The Tabernacle: The brazen altar

 

READINGS:             Torah T’rumah:                    Exodus 26:31–27:23

                                                Haftarah:                                    I Kings 6:8-13

                                                B’rit Chadasha              Matthew 5:33-37 

 

 “ . . . As it has been shown you on the Mountain,

so shall they make it” 

[Exodus 27:8] 

          With today’s aliyah of Torah we will conclude our study of parsha T’rumah and enter into blessed Sabbath rest.  But be assured that Moshe’s magical mystery tour is far from over.  The Mish’kan discourse will continue through our next parsha [Tetzaveh], and even to the approximate midpoint of the parsha after that [Ki Tisa]. 

 

          When we leave the T’rumah narrative, however, the focus of the Holy One’s instructions will undergo a dramatic shift — from the structures the Holy One wants us to visualize and build to the people He intends to ordain to mediate His truths within those structures.

          Ah, but there will be plenty of time to talk about that next week. For now, let us prepare our hearts for the Sabbath by returning our focus to the text of parsha T’rumah and to the marvelous structures, shapes, colors, and stunning images that our Divine Bridegroom is showing Moshe.

          The week began, you will recall, with a Divine call for the taking of a t’rumah – i.e., something “lifted up” to the Holy One. 

          At first we thought that just meant we were to bring “stuff” – silver, gold, bronze, cloth dyed in sky blue, dark red, and crimson dyes, pure virgin olive oil, and precious jewels and spices — things the Egyptians had showered on us as we were leaving Mitzrayim in the middle of the night. 

          As the week progressed, however, we realized that what the Holy One really wanted us to “lift up” to Him was not our stuff, but US. 

          We learned that the essence of of our Divine Bridegroom’s T’rumah call was that our eyes and our hearts are to be perpetually lifted up to gaze upon and internalize the Heavenly realities He pulled back the veil for Moshe. 

          We discovered that it is actually our Divine Bridegroom’s intention to train us to become Bridal in orientation by focusing our minds and our souls and our wills and our spirits intently on the blueprint of Heavenly reality which He has revealed to Moshe during these forty days in “the Cloud”. 

          Wherever we are – forever – He wants us to always be able to picture in our mind’s eye, if not our physical sight both the stunning beauty and the essential characteristics of the very special place He has prepared for us as His Bride.

          It is His plan that every experience, every interaction, every relationship, every triumph, trial, and trauma which will ever be part of our lives is to be approached, viewed and interpreted by us through the prism of the Heavenly Throne room vision which He is making a part of our spiritual DNA. 

          No matter what might befall us, or in what depths of despair we might [and will soon] enter, He wants to equip us to remember that we are now the Holy One’s Betrothed – and thus always have an eternal means of access to Him, through Heavenly protocol. 

          We are forever to long for, and seek after, higher ground

          We are to let the realization sink in that we will never be citizens – only sojourners – anywhere else.

          With the psalmist, we are to forever sing:

How lovely are your dwelling places, Oh Holy One of Hosts!
 My soul longs, and even faints for the courts of the Holy One.

My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

 Yes, the sparrow has found a home,

And the swallow a nest for herself,

 where she may have her young, near your altars,

Oh Holy One of Hosts,

my King, and my God.
 Blessed are those who dwell in your house.

They are always praising you.  Selah.

[Psalm 84]

 

          Never forget, the place our Bridegroom has prepared for us.     

          It is not a church, a synagogue, a temple, or a mosque.

          It is the place where His train fills the Temple, where keruvim and serafim fall down before His Throne and cry “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD God Almighty! The whole earth is filled with His Glory!” It is the place where a thousand thousands minister in awe and reverence, and where ten thousand times ten thousand stand before Him to serve Him. It is the place where the court of Heaven is seated, and the books of life are open.  It is the place where every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, will one day proclaim with one voice:

Blessing and honor and glory and power

be to Him who sits on the throne,

And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”

          Keep looking up.

          There is a place prepared for you. 

The Veil . . . and Beyond

We have discussed this week that the Mish’kan which the Holy One told Moshe to build was to consist of three parts – first, the outer courts, second, the ‘holy place’, and finally, the k’dosh ha-k’doshim [the Holy of Holies, also called the “most holy place”]. 

                It has been a week of mystery, symbolism, architecture and interior design. 

It started with the Holy One giving instructions to Moshe concerning an aron [ark], which we are to build from gold and shittim wood, which is to house the precious Words the Holy One has spoken over us as a people, and which is to be located in the k’dosh ha-k’doshim.

The Holy One then proceeded to give Moshe instructions regarding the menorah and the shulchan [table] with which He wanted us to furnish the antechamber known as the ‘holy place’

But, so far, we have not been told what is to separate the holy place, where the menorah and the shulchan will be stationed, from the k’dosh ha-k’doshim [holy of holies], where the aron will reside.

          Will it be a permanent, impassible barrier that separates the area of the menorah and the table [and, we will eventually find, the golden altar of incense], from the ark? 

          No, – it will not. The ‘wall of separation’ marking off the holy place from the k’dosh ha-k’doshim we are to build on earth will simply be a fabric ‘veil’. 

          You heard me right — a veil. 

Every bride-to-be needs one, right?

          And at the proper time, under the proper circumstances, our veil, as every other bridal veil, will be lifted. 

          But alas, now we are really getting ahead of ourselves, aren’t we?

Our Bridal Veil

          Today’s aliyah begins with the instructions given by the Holy One for the parochet [VEIL] between the holy place and the k’dosh ha-k’doshim

          Since no human was to enter the k’dosh ha-k’doshim [except Moshe, and later the kohen g’dol (high priest)], this parochet was to be ultimate boundary line for the Redeemed Community.  She herself could come into the courtyard.  Her designated “friends of the Bride” could enter on her behalf into the k’dosh [the holy place where the menorah, the table of showbread, and the golden altar of incense were located]. These two areas, however, were simply antechambers.   The parochet was as far as the Bride-to-be, or her designated representatives could, for the time being, go.

          Beyond the parochet, you see, lies an intimacy with the Holy One for which the Bride-to-be was not yet ready. 

          Here are the words the Holy One used to instruct us on the fashioning and erection of the parochet.

 
    V’asita parochet techelet

Make a veil out of techelet [sky-blue],

v’argaman v’tola’at shani v’shesh moshezar

argaman [dark red], and tola’at [crimson] [wool, woven] with twined linen.

ma’aseh choshev ya’aseh otah keruvim 

Cherubim are to be woven into it [they should be seen on both sides].

* * *

v’heveta shamah mibeit l’parochet et Aron ha-Edut

Into the space behind this curtain you are to bring the Ark of Testimony.

 

V’hiv’dilah ha-parochet lachem beyn ha-kodesh

This curtain will thus divide between the Holy Place 

 

uveyn k’desh ha-k’dashim.

and the Holy of Holies.

          Note that the purpose of the veil is not to close off access into the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place and the other areas of the Mish’kan. It is, instead, the other way around. The access that is closed off by the veil is access from the Holy of Holies to the Holy Place and to other areas of the Mish’kan.
 
          A veil, as you will recall, is not for the Bridegroom — it is for the bride.

 

          A veil does not cover the Bridegroom’s face – but the bride’s.

What does it mean when a bride wears a veil[1]?  First of all, it declares to the world that I recognize, and want everyone else to know, that I am set apart to — and for – my Beloved, and therefore I do not reveal my face – my emotions or my beauty — to any other but Him.  Secondly it proclaims to the Bridegroom My union with You, My Beloved, is certain . . . but it is not time — not now, not yet.

          The veil in the Mish’kan is the veil of a fervent, but immature, Bride-to-be, Beloved.  It is a veil appropriate for one who, on her betrothal day,

. . . perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes

and the sound of the trumpet

and the mountain smoking;

and . . .TREMBLED

and STOOD AT A DISTANCE.

Then . . . said to Moshe,

‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen;

but LET NOT GOD SPEAK TO US, or WE WILL DIE.’

[Exodus 20:18-19]

          At the proper time, our Bridegroom will lift our veil, Beloved.

And we shall see Him . . . face-to-Face.

Come To the Altar

          Next the Holy One directs us to build in the outer court of the Mish’kan a community altar – an altar made of brass (or bronze) — upon which He specifically invited every member of the Redeemed Community to approach Him for intimate forms of communion. 

Yes, you read that correctly.  The brazen altar was designed to be  a place of Divine encounter every bit as much as the mercy seat in the holy-of-holies was.  The brazen altar was the place ordained by the Holy One for ordinary men to come to surrender and put to death in the Divine Flame all things that hinder a human being from experiencing true love and intimacy with the Divine Bridegroom.

I know that is not the image most people have of the brazen altar. I know that most Christians and many Jews have been taught erroneously that the only one who could meet with the Holy One at the Tabernacle was the anointed High Priest, and that this meeting could only occur once a year. I know that there is a ton of un-Biblical nonsense being preached about the High Priest having to tie a rope around his foot before he went into this meeting so that if he died in the Holy One’s presence his body could be dragged out without anyone else going into the Holy of Holies.  That kind of thing would be comical if it not so patently unscriptural yet so often taught as if it were truth.  The truth is that there is not a single passage anywhere in either the Bible or the holy books of Judaism which speaks of this. It is nothing but a figment of someone’s fertile imagination.

While the Bible does speak of a once-a-year meeting to take place between the High Priest and the Holy One, that special purpose meeting is NOT by any means the only meeting that the Holy One planned to have with His people in the Tabernacle. The once-a-year meeting in the holy-of-holies had a very specific purpose – to deal with important national issues, not personal ones. That  once-a-year meeting was designed to deal prophetically with end-time issues of ultimate atonement for the nation of Israel [when, as Shaul of Tarsus taught, “all Israel will be saved”] not to deal with day-by-day recurring issues of intimacy between us as individual bride-in-training candidates and the Holy One as our Divine Bridegroom.

 We are going to learn in the next book of Torah, Leviticus, that there were five very different kinds of very personal, intimate meetings the Holy One wanted to have with ordinary people – people like you and me — at this location. 

Personal issues between the Holy One’s chosen Bride-in-training and the Holy One Himself were not designed to be resolved in the Holy of Holies once a year – they were to be dealt with at the Brazen Altar, in the outer court of the Tabernacle, any time our hearts longed to experience our Bridegroom’s presence.

          Much, much more detail will be provided on the marvelous truth associated with this revelation in connection with our study of Leviticus.  For the time being, however,  please just understand that the brazen altar the Holy One instructed us to build in the outer court of the Mish’kan, visible and accessible to all, was definitely not, as you may have been taught, designed to be a place of ‘appeasement’ of God through animal sacrifice.  What this altar was instead designed by our Divine Bridegroom to be was a place of regularly re-enacting, on earth, for all to see, the before-the-foundation-of the-world event in connection with which the Holy One, with each one of us individually and all of us collectively in mind, caused a perfect, sinless Lamb to be slain on behalf of all human beings.

          You will notice that I just described what was to be done at the brazen altar as ‘re-enacting’. I am aware that some ‘time bound’ readers will argue I should not have said that. They will protest that what I should have said instead of re-enacting was ‘pre-enacting’ or ‘prefiguring’. And they will be offended that I referenced something that took place ‘before the foundation of the world’ as the focal point of all that ever took place at the brazen altar, instead of the bloody act of crucifixion that took place on the hill called Golgotha on Passover, c29CE. 

          Some may think that I am guilty of ‘denigrating the Cross’. 

          It anyone thinks that, however, they will be dead wrong. I am not denigrating the Cross and the Crucifixion. To the contrary, I am attempting to put the Cross and the Crucifixion into proper perspective. I am trying to point the reader to the Torah-based origin, the purpose, and the true, deep, eternal meaning behind the drama that played out before the eyes of the world on the hill called Golgotha. 

          From the perspective of our Covenant Partner in Heaven, you see, the event that Scripture refers to as occurring before the Foundation of the World and the one that Scripture refers to as occurring on Golgotha’s hill were one and the same event.  The Holy One is ‘outside’ of time. Time is merely a creation of the Holy One, a stage for human beings to inhabit.  Time provides a convenient frame of reference for human minds. But the Holy One is He who was, who is, and who will be.  He can, and does, inject His words, manifestations of Himself, and His will, into what we call ‘time’ at will. He does it regularly. And when He does so, the words and images He thus injects –which are eternal, as He is eternal, and infinite as He is infintite — are not bound or limited by time in any way.

          Thus what happened on Golgotha in c.29 CE (approximately) is the same event that happened ‘before the foundation of the world’ – at Golgotha what happened outside of time, before the foundation of the world, was merely made manifest for human eyes to see, and thereby brought into the consciousness of we who live in the realm of and are able only to think of things in terms of time.

          Passover circa 29 CE is not when the critical spiritual event happened; it is merely when human eyes drank in the spectacle of it.

          The Lamb, you see, was slain before the foundation of the world. From the Holy One’s perspective, He was slain before there were any Jewish people either to accept Him, deny Him, cry ‘Crucify Him’, or mourn Him. From the Holy One’s perspective the Lamb was slain before there was a Pontius Pilate to issue the order or any Roman soldiers to carry it out.

          Do you understand?  The human beings who were involved in the ‘Passion’ story of Golgotha were merely actors, following a Divine script. The same Lamb was merely made visible to us all on Golgotha. 

          Understanding this spiritual reality allows us to understand why neither the Jews nor the Romans, nor Pilate, nor Herod, nor Caiphas, nor Judas nor Barabbas can be blamed for ‘murdering’ Y’shua.  From the foundation of the World, He laid down His life voluntarily. The Holy One Himself issued the decree and struck the blow. 

          And that, Beloved, is the true testimony the brazen altar was designed by the Holy One to proclaim to us.

Some Assembly Required

          Here are the words with which the Holy One introduced us to the brazen altar on which we are to approach and meet with Him, surrendering all which hinders intimacy and love:

V’asita et ha-mizbe’ach atsei shitim

“Make the altar of shittim wood . . .

* * *

Make its horns on its four corners;

its horns are to be of one piece with it;

and you are to overlay it with brass.

Make its pots to take away its ashes,

its shovels, its basins,

its flesh hooks, and its fire pans:

all its vessels you are to make of brass.

  Make a grating for it of network of brass

* * *

Make poles for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with brass.
 Its poles are to be put into the rings,

and the poles are to be on the two sides of the altar when it is carried.

 . . . Make it, as it has been shown you on the mountain . . .

[Exodus 27:1-8]

          The Holy One designed this altar so that each time we brought an animal or a portion of grain, or of wine, we would see a picture, and would remember the eternal truth that lay behind the “replica” at which we performed our ritual – the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.

          This was the same Lamb whose skin was provided to Adam and Chava in exchange for their fig leaf coverings. 

          It was in the virtue of, if not in memory of, this same Lamb that we appropriated blood for our doorposts on the night the Holy One slew the firstborn of Egypt.  

          It was never the Holy One’s intention for us to trust in the blood of bulls and goats slain at the brazen altar – what happened there was only to be a symbolic representation of the eternal truth the Holy One revealed to Moses on the mountain. 

          It was to be the eternal truth revealed to Avraham our father on Mount Moriyah in which we trusted. 

          We were – we are — to live our lives in acceptance of the truth Avraham prophesied so many years before:

on the mountain of the Holy One,

He will be seen”.

[Genesis 22:14]

          What part of the Heavenly Throne room is the brazen altar designed to replicate you ask? Consider the following passage from the Heavenly Throne Room scene as reported by the prophet Daniel:

His throne [was] a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire;

A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him.

A thousand thousands ministered to Him;

Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him.

[Daniel 7:6(b) -7]

          Remember that the source of the fire on the brazen altar was not of human origin – instead, Torah tells us that fire fell from Heaven. See Leviticus 9:24. Torah also tells us that the holy fire was to be kept burning on the brazen altar continually and never allowed to go outLeviticus 6:12-13. 

 

          Think also, therefore, of the experience Yeshayahu [Isaiah] described in Isaiah 6, where the prophet describes a seraf [burning one] as taking ‘a live coal’ from the altar with tongs. We know what altar the prophet is talking about, don’t we?


[1]  Other than in an Islamic society, that is.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Tabernacle: Privacy and Revelation in the Curtains

READINGS:          Torah T’rumah                Exodus 26:1-30 

                                    Haftarah:                                        I Kings 6:7

                        B’rit Chadasha:                 Matthew 5:31-32 

 

   “Erect the Tabernacle after the plan of it

 shown you on the mountain.” 

[Exodus 26:30] 

          The Mish’kan discourse of Torah is now in full swing.  Our Divine Bridegroom is explaining to Moshe that He wants us to BUILD something for Him.

          We built store cities for Pharaoh, so the concept of construction is by no means foreign to us.

          But what the Creator of Heaven and Earth wants us to build for Him is nothing at all like the store cities of Pharaoh.  Those were mere mundane edifices of an earthly kingdom.

          What our Divine Bridegroom wants us to build here at this mountain is absolutely incredible. 

          The plan is other-worldly.

          The materials called for are costly beyond imagination. 

          The specifications given are so precise they leave no room whatever for individual artistic expression.

          Indeed, the language the Holy One is using to describe the structure He wants us to build here on the desert floor at the base of this mountain overwhelms the senses.  The structure He wants us to build is alive – literally flowing with colors and textures and geometric shapes and fragrances and stunning 3-dimensional imagery.

           The task set before us is daunting to say the least. Our Divine Bridegroom has prepared a place for us to dwell with Him in His Heavenly Courts; now He wants us to reciprocate and prepare a place for Him in the midst of our camp where He can sh’kan – dwell, reside – with us.

