Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #44: Deuteronomy [D’varim] (Words) 1:1-3:22
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 1:1-27
B’rit Chadashah: Yochanan (John) 15:1-11; Messianic Jews (Hebrews) 3:7-4:11
In verse 1:1 it is written: “These are the words which Moshe spoke to all Israel.” It was the 40th year of Yisrael’s desert wanderings when Moshe began to review what they had been through. This fifth and final book of the Torah finds Moshe rebuking Israel for all they have done, and charges them to keep the Torah in the future, not to repeat the sins of their fathers.
When we look at the beginning of the Parashah we see a parallel to the last one where the sins of the people are alluded to in an abstract way. IN the previous parashah, Moshe mentioned all of the places along the journey where the nation stopped and where unique sines were committed. In this parashah, Moshe is more direct, recalling all of the arguments and rebellion against G-d. Moshe didn’t have to hit them over the head. Alluding to their sins of which they were all too aware by locations along the journey, then by becoming more direct through a brief history of the journey was enough.
When believing people sin and fall, they should be given a time to repent after the issue has been brought to their attention. Perhaps they did not know they were sinning and if they did, they need time to repent and rejoin the fellowship. If they are to be restored, forgiveness must be total and non-qualifying.
Moshe teaches us an important lesson. None of us are perfect. We all sin on occasion and aggressive confrontation instead of leading to remorse and repentance most likely will lead to great embarrassment and unhappy consequences. In the Tractate Gittin (57) there is a story of two people, Kamtza and Bar Kamtza, which states because Kamtza embarrassed Bar Kamtza in public YHVH ultimately allowed the Temple to be destroyed. Of course, this is a folk tale but it illustrates the point that dire consequences may result from our impertinent acts.
We also see this approach demonstrated by Nathan who cunningly revealed to David his great sin. King David the king responded not with anger but with remorse and repentance. We have to think what David’s reaction would have been had Nathan directly confronted David. The lesson then is that Moshe only alluded to the sins of the people because that is the way to successfully help others learn and recover from their mistakes.
B’rit Chadasha: Yochanan (John) 15:1-11; Messianic Jews (Hebrews) 3:7-4:11
15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
2 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.
3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; ev en as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. (KJV)
15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.
2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.
4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.
7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.
8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (NIV)
Above are two translations I have pasted without comment for your comparison. Be aware of the nuances of words between translations.
In verse 2 we see reference to “fruit” and “pruning.” Fruit is that which grows naturally out of a plant or situation. Here, it refers to character qualities given to believers. The Greek word “prune” literally means “cleans.” In the context of this verse it means to cleanse from sin. Last week, we learned that YHVH chastises those He loves and this process actually produces perseverance and more trust unto salvation. If some of us receive salvation then there are those that do not. They are “cut off.” In this verse we read this term of being “cut off” in the context that if you do not bear fruit you shall be “cut off.” Daniel who writes of the Messiah being “cut off” meaning executed may also help to explain “cut off”. 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 along with so many others teaches against the doctrine of “eternal security.” It also begs the question: Who shall be saved? Someone who merely professes or one who professes and is fruitful, and how do we determine what “fruitful” is in YHVH’s eyes? I believe the rest of this portion answers these questions.
In verse 3 Yahshua states unequivocally “you are clean through the word I have spoken to you.” Does this mean that by believing some portion of what He has spoken we are saved? If so, it contradicts His warning of being fruitful and the result of being pruned if we are not. And to what word is He speaking? Yahshua taught, upheld, and lived YHVH’s Torah. He is the eternally living manifested Word of YHVH. Unfortunately, many people take this statement out of context applying their own brand of understanding evolving from their own desires instead of listening to and obeying Scripture. Yahshua further states in this passage that He obeyed the Father (YHVH-Torah), and He admonishes us in verse 10 that we are 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 and to assure us of that love we must obey His commands. What we see in this portion is an intricate weaving of a person’s profession and belief in Yahshua, obedience of Torah, and the doing of “good works.” Trust and obedience leads to ‘good works.”
7 So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert,
9 where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did.
10 That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.'”
12 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living Elohim.
13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
14 We have come to share in Messiah if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.
15 As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”
16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt?
17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert?
18 And to whom did YHVH swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed?
19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.
4:1 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.
2 For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as YHVH has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.'” And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world.
4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “And on the seventh day YHVH Elohim rested from all his work.”
5 And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”
6 It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience.
7 Therefore YHVH again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, YHVH would not have spoken later about another day.
9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of YHVH;
10 for anyone who enters YHVH’s rest also rests from his own work, just as YHVH did from his.
11 Let us; therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. (NIV)
Again we see in this portion that obedience is tied to salvation in an inextricable way. There can be no salvation absent of obedience to YHVH’s teaching/instruction Torah. First, our trust in the Living Torah, Yahshua, walk in obedience to the Written Torah of YHVH Elohim. In Christian typology the “Promised Land” is a type of heaven where believers will find rest. Think about this as the above passages tell us, YHVH did not allow those of Israel who sinned to enter into the “Promised Land” Israel, but assigned them to death in the desert. Think of all the miracles they had witnessed and the provision of YHVH throughout the journey. What awesome sights they had witnessed to build their faith and trust. Yet, with all that “BELIEF” and profession of belief, they were condemned to not enter into the “Promised Land because of disobedience of YHVH’s Torah.
Other interesting notes to this portion are in verse 12. The Greek word used here is “apostenai” from which we get the English word “apostatize” Here it is translated “unbelieving.” Ask yourself then if it is possible for “true believer’s” to apostatize (to go away, to desert, stand apart, become apostate)? Can a person fall away permanently into condemnation, or only a status of being “backslidden?” Or do you define this doctrine in such a way as does Calvinism, where “believer” is defined “tautologically” in such a way that no one so defined ever falls away, which then presents a problem. For with this mindset, no one will ever know if he is a “believer” until his life ends. If you don’t know, it might be the most important question you’ll ever address and your future depends upon an answer. We need to clarify in our hearts and minds YHVH/Yahshua’s definition of a “true believer” and set a course toward that destination.
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 1:1-27
This is the third and last of the “prophecies of destruction,” which 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 the first and second Temples were destroyed. This is the most fitting Haftarah for the occasion. The vision Yesha’yahu had clearly shows what was expected of B’nai Yisrael, and to what level they had sunk. In order to save the nation from itself both the Temple and the State were destroyed of necessity. The Haftarah ends by giving us the formula for deliverance: “Zion will be redeemed by justice…” (1:27)
Things to think about:
How could Moshe tell B’nai Yisrael that they were numerous as the stars? At that time the men counted numbered only 600,000.
Moshe wanted the “smart and wise” people to step forward to judge the people. Is there a difference between “smart and wise’? If so what is it?
Compare Moshe’s recounting of the story of the spies to the way it is written in B’midbar (Numbers 13). Find at least two differences. Did Moshe “forget” what really happened, or did he relay it in this fashion for a reason?
“And YHVH heard the voice (sound) of your words, and became angry.” (1:34)
When Moshe talks about YHVH’s reaction to the spies’ report why did he add the word “voice?” To teach us that the words a person utter are not always the real message. Many times it is the tone of a person’s voice that tells us if his statement is positive or negative. The tone that the spies used even when listing the good things about the Land was very negative. YHVH was angry with them not only because of their words, but because of their “voice” as well. We should pay as much attention to our motives and attitude as to our words.
At the end of the Parashah we come across the death of Og, the king of Bashan. Who was he? A tale that comes from the Me’am Lopez says that he was the last of the race of giants who lived during the time of Noah. As the story goes during the flood Og hung on to the ark and saved himself. Noah gave him food, and Og became his slave. He was then given to Nimrod, who gave him to Abraham. Abraham eventually set him free. Og eventually became the King of Emor, and was killed by Moshe when he decided to fight B’nai Yisrael. Since the Bible states that many of the giants were the product of a union between fallen angels and womankind and that the flood was the result of this ungodly line, who do you think Og was?
Aileh Ha’devarim… (1:1) Theses are the words…”
The book of D’varim is a collection of speeches that Moshe delivered before he died. These speeches lasted for 36 days, from the first of Shevat until the seventh of Adar. This is hinted to in the words Aileh, “these”, which has the numeric value of 36.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart