Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #47: Deuteronomy (D’varim) Re’eh (See) 11:26-16:17
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 44:11-45:5
B’rit Chadashah: 1 Corinthians 5:9-13
The first word of this parashah translates as “take heed,” packing greater emphasis than “see” as we think of the word in English. It is also more appropriate to the context of the sentence, for by “taking heed” of YHVH’s Torah we receive the blessings, but suffer His curses if we ignore His mitzvoth (commands). G-d does not say “take heed of some of them, or whichever ones are convenient for us.” The curses for not obeying G-d’s commands are all around us just as the pagan nation of Canaan was around the Israelites; so close and possible so tempting. As a result of assimilation into our pagan society and world, we are witnessing earthquakes, floods, drought, famine, wars, children who dishonor their parents, general loss for the sanctity of life, and the teaching of secular humanism in our schools. There is little that shocks the mind these days. Adults and children are being desensitized to the evil that is taking over our world through the media and video games that allow us to kill and destroy with no emotion because multimedia scenarios have no emotion. The key words of the day are diversity and inclusion which are contrary to what G-d teaches His people are to be. Yes, anyone who chooses to follow the G-d of Israel will be grafted into the covenants of Israel IF they follow G-d’s laws and rulings. However, abominations as stated in G-d’s Torah will not be tolerated.
On the other hand, if you have ever seen someone who demonstrates an effort to observe the living and written Torah of G-d, you realize this person exudes a sense of fulfillment, spiritual growth, a calm in the midst of the storm, and a desire to ascend closer to YHVH/Yahshua through love and obedience and a respectful fear. Of His awesome power. Although the daily news saddens and even angers such individuals, there is a peace about them rather than a sense of surprise and fear. This peace comes from knowing that all we see and experience in these times was foretold thousands of years ago. Concern is felt and expressed out of love for those who rebel against G-d’s Torah and ignore the signs He provided. Not only that, but G-d laid out specific directions for running the race of life; with the best possible equipment; YHVH/ Yahshua’s teachings, His love, strength; wisdom from above for the asking, mercy, and grace. Not only is this individual blessed, but the blessing emanates from this person for all to see. In verse 27 “that you harken” is explained by Rashi as meaning that the blessing will come to us only on the condition that we harken to the commandments. Homiletically, harken meaning “hearing” is a metaphor for blessing, because the only way a person can obtain YHVH’s blessings is if he has the desire to hear (assimilate and act upon G-d’s Torah). This is similar to the verb “Sh’ma” (hear, internalize, and act upon). The implications for us is that we must develop the ability to discern and to act upon that which is essential from all the competing messages inundating us daily from the bema, pulpit, or secular sources.
Another interesting aspect of this parashah is that G-d arranged the giving of the commands so all the people saw and experienced the thunder and lightning, the sound of the shofar, and the mountain smoking (Ex. 20:15(18)). The Hebrew root word is the same for “see” in Exodus 15 (18) and the first word of our parashah in Deut. 11:26 “see” which also means “take heed.” It is one thing for one person to see something, but one person’s perspective may not be accurate. However, when 2 million people see the same thing, there is little doubt as to the validity of the event.
In verse 28 we are warned not to “follow gods of others.” This applies to more than tangible forms and images. One who is considered guilty of idolatry in G-d’s economy is one who repudiates the entire Torah and rejects YHVH Elohim. We should examine ourselves carefully and see if we place anything before our service to G-d. If we think we are perfect in this area, we must take the attitude of the psalmist and ask G-d to search our hearts and reveal any unclean thing (Psalm 139:23-4). Self-promotion, convenience, overextending ambition, physical desires, family and friends are just a few examples where people forego serving G-d, keeping Shabbat, the designated times, and observing the other mitzvot. The temptation was very real for the Israelites as it is for us today.
