T’rumah – “Contribution”

This week’s Torah portion is entitled T’rumah, meaning ‘Contribution’. The heart of worship begins with a willing giver; Israel gave, with passion, their gifts to build God a sanctuary.

In chapter 25 Adonai instructed Moses to have the people bring a free will offering, to teach them to honor Him first. So, they presented precious metals, scarlet thread, fine linen, and animal skins, all of which were given them by the Egyptians. Now they are to be dedicated to build God a dwelling place among them.

Moses followed the exact pattern that Adonai revealed to him for the design and function of the Tabernacle. There was to be no deviation from the pattern.

The most important, sacred feature of the Tabernacle’s furniture was   the Ark of the Covenant, that stood in the Most Holy Place, signifying God’s Holy presence. It was constructed from acacia wood, known for its strength and durability. The wood was formed into a rectangular box, covered with gold both inside and out, and trimmed in gold. It was to be transported by two wooden poles overlayed with gold inserted through rings made of pure gold. These poles were never to be removed. The top cover of the Ark (the mercy seat) was made of gold, and featured two golden cherubim facing each other on opposite ends, with their wings outstretched over it. The Tablets of the Law, the jar of Manna, and Aaron’s Rod that budded, were contained inside The Ark of the Covenant. It was here that the wrath of God would be appeased.

Another feature was the Table of Showbread, also constructed from acacia wood, covered with pure gold, and placed inside the Holy Place. The table was trimmed in gold that encircled the top of the outer edge, with gold rings at each corner, and wooden poles inserted through the rings to carry it. Vessels of pure gold were on the table, in addition to twelve loaves of special bread (the Bread of the Presence) for the Levites to eat, which would remain on the table at all times.

A third feature was the Golden Lampstand, (called a Menorah) constructed from 75 pounds of pure hammered gold. It was a seven-branched lampstand that stood in the Holy Place. Six of the branches were cups formed into almond blossoms, complete with buds and petals. In addition, there were almond buds beneath each branch from the center stem, formed into one piece. The lampstand provided light continually in the darkness of the Holy Place, so that the priests could perform their various duties.

In chapter 26 we read about the Veil. It separated the Holy of Holies from The Holy Place, which contained The Table of Showbread, The Lampstand, and The Alter of Incense. It also separated the High Priest from other priests. There were ten panels joined together to form one continuous twisted linen curtain of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn, with embroidered cherubim. They were attached by fifty loops made of blue material, and held together by gold clasps.

Above the fine linen were eleven outer curtains made of goats’ hair, which protected the outside structure from the elements. They were joined together as two separate pieces with one set of five panels, and a set of six. The curtains were folded over double, hung at the front of the tent, and joined together by fifty loops and clasps. An additional covering of ram and porpoise hides were made to cover and protect the structure.

The fifth feature of the tabernacle was the Screen, which served as the entrance into the tent. It separated Levites from non-Levites, just as the Veil separated the High Priest from the other priests. It was symbolic of God’s chosen hierarchy among the Israelis. No one was allowed direct access to Him except those chosen by Him, and in the manner in which He commanded.

The sixth feature, found in chapter 27, was The Bronze Altar of Sacrifice. It was made of acacia wood, covered in bronze, and hollowed inside where coals were placed to burn the animal sacrifices. Horns were placed at each of the four corners, and along its sides were four rings, with poles inserted, also covered in bronze, to carry it.

It’s interesting that the altar was the first piece of furniture you would see when entering the outer court of the Tabernacle; a reminder that sin separates us from God, and that without blood there’s no forgiveness of sin. The altar symbolized our redemption and our reconciliation to God through Yeshua’s blood, and His death on the cross. Only His blood could eradicate sin.

The components of the Tabernacle all point us to the Messiah. For example, the Ark of the Covenant symbolizes Yeshua’s divine and human natures, and the Shechinah Glory of God, as John wrote: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.”

The Table of Showbread likewise foreshadows Yeshua, who is the true Bread of Life and also points us to the table of the Lord – Communion.

The Lampstand symbolizes God as the light of Israel, and Yeshua, who is the light of the world.

And the veil points to the fact that Yeshua’s death was sufficient, and ended mankind’s separation from God, making it possible for all to have access to Him by faith.

In the past God revealed Himself to the Patriarchs and to Israel in veiled ways. During Yeshua’s life on earth, God actually walked in the midst of His people. But now, in an even greater way, God tabernacles within the very hearts of those who love Yeshua. As His living Temple, we should be exhibiting His glory and His love to this lost and dying world.

So, let us reverence Him by being faithful to the truth of His word, humbling ourselves before Him, ready to learn and listen, careful to honor and live in obedience to His Word.