Today’s Parashah is D’Varim (Deuteronomy) 3:23 to 7:11. Within this part is the repetition of the Ten Commandments. I could do a whole book just on those. I mean, really? Who couldn’t?
But don’t worry, I’m not doing that now.
Actually, what I feel I should talk about is just one line, 5:26. Moses relates how the people said they were too frightened to approach God and told Moshe he should talk with the Lord, then tell them what God said. God thought what the people said was good, and then God added, “Oh, how I wish their hearts would stay like this always, that they would fear me and obey all my mitzvot; so that it would go well with them and their children forever.”
To me this shows God’s love for us, but also the fact that God’s love is “tough” love. God loves us, and that is important to know, because His love is not like human love. However, because it is not like human love He will not coddle or enable us to do wrong. He will not be like the mother or father that thinks their child is a good kid, even when everyone else knows the brat is a stinker.
I hear so many people who become Believers because all they can talk about is God’s forgiveness and His love, and I think they are not getting the whole picture. This line, this one statement, really sums up what God feels for us- He loves us, and He wants nothing more than to give us the best there is, always. He wants us to be happy in every way. Yet, He knows we will screw it up, every time. He feels the righteousness of the people, and at the same time He is saddened by the knowledge of what will come in the future. His love is real love, the kind that will be just and true, totally dependable. So is His punishment.
Think about this: God wants to forgive. He isn’t just willing to forgive, He wants to forgive us. But He won’t if we don’t do as we should. All we need to do is ask for forgiveness, and do Teshuva (turning/atonement) in our hearts. God’s a loving and forgiving God, but He’s not stupid and He knows the heart. Asking for forgiveness and then not showing you mean it is not going to work. His love is stronger than anything we can ever understand, but so is His holiness and righteousness, which demands that He judge fairly. This is why Yacov (James) says that faith without works is dead.
If God forgives those who are not turning from their sins, then why should we try to turn from our sins? God will judge, and if we cannot count on His promise to punish those who are not truly repentant, then we cannot count on His promise of salvation, either.
God is love, but that’s not all He is. He is also our God, He is our Father, and He is our Judge and Executioner. He is the one who will decide.
Don’t just think of His love, but think also of what He demands of us and that He will keep His word about both salvation and punishment. To “Fear the Lord” means to worship Him with awe and respect, and we shouldn’t be afraid of God. However, we should be afraid of His judgement and punishment. His promise of salvation is absolute, and His gift of salvation is irrevocable. That means what He promised He will not take away, but that doesn’t mean we can’t throw it away. That’s why He said what He said in this Parashah- He wants to save us, He wants us to be happy, He does love us beyond our understanding. BUT…He is God and will do what He said, and will punish those who are not faithful. And that’s why He was at once both happy that we were so worshipful, and sad because He knew it wouldn’t last. Staying faithful and doing Teshuva- that’s our side of the promise of salvation: we need to keep that in our hearts, always, and work everyday to be more like Him.
We can’t be totally holy, and we can’t do everything in Torah. That’s why we need Messiah. However, we can become better. We can try and continue to run the good race, as Shaul (Paul) says. Keep our eyes on the prize and so long as we make progress, even if it’s three steps forward and two steps backwards, we are still one step closer to God. I believe that is what will please God and will demonstrate our love for Him. Yeshua told His Talmudim (students) that if they love Him then they will obey Him. That’s the exact way His Dad feels.
God loves us, He wants the best for us, and He will deliver what He promises. Above all, He will judge. We absolutely need Yeshua as our defence lawyer when we enter His courtroom. If you don’t have Yeshua as your Messiah, don’t wait another second. Ask God for forgiveness, accept that Yeshua is the Messiah and ask Him to send you the Comforter, God’s Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to come into you and guide you. Ask for Grace, and do Teshuva in your heart right now. You will then know God’s love, and you will know His truth. And you will also know His joy and peace of spirit.