Torah Portion T’rumah (Contribution ) Sh’mot (Exodus) 25-27

Haftorah Reading I Kings 5:26-6:13

This week we read the first Torah section concerning the Mishkan or Tabernacle. Interestingly we read of this process for the next 13 chapters. In comparison, the creation story was covered in one chapter and the story of the actual exodus from Egypt only took up eleven chapters.

I mention this to emphasize an important point that we have talked about before. When we see something out of the ordinary in scripture we need to look deeper into the meaning of what G-d is saying to us. I think this is true here with the description of the Mishkan. For example, let us read Exodus 25:8-9. In English this passage loses its meaning. In verse 8 we read G-d saying let them make Me a “sanctuary.” The word in Hebrew is Mikdash, which is always used when speaking about the Temple in Jerusalem. In verse 9 G-d uses the word Mishkan, which is always translated as Tabernacle. So the question arises, why did G-d not use the same word in both places? I think we can view the Tabernacle as a temporary sign of G-d’s presence that traveled with them until they reached the Land. Once arriving in the Land  it would be replaced by the Temple where G-d’s presence would dwell forever. In both cases G-d’s presence was not confined to a structure but dwelt in the people and infused their daily life with His being in them always. So, maybe here G-d is saying to them, “I will be with you here in your wanderings and also when you arrive in the Land. I will infuse your life with My will and you, by extension, will bring Me into everything you do. You will become an example of Me to the world around you.” In verse 8 we read, “that I may dwell among them.” The verse can be more rightly translated as, “in them.” G-d’s purpose has not changed until today. When we come to faith what happens? The Spirit of G-d indwells us and our life is changed. Our goals reflect that change. Our actions reflect that change. It goes where we go. (Isaiah 43:14) even into exile and in Deut.30:3 where G-d says He will return with them from their exile in Babylon.

So, our question is, how do we make a sanctuary for G-d today in our life? The Messianic scripture speaks to us about this very subject. I Corinthians 3:16 says, “Do you not know that you are G-d’s temple and that G-d’s spirit lives in you.” Eph. 2:20 speaks of us being built together into a dwelling of G-d in the Spirit. As we live each day our goal, our life should reflect that G-d is in us. We are a sanctuary for Him in our life so that He may accompany us in everything we do. What does this mean and how do we accomplish it?

My question this week alludes to this and as we look at the Torah portion we see a pattern. In our portion everyone was involved in the building of the Mishkan. Everybody had an investment in the building. Up until this time G-d had done everything for them, saved them from Egypt (like us), provided them with food and water (like us). Now they were given the opportunity to be involved. By being involved they could take ownership of the Mishkan. They could look at a curtain or a socket for a board and say, “I contributed to that.” It is like this in our walk of faith. G-d calls us, saves us and provides us with spiritual food. The point being, we mature and become His partner in bringing His Presence into the world. This requires us to be active, helping others, touching lives, making a difference in the world. Each of us has something to contribute.

So as we read these chapters about the Mishkan, look for what the scripture is saying to you personally. How does it apply to your life each day? How can we welcome G-d’s presence in all we do? How can we carry Him into every part of our lives, even those times when we are alone or with friends and family? How can we be the Mishkan of G-d today?