Deuteronomy 29:9 – 30:20
This Torah portion is the culmination of the past six weeks. I hope you bear with me as I cover it slowly as I see Nitzavim as such a perfect preparation for us as we embark on our journey into the Promised Land.
Nitzavim is all about preparing our hearts and homes for Yom Teruah (we are celebrating today however, it is celebrated on September 10 and 11), Yom Kippur (Erev Yom Kippur on September 18, with the Holy Day being on the 19) and Sukkot ( Erev Sukkot September 23 and Sukkot from September 24 – September 30). It is a time when we renew our pledge to dedicate our time, our energy, our passion and if necessary, our life to preparing ourselves as the bride in beautiful clothing which are the Father’s own words of life.
Each year we have the realisation that we are on the ‘home stretch of this Torah cycle,” and of Moshe’s life.
The previous Torah portions have consisted of mitzvot after mitzvot after mitzvot.
Mitzvot is the plural of mitzvah.
Whilst in English it is translated as commandment. Deb and I (really Deb) looked at the meaning of each letter in Hebrew. It starts off with a mem, a tzade (ZAR-dee), a vav, and either a hey for singular, or tav for plural.
Mem can mean water, chaos, liquid
Tzade can mean desire, catch or need
Vav which is attach or secure and the
Hey, means to reveal or revelation and the plural is
Tav mark or sign
Putting it all; together –
Out of the chaos of flowing water, we need to attach ourselves or be secure in the revelation of the sign or the mark of our Heavenly Father.
It is a walk where we attach ourselves to our Father OR we give each situation up to Him!
Even this week, a challenge came up with Steve’s work. I became frustrated and a little bit stressed. Debbie heard me for a minute, then a light bulb moment, I handed it over to my Father and instant peace. I have not thought of it since except to share it with you.
The Talmud states that the Jewish people were given 613 mitzvot at Sinai. Often the word mitzvah is related to the Aramaic word tzavta (ZAV-TAR) meaning to attach or join. Tzavta can mean companionship or personal attachment. In this sense, a mitzvah bundles up the person who is instructed and the Instructor, creating a relationship and a personal bond. IT IS ‘GOOD’.
The concept of mitzvot does not equate to the English concept of ‘commandments’. The mitzvo
t are like a ‘case book’ through which the Divine Bridegroom has chosen to teach us how to hear and respond to His Voice, how to begin to think like He thinks, how to begin to judge with true wisdom and righteousness, as He judges, instead of according to conventional thinking, cultural predisposition, human emotion, and self-interest.
Excitingly, we find the Messiah is the mitzvot.
It is interesting to recall how, in my last year at Oxley Christian College, in my personal time at school at the start of a day, I turned to and read John chapter 1, I have no clue now as to why, but the significance of this passage and how it related to where Yeshua fitted in was so exciting for me. It certainly does show Him as the mitzvot and I hope it enriches each of you as well.
As we emphasised last LMC Shabbat Yeshua is the Torah. The whole of the first five books are, to quote Jason, all about Yeshua. As mentioned above the Messiah is the mitzvot.
John 1:1-5, 9-14. (From the Jewish Bible)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was with God in the beginning.
3 All things came to be through Him, and without Him nothing made had being.
4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of mankind.
5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not suppressed it.
9 That was the true Light which gives light to everyone entering into the world.
10 He was in the world, - the world came to be through Him, yet the world did not know Him.
11 He came to His own homeland, yet his own people did not receive Him.
12 But to as many as did receive Him, to those who put their trust in His person and power He gave the right to become children of God
13 not because of their bloodline, physical impulse or human intention, but because of God.
14 The Word became a human being and lived with us, and we saw His Sh’khinah The Sh’khinah of the Father’s own son, full of grace and truth.
(The Sh’khinah is the English transliteration of a Hebrew word meaning " dwelling" or "settling" and denotes the dwelling or settling of the divine presence of YHVH)
The essence of mitzvot is not obedience as much as it is a joinder (In law, a joinder is the joining of two or more legal issues together. Procedurally, a joinder allows multiple issues to be heard in one hearing or trial and is done throughout our legal system...).
