Parashat Terumah opens with the free will contribution the people were to bring for the construction of the Tabernacle. The descriptions of the construction of the sacred things come from the gifts brought by the people. We are also told, the Lord had a specific design for the Tabernacle, which is related to the manner in which the people approach the Lord both physically and spiritually. We are told the tabernacle is to be wrapped in a wall made of curtains hooked together (similar to clothing), and the Ark of the Covenant is to be made of wood but yet covered in gold. The less precious (wood) was clothed in what is more precious (gold). These descriptions are analogous to sanctification, the process of making holy for the purpose of God. This may be paralleled to what the Lord is doing in our lives which is described at the beginning of the Torah, we are told, Bereshit / Genesis 1:26 Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ 1:27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (NASB) These Scriptures draw out this concept of the preciousness of mankind, as the Lord’s having made man after His image. Due to the nature of man having been made after God’s image, Paul wrote, in 2 Corinthians 3:15 But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; 3:16 but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. (NASB) Paul wrote that those who turn to the Lord are in the process of being transformed into His image, as it says “from glory to glory” based upon the giving of God’s Spirit which is rooted in our freedom from sin. We are told in his letter to the Ephesians, 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (NASB) These things draw us back to the Torah portion, Parashat Terumah and the descriptions of the construction of the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle, the ark of the covenant, the altar, the fire pans, all of these things were carefully crafted for the work of the Lord. Based upon the Scriptures, we know the cloths we wear are analogous to the righteous works of God. The Scriptures portray the proper clothing as being used for specific situations, as we see in the priestly garments. As a result of these things, proper attire is also repeatedly portrayed in the Scripture as a parallel to the righteousness of God’s people. Consider, When a generation of people move towards immorality they always become lax about covering themselves. (i.e. The debased condition of the Roman Empire is a well known example.) Such people eventually rebel against all restrictions, or moral law, and move toward wanton fleshly pleasures and activities. It is in this sense that one becomes addicted to the tickling of the ears to hearing a theology that is enabling the pleasures of the body. Such a person becomes enamored with their loose life style and will attack anyone or anything that gets between them and their fun. It is within this context that Christians are necessarily obligated to obey God’s Law as it is portrayed in the Scripture. Unfortunately, too many professing Christians do not know what the Scripture teaches and do not really care. The theologies of today provide the benefits of blessing and entrance into heaven, while at the same time enabling the believer in not having to comply with God’s law. Based upon the Torah’s descriptions on the construction of the Tabernacle, clothing is used to distinguish those of high office or those who have other special positions within the service of God. One’s clothing was meant to set them apart and reduces confusion on behalf of the Priesthood. The scriptures this week provide us with insight into the construction of the Tabernacle, and likewise, these Scriptures also give insight into who we are in the Messiah.
In this week’s Torah portion, we are looking at Shemot / Exodus 25:1-15.
