Parsha Terumah - Shemoth/Exodus 25:1 - 27:19
Part I - When in Doubt, Follow the Instructions
A common theme in this week’s readings is: “Make it exactly as I showed you.”
As YAHUAH was giving Moshe instructions for the Dwelling Place, He repeatedly emphasized that Moshe was to make it exactly as was shown to him on the mountain.
"According to all that I show you ... make it exactly so." (Shem/ex. 25:9)
"So, see, and do according to the pattern which was shown to you on the mountain." (Shem/Ex. 25:40)
[see also Shem/Ex. 26:30 & 27:8]
Moshe was not to sway from YAH’s plan in any degree, not one smidge of difference between YAH’s instructions and Moshe’s implementation and the craftsmen’s construction. All as YAHUAH planned.
It’s easy to see the principle in this: what YAHUAH instructs, follow to a tee -- Do not deviate from His plan.
Many times, we know this to be true from our own personal experience. When YAH leads us to do something, we know we have to follow through with it.
When we do exactly as He says, we have success. When we stray and try to do as we think or desire, we often fall short at best...or mess things up entirely at worst.
Not only do things not go as planned, but we also often meet the repercussions for our disobedience to YAH’s will, teaching us not to make that mistake again.
We know this too from our work of service here at Family of Messiah. We are a set-apart place for YAHUAH’s Name, a House of worship, prayer, teaching, healing, and provision. We call on the set-apart Name of YAHUAH and observe His commandments.
YAHUAH is our Sovereign. He is our Teacher, our Leader, our Guide, and our Elohim. Many things He taught us Himself along our journey. Yes, we’ve made some mistakes, but it was never long before He corrected us. Overall, He has and continues to lead us.
YAHUAH has revealed things to us just as He revealed things to Moshe and the prophets of old. He has shown us how to make Him a set-apart place (Shem/Ex. 25:8). (see Part II below)
In the same way you know that you can’t stray from what YAHUAH tells you, so also we cannot stray from what He’s shown us. As a set-apart place, we have to follow His instructions “exactly so.”
This isn’t always understood by others if something we do is contradictory to popular opinion, even among the set-apart ones.
But we cannot stray from what YAHUAH has shown us. We have to do exactly as He has shown us.
We get emails and phone calls (and drop-ins) all the time from people who have learned different things from other people. Most often, these conversations concern the Messiah’s Name, the validity of the New Testament, or the calendar we use.
We read their messages and hear them out patiently as they explain what they’ve learned. Then, we do our best to explain what was shown to us.
If it all ended there, it’d be fine, but usually, it does not end there. Usually, we then get a slew of additional emails or calls in which the other party tries to convince us to change our path.
We simply. cannot. do it.
What YAH has told us to do, we must do.
No, it’s not out of stubbornness or an unteachable nature. It’s simply out of fear of disobeying the Most High!
He’s shown us a pattern, and we have to do exactly as was shown to us.
We are always open to listen and learn. There are many things we’ve learned from others, and many times, we’ve changed and adapted according to what we’ve learned.
But those specific things that were shown to us, we cannot deviate from.
It would be like Moshe deciding to make the table of showbread 3 cubits x 2 cubits instead of 2 cubits x 1 cubit because Betsalel (someone wise and spiritual in his own right) thought it would be better that way.
Sure, the table would’ve still been useful in those dimensions, but would it have the same spiritual effect if Moshe deviated from YAH’s word?
Who can really say?
But I bet Moshe wasn’t going to find out!
And after a few not-so-good experiences yourself, I’m sure you’re probably not so keen on changing up what YAH tells you either.
So it is with us.
So, if you’ve been wondering about why we do/believe/teach some of the things we do, I hope this clears it up.
We simply cannot deviate from what YAHUAH has shown us.
We have to do “according to the pattern which was shown” to us, and we have to do it “exactly so.”
