Torah Portion: Nitzavim (Standing) Vayelekh (And He Went) D’varim (Deut) 29:9-31:30
Haftorah Reading: Isaiah 61:10-63:9, Hosea 14:1-10, Micah 7:18-20, Joel 2:15-27
This week we read a double portion leading up to Rosh Hashanah. These two Torah portions come at the end of Moshe’s life. In them he presents many challenges and goals for his people and for us.
At the beginning of our reading Moshe speaks to the people about entering into the covenant with G-d. He makes a point that this covenant is to include not just the leaders or the elite of the tribes but is for everyone, the wives, the children and even the strangers in the camp. The word used here in Hebrew for stranger is, “ger.” This word indicates someone who was not Jewish but had attached himself or herself to Israel. They were people living among the Israelites. I think this is important for us to look at on a deeper level, especially in light of what Paul says in Romans 11:16 that we non- Jewish believers have been grafted in to the Jewish olive tree. We have, like the ger, become part of Israel, not becoming Jewish but sharing in the faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. As that occurred we then became partakers of their olive tree. Yeshua became our guide as to what that means in our life. So for us as believers this verse should bring joy to us. As we celebrate Rosh Hashanah this coming Wednesday evening we are gathering with Israel to come before the L-rd at His appointed time to worship Him as these people were doing as Moshe spoke these words to them.
In Deut. 30 we read of the wandering of the people from the L-rd but He did not forget them. He did not write them off, nor does he write us off. He suffers with us when we stray away from Him, when we find ourselves in spiritual exile or in places we never wanted to be. He is still there. In Deut. 30:3 we read the words, “G-d will return your exiles.” In Hebrew the verb really reads G-d returns with the exiles. Psalms 91:15 gives us the same thought, “I am with him in distress.” In the Messianic writings we read these words. In Hebrews 13:5 the writer quotes Joshua 1:5, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” This should encourage us in our walk with Him. G-d does not throw us away. He also does not forsake us in difficult times. Instead He suffers with us. When we wander away (Deut. 30:2-3) He is there to bring us home, after we have repented.
I have spoken of this word repent before. In Hebrew it means to change directions, to turn around and resolve not to continue the direction in which you were going. Here in our scripture we see that picture that Moshe is giving to the people and to us.
In Deut. 30:15-20 Moshe set before the people what this change of direction means. He urges them to choose life, to choose good. This has been a prevalent theme in our reading. I think it is closely tied to repentance. Why would we not choose life? What does it mean to choose life? I think these verses are talking about deeper choices than what to eat or wear. However, the deeper choices we make each day should affect even the seemingly small decisions we make. We choose life by controlling and changing our instincts that some times lead us down a wrong path. We choose life by working on those traits that do not bring life in our life. We choose life by living each moment with the will of G-d always before us. We choose life by not majoring on the minor things of life but to grasp G-d in every moment. He calls us daily to choose Him.
In Deut. 31:7-8 Moshe tells Joshua that G-d goes before him and with him. So He is with us. We can change. We can live differently. We can choose life for He is with us and goes before us each moment. Even in the darkness He is there. Bless each of you with a deep abiding sense of Him in your life