The title of the Parasha which contains this week’s taste of Torah is called terumah. Terumah is a Hebrew word meaning offering, gift, or contribution. In Exodus 25 it’s used in reference to Yahweh commanding Moses to take up a free will offering from the Israelites in order to build a sanctuary in the wilderness. In context, this sanctuary refers to a place of holiness. It stresses the transcendence of Israel’s God as an exalted being different from His people. And yet, it’s also stated in this account (v. 8), that this same transcendent God would reside among His covenant people. So what we have here is a covenant making covenant keeping God who is not only above and beyond His people but also up close and personal with His people.
In Exodus 25:1-2 we read; The LORD spoke to Moses: 2 “Tell the Israelites to take an offering for me; from every person motivated by a willing heart you are to receive my offering.
This sanctuary, called the Mishkan, was meant to be a visible reminder for the people of God’s holy presence that dwelt among them. And in Exodus 25 we learn that the offerings the people were asked to bring included precious metals and stones, fine linens, animal skins, wood, oil for the lamps, and fragrant spices for the incense. And concerning these offerings, we see in verse 2 that the Lord instructed Moses to take an offering only from those who gave willingly and from their heart.
In this narrative, the people gave freely to build this sanctuary. And this shows they valued the privilege of having an intimate relationship with God. However, when you look at the surrounding big picture of what’s going on here; it’s clear that the Israelites found it easier to give to the construction and decoration of a physical structure, than to be obedient to the God that this structure was intended to honor. And on this basic point, essentially the same pattern and tendency is operative today. When it comes to spiritual matters, it’s easier to give one’s money than to grow one’s character. Yet clearly, in God’s economy, He desires obedience more than sacrifice (cf. 1 Sam. 15:22-23).
In comparison to our own little and often petty action/reaction human frame of reference, it’s literally other-worldly how undeservedly merciful God is towards us. In light of this truth, and in response to this truth with respect to our sin; I think we do well to reverentially fear God first and fear the consequences of sin second. To me this seems like the proper order because our sin grieves the Spirit and offends the absolute moral perfection of the One who secured our redemption. Yes, there are serious and significant consequences when a believer chooses to live independently of God; interruption of spiritual relational intimacy, temporary removal of ministry blessing and power, and possible loss of spiritual reward at the Bema (the Judgment Seat of Messiah) for example. And certainly we need to have a rational and appropriate recognition and desire to avoid experiencing those things. But in terms of our initial deterrent to acting out in disobedience, putting first things first seems more conducive to our sanctification journey of progressively becoming more like Yeshua in character and conduct. And progressively becoming more like Yeshua in character and conduct, is really the crux of a His-will offering.