Torah Portion: Vaetchanan (And I pleaded) Deut. 3:23-7:11
HafTorah: Isaiah 40:1-26
Matt. 23:31-39, Mark 12:28-34
In this section of scripture there are many important subjects covered: Mt. Sinai, Ten Commandments, Moses pleading with G-d to enter the Land, the Shema. But tonight I want to start with the question I sent out from Deut. 4:4, “But you who held fast to the L-rd your G-d are alive today, everyone of you.” What does it mean to “hold fast” ? In Hebrew the word is “Had-vachem” included in this word is the root for stick or glue. How do we do it? And how do we keep doing it? What happens if we don’t stay stuck to G-d?
If we look at what Moses goes on to say it gives us a few clues. 1. Be diligent in obeying G-d. Each one of us has had our own Mt. Sinai salvation experience where we heard G-d’s call to us and felt His presence. Moses reminds the people here to be diligent to carry out what they heard, to be always faithful to what G-d has given us. His word is one of the ways to do that. We are a holy people, we must be aware that there is a way for us to live, usually not what we see around us but what we hear in our hearts from the Father. Without this diligence it is possible to have things begin to come between the Father and us. Those things left unrepented of can cause our sticking to slip. Moses tells the people this in Deut. chapter 4, verses 2,5,14,6,13, over and over. We who are labeled as G-d’s people must be watchful that nothing comes between our G-d and us. Which leads to the next point.
He also cautioned them about the sin of idolatry, specifically in verses 15-19, then of course in His repetition of the 10 commandments. This is especially important for us to pay attention to. Anything that takes us away from the Father can be an idol in our lives. What could be considered an idol in your life? What do you do in your daily life that takes you away from the Father? He also tells us in the Shema (Deut. 6:9) to teach our children, to live out G-d’s word before them, to pray for them and to talk to them always about what G-d has done for us.
He reminds them and us of whom we serve, the greatness, glory and goodness of G-d, like no other from whom life flows. Never have people been so privileged as to have G-d speak to them. (Deut. 4:7) He still speaks to us as well. We can always go to Him (Deut. 4:8) call on Him for whatever reason. He reminds them to remember their encounter with G-d. Think often of those times when you have encountered G-d Almighty. These things will bring us closer to Him and will strengthen our bond (glue).
This same idea appears in the New Testament in several places. (John 8:51, “If you keep My words you will never see death.” I Cor. 6:17, “The one who joins himself to the L-rd is one spirit with him.” John 11:25-26, “Whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.”) Being stuck to G-d is so much more than this transient life of our physical bodies that in comparison, physical death is no consequence. We who stick to Yeshua go not from life to death but life to life.
This section of scripture also contains many spiritual references to Messiah that we can understand. From the Shema we read about the Mezuzah, a word in Hebrew meaning doorpost. How can we connect Yeshua to this commandment? Yeshua referred to Jerusalem (Temple) as His Father’s house. According to Jewish tradition all of Jerusalem and the Temple are called the gate to heaven. Yeshua can be seen as the living Mezuzah of G-d containing His word. Like a mezuzah affixed to the doorpost, so Yeshua was nailed to the cross outside the city gate. He is the gate through which we approach the Father. Psalms 118:19-21. So as we read this section of Torah, Messiah is always close at hand. May G-d grant us wisdom to redeem each moment of our lives and stay stuck to Him.