Torah Portion: Nitzavim/Vayelech (Standing/And He Will Go) Deut. 29:9-31:30
HafTorah: Isaiah 61:10-63:9
Tonight I want us to look first and mainly at Isaiah, especially in light of this passage coming before Rosh Hashanah. As we look at this I would like for you to get this picture in your mind. In Luke 4:16-21 Yeshua, following His baptism and wilderness experience, comes home to Nazareth where, as was His custom, he attends the local synagogue on Sabbath. Realize that at this time in history Nazareth was a small farming village within 3 miles of the main Jewish town of Tizpora. He stood up to read, first reading the Torah section and then being handed the book of Isaiah, starts with what we read here in our HafTorah portion. Could it have been this same Sabbath as today? Possibly. Since Nitzavim is always read on the Sabbath before Rosh Hashanah. So, here Yeshua tells the people in the synagogue, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Saying that He is the Servant of the L-rd of whom Isaiah has spoken. He has been anointed with the Spirit of G-d which was also spoken of in Isaiah 11:2.He was and is the Anointed One. What was He to do? He was to “Bring good news to the afflicted and poor.” This good news was the announcement of redemption. When John asked in Matthew 11:2 if Yeshua was the one, He answered with this verse.
Yeshua also came to bind up the broken hearted. Healing those crushed in spirit. In Ezekiel 34:4 the prophet rebukes the kings of Israel because they have not done these very things. The true Messiah, King of Israel fulfilled these tasks. (Psalms 147:3)
Yeshua is also to proclaim liberty to the captives. This refers to those Jews exiled and scattered among the nations. This is part of His role yet to come in the Messianic age. He will come with the sound of the shofar to proclaim that day of freedom.
The coming Messiah’s task is worthy of a closer look. In Isaiah it reads “freedom to prisoners” but in Luke 4 Yeshua reads “recovery of sight to the blind.” The problem of the difference in these verses can be solved when we look at languages. Luke used Yeshua’s Hebrew words as his source and translators used the Septuagint, which was written in Greek, to translate Isaiah. Yeshua used a Hebrew scroll and probably actually read it as Isaiah had written it and would have no doubt had verses like Isaiah 42:6-7 in mind. Going back to John’s question, in Matthew, “Are you the One or should we look for another?” Yeshua responds by saying, “the blind receive their sight.”
In Isaiah 61:2-3 we see also that this servant of the L-rd was to “comfort those who mourn in Zion” – probably over the fall and desolation of Jerusalem. In the Messianic age that mourning will turn into gladness and their mourning clothes will be replaced with clothes of joy and celebration. In the coming age the cities will be rebuilt, and in Isaiah 61:7 we read where as G-d’s first born they will receive a double portion and everlasting joy will be theirs.
I want to move to the Torah portion beginning in Deut 29:9. I want you to again see the way the Hebrew scripture give us such insight into the New Testament and fill out our understanding of the Messiah and His role in history and especially in how it relates to Israel. In Nitzavim I want to start at Deut 29:11 where Moses asks the people to enter into the covenant with G-d. The word translated as “enter” is the Hebrew word “avar”. This, in almost every case, means to “pass over or cross over”. So Moses is asking them for more than a formal commitment – sign on the dotted line, but he is asking them to cross over from one realm to another. He is asking them to cross over from the kingdom of sin and death to the kingdom of life and G-d.
In Deut. 29:15-20 Moses, as part of this crossing over, asks them to check their hearts (confront their sins). He warns them that this is not to be taken lightly, to not think that they can get by with pretending to go along while doing whatever they please.
Then, in Deut. 29:21-28 He tells them to consider the price. He reminds them of the curses and blessings, don’t go into this lightly. As I read these verses it reminded me of our own lives and how the Father deals with us. Our lives change when we enter the kingdom of G-d and it is not to be taken lightly. It costs us something. We serve a new king and there are consequences to sin.
What better section of both Isaiah and Deut. to read before Rosh Hashanah. I would ask you to go through your own life and search out those hidden things that need to be brought out into the light of G-d.