Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study section of YHWH God’s instructions. “Then Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering [terumah]. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.’” (Exodus 25:1–2).
Last week in section “Mishpatim”, God gave to the Israelites about 53 mitzvot (laws) out of the 613 commandments. These laws included the treatment of parents, slaves, foreigners, as well as other people’s property. The title of this week’s Torah reading, Terumah (תְּרוּמָה), is taken from a Hebrew word meaning offering, gift, or contribution. In this section, Yahweh commands Moses to take up a free will offering from the people of Israel in order to build a sanctuary in the wilderness. This sanctuary will be where He will dwell amongst them and from where He will forgive their transgression of His instructions between Ex 20 and about 24:4.
I think it is very important you grasp this point. At the mount, God spoke to and gave Moses two sets of instructions. One for all the people and the second, once built, for the priests to administer forgiveness.
1) Exodus 20 – 24:4 which the people were to keep (and subsequent commands given).
2) Exodus 25 – 31:18 the tabernacle and forgiveness system for transgressions of 1). Just like any legal system has the things one is not to do AND the prescribed penalty or absolution act for transgressions. Whether it is going to prison for a certain period or paying a fine. One does not exist without the other. The latter may change i.e. from corporal punishment to life imprisonment, from 20 years in prison to 15 years for admittance of guilt and showing remorse or in the case of God, from animal sacrifices of Leviticus 16 to that of His son of Hebrews 9:21- 10:14; but the system and principle does not change.[You may note in some criminal cases there is a trial to assert if the person is guilty. If so found, they return for judgement another date. We will be tried during our life time until death to see if lived according to God's instructions. If we did not, were deceived and did not name and repent for the transgression, then we appear for sentencing at the Messiah's second coming.]
This sanctuary, called the Mishkan, was meant to be a visible reminder for the people of God’s holy Presence that dwelt among them. The offerings that the people were asked to bring included precious metals and stones, fine linens, animal skins, wood, oil for the lamps, and fragrant spices for the incense. Yahweh instructed Moses to take an offering only from those who gave “willingly and from their heart.”
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Because of our sinful nature, we tend to be selfish and seek for what we can receive; but the Bible tells us that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). The truth of the matter is that when we give, especially toward the work of YHWH, we receive back so much more than what we have given. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" (Luke 6:38). However, please do not let prosperity pastors or denominations use this scripture to make you give for their wealth.
Building the Sanctuary.
“And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it” (Exodus 25:8–9). A denomination has used this verse to form a concept that there is a physical sanctuary building in heaven, being in the Orion belt. This is not so. God showed Moses a pattern (a description) not a model. Just like in i.e. 2Ki 16:10, 1Ch 28:11, 1Ch 28:12 pattern does not mean model.
The Israelites were to make a Sanctuary for God’s Presence, as well as all of its furnishings. They were not to be made according to any design they imagined or they may have followed what they knew from Egypt; but only according to God’s specific blueprint, which God showed Moses on the mountain. When they thought Moses was lost or killed by God, they worshipped Him in the pagan Egyptian way copied from Egypt (Exodus 32).
“And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.” (Exodus 25:40).
Based on Revelations 15:5, some people may say the wilderness Sanctuary was a copy of an actual Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony in Heaven. Does that mean there is sin in heaven, a table of shewbread etc and a priest goes in and out of a holy of holies? I doubt it.
One very special “furnishing” in the Tabernacle was the Aron HaBrit (אָרוֹןהַבְּרִית or Ark of the Covenant), which was to be made out of acacia wood covered with gold. In it, the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments (really ten “words” meaning topics) were to be laid. According to the Book of Hebrews in the Brit Chadashah (New Testament), it also contained a golden pot with the manna and Aaron’s rod that budded, although it is written in the Book of Kings at the time of King Solomon, the Ark only contained the two stone Tablets (1 Kings 8:9).
The Temple was not simply a big church or synagogue. It was the dwelling place of God on earth. It housed His dwelling presence. He was present in the Tabernacle in a way in which He is not present on earth today. In today's world, a person might attend church or synagogue. Churches and synagogues are descendants of the Tabernacle. The synagogue is modelled after the Tabernacle in that the prayer services remember the daily sacrifices that took place in the Tabernacle. A synagogue has an ark that symbolically corresponds to the Holy of Holies. The community of worshippers assemble in the synagogue at the appointed times just as Israel assembled at the Tabernacle/Temple at those times. Similarly, churches are descendents of synagogues, and they should retain many elements of synagogue services. Sadly, many are places of noise and party like atmosphere to please the people like when Moses went up to the Mount in Ex 32.
