Choosing the blessing
Re’eh (See) D’Varim (Deut.) 11:26-16:17
Haftorah Readings: Isaiah (Yesh’yahu) 54:11-55:5
Today we read the Torah portion Re’eh. In the opening few verses, D’Varim/Deut. 11:26-28 we read these words, “Behold I set before you this day, a blessing and a curse. A blessing if you obey the commandments of the L-rd your G-d, which I command you this day. And a curse if you will not obey the commandments of the L-rd your G-d, but turn aside from the way I command you this day, to go after other gods, which you have not known.”
The question arises, who in their right mind would choose the curse over the blessing? Well, the fact is most of the people on this planet have chosen the curse instead of the blessing. This, in spite of having the instruction book of how to live an abundant life readily available. I would think some or all of us have somewhere chosen the curse over the blessing.
An earthly example may help us grasp why this happens. I can attest to having done this very thing in my life. I buy a new gadget or a new electric thing. They always come with a detailed instruction booklet. All the steps are clearly printed on how to set the item up so it will operate correctly. However, because I am a man, I say to myself, who has the time to read all this? I can do this on my own. This course of action never turns out well.
Often in our lives we never take the time to hear from G-d or read His instruction manual. That never goes well either. G-d has given us His word. The results of not reading, praying, studying and following His word never ends well for us. It usually results in wasted years or worse, wasted lives.
This world is no help. Our help comes from the L-rd Who made heaven and earth. In our portion we read these words in Deut./D’Varim 13:5, “After the L-rd your G-d you shall walk and Him you shall fear, and His commandments you shall keep and His voice you shall hear.” Notice the verbs in this sentence, walk, fear, keep and hear. Each of these verbs point back to the same subject, G-d. He is to be the director of our life. Later in our portion in Deut./D’Varim 28:9 we read, “The L-rd will establish you as His holy people as He promised you on oath, if you keep the commandments of the L-rd your G-d and walk in obedience to Him.” This verse was spoken to the people at G-d’s direction before they entered into Canaan. There they would find another people with no concept of G-d. This holds true for us as well. Each day most of us go out into the world and meet people who have no concept of G-d or how G-d would have them to live their lives. Unless we are able to hold on to our faith, it is easy to follow other gods such as money, sex, position, power, etc. Unless we know the Father and His word we will surely find ourselves worshipping other gods. So as you read this portion let it sink into your spirit. Our way as G-d’s children is not compatible to the world’s view. Sometimes we may feel left out or not a part of what the world says is the way to live. Take heart! In scripture from the beginning to the end we see G-d’s people faced with this same choice.
In Isaiah 61:1-3 we see Isaiah in his later years as the kingdom of Judah was fading away into the surrounding population speaking these words, “The Spirit of the L-rd is upon me, because the L-rd has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound, to proclaim the year of the L-rd’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our G-d, to comfort all who mourn, to grant to those who mourn in Zion, to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit, that they may be called the oaks of righteousness the planting of the L-rd, that He may be glorified.” Remember, Isaiah spoke these words at a low point of the kingdom of Judah. How could he have had such faith? He knew G-d and G-d’s plan, the things going on around him did not rule him or cause him to lose faith in G-d.
Interestingly his words are spoken again in Luke 4:17-19 when Yeshua was at the synagogue in Nazareth. He was called to read these words from the book of Isaiah. Yeshua read these words of Isaiah at a time when Rome held power over Israel. Yet He knew that His people would overcome this pressure and continue to follow G-d.
We are in a place in history where hope is in short supply. It might be tempting to just throw in the towel and go along with the world’s ways. Take this portion today and choose life not death, the blessing and not the curse. G-d is still on His throne and on that we can stand.