Parashah Va-Ethchanan (I besought) Deuteronomy 3:23 – 7:11

Moses completes his First Discourse, going into detail about how God has separated the Jewish people from the other nations by his laws, ordinances and (more than anything else) His continual presence and the miraculous works He has performed for His people. These all show the world who God is and who He has chosen as His inheritance.

Moses then assigns the cities of refuge and starting in Chapter 5, verse 1 Moses goes through the 10 Commandments, recites the Shema and the V’Ahavtah: the Shema being the watchword of the faith, the statement of monotheism which separated the Jewish people from the rest of the pagan world. The V’Ahavtah (‘and you shall love’) follows the Shema, and is the way we follow the Shema- to love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might. Yeshua told us that to love God (from this passage) and to love each other (Lev. 19:18) are the two most important commandments of all.

Moses also tells us, throughout this parashah and (indeed) throughout the entire book of Deuteronomy, that we are not to make a graven image of anything; nothing in the sky, nothing on earth and nothing in the sea. Maybe someone should tell that religion with all the statues in their churches about this commandment.

Chapter 5 also starts the Second Discourse of Moses, which is all about the foundations of the Covenant.

Well, all we have here today to talk about are the two most important prayers in Judaism and how important it is to follow God’s commandments in order to secure our future. Let’s see- maybe we can cover this completely in, oh say, …a LIFETIME!! We have been studying these things since we received them, some 3500 years ago. Oy!

I am going to keep this simple. The bottom line, the acid test question to be answered (“How does this affect my salvation?”) is that we are to remember to follow God’s lead. That’s it, really. Here’s salvation in a nutshell: do as God says.

Of course, since we can’t do that because of our sinful nature, God has provided Yeshua the Messiah to get us over that “hump”, but that hasn’t happened yet for these people.

God has given us the Torah- not “us” meaning just the Jewish people, but “us” meaning everyone.  The Jewish people are the chosen people (sorry to tell you, Replacement Theologists, but you are so wrong you aren’t even in the same universe where what is right is found), but chosen only to be the custodians of the Torah. We are to be teachers, Levites (priests) to the nations; by learning and following the Torah, we are to present to the world the example of how we all should act.

All nations will be blessed by Abraham’s seed- that is the promise God made to Abraham (Genesis 22:18) and we have seen that happen throughout history. Just as a small example, here is an excerpt from Wikipedia regarding the contribution Jews have made to the world resulting in being awarded the Nobel Prize:

 Nobel Prizes have been awarded to over 850 individuals, of whom at least 20% were Jewish or people of Jewish descent, although Jews comprise less than 0.2% of the world’s population (or 1 in every 500 people). Overall, Jews or people of Jewish descent have won a total of 41% of all the Nobel Prizes in economics, 28% of medicine, 26% of physics, 19% of chemistry, 13% of literature and 9% of all peace awards.

Less than 0.2% of all people have contributed over 20% of the most beneficial discoveries and contributions to society that have occurred in the modern world. I would call that a good example of blessing the world, wouldn’t you?

Moses tells the people (over and over) how God chose them, saved them, protected them, and will continue to do so, as long as they continue to worship Him and obey His Torah. It’s really that simple- do as He says, live in peace and comfort, the end; close the door on your way out.

That is today’s message: do as God says, not as we do.

Of course, you will counter with, “But, I can’t obey the Torah fully- there is no temple for the sacrifice, and besides that, (now comes the string of excuses that religion has taught you), and that’s why I can’t follow Torah. Oh, yeah- I am not under the Law but under the Blood of Christ!”

Religion is not something God created- mankind created religion. God has no religion. So, what religion has taught you may or may not be correct in God’s eyes. The Torah, on the other hand, is correct in God’s eyes. I mean, well, He gave it to us- how much more correct can it get than that? The only logical and sensible thing to do is try to follow the Torah to the best of our abilities.

Being under the Blood of Christ is a very good thing- a VERY good thing- but it is not license to ignore God’s commandments that are in the Torah. Being under the blood is being born again and having Yeshua (Jesus) as your intercessor: your unrighteousness before God is covered by His blood, which washes clean the stain of your sin. Being “under the blood” is how you are able to be saved from yourself at Judgement Day, but if you haven’t really done T’shuvah (turning from sin), if you use the suffering and sacrifice Yeshua underwent to save you as an excuse to continue sinning (on purpose), then there will be no blood shed for you! God and Yeshua want you to be saved from yourself, even to the point where Yeshua gave up His divinity to take on a mantle of flesh and die so that you can be welcomed into heaven.

