Thoughts and Teachings: Haftarah Terumah

In the beginning of Parasha Terumah/תְּרוּמָה (Exodus 25:1-27:19) we read;

Adonai spoke to Moses saying, “Tell Bnei-Yisrael to take up an offering for Me. From anyone whose heart compels him you are to take My offering.”… “Have them make a Sanctuary for Me, so that I may dwell among them. You are to make it all precisely according to everything that I show you—the pattern of the Tabernacle and the pattern of all the furnishings within—just so you must make it.” (Exodus 25:1-2 & 8-9).

There are numerous things that are of real importance to in this Parasha, and three specifically in the beginning. First, the LORD called for an offering (terumah, תְּרוּמָה) to be received but did not make it mandatory but for “anyone whose heart compels him.” Then there is the stated purpose for the offering to “make a Sanctuary for Me (ADONAI), so that I may dwell among them.” And then the third item was that the sanctuary was to be built after a specific pattern, “precisely according to everything that I show you (Moshe). Then for the remainder of the passage, there are exact details on how the building of the sanctuary is to come about.

It is interesting that while the Haftarah (1 Kings 5:26-6:13) connects to the Parasha with the building of the Sanctuary of the LORD by Solomon, there are some striking differences along with the similarities. As to the similarities, the purpose of the sanctuary was so that the LORD would dwell among the children of Israel” and as with the Tabernacle, the construction would require offerings from the people, and then 1 Kings 6:2-10 describe the exact dimensions and architectural designs of the Temple. But it is here that the striking difference springs forth. Where as the LORD told Moshe the collect an offering from “anyone whose heart compels him” Solomon “imposed forced laborers from all Israel,” (1 Kings 5:27). The people had no choice, this was David’s dream, brought to reality by Solomon. There may be times in our lives, when we find ourselves walking alongside someone else’s dream or ministry desire. If that happens, we much embrace the encouragement of R. Shaul when he wrote to the Colossians, “Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you are serving the Messiah Yeshua,” (Colossians 3:22-23).

It is interesting as well that the LORD reminded Solomon as he built the Temple, David’s closing charge to him, “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the LORD your God, walking in His ways and keeping His statutes, His commandments, His rules, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, that the LORD may establish His word that He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’” (1 Kings 2:1-4). You, Solomon, need to “walk in My statutes, execute My ordinances and keep all My mitzvoth by walking in them, then I will establish My word with you, which I spoke to your father David,” (6:12).

As important as the “house of the LORD” was, it was secondary to obedience to the mitzvoth. King Saul already discovered this as Samuel chastised him, “Does Adonai delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of Adonai? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay heed than the fat of rams,” (1 Samuel 15:22). Jeremiah would later remind Israel with a history lesson, “For on the day that I brought your fathers out of the land of Egypt I did not speak to them nor did I command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices, but I explicitly commanded them: ‘Obey My voice and I will be your God to you and you will be My people. Walk in all the ways that I command you that it may go well with you.’” (Jeremiah 7:22-23). Yeshua even told His disciples, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Torah or the Prophets! I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. Amen, I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or serif shall ever pass away from the Torah until all things come to pass. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever keeps and teaches them, this one shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven,” (Matthew 5:17-19).

Obedience to rules and regulations has fallen out of vogue in our post-modern, restraint-free world – but that world is not the one ordered by HaShem. He established guidelines, laws to live by that man has largely attempted to throw off in favor of “doing what is right in their own eyes,” (Judges 17:6 & 21:25). In his first letter, Peter encouraged his readers, “Live as free people, but not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil. Rather, live as God’s slaves,” (2:26). To “live as God’s slaves” means we have to follow certain regulations and guidelines. Like Solomon, if we want to continue to walk in the LORD’s favor and grace, then we too need to “walk in My (the LORD’s) statutes, execute My ordinances and keep all My mitzvoth.” To do that, one needs to “study to show themselves approved” (1 Timothy 2:15) always ready to give an answer as to why we do what we do and what is the hold to which we hold fast (1 Peter 3:15).

Shabbat Shalom

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Michael Hillel with his wife Vered and their three children, made aliyah from the US in late 80s, and in biblical fashion has, for the last 27 years, done whatever his hands have found to do. In 2013 Michael began working on a MA degree in Messianic Jewish Theology. Using the tools learned from his studies, he has been writing teaching and devotional materials from both the Tanakh and Apostolic Writings. Since Messianic Judaism shares a communal context with both Judaism and Christianity, he incorporates material from both traditionally Jewish and Christian perspectives.