          We have learned already this week that everything we will be asked to build as a part of the Holy One’s Mish’kan project will be a scale model of something eternal and infinite that exists in Heaven. 

          We learned that the centerpiece of the structure the Holy One wants us to build – i.e. the ark of the testimony, replete with its ‘mercy seat’ – is designed to replicate on earth the Throne upon which the Holy One sits in the courts of Heaven.

          We further learned that the table of showbread the Holy One wants us to build for the Mish’kan is designed to replicate on earth the beautiful river of life which Yochanan described in Revelation as proceeding from the Holy One’s Throne and on either side of which was a tree of life which bears twelve kinds of fruit and yields its fruit every month, and the leaves of which are for the healing of the nations. Revelation 21:2. 

          We also learned that the menorah the Holy One wants us to build on earth is designed to be the earthly replica of the seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God as described by Yochanan the Revelator in Revelation 4:5(b).  As the Revelator would later explain, “the glory of God illumines it, and the Lamb [is] the light thereof, and the nations of them which are saved walk in the light of it” Revelation 21:23-24.

          Did you think the Mish’kan was just a religious shrine conceived by the mind of Moshe? Oh, no, that was not it at all.  The Mish’kan was designed by the Holy One to introduce His Bride-in-training to the stunning spiritual realities of the courts of Heaven itself.

          Our theme in connection with this building project will be nothing short of ‘on earth as it is in Heaven’. 

          So let us continue to explore the magical mystery of it all, shall we?

Picking Out the Curtains

          Approximately two-thirds of the structure that the Holy One wants us to build will be like an open-air ampi-theatre, open to the Heavens.  But in the aliyah of Torah we read today we will discover that one particular area in the much larger whole of the structure is to have a special series of coverings. More specifically, the Holy One wants the two innermost chambers are to be overlaid with curtains.

          And when I say the Divine Bridegroom wants curtains, I mean lots of them. Indeed the Holy One’s architectural design calls for us to cover the inner chambers of the Mish’kan with not just one, not just two, not just three, but four separate layers of exquisitely-tailored curtains.

          Viewed from the inside-out these layers are to consist of an inner set of curtains made of fine linen[1] embossed with images of cherubim in flight, a second set of curtains made of goat’s hair, a third set of curtains made of rams’ skins dyed red, and an outer set of curtains made of an appropriately mysterious material the Hebrew text calls orot tachashim- a term guessed by some to mean badger skins and guessed by others as meaning the skins of sea cows.

          The various layers of curtains are all to be different colors, are all to consist of different textures, and are all do come from different source materials. They will provide cover the holy furnishings of the inner sanctuary protecting them from wind, rain, fowls of the air . . . and, yes, Beloved, from prying eyes.

          Have you guessed yet what feature of the Heavenly courts these four specially designed layers of coverings are designed to replicate on earth?  Well, Beloved, what in the Heavenly courts of the Holy One does Yochanan the Revelator’s account indicate there are four of?   Are there not four ‘living creatures’ who do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come” and who give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne?  Revelation 4:8-9. 

 

The Innermost Layer of Curtains

          The innermost set of curtains or draperies which the Holy One instructs Moshe to make for the Mish’kan’s inner chambers – the draperies which will be visible only to the kohanim [priests] who minister inside the inner sanctum – are to be made of intricately woven shesh – fine linen, interlaced with images of Heavenly beings Torah calls keruvim.  As Torah puts it:

” . . . [Y]ou are to make the tent with ten yeri’ot [curtains/draperies];

 of fine twined shesh [linen], and techelet [bluish violet],

and argaman [reddish purple], and shani tola [crimson[2]],

 with Keruvim [cherubim]

The work of the skillful workman you are to make them.

[Exodus 26:1]

 

The Length and Breadth of the Curtains

 

 The length of each curtain shall be twenty-eight cubits,

 and the breadth of each curtain four cubits:

all the curtains shall have one measure.

[Exodus 26:2]

The Hardware for the Curtains

 

Five curtains are to be coupled together one to another;

and the other five curtains are to be coupled one to another.

[Exodus 26:3]

You are to make lule’ot techelet  [loops of bluish violet]

on the edge . . .

[Exodus 26:4]

You are to make fifty karsei zahav  [clasps of gold],

and couple the curtains one to another with the clasps . . .

[Exodus 26:6]

          Why are the innermost curtains to be woven  of fine linen?  As we are told by Yochanan the Revelator, one day a great multitude will proclaim . . . the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready. And to her it is granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the Holy Ones. Revelation 19:8.

 

          What exactly are the ‘righteous acts of the Holy Ones’ that are to adorn the innermost chambers of the Holy One’s Throne Room?  

          The righteous acts of the Holy Ones are not ‘random deeds of kindness’. Neither are they mighty acts of heroism, the performance of signs and wonders, or great deeds of philanthropy.

          What the ‘righteous acts of the Holy Ones’ are, Beloved, are the walking out of the mitzvot of Torah by the Redeemed of the Holy One, in sh’ma response to Divine call and directive.

          By the way, do you remember which of the patriarchs is described in Torah as wearing fine shesh [linen], Beloved?  It was Yosef.  Genesis 41:42.

 

          I wonder if we just might find a reference to other generations of the patriarchal family in the remaining layers of the Mish’kan’s curtains?

 

The Second Layer of Curtains –

A Covering Made of Ezim[3] 

          Over the delicate linen draperies interwoven with images of Keruvim, The Holy One told Moshe to hang a second layer of curtains – a layer made of something called ezim

“You are to make curtains of ezim

for a covering over the tent.

[Exodus 26:7]

          What are ezim?   Literally ezim means goats.   Most translators interpret the term to mean goat’s hair

 The Number of Ezim Curtains

. . . eleven curtains are you to make.


The Length and Breadth of the Ezim Curtains
The length of each curtain are to be thirty cubits,

and the breadth of each curtain four cubits:

 the eleven curtains are to have one measure.
The Arrangement of the Ezim Curtains

You are to couple five curtains by themselves,

and six curtains by themselves,

and you are to double over the sixth curtain

in the forefront of the tent.
[Exodus 26:7-9]

          Why ezim?  What is it about goats, of all creatures, that the Holy One chose them – or their hair, at least – to be forever recognized as an important part of His betrothal-period interactions with His Redeemed People? 

          Perhaps, Beloved, it was intended as a perpetual reminder of the dramatic series of events which transpired in the life of our forefather Ya’akov, many of which seemed to have goats at their essence.

          When Ya’akov acquired his father’s blessing, what was he wearing?  Goat’s hair.

          When Ya’akov began to be blessed by the Holy One with wealth in the household of Lavan, how was it accomplished? Primarily through supernaturally-aided multiplication of ezim [goats].

          When the sons of Ya’akov showed to their father the blood-stained coat of their brother Yosef, which animal’s blood stood in substitution for the blood of Yosef? The blood of an ez [goat], Beloved.

          Or perhaps the patriarch being recalled is not Ya’akov at all, but another of his generation – namely Y’hudah, from whom the Messiah would be descended. Do you recall what animal was agreed by Y’hudah and Tamar to serve as the price for a time of intimacy between them?   It was an ez [goat], Beloved. Genesis 38:17.

          Yosef wore shesh. Ya’akov and Y’hudah were closely associated with ezim.

          Hmmmmn. I wonder if a pattern might be emerging.

          Are we perhaps going to see the stories of all of the avot [patriarchs] played out in the curtains of the Mish’kan?

The Third Layer of Coverings

 

          Over the goat’s hair curtains, The Holy One told Moshe to stretch a covering made of rams’ skins, which were to be dyed red.

You are to make a covering for the tent

of orot ayilim [rams' skins] dyed red . . .
[Exodus 26:14(a)]

Let’s see, was there a patriarch who was associated in any way with an ayil [i.e., a ram]?

Oh yes, I believe a young man named Yitschak once received his life in substitution for that of an ayil [ram].  Genesis 22:13.   And His father, Avraham, slew the ram in place of Yitschak, and thereby received his son back from the realm of the dead.

The Outer Covering

 

          And finally, over the rams’ skins the Holy One told Moshe to stretch one final covering – an outer covering made of something Torah calls orot tachashim.

. . . and a covering of orot tachashim

[is to be placed] above[4].

[Exodus 26:14(b)]

          The word orot means skins. The phrase orot tachashim, therefore, means the skins of tachashim  — the plural form of the noun tachash, tav, chet, shin.

          But what on earth is a tachash?  The term has simply never come up in Torah before. It is clothed in mystery. It is not even believed by the authors of Strong’s Concordance to be Hebrew in origin.

          Some translators a long time ago decided to take a wild guess and render the phrase orot tachashim as ‘badger skins’.  That is what some translations of the Torah still say.  Other translators speculated that since historical rumor has it the Sea of Reeds was filled with sea cows [aquatic creatures something like dolphins or manatees], and since Bedouin’s living in the middle east have long worn sandles made of the hide of those aquatic creatures, what the Holy One must have meant by the phrase orot tachashim was ‘sea cow hides’ like the Bedouin’s use for sandals. One Talmudic author actually opined that the Holy One created a special creature  — a one horned beast — just for this purpose.

However, the truth is that the real meaning of the word tachash is undisclosed. No one alive today – including the author, of course — really knows exactly what species of animal the Holy One meant when he used the plural form of tachash.

Keeping with the theme of the curtains being representative of the participants in the narrative of Genesis, however, can I offer my own theory? 

Think back with me to the Garden.

As you will recall, the Serpent [in Hebrew, nachash, nun, chet, shin] convinces Adam and Chava to lo sh’ma the instructions of the Holy One and ingest the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Adam and Chava are then judged by the Holy One for their sin. Before they are cast out from the Garden of intimacy with The Holy One into the world to toil for their own food, however, the Holy One does something wonderful for them – do you remember what it was?

He clothed them, Beloved, with ‘garments of skin’.  We are not told the identity of the animals whose skins were used for these special coverings of grace.  I suspect, Beloved – but of course do not pretend to be able to prove – that the animals in question were tachashim.  

After all, the work of the nachash [Serpent], led to the downfall of man. Nachash is a Hebrew word picture showing a son/heir [nun], coming to a chuppah [chet], and experiencing a manifestation of the Divine Presence [shin]. As we know, in Adam and Chava’s situation, because of their sin, this encounter with the Divine Presence resulted in judgment.

But we trust in Messiah that the situation will be different for us – and that when we encounter the Divine Presence we will bask in His goodness, and glory and blessing.

What does this have to do with the outer covering of the Mish’kan – the covering our Divine Bridegroom told Moshe we were to asah out of orot tachashim?

Ah, can you see it now?  What better picture of Messiah’s redemptive work could there possibly be than the substitution, in the Hebrew word picture I just described in connection with the word nachash [serpent], for the son/heir, of the covenant sign of the execution stake (cross)?  That is, you see, exactly what you see if you substitute the Hebrew letter tav [‘t ‘sound] for the Hebrew letter nun [‘n’ sound] at the beginning of the word nachash, thereby transforming the word into tachash.

In other words, the Hebrew word picture which the Hebrew word tachash draws for us is the approaching of the chuppah of God through the covering of the sign of the execution stake (cross). 

The Messiah is the Mish’kan, Beloved.

Everything in the Mish’kan was designed to point us to Him.

But Why Do We Need To Study

All These Tedious Details?

          The narrative portions of Torah – stories of Creation, the Flood, the call of Avraham, the interaction between the Holy One and our ancestors, and our ancestors and the world’s leaders, the Exodus, the Matan Ha-Torah [giving of the Torah] on Har Sineh [Mount Sinai] – these all fascinate us, at times even holding us on the edge of our seats.  But detailed, technical passages like today’s aliyah?  Well, most of us tend to struggle with them[5].

          Moreover, the Mish’kan [Tabernacle] is actually only going to be used during the last 39 years of the desert wanderings and the first four hundred years after Y’hoshua led the Redeemed Remnant of Israel in taking possession of Kana’an.  After that, it was replaced by the Bayit Ha-Mik’dash [the Temple].  

          Moreover, during most of the 440 or so years the Mish’kan existed before it was replaced, it was often separated from the very ark it was supposed to house – first because the ark was captured by the Ph’lisht’im [Philistines] (see I Samuel 4:10-11), and then because when the Ph’lisht’im relinquished it, no one dared (or cared) to return it to the Mish’kan where it belonged (see I Samuel 6:13 – 7:1).

          Why then, we may ask, is so much attention devoted to something which was destined to be so “temporary” in the great scheme of things?

          The only other place in Torah where meticulous building/design specifications like this are given is the account of the ark [Hebrew teivah] that the Holy One told Noach to build. Interestingly, Torah does not just tell us that the detailed instructions for the ark were given and received – it proceeds to list those instructions very meticulously, one by one.  Do you remember how the Holy One told Noach exactly what kind of wood to use, exactly how he was to waterproof it, exactly how many cubits every single part of the ark was to be, exactly how many stories the ark was to have and exactly how each story was to be arranged and used, etc. Genesis 6:14 ff. 

          The ark that Noach built was ‘temporary’ too.

          Temporary does not mean unimportant.  It just means ‘temporary’. 

          Perhaps detail is even more important for things that are temporary[6].

Oy vey!

Detail That Would Cross A Rabbi’s Eyes!

          But why did the Holy One have all this detail recorded for posterity?  Wouldn’t it have been enough just to say:  “The Holy One told Noach to build an ark, and gave him its specifications, and Noach built it exactly to those specifications”, and leave it at that. 

          Why do we need to know what kind of wood, how wide, tall, etc.?  

          Turning our attention back to parsha T’rumah, and particularly to today’s aliyah, wouldn’t it have been enough for the Holy One to say: “The Holy One told Moshe to have the Redeemed Community build a three-chambered structure for chaperoned betrothal interactions and the acting out of His Divine passion play, and gave him the specifications for it, and the Redeemed Community built it exactly to those specifications”?

          I think not. The Holy One did not, I do not believe, include these lengthy passages in Torah just to “weed out” casual readers or give those of His people with insomnia something to read at bedtime as an alternative to counting sheep. While I am not quite the wide-eyed “mystic” I was early in life, I still cling to the belief that not a single letter or pen stroke of Torah is superfluous or unnecessary.

          As Y’shua said, not a yod or “tittle” shall pass away from the Torah [Matthew 5:18]; hence, not even a letter or pen stroke, much less an entire passage, should be ignored or considered unimportant.

          While I am leery, therefore, of “super-spiritualizing” every word describing the Mish’kan as some authors have done, I do believe that hidden in the midst of the intricate details of passages like the one we read today lie extremely profound, semi-secret meanings and messages.

This Is A Test

          More importantly, however, I believe that the details and specifications the Holy One gives regarding the Mish’kan are intended to serve as a “test”.  Will the Redeemed Community just “flow with the Spirit”, and design her own Mish’kan, according to her own desires, doctrines, and tastes? 

          Will she appoint a committee, and choose from among design plans purchased from professional architects? 

          Will she build a religious shrine, like her pagan neighbors, to impress the world, and make her comfortable when she does her “religious stuff”?  

          Or did she really mean it when she said “na’aseh  . . . v’nish’ma” [we will do/build exactly what the Holy One says, and we will respond to the Holy One’s Voice the way a lamb responds to the voice of his shepherd]. 

          We, are given the same basic test today.  Voices around us say “throw out all those detailed instructions of the Torah” – details like:

-    what aspects of the Holy One’s creation He intended for us to eat and not eat;

-    what day we rest from work and focus entirely upon our relationship with the Holy One;

-    what days we celebrate (and do not celebrate);

-    how we educate and train our children

-    how we conduct our business relationships; and

-    how we relate to the poor, the widow, the fatherless, and the sojourner in our midst. 

          Our own flesh says “whatever feels good (or draws a crowd) DO IT”. 

          English mistranslations of the writings of Shaul of Tarsus in the B’rit Chadasha are quoted by well-meaning friends as well as anti-Semites to caution us against – or condemn us for — “going back under the LAW”. 

          But the very message of parsha T’rumah – and indeed the entire Bible – is that the Holy One is a God of detail.  Part of the wonder and beauty of the Holy One is that He does not leave us to our own devices.  He instructs us, and teaches us, in great detail – like a caring and wise master craftsman teaches an apprentice.  He gives, in Torah, with all its mitzvot, mishpatim, and chukot, a Divinely designed framework within which He who designed us, and knows what is best for us and what is harmful to us, instructs us to live out our lives. 

          The Holy One gives us, in Torah, with all its specific instructions, a Divine measuring rod against which to measure and constantly monitor the quality of our relationship with Him. 

          The Holy One gives us, in Torah, a Constitution, a blueprint, and a full-length mirror to look into. 

Who Is That In The Details?

          Folk wisdom of the day says “The Devil is in the details”.  I see it differently. At least when it comes to Torah, it is not the Devil but the Holy One Who is in the details.  I have found that the Devil shuns details, preferring instead to lurk in the dark, shady nether regions of vague generality.

          The mitzvot, mishpatim, and chukot of Torah are like the dimensions and specifications of the Holy One gave concerning the Mish’kan.  We are to take them seriously, and build our lives according to the detailed specifications they contain – not just how we “feel led” or think – or are told by religious leaders — is right. 

          Because, never forget, just as Messiah is the Mish’kan, we who are united with Messiah are the Mish’kan as well!  We are finely crafted architecture.  It is in the details that we reflect the majesty and creativity of the Architect. 

          At the beginning of parsha T’rumah the Holy One’s instructions to us were:

“make/build Me a Mish’kan

 so that I may dwell in them”

[Exodus 25:8].

