Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #46 ‘Ekev (Because) D’varim (Deuteronomy) 7:12-11:25
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 49:14-51:3
B’rit Chadashah: James 5:7-11
The entire first paragraph of this parashah is a summary of the blessings that G-d will bestow on those who follow his rulings. Obedience out of love transforms our world in some way. G-d promises explosive fruitfulness in every context to those who follow his instructions. He will destroy nations ahead of them little by little and the Israelites are then to completely destroy them and their gods. In the last two sentences in the beginning paragraph, the people are admonished not to become greedy and do not take the silver and gold left behind because it will become a trap, just as possessions often do to the destruction of those who covet them. Nothing from the enemy nations is to be brought into the home as it will bring the curse to the home that G-d placed on the item.
Chapter 8 is filled with warning not to forget Adonai by not obeying his mitzvot, rulings and regulations. The snare of prosperity is a very real and present danger. When the Israelites were in the desert, they experienced the miracle of manna and water. Now they would be growing crops and digging wells and may have the tendency to believe their accomplishments and successes were their own, independent of any help from G-d. The Torah does not teach the prosperity gospel. But obedient believers can expect food and clothing. In Deuteronomy 8:12-13, they were even promised abundant herds, corps, and wealth. Manna will not fall in the Land they are about to occupy. According to the Talmud (Shabb. 74b), the Israelites had to perform 11 mitzvot just to make bread: sowing, plowing, reaping, binding sheaves, threshing, winnowing, selecting, grinding, sifting, kneading, and baking. This process alone should drive home the miracle of the manna when they did not lift a hand to prepare it! The main point for them and for us is to never forget G-d! Furthermore, the Israelites then and we today are not to think G-d either destroys the nations ahead of us or gives their kings over because of a necessary wickedness. After all, Moshe points out several places where the Israelites provoked G-d by not listening to his voice, rebelled, and didn’t trust (Deut. 9:23). The basis for Israel’s inheritance is attributed to the fact that G-d swore to the Patriarchs that He would give the land to their seed (Deut. 9:27) and not because they were righteous.
Chapter 10:12 summarizes the core of what G-d wants from man; to fear Him, follow all his ways, love Him, and serve Him with all our hearts and all of our being. This is an ascending level of faithfulness as it is possible and safe to obey G-d’s Torah first, then learn the “why” as we walk in His Torah. As we learn the commands of G-d, we first learn the “what” to do without always knowing the “why” we do the commands. This is a time where YHVH/Yahshua lovingly leads us with patience as he teaches us the ‘why” as we grow. An example is learning to remove chametz from our homes before Pesach. Immature believers, and sometimes “mature” ones know how to search for and remove chametz because G-d tells us to do so. But the application is not as obvious. Yahshua taught us the “why” when He taught us the spirit of His laws. Before we understand the spirit of what we do, obedience is the key player. But once we understand the concept behind the act, the love becomes the other necessary part of the equation. For without love of G-d when we follow the mitzvot, obedience means nothing. This is exactly what G-d spoke of (Isaiah 1:11-17; Hosea 6:6). He set up the sacrificial system as a training tool that was commanded. But He wants the sacrifices made out of love then just as He wants our love now. In fact, enduring in the Land was conditional, just as it is today. Israel’s survival depended and depends today in the context of true believers, on our obedience to G-d.
This segment continues as the “yoke of the commandments” (Ber.13a) is spelled out. The second paragraph quoted after affirming the Sh’ma in Deuteronomy 11:13-21 is the scripture that is inserted in the mezuzah on doorposts and in the t’fillin. The individual wears this in the small box wrapped on the left arm and forehead during the morning prayer. This scripture reminds the wearer the covenant and its implications for long life in the Land. Everyone who has gone through bar mitzvah must apply the t’fillin and recall these verses that promise covenant blessing for faithfulness and loyalty to G-d (Deut. 6:8).
The final paragraph on this parashah provides more hope in the promise that G-d makes, which is again conditional. True believers, called Israelites, must take care to obey G-d’s mitzvot out of love, and to cling to Him. On His part, he will dispossess nations much larger than Israel and the Land will be given to the full extent of its biblical borders, larger than what Israel is today. “No one will be able to withstand you; Adonai your G-d will place the fear and dread of you on all the land you step on, as he told you.” Let it be as He said. Amein.
