Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah # 44: D’varim (Words) Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 3:7-4:11
B’rit Chadashah: Yochanan (John) 15:1-11; Messianic Jews (Hebrews) 3:7-4:11
This week we review the adventures of the Israelites, reminders of all the places they sinned against God, and further instructions from Moshe as he delivers his last message that takes 37 days. He accomplished it without error and did not need the use of a teleprompter! His guide was G-d who provided every word. This is the last book of the Torah that focuses on the past experiences such as the Creation, Abraham’s life, the origins of the 12 Tribes, etc. Now we look to the future of the nation Israel hat is all true believers.
Deut. 1:6 reminds us that our mountain-top experiences are not to be permanent and will not be so until Yahshua returns. Moshe reminds the Israelite Adonai told them: “You have lived long enough by the mountain. Turn, get moving and go to the hill- country of the Emori and all the places near there in the Aravah, the hill-country, the Sh’felah, the Negev and by the seashore- the land of the Kena’ani, and the L’vanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates River.” G-d gives us these oases in the wilderness journeys of our lives to receive instruction, rest, and reenergize for the next obstacle in the “hill-country.” We should always thank G-d for these times of respite and pray for strength and wisdom as we prepare to follow Him to the next checkpoint.
In this fifth and final book of the Torah Moshe rebukes Israel for all they have done, and charges them to keep the Torah as they advance toward the Promised Land. Yahshua’s message to us is no different today. Rashi maintains that Moshe is listing all the places where Israel sinned. If this is the case, why didn’t Moshe just admonish the people outright instead of hinting at it by reciting the names of the places? Apparently Moshe wanted to get his message across to Israel in a subtle way. The people were well aware of the places where they sinned and what sins they committed. A hint was enough and a more effective approach than head-on confrontation. When our fellow believers stumble, we should follow this example set by Moshe, and that provided by the Ruach. This is the rationale for wearing tzitziot. They serve as a reminder of who we are and of G-d’s commands; that we are easily led astray and must keep to the King’s Highway. The fringes serve as a constant reminder and G-d knew this when he commanded that they be worn by the children of Israel. However you interpret “b’nai (sons/children/disciples), those who wear them have the advantage of this constant reminder of the importance of following Torah and G-d’s presence. and notice your tzitziot. You think of the commands of G-d, knowledge that G-d sees everything, and that we are accountable for our thoughts, and actions. This is the concept behind Moshe’s approach to addressing the sins of the people. We must give people time to repent and return to fellowship with the rest of the believing community as they are restored to G-d. If they are to be restored, forgiveness must be total and non-qualifying. Confrontation only leads to embarrassment and negative results. It is to be avoided if at all possible. 3 John provides us another example of how we address sins of those around us. Recall Nathan who cunningly and kindly revealed David’s great sin to him. King David responded not with anger but with remorse and repentance. We must consider what David’s reaction might have been had Nathan directly confronted him. We are to show no favoritism regardless of how a person presents himself, and we are to fear no one, because the final decision to judge is G-d’s (Deut. 1:17).
We are reminded of the incident of the spies illustrating the Israelites’ lack of faith and trust in G-d, and the ultimate punishment of not being able to enter the land G-d swore to our ancestors (Deut. 1:34-37). Rather, the next generation who were innocent children not knowing good from evil would inherit the land (Deut. 1:39). The next passage reminds us that we cannot succeed in anything without G-d’s blessing. Recall that when the people sinned against Adonai in the spy incident, they decided to go up and fight on their own. Adonai told them not to go, but they went anyway. The people were promptly defeated and punished…again (Deut. 1:41-46). We are to serve G-d with awe, fear, and trembling (Ps. 2:11; Phil. 2:12). He will never become one of the guys as our leaders attempt to portray to win our allegiance.
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 1:1-27
This is the third and last of the “prophecies of destruction,” that are read during the three weeks between the Fast of the Seventeenth of Tammuz and the Fast of the Ninth of Av. This haftarah is read the Shabbat before the Ninth of Av, the day of the first and second Temples were destroyed. This is the most fitting haftarah for the occasion. Isaiah’s vision clearly illustrated what was and is expected of B’nai Israel, and the low level to which they had fallen. In order to save the nation from itself, both the Temple and the state were destroyed of necessity. The haftarah concludes by giving us the formula for deliverance: “Zion will be redeemed by justice… (1:27).
