Ki Tetze (When You Go Out) Deut./D’Varim 21:10-25:19, Haftorah Reading Isaiah 54:1-10

1.What would you say the over-riding theme of this Torah portion is? Where in the Messianic scripture do you see the same theme carried out? As you read this Torah section you probably noticed it was filled with commandments covering all areas of life. But the theme might be that It is our responsibility to reach outside ourselves. 

Deut. 21:18-21 speaks of a rebellious son and the consequences of such a son.  Deut. 22:1-3 Helping your brother, Deut. 23:13 How to treat a slave who has escaped. Deut. 23:19  Do not charge interest to your brother. Deut. 23:21 Making a vow to the L-rd.

Do we see this same theme of reaching outside ourselves carried on in the Messianic Scriptures? Look at Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31. In both segments of the Bible we see this over-arching theme of helping others and doing the right thing for our fellowman. In this Torah portion we see this worked out in each chapter, whether it is in the respect of women, helping out when a man’s donkey has fallen, respect for a mother bird on a nest, interest not charged, or leaving food in your field for the poor. Over and over again we see G-d’s call for us to be involved with people. In the Messianic scripture Matthew 5:42 talks about lending or giving to people in need and of course Matthew 25:35-40 speaks of how we are specifically called to minister to the Jewish people. Luke 3:10-11 talks about sharing with the poor. James 2:14-17 and James 1:17 says it is the very definition of religion.

I wanted to remind us individually and as a group, we have a special calling. We see it in this Torah portion and in the Messianic scriptures that we are to be involved with the world and we are to let our light shine. It is a principle of our faith.

2.Deut. 22:9-10 tells of forbidden mixtures. What is the real spiritual point here? We are not to be a mixture of spiritual and unspiritual. We have been recreated so to speak and our old sinful self did not survive our salvation through Yeshua. Romans 6:1-11 makes it clear that the old person died once and for all. I think for Israel here Moses is trying to get across this idea. They are not like the Amonites and Moabites. The Israelites were a holy people. We are a holy people. These verses in Deut. should be a picture of our life.

3.Read Deut. 24:16 and then Exodus 34:7. How can we explain these seeming contradictions in scripture? It could be explained by looking at Numbers 16 where Korach rebels against Moshe and Aaron. First, what happened to Korach’s sons? They did not follow their father and so were not punished for his sins. Their son’s even went on to write some of the Psalms we still read today. The children are punished if they follow after the example of their father, such as King David. So, the explanation of our seeming contradiction is that we are all responsible for our own sins. We are also responsible for the sins of our children if our example before them led them to sin and we never tried to correct them or teach them and they continued in our bad example.

4.“Do not hate an Egyptian because you were a stranger in his land.” How are we to understand this commandment? We know he did not want them to forget what happened in Egypt. Passover is the yearly remembering of the time in Egypt. This memory is passed on from generation to generation. So what is going on here? Moses is telling the people to be free you have to let go of hate. Moses is telling them that if they continue to hate the Egyptians they are still bound by the chains of slavery. They would be bound by the past, not by physical chains but by emotional chains.

Moses is saying you must live with the past but not in the past. If we are held captive by anger against our former tormentor we are captive still. If we let them define who we are we are not free of them. So why even remember, forgive and forget. The reason for remembering is so we will not subject others to what we experienced. Moses tells them to remember so their society will be different. He commands them to never subject a brother to hard labor. They were to give him rest on the Sabbath and let them go free every seventh year. The same applies to us. We learn from our past but here we see that G-d has more for us than repeating our past. The Israelites knew what it felt like to be a victim therefore they were to be different. They were not to live a life ruled by the past. Moses was telling the people to remember but not to preserve hate. They were to conquer it by recalling how it felt to be a victim. Remember, not to live in the past but to prevent a repetition of it. What we are to recall is the pain of being a victim but not the hate or anger you felt toward your persecutors. Moses is teaching then that they are not to deny the past but they can use it to learn to live differently. Perhaps this is why he tells the Israelites in Shemot (Exodus) 3:21-22 to plunder the Egyptians when they leave. Our past needs closure as also shown in D’Varim (Deut) 15:12-15. We must put closure on those things or people who held us captive. We have to be able to see some value in what we experienced. Then we can put down hate and anger. There must be some act of symbolic closure with the past. Justice may never come but hate and anger must not be allowed to rule our lives or we will still live as slaves in Egypt.

