Commentary on Parashat Ekev (Because of)
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 7:12–11:25
God’s Word is consistent! As I was reflecting on this week’s reading, I was amazed once again by this, and also by the fact that Yeshua our Messiah’s teachings always consistently echoed the Hebrew Scriptures. Let’s take a look at a few key verses from this week’s parasha:
And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the LORD’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good? Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it. Yet on your fathers did the LORD set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them, even you above all peoples, as it is this day. Circumcise then your heart, and stiffen your neck no more. For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality, nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name. He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen. Your fathers went down to Egypt seventy persons in all, and now the LORD your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven.
As I mentioned, I love the consistency of God’s Word, and I would like to highlight a few key points from the verses above:
- Love God through obedience to His commands. I focused last year’s blog on the issue of love (Parashat Ekev (Because of )). Again, I want to stress the importance of obedience as evidence of our love for the Lord. Basically, the byproduct of our love is obedience, which comes from a soft heart toward Him (not legalism):
If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. (John 14:15)
That word “if” is such an important word that we find throughout Scripture. Our love of God ought to be reflected through the way we apply His Will to our lives.
- The entire heaven and earth are His. Before entrusting us with the greatest call on earth (i.e. to make disciples of all nations and to teach them to obey His commands), Yeshua reminded us of the fact that He is the one who has all authority in Heaven and on Earth:
And Yeshua came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18)
- God’s amazing love and faithfulness. The fact that Israel is God’s elect is repeated for a very specific reason in the New Covenant: God is faithful to keep His promises. The fact is that He is not finished with Israel, His chosen people. To claim that He has rejected Israel would be calling God a liar, and accusing Him of being unfaithful. Paul wrote about this very clearly in the book of Romans:
From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, so these also now have been disobedient, in order that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. For God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all. (Romans 11:28–32)
- The Circumcision of the Heart. Circumcision of the foreskin is a key part of the covenant between Abraham and God, so we can understand that circumcision of the heart is also a key part of the covenant. God desires us to have a “heart of flesh” rather than a “heart of stone”, so that our hearts would be soft to His instruction. In Messiah Yeshua, everyone receives a heart of flesh (not of stone), which is circumcised as a sign of our belonging to Him (2 Corinthians 3:3). A circumcised heart is a sign of love for the Lord, and so we obey Him because we love Him (John 14:15).
- The Superiority of God. He is God Almighty. In the Book of Revelation, we are reminded of the fact that Yeshua is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, just like it says in verse 17 of our Scripture portion:
And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:16)
- God does not show partiality. In many places throughout the New Covenant (Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11, Galatians 2:16 and Ephesians 6:9), we find references to the fact that God does not show partiality. Our God is a just God that cared in the past – and still cares today – for the orphans, the widows, and even the aliens in the Land, and He has called us to do the same.
In closing, I would like to highlight and summarize verses 20–22: Love the LORD, serve the LORD, cling to Him for He is your praise, and He has done, is doing, and will always do so many great things for you! He is the One who redeemed you and opened your eyes to the truth; He is the same God from yesterday in whom you can take great comfort, hope, and assurance for the future!
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel and is reposted with permission.
Moran is the Founder and Executive Director of Hope for Israel, which is a service and resource-providing ministry that aims to bring the hope of the Messiah back to Israel. It is also a resource center for current and timely news updates concerning Israel that provides daily prayer alerts, Bible teachings, and weekly blogs in order to help believers across the world understand what God is doing in the Land, how to pray for Israel and filter everything through the Word of God.
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Abraham had three wives
When we read the stories of the patriarchs, we have to ask what the purpose of God was behind all the events, even those that may seem strange. My understanding is that God sent Abraham back to the land of Canaan to “restart” the original plan from the garden of Eden. (Genesis 12:1-4)
Through Abraham’s first wife, Sarah, was born Isaac, to whom was given both the promised seed of the Messiah Savior, but also ownership rights of the land. (Genesis 18, 21)
Through Abraham’s second wife, Hagar, Ishmael was born, who was blessed and circumcised into the family covenant even before Isaac was born. Through Hagar a family and covenant connection was made with the people of Egypt (Mizraim) and through them to all the sons of Cush and Ham, living in Africa. (Genesis 10:6)
After Sarah died, Abraham married Keturah. The sons of Keturah were sent northward and eastward, and joined in with the sons of Ashur (Assyria). This established a family covenant connection spreading out into Europe and Asia. (Genesis 25:1, 3, 6)
God promised Abraham to be a blessing to all nations, to take possession of planet earth, to be a father of many nations, and to bring the savior of the world. (Genesis 12, 22, Isaiah 19:23-25, Romans 4)
The sons of Ishmael and the sons of Keturah were not a mistake. They were part of God’s predestined plan to restore planet earth and extend the family of God through covenant with father Abraham.