Today, a person going to church may find them self at a powerfully moving worship service. They might feel spiritually elevated, feel goose bumps on their flesh, experience strong emotions or even see signs and apparent miracles as evidence of the presence of God's Spirit. During such an experience, a person would say, "The presence of the LORD is here." Similarly, a person might go to a solemn Day of Atonement service at the synagogue and hear heart-rending prayers of such spiritual intensity that he feels swept into the very presence of God; but neither of these experiences can be compared with the Tabernacle. Remember satan too uses lying signs and wonders as Egyptian magicians did with Moses. Also 2Th_2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,.
Though in some ways the presence of God's Spirit can be felt today, the Tabernacle/Temple was different. God was present in a far more concrete and absolute way. It was not a matter of feelings of spiritual intensity; it was a matter of fact. God lived in that place. It was like having God as a next-door neighbour. The prophet Ezekiel lived in the days of the Babylonian destruction of the Temple. He saw God's people scattered among the nations. He also saw a future time when the Temple in Jerusalem would be rebuilt and God's dwelling presence would return to it. Until then, He prophesied that God would dwell among his people as a "little sanctuary" in their midst:
Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come (Ezekiel 11:16 KJV).
In Judaism, the phrase "little sanctuary" is understood to refer to synagogues and Jewish homes. The rituals and prayer services of the synagogue are closely related to the Tabernacle services. The imagery of the home and the Sabbath table is drawn from the Tabernacle rituals. Every place where God's people gather to worship him, whether at home around the table or at the synagogue or what some may call their church, God is present as a "little sanctuary." We are able to have a small taste of His presence if we conduct our gatherings in a reverence way to Him and using His scriptures rather than our own words.
YOUR HEART AS THE TEMPLE OF YHWH.
The Ark of the covenant was at the heart of the Tabernacle. As such, it corresponds to the heart of man. Just as the ark was God's throne in the Tabernacle, we need to make our hearts a suitable throne for Him in our lives. You shall put into the ark the testimony which I shall give you. (Exodus 25:16).
In Hebrew thought, the heart is the not regarded as the seat of the emotions. Instead it represents a person's thoughts, intellect and will. The Hebrew Bible uses the word heart the way we use the word mind in English.
The Torah says, "Every intent of the thoughts of [man's] heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5) and "The intent of man's heart is evil from his youth" (Genesis 8:21). The prophet Jeremiah says, "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9). If this is the state of the human mind, how can we ever hope to change? How can we have pure hearts? "Who can say, 'I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin '?" (Proverbs 20:9).
God promises that He will change our hearts from within. This is the promise of His new covenant. In Jeremiah 31:33, He said He would make a new covenant with His people Israel, and as a part of the new covenant, He would change their hearts by writing His Torah (laws) on them:
"But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My Torah within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." (Jeremiah 31:33). This is far from taking away the law or changing it as is commonly taught in Christianity.
The concept of placing the Torah in our hearts is illustrated by the ark of the covenant. The ark was made to house the two tablets of the covenant. So too the Torah (laws of God) is to be placed in our hearts. The prophet Ezekiel promises that in the Messianic redemption God will give us new hearts:
Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)
When we commit ourselves to be followers of Yahshua and recipients of His cleansing, the Spirit of God begins the process of recreating our hearts. We should pray toward this end with the words of King David, who said, "Create in me a clean heart, O God" (Psalm 51:10). Then we may declare along with him, "I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Torah is within my heart" (Psalm 40:8).
The Torah can be likened to a marriage contract (ketubah). In Jewish tradition, the ketubah is placed somewhere within the family home as a continual reminder of the marriage obligations. In the days of Moses, the Tabernacle stood in the centre of the encampment of the tribes of Israel. The focal point of the Tabernacle was an inner chamber called the Holy of Holies, in which stood the Ark of the covenant. The two tablets of the Ten Commandments were inside the ark. In that regard, the Torah, God's ketubah with Israel, was at the centre of the home.
The Golden Cherubim Over the Mercy Seat.
Upon the Ark’s cover and over the mercy seat were placed two golden cherubim. From above the cover and between these two cherubim God spoke with Moses. Other Scriptures speak of this as God's throne (2 Samuel 6:2; Isaiah 37:16). When King Hezekiah prayed, he addressed YHVH as the One enthroned above the cherubim (referring to the mercy seat on the Ark of the Covenant). “O LORD of hosts [YHVH Tzeva’ot], God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth” (Isaiah 37:16). We may notice that the “law” formed the foundation of the Ark, but communication with God came forth from the mercy seat. God commanded that a veil should be made to separate the holy of holies from the holy place. According to the Gospels, the veil tore into two pieces when Yahshua breathed His last upon the cross: “And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Mark 15:38).