BUT– neither God nor Yeshua are stupid. If your heart is not truly repentant, if you don’t truly try to sin less every day, if you have’t really done T’shuvah, then you aren’t fooling anyone. You may think you are under the blood, but you are, in fact, under a curse.

The whole Torah comes down to this, as I have said before, am saying now, and will continue to say: just do what God says to the best of your ability, and what He says in in the Torah. It’s not what the Rabbi, Priest or Minister tells you (although they are trying to help guide you), and it’s not what I tell you (Oy! Who, me? I am just like you!): it’s what God tells you! God is the Boss, the Big Kahuna, the Macher, the Holy One of Israel, the Lord of lords and King of kings. God is all there is, ever was, or ever shall be.

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the One and Only God, and that is all there is to it. His business is salvation, His CEO is Yeshua, His office is in heaven, and if you want to want to work for Him you need to follow His business practices.

And the Employee Handbook is called…..Torah.


Write it, Re-write it, Do it a Third Time, then Delete it

Before I was concerned about what God would think I would not slow down or think about what I said when reacting to something that bothered me.

My boss just sent a response to a customer apologizing for how things were handled, and I was the one handling it, and I was handling it the way he told me to handle it.

I wrote back this morning asking him why he apologized, then I wrote down how it made me feel, and then I started in with what good managers do, what a real manager does, and after writing it, I deleted everything after “Please tell me why you wrote this.”

I then started in again about management skills and good vs. bad managers, then deleted that, too.

After one or two more of these, I ended up just asking for an explanation and saying it made me feel like I was being hung out to dry to make him look good, and asking if he would please tell me who he is apologizing for.

Even that may be too ‘harsh’, but hey! I may be saved, but I’m still human, and telling someone how what they did makes one feel is not a bad thing, so long as it is done in a non-blaming or accusatory way. Things are stressful at work and my poor boss, who really doesn’t want the job and is not handling it very well, is more stressed than we are. But that is what being the boss means, and if he can’t handle it he should ask his manager to let him go back to being a tech.

One could make an argument that his boss should already know about what is happening.

So, nu? What’s my point here? My point is that even if my boss did the worst thing any boss can do, the worst thing that anybody can do (for that matter) which is to make me look bad so he looks good, as  a Believer I should be able to demonstrate fairness and patience. I should wait to decide what is happening until I hear his side, too. I can’t stop my emotional reaction, but with the Ruach I can control it to the point where I delete those messages that I would, in the flesh, prefer to send.

We need to do this all the time, not just with silly little misunderstandings at work, even when they aren’t silly or misunderstandings. We (meaning those that profess to be God-fearing) should show those who don’t know the Lord that we can overcome the flesh and the emotions that it brings because we have the Ruach (Spirit) to help guide us to be compassionate and fair. And patient to hear the whole story.

This isn’t a “Make it or Break it” event for me- I understand the management issues where I work. They aren’t really any different than any other place I have worked at. And because I am only 1 1/2 years away from retiring, it does make it harder to take. Truth to tell, God has blessed us enough that if I wanted to quit tomorrow we could afford it, although it would be really stupid to do because we have a number of big expenses coming to finish this house upgrade and I would rather pay them from earned income and not from savings.

But still, it is hard to overcome the flesh. That’s no excuse for Believers. Just like a boss who should take the “heat” for his or her people when something doesn’t go right, we have to show what having the spirit of God inside us means, how it separates us from those without spiritual guidance, and to make sure what we do brings glory to God.

So go forth into the world of flesh, and do so with the strength not to succumb to the flesh, which we get from the Ruach HaKodesh that lives inside of us. Yeshua called it the Comforter, so let it do it’s job and comfort you when you feel abused, ignored, mistreated and unfairly accused.

Get used to it because if you are going to be a Believer in the tribulations to come, that is the kind of treatment you can expect from nearly everyone.

Every day, in every way, we are in training for the End Times.