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*Updated: February 26, 2006

(Note: all quotations are taken from the Complete Jewish Bible, translation by David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc., unless otherwise noted)

Let’s begin with the opening blessing for the Torah:

“Baruch atah YHVH, Eloheynu, Melech ha-‘Olam,
asher bachar banu m’kol ha-amim,
v’natan lanu eht Torah-to.
Baruch atah YHVH, noteyn ha-Torah.

(Blessed are you, O’ LORD, our God, King of the Universe,
you have selected us from among all the peoples,
and have given us your Torah.
Blessed are you, LORD, giver of the Torah.

This week's Torah portion, named "T'rumah,” is dedicated to my very dear friend in Messiah,Terumah.

"The most beautiful thing that I shall always remember about you is the way Yeshua caused your countenance to shine! My world is richer because of you!"
-Ariel ben-Lyman HaNaviy
(South Korea, October 1998-December 1999)

Our Torah portion this week is a short one. Accordingly, we shall not spend a lot of time commenting on the various details. Actually, the portion is the opening instructions to the building of the Tabernacle (Mishkan). This would serve as a temporary dwelling place where HaShem would meet with 'Am Isra'el to instruct them on everyday matters. As we read the parashah, we find instructions for the building of the Ark of the Covenant (Aron Kodesh), as well as the Golden Lamp stand (Menorah).

In the sequence of the giving of the instructions for the building of the Mishkan, HaShem starts with the Inner Chamber (the Holy of Holies) and works his way out to the common areas. Actually, the entire moveable structure was to be holy, yet, we know as students of the Word that HaShem confined his Sh'khinah, his manifested glory, to the Most Holy Place.

The Mishkan is a Tabernacle, a temporary structure. One of the additional Hebrew words used to describe a temporary dwelling place is "sukkah.” This Mishkan was a dwelling place where HaShem chose to manifest his Glory, yet the Glory of HaShem couldn’t be confined to one place. This was a gracious revelation on the part of our holy, invisible God, to allow man to converse with him on an accessible level. Our LORD knew that only pure hearts would be able to fellowship with him on an intimate level. As such, he only wanted willing hearts to contribute to the building of his Sanctuary. Let's read the opening few lines.

Sh'mot 25:1-2:

"ADONAI said to Moshe, "Tell the people of Isra'el to take up a collection for me—accept a contribution from anyone who wholeheartedly wants to give."

This reflects the heart of our LORD's relationship with his people: willingness to give. He did not want his Mishkan constructed with gifts given in coercion. He did not instruct Moshe to make the people give. HaShem wanted his bride to WANT their Husband to have a dwelling place. Our LORD delights in our free will, especially when we choose him!

If you'll remember from a couple of parash'ot ago, when the offspring of Avraham left Egypt, HaShem put it in the Egyptians hearts to give large amounts of gold, silver, articles of clothing, and precious stones to them as they made their escape. Now we can understand why this event took place. HaShem, knowing the future, would give his people the opportunity to see whether or not they would hoard this fortune, or give it back freely to the one who provided it in the first place. Herein lies a lesson for us today. Many times, our natural resources have been given to us to grant us an opportunity to freely contribute them back to HaShem, for the building up of his Kingdom. The Torah teaches, "To whom much is given, much is required.” The reward comes to us when we make the wise choice to freely, and wholeheartedly, give as 'Am Isra'el did in these opening few verses. To be sure, what good would all of those riches do for a bunch of desert-dwelling, former slaves?

I want to talk about the concept of this temporary dwelling place for HaShem. This is the beginning of a Torah principle that would culminate in HaShem permanently dwelling among his people (read Revelation 21:3). The following material can be found within a previous teaching of mine on the Festival of Tabernacles.

Living with Papa

I want to develop the “temporary dwelling place” theme for our study. From this commentary, the reader will soon see that there is a lot of “Messianic redemptive history” tied up in the concept of “dwelling.” HaShem has had a grand plan of becoming the one and only God of his people, from the beginning of history. Having said that, I will work from a basic outline this time. Let’s examine my main points:

  1. Dwelling with men: Past History
    Exodus 25:1, 2, 8, 9
    Leviticus 23:34-43; 26:11, 12
    Ezekiel 37:27, 28 (Prophetic)

  2. Dwelling with men: Present Reality
    John 1:14; 14:23b; 17:23
    Hebrews 8:1, 2, 10
    Jeremiah 31:33 (Prophetic)

  3. Dwelling with men: Future Redemption
    Romans 11:25, 26
    Revelation 21:3
    Zechariah 14:16 (Prophetic)

Dwelling with men: Past History

According to our current parashah, this tabernacle was to be put together using materials that were freely and wholeheartedly contributed by 'Am Yisra’el. They were not to be forced to give. The first point I want to emphasize is: the building of the “dwelling place” was an act of free will; the people wanted it built, and thereby contributed to it’s building. Only after this important detail of HaShem’s Tabernacle was addressed could he state in 25:8, “I [will] dwell among them” (KJV, emphasis mine). In Leviticus 23:42, HaShem instructed the people to build sukkot (the plural of sukkah) in memory of the temporary dwelling places that they had while wandering in the desert. But the most important temporary dwelling place during that period was still the Tabernacle (our Mishkan). To be sure, according to past history, once the people built a Tabernacle for HaShem, he indeed did come to “dwell among his people” as he said he would, and they did behold his Sh’khinah (manifest Glory of God)! In the prophecy of Ezekiel 37:27, 28, HaShem is seen as saying once again that his “home will be with them,” however, this reference is in the future tense. What could he be saying to us? Let’s read on.

