Torah Portion: D’Varim (Deuteronomy) 1:1-3:22
Haftorah Reading Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 1:1-27
Tonight, we begin the last book of the Torah. First I would like to discuss why we study the Torah each Sabbath and how important it is to know how it connects with the Messianic Scriptures. One scripture we can look at is Acts chapter two. We have mentioned this before but it is worth repeating. In the opening words we read where the believers in Yeshua were gathered together on the holiday of Shavuot in Jerusalem when they were empowered by the Spirit of G-d to speak to the Jews who had come to celebrate this holiday.
Why would Jews from all over the world gather in Jerusalem? Shavuot was one of the three times during the year when Jews were to come to the Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate the holiday. When the believers in the Messiah spoke to visitors who had come to Jerusalem, what did they teach them? They told them that Yeshua was the promised Messiah that was foretold in the Torah and other writings in scripture. In other words, they taught them from the Torah. For us, this is an example we cannot overlook. Without a firm grip of what is written in Torah we are severely handicapped in understanding and sharing the truth of Messiah. The Torah should be a clear avenue pointing to Messiah. Why do you think this happened in Acts on Shavuot? It was the holiday of first fruits, so it was with the early believers. It all fits together.
Now, to our new book of D’Varim. In ancient times it was called Mishnah Torah. When the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek, these words were used to give us our modern English name of Deuteronomy, which means second law or Mishnah Torah. Recent discoveries have revealed covenants in ancient times between nations followed the same pattern as the book of Deuteronomy. This entire book, other than the last five verses, covers a speech by Moshe to the children of Israel, whom he had led for 40 years.
Think of yourself in his place, what would you speak about? He was almost 120 years old. The end of his life was in clear sight. He knew he would not enter the Land. His siblings were dead. He had been criticized over and over by the people before whom he stood. Neither of his two sons would succeed him. Many of his dreams were unfulfilled. He could have been overcome with sadness and thinking of what might have been. Yet he did not react in that way. Rather he became the teacher of the people rather than their leader. He changed careers from leader to teacher. He knew his time to be their leader was almost finished and the most important thing was for them to know Torah and be able to pass it down from generation to generation. In D’Varim 1:5 he used a word that is usually translated as declare in English. However, it more rightly means to make clear. In Hebrew the word is ba’er. It is used one other time in this book in D’Varim 27:8 where it is translated as very plainly. In his new role as teacher, Moshe was striving to be sure everyone understood the words of the entire Torah.
When trying times come into our lives, our clear understanding of what G-d has said is what we will lean on the most. Also, we must be equipped to teach others to see clearly and understand simply who G-d is and what He requires of us. We all are called to be teachers in some manner, maybe not standing in front of a classroom but in our daily lives.
This brings me to my first question of the week. In this book we are beginning tonight, we see the Hebrew word, “L-M-D.” It is used 17 times in the book of D’Varim and only in this book of Torah. (11:19,13:12-13) Moshe told his people they needed to be able to teach these words of his to their children. As I considered this during this week I thought how vitally important it is for each of us to become teachers in our faith. We need to be able to clearly present truth, unchanging truth, to people who ask. We see the same idea in the Messianic writings as well. For example, look at II Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 4:12, Colossians 3:16, Luke 6:40. Also in Proverbs 22:6 we find, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” So, this idea of teaching and learning, both being expressed in D’Varim, is something that is a constant throughout scripture. Each of us must spend time studying and being able to teach when G-d gives us the opportunity.
Now, to my last question of the week. In D’Varim 1:27 we read where the children of Israel said, “Because G-d hated us did He take us out of the land of Egypt to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites to destroy us.” Is this a true picture of what happened between the people and G-d? What was really going on? Maybe they, like us sometimes, find ourselves questioning G-d thinking, if He really loves us why did He not do what we were asking of Him?
Let us consider for a moment, how do we grow in our faith? Is it by living an easy life free of challenges or is it by living a life of purpose and service where we choose to follow Him no matter the cost. It is by dying to self and following our Heavenly Father that we grow and mature. Remember the verse that says, “Count it all joy…?” We grow through living a life of faith no matter what comes.