Haftarah: This is the second of the seven “prophecies of comfort” read between the Fast of the Ninth of Av and Rosh Hashanah. The exiled Israelites are concerned that G-d has abandoned them. G-d once again reassures them that this is not the case, comparing His love and mercy for His people to that of a mother for her children, and even greater. Again, we need to remember that mothers nurture, teach, and correct their children because they love them. So, it is with YHVH/Yahshua.
Isaiah then touchingly describes the in-gathering of the exiles that will occur with Yahshua’s arrival (Messiah). Returning to the initial subject matter of the haftarah, Isaiah reminds the Israelites’ rebellious behavior that prompted the exile and suffering. He concludes with encouraging words, reminding us of what had happened to our ancestors, Abraham and Sarah. Just as they were blessed with a child when they had all but given up hope, so too, G-d will send Messiah to provide us a way to become reconciled to G-d, giving us hope for eternal redemption and salvation when our lives on this earth end. Our time on earth is for training and running the race. It is up to us to choose the ultimate prize of eternity with our G-d through obedience to G-d’s Torah out of love or forfeit the race, forsaking our L-rd to our ultimate destruction.
B’rit Chadashah: Ya’akov (James) 5:7-11
“be patient therefore, brethren unto the coming of the L-rd. behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receives the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the L-rd draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the L-rd, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy, which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job and have seen the end of the L-rd; that the L-rd is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”
In the above passage, James continues the thought of chapter 4:13-17. The reference to the early and latter rain is the acharit-hayamim (“the end of days”). The verse refers to the climatic pattern of Israel where the bulk of the rain falls between October and March. The early rain (yoreh) comes in October, and the latter rain (malkosh) which is rare, comes in April. A spiritual application of this term is that the early rain (yoreh) came at Shavu’ot (Acts 2), and the latter rain (malkosh) is coming at the L-rd’s return. Verse 9 repeats the warning of 4:11-12. Verses 10-11 provide an example of suffering, mistreatment, yet being patient, which provides us an example of the prophets and the perseverance of Job. We encounter the phrase “and you have seen the end of the L-rd.” A correct interpretation of this verse is “and you know what the purpose of YHVH was.” The purpose was to justify the ways of YHVH to man. Although this is something that YHVH does not owe us, in His kindness and mercy there are times He chooses to reveal His rationale for His interventions in our lives. Job’s “trouble” started when YHVH chose to answer hasatan’s challenge by permitting him to touch Job’s possessions and person without killing him. Job persevered in the face of extreme loss, pain, and criticism; not knowing why this was happening. It must have been even more of a challenge for Job because he was considered a righteous man before G-d. Most of us would probably wonder why we should consider loving and following G-d if this was to be our fate. Job, like Moshe before he climbed the mountain to see the Land, could not understand the bigger picture as he was climbing. So, it was with Job and is often with us when we experience the furnace of refinement. In the end, YHVH vindicated Himself and proved to Job and to us that only YHVH has the power and wisdom to deal with hasatan. We are forever and totally dependent upon YHVH Elohim for our lives, including our spiritual battles. We also learn from Job’s experience, that there is much more going on in the metaphysical realm as G-d works with us, refining us to be our best for His utmost glory. May we learn to keep this truth in our hearts and minds and allow the Spirit of G-d, the Ruach HaKodesh) to guide our spirits that our souls will find their place with YHVH/Yahshua. Remember, we are to discern the spirits, being ever watchful that we do not allow the spirit of HaSatan to infiltrate our hearts and minds. We cannot go around saying we had “word from the L-rd” in an attempt to validate our opinions, especially when they contradict G-d’s Torah. Our G-d is not to be regarded as a magic lamp, a Ouija board, or Santa Claus. HaSatan can perform wonders and miracles too, for a time. He is the great Deceiver and the only way we can know the difference is through diligent prayer, Torah study, and practicing what we learn with wisdom of discernment that comes from above. There is no better investment of our time or lives.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart