20 Av, 5777 / August 12, 2017
By Zachary Stafford
This Week’s Readings:
Torah: Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25
Haftorah: Isaiah 49:14-51:3
Brit Chadashah: Romans 8:1-11
As many of you may know I am in school at Moody and I am going into my senior year, though I have already been here for four years. Things did not necessarily go as I would have planned so I will now be here for another full school year. Ironically, as I have been trying to come to grips with this reality, the Torah portion this week offers incredible wisdom from the Scriptures into situations such as mine.
In the Torah portion we see that the passage opens up with Moses telling the people of Israel that when they give attention and obey the laws that G-d is setting before them, G-d will honor His side of the covenant. Moses tells them that as they go into the land G-d will slowly give their enemies over to them. Moses once again reminds Israel to obey the L-RD and also reminds them how the L-RD let them wander in the desert not without purpose, but to test them to strengthen them and to actually encourage them. The text shows that G-d knew that if His people had tried to go in earlier and take the land then that they would have been too terrified to even try. G-d took them the long way around, and even in that time G-d still provided for their needs by giving them manna and water, and also by not letting their clothes wear out. If we truly believe that the story of Israel is intrinsically related to our story today then we must try and learn from them. How many of you feel like G-d is taking you the long way around something? According to this, it is not only for your equipping, but also for your encouragement and betterment. Continuing on Moses reminds the people that G-d will do this for them not based on anything that they have done, once again citing all of the times that they messed up in the dessert. But wholly and solely based on G-d’s loving character and on His word. Moses closes his speech that he has been giving by asking the rhetorical question, “What does the L-RD your G-d require from you?” then providing an answer in, “…fear Adonai your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 to keep the mitzvot of Adonai and His statutes that I am commanding you today, for your own good.” After this the portion continues, but can be summarized in that Moses is reiterating in different way the importance to both loving and serving G-d with all of our heart, mind, and strength.
In the Haftarah portion we see, that the portion opens up with Zion accusing G-d of both forsaking, and forgetting her. The L-RD answers in a metaphorical question of, “Can a mother forget her nursing child?” and while we would surely answer no, G-d goes even further and says, “Even if a mother were to forget her child, the love of G-d is even more consistent, so much so that the name of Zion is even engraved upon His very hands.” My question to us would be that if we truly believe that G-d’s character is unchanging, then why do we doubt 1) that G-d is capable of this type of love, and 2) that G-d is capable of this type of love towards us? The portion continues with G-d describing the servant that He will raise up, whom we know as Yeshua, what His role will be, and how we should ultimately follow His example. This portion ends in that after G-d has encouraged Israel in reminding them of His character and faithfulness, He then reveals the coming servant and His role. The prophet then reminds Israel of G-d’s promise of both deliverance and restoration.
In the Brit Chadashah portion I was reminded of the sin that far too many believers commit too easily. While we are still here on earth waiting for either our death, or Messiah Yeshua’s return we still struggle and fight against sin, and sometimes our default setting is to think that G-d is somehow displeased with us. We even possibly crossover into the realm of thinking that He even regrets saving us. Please understand me when I say that if G-d’s character is truly unchanging, and it was not by Israel’s holiness that He was bringing them into the land. But by the might of His character, and it was not by Israel’s sin that He was going to forsake them. Because He reminds them that He is infinitely more faithful that they can imagine. Then why do we think that once G-d saves us, not by our works but wholly of His works, why do we think that when He sees us mess up once or twice, that He somehow regrets saving us. The amazing love and faithfulness of G-d is that G-d knew all of your sin, and still chose to send Yeshua to die for your sins. That is the love of G-d so that now having the very spirit of G-d dwelling inside of us we may now begin to walk out a life of faith. When you sin, you repent, turn to G-d confess, know G-d’s love for you, and you continue to walk in faith and holiness, and grace that is given to you through Messiah Yeshua’s death and resurrection.
I pray that you would deeply know this, understand it, and let this change your lives in this challenge. G-d’s character is unchanging, His faithfulness and grace are unending, so let us walk out our life in His Spirit.