          The goal of building the Mish’kan is not to create a “House of God”, but to set apart a place for Him within each of His people. Each individual who walks in the way of Torah becomes a microcosm of the Mish’kan: a living, breathing bastion of holiness.

          So let us take a deep breath, get our focus – and proceed. Get a cup of caffeine if you need one, and splash a little living water on your face, and then let’s plod on.

          After all, we are in the midst of a God-encounter. The Holy One our God is speaking! He is telling Moshe things that angels long to understand. And if we are really going to be privileged to build on earth an accurate scale model of the Heavenly reality our Divine Bridegroom wants the world to see, well . . . we are going to have to get the details right. 

          And remember, despite all the voices which scream at you to be like everyone else and just do whatever you feel “the Spirit” lead you to do, the closing words of the Holy One in today’s aliyah still call us to something more substantial. For our Divine Bridegroom Himself has instructed us:

Set up the Mish’kan

according to the pattern shown to you on the mountain.
[Exodus 26:30]


[1] The linen curtains are to consist of four separate colors of linen yarn [white, blue, purple, and scarlet] interwoven together.

[2] The sequence of colors presented is white, then blue, then purple, and finally scarlet. The color blue is the color that The Holy One will instruct us to dye at least one string or cord the tzitzit fringes on the end of their garments. to remind us of His perfect Torah. Numbers15:37-41. The color scarlet [sometimes translated crimson] was a dye obtained from a worm-like creature, which seems symbolic of the sinful nature of man. Isaiah 1:18.  Between these colors is purple, a color that is a combination of blue and red – perhaps pointing to both the mission and the dual nature of Messiah.

[3] We will later discover that the ez, or goat, is the animal most frequently employed as a surrogate for a sinful man in connection with the making of korbanot chatatat  [sin offerings].

[4]  This latter covering would be the only set of curtains visible to anyone other than a kohen (priest) or Levi (Levite).

[5] Those who want still more detail, diagrams, and schematics, as well as an interesting –albeit anti-Torah biased — analysis based upon something similar to gematria [hidden meanings of numbers] may wish to visit the following webpage:           

http://www.hooper-home.net/TEMPLE/Chap3~04.htm

            [6] Or, perhaps, just perhaps, the Holy One gave this detail in order that the Mish’kan could one day be rebuilt.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Tabernacle: Fellowship at His Table

READINGS:          Torah T’rumah                Exodus 25:23-40 

                                    Haftarah:                              I Kings 6:1-6 

                                    B’rit Chadasha:                 Matthew 5:27-30

 

“And you are to set the Bread of the Presence on the table

before Me always.“  

[Exodus 25:30] 

          The camp of the redeemed has fallen eerily silent.  Do you feel it, Beloved?

          Why is it eerily silent in the camp? It is eerily silent because Moshe has ascended the mountain, entered the great Cloud that rests on the summit of Sinai, and been caught up in a great ball of consuming fire.

          It is silent in the camp because the friend of our Divine Bridegroom has literally been transported to someplace else – some place we cannot go. 

          We sit in camp wondering where Moshe went, what has become of him, and when – or if — he will ever return.

          Moshe, meanwhile, is enjoying a grand tour of something absolutely wonderful – something eternal, boundless, limitless, and perfect in every way.

          What the Holy One is showing Moshe, I believe, is the eternal spiritual reality after which the earthly Mish’kan [Tabernacle] is to be patterned. 

          Let me take a moment to explain.

Compare the Mount Sinai Experience of Moshe

with the Isle of Patmos Experience

of Yochanan the Revelator

          Consider the similarity in concept to the things the Holy One is showing Moshe and the things the Holy One showed the prophet Yochanan near the end of the book of Revelation, in chapter 21:10 ff, concerning the ‘New Jerusalem’ which will be revealed on the ‘new’ earth at the end of the Messiah’s millennial reign.

1. A physical structure with Dimensions and Specifications

          The Holy One showed Moshe a structure and revealed dimensions and specifications for materials. Likewise for Yochanan.  In Moshe’s case, what was revealed was a tabernacle with a courtyard and ‘doors’ of entry, built around the dwelling place of the Holy One; in Yochanan’s case, what was revealed was a city with walls and gates built around the dwelling place of the Holy One[1].

2. A Throne

          At the center of the tabernacle structure the Holy One showed Moshe the ark of the covenant and its ‘mercy seat’ – with the outstretched wings of two offsetting cherubim forming the shape of a throne for the God of Avraham, Yitschak and Ya’akov, who agreed to meet with Moshe ‘between the wings of the cherubim’. At the center of the ‘New Jerusalem’ structure, on the other hand, the Holy One showed Yochanan a similar Divine throne.

3. A 2-dimensional source of abundant food/provision

          In the tabernacle vision the Holy One showed Moshe a place where food was set out in abundance — in the form of bread — in two stacks; to Yochanan the Holy One showed a similar place, where food in abundance – this time in the form of fruit — was being produced by trees of life[2].

4. A Perpetual Source of Pure, Unadulterated Light

          In the tabernacle vision the Holy One showed Moshe light emanating from a menorah, where the purest of oil burned eternally in the bowls of a 7-branched device looking something like a candelabra; to Yochanan, the Holy One showed light emanating from the seven-fold spirit of God[3], ‘the glory of God’ and the lamp of ‘the Lamb’.[4]

          There are many more parallels between the accounts, but just considering those I have mentioned thus far are you beginning to understand that the Mish’kan represented much, much more than a physical tent, and that each of its furnishings represented something much more significant than its physical function? 

          Good. Armed with that understanding let us step back into the top-of-the mountain God-encounter that the Writer of Torah has memorialized for us in the Mish’kan discourse.

More Chambers, More Furnishings

          All this week our readings from Torah have consisted of specific instructions our Divine Bridegroom has given Moshe explaining exactly how he wants the Mish’kan to be built. 

          In Monday’s aliyah we read the general instructions regarding the Mish’kan itself.

          In Tuesday’s aliyah we were introduced to the centerpiece of the whole Mish’kan revelation – a rectangular chest which a throne-like cover which we were told to build to house the tablets of the Torah.

          The words the Holy One has used to describe this other worldly chest/throne furnishing have been very descriptive. 

          They helped us virtually visualize the rough grain of the special shittim wood the Holy One wants us to use in the construction of the chest itself.

          They helped us gaze in wonder at the shimmering sheets of hammered gold with which the Holy One wanted us to inlay and overlay the receptacle.

          And they caused us to tremble inside as we glimpsed through a glass darkly the stunning image of the holy golden keruvim, wings spread wide, facing each other and touching, which the Holy One told us to sculpt atop the box.

          The instructions given concerning the aron have again impressed upon us the importance to the Holy One of us us sh’mar-ing the signs of our covenant with Him. We are to be ever cognizant of the fact that we are not just intended to be recipients of His Divine communications – we are also called to be jealous guardians of them.

          The words which our Divine Bridegroom has spoken over us to seal us in covenant relationship with Him are PRICELESS.  His prophetic declarations over us – as memorialized for us on stone tablets inscribed with His Holy Finger — are to be considered by far and away the most precious thing in our camp as well as in our individual lives.  We are to accord them center stage. We are to treasure them, and keep watch over them diligently, and guard them with our lives.

          This realization has indeed been stunning.  But the Mish’kan discourse is far from over.  In fact the revelation of the aron is merely the beginning of the messages the Holy One wants to convey to us in this very special season.

          After all, there are yet two more chambers of the Mish’kan — and six more furnishings — concerning which our Divine Bridegroom has yet to utter one word of instruction to us.  So let us move on.

The Design and Furnishing of the Ante-Chamber

Called the ‘Holy Place’

          In today’s aliyah of Torah the Holy One will shift Moshe’s attention from the ‘k’dosh k’doshim’ or ‘Holy of Holies’ chamber where the aron is to be stationed to the adjacent room called the ‘Holy Place’ chamber.  

          Later in our study of Exodus we will find out that there are going to be three furnishings altogether in this particular chamber – the table of showbread, the menorah or candlestick, and the golden altar of incense. This week our Divine Bridegroom is only going to give Moshe instructions concerning the first two of these furnishings.

 

          First we will study the Holy One’s instructions concerning the very special table He wants this chamber to house to symbolize the abundant spiritual and physical nourishment which the Holy One has obligated Himself by covenant to provide for His people on earth as it is in Heaven.

          Then we will shift our focus to the instructions the Holy One gives concerning the very special light fixture He wants this chamber to have in order that it be flooded with pure, unadulterated Light day and night.


Come to the Table

[Exodus 25:23-30]

 

          Moshe was instructed by the Holy One to asah in the ‘Holy Place’ a very small but very special table-like furnishing – a furnishing our English Bibles call the Table of Shewbread. The Holy One’s instructions concerning this unique furnishing begin and end as follows:

V’asita shulchan atsei shitim

Make a table of shittim wood

 

amatayim orko ve’amah rochbo ve’amah vachetsi komato.

2 cubits long, one cubit wide, and 1 and a half cubits high.

 

***

Venatata al-ha-shulchan lechem panim lefanai tamid

On this table showbread is to be placed before Me at all times.

[Exodus 25:23, 30]

          The Hebrew word our English Bibles translate as ‘table’ is shulchan [pronounced shool - khawn’]. The Hebrew phrase our English Bibles translate as showbread is lechem paneh [pronounced leh-khehm paw - neh’].

          Let us look deeper into the two descriptive terms that our Covenant Partner in Heaven has used to introduce this very interesting article of prophetic furniture.

1. What is a “Shulchan”

          The passage we are reading marks the first time in Torah the word shulchan has appeared anywhere in Holy Writ.  This is a ‘first instance’.  Let us stop for a moment therefore and consider the substance of what this Hebraic concept describes.

          If you look at a modern Hebrew-English dictionary you will find that the Hebrew word shulchan means table – specifically a banqueting table spread with food.  That is certainly accurate . . . as far as it goes.  Remember, however, that this week’s parsha is all about looking intently at one thing, but being Divinely enabled to see through that thing to the essence that underlies it. We are to look at something we are told specifically is but a shadow, and try to see the object that cast the shadow.

          So let us not be content in our attempts to visualize the shulchan of the Mis’kan with just seeing with natural eyes an ordinary table such as we would encounter on earth.  Let us always push deeper into the Hebraic essence of the words our Divine Bridegroom has chosen to use.  

          Let us get into the Hebraic imagery underlying the word the Holy One chose to use.  The Hebrew word shulchan is a noun derived from the Hebrew verb shalach [a verb formed by combining the Hebrew consonants shin[5], lamed[6], and chet[7]]. Those of you who have been studying Torah with the Rabbi’s son for a while now have seen this verb many before. We learned earlier in our studies that this verb is generally translated into English as to send out or to set forth.  It is a noun derived from this verb that is used to describe those Messiah Y’shua has sent out.  In English they are called ‘apostles’; in Hebrew, the term is shalach’im.

          To convert the verb shalach into a noun requires the adding of a suffix. In the case of apostles [shalachim] the suffix used is the yod-mem sofit [English transliteration ‘im], which is the standard Hebrew suffix indicating plurality and masculinity.   In the case of the related noun shulchan, with which we are dealing, the suffix added is not a yod-mem sofit suffix, but a nun sofit suffix, consisting merely of the exaggerated form of the letter nun which according to Hebrew grammar appears whenever a word ends with an ‘n’ sound. 

          In Hebrew, adding a nun sofit suffix to a verb root creates what is called an agential noun. An agential noun literally characterizes a person as being one who engages in whatever action the verb is describing.  Just as in English we describe one who does a lot of running as a runner and one who does a lot of joking as a joker, so one who does a lot of what the Hebrew verb shalach implies – i.e. sending out or setting forth — would be described in Hebrew as a shulchan

          We will come back to the Hebrew word shulchan and explore it a little further later in the study. For now, however, we need to turn our focus to what exactly it is that is being sent out or set forth.

          The text of Torah calls that which is to be set forth on this furnishing as ‘lechem paneh’.  We know that lechem means ‘bread’.  But the Holy One makes it clear that the bread He wants us to send out or set forth on this piece of furniture is not just any old kind of lechem – it is a very special kind of bread called paneh.

2. What Meaneth “Paneh”?

 

          The Hebrew word paneh is made up of the letters peh[8], nun[9], and hey[10], Paneh literally means face — more particularly, in most cases, the expressions of a face as that face reveals the prevailing emotions the person in question is experiencing – for instance, wrath, delight, fear, joy, burden, etc

          The roots of the paneh thread go all the way back to the Creation account. In Genesis 1:2, we were told that the ruach Elohim [Spirit of God] brooded al-panei[11] ha-mayim — upon the face of the waters. The panei concept was expounded upon in the narrative of Ya’akov’s encounter with the Angel of the Holy One by the River Yabbok, when Ya’akov was anticipating with great dread the arrival of his brother Esau and his army of 400 armed men. After the struggle with the Angel, and the blessing and change of name, Ya’akov, now Yisrael, called the name of the place Penei-el [literally, the face of God], saying “for I have seen God face to face [al-panei], and my life is spared and not snatched away”. Genesis 32:30.

          Conceptually then, the furnishing we are talking about was to be the place where the kohanim [priests] who came seeking audience with the Holy One on behalf of the Redeemed Community were to see the Holy One’s “Face” as He spread forth a banqueting table of the Bread of Life for them.

          I believe therefore that what the Holy One showed Moshe on the mountain and which He wanted to replicate in the earthly Mish’kan in the form of the  ‘table’ was a shadowy image of one who sends out [apostles, disciples, ambassadors] and sets forth the paneh – i.e, the face of the Divine Bridegroom

          For those who would come to the earthly Mish’kan – or to the Heavenly reality of which the Mish’kan was merely designed to serve as a replica – in pride or presumption, without the covering of the blood of the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, the Face seen would be a Face full of burden and of wrath.

          But for those who would come to the earthly Mish’kan – or to the Heavenly reality of which the Mish’kan was merely designed to serve as a replica — humbly, sincerely, and with an effectual covering of the blood of the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, however, the Face they would see would be a Face full of joy, full of favor and full of light. Such people would see the Face of a Father welcoming a prodigal.

 

          As Yochanan the writer of Revelation described the latter day version:

. . . His servants will serve Him.

They will see His Face,

and His Name will be on their foreheads.

 [Revelation 22:4]

          Here are the specific instructions the Holy One gave Moshe regarding the shulchan that was to be constructed for tabernacle to demonstrate the provision, presence, and countenance of our God usward:

Its Dimensions

Two cubits are to be its length, and a cubit its breadth,

and one and a half cubits its height.

Its Exterior and Interior Lining

Overlay it with zahav tahor  [pure gold]

 

Its Crown Molding and Rim

 

. . . and make zer zahav  [a gold molding] around it.
 

Make misgeret [a rim] of a handbreadth around it.

And make zer zahav  [a golden molding] on its rim around it.

Its Rings

 

 Make four tabe’ot zahav [rings of gold] for it,

and put the rings in the four corners that are on its four feet.
 the rings are to be close to the rim,

for places for the poles to carry the table.

Its Poles

 

 Make the badim [poles] of shittim wood,

and overlay them with gold,

 that the table may be carried with them.
 

Its Vessels

 

Make its dishes, its spoons,

 its ladles, and its bowls to pour out offerings with.

 Of pure gold shall are you to craft them.

 

Its Purpose

 Set lechem panim [bread of the presence (lit., faces)]

 on the table before me tamid [always].

[Exodus 25:23-30]

           Later in Torah our Covenant Partner in Heaven will give far more specific instructions regarding the use to which this Table is to be put.  The lechem paneh, we will discover, will consist of twelve cakes or loaves of bread made from “fine flour”.

          These twelve cakes/loaves will be laid out in two rows of six cakes/loaves each.

          These cakes/loaves will be replaced [made ‘new’] every Shabbat

          A bowl of frankincense will to be placed alongside the loaves and burnt there by the priests as ‘a memorial portion, an offering made by fire to the Holy One’. 

          The bread will remain before the Holy One continually ‘on behalf of B’nei Yisrael, an everlasting covenant’.

          Aharon and his sons [the friends of the bride in the Divine betrothal paradigm] are going to be instructed eat of this same kind of bread ‘in a sacred place’, as it will be specifically said to be ‘for them’.  Leviticus 24:5-9. 

The Timelessness of This Very Special Bread

          The Holy One is eternal, meaning that He exists outside of, and is not bound or limited by, time.  The True Bread of Life in Heaven – the Heavenly reality after which the physical showbread we have been talking about in connection with the earthly Mish’kan is patterned – is eternal as well.  But what about the physical bread which the Holy One directs us to set forth on the shulchan?

          The showbread is in one sense related to what we think of as the past, serving as a perpetual reminder of the bread shared by Melchizedek with Avram [Genesis 14], as well as the bread shared by Avraham with the angelic messengers in his time of visitation [Genesis 18], as well as the perfectly measured quantities of manna which the Holy One rained upon the Community of the Redeemed morning after morning, six days a week, for 40 years. 

          In another sense, however, the bread of the shulchan also related to what we think of as the future. After all, the bread the Holy One instructed us to set forth on the shulchan provided a beautiful prophetic picture of Messiah, who was born in Beit Lechem [literally, the house of bread] and Who, as one of the signs of His identity, provided a multiplicity of bread to feed multitudes. Of course, Messiah Himself aided us in making this connection by specifically identifying Himself as the ‘Bread of Life’.

          The testimony of the Shulchan will be that in the Holy One’s Presence there is no lack of provision or sustenance.   He continually offers to bring us to His banqueting table. Hence we say:  Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha-Olam.  HaMotzee Lechem, mein ha-aretz.  [Blessed are You, O Holy One our God, King of the Universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth.].