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, August 1, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Asher Intrater is the founder and apostolic leader of Revive Israel Ministries, and oversees Ahavat Yeshua Congregation in Jerusalem, and Tiferet Yeshua Congregation in Tel Aviv. Asher was one of the founders of Tikkun International with Dan Juster and Eitan Shishkoff, and serves on the board of the Messianic Alliance of Israel and Aglow International.
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Raising kids that dare
I never thought I’d write about being a parent or having kids, but recently I’ve been really excited to have gained a clearer understanding of my kids and their destinies. Most importantly, what I have learned is applicable to everyone, not just those in a parental role.
I have been really challenged recently to think about how I can get my kids to engage more in my work and world. I’ve just written a devotional about dreaming with God – how do I get my kids to dream with God?
One of the things I find my kids ask me is ‘where do I even start’? The world is such a big place with so many possibilities it seems to boggle their minds! My mission as their mother is to make sure they understand the basics of who they are and what they’re made for. When we named our kids we made sure this reflected what we felt God was speaking over their lives. After a decade of parenting, we can see that those names (and their meanings) are a part of their identity. Interestingly, it is precisely those things which are the most severely attacked.
At birth, we clearly knew we had to give one of our children a name that means “Godly Helper”, yet for years we have battled with impulsive, strong-willed, determination that results in altogether UNHELPFUL behaviour! It was only when I had a stroke of genius (or more aptly, a divine nudge) to educate my child on the meaning of his name that we saw a breakthrough. When he began to see that the very reason God had made him determined and impulsive was so that he could BE HELPFUL and fulfill the call attached to his name, we saw a significant change in his attitude.
Suddenly, he realised that his choices have the ability to enforce who God has made him to be, or go directly against it. He recognised that the enemy is going to try very hard to make sure he makes bad choices which hijack his God-given identity. This understanding has truly transformed all of my children and their ability to see what’s going on ‘below the surface’. Suddenly the kid who’s name means ‘loved and laughter’ understands that there is probably a reason why he is prone to feeling alone and grumpy, and with that understanding comes a deeper choice as to which feelings he decides to dwell on. The concept of choosing joy suddenly means a lot more!
In our house it is not unusual to hear me say “What’s your name?” and with it comes that adorable facial expression of realisation and understanding. This has been one of the most significant shifts in our family dynamics that we have had.
This brings a fresh understanding of what dreaming is! They understand and are more secure about who they are made to be, which helps them to ‘dream’ in line with God’s already spoken plan. Suddenly the kid who knows that God has written “Godly Helper” over his life understands that his wish to be like daddy and take Bibles to unreached people, FITS!
This summer has become about cementing an understanding of their identity and encouraging them in adventures. Once you know who you are, you can step out in confidence no matter what the terrain! You are willing to try, to dream, to go wading in uncharted, muddy territories, no matter what your size, because you know who you are, and what God has written as the heading over your life.
So maybe we should all be thinking about the words that are spoken over our lives, it may not be in a name, God has ways of speaking his intentions over us, even if we’re not looking for it.
Maybe we keep struggling in the same area, always in the same way – I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it many more times – the area of our greatest attack is often an indication of our greatest gifts. Maybe our child is struggling with speaking when her name is to do with having a voice? Maybe you are struggling with self-confidence when all the prophetic words you’ve had have to do with speaking in front of people… once we see there is a pattern, we are automatically equipped because we are aware of the enemies scheme to rob and destroy.
So this summer, I’ve decided it’s time to start daring to take it back, daring to see the attack for what it is, and being willing to engage in the warfare that is needed to take back the ground that may have been encroached upon in your life, your kids lives, or even your parents or friends lives. We have been doing family devotionals using the book Dreaming with God, but also many other plans that help set up kids for dreaming, adventuring and walking in security and an identity that is rooted in all the right places.
This article originally appeared on Simcha Natan’s blog and is reposted with permission.
Simcha emigrated to Israel from the UK, with her husband and three children. Having studied theology and music and worship in London, and trained as a worship leader and song writer, she went on to teach music and be involved in worship teams in several congregations in the UK, and now in Israel as part of Sarah Liberman's team. Simcha is the author of the “Dare to Ask” project, comprising of the book 'Dare to Ask', and 3 CD's, Dreaming', 'Awakened' and 'Soar (To come) which each have a counterpart 30 day devotional study guide to accompany them. She is passionate about enabling people to engage with God in the way which they were made to, and is committed to multi sensory expressions. Simcha is also an artist, and paints her songs and messages to accompany the music and books. She is also the coordinator Ascend Carmel Programs.