Once again, we are commanded to neither add nor subtract from the Torah in Chapter 13:1. As a duality and confirmation of G-d’s Torah, this warning is repeated in Revelation. Orthodox Judaism and Christianity have added to YHVH’s Word by imposing their own additions and abrogation of some of G-d’s commands in efforts to meet denominational agendas. An example in the Christian realm is teaching people they can eat whatever they want, Sabbath can be changed, and homosexuals may continue to practice their lifestyle and even become ordained. Even the latest Pope takes a stance on homosexuality that is more palatable to the gay community. Such abominations described by G-d in several places. Proverbs 6:16-19 names “haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are swift in running to mischief, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers.” Lev. 18:22 reads “You are not to go to bed with a man as with a woman: it is an abomination.” Lev. 20:13 reads: “If a man goes to bed with a man as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they must be put to death; their blood is on them.” Chapter 20 describes many other instances where the offender must be put to death. Deut. 22:5 reads: “A woman is not to wear men’s clothing, and a man is not to put on women’s clothing…” Unequal weights and measures are mentioned in Proverbs 20:23. Romans 1:26-27 describe lesbianism and homosexuality. There are many other examples of behaviors that are an abomination to the L-rd with a summary found in Revelation 21:8: “But as for the cowardly, the untrustworthy, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those involved with the occult and with drugs, idol-worshippers, and all liars- their destiny is the lake burning with fire and sulfur, the second death.” Homosexuality and lesbianism are promoted in our society to the point where those who disagree with it are seen as intolerant and part of “the problem.” True believers have always been and are the minority. But G-d tells us throughout His Word that we are to remain a separate people, a holy people because he is holy. He promises to never forsake or leave us, and we need to place our lives, trust, and faith in His hands.
Verses 2-6 address false prophets. The word prophet translates as a “proclaimer of YHVH’s Word.” A preacher, pastor, or rabbi fits this description within this context. However, a particular point of interest is that we are warned to beware of prophets who perform signs and wonders. Not all miracles are from YHVH. Let me say this again: Not all miracles are from YHVH. Scripture explains that such signs and wonders by false prophets are to test us. Most people who experience a miracle automatically attribute it to YHVH. Many are being led away by believing some dream or thought they had been always a “word from the L-rd.” The Ruach can certainly prompt or encourage us; affirm something with which we have a question or concern, but that prompting, or affirmation is ALWAYS consistent with G-d’s Torah. We cannot attribute every spirit to G-d any more than we can properly approach Torah study through an eisegetic approach. HaSatan is the prince of this world (John 14:30) and is given wondrous power for a time. How are we to discern whether miracles, signs and wonders are from G-d or HaSatan? We must judge everything by the Word of YHVH Elohim. We have no other blueprint by which to discern the truth. Astrologers, psychics, “healers” and even preachers abound who claim to be YHVH’s anointed vessels; spokespeople for G-d. YHVH tells us they are an abomination to Him. We are not to be taken in by any of these people even though they perform signs and wonders (Matt. 24:24). This message is the major theme of our parashah that has as much import and application to believers today as it did for the blooming nation of Israel at that time.
Moshe reiterates the dietary laws and lists the three festivals (designated times) of Pesach, Shavu’ot, and Succoth when all men are to appear before YHVH and bring to Him an offering. We are not to appear empty handed when we come to synagogue on these special occasions. It is a command. More than this, we are to offer our very best in all things to YHVH. This is where the regulations are specific in describing what is acceptable and what is not an acceptable sacrifice, including defective animals. Some may say if our intentions are good, should that not be sufficient? The answer is that intentions are not sufficient. Attitude and obedience are everything. G-d even provides the story of Cain and Abel to illustrate the importance of the sacrifice.
Abel brought the best animal of his flock as a sacrifice. Cain on the other hand, brought a sacrifice from his crops. He didn’t even bring a blood sacrifice! Why did Cain feel justified in giving of his crops as a gift to HaShem? We need to understand the importance of performing the commands. If we treat them with little to no respect; if we give G-d what is left instead of the first and best fruits of all we have, this is a sign if irreverence; lukewarm observance that G-d abhors (Rev. 3:15). This attitude of giving our best applies not only to sacrifices, but in all or deeds. We must always seek the best for His highest glory. After all, we must remember that others may be watching how we respond to obeying G-d’s Torah in our everyday affairs. Even more, G-d knows our hearts. If we show a lack of reverence and love for G-d’s commands, those who observe such behavior may conclude that our G-d is not so important and does not require our utmost love and respect. Why abstain from pork and shellfish if the command forbidding these foods is a “take it or leave it” proposition? Why attend Shabbat services when we can go party with friends, eat out, go to a festival or an amusement park, or stay home and sleep in because we chose to stay up late on Friday night? Is Shabbat not a commanded time of rest? Even if no one in our physical world is watching, G-d sees everything we think and do (Heb. 4:13). He knows if we are simply obeying a command or performing a good deed because we “have to” or if our hearts are really into pleasing the One we love, fear, and respect. We cannot fool G-d. If we find our hearts waning in awesome love and respect for G-d and His Torah, we need to pray for the zeal that brought us out of apostate religion in the first place. If we are still riding the fence between the religious faith of G-d (Messianic Judaism) and any other faith system, we need to critically evaluate our relationship to G-d and make the corrections while it is still day (Isaiah 55:6).