Shemot / Exodus 25:1-15
25:1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 25:2 ‘Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution. 25:3 ‘This is the contribution which you are to raise from them: gold, silver and bronze, 25:4 blue, purple and scarlet material, fine linen, goat hair, 25:5 rams’ skins dyed red, porpoise skins, acacia wood, 25:6 oil for lighting, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, 25:7 onyx stones and setting stones for the ephod and for the breastpiece. 25:8 ‘Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. 25:9 ‘According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it. 25:10 ‘They shall construct an ark of acacia wood two and a half cubits long, and one and a half cubits wide, and one and a half cubits high. 25:11 ‘You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and out you shall overlay it, and you shall make a gold molding around it. 25:12 ‘You shall cast four gold rings for it and fasten them on its four feet, and two rings shall be on one side of it and two rings on the other side of it. 25:13 ‘You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 25:14 ‘You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, to carry the ark with them. 25:15 ‘The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be removed from it. 25:16 ‘You shall put into the ark the testimony which I shall give you. (NASB)
א וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָֹה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר: ב דַּבֵּר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל וְיִקְחוּ-לִי תְּרוּמָה מֵאֵת כָּל-אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יִדְּבֶנּוּ לִבּוֹ תִּקְחוּ אֶת-תְּרוּמָתִי: ג וְזֹאת הַתְּרוּמָה אֲשֶׁר תִּקְחוּ מֵאִתָּם זָהָב וָכֶסֶף וּנְחֹשֶׁת: ד וּתְכֵלֶת וְאַרְגָּמָן וְתוֹלַעַת שָׁנִי וְשֵׁשׁ וְעִזִּים: ה וְעֹרֹת אֵילִם מְאָדָּמִים וְעֹרֹת תְּחָשִׁים וַעֲצֵי שִׁטִּים: ו שֶׁמֶן לַמָּאֹר בְּשָֹמִים לְשֶׁמֶן הַמִּשְׁחָה וְלִקְטֹרֶת הַסַּמִּים: ז אַבְנֵי-שֹׁהַם וְאַבְנֵי מִלֻּאִים לָאֵפֹד וְלַחֹשֶׁן: ח וְעָשֹוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹכָם: ט כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי מַרְאֶה אוֹתְךָ אֵת תַּבְנִית הַמִּשְׁכָּן וְאֵת תַּבְנִית כָּל-כֵּלָיו וְכֵן תַּעֲשֹוּ: ס י וְעָשֹוּ אֲרוֹן עֲצֵי שִׁטִּים אַמָּתַיִם וָחֵצִי אָרְכּוֹ וְאַמָּה וָחֵצִי רָחְבּוֹ וְאַמָּה וָחֵצִי קֹמָתוֹ: יא וְצִפִּיתָ אֹתוֹ זָהָב טָהוֹר מִבַּיִת וּמִחוּץ תְּצַפֶּנּוּ וְעָשִֹיתָ עָלָיו זֵר זָהָב סָבִיב: יב וְיָצַקְתָּ לּוֹ אַרְבַּע טַבְּעֹת זָהָב וְנָתַתָּה עַל אַרְבַּע פַּעֲמֹתָיו וּשְׁתֵּי טַבָּעֹת עַל-צַלְעוֹ הָאֶחָת וּשְׁתֵּי טַבָּעֹת עַל-צַלְעוֹ הַשֵּׁנִית: יג וְעָשִֹיתָ בַדֵּי עֲצֵי שִׁטִּים וְצִפִּיתָ אֹתָם זָהָב: יד וְהֵבֵאתָ אֶת-הַבַּדִּים בַּטַּבָּעֹת עַל צַלְעֹת הָאָרֹן לָשֵֹאת אֶת-הָאָרֹן בָּהֶם: טו בְּטַבְּעֹת הָאָרֹן יִהְיוּ הַבַּדִּים לֹא יָסֻרוּ מִמֶּנּוּ:
In the opening verses to this week’s Torah portion, the Lord asks that a sanctuary be created for this purpose: ח וְעָשֹוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹכָם: 25:8 ‘Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. (NASB) It is interesting to note, the Lord God created the whole world in six days, but he used forty days to instruct Moshe about the tabernacle. Little over one chapter was needed to describe the construction of the world, but six chapters were used for the construction of the tabernacle. What might be said about the significance of this observation? If the Lord God of Israel dwells in the midst of His people, just as the Scriptures teach, then the way we conduct ourselves as His children is vitally important. If God is holy, then we must also be holy (1 Peter 1:16). This provides us with a very strong reason for obeying the commands of God. We must seek to practice righteousness and holiness if the Lord God is dwelling in our midst. Furthermore, if the Lord God is in our midst and manifests Himself in and through us, then the way that we conduct our lives is again, vitally important as our lives are a representation of the God of Israel and His ways to all the world. It is for this reason Paul wrote, “I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:14-15). In the first epistle to Timothy, Paul writes about purity of conduct in the ekklesia (1 Timothy 1), of public ministry (1 Timothy 2), about leaders (1 Timothy 3), about false and true holiness (1 Timothy 4), about our responsibilities to the poor and widows (1 Timothy 5), and about the pursuit of prosperity under the guise of seeking greater piety (1 Timothy 6). Note the significance of how we conduct ourselves and how vitally important this point is for us as the Lord God of Israel indwells our hearts and is walking in our midst today! This week’s Torah portion calls us to be very careful in the way that we keep our hearts as a sanctuary for His glory, so that His glory might be manifest to others.
