Terumah – Contribution


Exodus 25 to 27:19


The Curtain Coverings of Redemption

This week’s parasha is called terumah and it covers Exodus 25 to 27:19. Terumah means offering. Not sacrifice offerings as we think of them, but those needed to build the Mishkan (Tabernacle) where God was to dwell with the Israelites.

These contributions or offerings were to come from the heart as Moses opens the text with an invitation to all in Israel whose heart was moved to bring his or her gift. It is the first time the Hebrew word terumah appears in the Scriptures and its mention sets a timeless precedence. It’s an invitation for anyone to freely come join the work of lifting up and proclaiming God’s name.

In these three chapters, we are brought to see some selected items from the Mishkan. We go from the Holy of Holies, to the Holy Place, then to the courts, along with all its colorful curtains shrouding the Mishkan. Together, these items bring us to journey through the history of redemption from the Altar of Sacrifice right into the presence of God. In every aspect of the Mishkan, the Messiah of Israel is depicted.


The Holy of Holies

The text begins with the Holy of Holies, the sacred room where only one person, the High Priest, could enter only once a year, on Yom Kippur. The Ark of the Covenant was there. The Ark was a rectangular box over which two carved golden angels were bowed. The Ark contained the tablets of the ten commandments, and was covered by an item called the kaporet, which means atonement. It is from this sacred room, the Holy of Holies, where the Lord spoke to Israel. From there they received reconciliation, or atonement and His commandments. This divine message flowed out from here to the rest of the Mishkan.


The Table of Showbread

As we move into the Holy Place, the first item mentioned is the table of 12 loaves of bread. There is one loaf representing each tribe of Israel. The unleavened loaves represented God’s provision for Israel, as they never lacked food in the wilderness. These loaves were called the bread of the presence, panim lechem, and were unleavened, as was every sacrifice offered to God. Leaven is a symbol of sin since it begins small but grows to affect the whole lump.

There was a great miracle attached to these loaves. Every Shabbat, the priests changed these 12 loaves for new ones, and were ordered to eat the old ones. They should have gotten stale and hard, even moldy after seven days of sitting there in the tent. But we see that this lechem, which stood before God’s presence, always kept its freshness, as if it were freshly baked.

The loaves of lechem then not only represented the Lord’s constant provision for the 12 tribes, but teach us that if we always stay close to Him, there is no decay but instead a constant renewing of our minds. He is the source of freshness.

Furthermore, the 12 loaves remind us of the soon coming Supper of the Lamb, which will inaugurate our eternal Sabbath upon Yeshua’s return. As just mentioned, the Table of Showbread is the first item mentioned after the Ark, as if to tell us that God is eagerly waiting for the time when we will delight in that great meal with Him.

Notice that the Table of Showbread, like the Ark of the Covenant, as well as many other parts of the Mishkan, were made of wood covered with metal, here gold. Why is that? This points to the nature and work of the Messiah. Micah the prophet says that while He was to be born in Bethlehem, He is also coming from eternity, olam, from kedem. So, here in the Mishkan we see His two origins: gold for heaven, and wood for the earth.


The Menorah’s Light

Following the order of the text, we now come to the Menorah. This was made from one piece of gold, and it represented the light of God, His Shekinah Glory. The word Menorah comes from the Hebrew word ner meaning light. The light of God is a light which every believer is asked to share with the world around them. At its core, this light displays the election of Israel. Israel was called to be a light to the Gentiles as Isaiah 42:6 prophesied, a prediction yet to be fulfilled in the Messianic Times.

The Menorah contains seven branches, seven being the number of perfection concerning divine truth. There are six branches, plus one in the center. Six is the number of man, and one is the number for God. So, the Menorah represents God’s partnership with man.

The center flame was called the tamid, which means always or eternal. This flame was always to be kept going. Every morning, a priest would come into the Tabernacle and take the light from the tamid in the center and light the six other branches which would have run out of oil. It was done, boker b’boker, morning by morning.

Do you know another name for the center eternal light? It is also called the shamesh, the servant. It is the same name that is used for the Messiah in the Tanach (Hebrew Scriptures) as He sustains Israel as a nation and everyone who believes in Him, boker b’boker,


The Four Coverings

Then we are brought to consider the coverings of the tent, of the Mishkan. There were four of them, one on top of the other, so that only the first and the last coverings were visible. They tell us the story of redemption.

The first, the innermost one, was gorgeous. It was made of fine, expensive linen embroidered with cherubim. It was blue, purple, and scarlet. It symbolized the angelic presence and ministry, as they are in heaven, always worshipping God.

But how did the Mishkan look from the outside? The outer covering was made of animal skin, one that according to the ancient rabbis, we can no longer identify, since knowledge of it has been lost. However, we do have a good idea of the type of skin it was. The Hebrew name of this skin is takash. Ezekiel the prophet tells us that they used this same skin to make sandals, so it was ordinary animal skin.

So, from the inside and outside coverings, we see the Messiah. From the outside, as Isaiah tells us, there was no beauty that we should desire Him for He was despised and rejected. But once we lift up this outer covering, we discover another one made of ram’s skin dyed red. This is striking because it symbolizes His terumah, the freewill offering Yeshua made for our salvation. Then we see the third covering, another simple but beautiful ram’s skin, again reminding us of Abraham and how the Lord would eventually provide the Lamb.

After the curtains of the Mishkan, the story of redemption ends with the Altar of Sacrifice. It is the first item we see when entering the whole perimeter of the Mishkan. Before reaching the presence of God there stood a huge Altar of Sacrifice which teaches us that the only way into the presence of God is by means of a sacrifice. It asks the question, “What is your sacrifice?”

In the passages concerning the Servant of the Lord in Isaiah 53, the Messiah Himself is said to have rendered Himself as the hasham, that is the first and necessary sacrifice which allowed any Israelite to be able to step into the presence of God. The Messiah of Israel is the hasham of the Mishkan allowing us to perform our terumah. He is always there for anyone who would want to come to God and His Name is Yeshua, meaning Salvation. The Messiah covered all the requirements necessary for anyone to approach the presence of God.