Dwelling with men: Present Reality

John’s opening account of Yeshua’s ministry here on earth is a most revealing one. In chapter one of his Gospel, we find a seemingly ordinary statement, until we examine the underlying Hebrew thought behind it. Here’s the statement: “The Word became a human being and lived with us, and we saw his Sh’khinah….” (Verse 14) This immediately brings to memory the indwelling, manifested Glory, present in the earthly Tabernacle. But the Tabernacle had long since been replaced by a more permanent Temple structure. Moreover, the Sh’khinah of HaShem is reported to have been displayed fully in the person of Yeshua (Colossians 2:9)! In John 14:23, and 17:23, Yeshua says that anyone who loves him will keep his words. The response is that the Father will demonstrate his own love for the individual, and that the both of them (Father and Son) would come to make their abode with him (KJV, paraphrase mine)! This type of “dwelling” is really a perfect one. One might even suppose that this type of “dwelling among men” was indeed the complete revelation of HaShem’s dwelling with men. Or was it? The book of Hebrews, chapter eight, tells us that our Great High Priest Yeshua was “a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” (Verse 2, KJV) It is true, our Messiah’s atoning death brought about the present reality that any individual who calls upon his name, will receive HaShem’s salvation (Joel 2:32; Romans 10:13). Moreover, according to the Torah, this personal acceptance of Yeshua is the only sign of a genuine relationship between a Holy God and his people (John 14:6-21, Hebrews 8:10). But the Feast of Sukkot, mentioned in Leviticus 23, is a holy convocation that speaks of corporate involvement. Is there still some future “dwelling with men” that HaShem is waiting for? What does our prophetic Scripture (from Jeremiah) for this point say? “I will be their God, and they will be my people” (31:33). So, God is consistent in his intentions. But let’s read further.

Dwelling with men: Future Redemption

The Festival of Yom Kippur, carefully teaches us believers about the effectual, atoning death of Yeshua, which brought about the very real and “present reality,” that, today, anyone can become a child of God. To be sure, the Torah promises that the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) will “dwell within” the believer, bearing witness with their ruach (spirit) that they truly are offspring of the Holy One, Blessed be He (Romans 8:16). At this time you may say, “But Ariel, I thought that Yeshua’s indwelling Spirit was an eternal one. What’s all this talk about a “temporary dwelling place?” Well, the study’s focus is on the “dwelling place of HaShem.” In a very real way, each and every one of us believers is Yeshua’s sukkah—his Mishkan—his portable Temple! We have become his “permanent dwelling place,” within a “temporary” vessel. Once this corruption is exchanged for incorruption, we will shed the “temporary” aspect (1 Corinthians 15:51-54). However, I’m still inquiring about the “dwelling place” of HaShem. Where is his sukkah today? Romans 11:25, 26 begins to hint of a future time when all Isra’el shall know the salvation of their God, once and for all (“Baruch HaShem! May that day come soon!”). Tied up within that future redemption, is the concept that HaShem started with way back in the days of the TaNaKH: “I [will] dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8, KJV, emphasis mine). From the prophetic book of Revelation, we learn that there will be a day, when the final plan of HaShem will be fully realized among men. Chapter twenty-one, verse 3, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them” (NIV, emphasis mine). Don’t you see where this is all leading? The concept of HaShem making his final dwelling place with his people is so important that even the prophet Zechariah foretold of a time when everyone living in the Millennium will have a divinely-appointed opportunity to participate in the Feast of Tabernacles (see 14:16)!

Even with the past history of the Tabernacle, and the present reality of Yeshua’s Spirit within us as believers, we still have a final, corporate sukkot to experience! Moreover, when Yeshua returns to rule from Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) in bodily form, even our current relationship with him, will take on an entirely different aspect!

Let us believers be ever mindful of the purposes that HaShem has for mankind, which are demonstrated in his "dwellings among men.” Shall we contribute our vessels freely? Through the power of his Ruach HaKodesh—this we shall do! For the Torah describes our opportunity in Romans 12:1-2:

"I exhort you, therefore, brothers, in view of God's mercies, to offer yourselves as a living sacrifice, living and set apart for God. This will please him; for it is the logical "Temple worship" for you. In other words, do not let yourselves be conformed to the standards of the 'olam hazeh (the present age). Instead, keep letting yourselves be transformed by the renewing of your minds; so that you will know what God wants and will agree that what he wants is good, satisfying and able to succeed." (Emphasis mine)

This life of ours is an opportunity to make a "t'rumah" unto HaShem. He will not coerce you into making this choice. The decision is yours.

The closing blessing is as follows:

“Baruch atah YHVH, Eloheynu, Melech ha-‘Olam,
asher natan lanu Toraht-emet,
v’chay-yeh o’lam nata-b’tochenu.
Baruch atah YHVH, noteyn ha-Torah.

(Blessed are you O’ LORD, our God, King of the Universe,
you have given us your Torah of truth,
and have planted everlasting life within our midst.
Blessed are you, LORD, giver of the Torah.