One can – and is indeed generally expected to - obey a superior’s commandments alone, without the superior’s assistance, guidance, or instruction; one cannot, however, engage in mitzvot without intensive Divine interaction and assistance. That is why the mitzvot of Torah, as designed and presented in Torah, are the farthest thing in the world from ‘works of the flesh’; they are instead Divinely designed arenas of interaction with the One Who Knows us Best and loves us Most. According to Torah, our calling in life is not to ‘obey’ a bunch of ‘commandments’; it is instead to hold tight to the Hand of our Beloved as we walk through the obstacle course of life, to listen for and to His instructions, and to approach the obstacle course of life His Way instead of flailing our way through it on our own. Rabbi’s Son
This appears to suggest to me that the mitzvot of Yehovah our Elohim are a package that He is leading us through. According to Torah our calling in life is not to obey a number of ‘commandments’; it is instead is to hold fast to the Father’s hand as we walk through the challenges of life to sh’ma His instructions and to approach these challenges His way and not flail our way through on our own. We are to hand these challenges over to our Father and take our hands off them!
The mitzvot in the Father’s Word teaches us how to hear and respond to His voice, how to begin to think like He thinks, and how to judge with true wisdom and righteousness. And as critically important as the mitzvot of Torah Moshe has been setting before us are the fulfillment of our purpose and destiny on this earth, we are about to learn they are not by any means the only thing that the lives of the Father’s redeemed are supposed to be about. Redeemed lives are definitely supposed to involve and be characterized by the mitzvot, it is true. But the mitzvot mean very little if the covenant upon which the mitzvot are based is not fresh in our minds and tender on our hearts. All the mitzvot in the world, without a burning passion for our Covenant Partner in Heaven and a fierce dedication to His covenant, mean nothing.
Moshe gave a passionate call for us in Deuteronomy 6:4 - 7
4 Sh’ma Yisrael! ADONAI Eloheinu, ADONAI echad
5 and you are to love ADONAI your God with all your heart, all your being and all your resources.
6 These words which I am ordering you today, are to be on your heart,
7 and you are to teach them carefully to your children. You are to talk about them when you sit at home, when you are travelling on the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Moshe said the potential for a problem with the mitzvot, exists solely because of the hardness of your hearts. He admonishes the betrothed bride-to-be, he has brought to the Father’s alter of the consequences will be if she elects to commit adultery. Deuteronomy 29:11, 17 READ 3 puts it clearly –
11 You are thus being brought into a covenant of the Holy One your Elohim and the oath He is making with you today.
17 There must not be among you - any man, woman, family or tribe – whose heart one day strays from the Holy One our God, and who goes and serves the gods of other nations. There must not be among you a fruit which is gall and wormwood. (my translation uses gall and wormwood. Gall is the English Translation of the poppy and it’s juice – opium; wormwood refers to a bitter shrub).
Moshe is passionately urging the people standing before him to both sh’ma the Father’s words and to remain ever passionate toward and faithful to our God and Bridegroom.
Moshe’s words were also prophetic and a warning of a future event.
Two of the historical events which followed were:
Ø The ‘ten Northern Tribes’ apostatized (abandoned their religious faith) from their Jerusalem faith, built alters in their territories, [Dan and Bethel] and mixed worship with Yehovah and Canaanite, Baal, Asherah and Molech.
Ø The ‘Southern Tribes’ who repeated the apostasy of ‘the Northern Tribes’, despite dire warnings and went into captivity for >2000 years.
Just think of civilisation as it went out to Africa, the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, the local cultures represented the same pagan cultures as did Egypt and Kena’an.
I just can’t stop thinking of what has happened to Australia in my lifetime. In my year 8 class at Leongatha High School there were 38 students, only two of which did not go to church regularly. Those two were young men (my good mates) of high character anyway. In my Year 9 Home Group at Oxley Christian College < ~30% of the students attended church regularly. The school itself is a mission field. King’s Christian College on the Gold Coast was the same. The chaplain Guy Ormeraud came up to me one September and said “Harro I have only got 4 to go”! “Four what?” I asked. Guy replied 4 students left to give their heart to the Lord in Year 12 (>100 students). The school was a great outreach to their students. (I could feel the Spirit of the Father coming from and over the Chapel Service as I walked down). Sadly, I never felt it at Oxley!
In my childhood
Ø Everyone knew the Lord’s Prayer and said it regularly.
Ø We sang the National Anthem with pride.
Ø We proudly sang of the ‘Great South Land of the Holy Spirit’!
Ø I think about the enemy’s idea of political correctness which is a blight on our society.
Ø I think of ‘multiculturalism’ which seemed so good at the time, now we have cultures which have taken over our lives and now political correctness has us having to change to fit in with their paganism!
