Common advice in this world is, “Follow your heart.” But in the Torah reading רְאֵה Re’eh (“see,” Deut. 11:26-16:17), we learn that God wants to transform our way of thinking, so our desires will take us in a wiser direction. This section explains the reborn heart approach to the Second, Third and Fourth commandments on blasphemy, idolatry and stopping what we’re doing to remember the rest God gives us.
“And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.” (Matthew 3:9 ESV)
Some have disregarded Israel — during the earthly ministry of Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus the Christ) and in modern times — as having anything to do with Bible prophecy, because of perceived failings of the people in trusting God.
But as we see in this week’s Torah reading — עקב Ekev or Eikev (“consequence”), Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25 — God is faithful to His promises. We should be grateful for God’s mercy and bigger plans for our lives.
Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus the Christ) said several times during the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, “You’ve heard it said …, but I tell you ….” Many of the corrections He provided to what God originally intended were similar to the lengthy explanation of the Ten Commandments by Moshe (Moses) in Deuteronomy.
This week’s Torah reading, ואתחנן Va’etchanan (“and I pleaded,” Deut. 3:23-7:11), includes the beginning of Moshe’s elucidation.
The roller-coaster ride of ancient Israel through trust in the LORD, apathy and rebellion mirrors the turmoil that swirls around our daily lives.
This week’s Torah reading, דברים Devarim (“words,” Deut. 1:1–3:22), starts a “second telling” — deuteronomy in Greek — to the post-Exodus generation of why Israel exists and what its mission is. The parallel reading in Isaiah 1:1-27 and the Sermon on the Mount teach us how our interpretation of and living out the Ten Commandments and the rest of the Torah can go terribly wrong if we don’t learn the why behind the what of God’s instructions.
The roller-coaster ride of ancient Israel through trust in the LORD, apathy and rebellion mirrors our the turmoil that swirls around our daily lives. This week’s Torah reading, דברים Devarim (“words,” Deut. 1:1-3:22), starts a “second telling,” or deuteronomy, to the post-Exodus generation of why Israel exists and what its mission is.
“’Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.’ But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.” (Matthew 5:33–37 NASB)
Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus the Christ) emphasized that vows and oaths are not to be taken lightly. Why then did the Holy One of Israel give instructions about vows and oaths? Part of it is our distance from the original language and meanings of these words. Another part is we aren’t seeing the lessons from Heaven in these instructions, namely, that just as the LORD promises to give a land of rest to Israel, so too, should those who make promises be as faithful to them.
The dual Torah reading מטות Matot (“tribes,” Numbers 30–32) and מסעי Massei/Mase’y (“journeys of,” Numbers 33–36) take us to the end of the 40 years of wandering judgment against the rebellious first generation post-Mitzraim (Egypt).
“As God is my witness, I will do that.” Such words can roll off our tongues easily, but we can forget that One is witnessing such a vow and watching to see whether we respect the Creator enough to follow through. That’s why Moshe (Moses), Yeshua haMashiakh (Jesus the Christ) and His apostle Ya’akob (James) warned us against dragging the LORD in to co-sign on our promises.