Torah Portion: Va’etchanan (I Pleaded) Devarim (Deut.) 3:23-7:11
HafTorah: Isaiah 40:1-26
NT Matt. 4:1-11; 22:33-40; Mark 12:28-34; Luke 4:1-13; 10:25-37; Acts 13:13-43; Romans 3:27-31; I Tim 2:4-6; James 2:14-26
“I pleaded with the L-rd at that time.” Deut 3:23: Moses asked over and over that G-d allow him to enter the Land. Jewish sages teach that He wished to enter Israel mainly that he could keep all the commandments of G-d. Some could only be kept in Israel – such as first fruits. If they are correct we see Messiah being like Moses teaching His disciples in Matt. 5:17, “I did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets but to fulfill.” What does this mean? Yeshua like Moses sought to fulfill the Law by being able to give us an example of how one was to show his love of G-d by living one’s life completely as G-d intended.
Matt. 5:16 and Devarim 4:6-8 say basically the same thing. The world will see how we love G-d by how we live our lives and by this be led to glorify G-d. Our lives should be a reflection of how we love G-d and by that we love our neighbor. This is our mission in the world – to show the love we have for G-d through how it affects how we live our lives.
Now I would like to look at Devarim 4:2 and Matt. 5:19, another set of verses that each us an important principle. Both Moses and Yeshua teach that we are to not add or subtract from G-d’s word. In Mark 7:9 Yeshua speaks exactly to this. Here He tells the religious people of His day that they had become experts in setting aside G-d’s Law in order to keep their traditions. He was not saying He opposed traditions but He was saying that if it sets aside G-d’s word then it can’t stand. Neither can we allow our traditions to subtract or to add to the word of G-d. Given this, how do we interpret John 13:34? Here it is not a new commandment. This was written in Lev 19:18. But what was new was His interpretation. He raises the standard. We are to love our neighbors not just as we love ourselves but as Messiah loves us. Yeshua clarified and demonstrated a commandments full dept but never took away one or added a new one. He was and is the Living Torah.
Devarim 6:4, Hear O Israel: First, Shema is a verb that means, listen up, pay attention. This is also mentioned in the New Testament in Mark 12:28-31. So why does He equate the Shema with love of G-d? If we truly love G-d we will seek to please Him in all we do. If we only serve G-d out of fear or obligation then our service is not genuine. Such a thing would be a sham with no lasting impact on our lives. True love of G-d impacts our lives in the way we live. I John 5:3. Because of our love of G-d these words of G-d shall truly be on our hearts. (Deut. 6:6)
Devarim 6:8-9: Now I would like us to look at these verses that speak of tefillin and mezuzah and see what we can learn from a spiritual perspective. First, the word tefillin comes from the same word as prayer in Hebrew – Tefilah. So in some ways these were to be an outward sign of our being in prayer constantly, as Paul states in the New Testament. I Thess 5:17. These symbols also were to remind us that we are completely committed to G-d both by the thoughts of our mind and the work of our hands. In Yeshua’s day they were worn all day, now only during the morning and evening prayers. They are mentioned in Matt. 23:5 where Yeshua did not criticize the wearing of them but the fact that the wearing had become a matter of pride – wearing bigger and flashier. For sure Yeshua and His followers wore them but for the reason they were intended and not to impress. Physically strapping on the tefillin every day was a sign of His great love for G-d. He bound Himself to the commandments of G-d and to the will of G-d.
I would like us now to look at Rev.13:16-18 to see if Devarim might help us to understand more fully these verses. Tefillin carry the name of G-d both on the outside as well as the inside. What does John say here: This mark here on the right hand and the forehead will be what? The name of the beast will be there. It is a counterfeit of G-d’s commandment. How do we know? John says it is worn on the forehead and RIGHT hand. Tefillin are worn on the left hand. So this mark of the beast will be something familiar but it will be off a little so we will know when it comes we will not be ignorant. But our love of G-d and His word will equip us to know the difference