“Three bowls [of the menorah] shall be made like almond blossoms on one branch…” Exodus 25:33 (See below.)
The readings for this week 3-9 February 2019 are called T’rumah—“Donation”:
The rest of the book of Exodus (except for the incident regarding the golden calf) will be related to the setting up of the “Tabernacle.” The Hebrew for this word is mishkan—which means “a dwelling place.” Its root shakhan is used in the Modern Hebrew word for “neighbor”—someone who “dwells” nearby. God longs to shokhen with, to dwell, to “neighbor” closely with His people. The word is used in Exodus 25:8 of this week’s Torah Portion when the LORD instructs that a “holy place” (sanctuary) be constructed so that He may dwell within Israel. This would be the tent-covered Tabernacle (*) used in the wilderness and in the days of the Judges. At the end of this week’s Haftarah (I Kings 6:13) Solomon, some 500 years later, has completed a Temple on Mount Moriah—and the same words are again repeated, “And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake My people Israel.” Around 440 years later still, a pre-incarnate Yeshua twice more released these words through the prophet Zechariah, “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst. Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of Hosts has sent Me to you.” (Zechariah 2:10-11).
Yet, “the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands” (Acts 7:48), and today, through the work of the Messiah Yeshua, His Body on earth is “being built together for a dwelling place (Hebrew translation: mishkan) of God in the Spirit” (Ephesian 2:22). Finally, John tells us of a day when a Voice from heaven will proclaim, “Behold, the tabernacle (Hebrew translation: mishkan) of God is with the children of Adam, and He will dwell (shokhen) with them and they shall be His people. Elohim Himself will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:3-4).
(*) In English Bibles, a different Hebrew word succa, meaning “a temporary shelter,” is often also translated “tabernacle”—the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall uses the plural of this word Succot.
*Exodus 25:2. “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 25:10. “And they shall make an ark of acacia wood…”
The word “ark” is aron, a word used today for a cabinet, closet or wardrobe (Noah’s “ark” and that of the baby Moses is a different word teva, meaning ‘box’). This ark would later be called the “Ark of the Testimony, –of the Covenant”, –of God”, and “the Ark of YHVH (the LORD)”.
*Exodus 25:13-15. “You shall cast four rings of gold for it [the Ark of the Covenant], and put them in its four corners…and you shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, that the ark may be carried by then. The poles shall be in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it.”
It is remarkable the lengths to which this passage goes to stress the importance of the poles used to carry the ark, and that they are to stay in the rings at all times! Yet by the time of David, even though he read the Torah continually and loved it, that importance seems to have faded to a minor, unimportant “detail.” Tragedy would occur when he allowed the Ark to be carried a different “more modern” way (II Samuel 6:1-8). It is crucial to employ the whole counsel of God; there are no details of His instructions which are more important than others. “Thy Word O LORD is Truth!”
It is important also to stress that ALL of the articles of the Tabernacle were essential in the completion of the perfection of the whole—whether the beautiful golden menorah, the cherubim, the intricately embroidered inner curtains, or the more homely boards for the sides, the skins over the top, the instruments of bronze such as the “pans to receive the ashes, the shovels and its basins and its forks and its firepans” (27:3). So with those human “vessels” making up the Body of Messiah on earth today… some may be in positionings which appear more honourable than others, but before God, each part being in the place for which it have been specially fashioned by the Master Artisan in His preparing the Whole, that is the important thing.
*Exodus 25:17. “You shall make a mercy seat (Hebrew: kaporet) of pure gold.”
Kaporet means both “atonement” and “covering”. Upon this the blood would be sprinkled on the Day of Atonement. It was above this that the Presence of the LORD would dwell between the Cherubim, Hence the (extra-Biblical) word shekinah, related to shakhan above, refers to the manifest dwelling-presence of the LORD.
*Exodus 25:22. “You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.”
“Meet with you” here means “at an appointed fixed time and place.” In God’s mercies, we now “have boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Yeshua, by a new and living way which he consecrated for us”—so as to meet with and be spoken with by our Father (Hebrews 10:19-20).
*Exodus 25:30. “And you shall set the showbread on the table before Me always.”
Showbread is literally “Bread of the Face” or “Bread of the Presence”. Leviticus 24:5-9 clarifies that it would consist of 12 loaves made from wheat flour, corresponding to the 12 tribes of Israel. Each Sabbath they were placed before God on the golden table, across from the menorah whose light shone upon it. Psalm 44:3 says that Israel’s victories did not come by her own prowess, but “It was Your right hand, Your arm and the Light of Your Face, for You loved them!”
*Exodus 25:33. “Three bowls [of the menorah] shall be made like almond blossoms on one branch…”
The Hebrew for “almond” or “almond blossoms” which were to decorate the Menorah is sha’ked. This is also the root for another similar-sounding Hebrew word sha’kad meaning “to watch, to wake, to be diligent.” This is the word used in Psalm 127:1, “Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” Since the almond is the first tree to blossom in Israel, in mid-winter while other trees are still sleeping, it bears this same root and has become a symbol for wakefulness, and alertness. This is why both of these words are used in Jeremiah 1:11-12. The LORD asks Jeremiah what he sees, and he responds, “The branch of an almond (sha’ked) tree.” The LORD responds, “You have seen well, for I am watching over (sha’kad) my word to perform it.”
Even so, the menorah, which illumined the darkness when all else were sleeping, was decorated with these flowers—among other things, a symbol of He who watches over Israel and neither slumbers nor sleeps—who also watches over His word regarding her to perform it. As we write, the hills around Jerusalem are still shining with these flowers.
PLEASE PRAY for the Body in Israel to be alert, and awake, diligently seeking the Light of the Spirit to illumine the Word which nourishes us with life and guidance during this hour!
*Exodus 25:40. “And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.”
All of these things—the Ark; the rings of gold; the poles of acacia wood; the Mercy Seat; the Cherubim; the Table of Showbread; the golden Menorah— point to the work of Yeshua, our heavenly High Priest and mediator of a New Covenant, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people…For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:31; Hebrews 8:3-13).
– Your Friends in Jerusalem
[The readings for next week (10-16 February 2019) are called Tetzaveh—“You Shall Command”: TORAH: Exodus 27:20—30:10; HAFTARAH: Ezekiel 43:10-27]