Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #44: D’varim (Deuteronomy) 1:1-3:22
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 1:1-27
B’rit Chadashah: Yochanan (John) 15:1-11
The first statement on our parashah “ These are the words” is significant evidenced by recent studies of ancient documents. This was an introductory formula used in the second millennium B.C.E according to Meredith Kline who was an American theologian and Old Testament scholar. Evidently, this was the normal way to introduce a written agreement made between a king and his subject in the time of Moshe. Through his Egyptian training, he most likely had personal knowledge of treaty patterns used throughout the Fertile Crescent at that time.
Moshe reviews the journey from Mount Horeb to Transjordania. Interestingly, the distance from Horeb to Paran from where they should have entered Canaan was only an 11 day journey the Israelites spent over 38 years in the wilderness. Why? As we have discussed so many times when we speak of the King’s Highway, the Israelites wandered off the “main road” many times. G-d chastised and taught them many things through their rebellion and complaining, each time lovingly, sometimes through tough love, herding them back onto the path of Torah. This is why Moshe confronted them with the past as they were on the verge of entering the Canaan. With a definite purpose to refresh their memories of their sins against G-d, he selected specific events for them to consider.
G-d had guided the Israelites with a visible manifestation of fire by night and cloud by day. On the basis of this alone, the Israelites should have believed and trusted G-d, that His Word was and is true and that they had nothing to fear from what their eyes beheld. Yet, they failed to move forward when G-d instructed them to move forward. Similarly, some believers today may also fail to advance in G-d’s plan for their lives out of human fear, rebellion, mistrust, and a lack of faith in Yahshua’s faithfulness on our behalf. We need to take a lesson from the experience of the Israelites in the desert. The journey need not be so long and hard if we will just stay on the King’s Highway and not wander off on our own, believing there is a “short-cut.” There are no short-cuts to the Promised Land.
Even Moshe was held accountable for his disobedience. He was the leader of the Israelites, a prophet and mediator in G-d’s revelation to Israel. Even though his disobedience was the result of the rebellious attitude of the Israelites, Moshe was denied entrance into Canaan and Joshua was chosen by G-d to assume the leadership role. Moshe was primarily accountable to G-d, then the people. G-d could have been glorified before the people all the more if Moshe had only spoken to the rock for water rather than hitting it twice. This is a critical lesson for us today. Our first priority is to glorify G-d and not to allow our human/animal nature to rule our emotions or determine our actions.
In Moshe’s last words to the people, he warns the new generation that they must take care not to repeat the sins of the fathers in the wilderness (Deut. 4:1).
G-d promises that the children enter in faith what the fathers cannot take by force.
“Tapp’chem (your little ones) will be protected by the L-rd. They will not be taken as plunder and they will enter the land! Although the rabbis place the age of accountability at 20 describing those “who don’t yet know good from bad” (Deut. 1:39), we are evil from our youth, however, G-d defines youth. We know that children understand good from bad at a much younger age than 20, but G-d may have a different standard. At whatever age, the young will inherit a fallen creation, but they will gain entry into the Land denied their unbelieving and rebellious fathers.
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu 1:1-27
In this haftarah, we read of evildoers with depraved children hardened by sin (Is. 1:4). In Isaiah’s time, Israel had become like Sodom and Gomorrah. Judges took bribes and justice was nonexistent for the orphans and widows (Is. 1:23). A society that preys on the defenseless must be destroyed and cleansed by G-d. He must restore men who are just and remove those judges who take bribes or are otherwise influenced by the rich. This comes at a great cost to society as the corrupt men come from the same society they serve. G-d vows to cleanse Israel just as one uses lye to purify metals (Is. 1:25).
This Haftarah which is the third theme of affliction culminates in judgement on Israel. This is very interesting timing this year as we are approaching a Shmittah year and this Shabbat (2021) is the eve of the 9th of Av. Considering the United States has been given much; more than any other nation, yet is rapidly becoming a nation that has essentially “kicked” G-d out and has replaced His instructions with secular humanistic, antinomian teaching, I submit it is only a matter of time, and a short time at that, when G-d will exact His justice on this country and the world. Is G-d about to exact His righteous judgment on our society as He did on His treasured Israel? I believe the answer is “yes.” The sins of idolatry and baseless hatred must be uprooted to reverse the cause of exile in the first place.
B’rit Chadashah: Yochanan 15:1-11
The first statement in this passage identifies the connection between Yahshua and G-d. They are One; working in tandem. In the role of G-d, the gardener, the vine (Yahshua) is tended .Every branch, that is every true believer Messianic Jew or gentile who follows the commands of G-d and is reconciled to G-d through Yahshua’s sacrifice will be pruned (purged of sin) so that more fruit will abound. Branches that fail to produce fruit will be cut off. This described those who attach themselves to G-d’s name but do not follow His commands and do not reconcile themselves to G-d through Yahshua’s sacrifice. Yahshua reminds us that we are nothing once separated from Him. “Those who stay united with me, and I with them, are the ones who bear much fruit: because apart from me you can’t do a thing. Unless a person remains united with me, he is thrown away like a branch and dries up. Such branches are gathered and thrown into the fire, where they are burned up (John 15:5-6).
Once again our purpose for being is made clear in the next few verses: “ If you remain united with me, and my words with you, then ask whatever you and, and it will happen for you. This is how my father is glorified- in your bearing much fruit: this is how you will prove to be my talmidim (John 15:7-8).
Verses 9-15 reiterate the fact that our relationship with YHVH/Yahshua requires us to act based on our belief. We must keep the commands of G-d in order to stay in His love, just as He kept His Father’s commands and stayed in His love. This is not an easy concept to understand because YHVH and Yahshua are One G-d; a complex Unity; not a Trinity! Yet, as His role diversifies with His plan at the time, delegation and subjection become a part of that “role.” Yahshua taking on the role of an earthly prophet, priest and soon to be King, subjected himself to his role as Father in heaven. This was necessary to teach man how we are to subjugate ourselves to G-d keeping His commands, laws, and statutes. Yahshua came to show us how we are to act towards G-d and man. He was the quintessential innocent Lamb; One without sin; humble in every way as described in Isaiah 53. Yet, He demonstrated righteous anger when it came to issues of Torah. On the other hand, He took attacks on his character with stride. This was the concept of turning the other cheek. He showed us how to apply the written laws of G-d, which were never abrogated, with compassion. It is illogical that anyone would teach that G-d’s laws are dead and “nailed to the cross” when Yahshua came to teach us how to live them before he returned to heaven! G-d gave us a brain with two hemispheres: one for logic, and the other for emotion. Just as G-d exacts his laws with grace in just the right combination, we should use both sides of our brains in the same way. Grace and law inextricably connected and taught as part and parcel of G-d’s Torah.