Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #45: Va’etchanan ( I pleaded) D’varim ( Deuteronomy) 3:23-7:11
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 40:1-26
B’rit Chadashah: Ya’akov (James) 2:14-26
Last week I chose to focus on Parashah #43 instead of #44 which was on the calendar because there were some important teachings concerning the actual dimensions of Israel and the fact that it has not been fully occupied as G-d planned… yet. I also wanted to discuss the cities of refuge in detail and in concept since one of the main points is that Yahshua is our High Priest and is the only One who can expiate our sins. Parashah #44 can be found on the website at http://rabdaivs.org for your review. Today I want to focus on the parashah scheduled for today and will devote this lesson entirely to the material in this parashah.
With the brief introduction at the beginning of this parashah where Moshe pleads with Adonai to be able to enter the land about to be inherited by Israel, we are reminded of the stark reality that sometimes G-d says “no.” Furthermore, we are not to argue with His answers to prayer or His intervention in our lives otherwise. respond according to His instructions for our lives.
After this brief introduction and Moshe’s mental realignment with G-d’s will, the majority of the parashah focuses on the laws and rulings given so that “you will live” (Deut. 4:1). Again, we see that G-d gave his instructions/Torah to show us what sin is and how to avoid it and the consequences thereof. To emphasize the applicability of G-d’s instructions throughout the history of mankind, verse 2 is restated in the B’rit Chadashah in Revelation 22:18-19. We are not to add or subtract from G-d’s Word. Revelation goes further to tell us what will happen to those who violate this command, “ I warn everyone hearing the words of the prophecy in this book that if anyone adds to them, G-d will add to him the plagues written in this book. And if anyone takes anything away from the words in the book of this prophecy, G-d will take away his share in the tree of Life and the holy city, as described in this book.”
There are major issues with several sects of Judaism, Catholicism, Christianity in general, and other religions in the context of violating this command not including many other problems in each religion and sect. The Catholics claim the authority to change G-d’s Sabbath to Sunday as just one example of many. Many Christian ,” is a different deity than the G-d of Abraham , Isaac, and Jacob. The god of the Christian “erased” all of G-d’s laws when Jesus was nailed on the “cross” which was in truth an execution stake. The god of Christianity allows Sunday worship, the celebration of pagan holidays such as Easter and Christmas and allows people to eat anything in total disregard for the dietary laws. Furthermore, many Christians are taught they no longer need to keep G-d’s designated festivals that are specifically commanded to be observed throughout the generations. They are taught in error that all of these commands of G-d who never changes by the way, only applied to the ‘Jews.” So, the question should arise in our minds, “Who is a Jew?” The Bible/Torah is very clear how a Jew is defined according to the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The criteria and definition are specifically found in Romans Chapters 1-3, John Chapter 14, and in Revelation in the Seven-fold Witness as one who carried the testimony of Yahshua and guards the commands of G-d. What part of this don’t people understand? Our G-d is the same, never changing as it states in the Torah (Malachi 3:6-9; Hebrews 13:8) including other scriptures. Moral relativism seems to be the order of the day; pick and choose which of G-d’s commands are convenient or consistent with ones’ lifestyle and throw the others away. Or worse yet, take the stance American society has taken through the teaching of secular humanism and just throw the whole idea of an authority and creator over the universe out the window. No rules, no restrictions, and just do whatever you want and persecute those who follow G-d’s instructions as radical fundamentalists. The believer’s response to this is an ingrained understanding that Yahshua was persecuted for His teachings and lifestyle and we will be hated as well (John 15:18-20). G-d will strengthen those who follow Him and give them peace in the process.
This parashah provides a systematic theological reflection starting with the second command and broadening its import. There is a systematic comparison in this admonition to follow G-d’s commands and laws: obedience versus disobedience; remembering/forgetting; the L-rd /other gods; the revealed commands and laws of G-d verses those of the other nations; G-d/idols. The central theme is that the correct worship of our G-d is aniconic. Nothing or no one should take precedence over following G-d’s Torah. His commandments are written in stone and are never changing, regardless of what man or religion claims the authority to do so.
We are given yet another warning about choosing not to follow G-d’s instructions/commands in Chapter 6:16-17: “ Do not put Adonai your G-d to the test, as you tested him at Massah[testing]. Observe diligently the commands of Adonai your G-d, and his instructions and laws which he has given you. You are to do what is right and good in the sight of Adonai, so that things will go well with you, and you will enter and possess the good land Adonai swore to your ancestors, expelling all your enemies ahead of you, as Adonai said.”
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 sums up how we are to live our lives in just a few verses. The Sh’ma is the first narrative many Jews say in the morning just after the Modeh Ani and the last narrative or phrase before passing from the earthly life. Although saying it during these times is not commanded, it is a great way to focus our hearts and minds for the day or before our passing.
We are told that our G-d is a jealous G-d, and we are not to provoke Him by worshiping other gods or walking the fence between antinomianism and Torah observance. The consequence of such a lifestyle will result on annihilation (Deut.
This message may read or sound like a broken record, but if we truly care about the ultimate well-being of our fellow man, this message must not be lost in human “wisdom” and manipulation of G-d’s Torah. Because the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob places so much emphasis on the importance of following His Torah/instructions, we can know with certainty that “ Adonai your G-d is indeed G-d, the faithful G-d, who keeps his covenant and extends grace to those who love him and observe his mitzvot, to a thousand generations. But he repays those who hate him to their face and destroys them. He will not be slow to deal with someone who hates him; he will repay him to his face” ( Deut. 7:9-10).
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 40:1-26
Parashah V’etchanan is always read on the Shabbat after the 9th of Av- a
Shabbat known as Shabbat Nachamu, the “Shabbat of Comfort.” The
comfort of this parashah embraces far more than the beginning verses of the
Haftorah: “Comfort, comfort My people, “says your G-d. Speak to the
heart of Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her time [of exile] has been
fulfilled, that her iniquity has been conciliated, for she has received from the
hand of G-d double for all her sins.”
This message of comfort is a prophecy concerning the eventual Redemption
and assures Israel that the destruction and exile are merely temporary
phenomena in the context of an eternal covenant.
B’rit Chadashah: Mark 12:28-34
In these verses we are reminded of the consistency of Torah and Yahshua’s
interpretation and teaching of G-d’s written Torah, not the traditions of men. Yahshua describes the most important mitzvah as the Sh’ma and the second as “You are to love your neighbor as yourself.” The Torah teacher rightly discerns that following these two commands means more than all the legalistic offering
of sacrifices and burnt offerings. Again, the spirit of the law or Torah
observance must come before the letter of the law but not exclusive to the letter of the law. Indeed, if one follows these two commands, they will lovingly offer sacrifices and burnt offerings to YHVH Elohim.
Sages Wisdom: “And love your Elohim… with all your heart.” (6:5)
Rashi explains that it means to love YHVH with the yetzer tov, “the good
inclination” and the yetzer ha’ra, “the evil inclination. How can this be?
When we can admit that we have sinned against YHVH Elohim and don’t
try to justify our evil actions, then we love YHVH through our evil
inclinations. Similarly, when we choose to take the action that is consistent with G-d’s Torah over our physical and emotional desires, we are demonstrating our love for YHVH/Yahshua over our evil inclinations related to self.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart