Torah Portion: Ekev (Because) Devarim (Deut.) 7:12-11:25
HafTorah: Isaiah 49:14-51:3
NT Matt. 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13; James 5:7-11
Ekev: sometimes translated as “because.” Does anyone know where we have seen at least the root of this Hebrew word before? A hint: it is the root of the name of one of the Patriarchs. It is the name of Jacob. Why was he named Jacob? It is 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 weeks section, Deut. 7:11, linking heart felt obedience to G-d’s blessing. Moses then goes on to point a beautiful picture of what will be the result of their obedience.
In verse 17 and in 8:17, Moses warns the people of , “saying in their heart.” What does this mean? 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.
In Devarim 7:25-26 we read where Israel was cautioned against pillaging idols during their conquest of the land. Not only the idol used but anything connected with the idol – the gold or silver, anything even if they did intended to use the gold or silver for another purpose. Why, because they might be snared by it. 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.
In chapter 9 we see Moses express an idea that may help us in our understanding of Romans 3:19-20. Here Moses says again, “Don’t think it your heart,” that it was because of your righteousness that G-d is giving you the land. Shaul uses this same idea in Romans and is often misunderstood; this idea of being under the Torah. In Romans 3:20 Shaul says clearly that no one is justified by works of Torah. He goes on to say that the Torah brings us the knowledge of sin. Whether Jew or non Jew we all stand guilty. So the term of under the Torah means that each of us has been found wanting because we have not been able to live our lives according to G-d’s instructions, therefore we are guilty. In Gal. 4:4-5 Shaul tells us about the solution. Yeshua is the solution. When we know Him He takes our guilt upon Himself and then we are led by the Spirit away from those things the Torah describes as sin. Obedience to the Word of G-d becomes possible now as we are led by His Spirit. So now we are no longer “under” the sentence of the Torah. Shaul even goes on in Romans 3:31 to clearly state that he is not voiding the law by what he has just said. On the contrary he (we) establish the Law.
Lastly I want us to look at Deut 10:20. What does it mean to fear G-d? It is an awesome respect and love of G-d that moves us to want to please Him in everything we do. Shaul uses this term in II Cor 7:1. He is G-d, G-d Almighty. Worship G-d: worship is work. It is about Him not us. We offer Him our prayers and our obedience. Worship or serving Him elevates what we do from the mundane to a level of meaning because it is done for Him.
Hold fast (cleave) same word used in Genesis 2:24 where it is said a man cleaves to his wife and they become one. John 17:21-23 gives us this picture when we cleave to Yeshua we become one with Him and because He cleaves to G-d it gives us that access as well. Swear by Him only. He is the only one who should have our allegiance. No others are worthy.