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God has Moses remind the people of the requirements when they enter and live in the land. This Third Discourse of Moses is all about what they are to do now that they will be in the land promised to their Fathers.
God reviews with the people that they are to take their sacrifices, vows, and tithes only to the place where God places his name. They are to destroy all the altars and Asherim (poles) they find throughout the land. Anyone or even any town or village that turns to worship other gods, and tries to get others to do so, is to be completely destroyed, even if a close family member or loved one.
One of the things they are to do, as soon as they can, is to place the blessings on Mount Gerizim and the curses on Mount Ebal. These two mountains are called the “Shoulder” mountains because they are next to each other, and they overlook the Shechem Valley. When the Israelites got there (under Joshua) and they all shouted the blessings and curses, all the people in the Shechem Valley were able to hear them.
God reviews the Kashrut laws and tithing rules, to include the 2nd tithe and the 3rd and 6th-year tithes for the Levites and the poor. The commandment regarding the Shemittah (7th Year) release is given, which applies only to fellow Hebrews.
The final part of this parashah is a review of the regulations regarding the Festivals.
So much to talk about, so many things in here that are valuable to know and understand. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is pick one. I usually just open my mind and as I read through the parashah I pray for God to show me something, a little pop-up, so to speak, or to implant an idea in my skull. What popped into my head today was this: the importance of bringing the sacrifice to the one place in the entire country where God placed his name.
The pagan sacrifices were made anywhere the people wanted to, usually on high grounds and under leafy trees. There was no real management
This rule is, for me, the set-up for needing Messiah. God knows all that will happen, and he knew (of course) that the Romans would destroy the Jerusalem temple, which (because of this rule) would prevent the Jewish people from having the opportunity to ask forgiveness of their sins. You may ask, “Why would God not want people to be forgiven? He gave us the sacrificial system specifically so that we could be forgiven, so why take that away? Doesn’t he tell us in Ezekiel 18:23 that he prefers we turn from sin and live? How can we turn from sin and ask for forgiveness if he takes away the one place we are allowed to do so?”
That’s a good question, and the answer is that God took away our only means of forgiveness under the sacrificial system because the sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua is to be the alternative to the animal sacrifice at the temple. Prior to Yeshua, we sacrificed something that we owned and had value to us. That valuable thing was to be taken from us and given up to God. Messiah was given up by God and given to us, then taken from us back to God. Whereas the animal sin sacrifice was geographically mandated, Messiah’s sacrifice is a universal atonement, allowing all people everywhere to ask forgiveness without having to bring anything anywhere. God sacrificed his most valuable possession, his son, in lieu of us giving up something of our own.
Because God’s laws are forever the only way God could keep his commandments regarding sacrifice for sin valid but “upgrade” them to the newer version, which is by Yeshua’s sacrifice, was to make obedience to the original sin sacrifice commandments impossible. With the destruction of the temple, the only way anyone could be forgiven of their sins was through Yeshua.
So, way back when, even as the Israelites were just beginning to enter the land, God already had his plan for forgiveness of sin through Messiah configured. He first set the rules for sin sacrifice (in Leviticus), then he set the rules for where that sacrifice should be done (this parashah), then he sent Messiah to replace the sacrifice and, finally, took away that place so that there was no other way to be forgiven except through the Messiah.
If you haven’t accepted Yeshua as your Messiah, you will have a second chance when he returns. May I suggest, enthusiastically, that you don’t wait. Review the Messianic prophecies in the Tanakh (there are about 135 of them) then read the New Covenant writings and make a decision. Don’t let the prejudice and hatred between Jews and Christians over the millennia get in your way- it got in my way for over 40 years, but when I made my own decision to study, research and then choose to faithfully believe, I found that my worship and my “Jewishness” became stronger and more fulfilling than it had ever been before.