Additional Details Concerning the Table-Like Furnishing

          The Holy One made it clear that the Table-like furnishing we were to build was, like the Ark, to be built with shittim wood overlaid with pure gold. Also like the Ark the table-like furnishing was to have specially-fitted gold rings and gold-covered wood staves for transportation. Sh’mot 25:23-28. 

          Unlike the Ark however, the table-like furnishing was to have its own set of re-usable implements  — a set of gold trays [which the Divine Bridegroom will later reveal are to be used to hold the Bread], a set of gold cups [which He will later reveal are to be used for holding the frankincense], and a set of gold bowls and pitchers [which He will later reveal are to be used to hold wine].  Sh’mot 25:29. 

Come to the Light

[Exodus 25:31-39]

          The third item of Heavenly furniture the Holy One showed to Moshe and instructed Moshe to replicate on earth was like unto a lampstand. The Hebrew word used is menorah, meaning a metal frame containing a burning and a shining light which glistens

          What exactly did the Holy One show Moshe in Heaven?  Yochanan [John] the Revelator would describe the light source he saw in the Heavenly Throne Room as “seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God”.  Revelation 4:5 (b).

          The finite replica of this Heavenly Lightsource which the Holy One instructed Moshe to build for the earthly Mish’kan also consisted of seven lamps. These lamps were all built onto a base. A vertical shaft or stem was to be caused to arise out of the base, and three curved shafts  were to be caused to branch off of the stem on each of its sides.  At the top of each branch and at the top of the shaft was to be a bowl, to hold oil and a wick, to make a lamp.  Each branch was to have three decorative “cups” in the shape of almond flowers; the shaft was to have four such cups (making a total of 22, which, interestingly enough, is the exact number of letters that make up the Hebrew Alef-beit].

          The gold from which the menorah was to be made was described by the Holy One  [a] pure, and [b] ‘beaten and turned work’.  Furthermore, the Holy One gave the following specifications for the menorah.

Its Branches

 There are to be six kanim [branches] going out of its sides:

 three branches of the menorah out of its one side,

and three branches of the menorah out of its other side;

 

 

Its Cups
[make it with] . . . three gevi’im [cups] made like almond blossoms in one branch,

a chaftor [bud] and f’rach [a flower];

and three cups made like almond blossoms in the other branch,

 a bud and a flower.

Its Lamps

Make seven nerot [lamps] for it, and to light its lamps

to give light to the space in front of it.
 Its snuffers and its snuff dishes shall be of pure gold.
 It shall be made of a talent of pure gold,

with all these accessories.

Its Pattern

 See that you make them after tavnitam [the pattern for them],

which has been shown to you on the mountain.
[Exodus 25:31-40]

          The menorah was to be placed on the south side of the Holy Place, opposite the Table.

          Its seven olive-oil lamps were to be lit each day at twilight and filled each morning. Exodus 30:7-8

          It was by the light of the menorah that Aharon was to arrange the bread of the presence on the Table and to offer incense on the golden altar of incense.  This furnishing was, therefore, truly a prophetic picture of the light of Messiah shining in the darkness.

          As Yochanan the Revelator explained:

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it,

For the Glory of the Holy One gives it light,

and the Lamb is its lamp.

[Revelation 21:23]

Relating the Shulchan and Menorah to the Ark

          Note that both the Table and the Menorah of the Mish’kan also each represent and constitute reminders of a different item contained within the ark. The Table of Shewbread was representative of the jar of manna the Holy One directed to be preserved in the Ark to serve as a testimony of the faithful and miraculous provision of the Holy One for His people. The menorah, on the other hand, was representative of the Light of the Torah, the inscribed stone tablets of which were the Ark’s most treasured contents. 

          The theme and essential teaching of the inner courts of the Mish’kan should be becoming very clear. It is this:  Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds from the Mouth of the Holy OneDeuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4. 

 

          After all, if we merely eat the physical bread which He provides for us on the earth [i.e, if we merely seek Him for material things], we will die in the desert as did our fathers.  If, however, we sh’ma His words of life[12], and sh’mar His instructions for living[13], and asah the mitzvot and mishpatim He designs for us[14], do you see what awaits us? The testimony of the three witnesses of the inner chamber – i.e., the shulchan, the menorah, and the ark is that we will dwell in the Holy One’s presence,  will eat at His table, and will walk in His Light.

And Speaking of the Bread of Life,

and of the Light By Which We Walk . . .

 

          In the reading I have suggested today from the B’rit Chadasha Messiah Y’shua teaches us the deeper meaning behind and reveals the heart of the Holy One in the words of the Torah.  In the passage assigned for today, Y’shua actually addresses the multiple layers of meaning and application the Creator designed into the Aseret HaDibrot [Ten Words/Commandments] instruction relative to na’af [i.e., adultery/infidelity].  Here is how the apostolic writers record the Master’s teaching:

“You have heard that it was said,

“Lo tinaf” [i.e., “You are not to commit adultery”]
 but I tell you that everyone who gazes at a woman with ta’avah [lust]

has committed na’af [infidelity/impropriety] with her already in his heart.

 If your right eye causes you to chet

[i.e, miss the mark of Torah’s design for righteousness living],

pluck it out and throw it away from you.

For it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish,

than for your whole body to be cast into Gehinnom.
 If your right hand causes you to chet

[i.e, miss the mark of Torah’s design for righteousness living],

cut it off, and throw it away from you:

 for it is profitable for you that one of your evarim [members] should perish,

and not your whole basar [body] be thrown into Gehinnom.

[Matthew 5:27-30]

          To fully understand this teaching of Y’shua one needs to compare it to the teaching He just gave regarding the Torah instruction lo tirtzach [you are not to murder – or in any way, physically, emotionally, intellectually, or verbally tear another human being asunder or rip him to pieces].  Y’shua’s formula of teaching Torah was set forth in connection with that discussion.  First, He stated the specific words Torah employed.  Then, He proceeded to dissect various layers of meaning the specific words used in Torah have beyond their obvious literal interpretation. Finally, He discussed what punishment was appropriate, in the Holy One’s eyes, for an intentional violation of that provision of Torah

          In Y’shua’s teaching on adultery we can see the exact same pattern. First, Y’shua discusses the specific Torah provision in question [in this case, lo tinaf]. Then, Y’shua proceeded to discuss layers of meaning beyond the physical act [following a person not one’s spouse with one’s eyes, while contemplating engaging in acts of infidelity that person]. Then, Y’shua ended His discourse about adultery with a discussion of appropriate punishment [cutting off and casting away eye or hand].

          Y’shua wanted everyone to know that the Hebrew word na’af [nun, alef, feh sofit], which is the operative verb root in the Sinaitic phrase we translate into English as ‘You will not commit adultery’, as used by the Holy One at Sianai was intended to encompass far, far more than a physical act of inappropriate intimacy.

          All Hebrew verbs, Y’shua’s Torah teaching in the Sermon on the Mount makes clear, can be understood according to and interpreted in light of the principle ‘what you sow you shall also reap’. 

          The Hebrew verb na’af, which the Holy One chose to employ, therefore, covers of the whole realm of infidelity, from the seed form/phase of voyeurism [looking at any girl or woman not one’s wife or any boy or man not one’s husband as something other than as a precious child of the Holy One, designed as someone else’s help-mate], through the cultivation form/phase of flirtatious talk [including body language], through the nurturing form/phase of emotional seduction, through the various maturing phases involving physical contact leading up to the physical act of inappropriate intimacy itself.

          Secondly, it would perhaps help to understand the ‘appropriate punishment’ part of the passage if one first reads I Corinthians 12:12-27, which demonstrates another use of “the body” and its “members” — as a Hebraic metaphor, or idiom, referring to the Redeemed Community. Y’shua is using the same metaphor.  He is not advocating self-mutilation.  He is saying, metaphorically, that since Torah requires that persons who commit adultery are (if the act is established by two or more competent, qualified witnesses) to be stoned, or “cut off”, from the Redeemed Community, Y’shua is explaining why the Torah-prescribed solution to the na’af [adultery/infidelity] problem is appropriate and still viable.

nd silver.


[1] See Revelation 22:1(b), and 22:3(b).

[2] See Revelation 22:2.

            [3] See Revelation 4:5(b).

[4] See Revelation 21:23; and 22:5.

[5]  The Hebrew letter shin [v for those who have installed the Hebrew BST font on their computers] is the twenty-first of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alef-beit]. 

[6] The Hebrew letter lamed [l for those who have installed the Hebrew BST font on their computers] is the twelfth of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alef-beit].

[7] The Hebrew letter chet [x for those who have installed the Hebrew BST font on their computers] is the eighth of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alef-beit].

[8] The Hebrew letter peh [p for those who have installed the Hebrew BST font on their computers] is the seventeenth of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alef-beit.

[9] The Hebrew letter nun [n for those who have installed the Hebrew BST font on their computers] is the fourteenth of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alef-beit.

[10] The Hebrew letter hey [h for those who have installed the Hebrew BST font on their computers] is the fifth of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alef-beit.

[11] Panei [peh, nun, yod] is the construct form of the noun paneh [peh, nun, hey].

                [12]  To sh’ma means to listen with open minds to, and hear, and pay attention to, and heed, and receive with gratitude, and internalize.

            [13]  To sh’mar means to cherish, to treasure, to highly value, to carefully watch over to preserve, to guard, and to protect.

                [14]   To asah means to interact creatively with and build something tangible from raw materials, as a potter interacts creatively with and builds something tangible with clay.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Tabernacle: God’s theater for the Passion Play

READINGS:             Torah T’rumah:                        Exodus 25:10-22

                                                 Haftarah:                                    I Kings 5:10-18

                                                B’rit Chadasha              Matthew 5:21-24 

 

  “There I will meet with you . . . ;

I will speak intimately with you of all which I give

in instruction to the Descendants of Israel

[Exodus 25:22]

 

          The Holy One is in the opening part of what I like to call ‘the Mish’kan Discourse’ of Torah.  Throughout this discourse the Creator of Heaven and Earth will give Moshe detailed instructions that he is to follow in building a finite replica on earth of the Holy One’s infinite Heavenly Throne Room. 

          I hope you caught that.  The tent-like structure we are going to be talking about for the rest of Exodus and all through the book of Leviticus is just going to be a replica.

          That is all it was ever intended to be. 

          It is just a replica – a mere shadow, as it were – of a Heavenly reality. Though the replica has long since been destroyed the Heavenly reality underlying it not only still exists today but will continue to exist forever.

          If you understand that truth, you can begin to understand what the writer of Hebrews means when he speaks of the ‘law’ of the service of Tabernacle being a ‘shadow’ [i.e., replica][1] of the good thing which is coming. Hebrews 10:1. See also Hebrews 8:5, which puts Hebrews 10:1 in context, referring to the Mish’kan as:

“ . . . a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow

of that what is in Heaven,

This is why Moshe was told

when he was about to build the Mish’kan

See to it that you make everything

according to the pattern shown to you on the mountain.”

          What is a ‘shadow’?  A shadow is a function of – and constitutes irrefutable evidence of – the presence of light.  If there is no light, there can be no shadow. 

 

            A shadow is the image one sees when some substantive form stands between the one viewing the shadow and the source of light.  A shadow always assumes the shape of the substantive form that intercepts the light rays.

 

          So, the question is, whose shadow does the Mish’kan represent,  any way?

 

          In whose shade does the Holy One want His Betrothed Bride to sit?

The Mish’kan As An Earthly Shadow

of a Heavenly Reality

          While He was alone with Moshe on the mountain the Holy One opened the prophet’s spiritual eyes wide and showed Him something real, substantive, and eternal. Then the Divine Bridegroom gave Moshe the assignment actually to build a replica of what he had seen on earth.

          The Holy One wanted to make absolutely certain that the structure Moshe built was  an accuratge earthly shadow of the stunning Heavenly Reality of which He wanted His newly-betrothed Bride to be constantly reminded.

          Much as an architect commissions the making of a “scale model” of a building he proposes to build so that his client can conceptualize what he is getting, so the Holy One commissioned Moshe to build the earthly Mish’kan in order that an immature but beloved bride-in-training could get a mental picture of the place the Holy One, Her Bridegroom, had prepared for her in the Heavenlies. 

          The Heavenly Reality was the ‘place prepared for you’ the Divine Bridegroom has in store for His Bride. The earthly shadow of that Heavenly Reality was an ornate tent in the desert – a place a young girl, dreaming of marriage and family, could practice by “playing house”.

          In the inner chambers of this earthly replica, surrounded by familiar finite materials of earth, the Holy One graciously agreed for the sake of His Betrothed to receive her for, and commune with her through, structured, pre-planned, well-chaperoned visits.

          The visitations that were to go on there between Bridegroom and Betrothed Bride-in-training in this place were not, however, just ordinary ‘get to know you’ visits. They were not just about tea and conversation. 

          The meetings held in this ‘out of this world’ place were to be the highest form of drama.  Within the chambers of the miniature replica of the Holy One’s Throne Room the Holy One and His Betrothed Bride-to-Be were to play out on earth, in dramatic form, the spiritual truths of the Heavenly Throne Room after which the earthly one was patterned.

          Daily, weekly, monthly, and according to an annual cycle designed by the Holy One from the foundation of the world, costumed characters appointed and trained by the Holy One were to be assigned to portray for the Bride-in-training — and for the entire world – different aspects of the eternal reality of tikkun olam (fixing of the world) which had been accomplished in Heaven long before the Holy One declared His work of creating to be “complete” and rested on the Seventh Day. 

          Lights. Camera.  ACTION!

The Mish’kan as the Theatre

 for the Original “Passion Play”

          Much as some groups today stage annual recreations of historic battles, in full dress and regalia to add an air of authenticity, so our ancestors were called upon to “act out” — in the chambers of this place — and in priestly garb, with props and on cue, the details of eternal salvation and forgiveness of sin wrought and completed by the Holy One long before the serpent ever entered the garden, before the first tid-bit of forbidden fruit ever crossed the lips of Adam, and before the stone crushed the skull of Hevel [Abel].

          The Mish’kan was to be the location of the first “Passion Play”. The events which were to be staged there were for dramatic effect only. They were not intended to have any significance or cleansing power on their own, nor were they ever to be considered independent of the eternal reality of which they were designed to be a picture. 

          They were merely an earthly shadow of the things they portrayed and to which they were designed to call the world’s attention.

A Finite Representation of an Infinite Reality

          It should be stressed that this replica and all its materials and furnishings were finite.  Its earthly dimensions of height, width, and depth are specifically given, while we know that the Heavenly Original after which they were modeled could have no dimensions or limitations whatever.

          If we understand this, we can begin to fathom the fact that Messiah is a Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.  The focus was never intended to be on the replica, or its sacrifices, but on the Originali.e, on the completed, eternal, infinite redemptive work of the Lamb’s blood in which we trust and rest. 

          What was to happen inside the Mish’kan was never intended to accomplish salvation or even remission of sins.  Salvation and remission of sins are infinite and Divine concepts, whose source and essence must be infinite and Divine

          Nothing that could have happened in this finite little replica could effectuate salvation for the participants in the drama, much less for the world. 

          And no blood spilled in this finite little replica could possibly atone for – much less accomplish remission of sins.

          So, you see, the Mish’kan was never intended to be confused with the “real thing”. It was only a teaching tool.

          The point was that the Holy One had already taken care of all that. Before the foundation of the world, long before Creation was declared “complete”, a perfect, holy, unblemished Lamb was slain.  That was the Heavenly Reality. 

          Everything that took place on the altars of the replica were just earthly shadows of the Heavenly Reality.

          The blood of bulls and goats and the ministry of sinful men dressed up in costumes of righteousness, was merely a multi-act play, designed to commemorate the eternal events in which we trust and rest.

          In other words the blood of earthly bulls, lambs, and goats, the incense burned by the earthly High Priest, the loaves placed on the earthly table of Shewbread, the ashes of an earthly red heifer, the incense cloud above the golden altar, etc., were all just stage props – never intended to be the source of actual salvation, forgiveness of sin, or atonement.

          It was like actor Charlton Heston playing Moshe, holding up his staff to part the Red Sea – it was just a picture drawn to burn the image of the true event in your mind.  What you see when you watch the movie the ‘Ten Commandments’ is not the ‘real thing’ – just a dramatic recreation meant to make the events depicted more ‘real’ in your mind.

          Just as Charlton Heston was not Moshe, but was chosen to make us think of Moshe, so Aharon and his sons were not the Holy One’s priests of atonement, but were chosen to make us think of, and long for, Him who was such a Priest.

          Likewise, the flesh burnt on the altar of the finite replica on earth was not – was never intended to be — the means of forgiveness of sin. Nor was the goat blood sprinkled on the mercy seat the means – or ever intended to be the means — of true and lasting atonement.

          What these things did, however, was to point us to, portray for us in vivid pictorial form, and make us long for, the “real thing” which is His work alone. 

          The ‘stuff’ of the mish’kan was, after all, a t’rumah – something lifted up, and separated out, to inspire us, and call us toward the higher ground which the Holy One created us to inherit.


The Centerpiece of it All: the Aron Ha-Kodesh

          The Holy One’s instructions for the building of the Mish’kan begin in earnest today with the most important part of the structure — the ark of the Covenant. 

          Why is this box-like furnishing the most important part of the structure? Because what it corresponds to is nothing less than the Throne Upon Which the Holy One Sits in Heaven.        

          Remember, throughout this study that every part of the Mish’kan is going to correspond directly to something John the Revelator will later describe in Revelation 4 and 5.  What the Holy One showed John and what the Holy One showed Moshe were the same thing. John and Moshe just saw these things from different perspectives, and used different words of human language to describe them.

