Developing the Theme of Family through the Torah Portions. Number Nineteen.

Dr Clifford Denton.

Terumah: Exodus 25:1-27:19

17th February 2024/8 Adar1

Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering. (Exodus 25:2)

Picture by Helen McNeill

We are with Moses on the mountain, reading the clear instructions for the building of the Tabernacle. God, as any architect instructing the manager of a building company, gives every detail clearly concerning what is to be built – every material for the construction, every colour, every item to be made and where it is to be placed and every measurement. This is the architect who made the entire universe in six days and will reveal the New Jerusalem to us one day, according to the expectation of Abraham who by faith, waited for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10)

Building according to God’s pattern is a theme that runs throughout the Bible. For example:

Unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain who build it. (Psalm 127:1)

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. (1 Corinthians 3:9)

According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. (1 Corinthians 3:10)

So, Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up (Ephesians 4:11-12)

Our Bible reading this week is not in isolation. It points to later developments in God’s covenant plan. Every aspect of the Tabernacle, a physical building, is the beginning of a teaching which reaches maturity in Yeshua and the lives of God’s people on earth, all in preparation for the eternal Kingdom. What we learn from the design and construction of the Tabernacle is part of God’s teaching for us as well as the Children of Israel in the wilderness years. There is a greater architectural plan overlaying all the various stages of God’s covenant plan, including the Tabernacle.

What did Moses see when he spent those days on the mountain with God? Was he shown a vision of a heavenly structure on which the earthly Tabernacle was to be modelled? Ezekiel may have had a similar revelation when he was given the design of the Temple described in Ezekiel 40-48. The pattern and instructions for building were precise and Moses remembered all the detail, however it was revealed to him. It is an exact representation of a heavenly reality.

God’s character is revealed by the absolute order in which it was to be obeyed, applicable today as it was then, in all we do in His service. Last week, we considered the order required by God concerning the laws for regulating our lives. This week we begin to consider many other aspects of Kingdom life, including provision for ministry, substitutionary sacrifice, repentance, forgiveness, holiness, life in the presence of God, and shared ministries including intercession. All this is contained in the design, building and purpose of the Tabernacle.

This is an important subject for our families to study together and one that is both enjoyable and edifying. It can be paralleled with the enjoyment we may share in putting a jigsaw puzzle together, where the overall picture is first studied and then the individual parts of the picture are gradually assembled.

As a family we might first read the chapters together carefully, to get the overall picture. Through prayer, we might then find that God shows us something that we had not understood before, concerning different elements or the overall structure. For example, the instructions for making the Menorah are:

You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work. Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and flowers shall be of one piece. (Exodus 25:31)

You shall make seven lamps for it, and they shall arrange its lamps so that they give light in front of it. (Exodus 25:37)

The lampstand was made as one piece, and the lamps are then made separately and hung on the stand facing in one direction. This point is usually missed. For example, almost every menorah we see, often small replicas bought as a souvenir from a visit to Israel, is one piece with the lamps integral to the lampstand, not made separately. We must read carefully and prayerfully ourselves – a meaningful family activity.

There are so many details to take account of in the construction and so many types and shadows for future fulfilment that there is an immense amount that can be learned by embarking on a practical project following careful reading, prayer and discussion.

Such a project can extend over several weeks. For example, a family could draw a plan of the structure together and cut out the individual parts from card, using paints or crayons to colour them. This can involve parents with children of any age. Or it could be a more ambitious project, whereby the family makes a model from simple materials and sets it up in three dimensions.

It will be a most enjoyable and edifying experience. It is a characteristic of being Hebraic to do things in life as well as talk about them. That is the character that God was developing in the Israelites as they worked together to set up the Tabernacle. It was a part of their teaching and can be a part of ours too. When the Israelites built the Tabernacle there was the possibility of personal involvement in the donation of materials and various skills in the construction and assembly of the different parts, and then in the participation of the orders of ministry. It was a teaching and an involvement that would lead to deeper understanding of God’s plan of redemption. Such teaching is relevant to us in the same way.






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