The Torah reading ויצא Vayetze (“and he went out,” Genesis 28:10–32:2) is another example of how all the Scriptures testify of the Mashiakh (Messiah). The account of Ya’akob’s (Jacob) using striped sticks to encourage breeding among livestock and separating livestock sounds like archaic superstition, but it actually is a Messianic prophecy about how Yeshua (Jesus) would draw to Himself the “lost sheep of Israel” (Matt. 10:6; 15:24) and make them stronger than what appeared to be the preferred flock.
The name of the Torah portion חיי שרה Chayei Sarah means “life of Sarah,” but it starts with the matriarch’s death. We see how Abraham works hard to find a final resting place for her, but her death had a huge impact on Yitzkhak (Isaac) as well, affecting him for years. Her death also played a larger than life role in how Abraham’s most trusted servant, Eliazer of Damascus, set out to find a suitable wife for Yitzkhak to carry out Abraham’s legacy.
It’s not easy to leave one’s family, even at 75 years old, but God called Abram out of his father’s house for his own good. This was Abram’s first test.
In the Torah passage לֶךְ-לְךָ Lech Lecha/Lekh Lekha (“go forth,” Genesis 12:1-17:27), we learn that Abram’s faith came from both hearing God’s instruction and doing it. Doing matters, not just hearing. Hearing is easy, doing is much more involved and more difficult. When our life is smooth and we get instant gratification, it’s easy to continue walking in a way that brings a quick blessing. But when we are doing something that is right but we do not receive instant gratification, it’s harder to continue doing what is right.
When God tells us to do the right thing but we don’t want to do it, it’s hard to do it anyway.
Yom Teruah (Day of Blowing [Trumpets]) has a number of nicknames, such as Rosh haShanah (New Year). Regardless of what you call it, Yom Teruah has a special purpose in God’s calendar. It’s a day of remembrance, a day of gathering, a day of awakening and a day of offerings. But mostly, it’s the Judgment Day. It’s a day when the wicked are judged and the righteous are vindicated by the Mashiakh (Messiah).
Apostles Paul and Yokhanan wrote a lot about this day, as did the prophets. May your Judgment Day end on a sweet note!
We don’t have to go to Heaven ourselves to learn God’s Law; we don’t have to die to keep it. God’s Law is so close to us, we can taste it. That’s a key lesson in the dual Torah reading נִצָּבִים Nitzavim (“standing,” Deuteronomy 29:9–30:20) and וַיֵּלֶךְ Vayelech (“he went,” Deuteronomy 31:1–30). God’s words are to be “right at the tip of our tongue,” so when we it in our “mouths,” we can “swallow” it and incorporate it into our everyday lives.
As with other parts of life, we have to cross-check our thoughts and actions with Scripture. This is why the book of Deuteronomy has been given us. We know that Messiah Yeshua followed Torah to the letter, and we can look at His perfect example to follow it ourselves.
The book of Deuteronomy applies to us, regardless of where we come from, whether we are born Israelites or grafted into Israel (Romans 11). It is addressed to everyone from the lowest servant to the highest leader, all those who believe in God.
Blessing and cursing are very important Biblical principles. There are two ways of life, either under God’s blessing or under His curse. Emphasized in the Torah reading כי רְאֵה Re’eh (“see,” Deuteronomy 11:26–16:17) is we want to live under His blessing.
We live under God’s blessing when we read and apply Torah. When we screw up, we still apply Torah to deal with our screwups. We are under God’s curse when we refuse to follow Torah. We all have experienced how bad life is when we refuse to obey God and walk in Torah. God can’t bless us when we are walking in sin. He can only bless obedience. He teaches us like we teach our own children.
“’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).