Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #50: Ki Tavo( When you come) D’varim (Deuteronomy) 26:1-29:8
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 60:1-22
B’rit Chadashah: Romans 11:1-15
This parashah has two main themes which are critical in the life of a true believer. Following G-d’s instructions/laws are not an option or a “sometimes/maybe” proposition. If we hope to receive G-d’s blessings in their fullest extent, it will behoove us to learn these instructions, internalize them, and follow them whether or not we think they are impossible. All things are possible with G-d, and we are simply asking for trials that may not be necessary if we would just follow G-d’s Torah. The two subjects we are covering this week are tithes and the confession associated with them, and blessings/curses that will be metered out depending on our behavioral choices.
In our last parashah we learned about G-d’s instructions concerning the new society if Israel as they entered the land and were exposed to idolatrous nations which surrounded them. G-d essentially set up the “guard-posts” otherwise known as His instructions that apply to the society as a whole, families, individuals, and finally gender roles. Having provided the ground rules for this new society, Moshe instructs the people in the liturgy of two confessions and a reaffirmation of G-d’s covenant and the conditions for receiving His blessings. There are some who choose to believe that because G-d says in Exodus 33:19 and Romans 9:15 that He will show mercy to whomever He chooses, that this is a way out of being held accountable for choosing to ignore His commands. Remember that G-d knows the heart of each individual and their level of trust in Him or the lack thereof. When we choose to disobey G-d’s commands and laws, we are indeed testing Him; an act which He warns against in Deuteronomy 6:16.
The tithes and the associated confessions are a beautiful way to acknowledge and worship G-d once they occupied the land. Through these confessions, their dedication, and worship, the people maintained a perpetual consciousness of G-d as their redeemer and sustainer, their provider. Anyone who tithes has surely experienced this feeling of trust and obedience out of love as G-d blesses with continued provision in every circumstance.
The occasion for the first confession is the tithe of the first fruits; for them a tenth of the best fruits from their crops and for those who work for pay 10% of monetary income. In the lives of the Israelites, this tithe happened several times during the year. For those who work for pay, this is to be done as soon as the individual receives their paycheck. The confession in Chapter 26:5-10 begins with a reference to Jacob as “wandering Aramean.” This confession recalled to the one tithing of G-d’s providence, His deliverance, and His goodness. The confession calls to the mind of the giver of G-d’s sustaining grace throughout all generations.
After a tenth of the crops had been separated yielded in the third year, the year of separating a tenth, and having given to the Levite, the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow, so that they would have enough food to sustain themselves while staying with a family, another confession was to be made(26;12-15). His tithe was brought to the central sanctuary. The distribution of this tithe was to the Levite in the Temple, the foreigner, orphan, and widow in the communities. By making this tithe and distributing it , the Israelite expressed in a material way his love and concern for his neighbor. This tithe has multiple ramifications of which many who withhold their tithes do not seem to comprehend. That is, if we do not obey this command to tithe, we are not only denying ourselves blessings from G-d, but we are denying provision for the Levite[or synagogue] in today’s society, orphans, the poor, and widows. We limit opportunities to make G-d’s Name known among the nations and to glorify Him. Furthermore, we are asking for a spiritual “time-out” if we continue to believe that G-d cannot or will not provide for our needs, which is a lack of trust in His faithfulness. Additional scriptures that reiterate the importance of tithing may be found in Lev. 26:3; Lev. 27:30; Deut. 14:22;Deut. 14:29;Prov. 3:9,10 to name a few. Tithing is one of the hardest laws for many people to follow because of misplaced priorities and a lack of trust in G-d. Yet, observing and giving our tithes is one of the most rewarding experiences for the believer because it is a reminder that we cannot out-give G-d and that it will be used for His glory. Even if those who collect the tithes misuses them, G-d will ultimately be glorified, and he will rightly judge those who misuse them. This is not an excuse to withhold our tithes as some rationalize and attempt to justify.
The confession of tithes provided an opportunity for the Israelite to publicly acknowledge that he actually shared with his fellow citizens as commanded. The confession also included a statement that he had not given tithes for pagan practices, for defilement, or for the dead as was practiced by the surrounding pagan cultures. After this confession the individual . lovingly petitioned G-d to bless his people and the land. In this manner, the Israelite confessed his continual dependence on G-d and his blessings.
