Torah Portion: Ekev (Because) Devarim (Deut.) 7:12-11:25
HafTorah: Isaiah 49:14-51:3
NT Matt. 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13; James 5:7-11
Ekev: sometimes translated as “because.” Does anyone know where we have seen at least the root of this Hebrew word before? A hint: it is the root of the name of one of the Patriarchs. It is the name of Jacob. Why was he named Jacob? It is because he held his brother’s heel when they were born. So you could translate it as “on the heels of” or following. This opening verse this week really ties what follows from the last verse of last weeks section, Deut. 7:11, linking heart felt obedience to G-d’s blessing. Moses then goes on to point a beautiful picture of what will be the result of their obedience.
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.