Weekly Torah Section: Va’etchanan (I pleaded) Deut. 3:23-7:11, HafTorah Isaiah 40:1-26
Tonight I would like to spend most of our time on the Torah section in Deuteronomy. But to start I want to jump ahead to Deut. 5:22 and talk about this verse first. In our English translation the end of the verse is, “with a loud voice; and He added no more.” First, this is making a statement about the voice of G-d. The phrase and “He added not more” can also be translated from the Hebrew as “never ending.” If we look at it like this it really seems to flow better and help us to understand better what Moses is saying about the voice of G-d. What does he mean when he says G-d’s voice is never ending? Think of it specifically in light of what this section says. His voice did not weaken as ours does. His voice is as relevant today as when He first uttered these words. G-d saw that His people might be caught up in different cultures or societies. The cultural norms would change. He saw people that would question if His words were still relevant. He was making a point here that the voice that goes on to speak the 10 commandments was not only relevant and powerful when it was spoken but it did not end. It still rings out. It still speaks to each of us and it spoke to them especially as they were about to enter the land. A land with different people who would seek to tempt the people of G-d with different ideas, values and idols.
So Moses was making a point to them and to us. The world may change. His voice does not. What He goes on to set out in the 10 commandments is still as relevant today as when it was spoken. Yeshua in the New Testament makes this same point over and over, in fact, in an even more strict way. In Matthew 5:21-22 Yeshua reaffirms this voice of G-d and again even expands on it.
So, having looked at this issue of G-d’s voice now let us look at what G-d says here in Deut. 5:6-21. AS I read through these think of how they are thought of in today’s world. Some are easy and some not so easy.
- I am the L-rd thy G-d.
- No other gods before me. I would think most of us don’t have a problem with some carved image that we bow down to. But are there things in our lives which have become idols? What is an idol? Something that takes G-d’s place. It takes over time, money and effort to the point that there is little or nothing left over for G-d.
- Do not take the name of the L-rd in vain. For sure even slang words we use apply. The word in Hebrew for “vain” means useless, of no importance. How do we make the name of G-d seem to be of no importance?
- Observe Sabbath. Whatever day you observe, observe, guard it even if it cramps our life style.
- Honor your father and your mother. How do we honor our parents? This is the only one of the commandments that has a promise added to it.
- Do not murder
- Do not commit adultery
- Do not steal
- Do not bear false witness
- Do not covet
My point is that all these words apply today as when G-d first spoke them. Why did G-d speak these words in the first place? Was it to make us miserable? No, He did it because He loves us and wants us to live our lives in a way that will be good for us and bring us pure joy. In Deut. 4:31 Moses says that G-d is merciful. This word in Hebrew is “raham” and has the same root as “womb”. What does this tell us? He is like a tender mother nurturing her child in her body, a safe comforting place. This word is also used in Isaiah 40:1, Comfort ye My people.
Sometimes G-d does use His rod in our lives when we stray off the path. In Deut. 4:20 we read where G-d says that once they were in the iron furnace in Egypt. What is an iron furnace? It is used to refine gold. G-d sometimes has to refine us, those that He loves. All this is to bring us to a place of Deut. 6:5-9. This is G-d’s point as also expressed by Yeshua in Mark 12:29. May each of us find our lives spent loving G-d with everything we have.