Part II - To Build or Not to Build
“But you’re not supposed to have a 'building' to worship in.”
That’s yet another topic that people have questioned us about, and if you’ve been in the set-apart belief for some time, then undoubtedly, you’ve heard that before, too.
Obviously, we don’t believe that.
YAHUAH has led us to build a dwelling place for His Name, and as we said above, we cannot depart from what YAH tells us to do.
This week’s Torah portion explains why it was necessary for us to build Him a dwelling place. It’s actually a commandment - for everyone.
In Parshat Terumah, YAHUAH commands Yisrael:
וְעָשׂוּ לִי, מִקְדָּשׁ; וְשָׁכַנְתִּי, בְּתוֹכָם
“And they shall make Me a Set-apart Place, and I shall dwell in their midst.” (Shem/Ex. 25:8)
This is an everlasting command. The Torah is everlasting, standing forever, and therefore, this command stands forever.
YAHUAH says, “Ve’asu li mikdash”, “make Me a Set-apart Place.”
Whenever YAH says in Torah to make something specifically for Him, using the Hebrew word “li” (‘for’ Me), it is something that will last forever because He is forever.
Therefore, the command to make a set-apart place for YAHUAH is a command that lasts throughout all ages and is incumbent upon all generations to fulfill.
All the specifics of the set-apart place (the furnishings and their exact measurements) were for that time, but the principle that a set-apart place should exist, stands forever.
The Mishkan (Tabernacle) itself attests to this. YAHUAH instructed Moshe to build a portable structure that would travel with the children of Yisrael throughout their wilderness journey. YAHUAH made it clear that wherever His people were, He was to have a Dwelling Place among them.
This also paints a picture for the latter days when His people will be scattered and wandering among the lands. The prophet Yehezqel (Ezekiel) hints at this. When YAHUAH speaks about His people being scattered, He says He has been (and will be) for them a “mikdash me’at” (Yehez/Ezek. 11:16).
Mikdash is “set-apart place,” the same word used in Shemoth 25:8:
“Ve’asu li mikdash”
“Make Me a set-apart place.”
Me’at means “small” or “little.”
So, mikdash me’at is often translated as a “little dwelling place” or “small set-apart place.”
Yehezqel is hinting that when His people are scattered about, there will be “little dwelling places” in their midst. No matter where we are, YAHUAH still desires to dwell among us.
What is a Set-Apart Dwelling Place?
A set-apart place is a House for YAHUAH’s Name. It’s a symbol of His Presence in the earth. Its purpose is to be like a continuation of Mount Sinai, to reveal YAH’s Presence and His Torah into our lives and into the world.
The set-apart place is also a place for the community of Yisrael. Whenever Yisrael camped or traveled, the mishkan was located at the center of all the tribes (Bem/Num. 2). Their entire lives centered around the Dwelling Place.
Because the Mishkan had three important purposes:
To teach the people Torah (as represented by the ark)
To make offerings to YAHUAH (the altar)
To administer kindness and right-ruling (the work of the priests)
All were for the benefit of the community.
These three things are never to cease from the earth.
We are to teach Torah.
We are to make offerings of prayer, praise, and thanksgiving.
We are to show kindness and right-ruling through benevolence to the poor and needy.
This is why we have a “building.”
We obeyed the command to build a set-apart place for YAHUAH, and we are fulfilling our obligation to do these three things for the set-apart community and for the world.
You may or may not be able to make Him a dwelling place yourself, but if you help or support a dwelling place for His Name, then you, too, have fulfilled the commandment. For YAHUAH also commanded Moshe,
“Speak to the children of Yisra’el, that they take up a contribution for Me. From everyone whose heart moves him you shall take up My contribution." (Shem/Ex. 25:2)
For everyone who contributed to the making of the Set-Apart Place, it was if they did the actual work themselves.
So, to everyone who has contributed to Family of Messiah, thank you, and Praise YAHUAH - you fulfilled a mitzvah!