Bible teachers usually interpret the tearing of the Temple veil as a sign of God’s displeasure with the people and the Temple, but according to Hebrews 10:19–20, the veil symbolizes the Messiah’s body. He is the veil. As the life was rent from His body, the curtain was rent with the result that we might have access to the throne of glory in the supernal Temple through Him. This is not the same as abrogating the Temple worship system; rather, the rending of the veil vividly dramatized what the death of Messiah accomplished for us: access to God through the Messiah’s suffering. Embroidered upon the veil were two cherubim. The cherubim invoke the imagery of the Garden of Eden and the way to the tree of life, as it says in Genesis 3:24, “And at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.” The cherubim on the veil stood sentry in front of the holy of holies like the two cherubim that guard the way to the tree of life (immortality) and the Garden of Eden (paradise). As the curtain was rent into two pieces, the tear created a path between the two cherubim, symbolizing the way back to Eden.
Rending garments is a Jewish mourning rite. When Elisha saw his teacher Elijah depart, he “took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces” (2 Kings 2:12). Some manuscripts of Mark 15:38 make an allusion to 2 Kings 2:12 explicit by reading, “the veil of the temple was torn in two pieces.”
The Gospel of Mark delivers the same sequence in the same type of language: “He breathed His last, and the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Mark 15:37–38). The Temple curtain can be likened to the garment of God:
Our relationship with God is always filtered through His mercy.
What exactly is the mercy seat? In Hebrew it is called the kapporet (כפורת), from the word kapparah, which means atonement. The root of this term is kaphar, meaning to cover. The mercy seat was a golden cover to the Ark of the Covenant, but it represented our atonement that God gives us through His mercy.
what are cherubim (כְּרֻבִ֗ים)?
In Hebrew, cherub is singular, adding “im” makes it plural the same as adding a “s” in English. Although popular modern folklore represents cherubim as chubby naked babies who have small wings with which to fly, the Bible describes them differently.They first appear in Genesis as mighty angelic beings with flaming swords. They guarded the entrance of the Garden of Eden and the way to the Tree of Life after Adam and Eve had been banished (Genesis 3:24). Cherubim are winged angelic beings who attend to God. The prophet Ezekiel described the images of cherubim that he saw in his visions (Ezekiel chapters 1 and 10) as having four faces, four wings, and the hands of a man. He described the sound of their wings as being like the sound of the Almighty when He speaks.
The Holy of Holies.
“The veil shall be a divider for you between the holy place and the Most Holy” (Exodus 26:33). Images of the cherubim also make an appearance in the Holy of Holies (KodeshHaKodeshim), which was to be separated from the rest of the Sanctuary by a thick, heavy veil or drape. The veil was made of fine linen and blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and embroidered with golden cherubim. The Holy of Holies was the most sacred and innermost portion of the Sanctuary built by Moses, as well as the ancient Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Only the Cohen HaGadol (Jewish high priest) could enter into this most Holy place, and even then he could only enter once a year on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement, Leviticus 16).
“Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance” (Hebrews 9:6–7).
Before entering the Most Holy Place, the Cohen HaGadol would have to wash himself thoroughly and put on special clean clothing, designated and cleaned for this one event. Similar to Exo 19:10 [And YHWH said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes, Exo 19:11 And be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai.] Nothing dirty or blemished is permitted before God. This is a precedent seen in His scriptures. Sin is a blemish and sinful persons similarly cannot enter His new heaven and earth. A forgiven person is nolonger blemished; but an unrepented one remains so. It is therefore imperative believers are not deceived as to what remains a sin. Familiarise yourself with Exodus 20 – 24:4 at least and see which of them you do transgress and have not reprented. Repentance is to stop doing the action!
Once inside, the priest would burn incense so that the smoke would cover his eyes and form a barrier to seeing God directly. Then he would sprinkle the blood of a sacrificial animal on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant to atone first for his sins and then of his people. The veil and such elaborate precautions undertaken by the High Priest before entering the Holy of Holies was because God’s eyes are too pure to look upon sin or presence too bright for human eyes (Habakkuk 1:13).
This emphasizes that we cannot take God’s holiness lightly or carelessly enter into His Presence. We will die like butter melts in the fire. It is highly significant therefore that when Yahshua HaMashiach (the Messiah) died on the Roman execution stake, the veil was torn in two. “When Yahshua had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up His spirit. At that moment the curtain of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:50–51).
No man tore this veil in two; it was torn as a result of a supernatural act of God, a reflection of a Jewish mourning custom. When a person grieves for a loved one who has died, the garment of the mourner would be torn from top to bottom. It is in this way that our Heavenly Father publicly displayed His deep grief over the death of Yahshua; His son. This amazing occurrence signified our free access to the very presence of God through Yahshua’s atoning sacrifice. Because of Yahshua’s death on the execution stake, man no longer must be separated from God nor need a human priest to intercede on their behalf. Individually we can go boldly to the Throne of Grace at any time to receive God’s grace, help, and mercy through Yahshua according to our faith and repentance. “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:16).
Whereas in the days of Moses, a formidable barrier to God was guarded by the cherubim, now we can confidently and freely enter even the Most Holy Place through a new and living way that has been opened for us through the curtain, that is the pierced body and shed blood of Yahshua (Hebrews 10:19–20). Yahshua came as the Cohen HaGadol (High Priest) of a greater and more perfect Tabernacle than the one constructed by Moses and the people of Israel; His Temple was not made with human hands as in King Solomon's day; but was supernaturally created.
“Messiah came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation” (Hebrews 9:11).
He did not enter into the Most Holy Place with the blood of bulls or goats or any other sacrificial animal, since their blood could never completely cover sin; but would have to be repeated every year over and over again. Yahshua entered into the Kodesh HaKodeshim with His very own blood, once and for all , to totally remove our sins from us who REPENT and seek forgiveness, as far as the east is from the west! Hallelu Yah (praises to Yah)! (Luk 13:5 ... except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish).
“Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12).
Two scriptures to note in 1 Kings 5 – 6. 1Ki 6:7 And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building. Shows the holiness and specific nature of God and His sanctuary. Some singing and instruments in today’s churches are so noisy rather than angelic sounds.
1Ki 6:11 And the word of the LORD came to Solomon, saying, 1Ki 6:12 Concerning this house which thou art in building, if thou wilt walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep all my commandments to walk in them; then will I perform my word with thee, which I spake unto David thy father: 1Ki 6:13 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel.
Hebrews 9. Verses to note. The whole chapter shows how the Messiah replaced Leviticus 16. I suggest you read all.
Heb 9:1 Then verily the first covenant (is an inserted word and should be taken out as gives a very wrong attachment and implication. The first covenant was the rainbow with Noah) had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.
Heb 9:2 For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. Heb 9:3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;
Heb 9:4 Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; Heb 9:5 And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. Heb 9:6 Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. Heb 9:7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: Heb 9:8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Heb 9:9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Heb 9:10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.
Heb 9:11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Heb 9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. Heb 9:13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: Heb 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Heb 9:15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. Heb 9:16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. Heb 9:17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Heb 9:18 Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. Heb 9:19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, Heb 9:20 Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Heb 9:21 Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. Heb 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. Heb 9:23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. Heb 9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
Heb 9:25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; Heb 9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Heb 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: Heb 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
We should see, the above verse mirror what took place in Lev 16, Day of Atonement. It nor Yahshua’s death cancel the law nor our requirements to keep God’s laws, except for the animal sacrifices which were improved by His blood.
Adventures of the Ark of the Covenant.
The Tanakh (Old Testament) has many stories concerning the Aron HaBrit, which give us part of its history.
Throughout the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, the Israelites carried the Ark using poles placed through four gold rings. This was to avoid it being touched and the person killed. When they camped, the Ark was placed inside the Tabernacle. Priests carried the Ark into the Jordan River when the Israelites, led by Joshua, crossed over into the Promised Land. After they crossed over, the Ark was carried around the city of Jericho once a day for seven days. On the seventh day, seven priests, blowing on seven shofarot (ram’s horns), marched around the city seven times with the Ark. With a great shout, the walls of Jericho fell down and they took the city (Joshua 6:16–20).
During the time of Eli, the Israelites carried the Ark into battle, hoping that its presence would secure victory against the Philistines. Instead, it was captured by the Philistines; but misfortune befell them every place that they brought the Ark, so they eventually sent it back to Israel. It remained at Kiriath-Jearim for some 20 years until King David brought it back to its rightful place in the Tabernacle in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:17–20; 1 Chronicles 15:1–3; 2 Chronicles 1:4).
What Happened to the Ark?
Today, the location of the Ark remains a mystery. There are many theories regarding what eventually happened to it. It is generally believed that the Babylonians carried away the vessels and the Ark when they destroyed Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple in 587 BC (according to the Greek Apocrypha book of 1 Esdras):
“And they took all the holy vessels of the Lord, both great and small, with the vessels of the ark of God, and the king's treasures, and carried them away into Babylon” (1 Esdras 1:54).
The Bible, however, does not tell us that the Babylonians took away the Ark itself, and although there have been many reported findings, its location has never been discovered. Some believe that it is under the very spot where Yahshua (called Jesus by many) was executed by the Romans, and that His blood was sprinkled upon the mercy seat below the earth. As well, visitors who tour the Western Wall tunnels are shown the spot closest to where others believe the Ark of the Covenant is buried.
Shalom and happy studying.