Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #46: ‘Ekev (Because) D’varim (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25
Haftarah: Yesha-yahu (Isaiah) 49:14-51-3
B’rit Chadashah: Ya’akov (James) 5:7-11
This parashah continues with Chapter 7 and is devoted throughout the remainder if the parashah with YHVH’s admonishing the Israelites then (and now) to obey the mitzvoth (commands), rulings, regulations, and to fear Him. He reminds the Israelites that He was disciplining them throughout their 40 year journey in the desert, paralleling His discipline towards us during our wilderness journey. We are reminded that Adonai disciplines, humbles, and tests us in order to know what is in our hearts (Deut. 8:2). So anytime someone asks themselves “Why me?” we must remember that He already knows whether or not we will obey His commands, regulations, and rulings; we are the ones who must be shown what is in our hearts. G-d’s testing, discipline and humbling forces us to look in our own, spiritual mirrors until we acknowledge the reflection is our own. Therefore, we are to obey G-d’s commands, living as He directs, and fear him (Deut. 8:6). Otherwise, we are promised a one-way trip to destination hell (Deut. 8:19-20). Chapter 10: 12 provides a succinct summary of the life we are to live for G-d in 3 ½ lines: “So now, Isra’el, all that Adonai your G-d asks from you is to fear Adonai your G-d, follow all his ways, love him[[carry the testimony of Yahshua], and serve Adonai you G-d with all your heart and all your being [guard the commands of HaShem]; to obey, for your own good, the mitzvoth and regulations of Adonai which I am giving you today.” Another interesting point that ties the Old Testament with the New Testament, demonstrating the consistency of G-d and the Echad of YHVH and Yahshua is found in verse 16: Therefore, circumcise the foreskin of your heart… This verse parallels Romans 2:28 where Yahshua defines a “real Jew” as one who is circumcised physically and spiritually. In other words, a Gentile becomes a “real Jew” when the physical and spiritual commands of G-d are kept. A biological Jew is counted as a “real Jew” using the same criteria according to Yahshua who is also G-d, although biological Jews are held to the covenant of physical circumcision. Although there are advantages for the biological Jew (Rom. 3:1-3), Jews do not have a patent on salvation.
Chapter 11:18 emphasizes the mandate in the Sh’ma (Deut. 6:8) to physically wrap t’fellin around our hand (forearm) and forehead. No matter how we may try and justify not obeying this command, it is a command. It is interpreted by the Orthodoxy as applying only to the sons of Israel , ergo biological Israelite men, but if we consider who Yahshua consideres a true Jew, this command applies to all true Israelite men according to the definition in Romans Chapters 2-3. We are to infuse our lives with Torah that implies the goal of thinking, speaking, and living G-d’s Torah, no matter our vocation and life situation. Daniel provides a perfect example of a lifestyle pleasing to G-d from which we may learn. (Dan. 6:11).
Unfortunately, there are those in the Chritian cleric that teach there is no reason to fear G-d because He is all love. The Bible does not support this opinion. Rather, G-d’s Torah is replete with comparisons illustrating the pervasive duality of grace AND law; love AND discipline; mercy AND justice. I submit many clergy teach contrary to G-d’s Torah because they do not understand the Hebrew translation and/or they want to beef up their membership. After all, who wants to fear anyone if we define fear in the social context of having dread of someone who is going to harm us? Fortunately, Hebrew comes to the rescue once more if we only take the time to seriously study the Bible. The fear required in the command of yiryat HaShem (fearing G-d) cannot be equated to our cursory understanding of the word. At its most basic level, it consists of a fear of the consequences of our actions. Fear of G-d teaches us that G-d is not a vatran. A vatran is someone who forgives people for their misdemeanors even when they have not corrected their behavior. This concept is taught in many Christian churches; that all one must do is profess the Name and all will be forgiven, or walk the isle and get a hug from another congregant, and all will be well.SUperficial repentence doen not count with the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He has placed a system in the universe whereby if someone commits a spiritually negative action, as a consequence he or she will be spiritually damaged. Even when one truly repents (t’shuvah), there are often temporal consequences. Our parashah makes this fact very clear; that our relationship with G-d is one of cause and effect.