The ‘pagan’ culture differs from our belief system in that even though it is an ‘intellectual belief’ in a ‘supernatural being or beings’ it is coupled with a desire to manipulate or control that being or beings by human action. This can be compared with our relationship with the Father. Hopefully, there is no manipulation from us. Our challenge is always to hand it over completely to the Father and TRUST HIM! We are to get our grimy little hands of the situation.
Ø The pagan mindset is, after all, simply a mindset that, while it acknowledges that a god [or gods] exists, wants as much human activity and interaction, and as little involvement with the deity or deities in question, as a person can get.
Ø The pagan mindset is a mindset which wants to ‘buy off’ the god [or gods] with sacrifices, and services, and, in some cases, forms of religion – all of which focus on activities originating in the human mind.
Ø The pagan mindset is a mindset which wants to pay clergymen [e.g. priests] to do ‘spiritual stuff’ to keep the god [or gods] happy and ‘on our side’.
Ø The pagan mindset is a mindset that believes that if their priests do enough ‘spiritual stuff’ and get it ‘right’, the god [or gods] will be happy - and will leave the people alone to live their lives the way they want.
THE GREAT CONTRAST
The sh’ma lifestyle as described in the Torah is completely different. The sh’ma lifestyle has little to do with intellectual belief in a Supreme Being. As James 2:19 says:
19 You believe that “God is One”? Good for you! The demons believe it too - the thought makes them shudder with fear!
The whole relationship is not an intellectual thing but that of the heart.
Moshe’s last inspiration to the Children of Israel, to all future generations and to all foreigners is made on the doorsteps of the Promised Land. The mighty man of God has little time left to live.
Deuteronomy 29: 1 – 15
1 These are the words of the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which He made with them in Horeb.
2 Now Moses called all Israel and said to them: “You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land—
3 the great trials which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great wonders.
4 Yet the Lord has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day.
5 And I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn out on your feet.
6 You have not eaten bread, nor have you drunk wine or similar drink, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.
7 And when you came to this place, Sihon king of Heshbon and Og king of Bashan came out against us to battle, and we conquered them.
8 We took their land and gave it as an inheritance to the Reubenites, to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh.
9 Therefore, keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.
10 “All of you stand today before the Lord your God: your leaders and your tribes and your elders and your officers, all the men of Israel,
11 your little ones and your wives—also the stranger who is in your camp, from the one who cuts your wood to the one who draws your water—
12 that you may enter into covenant with the Lord your God, and into His oath, which the Lord your God makes with you today,
13 that He may establish you today as a people for Himself, and that He may be God to you, just as He has spoken to you, and just as He has sworn to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
14 “I make this covenant and this oath, not with you alone,
15 but with him who stands here with us today before the Lord our God, as well as with him who is not here with us today.
The Torah is Yehovah our Elohim’s ketuvah. A ketuvah is the forward-looking document with which a bridegroom betroths to himself, and eventually marries, his chosen bride. A ketuvah has to involve discussions about the future. After all marriage and betrothal are forward looking or prospective . Will you marry me? is a proposal for the future! So, this makes the Torah forward looking. The verses we are looking at are for all through history AND for TODAY. Moshe is focussing upon what our Covenant partner in Heaven is going to do in the latter days for the ‘apple of His eye”.
The Bridegroom’s commitment to Children of Israel, to all future generations and to all foreigners fulfils a twelve-fold covenant
1. make of him a great nation;
2. bless him
3. make his name/reputation great;
4. make him become a blessing to others;
5. bless all who bless him, and curse all who curse him;
6. cause all families in the earth to be blessed in him;
7. give his descendants the land bridge between Egypt and Assyria;
8. make his descendants as numerous as the particles of dust that cover the earth and the stars that fill the Heavens;
9. be for him both a Shield of protection and his exceeding great reward;
10. make him a father of many nations – a patriarch of kings on the earth;
11. not hide from him what he is doing on the earth;
12. cause his descendants to possess the gates of their enemies.
However, if they walk away from the Father’s Word then the curses will come upon us. They will feel His anger and jealousy!
‘Anger’ in this passage is af – i.e. alef, feh sofit. This does not describe ‘anger’ the way human beings – particularly Western thinkers – perceive of it. It is not an emotion. Af comes from a verb root that means to expel breath forcefully through the nose – i.e. to snort like a bull.
