Torah Portion: Ki Tavo (When You Come) Devarim (Deuteronomy) 26-29
HafTorah: Isaiah 60:1-22
Tonight we study the Torah section Ki Tavo or, “when you come in.” In this section we read the blessings and curses that Moses lays out before the people before their entry into the Land. The blessings, if they follow the ways of G-d, curses if they do not. We also read of the Appointed Time of First Fruits known as what? It is called Shavuot or Pentecost and is the festival following Passover. Each farmer was called to bring the first fruits of his crop to the Temple in Jerusalem and present them as a tithe to the L-rd, to thank Him for settling them in the Land and fulfilling the promise to their ancestors. In the New Testament we see this time mentioned specifically in Acts 2, where we can see the people that came to the L-rd as the first fruits of the Messiah.
I think for us this time is still relevant in our lives as a time to remember what G-d has done for us and as a time to present our yearly first fruits before Him. As we continue let me ask each of you to consider what your individual first fruits might be for this year.
We will discuss this later but now let’s look at the statement made by each person as they brought their offering. It is found in Deut. 26:5-10. I want us now to look especially at verse 5. The words translated in English are, “My father was a Syrian about to perish.” There are several thoughts that spring from the three Hebrew words translated above. First who is this person? Commentators give us several possibilities, such as Laban, Jacob’s father in law, Terach, father of Avraham or Yaachov/Jacob himself. Then the word translated as perish could also mean destitute, lost or perish. Let me give you my thoughts which might help us here. First, I think the person is Jacob. I believe since the verses continue about him going down into Egypt, small in number and becoming mighty would fit his description. When Jacob left the Land to go to Aram, the home of Laban, how did he leave? He left with only the clothes on his back. There he was, enslaved and abused by Laban but he never lost his faith and returned home blessed by the L-rd.
So here at First Fruits we see the people celebrating the faithfulness of G-d. The promise of G-d has been proven true and they and their off springs are a sign of that promise. G-d has given them a harvest and a home as they follow Him. In Deut. 26:1 we can see this promise wrapped up in one Hebrew word, Nahal, translated as inheritance. Another meaning for Nahal is territory. So in one word we can read about their inherited territory. G-d fulfilled His promise. They took their place in this spiritual drama by bringing their sacrifice, their tithe.
Moses tells them in verse 26:17 how to maintain their spiritual connections with the Father, how to continue on their path. “That you walk in His way.” This brings me back to our First Fruits that I mentioned at the beginning. What does it mean to, “walk in His ways?” What does this mean to me and each of you today?
This week this topic has come up over and over in what I have read and even in a You Tube video sent to me by a friend and now in this verse. I believe that to walk in the ways of G-d means that we are to do what we see Him doing. In John 8:28-29 and 14:9 we see Yeshua saying the same thing. He does/did what His Father does. So back to the question, how do we imitate G-d? First we can look at scripture and see what we can find on what G-d does.
In Genesis 3:21 G-d clothes the naked. He made clothes for Adam and Eve. In Genesis 18:1 G-d visited the sick when He came to Avraham after His circumcision. So we should visit the sick. In Genesis 25:11 G-d comforted Isaac after his father’s death. So too we should comfort those who mourn. In Deut. 34:6 G-d buried Moses so we also should bury the dead.
In the New Testament we see Yeshua doing these things of G-d. So are we to be imitators of the Father. It is really what discipleship is all about. It is our first fruits offerings that we bring to the Father. Discipleship in itself is not the end product. Discipleship should lead us to know G-d more and more. In all that we do, knowing the Father more should be our goal. We can say these things I have done for you. I am holy because you are holy.
The coming appointed times give us a focused time to look at our life and how G-d would have us to live each day, being an imitator of Him. Israel’s journey was not finished when they got out of Egypt or even when they received the Torah but was only finished when they entered the Land, cultivated it and brought their first fruits to G-d. Remember like Israel our spiritual journey is not complete at our salvation experience but is a life long journey that requires us to internalize the truths of G-d, and then that truth is manifested in our spiritual fruits as we become more like Him. Like Israel we have a choice. As G-d shows us truth in our walk with Him, we can either look at it and go our way never changing or we can take that truth, apply it to our lives, cultivate it, and internalize it until it brings fruit in our lives and our lives are changed forever.