The Sages expound on this idea, explaining exactly what we should and should not fear. Let’s look at a seeming contradiction in Scripture and discuss what is taught in the Gemara in Berachot (a specific volume of rabbinical commentary on the oral Torah). King Solomon writes in Proverbs; fortunate is the man who is constantly afraid.” In contrast, Isaiah writes: those from Zion who are afraid are sinners.” The Gemara explains that the verse in Proverbs is referring to ‘divrei Torah’ understood to mean referring to spiritual matters. We only have control over our free will in spiritual pursuits. Therefore, the Gemara teaches us that it is correct to fear one’s own failure in the spiritual realm because we have control over it and have the ability to stumble. Have you been taught that we no longer stumble because G-d’s laws were nailed to the cross? Let’s look at what Paul has to say about this because Christians are taught that Paul’s words often override G-d’s laws: “Rom 7:14-25 “ For we know that the Torah is of the Spirit; but as for me, I am bound to the old nature, sold to sin as a slave. I don’t understand my own behavior- I don’t do what I want to do; instead I do the very thing I hate! Now if I am doing what I don’t want to do, I am agreeing that the Torah is good. But now it is no longer ‘the real me’ doing it, but the sin housed inside me. For I know that there is nothing good housed inside me- that is, inside my old nature. I can want what is good, but I can’t do it! For I don’t do the good I want; instead, the evil that I don’t want is what I do! But if I am doing what ‘the real me’ doesn’t want, it is no longer the ‘real me’ doing it but the sin housed inside me. So I find it to be the rule, a kind of perverse ‘Torah’, that although I want to do what is good, evil is right there with me! For in my inner self I completely agree with G-d’s Torah; but in my various parts I see a different ‘Torah’ [rabbinical Torah; Oral Torah; NOT G-d’s Torah] one which is operating in my various parts. What a miserable creature I am! Who will rescue me from this body bound for death? Thanks be to G-d, he will!- through Yahshua the Messiah, our L-rd” This does not mean we now have license to do whatever we want and rest assured we will be forgiven . Yahshua released us from the death indictment for imputed sin and provided a way for us to become reconciled to G-d and subsequently saved. This way requires repentance and subsequent obedience on our part. G-d’s grace and promise of salvation is contingent on our response to His death on the execution stake. Freedom is not free!
In all other areas of our lives we need to acknowledge that G-d is in total control. We must not take the Deist attitude that G-d created the world, but is not on control of it’s activities. Since He is the Creator and sustainer of all things in the universe, it is foolish and wrong for us to be afraid that ‘bad things’ will happen to us.When we trust HaShem and obey His instructions out of our love for Him, nothing truly ‘bad’ can happen. Our circumstances may certainly seem adverse or harmful as they are happening, but we must come to develop our trust in G-d the faithfulness of Yahshua and take peace in knowing there is nothing to fear when we trust our lives and souls to His care. The only thing we need to fear is the spiritual damage we can bring upon ourselves of we choose rebellion and rejection of G-d’s Torah.
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 49:14-51:3
This is the second of the seven “prophecies of comfort” read between the Fast of the Ninth of Av and Rosh Hashanah. The exiled Israelites express their concern that G-d has abandoned them. G-d once again reassures then that this is not the case, comparing His love and mercy for His people to that of a mother for her children, and even greater. In Isaiah 50:1 we are reminded that G-d did in fact divorce Israel at one time for her gross rebellion and idolatrous ways. Yet, Israel will become the bride of Yahshua who, according to Jewish law is allowed. A man cannot marry the same woman twice, so G-d could not remarry Israel in His role as YHVH. But, this is perfectly legal as His role as Yahshua. How consistent and awesome is our G-d.
Isaiah then touchingly describes the ingathering of the exiles that will occur with Yahshua’s arrival (Messiah). Returning to the initial subject matter of the haftarah, Isaiah reminds the Israelites’ rebellious behavior that prompted the exile and suffering. He concludes with encouraging words, reminding us of what had happened to our ancestors, Abraham and Sarah. Just as they were blessed with a child when they had all but given up hope, so too, G-d will send Messiah. Tzion will be made like Eden with joy and gladness; thanksgiving and the sound of music. May it be in our lives and our days!
B’rit Chadashah: Ya’akov (James) 5:7-11
“ be patient therefore, brethren unto the coming of the L-rd. behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the L-rd draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the L-rd, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we aount them happy, which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Jb, and have seen the end of the L-rd; that the L-rd is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”
In the above passage, James continues the thought of chapter 4:13-17. The reference to the early and latter rain is the acharit-hayamim (“ the end of days”). The verse refers to the climatic pattern of Israel where the bulk of the rain falls between October and March. The early rain (yoreh) comes in October, and the latter rain (malkosh) which is rare, comes in April. A spiritual application of this term is that the early rain (yoreh) came at Shavu’ot (Acts 2), and the latter rain (malkosh) is coming at the L-rd’s return. Verse 9 repeats the warning of 4:11-12. Verses 10-11 provide an example of suffering, mistreatment, yet being patient which provides us an example of the prophets and the perseverance of Job. We encounter the phrase “and you have seen the end of the L-rd.” A correct interpretation of this verse is “and you know what the purpose of YHVH was.” The purpose was to justify the ways of YHVH to man. Although this is something that YHVH does not owe us, in His kindness and mercy there are times He chooses to reveal His rationale for His interventions in our lives. Job’s trouble started when YHVH chose to answer hasatan’s challenge by permitting him to touch Job’s possessions and person without killing him. Job persevered in the face of extreme loss, pain, and criticism. In the end, YHVH vindicated Himself and proved to Job and to us that only YHVH has the power and wisdom to deal with hasatan. Remember, the angels of G-d are watching to see how man reacts to adversity and how we use our free-will. G-d is showing the angles that there will be some, a remnant, who will cling to G-d no matter the outward circumstances and trust that He will deliver us from the evil one.We are forever and totally dependent upon YHVH Elohim in our spiritual battles. May all true believers acknowledge this dependence and trust Him in on the mountains and in the valleys.
Shabbat Shalom v’ baruch haba b’Shem Adonai
Rabbi Tamah Davis