          What was the first thing John saw when he passed through the open door into Heaven? He described it as ‘a throne, and someone sitting upon it’.  Revelation 4:2.   What was the first thing Moshe was shown in his season of visitation? It was the ark.

 

          Why the ark?  Because it was atop the ark that the mercy seat would rest. 

          Why is that important? Because in I Samuel 4:4, I Chronicles 13:6, and II Samuel 6:2 we are told that the Holy One sits ‘enthroned between the cherubim’ – i.e, atop the ark’s mercy seat.  See also Psalm 80:1, Psalm 99:1, and Isaiah 37:16.

          If you want to understand the Mish’kan, therefore, you have to understand that it is at its heart the earthly image of the place where the Holy One sits eternally enthroned.   And if you want to understand the ark of the covenant, you have to understand that it is at its heart the earthly image of the throne from which the Holy One issues the decrees and judgments that affect His people. The ark is, pure and simple, the center of gravity of the Kingdom of God.

          How do you build a realistic replica of the Throne of the King of the Universe on earth?  How do you capture the essence of that majestic an image in earthly substance and space? The Holy One told Moshe to have the Redeemed Community start with two substances — a special kind of wood called shittim and the purest of the pure gold of earth. With these two substances the craftsmen were to asah – i.e., make/build, craft – the most special of all the ‘stage props’ to be used in the Mish’kan’s Divine Passion Play. 

          Here are the Divine Bridegroom’s specific instructions concerning the ark:

. . . asah [build/craft] an ark/chest

of etzei shitim [shittim wood];

* * *

And overlay it with zahav tahor [pure gold], 

overlay it inside and out,

and make all around it a zer zahav [crown molding of gold].  

* * *

And put into the ark the edut [Testimony/Truth] which I will give you[2].

[Exodus 25:11-12, 16]

          What part of the revelation of John does the edut [i.e, testimony] referenced in Exodus 25:16 correspond to?   It corresponds to the Great Scroll.  In Revelation 5:1 the Revelator describes seeing in the Right Hand of Him Who sat upon the throne ‘a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals.’

          Do you now understand that the ark was not just a piece of religious artwork designed by Moshe or some human craftsman? Do you now understand that the Tablets of the Torah were, like the Great Scroll of John’s vision, to bear no man’s signature other than Messiah’s? 

          The ark was designed to be the earthly repository of Heavenly truth.  And for this reason, it had to be the center of everything for all the people the Holy One redeemed. 

 

The Hebrew Word Picture

The word our English Bibles translate as ‘ark’ in Exodus 25:10 is aron, alef, resh, vav, nun sofit, Strong’s Hebrew word #727, pronounced aw-rone.  It is derived from the verb root arah, alef, resh, hey, Strong’s Hebrew word #717, pronounced aw-raw’.  This verb root means to gather, or to harvest.  An aron is thus, in its purest Hebrew form, a box in which the seeds of harvested grain are stored.  The seed, as Messiah would later teach in parable form, is the Word of God

That is, after all, what the ark was built to contain.

          The Hebrew pictograph underlying the word aron is a stunning illustration of the ark’s purpose.  The word is made up of four Hebrew letters  — alef, resh, vav, nun sofit. Alef is the first letter of the Hebrew alef-beit, and represents the source of all things – the Holy One, the Creator.  Resh is a pictograph of a chief, or leader – the head of the household — in action, taking control. Vav is a pictograph of a peg or tack, connecting what came before with what comes after.  Nun sofit is a pictograph representing the ultimate son or heir, Messiah Himself.  The mural presented by these letters in combination is that of the Holy One (alef) establishing Himself as the Head (resh) of a household [the nation of Israel] from which He will bring forth (vav) the Messiah (nun sofit). 

The aron ha-kodesh is thus a promise of a Messianic kingdom that will come to earth in two stages.

First will come a time of planting  — i.e., Messiah’s first advent, foreshadowed in the Holy One’s calendar by the ‘Former Day Festivals’ of Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits and Shavuot [Pentecost].

Then, ultimately, will come a time of harvest — i.e., Messiah’s 2nd advent, foreshadowed in the Holy One’s calendar by the ‘Latter Day Festivals’ of Yom T’ruah [Coronation Day], Yom Kippur [Day of Atonement], and Sukkot [Tabernacles].

The seed will be sown, and then the harvest will be gathered. 

The plowman will overtake the reaper. 

It will happen just as the Holy One has said.

Shittim Wood

          Another fascinating aspect of the aron I would like to focus upon briefly has to do with the special type of wood the Holy One instructs Moshe to use in its construction.  We tend to pass over this detail.  Perhaps we consider all wood the same.

But the Holy One doesn’t. The Holy One made every tree. He designed thousands of species, and He personally instilled each species and genus with special characteristics.  He created many kinds of trees to contain wood suitable for making furniture. We in America, for instance, are partial to oak, mahogany, walnut, cherry, pine, cedar, maple and cyprus. 

But the Holy One created only one species and genus of tree with the kind of wood he wanted for the aron.  Out of all the species and genuses at his disposal, He told Moshe to make the aron of etzei shittim [shittim wood].

Some English Bibles translate shittim as acacia.  That, however, is only an attempt to substitute a term English readers, with Western mindsets, can readily comprehend.

The Hebrew word used by the Holy One in Exodus 25:10 to describe the wood He wants Moshe to use in making the aron is shittim, shin, tet, yod, mem, the masculine plural form of shittah, shin, tet, hey, Strong’s Hebrew word #7848.  This word is derived from the Hebrew verb root shatat, shin, tet, tet, Strong’s Hebrew word #7850, meaning to scourge, and/or to pierce. The wood called shittim is wood that is twisted, tortured by multiple scourgings and piercings.

Remember what I said earlier about the ‘passion play’?

The aron is to be the centerpiece of the mish’kan. It is to be that which gives the mish’kan purpose and meaning, and to which everything in the mish’kan points. And underneath the shimmering gold of the aron is to be a special kind of wood – wood that has known scourging, piercing, and torture.

One can thus see even in the wood selected for the aron the pre-saging of Messiah’s scourging, piercing, and suffering.

Other Instructions Concerning the Aron

          Here are additional instructions the Holy One gave Moshe concerning the aron:

 

 

 

 

The Ark’s Critical Dimensions

Its length is to be two and a half cubits[3],

its breadth a cubit and a half,

and its height a cubit and a half.

 

The Ark’s Exterior and Interior Lining

Overlay it with pure gold.

overlay it inside and outside . . .

 

The Ark’s Crown Molding

. . . and make a gold crown molding around it.

The Ark’s Rings

 Cast four rings of gold for it,

and put them in its four feet.

Two rings are to be on the one side of it,

 and two rings on the other side of it.
The Ark’s Poles

 Make poles of shittim wood,

and overlay them with gold.
 Put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark

to carry the ark.
 The poles are to be in the rings of the ark.

They are not to be taken from it.

 

The Ark

’s contents

 

Put the testimony which I shall give you into the ark.

The Ark’s Kaporet [Cover]
 Make a kaporet [some English versions say mercy seat] of pure gold.

Two and a half cubits shall be its length,

and a cubit and a half its breadth.
 

Make two Keruvim of hammered gold.

Make them at the two ends of the kaporet.
Make one Keruv at the one end,

and one Keruv at the other end.

Make the Keruvim on its two ends of one piece with the kaporet.
 The Keruvim will spread out their wings upward,

covering the mercy seat with their wings,

with their faces toward one another.

The faces of the Keruvim are to be toward the kaporet.
 Put the kaporet on top of the ark,

 and in the aron put the testimony that I will give you.

The Ark’s Purpose

 

 There I will meet with you,

and I will tell you from above the mercy seat,

from between the two Keruvim which are on the ark of the testimony,

 all that I instruct you for the children of Yisra’el.

[Exodus 25:10-22]

 

          The ark described in this passage was not a “magic box”. It was the most important stage prop in the Holy One’s theater.  It portrayed the spiritual treasure chest which opens when one experiences interaction with the Holy One through the atonement. 

 

          After all, what must one go through to get to the Testimony [Divine Truth of Torah] that was to be inside the ark? One had to have an encounter with the Holy One under the wings of the cherubim, in the course of which encounter he or she is declared cleansed, and made whole, through the Blood on the kaporet [covering/mercy seat].   

          What is inside the treasure chest?  [1] the Torah — a new way of living for a clean and holy people. [2] Manna — all the provision we will ever need. [3] the rod of Aharon — the symbol of fruitfulness for all those who live in the Holy One’s Presence.  See Psalms 1 and 112 for a clear picture of this fruitfulness.

The Primary Purpose of the Ark

          As I have explained before, I believe that the Mish’kan’s primary purpose was as a teaching device – a place to learn how to be intimate with our Divine Bridegroom, the God of Avraham, Yitschak, and Ya’akov.  The Mish’kan was never, as I read Torah, intended to be the viewed as a source of salvation, or even the place of or means of obtaining forgiveness of sin. Those things were always – and will always be — dependent upon what had taken place before the foundation of the world in the Heavenly Throne Room of the Holy One[4] – the one the Holy One showed Moshe during his 40-day “tour”, and the one the Holy One showed Yeshayahu [Isaiah] in Isaiah 6 — not on what took place in the finite replica on earth we know as the Tabernacle (or the Temple). 

          Never was ancient Israel (nor are we today) supposed to fixate or obsess on the earthly ark or any other aspect of the Tabernacle, or upon recreating or rebuilding it [though I believe it will indeed be rebuilt by the One for Whom it Belongs].  We were always intended to look through the Mish’kan like we might look through a window — into the eternal reality lying beyond. 

          Our purpose was never to glorify priests or furnishings or offerings or ritual, which were intended only as pictures and types and shadows. Our calling is, and has always been, to see beyond those finite things, and point others beyond those finite things, to the Eternal One who sits on the Throne, who desires to ‘meet with’ and ‘speak intimately’ with all mankind as he met with and spoke intimately with Adam in the garden, and, even more, as He met with and spoke intimately to Messiah “before” Creation. 

Come to the Light

          Because the ceremonies prescribed for the Tabernacle structure were intended as teaching tools and inspirational dramas rather than actual acts of redemption, however, does not mean they can be cast aside as useless, or forsaken.  To the contrary, they were and are considered by the Holy One to be the key to the redemption of the world through reconciliation with its Creator.  The “light to the nations” cannot shine the way it was intended without them. 

          Do you want to “win the lost”?  You can do it “man’s” way – crusades, mission offerings, proselytizing, TV evangelism, and “Jesus” movies – or you can do it His way — build the ark, fill it with Torah, and act out the part He assigned you. 

          Do you remember what brought the people to Jerusalem for the “day of Pentecost” when 3,000 people chose to sh’ma Y’shua and become His talmidim [disciples]?  It was the temple ritual for the Torah-prescribed feast of Shavuot.

          Hmmm.  Is it possible the Holy One’s original plan of evangelism is better than all our best laid plans?  Is it possible that without the Holy One’s original plan of evangelism, all our best laid plans are mere wood, hay, and stubble?

          Every aspect of the Mish’kan pointed to the ark, the tablets of Torah therein, and the designated place above it, under the wings of the cherubim, above the Seat of Mercy, where the Holy One promised to ‘meet with’ the people, and ‘speak intimately’ with them of all of which He was to give as Torah [Exodus 25:22].  The wings of the cherubim touched together and intertwined, making a chuppah – to remind us of our betrothal at Sinai and the nissuin [wedding ceremony] which is yet to come.  And that, is good news.

          The picture the Holy One gave to us in the ark is a promise, an assurance that the Divine Bridegroom has provided a Way for us to come into intimacy with Him — just as a Bridegroom prepares a way for His Bride to come into His bridal chamber. 

          May He take each of us into His Arms and carry us over the threshold, to dwell with Him forever.

But What Happens

When There Is No Mish’kan On Earth?

There is no functioning Mish’kan on earth today. There has not been one for a long, long time.  No Mish’kan. No ark.

But the Torah lives, and its new home is not in a building – or a box – somewhere.

The Torah’s dwelling is now in the hearts of people like you and me[5]

The tablets are now kept, and the blood of the innocent Lamb is now is applied, in imperfect vessels.  We have this treasure in jars of clay, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. I Corinthians 4:7.

In the absence of the Mish’kan and the aron from the temporal realm, may each of us become for the world a microcosm of the Heavenly Mish’kan: a living, breathing bastion of the holiness that comes with appropriation of the blood of the perfect surrogate, with communion with the Holy One, and with the abiding presence of the Testimony of God – the true testimony set forth in the tablets of the Torah. 

Today’s haftarah aliyah comes from I Kings 5, and states in some detail the “trade agreement” entered into between Hiram of Tyre, the Phoenician king, and Shlomo, king of Israel.

So Hiram gave Shlomo timber of cedar

and timber of fir according to all his desire.

Shlomo gave Hiram twenty thousand measures of wheat

 for food to his household,

 and twenty measures of pure oil:

 thus gave Shlomo to Hiram year by year.

The Holy One gave Shlomo wisdom, as he promised him;

 and there was shalom between Hiram and Shlomo;

vayichretu b’rit sh’neyhem [and they two made a league together].

King Shlomo raised mas [a levy] out of all Yisra’el;

and the mas [levy] was shloshim elef ish  [thirty thousand men].
He sent them to Levanon, ten thousand a month by courses;

a month they were in Levanon, and two months at home;

 and Adoniram was over the men subject to forced labor.

Shlomo had seventy thousand who bore burdens,

 and eighty thousand who were stone cutters in the mountains;
besides Shlomo’s chief officers who were over the work,

three thousand and three hundred,

who bore rule over the people who labored in the work.

The king commanded, and they hewed out great stones, costly stones,

 to lay l’yased ha-bayit  [the foundation of the house] with worked stone.
Shlomo’s builders and Hiram’s builders and the Givli did fashion them,

and prepared ha-etzim v’ha-avanim [the timber and the stones]

 to build the house.
[I Kings 5:10-18]

          Why do you think Shlomo made a treaty with the gentile king Hiram?

          What products did Israel export to Phoenicia according to the trade agreement Shlomo made with Hiram? 

          What products did Israel import from Phoenicia according to this trade agreement? 

          Does Shlomo use the kind of wood in the Temple that the Holy One directed Moshe and Israel to use in the Mish’kan?  Explain what you think is the significance of your answer.

          Where did Shlomo get the laborers who built the Mik’dash [temple]?  Did this means of obtaining labor violate Torah [see especially Deuteronomy 24:7?  Explain your answer.

          How many people did Shlomo assign to work on the Temple project.

          Where did the stones which were used for the foundation of the temple [part of which are still visible at Ha-kotel [the Western Wall] come from?

          What three ethnic groups worked together to “fashion” the foundation stones of the Temple?

          In today’s reading from the Sermon on the Mount, Y’shua applies the Torah to relationships between people the way the Holy One intended it to be applied — with infinite depth sufficient to reach beyond outward behavior to the thoughts and intents of the heart.

You have heard that it was said to the ancient ones,

Lo tirtzach ['You are not to murder];

and ‘Whoever shall murder shall be subject to the Bet Din.’
 But I tell you, that everyone who harbors kaas [holds anger]

 toward his ach [brother] without a cause

shall be in danger of the judgment;

and whoever shall say of his brother, ‘Reyka! [“He is good for nothing!”]

 ‘ shall be subject to the Sanhedrin;

and whoever shall say, ‘Shoteh!’ [“You are a fool”]

shall be in danger of the fire of Gehinnom.
 

“If therefore you are offering your gift at the altar,

and there remember that your brother has anything against you,
 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way.

First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

[Matthew 5:21-24]

          Note the formula which Y’shua uses to introduce His teaching concerning specific subject matter within the Torah. “You have heard that it was said to the ancient ones . . .” The question in everyone’s mind, when Y’shua uttered these words, was whether He was going to somehow disagree with what “was said to the ancient ones” or whether He was going to teach the essence of what the words spoken to the ancient ones.  Which do you think Y’shua did?

          Y’shua quotes two statements before offering His insights. The first quoted statement is directly from the Torah – from the Aseret HaDibrot (Ten Commandments). From what source does Y’shua quote the second statement [“Whoever shall murder shall be subject to the Bet Din.”]?

          Messiah’s Torah teaching applies the words of the Holy One [Lo tirtzach – you are not to murder] in such a way as to make them applicable to each individual at some level of their experience.  Tirtzach [murder] is not just the physical act of running someone through with a sword [although that certainly is tirtzach, under Y’shua’s teaching as well as the teaching of the ancients] – tirtzach is like the fruit of a tree of bitterness that someone planted in thought, attitude, and opinion, a long time ago, and watered regularly with l’shon ha ra [negative speech]. What does Messiah say will be the result (sin in seed form maturing and bearing fruit) of being angry with a person who is close to you?

          What does Messiah say will be the result (sin in seed form maturing and bearing fruit) of speaking l’shon ha ra [negative speech] about a person who is close to you?

          What does Messiah say will be the result (sin in seed form maturing and bearing fruit) of verbally attacking, with “cut downs”, one who is close to you?

          How are the three sinful actions described in verse 22 like tirtzach [murder] in the Holy One’s eyes?

          Before engaging in tz’dakah [the mitzvot of giving] (or in any other mitzvot or “spiritual” activity, for that matter) what does Messiah say a person who has engaged in any of the three actions alluded to in verse 22 should do?

          What does Messiah say will be the result if one does not do what He directed in verses 23-24?

          What do these statements of Messiah tell us about what the Holy One considers valuable and/or important?  What interests of a human being does The Holy One consider “inalienable rights”?


