Scripture Portion of Week 19: Terumah

Exodus 25:1-27:19

The Tabernacle in the Wilderness (Holman Bible, 1890)

The Tabernacle in the Wilderness (Holman Bible, 1890)

These chapters in Exodus describe in detail the production of the meeting tent (Tabernacle) and the furniture in the tent to be used during ceremonial worship. Moses’ great attention to detail in recording this communicates the importance placed on preparing ourselves to meet God.

Moses gathered offerings from willing participants in order to produce all of the items described in this reading passage (25:2). The people had a choice to make regarding their commitment to meet with God, and they chose to do so. The choice to meet with God was not a light one. The people had to produce all of the items exactly as God had instructed Moses (25:9, 40). Considering that they were in the desert and did not have technologically advanced means of easily crafting precious metals like gold and jewels like onyx, the people had to do intense labor to complete God’s instructions in order to meet with him. But God took the first step in the relationship by providing much of the expensive materials for them by having Israel plunder the Egyptians beforehand.

Those who claim to be God’s people today should pause and consider the cost of having a relationship with the Creator. Apostle Luke recorded Yeshua’s teaching of this harsh reality.

28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

– Luke 14:28-33

When Yehovah spoke directly to Moses regarding the Tabernacle, he intended his people to conduct worship of him in this manner forever. “It shall be a statute forever to be observed throughout their generations by the people of Israel” (27:21). At that time in history, those who claimed to be God’s people were also of Israel (Ruth 1:16), whether by genealogical lineage or by faith (Isaiah 56:6-8).

Hundreds of years after Moses and the establishment of the Temple in Jerusalem, Israel began to tolerate their kings who committed atrocities and the nation began to break the covenant they had with God. They left Yehovah. This free choice that Israel made resulted in the destruction of the first Temple. Still hundreds of years later, after the construction of the second Temple, Yeshua began teaching that his own body was God’s temple (John 2:21). Apostle John wrote that Yeshua made his tent here on earth during his ministry, reminiscent of Moses’ Tabernacle (John 1:14). Apostle Paul taught that every person was like a temple that housed the spirit of God (1 Corinthians 6:19). After the Romans destroyed the second Temple, there was no more place for ceremonial worship; this teaching of Yeshua, John, and Paul became central to God’s people.

Paul predicted the destruction of the second Temple and inability to continue the ceremonial worship when he wrote, “In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first obsolete. And what is obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” (Hebrews 8:13). Paul referred to the ceremonial worship performed by the Levitical priests as the old covenant. This new covenant that Paul referred to is the one that Yeshua made with Yehovah on our behalf and for our sake. According to Paul, the physical Tabernacle and Temple were designed specifically according to the instructions given by God because they represent the original place of worship in heaven, the place of God (Hebrews 8:4; 9:23). According to Paul, Yeshua performs the ceremonial worship in heaven just as the Levitical priests performed the ceremonial worship on earth. Yeshua is the high priest in the original place of worship in heaven who represents God’s people, presenting himself as the everlasting sacrifice and offering our prayers to Yehovah (Hebrews 9:24).

In God’s future kingdom, his King will rule from Jerusalem for 1,000 years and God’s people will have a third Temple where they and the rest of the people in the world can go to meet with God and worship him (Ezekiel 40-48; Zechariah 14; see also Daniel 9:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 11:1-2). The construction of the third temple is constantly in the news and a point of contention. After the 1,000 years, God will create a new heaven, new earth, and new Jerusalem. Yehovah himself will setup his tent (or live with) his people, but there will not be any need for a Temple or ceremonial worship (Revelation 21:1-4, 22).

This is the hope of all people who believe and obey Yehovah. This is the gospel (or good news) of the Kingdom. God will resurrect his people to live with him forever (Daniel 12:2-2; Ezekiel 37:11-14; Matthew 4:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 20:4; 12:12).

About Jonathan Lankford

Jonathan has a Bachelor of Arts degree (BA) in Bible with a concentration in missions and intercultural communication. He also earned his Master's in Business Quality Management (MBQPM) and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Master's in Education (MEd) focusing on Administration. He has been an educator since 2007, teaching English and humanities in Vietnamese universities. He currently holds the position of Associate Registrar at Tan Tao University, Vietnam.
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