Imagine you are in a paddock and you hear the snort of a bull. The snort will not hurt you. However, it is made in this af anger. What do you do? If you do not run and escape, you will certainly experience it’s af anger when it charges.
The Hebrew word for ‘Jealousy’ is translated as qinah (KEE-NAH)– qof, nun, hey. It is also not an emotion – much less anything similar to what human beings – especially Western thinkers – understand as ‘jealousy’. It comes from a verb meaning to redden – i.e. become or cause to become ruddy. It simply means to become zealous – i.e. passionate, enthusiastic, and urgent in approach. It is not a negative energy but a positive one. It means to prepare and ready oneself to engage and mobilize as a father or husband engages or mobilizes to defend his wife or children. Again, the objective is not to punish the wrongdoer – it is to protect the innocent. The effects of this anger and jealousy are all shown in Deuteronomy 29:20 – 28
20 “The Lord would not spare him; for then the anger of the Lord and His jealousy would burn against that man, and every curse that is written in this book would settle on him, and the Lord would blot out his name from under heaven.
21 And the Lord would separate him from all the tribes of Israel for adversity, according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this Book of the Law
22 so that the coming generation of your children who rise up after you, and the foreigner who comes from a far land, would say, when they see the plagues of that land and the sicknesses which the Lord has laid on it:
23 ‘The whole land is brimstone, salt, and burning; it is not sown, nor does it bear, nor does any grass grow there, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which the Lord overthrew in His anger and His wrath.’
24 All nations would say, ‘Why has the Lord done so to this land? What does the heat of this great anger mean?’
25 Then people would say: ‘Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord God of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them out of the land of Egypt;
26 for they went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods that they did not know and that He had not given to them.
27 Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against this land, to bring on it every curse that is written in this book.
28 And the Lord uprooted them from their land in anger, in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.’
Looking ahead to the end of days, Moshe sees each of these two aspects of the covenant bursting forth in its fullness.
A But never forget that it is all to start with the return of Israel to the land. Note also that the return of Israel to the land is not a matter of politics but the result of a SOVEREIGN act of the Father. The Balfour Declaration, the Historic United Nations Resolution of 1948, indeed even World War II and the temporary and unprecedented outpouring of world sympathy for Jewish people after the Holocaust were all merely tools the Holy One used to bring about the return of millions of His people from exile to the land He promised to Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’akov and their descendants. The present nation of Israel is the apple of the Father’s eyes. Moshe makes it very clear what will happen to any people or nation who try to deny His people’s right to exist – This is even though many parts of Israel have become secular and involved in the world:
7 ADONAI your God will put all these curses on your enemies, on those who hated and persecuted you.
B In addition to fighting their enemies he will bless them indeed:
Deuteronomy 30: 9
9 Then ADONAI your God will give you more than enough in everything you set out to do – the fruit of your body, the fruit of your livestock, and the fruit of your land will all do well; for ADONAI will once again rejoice to see you do well, just bas He rejoiced in your ancestors.
Isaiah 62:4, 5
4 " You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, Nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; But you shall be called Hefzibah, and your land Beulah; For YHVH delights in you, and your land shall be married.
5 The Holy One will rejoice over you like a groom over His bride."
Over the past six weeks, as Jason and I have been sharing the Torah portion we have been heading towards Deuteronomy 30:19 – 20:
19 I call on heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have presented before you with life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore, CHOOSE LIFE, so that you will live, you and your descendants.
20 loving ADONAI your God, paying attention to what He says and clinging to Him – for that is the purpose of your life! On this depends the length of time you will live in the land ADONAI swore He would give to your ancestors Avraham Yitz’chak and Ya’akov
This is reaffirmed in Isaiah 55:6 – 7
6 Seek the Holy One while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to YHVH, and He will have mercy on him; And to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.
Let us forsake the polluted ways of thinking as well generated by our Fallen human minds, so that we may make t’shuvah (return) to the ever merciful ever wise and ever-loving Father. It is an untold joy as in:
Isaiah 55:12: you will go out in joy and be led forth in singing; and all the trees of forest will clap their hands.
Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with feelings of compassion and with kindness, gentleness and patience.
How do we do this?
Deuteronomy 28:1 If you listen closely to what ADONAI your God says, observing and obeying all his Mitzvot which I am giving you today. ADONAI your God will raise you high above all the nations of the world.
And we are grafted in! (as Lorraine read two weeks ago)