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Response to Netanyahu’s statement about absurd criticism of Nation-State Law
The Prime Minister says that the left’s criticism of Nation-State Law is absurd (July 30, 2018 JPost) but what is absurd is that he apparently has not been paying close attention to the “left” globally. The American left is for doing away with borders, ICE and male/female gender identity. They are in favor of voting rights for illegal immigrants, disrespecting the flag, the national anthem, viewing law enforcement with contempt and not defining English as the official language. Europe’s left is not much different. The traditional values, which once made a country great, strong and secure, are being undermined in ways which seek to weaken the basic tenets that unite citizens. The goal is to dismantle what has been held as societal norms and, most importantly, do away with patriotism, cultural pride and biblically moral and religious values. This concerted erosion has been steadily taking place over the course of the last few decades and is purposely designed to create a certain level playing field which has no unique distinction nor takes into account the exceptionalism of certain nations, such as Israel and America. It has been replaced by the newfound sanctity of diversity and multi-culturalism which, in many ways, is the left’s new brand of religion. Anyone following the news would have expected this kind of reaction by Israel’s left-leaning community who don’t seem to understand that not defining ourselves as a unique and special people, will only serve to diminish the very people who were “not to be reckoned with the nations.”
Cookie is the former managing director of Makor HaTikvah Messianic School in Jerusalem.
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Another view of Israel’s Nation State Law
The recently passed Nation State Law has received a lot of publicity and not a little controversy since it was voted into law last week. Being a follower of Yeshua, a concerned citizen and a member of a minority group; I had hoped and prayed that this proposed legislation would not become law. To my sorrow, it was passed into law, albeit by a very narrow margin. The essence of the Nation State law is to ensure that the Jewish population in Israel will exclusively be the recipients of full civil rights, that Orthodox Jewish religious tradition will be the sole source for legislation concerning cultural and civil affairs, which in effect prioritizes Jewishness over democracy. The fact that the issue of minority rights is absent from this legislation is alarming. It needs to emphasized that this new law is a “Basic Law” and as such is enshrined alongside Israel’s Declaration of Independence. As a Basic Law this legislation provides a conceptual framework for future legislation. Basic Laws are very difficult to rescind.
Some view this law as merely codifying and legitimizing what has become the status quo in the country. The law does reiterate much of the content of the Israeli Declaration of Independence. What is not stated in the law is in some ways more disturbing than what is stated. Minority rights are not mentioned; leaving opening for non-implementation of equal rights for all citizens of which there are over 2 million non-Jews who are Israeli citizens. This law gives priority to Jewishness in terms of both religion and ethnicity. According to this law, Judaism determines national holidays and influences curriculum for education. Jewish ethnicity determines status and certain civil rights. Regarding Messianic Jews, who are a much smaller minority than the Arab population, the already difficult situation with immigration is likely to become even more problematic.
All minority groups in Israel have reason to be concerned, including Messianic Jews. In Orthodox Judaism Messianic Jews, regardless of their ethnicity and certified pedigrees, are routinely categorized as no longer Jewish on account of their faith in the divinity of Jesus/Yeshua. Not even the adherence of some Messianic Jews to traditional Jewish observance and life style is enough for the Orthodox establishment to accept Messianic Jews as truly Jewish. Our faith is the stumbling block upon which they repeatedly fall.
For the large non-Jewish Arabic speaking citizens of Israel this new law is yet another means of reducing their status to that of second-class citizens. Although it is the right of a sovereign government to downgrade a national language, and it and is not without precedent, (Turkey, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ukraine, Gabon, etc.); national downgrading of a major language seems always to be linked to political concerns. In this case, to downgrade Arabic is clearly an instance of Israel asserting Jewish cultural dominance. This is perceived as an affront and insult to the minority Arabic speaking population
The most controversial clause, the “settlement clause,” was removed hours prior to the final vote. For this I am thankful. Had it remained it would give credence to claims that Israel is increasingly racist and would legalize discriminatory policies. There is much opposition to discrimination against certain segments of Israeli society (the LGBT community for example) and this clause would allow the creation of communities based on exclusion of undesirable, unwanted population groups.
While the offensive clause was eliminated, point seven of the law states, “The state views Jewish settlement as a national value and will labor to encourage and promote its establishment and development.”
By passing this Nation State law as a Basic Law of Israel, the foundations of democracy are undermined. Given the total absence of reference to non-Jewish minority populations, the primacy of Jewishness is now inscribed in law which will become the basis of further legislation. A number of major terms (like Israel and settlement) are not defined. This can easily lead to a broad implementation of the basic concepts included in this law. Until now, civil rights and equality have been part of our ethos as the people of the Book. As a citizen of the country and as a member of a minority group (Messianic Jewish) that has experienced prejudicial action and legal efforts to deny access to full civil rights, I am deeply concerned for the future of Jewish ethics and values in Israel.