5.Why did G-d single out Amalek for such harsh punishment. In D’Varim (Deut.) 25:17-19 Israel is told to obliterate the memory of them from under the heavens. This is much harsher than how G-d tells Israel to relate to Egypt, a nation who had enslaved the people for hundreds of years, put hard labor on their backs and tried to kill all the sons born to Israel. And yet G-d tells Israel not to hate them in Deut. 23:8. So why is Amalek so terrible?

Let us look at the verse and focus on a couple of Hebrew words. One word is “kerach”. In our English translation it says in verse 18, “he met you on the way.” The word we read as met is this word kerach. It comes from the root meaning to freeze or cool off. In modern Hebrew it is the word for ice. So Amalek had come out and cooled Israel off. In Shemot (Exodus)17 we read the story of the attack. Israel had just crossed the sea and had seen the hand of G-d at work for them. They meet Amalek and they say, “Is G-d among us or not?” Amalek sensed their doubt and took advantage to cool them off. Has your zeal ever been cooled off? Have you ever wondered is G-d among us or not? The other Hebrew word in this verse is, “zanav.” This word means the tail end. Amalek cooled them off and then took the stragglers. When we get cool in our faith we make a ready target for satan. We begin to doubt. Is G-d with me or not? And it is easy to be misled. So this is what G-d really wants us to blot out doubt or a casual faith. We are to be on guard, to not lag behind but to keep the guardrails up. That will keep us on the right way and not be picked off because of the cooling of our faith.

I read an interesting article by Jonathan Allen this week. I am sharing a portion of that article below with you. I think this is an important message to each of us.  

In D’varim/Deuteronomy 24:7 it says,   “If a man is found kidnapping someone from his brothers, from the children of Israel … and he shall die, that kidnapper.” 

It seems that there are plenty of examples of kidnapping in our modern world, whether people who have been openly stolen – off the streets, so to speak.  Refugees are particularly vulnerable but, whatever the original point of contact, people are seized by powerful criminal forces and transported where they did not want to go, then forced by various forms of blackmail to work in various ways – often in the sex trade – being bought and sold by gang-leaders as if they were cattle or sheep. Perhaps the Scripture’s most obvious example is Yosef, kidnapped and sold by his brothers, taken to Egypt by the Midianites and sold as a domestic slave on the open market to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s senior officials. There, Potiphar’s wife – at least – considered sexual services to be part of his household duties.

More sinister, however, even than physical slavery is spiritual slavery. This is where a person has been been captured or deceived into believing the lies of the enemy. Yeshua pointed to the difference between Himself and the enemy: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10, ESV). The enemy is constantly looking to draw us away from our relationship with G-d – “your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8, ESV) – and will use any means, fair or foul, to distract us, lead us into error and sin, or to tie us up in knots. Rav Sha’ul warns the Colossians, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Messiah” (Colossians 2:8, ESV). As believers, we must stand firm in the freedom Yeshua has given us and “not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1, ESV).

Part of this is the times in which we live; Sha’ul reports that “the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1, ESV). We are already living in the last days, waiting for Yeshua’s return, so we should not be surprised when this happens around us. The time is coming, he says, when “people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4, ESV). At this juncture, not only must we be vigilant lest we get drawn into error, but we must “hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught” so that we may be able to “give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9, ESV). In particular, we must be aware of those who practice heavy shepherding, of those who always tell others what to think or do, not tolerating discussion and allowing no room for individual conscience guided by the Spirit. This too is a form of kidnapping, stealing souls from following Yeshua alone.

When we are guided by the Spirit, we will “not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach”, correcting those who do not rightly understand with gentleness, so that “G-d may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26, ESV). We are called, as Sha’ul encouraged Timothy, always to be “sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (4:5, ESV). This is our calling: to share in Yeshua’s simple ministry – “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2, ESV) – praying for people, comforting those who mourn, sharing and demonstrating the kingdom of G-d, declaring freedom for captives and release for the oppressed in the name of Yeshua, until He returns. May it be soon and in our days!