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A Discussion of Messianic Judaism, the Emerging Messianic Jewish Paradigm, and Related Leadership Issues from the Preoccupied Mind of Rabbi Stuart Dauermann, PhD.

All Contents ©2004-2007 Stuart Dauermann - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Monday, March 06, 2006

Building A Sanctuary For God

(This is a teaching lesson on Parashat Terumah presented March 4, 2006 at Ahavat Zion Messianic Synagogue, Beverly Hills, CA. It concerns the counterintuitive directive Hashem gave to Israel that they were to build a Sanctuary for Him that He might dwell among them, and how particular He was about how they were to go about it. What does this have to say to us?)

You may have noticed, the Ahavat Zion liturgical service style is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people think it be better if we had an entirely different kind of service. If we pause for a moment to think about this, we will discover that this is an example of a market driven mentality—we ought to have the kind of service people like. Although there is something to be said for this approach, and I could certainly argue for it, today’s reading comes at things from another angle entirely.

Today’s passage speaks about the worship of the people of Israel during the lifetime of Moses; it is a style of worship that continued in the Temple, and all in all continued for well over a thousand years.

They shall make a Sanctuary for Me—so that I may dwell among them—like everything that I show you, the form of the Tabernacle and the form of all its vessels;m and so shall you do (Vayikra/Leviticus 25:8-9)

As is often the case when we read the Bible, there are some surprises here as we apply it to our own situation.

1. It is we who must make provision for the worship of God in our personal and community life, it is not something anyone else can do for us.

2. We need to make room for the worship of God, and make decisions as to what modes of worshipping Him are most suitable. These should be ways that honor Him, that teach us about Him, that cause us to grow in honoring Him, and as Messianic Jews, that give due respect to our own distinctives, chiefly, the person and work of Yeshua our Righteous Messiah, and His identity as the bearer of covenant blessings to Israel and the Nations

3. If God seems distant and unreal, chances are we need to get more serious about “building a Sanctuary.” It is we who must make provision for encountering Him.

4. Contrary to the modern impulse, the worship of God should not be conceived of as an “anything goes” or “whatever you find meaningful” matter. In fact, it is not about us, it is about Him. God has a particular way He wants to be approached and worshipped.

5. It is our task to find out what that way is and to share it with others.

The Jewish way of worship is intensely reverent, ancient, biblical, and takes God, His commandments, and his mighty acts seriously. Yeshua and the apostles commended this way of worship through their own participation, and comment [Acts 26:7]. At Ahavat Zion, we have over thirty years experience worshipping God in these ways. Consider Jeremiah 6:16-30.

And now, some questions:

1. What do you see in today’s Torah text and in Hebrews 8-9 that would cause you to be cautious and thoughtful before simply seeking another form of worship that is more user-friendly or trendy?

2. Would you agree or disagree with the following statement? “According to the Bible, the worship of God is priority one.”

3. Does Scripture model the priority of private worship alone, or also of communal worship? Is that true in the Older Testament only or also in the Newer?

4. Do you find the worship at Ahavat Zion appropriate to the majesty, holiness, and mercy of God?

5. What factors in contemporary life hinder us from commitment to and participation in the heartfelt worship of God?

6. As a portrait of apostolic worship, consider Acts 24:1-27. What do we learn here about how the apostles related to traditional Jewish worship?

7. If the Bible treats the worship of God as priority one, if Yeshua meant what He said when He said, “the Father is seeking worshipers,” what priority is the worship of God for you? And what does your answer say about how biblical your values are, or how much you are pressed into the mold of contemporary culture?