[1] The Hebrew word which the writer of Hebrews most likely had in mind is tzel, tsade, lamed, Strong’s Hebrew word #6738, pronounced tzehl, and referring to an area in which shade is provided as a refuge from intense sun and heat. The essence of the idea is one of overshadowing protection – such as was given by the pillar of cloud in the wilderness — not of remoteness or inferiority [as many suppose to be the essence of the English word shadow in the context of Hebrews 8:5 and Colossian 2:17].

[2] Deuteronomy 10:2 describes the placement in the aron of the second set of stone tablets containing the Torah.

[3] The word our English Bibles translates as cubit is ammah, alef, mem, hey, Strong’s Hebrew word #520, pronounced aw-maw.   The Bible references two types of cubits – the cubit of a man [common cubit] and the cubit of the sanctuary [legal cubit].  The common cubit is a variable measurement equivalent to the length of a given man’s forearm [wrist to elbow].  The legal cubit is a standard length, believed to be about 18 inches.

[4] I do not mean to lesson in any way the significance of the physical, visible, suffering, and death of Messiah on the hill called ‘Golgotha’ in c. 29 CE.  I see the blood shed by Messiah in the course of that series of events as the portal where earth and Heaven meet – where God’s will is done ‘on earth as it was in Heaven’. I see that series of events as belonging, simultaneously, both to our world of time and to the Holy One’s world of timelessness.  Those events constitute an overlapping of eternal spiritual reality and temporal physical appearance of reality – the place where the ‘Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world’ became, for us to see from the perspective of frail humanity, the ‘lamb that takes away the sin of the world.’  Hence, I – as Shaul of Tarsus – can be ‘crucified with Messiah” – because the events of His crucifixion are eternal realties as to which time and place are irrelevant.

[5] This should not be misinterpreted. Our physical bodies are not now to be regarded as the geographical location where He has chosen to place His Name – hence the place to which pilgrimage is to be made and/or at which an altar is to be built to the Holy One.  The Holy Mount of Moriyah at Y’rushalayim is still the only such geographical place, for it is there that Y’shua will rebuild the Temple in the Messianic era.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Tabernacle: Following the pattern from heaven

READINGS:          Torah T’rumah:                  Exodus 25:1-9 

                                     Haftarah:                                I Kings 5:1-9 

                                    B’rit Chadasha:                 Matthew 5:17-20 

 

  “Let them make Me a sanctuary,

that I may dwell in them . . .”

[Exodus 25:8]

 

          Back at the time of the Betrothal Discourse [Exodus 19-20] when the Holy One spoke to all two million or so of us face-to-Face on the mountain we found that we could not handle the level of intimacy our Divine Bridegroom was offering to us.  We trembled at the sound of His Voice. We shuddered at the majesty of His Manifest Presence. We drew back in false modesty. We ran away in immature fear. In Exodus 20:18-21 Moshe recorded the event as follows: 

 

“All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes

and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking;

and when the people saw they TREMBLED

and STOOD AT A DISTANCE.

Then they said to Moshe,

‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen;

but LET NOT GOD SPEAK TO US  . . . or WE WILL DIE.’

          The Holy One’s way of dealing with this immature reaction of His chosen Bride is revealing to us even more of the goodness of His personality.  He did not become angry, sulk, reject, or judge. He did not even rebuke us, much less discipline us.  He responded graciously, like a patient Bridegroom responding to a request of His betrothed for a reduction in intimate contact during the early stages of betrothal.  He acknowledged our weakness and immaturity, and was not put off at all. He demonstrated once again His love for us and the infinite degree to which He has committed His troth to us by He lovingly honoring our request. 

          And so in order to nurture the relationship and provide for us the maximum amount of non-threatening, chaperoned kind contact we can handle in our present state of immaturity, our Beloved is arranging with Moshe to have the most gifted artisans among us build on earth, out of earthly materials, a beautiful parlor for betrothal interactions patterned after the glorious “place for you” He has designed for us to one day share together in His Heavenly palace.

          The earthly parlor we build at the foot of Mount Sinai will be imperfect, because we are imperfect. Since it is not yet time for full bridal intimacy between us and our Bridegroom, the parlor we build will have many divisions and curtains/veils the perfect palace chambers that He has prepared for us in Heaven does not have.  Ah, but Beloved, this will still be the most wonderful structure the earth has ever seen, for it is this special place that our Divine Bridegroom will actually visit with us, converse with us, reveal to us the depth of His love, and share Himself with us as intimately as we will allow – under the watchful eyes of the chaperone we requested — throughout the all-important initial stages of Divinely assigned period of betrothal.

Introducing the Tabernacle Concept

          The essence of parsha T’rumah will be the instructions of the Holy One regarding the erection by the Redeemed Community of what our English Bibles call the ‘Tabernacle’, or ‘Tent of Meeting’. 

          The conceptual framework upon which the Tabernacle is based is introduced by our Divine Bridegroom with these words:

V’asu li mik’dash

Make Me a sanctuary,

 v’sh’kanti b’tocham.

and I will dwell in them.

K’chol asher ani mar’eh otcha et tavnit ha-Mish’kan

According to all I teach you, make the tabernacle

 v’et tavnit kol-kelav v’chen ta’asu.

and make all its furnishings following the plan that I am showing you.

 [Exodus 25:8-9]

          We will not actually build the Tabernacle this week. Indeed, physical construction will not begin to take place until long after we have both sinned with the golden calf and been restored to relationship with the Holy One in the bloody aftermath of that sin. 

          All we are actually going to do this week is eavesdrop for a little while on the Divine Bridegroom’s instructions to Moshe, the ‘friend of the Bridegroom’, concerning of what earthly materials the Tabernacle is to consist and what specific furnishings it is to contain.

          This week we will just get the architectural drawing, or blueprint, for the Tabernacle which is to come.

Mah n’hu?

 [What is this?]

          But perhaps even this should give us pause. After all, we have been studying the Torah now [as part of this particular cycle][1] for 18 weeks.  We have studied – and have relived, as it were – the interactions of the Holy One with such persons as Adam, Chava, Kayin, Shet, and Enoch.  We have delved into the spiritual experiences of such persons as Noach, Melchizedek, Avraham, Sarah, Yitschak, Rivkah, as well as Ya’akov, his wives, and his twelve sons. 

          More recently, we have stared awestruck into a burning bush with Moshe. We have watched in horror the application of the awesome but carefully measured and surgically precise application of the power of the judgment of the God of Avraham, of Yitschak, and of Ya’akov on the most powerful nation in the world.  We have closely observed the Y’shuah of the Holy One at the Sea of Reeds.  We have seen the pillar of fire and cloud, the manna rained down from heaven, the streams of water poured forth from a rock. 

          And of course, at this mountain called Sinai, we have recently heard the Voice of the Creator of the Universe, and seen His glory – and lived through it! 

          We have seen and learned a lot, about how man relates to the Holy One, and how the Holy One reveals Himself to man.

          But we have never, in all of this – until now – even heard the slightest hint about a tabernacle. 

          Noach didn’t have a tabernacle. 

          Melchizedek didn’t have one.

          Avraham didn’t have one[2]

          We didn’t need one to get redeemed from Egypt, or to hear the Voice of the Holy One, and become betrothed to Him, at Har Sineh [Mount Sinai].  

          So what do we need one for now? 

          And what, pray tell, is a tabernacle anyway?

The Hebraic Word Picture

          The Hebrew word our English Bibles translate as ‘Tabernacle’ is mish’kan, Strong’s Hebrew word #4908.  This Hebrew noun is formed by the combination of the letters mem, shin, kaf, and nun sofit, and is pronounced mee-sheh-kawn’.   The first Biblical usage of this noun is found in our Parsha, at Exodus 24:9, where we read:

K’chol asher ani mar’eh otcha et tav’nit ha-Mish’kan

According to all I teach you, build the tabernacle;

 v’et tav’nit kol-kelav v’chen ta’asu

and make all its furnishings as per the blueprint that I show you.

          As we have discussed in these lessons, Hebrew is a very verb-centered,  action-based language. Every Hebrew noun is, therefore, developed from a verb root. The verb root of the Hebrew noun mish’kan is sh’kan, shin, kaf, nun sofit, Strong’s Hebrew word # 7931, pronounced shaw-kawn’.  Strong’s translates this verb as to ‘settle down, abide, dwell, tabernacle, and/or reside’.  The first usage of this verb in Torah is found in Genesis 3:24, where Torah tells us that, after Adam and Chava were expelled from Eden, the Holy One caused an a cherub with a flashing sword to sh’kan at the East of the Garden of Eden, to guard [sh’mar] the way to the tree of life.  Then, in Genesis 9:27, Noach used this verb to describe how Yafet [Japheth] would relate to Shem – he would sh’kan in Shem’s tents.

          Sh’kan is clearly the Hebrew verb Y’shua had in mind when He told His talmidim to ‘abide’ [some translations say ‘remain’] in Him. See John 15.  The first letter, shin [which makes the ‘sh’ sound], is a pictograph of flames, or tongues, of fire.  The second letter, kaf [which makes the ‘k’ sound], is a pictograph of a bird, with wings cupped as in descent.  The final letter, nun sofit [the form the nun takes when it is at the end of a word], is a Hebrew pictograph of the ultimate son or heir – Messiah.  The ‘mural’ formed by these pictographs is, thus, the tongues/flames of fire [shin] descending as a dove [kaf] and resting upon Messiah [nun sofit][3].  Hence, the familiar word sh’kinah [composed of the verb sh’kan, with addition of the suffix hey], as a reference to the manifestation of the presence and glory of the Holy One. Every such manifestation presages, and speaks of, Messiah.

          The noun mish’kan is, of course, formed by adding the Hebrew letter mem [which provides the ‘m’ sound] to the verb sh’kan, as a prefix.  The mem is a Hebrew pictograph of a wave of flowing water.  Adding a mem as a prefix always animates, taking whatever verb it is added to a continually flowing state.  The mish’kan, therefore, is to be nothing less than a special realm where the sh’kinah constantly rests upon — and points to — the Messiah.

          So, as we begin our study of the ‘Tabernacle’, understand that everything we read is going to relate to, and is designed to draw our attention to, the Messiah.  From the framing to the curtains, from the doors to the veil, from the bronze laver to the golden altar of incense, and from the brazen altar to the mercy seat, Messiah is everywhere.   Messiah is the mish’kan, Beloved.

The Mish’kan as a Parlor

For Chaperoned Interactions

Between Betrothed Parties

          Understanding that Messiah is the mish’kan helps us to understand that the mish’kan was a necessary part of the betrothal covenant the Divine Bridegroom  made with us at Har Sineh. The instructions given concerning the mish’kan follow immediately the refusal of the people to respond to the Holy One’s invitation to each of them to ascend the Mountain and meet personally with Him, to be claimed as His “peculiar possession and treasure”, and to be transformed into His “nation of Holy Ones”, and His “Kingdom of Priests” [Exodus 19:13; 19:5-6].  The people feared the awesome voices, thunderings, and thick darkness, so they retreated in fear, and clamored for Moshe to go on their behalf, in their place, into the Presence of the Holy One [Exodus 20:19].  They thus elected to stay “afar off” from the Divine Bridegroom [Exodus 20:21]. 

          These choices of the people resulted in the establishment of the mish’kan as a temporary alternative to the more intimate and personal indwelling and overshadowing for which the Holy One created us and to which He has called us.

                Because of the choice of the Redeemed Community to have all communications with the Bridegroom through a mediator, and until the evil impulse which caused the hearts of the people to turn their faces from the Holy One to the earthly things around them is exterminated, the Holy One, with absolute confidence in an ultimate reversal of the rejection of intimacy by His people, gave instructions for the building of the mish’kan which was to characterize the interactions between chosson (bridegroom) and kallah (bride) during the period of eyrusin (betrothal).   

          As betrothed parties we must relate to each other through the protocol of chaperoned parlor discussions.  Friends of the Bride communicate with Friends of the Bridegroom.  This was our choice, at Har Sineh. The Holy One accepted this protocol, and He gave us the mish’kan as, in essence, a parlor, where an agreed-level of chaperoned interaction – interaction less intense than that we had experienced on the mountain, could to take place between us.

          The Holy One’s description of this parlor is as follows:

V ‘asu li mik’dash

Have them make/build a place set aside for and holy unto Me,

v sh’kanti b’tocham

and I will sh’kan [abide, dwell, tabernacle] in the midst of them.

[Exodus 25:8]

          Messiah is the parlor.

          Messiah dwells with us  [i.e., sh’kan’s] in our midst always. 

          Moshe is the friend of the Bridegroom. Aharon and his sons are the friends of the Bride. 

          Our interactions with the Holy One – our Bridegroom — are all based upon coming to/through Messiah.

          And remember, Messiah and the mish’kan are one.

The Heavenly ‘Pattern’ After Which the Mish’kan

Was to be Built

          It must be kept in mind that the Holy One told Moshe to build the mish’kan et tavnit – i.e., ‘according to the pattern’ [Exodus 25:9]. It is to be built exactly like the ‘pattern which was shown you on the mountain’ [Exodus 25:40], and ‘after the plan of it shown you on the mountain’ [Exodus 26:30].

          Let us pause and meditate on those very important – and emphatic – instructions,

          Through those instructions the Holy One was stating to Moshe in no uncertain terms that the Mish’kan was not to be built after the pattern of anything Moshe or any other man had ever seen before  – in Egypt, in Midyan, or anywhere else.  It was to be built 100% “according to the pattern” the Holy One showed Moshe on the mountain.

          Imagine you want to build a house.  You don’t just grab a hammer, nails, and a bundle of two-by-fours.  First you have someone qualified – an architect — design the house, and draw you a blueprint, and write you some specifications that tell you what quality and amount of materials to use, how to connect the sections, and what dimensions every aspect of the structure should have.  Everything you do from that day forward, you do according to the blueprint and specifications. If you are faithful to the blueprint and specs, and if you build well, the house you build conforms both to the architect’s conception – and the ‘pattern’ the architect established.

          The Hebrew word our English Bibles translate as ‘pattern’ is tavnit, tav, beit/veit, nun, yod, tav, Strong’s Hebrew word #8403, pronounced taw-vuh-neet’.  It is a noun derived from the verb root banah, beit, nun, hey, Strong’s Hebrew word #1129, pronounced baw-naw’.  This verb is the one used to describe what the Holy One did to/with/regarding the ‘rib’ He took from man.  Genesis 1:22 tells us The Holy One ‘made’ [banah] a woman’.  The verb banah is converted to the noun tavnit by adding a tav  [which makes the ‘t’ sound] as both a prefix, at the beginning, and a suffix, at the end. The Hebrew letter tav is a pictographic representation of a covenant seal.  Adding a tav to both ends of banah means that which is to be constructed pre-existed the human effort, and that the construction was modeled after, and conformed to, the pre-existing pattern.

          The Hebrew words used teach us that the mish’kan existed long before Exodus 25.  It existed, before that time, in a realm into which we simply did not see — a realm outside of time and space – an eternal, Spiritual realm.  It existed in the secret chambers of the Creator of Heaven and Earth. It existed in an infinite state, without limitations of time and space.  It was not made of earthly materials, but assumed the form of eternal, Heavenly realities.

The Mish’kan Is Not of this World

          Do you understand?  Moshe did not design the mish’kan.  Neither did any earthly artisans create it.  The Mish’kan was built according to a tavnit – a pattern.  The Mish’kan is not of this world. It is only a temporal, earthly picture of an eternal, Heavenly reality.

          The task which the Holy One gives to Moshe – and to the Community of the Redeemed – this week, is therefore not just a ‘building program’. It is much, much more.  The mission to which the Holy One calls Moshe, Israel, and all of us this week is to ‘recreate’ the Heavenly reality of the Holy One dwelling with mankind – mish’kan – in the physical, temporal world. 

          The challenge we face is to make a model on earth that portrays, in tangible, visible form, for all the world to see, the essence of the Spiritual Reality that the Holy One chooses to dwell with mankind.

A Project Of Eternal Duration

          Just as man did not create the mish’kan, man can likewise not destroy it.  It still exists.  It has not been ‘replaced’. It has merely been made clearer, more like the original.  The truth the Mish’kan of earth proclaimed is still truth. 

          And this is that truth:

The Word has become,

 is,

and will become,

flesh,

And has tabernacled,

is tabernacling,

and will tabernacle

among us.

[John 1:14]

          Like a model car or airplane, all the earthly mish’kan ever was intended to be was just a replica of something larger and much more grand — something in Heaven, where a Lamb had been slain from before the foundation of the World, where a mercy seat had been sprinkled with blood from that Lamb, and where k’ruvim [cherubim], representing the eyes, the gaze, of the Holy One, are fixed upon the sprinkled blood of the atonement, which is the true ‘covering’ or ‘tent’. 

          All, of course, with mankind in mind.

          All in order that the Holy One could dwell with mankind.

The Mish’kan is not a ‘Local Worship Center’

          One more thing.  Please understand that the Mish’kan was not by any means intended to be merely the redeemed community’s answer to the pagan shrines/temples to the gods of the heathen nations. Nor was it the forerunner of modern-day local “churches”, “synagogues” or “temples” where people go to weekly to fellowship with each other and participate in Christian or Jewish flavored religious services.

          The Mish’kan is not in its essence a place for human beings to go to do religious stuff. 

          The Holy One is, quite frankly, not ‘into’ places where people do religious stuff at all.  That is what pagan shrines and temples are for.  Such places are about shows of idolatrous piety by religious men – not about experiencing intimate communion with the Divine Bridegroom of Heaven. Such places are built upon and modeled after pagan concepts – not the ways of the God of Avraham of Yitschak and of Ya’akov.