B’rit Chadashah: Yochanan (John) 15:1-11; Messianic Jews (Hebrews) 3:7-4:11
John 15:1-2 reads “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” Notice the reference to “fruit” and “pruning.” Fruit is that which grows naturally out of a plant or situation. In this context it refers to character qualities given to believers. The Greek word prune literally means “cleans.” Accordingly, in the aforementioned verse it means to cleanse from sin. Previously we learned that G-d chastises those He loves and this process is necessary to produce perseverance and more trust unto salvation. Some of us will receive salvation and some of us will not. These who do not are “cut off.” In verse 2 we read this term of being “cut off” in the context that if we do not bear fruit we shall be “cut off.” Daniel who wrote of the Messiah being “cut off” meaning executed may also help to explain “cut off.” So it is with people who G-d determines are not going to make it. These passages further define what “cut-off” means in the sense that an unfruitful person will be “cast into the fire and burned” (a reference to Hell elsewhere in Scripture). This verse and many others support the fact that there is no such thing as eternal security in the context of what is taught in Christianity. It also begs the question: Who shall be saved? Someone who merely professes or one who professes and is fruitful? How do we determine what “fruitful” is in G-d’s eyes? The rest of the passage in this section answers these questions. In verse 3 Yahshua unequivocally states “you are clean through the word I have spoken to you.” Does this mean by believing some portion of what He spoke we are automatically saved? If this were true it would contradict His warning of being fruitful and the result of being cut off if we do not repent and seek to bear fruit. And of what word is He speaking? Yahshua taught, upheld, and lived the Torah of G-d, His Father. He is the eternal, living, manifest Word of G-d. Unfortunately, many people take this statement out of context and apply it through eisegesis to their own brand of understanding, originating from their own desires instead of properly interpreting Scripture. Yahshua further emphasizes in this passage that He obeyed the Father (YHVH-Torah) and He admonishes us in verse 10 to obey His commands if we are to remain in His love. Our salvation depends on us remaining in His love. To be outside that love is to be lost. What we can understand from this portion of scripture? If we correctly focus our minds and pray for understanding through the Ruach, we can understand how we mature as believers, learning to advance the verbal profession and belief in Yahshua to action demonstrated through Torah obedience, and the doing of “good works.” This concept is not only staunchly taught by Yahshua’s brother James, but is supported and reinforced by Paul, contrary to what many Christians are taught. Trust and obedience necessarily leads to ‘good works’
In this second passage of the B’rit Chadashah we see another example of the consistency of G-d’s Torah. In this case it is the inextricable way in which obedience is tied to salvation. There can be no salvation in the absence of obedience to YHVH’s teaching/instruction/Torah). First our trust in the Living Torah Yahshua, followed by obedience to the written Torah of YHVH Elohim. In Christian typology the “promised Land” is a type of Heaven where believers will fine ultimate rest. Think about this as the above passages tell us; YHVH did not allow the first generation of Israelites who rebelled against His Torah to enter the “Promised Land.” Israel. Rather, He assigned them to death in the desert. How could this generation who witnessed the miracles, signs and wonders; provision of manna and water that YHVH provided. Yet, with all the belief that could not be denied through the physical manifestations of G-d’s provision and protection, and the profession of that belief, they were condemned to death, falling short of reaching the “Promised Land.” Why? disobedience of G-d’s Torah.
Another point of interest in this passage is found in verse 12: “Watch out brothers, so that there will not be in any one of you an evil heart lacking trust, which could lead you to apostatize from the living G-d.” The Greek word used is “apostenai” from which we get the English word “apostatize.” Here it is translated “unbelieving; to fall away.” We must ask ourselves if it is possible for “true believers” to apostatize (to go away, desert, stand apart, become apostate)? Can a person fall away permanently or just be ‘back- slidden’? Or do you choose to define this doctrine in a Calvinistic way where “believer” is defined as “tautologically” in such a way that no one so defined ever falls away? This issue should catalyze us into serious investigation of YHVH/Yahshua’s definition of a true believer that can be found in the seven-fold witness in the book of Revelation. If you have questions about what the seven-fold witness is and where the specific verses are located, they can be found at http://www.rabdavis.org or you can e-mail me at email@example.com. Once you identify them, they should be highlighted in some way for continued reference and review. The destination of the soul depends on our understanding and obedience to this definition.
Rabbi Tamah Davis