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 44:11-45:5
This is the third of seven “haftarot of Consolation.” These seven haftarot commence on the Shabbat following Tisha b’Av and continue until Rosh Hashanah. G-d addresses the “afflicted and storm-tossed” Jerusalem “who has not been comforted,” assuring her that those who follow YHVH’s Torah will reap and be restored to full glory. The foundation, walls, and ground of Jerusalem will be laid with precious stones. Her children will be “disciples of the L-rd,” and will enjoy abundant peace. Any weapon designed to attack her will fail.
Isaiah then invites the thirsty to acquire “water,” namely those who are thirsty for spirituality should study the quenching words of Torah. He says that B’nai Yisra’el’s moral influence in the world will be so great that nations of whom B’nai Yisra’el has never heard will flock to her. He promises the nation an everlasting covenant similar to that made with King David. This also alludes to Messiah Yahshua who will be finally be revered by all nations as the One true G-d, the G-d of Hosts.
B’rit Chadashah: 1 Cor. 5:9-13
Sha’ul (Paul) refers to an earlier letter in verse 9 that informs us that all he wrote was not included in the Holy Scriptures. Sha’ul urges us not to communicate (eat) with those that continue to practice certain sins, but it is permissible with those inquiring about the faith or with other believers. This principle is biblical and contradicts many peoples’ idea that Sh’aul was not discriminating in his behavior toward unbelievers and Gentiles. His criterion appears to be closely aligned with the Jewish way of thinking of his time; separateness from that which is defiled. Chapter 12:1 serves as a warning. Because we are so far removed from the spiritual realm for so many years and are now rediscovering it, we lost the ability to discern the spirits. We must remember that not every prompting or feeling is from YHVH. Some are our own feelings superimposed on our desires. Others may be from the spiritual realm, but of HaSatan and his demons. There is heresy of the Docetists (Greek dokein- to see) who teach that Yahshua did not come bodily but was a spirit that only appeared to be human. They consider flesh as too low a level for such an exalted figure as the Son of YHVH. Therefore, they maintain, He was not crucified or resurrected. This doctrine exists today in “theosophy” and in Eastern religions. On the wider scale of the church, we should not be surprised to see these individuals as successful leaders of large followings. People who are of the world with their own demonic influences desire to hear and support them. Yochanan recognized such a category of people and his advice was to ignore their message and not to be preoccupied with attempting to win them over. Rather, we should use as our guideline that whoever knows YHVH listens to us; whoever is not from YHVH doesn’t listen to us. We can take peace with this biblically-based truth. Verse 8 reminds is that in the Millennial Kingdom things will be done by G-d’s rules, sacrifices and all. The reinstatement of the sacrificial system is also described in Ezekiel.This is another great verse to highlight and share with those who argue that sacrifices are done away with forever. Scripture simply does not support this opinion. Rather, there are multiple scriptural references that refer to the contrary including Ezekiel Chapters 40-48.
Sages Wisdom: “And you shall eat there before YHVH, and rejoice in all you have. (12:7)
This instruction on how to serve YHVH is an important element in Judaism. In many other religions, service to their gods requires deprivation of physical pleasure. YHVH prefers that we enjoy the many beautiful things He has given us, while making sure to raise this enjoyment to a level of service to Him.
“And you shall rejoice before YHVH, you, your children, your servants… (12:12).
Why a communal command? Isn’t it enough to enjoy happiness alone? Not by Torah standards. We are required to share the happiness with our loved ones and those less fortunate because sharing adds another greater dimension to one’s happiness. This is one reason we encourage fellowship by attending services together besides the commandment for a holy convocation during the designated times of G-d. We learn together and share in Oneg together, all within an environment of love and concern for each other.
R. Tamah Davis-Hart