Rashi states the following concerning the pattern of the dwelling place of God (the Tabernacle).
Rashi on Shemot / Exodus 25:9 Part 1
ככל אשר אני מראה אותך ACCORDING TO ALL THAT I AM SHOWING THEE here, את תבנית המשכן THE PATTERN OF THE DWELLING. — This verse must be connected with the verse that precedes it, thus: And let them make for Me a sanctuary … according to all that I am showing thee (the words ושכנתי בתוכם being a parenthesis).
The concept here is the Lord instructed Moshe on the exact nature of His Tabernacle, the pattern must be followed to the level of detail the Lord had shown Moshe. This is important because it speaks of God’s dwelling in the midst of His people and the manner in which the people are to conduct themselves because we are His people. The pattern for the construction of the Tabernacle was very important because it represented the exact manner in which man was to approach the Lord God in heaven. Why do you think it is today the pattern for the way the Lord wants us to live our lives is not emphasized and followed to the level of detail as described in the Scriptures?
וכן תעשו AND SO SHALL YE MAKE IT also in future generations (cf. Sanhedrin 16b); if one of the vessels is lost, or when you make for Me the vessels for the “House of Eternity” (another name for the Temple in Jerusalem), — as e. g., the tables, candlesticks, lavers and stands which Solomon had made — you shall make them after the pattern of these (the vessels of the Tabernacle), If, however, the verse were not to be connected with the preceding one but formed a new statement, Scripture ought not to have written: וכן תעשו “and so shall ye make them” but כן תעשו “so shall ye make them” and then it would be speaking of the making of the tent of meeting and its vessels and not of the vessels of the Temple, and the translation would be: according to all that I am showing you the pattern of the Tabernacle and the pattern of all its vessels, even so shall you make them.
Note how Rashi describes the future generations and the vessels in the context of the Temple in Jerusalem which is called the “House of Eternity.” This describes the everlasting nature of God’s ways, and the manner in which we are to approach Him. Rashi says these Scriptures apply to both the Ohel Moed (Tent of Meeting) and the Temple in Jerusalem. Rashi speaks of the significance of the Lord telling Moshe to construct the Tabernacle in the pattern that He had shown him. Similarly, we should be taking a close inspection of our own lives to see if we are living in the pattern that He has laid out in Scripture.
The commentary Kedushat Levi on Shemot / Exodus Terumah 4 takes more of a spiritual application of these Scriptures as they are applied to our lives today.
Kedushat Levi on Shemot / Exodus Terumah 4
Exodus 25:9“in accordance with all the pattern I show you; the pattern of the Tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings so you shall make it.” Rashi (Sanhedrin 16) comments on this verse that these instructions, i.e. that just as the building of the Temple was to be approved by Moses who represented all the judges of the High Court, the building of future Temples would also have to be approved and supervised by the judges of the High Court. Tossaphot on that folio already raises questions concerning this interpretation; they point out that the measurements of the altar of the Tabernacle did not correspond to the measurements of the altar in Solomon’s Temple (Kings I chapters 6-7) Nachmanides also found difficulty with Rashi’s commentary in Sanhedrin.
When you consider our explanation above (at the end of Mishpatim) that the words: וכן תעשו ומראה כבוד ה’, refer to how a person can be certain that his manner of serving the Lord pleases his Creator, then the words: וכן תעשו, do not refer to the measurements of the Tabernacle or the Temple at all. There was no need for the Torah to repeat its instructions on these points as all the details had already been spelled out. Moses had received visual instructions from G’d, instructions that could hardly be “confirmed” by a human Court which had not been “shown” the dimensions G’d had shown to Moses. The entire Tabernacle must be viewed as the tangible symbol of holy thoughts expressed by the righteous when they worship the Creator, which, as we explained, need a כלי, visible, tangible instrument, in the form of a commandment to be performed by the worshiper, in order to give concrete expression to the נדבת לבו, the generosity of the heart, of which Exodus 25:2 speaks. The completed Tabernacle is the expression of the collective service of the Jewish people, or the לבוש, the “garment” behind which the holy nature of the collective soul of Jewish people resides.
The Talmud in Sanhedrin 89 already explains that no two prophets convey the same message from G’d to the people using the same wording. There is an element of individuality which permits each prophet to “dress up” the message in a style that he considers appropriate to his listeners. He also receives the vision from G’d in a manner that allows for his individuality, one that G’d is thoroughly familiar with, of course. It follows that Moses and his generation received G’d’s instructions concerning the Tabernacle in a manner that was appropriate for them, whereas Solomon and his generation received the instructions in a manner appropriate for the level of their respective generation. The tangible expression of the difference between the spiritual level of these two generations, one a people wandering in the desert, the other a people that had lived in a sovereign Jewish homeland for over 400 years already was reflected in the size and appurtenances of their respective “Temples.”
When Rashi explained the word לדורות, to describe the meaning of וכן תעשו, he meant that the same yardsticks that applied in the desert when the Tabernacle was being built were also to be applied in future generations when a Temple will again be built. The tangible version of the people’s service of G’d is to conform to the manner in which the subject would be communicated to the prophet or High Court that is the highest spiritual authority of the people at the time.
Nachmanides’ critique of Rashi that the altars in the two Temples were of completely different sizes is completely out of place, as Solomon constructed the altar in accordance with specific instructions given to him, emphasizing further that what was appropriate in the desert was not appropriate in his time. G’d’s appearing to Solomon when he had completed the Temple (Kings I 6:11-12) is proof that although the measurements of that Temple were quite different (though proportionate), he had not deviated from the instructions given by G’d to Moses in our portion.
Kedushat Levi speaks of the pattern that Moshe was shown, the pattern of the Tabernacle, where the various rabbinic commentaries point out that there is a variation in the Tanach on the size of the altar in relation to Moshe’s Tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple. The key to understanding these Scriptures is on whether the manner in which one serves the Lord pleases the Creator God. The dimensions that Moshe had established based on what the Lord had shown him, no man would be able to verify. The idea is that “The entire Tabernacle must be viewed as the tangible symbol of holy thoughts expressed by the righteous when they worship the Creator, which, as we explained, need a כלי, visible, tangible instrument, in the form of a commandment to be performed by the worshiper, in order to give concrete expression to the נדבת לבו, the generosity of the heart, of which Exodus 25:2 speaks.” The Tabernacle is the expression of the service of God’s people and the commandment of God is for the purpose of showing the generosity of the heart. Rashi explained:
the word לדורות, to describe the meaning of וכן תעשו, he meant that the same yardsticks that applied in the desert when the Tabernacle was being built were also to be applied in future generations when a Temple will again be built. The tangible version of the people’s service of G’d is to conform to the manner in which the subject would be communicated to the prophet or High Court that is the highest spiritual authority of the people at the time.
This speaks of the Lord having a specific design for the Tabernacle, which is related to the manner in which the people approach the Lord both physically and spiritually. This directs us to understand the purpose of the commandments as being the way the Lord God wants us to live our lives.
This manner in which the Lord wants us to live may be illustrated according to Tehillim / Psalms 112:5-6 which states, ד זָרַח בַּחשֶׁךְ אוֹר לַיְשָׁרִים חַנּוּן וְרַחוּם וְצַדִּיק: ה טוֹב אִישׁ חוֹנֵן וּמַלְוֶה יְכַלְכֵּל דְּבָרָיו בְּמִשְׁפָּט: 112:5 It is well with the man who is gracious and lends; He will maintain his cause in judgment. 112:6 For he will never be shaken; The righteous will be remembered forever. (NASB) This describes the one who does charity (Tzedakah) which is derived from the Hebrew text meaning righteousness, fairness or justice. Tzedakah is often translated as charity in Judaism and is a mainstay of Jewish life. The sages teach that the world was built upon kindness. However, tzedakah goes one step beyond. Literally translated as “justice” or “righteousness,” tzedakah tells us that sharing what we have with others isn’t just something special, it is the honest and just thing to do. In addition, Tzedakah is not limited to gifts of money but may also be performed by the sharing of our time with others, showing love in the same way the Lord has shown us love. Charity is a fundamental part of the Torah way of life, this is why the Targum translates 112:2 His children will be mighty in the Torah, he will be blessed in the generation of the upright. (EMC) Giving to the poor is an obligation in Judaism, a duty that cannot be forsaken even by those who are themselves in need. If these things are true, why then does Christianity not consider tzedakah obligatory? Some sages have said that tzedakah is the highest of all commandments, equal to all of them combined, and that a person who does not perform tzedakah is equivalent to an idol worshiper. It does not matter whether a limited amount of resources are provided to God’s people or whether wealth has been distributed unevenly in the earth. Some nations (or people) have been given a greater share and some a lesser share. But since all are created equally in the image of God, there is a duty that develops out of the Scripture for God’s people who “have” are to give of their substance to those who do not “have” in order to effect justice. This is the definition of tzedakah. It is a way of looking at the world and understanding the human role in helping others where by doing so one is imitating the qualities of the Lord in heaven.
The psalm brings these things into context saying, ו כִּי-לְעוֹלָם לֹא יִמּוֹט לְזֵכֶר עוֹלָם יִהְיֶה צַדִּיק: ז מִשְּׁמוּעָה רָעָה לֹא יִירָא נָכוֹן לִבּוֹ בָּטֻחַ בַּיהֹוָה: ח סָמוּךְ לִבּוֹ לֹא יִירָא עַד אֲשֶׁר-יִרְאֶה בְצָרָיו: ט פִּזַּר | נָתַן לָאֶבְיוֹנִים צִדְקָתוֹ עֹמֶדֶת לָעַד קַרְנוֹ תָּרוּם בְּכָבוֹד: 112:7 He will not fear evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. 112:8 His heart is upheld, he will not fear, Until he looks with satisfaction on his adversaries. 112:9 He has given freely to the poor, His righteousness endures forever; His horn will be exalted in honor. (NASB) The Aramaic Targum states, ז משמועתא בישתא לא ידחל תקין ליביה רחיץ במימרא דיהוה׃ ח סמיך ליביה לא ידחל עד עד זמן דיחמי פורקנא בעקתא׃ ט בדר ממוניה יהב לחשיכי זכותיה קיימא לעלמא תוקפיה תרום באיקרא׃ 112:7 He will not fear news of disaster; his heart is firm, trusting in the word of the Lord. 112:8 His heart is steady, he will not be afraid, until he sees redemption in distress. 112:9 He scattered his wealth, gave it to the needy; his merit endures forever, his might will rise up in glory. (EMC) The act of tzedakah is what Yeshua describes in Matthew 10:42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward. (NIV) Yeshua is essentially saying, “Whosoever shall do the smallest service, were it but to give a drink to one of these little ones…” (ἕνα τῶν μικρῶν τούτων, Matthew 25:40) indicating that the smallest gift done is big in the eyes of the Lord. Abraham was the first to link individual belief and worship in the one true God to social values and responsibilities. The ethical principles of monotheism recognize that “there is one Creative Source of creation, but that this very unity conveys a moral imperative concerning ethical treatment and conduct.” This is derived from observing the creation itself (Bereshit / Genesis 18:19) in the sense that we are to take care of this world as well as those who live in this world. The study and practice of these ethical principles not only constitute individual worship, but lead to the establishment of just social systems and the promotion of the common good for everyone. This is the purpose for studying the Torah, because contained within the pages of the first five books of the Bible are the moral and ethical principles the Lord wants to teach His people. Many of the biblical virtues (midot) are also commandments (mitzvot), where the practice of the commands causes one to understand what the Lord requires of us and draws us nearer to Him. Of the 613 commands found in the Torah, 248 are positive commandments (things to do), and 365 are negative commandments (things not to do). Many of the commands concern the individual’s relationship with God (Mitzvoth Bayin Adam La’Makom), more than half of the mitzvoth that are applicable today, in the absence of the Temple, govern interpersonal relations (Hilchos Bein Adom Le’Chavero), and relate to a comprehensive range of everyday social interactions. This forms the basic moral guidelines and ethical parameters of how God’s people are commanded to treat others. This is what is taught in the Torah and what the Lord wants to teach His people today! The Hebrew Prophets and Talmudic Rabbis have made clear that while the commandments between individuals and God are extremely important, the Lord commanded that ethical behavior toward one another is of greater importance and concern and this may be why the Apostolic Writings (NT) focus more upon morality, ethics, and our behavior towards one another as opposed to the dietary laws. King Solomon wrote that “To do righteousness and justice is preferred by God above sacrifice.” (Mishley / Proverbs 21:3) Rabbi Akiva famously observed that the greatest principle in Torah is to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Talmud Yerushalami Nedarim 9:4). The famed scholar Hillel added to this by summarizing all of Judaism in the sentence, “What is hateful to you, do not do to others,” adding that “the rest is commentary. Now go and study.” (Talmud Bavli Shabbat 31a) The conclusion is that the Torah is an instruction book on the manner of living an ethical life. Life is thus to be ethically centered and is viewed to be celebrated as a source of Simkhah (joy). It is understood that our deeds, our values, and our responsibilities are reflected in our behavior which is linked to the larger community as well as to the Lord God of Israel. This is why both “Faith” and “Works” are not distinguished (separated) in Judaism, and why James could say what he did that “faith without works is dead.” (James 2:14-26) The Scriptures emphasize ethical and moral living which speaks to a strong sense of mutual responsibility (Averut, Kol Yisrael Arevim Shavuot 39a) and community identity (Klal Yisrael Kehillah). We are told to not hate fellow man (Vayikra / Leviticus 19:17, and love your enemies, Matthew 5:44) and to love one another (Vayikra / Leviticus 19:18), including converts (Devarim / Deuteronomy 10:19). In the Torah, emphasis is given saying “Tzedek, tzedek tirdof” (Justice, justice shall you pursue) (Devarim / Deuteronomy 16:20). It is because of these things that every act of our lives is in service to the Lord where matters of individual worship are often irrevocably tied to ethics and social justice. Vayikra / Leviticus 5:21 speaks of the unity of the spiritual practice to ethical and moral living:
Vayikra / Leviticus 6:1-7
6:1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 6:2 ‘When a person sins and acts unfaithfully against the Lord, and deceives his companion in regard to a deposit or a security entrusted to him, or through robbery, or if he has extorted from his companion, 6:3 or has found what was lost and lied about it and sworn falsely, so that he sins in regard to any one of the things a man may do; 6:4 then it shall be, when he sins and becomes guilty, that he shall restore what he took by robbery or what he got by extortion, or the deposit which was entrusted to him or the lost thing which he found, 6:5 or anything about which he swore falsely; he shall make restitution for it in full and add to it one-fifth more. He shall give it to the one to whom it belongs on the day he presents his guilt offering. 6:6 ‘Then he shall bring to the priest his guilt offering to the Lord, a ram without defect from the flock, according to your valuation, for a guilt offering, 6:7 and the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord, and he will be forgiven for any one of the things which he may have done to incur guilt.’ (NASB)
כ וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָֹה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר: כא נֶפֶשׁ כִּי תֶחֱטָא וּמָעֲלָה מַעַל בַּיהוָֹה וְכִחֵשׁ בַּעֲמִיתוֹ בְּפִקָּדוֹן אוֹ-בִתְשֹוּמֶת יָד אוֹ בְגָזֵל אוֹ עָשַׁק אֶת-עֲמִיתוֹ: כב אוֹ-מָצָא אֲבֵדָה וְכִחֶשׁ בָּהּ וְנִשְׁבַּע עַל-שָׁקֶר עַל-אַחַת מִכֹּל אֲשֶׁר-יַעֲשֶֹה הָאָדָם לַחֲטֹא בָהֵנָּה: כג וְהָיָה כִּי-יֶחֱטָא וְאָשֵׁם וְהֵשִׁיב אֶת-הַגְּזֵלָה אֲשֶׁר גָּזָל אוֹ אֶת-הָעשֶׁק אֲשֶׁר עָשָׁק אוֹ אֶת-הַפִּקָּדוֹן אֲשֶׁר הָפְקַד אִתּוֹ אוֹ אֶת-הָאֲבֵדָה אֲשֶׁר מָצָא: [מפטיר] כד אוֹ מִכֹּל אֲשֶׁר-יִשָּׁבַע עָלָיו לַשֶּׁקֶר וְשִׁלַּם אֹתוֹ בְּרֹאשׁוֹ וַחֲמִשִׁתָיו יֹסֵף עָלָיו לַאֲשֶׁר הוּא לוֹ יִתְּנֶנּוּ בְּיוֹם אַשְׁמָתוֹ: כה וְאֶת-אֲשָׁמוֹ יָבִיא לַיהוָֹה אַיִל תָּמִים מִן-הַצֹּאן בְּעֶרְכְּךָ לְאָשָׁם אֶל-הַכֹּהֵן: כו וְכִפֶּר עָלָיו הַכֹּהֵן לִפְנֵי יְהוָֹה וְנִסְלַח לוֹ עַל-אַחַת מִכֹּל אֲשֶׁר-יַעֲשֶֹה לְאַשְׁמָה בָהּ:
These Scriptures speak saying that it is possible for a person to sin committing a treachery against God by lying to his fellow man. The conclusion may be that if one deals falsely with his fellow man, then he repudiates the very belief in the existence of God. Early Christians were very concerned with the way in which we relate to one another, as 2 Timothy 2:22-25 illustrates, Paul wrote:
Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.
Self-deception and the concept of the ends justifying means kind of attitudes are denounced in Christian teaching (see Galatians 6:7-8, James 1:26, John 1:8), where Yeshua taught that holiness is a way of living itself (Matthew 4:8-10, 16:26). Yeshua also taught to focus upon righteousness and the inner kingdom, it is in these things the disciple could find comfort and sustenance from the Lord God of Israel through faith. The Lord God would reward them in the Olam Habah and their needs on earth would be met. Yeshua also taught in Matthew 6:31-34 saying:
So do not worry, saying, What shall we eat” or What shall we drink” or What shall we wear? For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
The bedrock of who we are is to have absolute faith in God, from which leads to ethical and righteous actions in our lives. Through faith in the Messiah in the belief that Yeshua died for our sins and thereby provided atonement for us, we are given the mercy and salvation of God in this life and in the next (see Ephesians 1:6-8). The Torah context draws in the concept that our deeds will be consistent with our faith. Faith in the God of Israel rescues us from worldly temptations, while those who trust in the Lord and His mercy will repent of their transgressions, forgive others, and open their heart to do what the Lord has called us to do on this Earth. The Scriptures teach that those who do so will be saved (see Matthew 13:15, Acts 2:38, 10:42-44, and 13:37-39).
It is within this context that we find Parashat Terumah and the construction of the Tabernacle. It is also within this context that we understand Christians are necessarily obligated to obey God’s Law as it is related to Morality, Ethics, Justice, and Righteousness. Unfortunately, too many professing Christians do not know that the Scripture teach these things. The modern theologies of today keep one in immaturity of faith providing the benefits of blessing and entrance into heaven, without the responsibilities we are called to according to God’s law. Based upon the Torah’s descriptions on the construction of the Tabernacle, we see how the Lord God has a specific (exact) design for our lives. Just as clothing was used to distinguish those of high office or those who have other special positions within the service of God. God’s righteousness (His ways) are meant to set us apart and reduce confusion on behalf of who we are as God’s people in a wicked world. The scriptures this week provide us with insight into the construction of the Tabernacle, and likewise, these Scriptures also give insight into who we are in the Messiah.