Torah Portion: T’rumah(Contribution)Ex./Sh’mot 25:1-27:19
Haftorah Reading: I Kings 5:26-6:13
Tonight we study a Torah portion that covers the materials used for the construction of the Mishkan or Tabernacle. It also covers the items needing to be donated for its construction. During our time tonight I want us to also talk about some of the Hebrew words used in this portion. These words will help us to understand the spiritual message for us in more depth.
First I have a couple of questions that strike at the heart of what G-d was saying and is saying to us today. Consider this, how can you build a house for G-d? Think about it, He fills the earth. He created it all with a word from His mouth. King Solomon asked the same question in I Kings 8:27, “But will G-d really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heavens cannot contain You. How much less this house I have built.”
In Isaiah 66:1 we read, “Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My foot stool. What house can you build for Me? Where will my resting place be?” It seems to be impossible to build a home for G-d. He is everywhere. We can speak to Him anywhere we are. The answer is simply G-d does not live in a building even one as grand as the Tabernacle. He lives in us. A verse in our portion gives us a clue. In Exodus/Sh’mot 25:8-9 it says, “Let them build Me a sanctuary that I may dwell in them.” This verse does not say, “that I may dwell in it.” This verse contains one of our Hebrew words that is often translated as, “That I may dwell in it.” In Hebrew the last two words are, “btokhom.” It is often translated as stated above but in reality it should be translated as, “in them.” So the sentence should read, “That I may dwell in them.”
Now to our next Hebrew word that might help us understand exactly what G-d is saying. In these same verses (9) the word Mishkan is translated as tabernacle. The word Mishkan, at its root means to dwell, such as your neighbor. This is the first time this word is used in connection to G-d. Central to its meaning is the idea of closeness. In fact, in Hebrew today this word for next door neighbors is shachenim. Notice how closely this word sounds to Mishkan or Tabernacle.
So G-d was giving them a way to feel as close to Him as a next door neighbor. G-d is always with us. He is as close as one standing beside us. We are never alone even in the crazy unpredictable world we live in today. He is here right beside us. So when you read the word Tabernacle remember that its meaning gives us hope and rest.
What is our part in this picture?
Our next word may give us a clue. The very name of this portion – T’rumah is a word that means contribution. This word helps us know how to stay connected to Him. When we participate together as neighbors in a spiritual sense we are part of this donation- T’rumah. Here in our Torah portion we see G-d giving the people a way to become partners with Him, a way to build the Mishkan together.
So the real purpose of this portion is to give each Israelite a way to be a neighbor to each other and to G-d. John 1:14 gives us the same idea about Yeshua. He dwells among us as a neighbor. I expect John had the idea of the Mishkan when He wrote this verse. Also his Jewish audience would have been quick to make this connection too. We see this idea also in I Cor. 3:16 where it says we are the temple of G-d. Again the people would have understood what this meant spiritually to them. What does it mean to you and me?
Each of us are connected as neighbors. We, as G-d’s people, are part of this Mishkan. We all have a part to fill both here when we meet and when we are going through our week. We are all part of G-d’s purpose in this world. We are to persevere even in the dry places. The word used to build the Mishkan gives us a clue of this. Acacia wood was to be used. This wood survives even in the desert. It presses on and so must we persevere in the dryness of the world we live in. I pray each of us can see ourselves in these people here building the Mishkan in the harshest of places. How did they do it? G-d was with them. He is with us. No matter how the world around us looks. We live each day knowing He has us where we are for a reason. We are to be a pattern of the love and truth of G-d to our neighbors and to our world.
So as you study this portion approach it with a glad heart. Why? Because we know the Maker. We are to do our part to participate with Him, give our T’rumah, and show this world the way to become a neighbor of G-d Almighty.