Torah Portion: Ekev (Because, As a result of) Deut. 7:12-11:25
HafTorah Isaiah 49:14-51:3
1.The name of this portion is called Ekev. It is sometimes translated as “because.” Whose name is taken from this root word and why was he given this name? Jacob, or Yacove, one of the patriarchs, was given this name because he held his brother’s heel when they were born. So you could translate it as “on the heels of” or following. This opening verse this week really ties what follows from the last verse of last week’s section, Deut. 7:11, linking heart felt obedience to G-d’s blessing. Moses then goes on to paint a beautiful picture of what will be the result of their obedience.
2.As Moses goes through the things that He and the people have passed through he comes to Deut. 10:12-13 and lists what G-d asks of Israel as their part of the covenant. What did G-d ask Israel to do as their part of the covenant and how do they apply to our lives spiritually.
a. Fear Him: What does it mean to fear Him? It is to revere, to acknowledge His awesomeness, to respect. It is important to remember that these verses follow the section where Moses warned Israel against resting on their own accomplishments or their own righteousness. The fear of G-d is that knowledge which causes us to realize that we have no hope outside of Him.
Our righteousness when compared to G-d is as “filthy rags.” In Proverbs 1:7 it says “The fear of G-d is the beginning of knowledge.” So first we need to have the right relationship to G-d. He is we aren’t. Our lives are in His hands.
b. Next is to walk in all His commandments. Living our lives according to His word. I Cor. 11:1 Paul says he is an imitator of Messiah. Our lives should reflect Yeshua every day. Yeshua in John 8:28-29 says basically that He is a reflection of the Father. His life was ordered by G-d so in John 14:9 He could say, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” Our lives should also be lived as an imitation of Messiah Who is a reflection of G-d.
c. We then come to “love Him”. Our obedience to G-d and His word is not to be based on some legalistic obedience to His word. Rather we follow His word because we love Him. By this the Messianic Scriptures can say in I John 4:19 that because of G-d’s love for us we are then able to love others and Him. He has given His Son Yeshua to confirm His unending love for us. He is asking us to respond to Him because of that love.
D. Lastly, Moses tells the people and us to serve the L-rd. Only when we love Him can we serve Him properly. G-d had taken them as slaves to Pharaoh and now asks them to serve Him. We as slaves to sin are now asked to serve G-d. We are to walk out each day of our lives in service to the One who saved us from death. And we are to be imitators of Him every day He grants us on this planet – because we love Him and revere Him.
3.Several times in this Torah portion there are phrases concerning what we say in our heart. In D’Varim 7:17; “If you say in your heart these nations are greater than I, how can I dispossess them?” D’Varim 8:17, “then you say in your heart my power and the might of my hand has gained me this wealth.” And again in D’Varim 9:4 “Do not think in your heart…for my righteousness the L-rd has brought me in to possess this land…” What is scripture telling us? What was Moses’ warning to the people? What verses can you find talking about the heart?
Rather than saying be careful what you say he warns them to be careful what they think and feel. It isn’t so much about what you say, more than anything we must be careful of what we think. How do we do this? Romans 12:2 says our minds must be renewed. Our thoughts need to be changed. If not we will soon give expression to something that still sits in our mind just waiting for the train to come by to take it to our mouth. If you hear yourself saying something you wish you could take back it is a good clue that there is still something lingering in your mind that needs renewing.
I Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Prov. 21:2 A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.
Matt. 15:8 These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
Psalm 139:1-4 Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.
Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
4.In D’varim 7:25-26 we read where Israel was cautioned against pillaging idols during their conquest of the land and bringing such items back home with them. They were not to bring not only the idol used but anything connected with the idol – the gold or silver, anything even if they intended to use the gold or silver for another purpose. Why?
Bringing these things back into their house might become a snare for them. How? There are spiritual effects of these things. We may not be aware of it but if G-d reveals it to us we are required to take it away from our lives. It could involve the kind of entertainment we participate in, things we watch on TV, music we listen to, holidays we celebrate. These could be some of the modern applications of these verses.
5. In D’Varim 11:18 it says, “Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.” We know that binding them on your hands and frontlets between your eyes is a ritual reminder performed by Jewish people to remind them of who they are and who G-d is in their lives. But what does this verse, especially the words, “lay up these words of mine in your heart” mean to us as believers in the Messiah? How do we go about doing this?
Our hearts and our souls are to remain bound to the Words of G-d … remain bearers of the Words of G-d. To do something with all the heart and soul means to do it with the totality of one’s thoughts, feelings, intentions and desires. We must be whole-hearted in our pursuit of and relationship with G-d.
Our daily, weekly, hourly task is to faithfully remember Him and declare His sovereignty in the face of the world and all those who are watching. This is done by living out Ephesians 2:10 and drawing the lines that we will not cross – by educating, passing the words, vision and calling of the kingdom on to the next generation. There must be intentional discipleship. As the proverb says, “Train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). The world is already fighting – and too often, succeeding – to steal our children and others who would come to faith in Yeshua. Yet, by persistent endurance, by words coupled with practical demonstration, the kingdom can be made manifest to the world and those who are being saved. We should do our part to proclaim the name of Yeshua and make disciples in His name!
Lastly, the importance of listening… “Hear O Israel, the L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is one” (Deut. 6:4), and “It shall come to pass if you surely listen to My commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the L-rd your G-d and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul” (Deut. 11:13) – the openings of the first and second paragraphs of the Shema. It also appears in the first line of the parsha: “It shall come to pass, if you listen to these laws” (Deut. 7:12).
The word, of course, is shema. it is fundamentally untranslatable into English since it means so many things: to hear, to listen, to pay attention, to understand, to internalize, to respond, to obey. It appears 92 times in the book of Devarim, Shema: listen, heed, pay attention. Hear what I am saying. Hear what G-d is saying. Listen to what He wants from us. Listen.
As Moses reminded the people in last week’s parsha, when the Israelites had a direct encounter with G-d at Mount Sinai, “You heard the sound of words, but saw no image; there was only a voice.” (Deut. 4:12). G-d communicates in sounds. He speaks. He commands. He calls. That is why the supreme religious act is shema. When G-d speaks, we listen. When He commands, we try to obey. There is something profoundly spiritual about listening. Listening lies at the very heart of relationship. How can we expect G-d to listen to us if we fail to listen to our spouse, our children, or those affected by our work? And how can we expect to encounter G-d if we have not learned to listen for His voice?