark you will put the testimony that that I am about to give you.” The testimony in the case of Genesis was Noah and his faithfulness to G-d, carried by the ark over the water. In the case of the Ark of the Covenant, the testimony was the Tablets, the Torah, HaTorah; Yahshua in a progressive yet forever existent. The manna was the bread of life for the Israelites, the Bread of Life for all true believers; Yahshua the Messiah.
The next point of interest is the positioning of the poles. Whenever we see the poles used for such purposes as for carrying the ark, they are placed horizontally. The poles never touch the ark, but remain in the rings at all times, ready to move. Could this signify that since we as unclean humans cannot “see” G-d’s face, the significance of not being able to touch the ark once finished has the same intent? This explanation is supported by the event in 2 Sam: 6:2-7 where Uzzah reached out to steady the ark in an attempt to keep it from falling off the cart, and he died instantly. As an unclean man who had not prepared himself, Uzzah was not allowed to touch the ark. Even the high priest had to go through a specific sequence of steps in order to enter the Holy of Holies. Each step for cleansing was prophetic and necessary according to G-d’s order. When the ark would travel, it was covered with at least three layers of cloth to keep the others from seeing it (Num. 4:5-6, 15, 18-20). The priests/ Levites would carry it and everyone else had to stay about a thousand yards away (Josh. 3:4). These laws enforced the concept of G-d’s holiness. One last note; the ark should not have been on a cart anyway but should have been carried (supported) by the people (1 Cor 15:15) using the poles as directed by G-d for its transport as we read in this parashah.
The acacia used for the shewbread was also covered in gold and the acacia poles for carrying it were also separated from contact with the table by gold rings. The upright planks of acacia wood used for the tabernacle are not covered with gold. Only the crossbars of acacia wood are covered with gold. The upright position of the poles that make-up the perimeter of the tabernacle signifies the uprightness that is required of our hearts and minds as we enter fellowship with G-d. Note that these upright poles do not go in the ground directly. They are all seated in silver sockets. The altar in Chapter 27 is also made of acacia wood but it is covered in bronze. Why? All of the posts around the courtyard are banded with silver and stand in sockets of bronze instead of silver (Ex. 27:18) Why? All of the equipment needed for every kind of service in the tabernacle and the tent pegs are bronze, whereas the utensils used inside the tabernacle are pure gold (Ex. 25:29) Why?
In Chapter 25:17-21 we read of the construction of the K’ruvim that are to be molded from gold; each one of one piece. Their wings are to touch, their faces are toward the ark cover, and their wings extend over the ark. These two K’ruvim may represent law and grace; each touching each other, and each covering the testimony. From between these two K’ruvim (law and grace) Yahshua taught us how to live.
There was to be bread on the table at all times. This was to show that although man can create things by hand, it is G-d who prospers us and provides us both physical sustenance and the Bread of Life (Yahshua).
There is an extensive teaching on the menorah that I cannot cover in one study of the Mishkan. However, I will mention that the menorah with seven holders represents spiritual perfection; 6 (number of man) +1 (Yahshua, the Light of the world). He is the Shamash or servant candle in the middle from which all other lights are lit. Lights from the other six lamps originate from Him. The lights are to emanate forward (Ex. 25:37) much as we are to let our lights so shine before men (Matt. 5:16) and carry them unto the world (Matt. 10:5-6). The entire menorah is made from one piece of gold. True believers are united with YHVH/Yahshua as one in the final scenario.
One more area I want to address is the goat-hair used as the tent covering for the tabernacle. First, we read that the covering is not solid. This is consistent with the booths that we build temporarily on the feast of Tabernacles or Booths with a roof that allows us to see the heavens from which our provision comes. There are actually two sheets (Ex. 26:7:18). These sheets are connected by 50 rings with bronze fasteners. Why goat-hair? Why 50 fasteners with 50 rings? This is also prophetic. The two sheets of goat hair represent the two goats used for Pesach (Lev. Chapter 16). One is sacrificed, and one is released into the wilderness. One sheet signifies the sacrifice for sin and the other represents how our PAST sins are taken as far away as is the East from the West. Just like the goat that was sent outside the camp in the wilderness carrying the sins of the people on its head, Yahshua was punished for our sins and was crucified outside the gates of Jerusalem (John 1:29; Heb. Chapters 9-10). Yet, He was also the sin sacrifice represented by the other goat. Thus, we have the other connection between the two goat-skin coverings as symbolized by the brass rings. The specific narrative of the two goats is found in Leviticus Chapter 16 for further reading.
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 which 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 scripture verifies that the detailed construction of the Mishkan describes a foreshadowing of the sacrificial significance of Yahshua’s life. The step by step process outlined in our parashah shows us the detail involved in the process of redemption. It was clearly not a “once-saved-always- saved” event. G-d demands perfection, a sacrifice without blemish. Yahshua met all the requirements as both the sacrificial goat and the scapegoat sent out into the wilderness. He was sacrificed to atone for our sins and provided a single, narrow opening through the curtain (veil) to the Holy of Holies. As there was only one way into the Mishkan, so there is only one way to the Father through Yahshua. Now Yahshua serves at the right hand of G-d in the true Tent of Meeting, the true dwelling place of G-d. He intercedes for us just as the High Priest interceded for the people on Yom Kippur, but His sacrifice will never be repeated. But we must remember that this sacrifice was for our past sins (Rom. 3:25; 2 Peter 1:9). It is up to us to repent and THEN follow Torah IF we want to obtain salvation at the end of the road (1 Cor. 9:23-7); “ But I do it all because of the rewards promised by the Good news, so that I may share in them along with the others who come to trust. Don’t you know that in a race, all the runners compete, but only one wins the prize? So then, run to win! Now every athlete in TRAINING SUBMITS himself to STRICT DISCIPLINE, and he does it just to win a laurel wreath that will soon wither away. But we do it to win a crown that will last forever. Accordingly, I do not run aimlessly but straight for the finish line; I don’t shadow-box but try to make every punch count. I treat my body hard and make it my slave so that, after proclaiming the Good News to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” What is the goal, the prize? To live in the House, the Tabernacle of the L-rd forever. (Psalm 23).
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart