Weekly Torah Commentary – Terumah Feb. 12, 2016

Exodus 25:1-27:19

Where do we find ourselves in this week’s Torah portion?  At the foot of Mt. Sinai receiving the Torah.

Moses is told to instruct the children of Israel to bring offerings to God (vs. 3-7) and in verse 8 we are told the reason.

Have the people of Israel build Me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them. (vs. 8)  Another translation renders this: Let the children of Israel fashion Me a Tent so I can make my home among them.

Tabernacle

You see, the Tabernacle wasn’t built because the people needed a place of worship. It was constructed for God; a home away from home, if you will, a specific place where God’s glory could rest.

This was the whole purpose for delivering them from slavery – that HE might dwell among them in such a profound, tangible way that every nation would know that He alone is God and that He and His people would enjoy an intimate relationship.  In a sense, God was about the process of re-creating the Garden of Eden.

Before Adam & Eve sinned, God walked with them in the garden; they and their Creator enjoyed absolute harmony and peace.  There was nothing between them and the Holy One.  That all changed because of ONE act of disobedience.  Though commentators may lament ‘what could have been’ if Adam & Eve had never sinned, the real issue at hand is that the Holy One of Israel lost the pleasure of their fellowship.  Since then He has deliberately and consistently worked among His people to restore what HE lost in Eden.

The text hints at this in the very next verse:  Be sure to make it according to the pattern that you saw on the mountain, He instructs Moses. During the forty days Moses spent in the presence of God on Mt. Sinai, the Holy One showed him the ‘Tabernacle’ – the ‘dwelling place’ in the heavens and essentially He said to Moses, Build Me one that is a mirror image of the one in heaven; a place where I can dwell.  The word in Hebrew is mishcan which literally means ‘tent of dwelling’.

But there is much more here than meets the eye.  The building – the ‘tent’ – speaks of something near and dear to the heart of God.  What He has always desired is to dwell in and among His people.  From the beginning He has wanted His people to be a living Tabernacle of His presence in the earth.

God did not intend his meeting with the Jewish people on Mt. Sinai as a never-to-be repeated pinnacle of human history. In the Tabernacle, he gave us the spiritual understanding to keep our relationship with Him fresh and alive, both as individuals and as communities of faith.  Entering the Tabernacle was a renewal and a reminder of the message of Sinai: I took you out of the slavery of Egypt so you could be My people and I could be Your God.  Walk with Me and be holy as I am holy.

Our sublime calling as human beings and as children of the Holy One of Israel is to be a living Tabernacle of the Almighty; that through our lifestyle – our words, our actions, our obedience to His Torah – the light of His truth will shine in this world.

In Tune with Torah this week = how well do we exhibit to those around us that spark of His presence which is within us? Do we have a positive effect on others by the way we live and interact with our fellowman?  Does it make a difference to this earth and to human kind that you are here?

Shabbat Shalom

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