Parashah V’etchanan (and I sought..) Deuteronomy 3:23 – 7:11

Moses asks God to allow him to enter the land, and God says, pretty much, “Enough already! Stop whining about this because I told you that ain’t gonna happen! But, I will do this- after you anoint Joshua climb up to the top of Mount Pisgah, and I will let you see the land.”

Some believe, as I do, that not only did God show Moses the land, but also the future. He showed Moses the eventual degradation of the people into idol worship, the consequent dispersal into the Diaspora and exile to Babylon, ending with their return to Israel. I believe this because of the warning Moses gives right after he observes the land, which is not so much the warning of a possible future as it is the narration of events from one who has seen it happen.

This rest of this parashah holds nearly everything that is important to the Jewish people, and thereby the world:

Deuteronomy 5:6-19: Moses reviews the Ten Commandments;

Deuteronomy 6:4:        Moses teaches us the Shema;

Deuteronomy 6:5-10:  Moses teaches us the V’ahavta;

Deuteronomy 6:16:      Moses teaches us a lesson that is used more often in Christianity (from my experience) than in Judaism: Do not test the Lord, your God.

Clearly, there is in just those 4 lessons more than I could write in a single post, unless that post was something like 15 pages or more. Don’t worry- this won’t be.

Actually, the message I have today is not about any of those passages. It is from Deuteronomy 4:5-8, which is what Moses told the people before he told them all those other things:

See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?

I often state that the Torah is not just for the Jews, but for the entire world. The Jews received it so to learn it and live it (just like it says here), so that they may be an example to the world.

Shaul says pretty much the same thing, but to a different audience, in Romans 11:11

So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.

Moses is telling Israel to obey Torah so that when the other nations see the wonderful rulings, peacefulness, social closeness, morality and compassion of the people, and how God is always close at hand to help and protect them, they will be jealous and want to be part of it. And Shaul, some 1500 or so years later, tells the Messianic communities that their living in faith to Messiah Yeshua will eventually be an example to the non-believing Jews how much better it is to accept Yeshua and make them jealous for their own Messiah.

Here we have the same message faithfully believe God and do as He says being told to Jews and Gentiles first going into the land, and centuries later to Gentiles and Jews who have been living in the land. And the reason is the same: to incite, through jealousy, those living outside of God’s plan to choose to accept God (and His Messiah.)

There are many passages in the bible that confirm this message, and it is unfortunate that much of Christianity has perverted and misused the writings of Shaul to dissuade people from hearing the proper message. Shaul says he is delivering the Gospel to the Jew first, then the Gentile (Romans 1:16); I believe this means if the Good News of the Kingdom of God is not presented in a way that is acceptable to a Jewish person, it isn’t the correct message for a Gentile.

Still and all, we can be confident in this: God’as plan will win out in the end!  Torah will be written on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33) and we no longer ask our brother (and sister) if they know the Lord, because all will know Him.

In the meantime, what should we do? Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? Live your life as an example to those who have rejected God and/or Messiah Yeshua to show them how blessed and peaceful it is to be living as God has told us we should.

Most everyone knows that God’s house has many rooms, but what many don’t know is that there is a really big pool in the backyard, which is always refreshing, so to you who are suffering the emptiness, despair, heat and discomfort of living a worldly life…C’mon in- the water’s fine!!!



Parashah Ki Thissa (when you take) Exodus 30:11 – 34

As usual, there is just so much here. I took an entire course just about the symbolic nature of the spices used for the incense and anointing oils.

There’s also how God can use humans to achieve His goals, in the way that he gave all this knowledge and understanding to Oholiab and Bezalel to make the things required for the service in the Tabernacle.

Then there is the sin of the Golden Calf; and what’s up with Aaron? How could he have done that?

And then there’s Hur- Moses left both Aaron and Hur in charge, but there is no mention of Hur when Moses comes back and asks Aaron why he made the calf. In fact, Hur isn’t mentioned anymore. The Chumash says it is thought that Hur stood up against the people and was killed, so Aaron decided to do as the people said and live. It also says that Aaron was a peaceful man and that he was stalling, knowing that to refuse would cause bloodshed and hoping that Moses would return before they actually had a chance to worship the calf (which is why he said the next day would be a feast.)

The Levites are the ones that come rushing to Moses when he asks who is for God, which God later reminds us about when He separates the Levites from all the other tribes to serve Him, alone. Their dedication and their immediate choice to serve Him was remembered and they were given the honor of having God as their inheritance. There’s gotta be at least one or two good sermons in there!

