Terumah – “Contribution”

This week our parasha is Terumah, which means “contribution” and covers Exodus 25:1–27:19. This parasha contains detailed information about how the Tabernacle and its items inside were to be constructed from the Lord to Moses.

Our parasha begins with the Lord telling Moses that an offering should be taken for the materials necessary to build the Tabernacle. These materials included gold, silver, bronze, precious stones, fine linen, acacia wood, oil, and spices. These offerings were to be given from willing hearts as each person was led to give. Giving is an act of worship and should be motivated by a love of the Lord and a desire to praise Him. The Lord also opens this parasha by telling Moses to make the Tabernacle exactly how he commanded.

Adonai gave Moses detailed instructions for how each item was to be made and began with the Ark. The Ark of the Covenant was crafted from acacia wood and then covered in gold. Two cherubim made of gold were then placed on top of it. The cherubim were placed facing each other with their wings open and covering the Ark. The area between the Cherubim was known as the “mercy seat”. From this special place, the presence of the Lord would dwell over the Ark and meet with Moses.

Next, the Table of the Tabernacle is outlined. This table was also to be made of acacia wood covered in gold and was designed with golden rings allowing poles to carry it. On the table was the weekly “bread of the Presence” which was always to be on this table.

The design for the Tabernacle’s Menorah is given next. This was a seven-branched lampstand also crafted from pure gold with a variety of decorations. The Menorah was placed in the Tabernacle’s inner sanctuary, opposite the Table. The Menorah and its accessories were to be made from 1 talent of Gold. This was a little over 66 lbs., worth almost 2 Million dollars today.

Chapter 26 contains instructions for the Tabernacle itself. Exact details are provided for the dimensions, frames, and materials.

Chapter 27 gives the instructions for the courtyard around the Tabernacle and the Altar for the Burnt Offering. The altar was also made of Acacia Wood, but this time the object was covered in bronze, not gold. The size of the altar was 7.5ft by 7.5 ft and 4.5 feet high. The tools and accessories for the altar were also made of bronze. Why was bronze chosen over gold? Bronze was a much more durable metal and so it was a practical choice for this Altar in service to the Lord.

Bronze also has a deeper meaning. One of the associations with bronze throughout God’s Word is judgment for sin. An example is found in Leviticus 26:19, where the Lord promises judgment for disobedience, with the land of Israel becoming like bronze. At the altar we see the Lord’s judgment for sin demonstrated with the death of every innocent animal.

The altar was crafted with a horn on each corner and rings through which poles could be inserted. Since this altar was holy it was not to be accidentally touched, but instead carried by poles. Our parasha ends with details about the courtyard surrounding the Tent of Meeting.

Parasha Terumah has great insights about who the Lord is and His standards. First, we see from the incredible details given in this parasha that our God is the Great Creator. He is an Intelligent Designer that cares about practical function as well as artistry. In these beautiful designs, the splendor of our King is reflected. The Lord did not skip over a single detail when it came to how He wanted things done. The same is true for each one of us because we are a work of His hands. The smallest details of our lives are known and matter to the Lord. Therefore, we should seek to follow the Lord in all areas of our lives as well, down to the smallest details.

Second, the dwelling place of the Lord was constructed with amazing and excellent craftsmanship. As servants of the Lord, we need to strive to do everything with excellence as well. When we come to services to worship the Lord, we should have the same attitude of making sure we are doing things right with the most effort we can. We should always be striving to bring our best before the Lord.

Finally, the Tabernacle itself shows that the Lord desires to dwell among us. He wanted to be close to His people while maintaining the proper distance His holiness demanded from sinful human beings. As we see throughout our wilderness journey, our people are not easy to get along with. We complain, blaspheme, and turn away from God constantly. Despite our sinfulness, the Lord in His love still wanted to be with us. Today, through Messiah Yeshua, we have even greater access to the Lord from the perfect sacrifice offered in the true tabernacle of heaven. We do not have to use poles to avoid the holiness of the Lord. Under the Mosaic Covenant God dwelled between the mercy seat of the Ark in Most Holy Place. Today, under the New Covenant, the Lord dwells in every one of His disciples’ hearts, transforming us from within to be holy tabernacles filled with His light.

Therefore, we can boldly come before His mercy seat because of the salvation Messiah Yeshua has provided. As Hebrews 4:16 tells us, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Whatever season you find yourself in today I encourage you to turn your heart and mind toward the Lord to receive the mercy and grace He so greatly pours out on each of His children.

May the Lord enable us to be tabernacles filled with holy light in a world desperately in need. May each of us be made holy to the Lord and dedicated to His service. May we boldly approach His holy throne because of the great work of our High Priest, Messiah Yeshua.