The name of this week’s Parasha is Terumah, which means “Offering” and it takes us from Exodus 25:1 through 27:19. Moses receives specific instructions from God on the materials, construction and location of the Tabernacle, as well as the items to be placed inside the Tabernacle. These include the Ark of the Covenant, the table, the lampstand, and the altar of burnt offering. Moses is also given specific instructions on the dimensions of the courtyard. God invites the Israelis to bring offerings to contribute to the construction of the Tabernacle, which included gold, silver, and bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet fabric; linen; animal products such as ram skins and porpoise skins; plant products such as acacia wood, olive oil, and spices; and precious stones such as onyx and other gems.
God then commands Moses to have Israel build a Sanctuary for Him, so that He might dwell among them. A key aspect of these offerings is that they were entirely voluntary – only those whose hearts prompted them to contribute to the building of the Tabernacle were asked to bring offerings. We should remember this principle to willingly use the gifts and talents God has graciously given us to serve and glorify Him. So let’s make it our aim to give freely and joyfully so that God will be pleased with us, and will greatly bless us!
God then gives Moses the specifications for building the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark was to have 2 gold rings on each side, through which poles (also made of acacia) would be used to carry the Ark. In Numbers chapter 1, we learn that the Levites were responsible for the care and transport of the Tabernacle and everything in it; any non-Levite who presumed to do these tasks would die. Failure to take God’s commandments about the Ark seriously would later cost Uzzah his life. There are serious consequences when we disobey God!
God also commands Moses to construct a Mercy Seat out of pure gold, which will rest on top of the Ark, with golden cherubim facing each other at each end of the seat. God tells Moses that He will be over the Mercy Seat when He meets with Moses to give him His commands for Israel.
God then instructs Moses to make a table out of acacia wood and gold for the Bread of the Presence. We learn in Leviticus 24 that this special bread belongs exclusively to Aaron and his sons, and is a part of their regular portion of the burnt offerings. Moses is then told to make a large golden lampstand. Seven individual lamps were to be placed on it. God commands Moses to make everything according to the pattern shown him on Mount Sinai.
In Chapter 26, God gives Moses the specifications for the Tabernacle, and directs him to make a curtain that will separate the holy place from the holy of holies. It was to be made out of blue, purple, and scarlet fabric, along with braided linen, and the Ark of the Testimony was to be set behind the curtain.
The parasha ends with God giving Moses instructions for the making of the Altar of Burnt Offering and the Tabernacle courtyard. The altar was covered in bronze, and had a horn at each of the four corners. The horns were also later seen as a symbol of protection, as shown in the book of 1 Kings, when Adonijah and later Joab each flee to the Tabernacle and cling to the horns of the altar in fear of Solomon after he is declared Israel’s king.
There are several important principles that we can take from this passage. We learn that God deserves our very best for His service. The items He required from Israel to build the Tabernacle were items of great value and worth. These items were not easily replaced, and to give these things for the Tabernacle showed genuine faith and trust in Adonai and His goodness. We must be willing and generous in the use of our possessions for God’s service.
Even though the Tabernacle was holy and extremely important, access to it was limited in the fact that only the High Priest could ever enter the Holy of Holies to make atonement for Israel’s sin, and only after first making atonement for himself. The writer of Hebrews references this passage in chapter 8 of his letter in order to demonstrate that the earthly Tabernacle was a humble imitation of the greater Heavenly Tabernacle. As believers in Yeshua and partakers in the New Covenant, we have an even greater Tabernacle and greater access to Adonai through the death and resurrection of Yeshua HaMashiach, our High Priest, Lord and Savior.
The writer of Hebrews also describes a greater priesthood, in that Yeshua, our perfect High Priest, instituted the New Covenant by entering the greater Tabernacle, offering His own life as the ultimate sacrifice. Through faith in Him, we have an eternal inheritance. At the moment of Yeshua’s death on the cross, the curtain between the holy place and the Holy of Holies was torn, symbolizing the direct access that we have to God through faith in Yeshua, who has made the final and ultimate atonement for our sins. Our ‘Terumah’ – our offering, is to present our lives to Yeshua. That offering should be from a willing and generous heart, especially in light of His great sacrifice once-for-all-time for us.