Torah Portion: T’rumah (Contribution) Sh’mot (Exodus) 25-27
HafTorah: I Kings 5:26-6:13
New Testament: Hebrews 8:1-6
This week we read of the details of the Miskan (tabernacle). The materials are donated from the people as a free will offering. The offering had to be given with a willing heart. It was not a tithe but an offering. Why did G-d command the building of a Mishkan? In Exodus 25:8 we read so that He could dwell in them. In I Cor. 3:16 we read where we are the Temple of G-d, the Temple being patterned after the Miskan.
I want us to talk about this for a bit before moving on. What does it mean to us that our bodies are the temple of G-d? One thing is, the presence of G-d dwells within us just as G-d says here in Ex. 25:8. Knowing that whatever we do wherever we go, we carry the Miskan with us just as it was carried with Israel wherever they went. Knowing this in our spirit has to change what we do, what we think on and how we treat people.
Another point is where did the people build this Miskan? It was built in a dry and lifeless desert. It was sandy and barren. Before G-d blesses us with the indwelling of His Spirit we are mostly like this. When we come to faith we usually come from a background that is dry, lifeless, barren and sandy. What difference does this indwelling make in our lives? G-d brings life. We find water where before we were thirsty. We find spiritual food where before we were hungry. Our desert post becomes infused with life, spiritual life.
The materials used in the Mishkan can give us clues on this transformation. What was special about the wood? It was acacia wood, wood that could survive in the harsh desert. It’s roots could find every drop of water and its wood did not rot. The sap that flowed through it protected it and nurtured it. Do you see a spiritual picture here? G-d was encouraging the people by the material He chose. They could be His Mishkan. He would watch over them and nurture them each day and they would flourish in the desert. So He says the same to us. We are precious in His sight. Only the best goes in to constructing our Mishkan. Only the river of living water could quench our spiritual thirst.
There is a story in Judaism that says that gold, the most precious metal, was created by G-d for the express purpose of being used in the Mishkan. The colors used in the material were royal colors, not easy to find or use. Yet G-d provided the best. So He does with us. What does gold symbolize in our Mishkan? It had to be refined by fire to be used. We under go that refining process. We grow in the L-rd each day or so we should. The colors in the materials reminded Israel that G-d had chosen them as priests.
I Peter 2:9 says we are a royal priesthood. Our adoption into spiritual Israel allows us to be a part of the reconciliation of the world. So for us these materials mentioned are extremely important as our blueprint of life, what we carry with us each day. We are the Temple of G-d.
My next question concerns the location of Sinai. Why was not a temple built there and pilgrimages made back to the mountain? After all G-d appeared there to an entire nation. While in Jerusalem there had never been a doubt about where the Temple was built. After the revelation on Sinai, the mountain went back to its natural state and the people moved on. With a new revelation of who they were, once they got to Israel, they built the Temple on Mt. Moriah. This was different, they were home now and could put down roots in their place. There they could now build G-d a permanent place. We wait for the permanent Temple in heaven when we will be truly home.