          The Mish’kan is not about what people do; it is, instead, about what the Holy One has done, is doing, and will do.

           The difference in perspective is like the difference between night and day.

          To the extent we embrace and internalize the mish’kan, and see in it the model of the Holy One’s ‘parlor’ of chaperoned interaction and communication with the Divine Bridegroom, Messiah steps into our world, and abides with us, directs our paths, and transforms our lives into His image.

          To the extent, however, we choose to focus only on the externals of the mish’kan, and to look upon it as something we [or our ancestors built], or as a place where human beings present ‘offerings’ and do religious stuff, and where earthly priests minister to and teach us about the Holy One, we separate ourselves from Messiah, reject Him even as He walks in our midst, and flow instead in a form of neo-paganism crudely disguised and mis-labeled as ‘Christianity’ or ‘Messianic Judaism’.

          But to understand this, one must have at least a basic understanding of the relationship between the mish’kan and the mik’dash, or ‘sanctuary’.  So let’s make that our next subject of discussion.

 “Heaven is My Throne,

and Earth is My Footstool:

Where is the House You Will Build for Me?”

 

          Two different words are used in our aliyah for the earthly structure the Holy One told Moshe to build. In Exodus 25:8, Moshe was told to build a “sanctuary”; in Exodus 25:9 he was instructed to build a “tabernacle”.

          The word translated “sanctuary” is Mik’dash; The word translated “tabernacle” is mish’kan.

          Why two different words for the same structure?  Because, those two words describe the structure from two different perspectives.

          From the perspective of the Holy One, the Tabernacle was to be a mish’kan, or dwelling place, where He would ‘entertain visitors’, so to speak, according to protocol — as limited by the Bride-to-be’s request.

          To the immature Bride-to-be, who was not ready for face-to-face interaction, however, the Tabernacle was to be a mik’dash, or thing/area set apart, purified, dedicated only to “holy” things.  It would be where she would receive transmitted messages, through the mediation of the friend-of-the-Bride [Aharon] as related by the friend of the Bridegroom [Moshe].

The Relationship

Between the Mish’kan [Tabernacle]

and the Mik’dash [Sanctuary]

          But are a mik’dash and a mish’kan really the same thing?’   This does not seem so important now, but it will later – for the ‘Temple’ built by Shlomo will not be called a mish’kan [because that is not what it is], but it will be called, instead, a mik’dash.

          The word mik’dash [pronounced mick-eh-dawsh'] which our English Bibles translate as “sanctuary”] is not entirely new to us.  In the Song of the Sea, the song which burst forth from our spirits spontaneously after the waters of the Yam Suf [Sea of Reeds] parted for us, then closed again swallowing those who sought to kill us, we sang, without comprehension of what they meant, these words:

When your people pass over, Holy One –

 When the people You have purchased pass over.
 You will bring us in,

and establish us in the mountain of your inheritance,

The place, Holy One, which you have made for yourself to dwell;

 The mik’dash, O Holy One,

which your hands have established,

[Where] the Holy One reigns forever and ever.”

[Exodus 15:16-18]

(author’s translation)

          The verb root word of the noun mik’dash is k’dash, Strong’s #6942, composed of the letters qof, dalet, and shin, pronounced kaw-dawsh’. The Hebraic word k’dash hieroglyphically pictures a boundary line (qof), with a marked-off entrance (dalet), inside of which is a blazing fire (shin).  The fire is in the center.  There is a boundary-line marked off around this fire, enclosing it, setting it apart, closing off general access.  There is, however, one portal of entrance, one way, through the boundary to the source of the fire. 

          To get the Hebrew word mik’dash one adds the prefix mem to the word k’dash. As we discussed previously, adding a mem prefix animates what comes after it, making it continuously flowing.  This means that the k’dash word picture – a marked-off boundary around a fire, with one portal of entrance — becomes animated, flowing, moving, as if being carried along by, floating upon and above, a stream of water. 

          This, then, is the Hebraic picture of the mik’dash.  A mik’dash is k’dash in motion, going somewhere. The fire-source [the Holy One] is moving, flowing. The fire [His manifest Presence] is moving, flowing. The tongues of fire [His words] are moving, flowing. The courts of the Holy One are a place of motion. The place set aside for chaperoned interaction [the diplomatic protocol of betrothal] is not static or stale.

          “But wait”, you say.  “A mik’dash is a PLACE, isn’t it?   Places don’t move – do they?

          They don’t on earth, in our finite world.

          But they can from the Holy One’s perspective.

          Oh, they don’t travel across landscapes of earth like the mish’kan was designed to do.  But they do move. They move back and forth between realms that are seen and realms that are unseen. They flow in and out of realms that are physical into and out of realms that are spiritual. They transition smoothly between realms of temporal things and realms of eternal things. 

          For, you see, a mik’dash is neither a ‘Temple’ nor a ‘Sanctuary’ – it is a portal – a portal where Heaven and earth meet, where angels ascend and descend, and where the Holy One bridges the gap between eternity and time and communes with mankind.  It is a place of perpetual motion.  It is the opening of a supernatural spring from which living water flows to us.

          A mik’dash is touched by the Holy One – made Holy by His visitation. It represents a conditional, circumstantial, time-limited relationship with the Holy One.

          A mish’kan, on the other hand, is not merely touched or visited by the Holy One – it is a place of sh’kanperpetual habitation. The Holy One’s presence and work in a mish’kan is unconditional, non-circumstantial, and unlimited by time.

          It is, of course wonderful to be a mik’dash – to receive the Holy One’s wonderful touch and to be blessed by His visitation.  But  however wonderful that may be, never, never be satisfied with only that.  Press on.  Press in. Go further, until He makes you a mish’kan – a perpetual habitation of the Most High God, conformed to a tavnit [pattern] that pre-existed the foundation of the world. Only then can you bring the reality of Heaven to earth and mortal men as you were created to do.

Haftarah T’rumah opens with a conversation between two people.

Hiram king of Tzor sent his servants to Shlomo;

 for he had heard that they had anointed him king in the room of his father:

for Hiram was ever a lover of David.

Shlomo sent to Hiram, saying,
You know how that David my father could not build a house

 for the name of the Holy One his God

for the wars which were about him on every side,

until the Holy One put them under the soles of his feet.

But now the Holy One my God has given me rest on every side;

there is neither adversary, nor evil occurrence.
Behold, I purpose to build a house for the name of the Holy One my God,

 as the Holy One spoke to David my father, saying,

Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your room,

he shall build the house for my name

.”

 

Now therefore command you that they cut me cedar trees out of Levanon;

and my servants shall be with your servants;

and I will give you hire for your servants

according to all that you shall say:

for you know that there is not among us any who knows how to cut timber

 like the Tzidonim.

It happened, when Hiram heard the words of Shlomo,

that he rejoiced greatly, and said,

Blessed be the Holy One this day,

who has given to David a wise son over this great people.

 

Hiram sent to Shlomo, saying,

“I have heard [the message] which you have sent to me:

I will do all your desire concerning timber of cedar,

and concerning timber of fir.

 

My servants shall bring them down from Levanon to the sea;

 and I will make them into rafts to go by sea

to the place that you shall appoint me,

and will cause them to be broken up there,

and you shall receive them;

and you shall accomplish my desire,

in giving food for my household.

[1Kings 5:1-9]

 

          Who initiated the conversation between Hiram and Shlomo [Solomon] which is recorded in today’s aliyah?

          During what time period did Shlomo live?

          What else was going on in the world during the time Shlomo and Hiram reigned?  [Who were the world powers, what dynasties were in place, and what historic events took place].

          Why, according to this person, was David not able to build a House for the Holy One?

          Read Isaiah 66:1-2 and Acts 17:24.  Then read Matthew 23:37–24:2, Ephesians 2:19-22, I Corinthians 6:19, and II Corinthians 5:16.  Now that there is no Tabernacle and no “house” of God on earth [since the Temple was destroyed in 70 C.E.] where does God choose to make His presence felt?

          The Brit Chadasha passage I have selected for parsha T’rumah comes from Matthew chapter 5, in the so-called “Sermon on the Mount”.  When Y’shua began his rabbinic “ministry”, He announced His intentions, and declared His purpose right up front.  

“Don’t think that I came to destroy the Torah or the prophets.

I didn’t come to destroy, but to fulfill.

 For most assuredly, I tell you, until heaven and eretz pass away,

 not even one smallest letter or one tiny pen stroke

shall in any way pass away from the Torah,

until all things are accomplished.
 

Whoever, therefore, shall break one of these least mitzvot,

 and teach others to do so,

 shall be called “least in the Kingdom of Heaven”;

 but whoever shall do and teach them

shall be called “great in the Kingdom of Heaven”.
 

For I tell you that unless your righteousness

exceeds that of the Sofrim [i.e., judges/scholars/scribes] and Perushim [Pharisees],

there is no way you will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

[Matthew 5:17-20]

          According to Y’shua’s own words, how does the teaching of Y’shua relate to the teachings of Torah?

          Is Y’shua saying, in these verses, that the Torah will at some point in the future (for instance, after His death on the execution stake, or after His resurrection, or His ascension, or the empowering of His “called out ones”, or the canonization of the Brit Chadasha) cease to be the ultimate standard of righteousness for the Holy One’s Redeemed Community?

          What did Y’shua say was the judgment which would fall on anyone who abandoned the Torah lifestyle and taught others that sh’ma-ing the instructions of Torah was no longer necessary or appropriate?

          How did Y’shua describe those who both walk out a Torah lifestyle and teach others to do so?

          What Hebraic concept, well established in the TaNaKh, was Y’shua talking about when He referred to the “kingdom of heaven” in verse 20?


[1]  We are, of course, studying Torah according to the ancient ‘annual cycle’, in which all of Torah is divided into 54 sections, called parshiot.  Our current cycle began with Genesis 1:1, on the day known as Simchat Torah, at the conclusion of the Chag Sukkot [Feast of Tabernacles] celebration, last Fall.  We are about one-third of the way through the Torah as we begin parsha T’rumah.

            [2]  The first Divine ‘tent-visitation’ in Torah did, however, occur at Avraham’s tent. See Genesis 18.  It could well be argued, therefore, that the series of events mentioned in Genesis 18 as occurring at the entrance to Avraham’s tent set an early precedent for the Mish’kan.

[3]  A beautiful picture of this is seen in Matthew 3:16, where as Y’shua arose from undergoing mikveh at the Yardin [Jordan], a manifestation of the Holy One descended, and came to rest, upon Him much as if a dove had lighted upon Him.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Tabernacle (Moses, Christ and Us) to Dwell In

 

READINGS:          Torah T’rumah:                   Exodus 25:1 – 27:23 

                                     Haftarah:                                I Kings 5:1[1] – 6:13 

                                    B’rit Chadasha:                 Matthew 5:17-35

 

“Let them make Me a sanctuary,

that I may dwell in them . . .”

[Exodus 25:8]

          This week it is our great privilege to study together the parsha of Torah the sages of Israel named T’rumah.  T’rumah is the nineteenth parsha of Torah overall, the seventh parsha contained within Sefer Shemot [the Book of Exodus], and the third parsha of the Sinai Chronicles [i.e., the narrative record kept by Moshe of our ancestors’ world-changing 13-month sojourn at Mount Sinai]. 

          It is in this parsha that our Divine Bridegroom is going to introduce us to – and begin a lengthy process of impressing upon our souls – that mysterious physical structure which most of the theological world calls ‘the Tabernacle in the Wilderness’.

          In these studies, we will come to call this unique structure by its proper Hebrew name — the Mish’kan.

          Open up your spiritual eyes, and prepare yourself for an incredibly eye-opening experience!

Things Our Bridegroom Really Wants to Know

          In the course of the recently concluded Mishpatim Discourse [i.e., Exodus 21-23], the Holy One often offended our minds in order to reveal our hearts.  Over and over again the Divine Bridegroom challenged us. With each of the hypothetical cases He threw out for us to deal with in parsha Mishpatim it seemed He was asking us:

Do you really trust Me?

Do you completely trust My Wisdom?

Do you fully trust My Compassion?

Do you trust My Perspective?

Do you trust My Timing?

Do you trust My Plan for You as a unique individual?

Do you trust My Dream for your bloodline?

 . . . and are you willing to trust all these things MORE

 than you trust your own human  sense of ‘right and wrong’

and ‘good and evil’?

           Over and over as we read the Mishpatim Discourse last week it seemed to me that the Holy One was basically asking us:

 Do you really want a face-to-Face level of intimate relationship with Me –

or do you just want Me to perform miracles on demand for you

 like some kind of genie out of a bottle?

 Do you want to be a full-fledged Partner

 in My Covenant with Avraham, Yitschak and Ya’akov?

Or do you want to put Me in a theological box of your own making

 so you can manipulate Me, control Me, and use Me

to get your  will and  your  way?

Do you to become the bride to Me that I created you to be –

or do you just want Me to kiss your boo-boos, fund the lifestyle of your choice,

and shoo away your enemies?

          Ouch! That kind of in-your-face challenge from the Holy One hurts, doesn’t it?

          Ah, but if you, like me, thought the Mishpatim Discourse we studied last week was challenging,  JUST WAIT UNTIL YOU READ THIS PARSHA!!!

          In this week’s parsha, our Divine Bridegroom is going to come at us from a totally different direction. 

          Let me explain what I mean.

Welcome to a Season of Divinely-Enhanced Vision

          The parsha we studied last week was all about our Covenant Partner in Heaven teaching us to think like He thinks and to approach and deal with real life situations guided by the mix of wisdom and compassion that will characterize the Messiah.  There will not, however, be a single real-life presented to us anywhere in this week’s parsha.

          This parsha is about another aspect of spiritual life altogether. 

          Last week our Divine Bridegroom’s focus was upon renewing our minds to the point we could actually begin to think like He thinks. This week His focus will shift to opening our eyes to the point we actually begin to see what He sees.

          He, of course, sees eternal things that ordinary human beings cannot see.  Does He really expect to be able to train us to see those things as well?

          He also sees temporal things that human beings can see – but from an eternal perspective.  Does He really expect to be able to teach us to see temporal things from His eternal point of view?

          The answer to both of these questions is ‘yes’.

          Before we get to that, however, I want to prepare you hearts for what we are going to read by reminding you of what happened in II Kings 6.  At that time, the Hebrew prophet Elisha and his servant Gehazi were running for their lives from the army of the king of Syria.  The Syrian army caught up with the fugitives at the city of Dotan.  It looked as if they had the prophet exactly where they wanted him.  But let’s read the Biblical account together, shall we?

. . . they came by night and surrounded the city.

And when the servant of the man of the Holy One arose early and went out,

there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots.

 

And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 

So he answered,

“Do not fear, for those who are with us

are more than those who are with them.”

And Elisha prayed, and said, “Holy One, I pray,

open his eyes that he may see.”

 

Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw.

 And behold,

 the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

 

As we begin this week’s studies, my prayer over you is the prayer Elisha prayed for his servant:

Holy One, I pray –

open their eyes …

. . . that they may see!

 

          If you will receive it, this is our appointed season of Divinely-enhanced vision.

          Behold, our Divine Bridegroom is about to show us a mystery.

          He is about to bedazzle us with stunning visual imagery.

          He is about to regale us with colors, and textures, and fabrics, and precious metals the beauty of which will take our breath away.

          He is about to amaze us with wood that seems to ooze the blood of the covenant, with geometric shapes that seem to dance, with curtains that seem to speak, with stunning garments that seem to transcend the human beings that are called upon to wear them, and with pulsating 3-dimensional images that seem to fly back-and-forth, before our eyes, across the great chasm separating Heaven and Earth.

          The auditory experience of the Mish’patim Discourse is about to give way to the visual and kinetic experience of the Mish’kan revelation.

          And it is all, just another part of His ongoing plan for preparing us to function in the earth as Full Partners with Him in the Greatest Covenant relationship the world has ever known.

The Ongoing Transformation Process

          As we discussed in Monday’s study from parsha Mish’patim, we who have been redeemed from Egypt by the Holy One’s Mighty Hand are by no means a ‘finished work’. 

          We are not ‘there yet’ just because we have been chosen and redeemed.

          Oh, no,  not by a long shot.

          We are in the early stages midst of a process – a process of transitioning from a slavish orientation to life to a bridal’ orientation to life. 

          What does that mean, you ask?

          It means that we are being challenged by the Holy One to shed the ‘snakeskin’ of the slavish lifestyle we led in Egypt — a one-step-ahead-of-the-whip lifestyle of fearfully hoping to avoid the displeasure of, and therefore escape the wrath of, the cruel taskmaster – and take up instead a lifestyle of confidently and enthusiastically moving and flowing in response to and rhythm with the words and silent movements of a loving and nurturing Bridegroom

          We are in this regard still very much a work-in-progress.

          The transformation the Holy One is bringing about is not going to occur quickly. 

          Nor is it going to be easy.

          The process will be long, the obstacles daunting, and the discipline painful. 

          But it will be worth it.  It will be MORE THAN worth it.

          It will, in fact, be to die for.

Come Up Here!

          We must understand as we begin this week’s study that we are light years away from where we were when we began last week’s parsha.  After being given by the Holy One and then teaching to the Redeemed Community a three-chapter ‘crash course’ in ‘How to Think Like the Bride/ What Would Messiah Do?’[2], Moshe, along with Y’hoshua, Aharon, Aharon’s two eldest sons, and 70 zakenim [usually translated as ‘elders’] of Israel had been invited by the Holy One to ‘Come up Here’. 

