Torah Portion: T’rumah (Offering)(Sh’mot) Exodus 25:1-27:19
Haftorah Reading: I Kings 5:26-6:13
This week we read of the gathering of materials to build the Mishkan or Tabernacle. In the opening verses there are several interesting points to ponder. For example, in Exodus 25:8-9 we read where after listing the things to be brought in verse 8, G-d says, ”And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.” In verse 9 we read, “that is the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishing, just so shall you make it.” The interesting part of these two verses is that in verse 8 the word used for sanctuary is Mikdash, which actually is the word used later for the Temple in Jerusalem. Verse 9 speaks of the Mishkan or Tabernacle that they are about to build. So what, if anything, are we to make of this difference? I expect it was the quality of G-d that knows no yesterday, or tomorrow. Everything with G-d is already – there are no limitations of time. So maybe it was G-d’s way of encouraging the people by saying that He would always be with them and whether it was a Tabernacle or Temple He was there. Either of these buildings were just a means or symbol of their faith in Him who in this portion says He will always be there no matter where they are. I think this should encourage us as we go through our life as believers. Our faith does not rest on a place but on the indwelling presence of G-d and knowing no matter what He is with us.
In fact, these opening verses set this out. When we read that G-d’s desire is to dwell among us it is important to examine these words closely to see what they actually convey. Let us look at the word translated as dwell. In Hebrew this word means, “live next to,” or our neighbor. We read of the “Shekinah” glory of G-d. It has the same root. It is the glory we can feel and see because it is so close. G-d is telling Israel and us, we are the ones who need this closeness. We need His presence. In our own faith experiences we see this work out when we come to faith in Messiah. G-d sends us the Spirit to lead us to comfort us and to let us know we are home.
This leads me to the next word that gives us a deeper understanding of G-d’s purpose here. “Dwell among,” in Hebrew the word for among is more rightly translated as “in.” G-d tells the people here and by extension us as adopted members of the House of Faith, that He really does not need a house. He is not homeless. Rather again we are the ones in need and, with our permission, He is ready to move in so to speak. He is ready to dwell in us. What is the effect? Like here the idea of holiness can help us.
In our Torah portion the Mishkan was a holy place. It was different than the physical world around it. By His presence, it had been transformed. Where have we seen this prior to now? In Exodus 3:1-6 Moses saw the burning bush that was not consumed. Moses experienced the holiness of G-d and here was a place where ordinary people could have that same experience. By our faith we have or can have the same relationship with G-d. He comes to inhabit us. We become holy. (I Peter 2:9) What does this mean to us? Holy is set apart, different, used for a specific task. No longer are we our own. It requires a change on our part. Things are different now. Things we used to do now we can’t do. Words we used to use, people we used to associate with are not permitted. Why, because we have brought holiness into our lives. That requires us to live differently, to set up within ourselves a holy place. It requires us to change our life, our home and to begin taking the time to discern what is holy ad what is not. We are to take the time each day to tend to our holiness just like a garden. We are to water it with prayer and get to know and become closer to the Father each day. Our connection with the Father is our connection with the Eternal and His holiness is never consumed.
May G-d the Father dwell within each of us and may nothing cause a break in that connection.