And then we have Moses asking God, after this terrible sin, to do him a favor? To show Moses His glory? I mean, what’s that about? Moses just managed to convince God that He shouldn’t destroy the people for this terrible sin, and when God relents Moses decides, what? Now’s a good time to ask Him something no one has ever asked of Him? To show me your presence so I will know that you really, really like me?

And God says, “OK- you got it. But you can’t see my face or you have to die; that’s how it is.” Talk about a compassionate and forgiving God! He is so teed off at this stiff-necked, rebellious group of people that He is going to wipe them out of existence, and when He relents to Moses’ pleas and says He won’t destroy them…POOF! It’s gone. No more anger, and here’s this guy asking to see my presence. Ah, he’s OK, I guess. After all, I did tell him that he finds favor in my sight, so why not?

Finally, Moses goes back to the mountain and gets the 10 Commandments again. After he destroys them in his anger (after telling God not to be so angry), God doesn’t say, “Why did you do that? I gave them to you and you broke them, on purpose, and now you want me to give you more?” Instead, He gives another set of tablets to Moses.

This parashah shows just so much about God, Moses, and the sinfulness of mankind. Where do I start? Worse than that, how do I stop?

I am always affected by Moses’ actions in this parashah, regarding the first set of tablets and how he soothes God’s anger, then loses his own. God is holy and righteous, yet with the intercession of Moses God relents from destroying the people and making a new nation out of Moses. This, alone, is remarkable when you consider that God was willing to chuck some 470 years of work right out the window, and start over. This reminds us that God’s time is not like our time. It would have been easy for God to do what we could never even think of trying. Yet, was God really going to destroy the people, or was He testing Moses’s desire to lead and his humility before the Lord? Abraham asked God to relent from a destruction, and here is Moses doing the same. Was that really the reason behind God saying He would destroy the people?

And after Moses, with a cool-headed and compassionate plea (not so much for the people but for God’s reputation) saves the people, when he sees the actual crime before him, he totally loses it. He smashes what God gave him, he calls for support and then he, on his own, orders the destruction of the sinners. Some 3,000 of them. Much less than the number God was going to destroy, but still, that’s a lot of people.

So Moses was cool and thoughtful when he was keeping God from vengeful destruction, but when faced with the same emotional response, Moses doesn’t hold back.

I think there is a lesson here for us- it is easier to tell others what to do than it is to do it ourselves. “Do as I say, not as I do” is easy. God, however, is different; He does what He says, and He expects us not to do what He says. Yes, He commands us to do things, but He knows we can’t. If He didn’t know that we are incapable of doing what the Torah says, then why did He plan, from moment One, to send Yeshua our Messiah to make it possible for us to be with God?  If, when God gave us the Torah, He really expected that we could obey it to the letter (as Yeshua did), then why did we need Yeshua? Even if we are able to observe Torah perfectly, there still will be very few people who will make it into Heaven. No doubt. Even with the Grace of God we have now through Yeshua’s sacrificial death, Yeshua told us that only a few will make it. The path less followed is the one to salvation, so even with the automatic and guaranteed “Get Out of Hell” card Yeshua deals us, still, only a remnant will make it.

But we can’t observe Torah perfectly. And we do need Yeshua. That’s why I say God does as He says and doesn’t expect us to do as He says.

That’s no reason for us not to try. We need to do the “WWJD” thing. God requires us to do, not to think about doing, not to observe others doing, but to do. Like Yoda said, “Do…or do not. There is no try.” We must start out wanting to do, not saying we will do our best. I believe that saying we will try our best is making an excuse for failure before we even start. Henry Ford was quoted as saying, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” And Will Rogers said, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

What God is saying to the people and to Moses is simply, “Do!”

Maybe we can’t “Do” as God tells us to do, but we can do more than we have been doing. We never can be sinless, but we always can sin less. That’s the “Do!” for us. This is something we can hear and obey: sin less.

Look for the thing that God wants you to find in this parashah, as you should with the entire Manual. Always read it with the prayer that God will show you what He wants you to get from it.

I feel like I did a lousy job this morning, since there is too much for me to talk about and too little time for me to do it with. So help me, please- take whatever you can from my babbling and use it in a way which will allow you to please the Lord. That’s the best I can do- give you something you haven’t had: a new understanding, insight to a new revelation, or just a push to get you off your tuchas and into the game.

Thank you, Father, for your Word, your teachings, and your salvation through Yeshua Ha Mashiach, help us all to be doers of the Word.

Shabbat Shalom!