Torah Portion: Ki Tavo (When You Come In) Deut. 26:1-29:8
HafTorah: Isaiah 60:1-22
Tonight I want us to look at the Torah section and the HafTorah as the beginning and the end of the same story. I think these two sections give us a unique opportunity to see history unfold for us from beginning to end. And I want you to see Israel’s centrality in this story. It begins and ends with Israel.
So in the Torah portion called, “When You Come”, we see Moses laying out the renewal of the covenant between G-d and Israel. He states the benefits of that covenant or the blessings. In these blessings every area of life is covered. What is required of Israel to enjoy these blessings? Read Deut. 28:45, 28:62, 28:46-47 and you will see it is obedience and gladness or joy. Reverence, also a requirement, is found in Deut. 28:58. So G-d required these three things from the people in response to the covenant between them and G-d. In fact, I think for us the requirements are the same. The New Covenant, which allows us as non-Jews to be grafted in to Israel, also requires us as part of G-d’s people, the same obligations. Read in Romans 16:26 (obedience) Luke 2:10, Romans 15:13 and Acts 20:24 (joy) Hebrews 12:28 (reverence). This is our part in this covenant transaction between G-d and us. What happens if we don’t hold up our end? Is the covenant nullified? No. Even though much of the church believes scripture states, because of Israel’s sin, G-d has rejected the Jewish people. No, G-d does not walk away. But we do suffer the consequences of our actions when we sin. Here in this Torah portion we read those consequences. They are severe. They take up many more verses than the verses describing the blessings. Why was G-d so clear here about what would result from Israel’s disobedience? They were to be a light to the nations. In fact, the place where they finally ratified this covenant was specifically chosen for that reason – Schem. This was literally the cross roads of the major trade routes of the ancient world.
Then the Torah says they were to write the Torah on white washed stones so everyone who passed by would know who they were and whom they served. If their actions did not match what was written it would be well known. The same is true with us. People watch us and know if our actions match our faith. So this is the beginning. The in between story we all know. I think history shows us what happened to Israel over the centuries. But never read this to say G-d has broken His covenant with Israel. His absolutely has not.
Now, to the end of the story. Look in Isaiah 60:1-22. The first verse is “Arise, shine for your Light has come. The glory of the L-rd has risen upon you.” Isaiah is looking ahead to the dawn of the Messianic age. Jerusalem has endured centuries of exile and conflict but now dawns a new day. The same light that was at the beginning of creation is rising from the east to shine of Jerusalem. This light will draw nations and kings to it. (Isaiah 60:3) Jerusalem will be a spiritual lamp, the spiritual center of the world. Messiah will be her Light. (Isaiah 49:6) Nations will come to her to walk in this Light and worship the L-rd. The wealth of the nations will flow into her. (Isaiah 60:5) It will eclipse any time in Jerusalem’s history. The nations that follow G-d will bring sacrifices to the Temple (Isaiah 56:6-7). There will be no wall between Jews and the nations that follow G-d. (Eph. 2:14-15)
Isaiah compares the returning exiles to coming on clouds or birds returning to their nests. (Isaiah 60:8) Isaiah 49:22 says some will come on the shoulders and in the bosoms of the nations. Isaiah 60:10 says those who have toppled the walls of Jerusalem will now rebuild them and their kings minister to you.
There will be no need for the sun and moon any longer. Messiah will be the light. So we have here the beginning and the end of the story. We are all faced with the same questions. Where will we be when the Light breaks? Will we recognize that Light or will we be counted among those who are in darkness? (Isaiah 60:2)