Torah Portion: Va’etchanan (And I Pleaded) D’Varim (Deut.) 3:23-7:11
Haftorah Reading Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 40:1-26
This Torah portion covers a myriad of subjects and we could talk for hours about each one but I would like us to spend our time talking about two topics. However, as we begin I would like us to talk about our reading from Isaiah 40:1-26 that accompanies this Torah portion. If you are not familiar with this passage I would encourage you to take the time to read it. The beginning verse says, “Nahamu” which means comfort. This reading always follows the destruction of both temples on Tisha B’Av. This day of mourning was last Shabbat. These verses reminds us of our duty to comfort the people of G-d, the Jewish people. In Matthew 25:35-40 we read the words of Yeshua where He said the same thing. So, let us not take lightly our responsibility to Yeshua’s brothers and sisters, the Jewish people and by extension, all people.
Now to one of my questions this week, I asked you to read D’Varim/Deut. 4:35and compare it to the gospel of John 20:30-31. Let’s read it in English. In Hebrew is says, “Atah heriti lada’at ki YHVH who ha’elohim ain od melvado.” This sentence begins with the personal pronoun “you.” It is singular so Moshe was speaking to each person individually. The next word comes from the Hebrew word for “see.” Here it means, “Caused to see or you have been shown, that you might know without a doubt that HaShem, He is G-d.”
So here Moshe is saying to the people, G-d showed you all these things (33-34) so that you would know that He alone is G-d. There is no other. All of the Jewish people before Moshe knew from first-hand knowledge that G-d was their all and that there was no other G-d. When we experience G-d through a personal revelation we know it is true, not just something someone else experienced and told us about. We know without a doubt because it happened to us. To you it was shown that you might know that the L-rd is G-d, there is no other.
Now how might this shed light on the Messianic writings found in John 20:30-31? We can see the connection. Here it says, “These are written so that you may believe that Yeshua is the Messiah.” These are revelations shown to the readers of John’s words so they might know Yeshua is the Messiah, the Anointed of G-d.
If we have had a personal revelation of who the Messiah is we should be rock solid in our faith in Him. The question arises, do we really know who Yeshua is and what change has this revelation made in our lives? Did it change us and is it continuing to change us as we move through our life? Or was it just something we heard about that someone else experienced that sounded good. Has it changed us? Has it changed how we live, what we do, how we see other people?
I think there are a lot of people who hear the word and maybe even have an experience with Yeshua but they don’t go much further than that experience. They are not led or discipled to go deeper with Him. So, after some time they begin to flounder and get discouraged. They forget the experience; they forget what they saw and what they heard. We talked to a family member once about something they were thinking of doing that went against scripture hoping to warn them. Their reply was, “If it doesn’t keep me out of heaven then I’m going to do it.”
Sadly, many people cannot say their faith in Yeshua continues to change them day to day. Some live by the theory, if it doesn’t keep me out of heaven then I’m ok, I can do what I want. Here in our reading in the Torah portion and in the Messianic writings we see that life is more than just getting by with the least effort we can muster. G-d expects what we have seen and what we have heard, our experience with Him, to change us fundamentally.
My last point is from the first verses of this portion found in Deut/D’Varim 3:23-28. Here Moshe is pleading with G-d to let him cross over the Jordan to see, walk in it and feel that Promised Land. What was G-d’s response. He told him to not ask again. I asked you to think on these verses. Look at all Moshe did in his life serving G-d, he spoke face to face with G-d, Moshe prayed for the people on many occasions, and sometimes rescued them from G-d’s wrath. Is this the answer you might have expected? No. I would imagine we would have thought G-d would allow him to cross over because of all Moshe did through the years. But G-d is not a respecter of persons. What does this event teach us? Our acts of sin and rebellion, no matter how small, have consequences. I am sure G-d forgave Moshe but there was still a price to pay. Our actions, our sins have an effect on our lives. This should be a reminder to us that we, as His people, are expected to live our lives differently than when we were ignorant of Him. Life is not a game. There are consequences to our actions. Our faith in the Messiah saves us for sure but it is not a get out of jail card. I fear many times we feel that the whole point of salvation is to get to heaven when we die. It is so much more than that. It should radically change us and sin should never be looked at as anything goes as long as it doesn’t keep me from going to heaven. We need to always remember the price that was paid for our salvation.
Moshe had to bear the consequences of his sin. That did not mean that G-d did not love him. In fact, it was because He loved him so much that he disciplined him. He does the same for us as his children.