At least three times in this parashah G-d reiterates through Moshe that the people will be blessed IF they follow His commands and rulings but will be cursed should they choose to reject them. This parashah is one that should be highlighted or otherwise marked in some way so that we revisit it frequently as we come under more intense attacks by the radical left-wing leaders and followers. This “attack” on true believers is going to escalate at an accelerated pace as we continue in these end times. Yahshua warned his disciples of this very issue in John 15:18-25, and we can correlate John 15 with our parashah which provides the reason the world is degenerating so quickly. If you take the time to read Deuteronomy 28 in detail, you will have no difficulty understanding why our world is just beginning to suffer the curses for prolonged disobedience of G-d’s Torah. With all of the information on blessings and curses given to the people then, just as the information is available today, the majority of the human race remains stiff-necked and defiant against G-d and His Torah. For true believers, consolation may be found in the fact that G-d promises He will never leave us nor forsake us(Deut. 31:8), and that no one can take the true believer from His hand(John 10:28). We have nothing to fear, and we are to be anxious for nothing (Phil. 6:7; Psalm 46:10; Psalm 23).
The parashah ends with encouragement once more as the people are reminded of G-d’s provision and protection and testing for their spiritual growth to “ Therefore, observe the words of this covenant and obey them; so that you can make everything you do prosper”(Deut. 29:8(9)). If things are difficult for you right now or when they become so in the future, ask yourself if you are following G-d’s Torah and if not, why? Prayerfully ask for forgiveness and the strength to overcome any lack of trust in G-d and “recalculate” your behaviors to coincide with G-d’s Torah. Seek His blessing and not His curses.
Haftarah: Isaiah 60:1-22.
This week’s haftarah is the sixth of a series of seven “Haftarot of Consolation.”
Isaiah recounts descriptions of what will unfold during the Redemption. Beginning with the resurrection of the dead and the ingathering of the exiles, the Jewish people (all true believers) will rejoice. Isaiah speaks of gifts that will be brought to G-d from all the nations of the world. The Jewish nation will no longer be despised and derided, there will no longer be violence or mourning, and G-d will shine His everlasting Light upon His people. This “Light” is of course Yahshua HaMashiach (Rev. 22:5). The bride (all true believers) will be married to her Groom (Yahshua) (Rev. 19:8), and they will live in the Father’s house forever (Psalm 23:6) Amein.
B’rit Chadashah: Romans 11:1-15
Paul tells the Messianic community in Rome that G-d has saved out 7,000 people who refused to submit to worship of Baal. This statement reflects back to the reign of Ahab and Jezebel that was one of the most depraved periods of the First Temple era. This couple introduced the worship of the idol Baal into the Kingdom of Israel and established it as the official state religion. We see similar things evolving in our society today. So apparently widespread did this Baal religion become that G-d told the prophet Elijah: But I will leave over in Israel seven thousand people, all the knees that did not kneel to the Baal and every mouth that did not kiss it.” (1 Kings 19:18). This is 7,000 out of several million! This takes us back to the discussion on social justice and the curses. There were only 7,000 people who stood up against the idea of idol worship and refused to tolerate it and give it social sanction. They were forced to go into hiding because of their voluble protest against the social acceptability of the practice. Everyone else silently tolerated it to their own destruction, the destruction of the first Temple, and the removal of the Shekinah from among the people.
Paul reminds us that there is a remnant in the present era chosen by grace for those who are observant out of love to G-d’s commands, laws, statutes, and rulings. The ones chosen have obtained it [grace] but the rest have been made stonelike as the Tanakh says, ‘G-d has given them a spirit of dullness- eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear, right down to the present day.’ Reflecting back to our parashah we are told the same thing: “Nevertheless, to this day Adonai has not given you a heart to understand, eyes to see, or ears to hear! (Deut. 29:3). These statements in the Old and New Testaments validate the truth of G-d’s Torah and the reliability of His Word to the most empirically minded. Unfortunately, many people fall into the aforementioned population and simply cannot see or hear G-d because they are too self-absorbed with their perceived intellect. It is important for us to know that YHVH alone prepares the human heart to receive Him. We must be open to submission to His orders. Matthew 13:15 describes the status of people who are not ready to receive YHVH/Yahshua. People who barely hear and look but do not perceive the truths of YHVH/Yahshua, will subscribe to a misplaced fear that adversities and testing meant for our ultimate good are really some sort of punishment. It all seems a matter of timing as those who grow in their Torah study can attest. Individuals with an honest desire to ascend to G-d are led by the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to learn something new every time they read Scripture. It is as if looking at a crystal from different angles in the light. This is because the timing must be right; the Ruach HaKodesh has perfect timing and knows when we are spiritually ready to learn another truth from G-d’s Torah. Our hearts must be prepared before we can understand (see and hear clearly) that which G-d has for us. As we prepare for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot, may we make a special effort to prepare ourselves to receive what G-d wants to teach us, that we may obtain full forgiveness from our fellow man and ultimately G-d while there is yet time.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart