In our day, when health food is increasingly popular, it’s amazing that people still like to eat hamburgers. Perhaps one of the reasons for the success of one particular burger chain, Burger King, is its classic advertising slogan: “Have it your way”. We want something that is just the way we like it.
At the end of the day, in our western societies, we just love to have everything customised
But this marketing phenomenon is not just limited to hamburgers – in the last 10 years or so, companies have being going for names which are focused on the consumer. It’s not a coincidence, that we watch “YouTube” on an iPhone, for example. At the end of the day, in our western societies, we just love to have everything customised, everything personalised, everything just the way we want.
But it’s not just us who want things our way. God also is very concerned about seeing things done the way He says they should be done. This weeks parasha Torah portion, Re’eh is somewhat of a recap of things that we have already read earlier on in the course of the year. God reminds us about His festivals, His dietary laws and the Sabbath year, among others. However, He does tell us about something new.
God wanted a central location so that we could, corporately as a people, worship Him and be connected to Him.
Up until this point, we had been wandering around the desert, but soon He would take us then to the Land He promised and wanted to make sure that when the different tribes settled down in different regions of the land, that they wouldn’t forget one very special requirement – to offer their sacrifices and to worship God at one central location, one that He would choose himself. If we wanted to connect with God, we would have to do it on His terms and at the location that He specified. Eventually, this led to the temple being built in Jerusalem. God wanted a central location so that we could, corporately as a people, worship Him and be connected to Him.
But several thousand years later and with two temples built and subsequently destroyed, is this idea still relevant to us today? Do we really need to go to a synagogue to meet with God? Or the Kotel?
We would need to worship “in spirit and in truth”
Funnily enough, when Yeshua was on the earth, he was asked this very same question by a foreign woman who claimed the Jerusalem was not the place that God should be worshipped (see John/Yochanan chapter 4). Yeshua predicted that the time would come when it wouldn’t matter where we worshipped, but how worshipped. We would need to worship “in spirit and in truth” (John/Yochanan 4:23). It’s very easy to go to a special place and pray a special prayer and to leave that place having not connected with God at all. God is not so much interested in location as He is interested in relationship. In fact, the whole story of the Tanakh is of God preparing a way for our relationship to be restored with Him through his plan to wipe out what separates us from Him, namely our sin, or in other words, the bad things that we do, think, say etc. Today, we can worship the Father in spirit and in truth, if we worship Him through Yeshua, the one who died for our sins and rose from the dead.
We Jewish people haven’t had a temple for approximately 2000 years, but God has opened the way for us to connect with him through the Messiah Jesus. He has become our temple (see John/Yochanan 2:19), He has become God’s chosen way for us to connect with Him.
We live in an age of customisation. For us in the West, we live in an age of opportunity were we can do what we want, think what we want and live out what we want. The one thing however, that we can’t customise is how we approach God. It might sound attractive to hear of some belief systems that allow the follower to essentially create a god in their own image. However, the God of Israel clearly says that we have to come to Him on his terms. The question is, are we willing to do this? Burger King may say ”Have it your way”, but God says,”Have it my way”. What will you choose?
Have it your way