The Torah Portion for this next Sabbath is named Terumah (which means contribution or donation) from Exodus 25:1 – 27:19. The reading from the prophets is from 1 Kings 4:26 – 6:13, and from the Gospel we will read Mark 12:35-44.

The very opening of this reading is already a very dramatic word:

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: ‘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 25:1–2 [NKJV]

This is the Creator of the Universe speaking to the children of Israel, who had left Egypt and were delivered from slavery just two months prior.

They have not tilled a field, or planted a tree, or built a house. They have crossed the Red Sea on dry land without lifting a finger for themselves.

They have managed to murmur and complain and accuse Moses and God for taking them out of Egypt, and have wanted to return to Egypt.

Suddenly the Lord commands Moses to tell the children of Israel to bring Him an offering. This time it is not an “offering” of an animal on the altar.

This time the kind of offering that the children of Israel need to bring to the Lord is specified in verse 3: gold, silver, bronze, purple cloth, scarlet thread, fine linen, goats’ hair, ram skins dyed red, badger skins, acacia wood, oil for light, spices for the anointing oil, precious stones for Aaron’s breastplate and the like, etc.

The phrase in Exodus 25:1, “gives it willingly with his heart . . .” is the exact idea used in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians 9:7:

“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7 [NKJV]

This is not the tithing that was for the Levites and the priests, this is a special contribution for the building of the Tabernacle in the wilderness. This is a beginning of something totally new in the history of the Israelite faith.

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the fathers of our faith, did not have a holy place nor did they have a “temple” of any kind. They worshiped God anywhere and everywhere. They built altars and made offerings of animals anytime and in every place.

There was no religious “establishment” to administer their relationship with the Almighty. The only people who had temples to their gods were the idol-worshiping nations.

The children of Israel had just come out of Egypt. Egypt was full of the most magnificent temples to their gods. There were many gods in Egypt, and each one of their gods had his private temples and worship. Some of these temples, even some with traces from the time of Moses, are still standing and still magnificent.

Now, in the wilderness of Sinai, all of Israel is living in tents, they move according to the signal of the Lord – by day a cloud and by night a fire. There is nothing set in stone other than the Ten Commandments. Everything is makeshift and temporary.

And now a command comes from the LORD God of Israel to Moses : ask the people to bring an offering, a contribution of these precious materials, so that I can have a place inside of them – in their midst.

Here is the verse that is a key to so much of the most wonderful and complicated teachings in the whole Bible:

“And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.” – Exodus 25:8–9 [NKJV]

The Hebrew is hard to translate properly. A literal translation would be, “make Me a temple and I will dwell inside of them.” The Christian translators could not get the point. They were used to church buildings, and temples, and cathedrals – the house of God was the building itself.

The prophets of Israel understood later on what God really meant by this promise in Exodus 25:8. This is how the prophets and the New Testament understood the role of the Tabernacle that Moses and Aaron built in the wilderness of Sinai:

“And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.’” – 2 Corinthians 6:16 [NKJV]

In the second part of this verse, Paul is fusing two texts: Leviticus 26:12 and Ezekiel 37:27 (the text from the vision of the valley of dry bones that come to life).

“I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.” – Leviticus 26:12 [NKJV]

“My tabernacle also shall be in them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” – Ezekiel 37:27 [NKJV]

The LORD’s intention was never to have a temple made with human hands. The Tabernacle that Moses and Aaron built was patterned after a heavenly Tabernacle that Moses saw when he was atop Mt. Sinai talking to the Lord for 40 days and nights.

The Apostle Paul states this clearly:

“God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.” – Acts 17:24 [NKJV]

King Solomon, who built the first Temple made of stone in Jerusalem, dedicated the Temple. And this is what Solomon says on this issue:

“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!” – 1 Kings 8:27 [NKJV]

Indeed, dear brothers and sisters, if we would learn from the Torah and from the Old Testament, I believe that we would have a much more biblical attitude towards the church buildings, and become more useful to our communities with the wealth and facilities that the Lord has given us.

This of course is true for our relatively new building in Jerusalem. We have learned our lesson, and now there is activity here every day: feeding the hungry and poor of Jerusalem, radio and video teachings, and publishing printed material that go around the world, and youth activities, women’s activities, community activities, and on and on!

Not that others don’t do the same. But even in the USA, most church buildings are used very sparingly. When I travel in the USA and pass some church buildings, most of the days of the week they are empty and locked up. At least Catholic churches are open most of the time, and there is at least some person inside to hear you and to talk to you!

In our congregation in Jerusalem, this Torah portion is the only time of the year that we talk about giving. In fact, this is what happens in most of the Jewish Synagogues around the world.

This topic is powerful and challenging, and therefore one time per year is enough to make just the right impression to those people who have a heart for the Lord, and His Kingdom and Kingship over their lives. As Paul and Moses said, the giving to the Lord has to come from our hearts. If it doesn’t, it is worthless for us in this life and especially in the life to come!

Please pray for Israel. Yesterday was the opening day of the election season in Israel. The biggest political party had their primary election. I was happy to vote in Israel for the first time in 24 years.

The national election will be on April 9th, 2019. This is a very crucial situation because Israeli politics are falling apart from the inside. Israel as a nation must wake up and smell the coffee, I could have said smell the roses, but the situation these days is more like coffee – dark. Although I must admit that every morning the coffee smells good to me and I enjoy the smell of coffee.

We need your prayers for Israel! We ask the Lord to take care of our nation and our friends, the rest of it we can take care by ourselves, with the LORD’s help of course.

The challenges that Israel faces are so big and they seem like beyond our ability to cope with them. After we cope with them with God’s help, they seem so small and we wonder, “how is it that we were so troubled by this small hill!”

Right now, dear brothers and sisters, the hill before us as a nation, and also as the Netivyah ministry, seem each like Mount Everest. With your prayers, and help and support, after we meet these challenges, all will seem so simple and so easy. Right now, however, we are faced with big challenges, big mountains stand in front of us and we feel like David:

“Unless the LORD had been my help, My soul would soon have settled in silence.” – Psalms 94:17 [NKJV]

We need your help in prayer for Israel and the whole region, and specifically prayer for Netivyah and the staff. We need new young believers that are talented in media production, in editing, in youth work, and in social skills.

We need a new van for the ministry, for the “Hamotzi” food distribution program, for the youth group, and for dozens of other uses and ministry needs. Some of you our brothers and sisters have been giving generously for this van, but we are only half way through to fill this need. I am asking those of you who want to give and haven’t done so yet, to make an effort and give soon.

The next big issue is the conference in Portugal. We have people who have registered and made reservations from many places, but we have not heard from Holland, Germany, Bulgaria, Finland, Italy, England, France, Spain, China, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

What is about to take place in Portugal is the real and true spiritual battle and warfare for the last stages of the restoration of Israel, both physically and spiritually. Israel needs to fill this land with the grandchildren and great grandchildren of those Victims of Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition that lasted over 300 years, and left a deep ugly mark in the hearts of the Jewish nation. Israel needs to see the fulfillment of the promises of God to Obadiah the prophet, for the Diaspora of Sepharad to return to the land and settle the Negev Desert. This is what this conference in Portugal is about.

Click here for more information about the Portugal Conference in May 2019.

Please pray also for the upcoming Netivyah 40th Anniversary Tour in November 2019.

Click here for more information on the Netivyah 40th Anniversary Tour.

Please remember our dear brother Jacob Damkani in your prayers. He is still not back to himself, but he is well enough to go home from the hospital, and that makes him much happier. And of course, it makes Elisheva, his faithful wife, much happier to have Jacob back home. Please keep Jacob and Elisheva in your prayers.

I have received news that one of our very dear brothers, a true soldier in the Lord’s army, not even a soldier, but a general, has fallen seriously ill and will not be able to attend the conference in Portugal. This man, Dr. M. Song, from Korea, and his whole family have been some of the most faithful prayer warriors for Aliyah and for Israel, and for Netivyah. I ask you all to mobilize yourself, your time, your family, and your friends, and lift Dr. M. Song and his family in your prayer. Pray for healing that will come from the LORD, and pray for strength in Dr. Song’s spirit and in his family.

A second very urgent prayer is for my wife’s family. Marcia’s mother has fallen and broken her hip bone. She has gone through surgery and is now in rehab. She is a 90 year-old woman who is taking care of Marcia’s father, who is way past 90 years old. They live alone in East Tennessee, in a secluded place, with some help from their sons’ families. Marcia’s father can’t take care of himself at all, and now her mother is also incapacitated for at least a season.

Your prayers for Marcia’s family will be greatly appreciated. We pray that the Lord will hear our prayer, and your prayer, for this family, and bring healing and restoration of all abilities and necessities for June Saunders, and a blessing for their children and grandchildren.

Also please pray for Ashton, the great-granddaughter of June and Horace Saunders, Marcia’s mother and father. On top of the condition of the old folks, Ashton had a bad car accident and is injured in her head and other parts of the body, and is now in ICU. Please pray for June and Horace and Ashton Saunders!

Keep a dear sister in the Lord named Courtney in your prayers.

I am adding two very important prayer requests: Amir the son of Amira – he is a young man, a father and a husband, and a nephew of some of our very close Arab/Palestinian friends. He has a very serious cancer and needs the Lord’s hands of mercy to touch him with healing. The other family that needs healing is in Sweden – Tertu and Tapio Luca. They are true prayer warriors for Israel and for Netivyah, and they too need healing from serious health issues.

Please continue praying for baby Lion from the Huch family in DFW. Little Lion is doing better, but still far from being out of the woods.

Please keep praying for Eli, my nephew who, is dealing with a very serious stage 4 cancer, and undergoing chemotherapy. Eli is in Cincinnati with his two sons, who are taking good care of him. Pray for Eli’s healing and return to a condition in which he can return to the service of the Almighty God and Yeshua our Messiah.

Please continue to pray for our Jewish brother Hillel from Helsinki. Pray for Patty, Andrea, and Tineke – all are in the Netherlands and need healing from God. Continue to pray for Julia and Victor, our dear sister and brother in Jerusalem. Both need healing and God’s help. Please add a dear sister that is suffering from prejudice in Switzerland. Her name is Paula and she needs divine breakthrough.

Please keep praying for a dear sister named Zhou WenriIan living in China. There is a dear Pastor Isaac in Chenai, India, who has a deep love for the Lord and for Israel. He is sick with kidney problems and needs a dialysis treatment several times per week. Please pray for a medical miracle for Pastor Isaac and pray for his ministry in the Kingdom of God.

I am also asking you to pray for a dear sister in China who is doing so much for the Kingdom of God – her name is Ema! She has a big burden for a big school that needs the Lord to bless it and open up all the avenues of blessing, and enable success both in the physical and spiritual realm.

Margareta, keep her in your prayers – she is a dear woman who is going through some real hardship and anguish for her faith. Pray for Um Abu-Eid – she is a dear old Arab/Palestinian sister. Keep the following brothers who are improving with their health, but still need God’s merciful hand to touch them with healing: George, Gary, Melanie, and Aharon (Nancy and Don’s son).

These brothers and sister need your prayer and your intercession for them and their health conditions: Sarit, Ahuva, Leah, Ilana, Miraim, Yehuda H., David Stern, Paulo, Noami, Tim Tucker, Anne-Mirjami, Satu-Maria and Anna-Majia, Sinni Tuuli, Erki and Sirpa, Keijo and Salme, Evelina, Eva H., Marcelo’s parents, Curita Sensei, the Abe family, Toru, Takeo Sensei, Daisuke Sensei, Tomoko San, Sadako San, Yumi (her husband has just died last week), and keep praying for her father, Pastor Oharah in Okinawa.

In the last few weeks I have somehow missed mentioning our dear sister Ruby L., who is in Oklahoma City. Ruby’s situation is very difficult and she needs the mercy of the Lord for healing, and the help of brothers and sisters for daily basic needs.

Please pray Ritva Huhtala and for sister Oksanen. They need prayer for illness. Please pray for Louisa and Tony in Hong Kong. I have special concern for our dear brother Goh and his family, and for Sister Christy, Sister Laurel, and for Brother Michael Knezevich. These are all people for whom you are praying, but I want you to know that these are also people who pray for Israel and for Netivyah, and stand and support both Israel and Netivyah. I want to add a brother from Brazil who is living in Portugal now and is having some serious family problems. His name is Ismael Alves.

If you would pray for those whom you know that need this prayer – the Lord will surely cover those for whom you pray and those for whom I pray. It is hard enough to live in this world, and work and business-related issues make it harder. As such, we pray for the spiritual issues and health issues.

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem and believe in God’s promises!

Joseph Shulam