          In response to this upward call this group of 75 ascended the Mount of Sinai even higher in elevation than had the multitude back in parsha Yitro when the voice of the Holy One proclaimed the Aseret HaDibrot [the so-called ‘Ten Commandments’] in the hearing of every man, woman, and child He had redeemed from Egypt. 

          The experience for which the Holy One called this group up the mountain was stunning.  Twice we are told in the text they actually ‘saw God’. 

          Just how much of the Holy One the 70 zakenim were privileged to gaze upon in wide-eyed wonder we are not told. Elsewhere in Torah we will be told a man cannot  — in this world — look upon the Holy One and live.  So we have to consider the possibility that the place to which the 70 zakenim, Moshe, Aharon, Nadav, and Avihu were ‘called up’ by the Holy One was not ‘in this world’.  It started out on Mount Sinai, true. But once they stepped into the Cloud of the Holy One’s Presence . . . . well, just read Revelation 4, and perhaps you will begin to understand.

          And then, the Holy One gave another ‘upward call’ – this one to Moshe alone. Wherever he, Aharon, Nadav, and Avihu and the 70 zakenim of Israel were, the Holy One wanted to take Moshe even higher.  In Exodus 24:12 the Holy One said to Moshe:

 “Come up [Heb. alah[3]] to Me on the mountain

and  be [Heb. hayah];

 and I will give you tablets of stone,

and the law [Heb. torah[4]]

 and commandments [Heb. mitzvot]

which I have written,

that you may teach [Heb. yarah] them.”

          So Moshe started ascending. At some point, as the Cloud of the Holy One’s Presence became thicker and more intense. Bidding Y’hoshua farewell,  Moshe plodded on.

          For 6 days Moshe was completely engulfed in thickest part of the Sh’kinah Cloud. Then, on the seventh day, right before the eyes of the Redeemed Community the Cloud into which Moshe had been received became a raging fire, a blazing inferno in which, they reasoned, no man could survive.

All-Points Bulletin for Moshe!

          For 40 days and 40 nights the inferno on the mountain blazed on.

          And during that entire time, there was no sign of Moshe.

          Because, Moshe wasn’t there.

          He was somewhere else. 

          He was in another world, a world where fire burns but does not consume.

          He was transported . . . translated . . . transformed . . . indeed, transfigured.

          And he was shown things – things only a very, very few other human beings in history[5] have ever seen. 

          This week’s parsha is going to be about what Moshe saw in this fiery ‘other world’.  The Holy One is going to show Moshe something absolutely marvelous that exists in this fiery ‘other world’ realm.

          Welcome, to the second semester of the Holy One’s class in ‘Thinking Like the Bride 101’. 

          If you thought the first semester, with all the mishpatim, was a lot to deal with, just wait ‘til you read what comes next! 

          The Holy One has taught us of earthly things in the first half of the course. Now, He will teach us of the heavenly realities underlying those earthly things. The message the Holy One is going to be communicating to his Bride-to-be is not going to change – but the language and imagery will be OUT OF THIS WORLD!

So What’s A T’rumah?

          With that introduction out of the way, we can now finally proceed to discuss in a meaningful way what in the world a t’rumah might be. 

          T’rumah is, of course, the name of this week’s parsha.  The name is derived from Exodus 25:2, where we are told that the Holy One instructed Moshe:

 “v’yikchu-li t’rumah”

“. . . take for Me a t’rumah.”

          Whatever a t’rumah is, our Divine Bridegroom wants us to take one – and He wants us to take it for Him.

          Hmmmmmn. We who have been studying the text of Torah carefully for some time now know that, though Torah has been going on for over 70 chapters at this point, we have not heretofore ever read a word about a t’rumah.  The term has never once been mentioned –even in passing – anywhere in the accounts we have read. 

          Why are we suddenly being called upon by the Holy One to start plowing ‘new ground’ linguistically and spiritually?

          Is it possible that now that Moshe is engulfed in the Sh’kinah cloud Sinai our new Covenant Partner wants us to experience Him in a different realm – a realm in which the language and imagery with which we are familiar are simply inadequate media of communication?

          If so, it is all going to start, it appears, with t’rumah – whatever that is.  A t’rumah it seems, is a portal into a new level of revelation.

          Did you catch that?  I said a portal.  A portal that leads us to another realm.  A realm having more to do with eternal things than temporal things.

          Are you interested in such a portal? 

          Then let’s start digging. Let’s try to get our minds around the term t’rumah so we can move on into the brave new world of language and imagery that awaits us this week.

Lessons from the Hebrew Word Itself

          The Hebrew word t’rumah has no acceptable English equivalent.

          But that makes perfect sense if you consider the ‘other worldly’ subject matter of this week’s parsha. Moshe is in a realm beyond the boundaries of the English or Greek languages[6].  He is far beyond the limits of the Western mindset.

          Only Hebrew – a language focused upon the Holy One instead of man and which describes everything from the Holy One’s ‘outside of time’ and ‘outside of space’ perspective — exists in, and can be used to describe, the realm to which the Holy One has taken Moshe.

          Do not, therefore, try to translate t’rumah into English.  This parsha is all about VISION.  So instead of translating or interpreting the term t’rumah linguistically, try instead to see it – and watch it unfold before your eyes like a drama or play.

          According to Rashi the word t’rumah implies a process — specifically a process of separating out a portion of one’s resources from the rest [for a higher, more lofty purpose than consumption or investment].  The verb root of this word is Strong’s #7311, resh, vav, mem, pronounced like the English word room.  Strong’s will tell you that this ancient verb root means to raise high, or lift up, or exalt.

Climbing Into the Hebrew Pictograph

          The Hebraic word picture/hieroglyphic of the Hebrew verb root in question is that of the head (resh) of a man (vav) atop a stream of waters (mem). In other words, it is the process of achieving buoyancy[7] – getting one’s head above the water — rising above and seeing beyond the immediate demands of the environment one finds himself. 

          State with me a little more intensely into this Hebraic hieroglyphic. 

          Imagine you have been swept into a raging river at 100-year flood stage.  The overpowering current immediately pulls you under, and you go with the flow, wherever the current takes you. It is all you can do just to stay alive. 

          Your energies, your thoughts, your actions, are totally focused upon survival. You hold your breath, and try to keep your body in position for a lunge.

          Then, you suddenly see light, and you go for it. Your head bursts through the surface tension of the flowing water, and for a few moments you bob along like a fishing bobber.

          What do you do the instant you get your head above the water? 

          First, you will breathe in the air that you so desperately need.

          Second, you look around and try to get perspective on your surroundings. 

          After all, the water is foreign to you. You are a land creature, not a water creature like a fish.  The stream in which you find yourself being carried along is not your home.

          With effort you can survive in its watery environment for a period of time. But it is not your destiny. It is merely transitioning you from one place on land [let’s say Egypt] to another place on land [let’s say Eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel)].

          So, you look for a landmark – a piece of driftwood to grasp hold of, a log to cling to – or, perhaps, even better, a limb from a tree dangling near the water, a protruding root, a rescue-worker’s helping hand, a lifeline thrown by a friend – something – anything — which offers hope of staying above the waters that surround you, and perhaps escaping them.

          You are still focused on surviving in the raging river. 

          You are treading water with all your might.

          But you have risen above the current.

          A part of you is aiming higher than merely survival. 

          Now you are looking for higher ground.

          Got the picture?  Is it real enough for you?  Good. Let’s apply it to Torah. 

          We whom the Holy One delivered out of Pharaoh’s slave camps in connection with the first Passover have been caught up in a raging river at flood-stage for months. 

          Ever since the day we walked out of Egypt we have been totally immersed in, and are being swept along by, a virtual river of amazing grace. 

          Manna has dropped from heaven day-by-day for us to eat, and streams of pure, sweet water have poured out of rock formations and followed us wherever we have gone to make sure we had plenty to drink. 

          We have been floating along – barely conscious of where we were or what was happening to us  – until the raging floodwaters of the Holy One brought us to Har Sineh [Mount Sinai].  

          At this mountain, however, our heads have finally burst through the surface tension of the floodwaters which have engulfed us.  We are finally able to breathe.

          And we are able to focus, at long last, on higher ground.

Defining ‘Higher Ground’

          When I use the term higher ground I am not just talking about the sheer rock outcropping upon which the Holy One spoke to Moshe in the form of a burning bush. I am not referring merely to geography or topography.  The elevation of which I speak – the ultimate higher ground – is far higher than the summit of Sineh or of McKinley or Fujiyama or even Everest, Beloved[8].

          The higher elevation about which I am now speaking, and which those of us in the Community of the Redeemed are now seeking, is none other than the courts of the Holy One.  

          And that, introduces us to something theologians call the ‘Tabernacle in the Wilderness’ — an exciting, somewhat mystical facet of a living, breathing relationship with the Holy One which we have not heretofore encountered.

          It is going to be an interesting week to say the least.  I dare say we will not understand one tenth of what we read. 

          But that is to be expected.  We have never passed this way before!

          The things we will read about in parsha T’rumah will challenge us in realms of logic, and reason, and ‘doctrine’.  The Holy One wants us to teach us to interact with Him in — and flow with Him into and out of — realms beyond our human level of ‘understanding’. 

          He wants us to see in realms in which ordinary human eyes cannot see

          So embrace the mystery. 

          Marvel at the incomprehensibility of it all. 

          Receive the wisdom of the Holy One — even if you cannot comprehend it.  Ask Him to reveal to you what you need to know – and no more. 

          And trust Him to know what He is doing  — and why He is doing it – and what it all has to do with you, and for His Divine calling upon and purpose for your life.

A Parsha T’rumah Travelogue

What will we read about this week?

As aforesaid the parsha will begin with the Holy One instructing Moshe to “Build me a sanctuary, that I will dwell in them“. Moshe will be instructed to take from every man willing to give contributions of gold, of silver, of copper/bronze, and other 11 other precious materials to be used for the construction of a very special sanctuary, patterned after something the Holy One showed Moshe on the mountain.

The sanctuary will consist of three distinct areas which will be separated by cloth partitions like unto veils.

The entire structure will be built around the special gold-over-acacia wood box in which the stone tablets of the Torah are to be housed. The Holy One will even describe the type of cover which He wants to be placed over the tablets of the Torah in detail. This cover is to be made of pure gold, and is to be adorned by two gold cherubim facing each other with their wings spread wide.

The Holy One will also tell Moshe to make for the middle enclosure of the ‘sanctuary’ a gold-over-acacia wood shulchan (table) complete with special utensils such as pans, jars, and bowls.

Finishing out the furnishings of the middle enclosure area of the sanctuary is to be a special seven-branched menorah [i.e. a candelabra] which is to be lit with pure olive oil.

Moshe will then be instructed as to how to make the sanctuary’s curtains, its framing boards, sockets and rings, and the veil-like partitions the Holy One wants put in place to mark off the three separate sections.

The Holy One will then conclude the parsha by giving Moshe specific instructions concerning the altar He wants constructed in the outer court area of the sanctuary and the special way He wants that courtyard area and its gate to be formed.

Haftarah T’rumah

I Kings 5:1 – 6:13

          As we read about the sanctuary the Holy One directed Moshe to build at Har Sineh [Mount Sinai] in this week’s Torah parsha we will simultaneously read about the Temple which Shlomo [Solomon] undertook to build on Mount Tzion in Jerusalem in the year 966 BCE.  Shlomo will, we will find, spend seven long years building this Temple. It will be inaugurated in 960 BCE.

          Try as we might, however, we will not, anywhere in Torah or TaNaKh, find any directions from the Holy One to build a permanent structure – a Temple – to replace the mish’kan. While the Holy One painstakingly defined every material and dimension of the mish’kan built on Mount Sinai, and lovingly showed Moshe the pattern he was to follow in building it, walking him through it for 40 days, no such instruction was ever given by the Holy One regarding the Temple Shlomo built.  

          In other words, the mish’kan was the Holy One’s idea – a picture on earth of something that had existed from before the foundation of the world in Heaven.  The Temples built by Shlomo and Zerubbabel, on the other hand, represented – and still represent – the aspirations of man.

          David, of course, among other desires that got him in trouble, wanted desperately to build a Temple. It was his chief aspiration in his latter years.  The Holy One would have none of it.  II Samuel 7:5-7.   

          David was, however, succeeded by Shlomo, who did pretty much what he wanted, when he wanted it. Sh’lomo had a good start – requesting wisdom from the Holy One the day he was anointed king.  He started with high hopes and a sense of destiny. He knew that the Holy One had told David a son/descendant of his would build a Temple.

          Shlomo, however, did not consider the possibility that when the Holy One spoke of a descendant of David building a Temple, He was speaking of Messiah – not Sh’lomo. 

          The confusion on Sh’lomo’s part is certainly understandable.

          Keep in mind that Shlomo did not live a sh’ma lifestyle [doing only what He saw the Father doing, and responding only to the Holy One’s voice]. Sh’lomo did not, it appears, have the kind of prayer life his father, the ‘sweet psalmist of Israel’, enjoyed.  Shlomo assumed, without confirming with the Holy One, that he had to be ‘the one’.  So, he became ‘the one’, without a Divine mandate to do so.

           Shlomo took it on his own initiative to build the Temple – even though it was another descendant of David – the Messiah – to whom it belonged.  He did not realize that the only Mik’dash [Temple] that will endure will be Messiah’s.

          Moreover, the Temple Shlomo built was not in accordance with the design the Holy One showed Moshe on the mountain.  He built not a reproduction of the Mish’kan, but an ornate structure strongly influenced by the architecture of the pagan nations that surrounded Israel, and which reflected Shlomo’s own personality and tastes rather than the Father’s will, ways, pattern, and design.

          You will find that, for this reason, the Holy One only accepted the edifice that Shlomo built CONDITIONALLY. If, the Holy One said, Shlomo and his people ever turned away from [Him] and did not sh’mar [treasure and cherish, and carefully guard, protect, and observe to do] all that was written in the Torah, and went off and worshipped and served other gods, THEN, He said, He would reject the Temple Shlomo built, and would cause all those who pass by it to be appalled, and say “Why has the Holy One done such a thing to this land and to this Temple?”. I Kings 9:6-8. 

          Shlomo himself started the downhill slide, offering sacrifices on pagan high places, marrying foreign wives, and worshipping other gods.  The slide continued, with brief respites, until 586 BCE, when the Holy One brought about the rejection and devastation of Shlomo’s Temple exactly as He had promised.

          When it was all said and done, the Temple Shlomo built, at such tremendous cost, and with such flash and fanfare, stood a mere 374 years. It was sacked, burned, and destroyed, along with the entire city of Jerusalem, by the army of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, in the month of Av [late Summer] in 586 BCE. 

          There is no point in having a Temple in the absence of a Torah-submissive nation, for such a structure always seems to become a ‘den of thieves’, instead of the house of prayer for all peoples the Holy One conditionally accepted it to be.

The Corresponding Reading

from the Apostolic Writings

Matthew 5:17-35

          This week in the apostolic Scriptures, we will be examining the opening lines of Messiah Y’shua’s initial self-revelation – the teaching with which He began His public ministry.  Some call it the Sermon on the Mount.  We will study it in the account written by Mattitiyahu [known to most of us by the Anglicized name “Matthew”].

          Right out of the box, Messiah Y’shua makes it clear where He stands vis-à-vis the Torah.  The Holy One gave the Torah. And the Holy One doesn’t make mistakes. And the Holy One never changes His mind.

          If, therefore, Torah was good when the Holy One gave it to Moshe, it is still good.  It will always be good.  

          But don’t take my word for it – let Y’shua of Natzret tell you Himself. Here are His words on the subject:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets.

I have not come to abolish them

But to make them full and meaningful.

I tell you the Truth:

Until Heaven and Earth disappear,

Not the smallest letter,

Not the least stroke of a pen,

Will by any means disappear from the Torah

Until everything is accomplished.

Anyone who breaks one of the least

Of these commandments [of Torah] and teaches others to do the same

Will be called least in the kingdom of Heaven.

But whoever practices and teaches these commandments [of Torah]

Will be called great in the kingdom of Heaven.

[Matthew 5:17-19]


[1]  In Hebrew-oriented texts such as the TaNaKh and the Complete Jewish Bible, the numbering is slightly different. In such versions, the verse with which the haftarah begins is called I Kings 5:15.

[2] By giving the instructions of Exodus 21-23, the Holy One is training His Redeemed People to THINK LIKE HIM, and APPROACH LIFE SITUATIONS AND LIFE-CIRCUMSTANCES like the Messiah would. This is discussed in detail the first four of the Rabbi’s son’s shiurim for parsha Mishpatim

[3] First usage Genesis 2:6 —  “a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground”

[4] First usage Genesis 26:5 – “ . . . because AVraham obeyed [Heb. sh’ma-ed] My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.”

[5]  Who else saw these things?  Certainly, Messiah did. Beyond that, it appears some of these things were shown to Daniel [see Daniel 7], and to Yochanan, the writer of the book of Revelation.  To some degree, Stephen, at the moment of his martyrdom, saw into this realm, as perhaps did Shaul when he was, as he reports, caught up into the ‘Third Heaven’.  One suspects Chanoch [Enoch] and Eliyahu [Elijah], as well as Avraham, were privileged to see the things that Moshe saw – or at least some of them.

[6]  Or in any other earthly language, for that matter.

            [7] Hence, it was a form of this verb that Torah used to describe what Noach’s ark did when the waters of the flood brought it to the point of buoyancy.

[8] Remember what the Psalmist said:  I lift my eyes up to the mountains, from whence  does my help come? My help comes from The Holy One, the Maker of Heaven and Earth!”  Psalm 121:1-2.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized