Studies in Torah

Parashat Va’etchanan (ואתחנן): Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11

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 traditional complementary reading for Va’etchanan is Isa. 40:1-26.

Companion readings for Va’etchanan from the B’rit Chadashah (New Testament) from MessianicJudaism.net (also has through-the-Bible readings for prophets and B’rit Chadashah) and First Fruits of Zion:

  • Mt. 4:1-11, 22:33-40; Mk. 12:28-34; Lk. 4:1-13, 10:25-37; Acts 13:13-43; Ro. 3:27-31; 1Ti. 2:4-6; Jam. 2:14-26 (Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern)
  • Mt. 23:31-39 (Parashiot From the Torah and Haftarah by Jeffrey E. Feinbe of Flame Foundation)
  • Luke 22:13-38 (First Fruits of Zion)
  • John 20:1-18 (Chayyei Yeshua Three-Year Besora Reading Cycle by Mark Kinzer)

Listen to recorded studies and read notes from Hallel Fellowship teacher Richard over the years:

Deuteronomy 3:23–7:11: What’s on God’s heart is to be on ours

 

Deuteronomy 4:1–11: Keep your soul diligently

Scripture tells us that man’s heart is “deceitful above all things.” This chapter gives us some guidelines on how a believer is to train his/her heart so it is inclined towards God rather than towards the cares of this world. Deut. 4 teaches us to follow God’s statutes, judgements and commands. We are also called to understand that giving our heart to God is not a one time decision but as it says in Deut. 4:9, “Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life…”

Deuteronomy 4:12-20: You saw no form (of God) on the mountain

Moses reminds the children of Israel in Deu. 4:15 that they are to “…Watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire.” This is repeated several times to emphasize God’s admonition against idolatry but Moses also prophesies they will ignore this warning and God will have to rebuke them harshly for their idolatry.

Deuteronomy 4:20-49: Love vs. Knowledge

There’s a direct correlation between the increase in knowledge and a decrease in our love and fear of God. Proverbs says that the knowledge and fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. The more God blessed the children of Israel while they were in the land, the more they desired to go after idols and false gods. They served gods who didn’t love them, or even appreciate them. The “principalities of the air” aren’t trying to draw men and women to worship them because they love them. They want power, submission and control over people, they have no interest in mankind’s well being at all. The “principalities of the air” won’t give their only begotten son to die for us and to give us eternal life. There is only one God who has that kind of love.

Deuteronomy 4: Statutes, judgments of the Lord

The very first verse tells you what the entire book of Deuteronomy is about: the statues and judgments of the Lord. A statute is a pre-described task, something that God has explained and given as a task. A judgment tells us how to carry out the decision of a judge. A judgment elaborates how to to perform a particular statute. Judgments are not always negative, sometimes judgments are favorable.

Deuteronomy 5: The 10 Words and the Holy Spirit are two sides of same coin

“Then Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the ordinances which I am speaking today in your hearing, that you may learn them and observe them carefully.” (Deuteronomy 5:1 NASB) On Mt. Sinai, on the day of Shavuot, God wrote His law on stone tablets and spoke them to the people. Two thousand years later, on Shavout, God put His law on His disciples hearts and they spoke to the people and 3000 were saved.

Deuteronomy 5: Moses elaborates on the 10 commandments

Yeshua told the devil, “We are to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” The words of God are not limited to the “New Testament,” as a number of Christians assume. Yeshua said, “If you love me keep my commandments.” We believe with all our hearts that Yeshua and the Father are “one.” We understand that the words of the Torah are Yeshua’s words, just like the Sermon on the Mount/Plain are Yeshua’s words. Deuteronomy is not just repeating the prior books like a parrot but adding and elaborating on prior teachings. It shows us not just the words of God but the heart of God. When you love someone you want to know what is in their heart.

Deuteronomy 6:We learn God’s ways as we teach them to others

Studying the statutes, judgments and commands of the Lord is not limited to the “four questions” during the Passover seder (program). We are to listen and obey God on a daily basis. We also learn more when we are called to teach others.

Deuteronomy 6: Teaching children to respect, follow the LORD

We are told to follow the LORD’s commandments, the statutes and judgements. The commandments, statutes and judgements are written down so that we will “fear” the Lord and that we will teach that fear to our children and grandchildren.

Deuteronomy 7-8:Israel were to be distinct from Gentiles, not isolated from them

God chose the people of Israel as His primary representatives and He wanted them to remain pure and distinct from the Gentiles but He did not call the children of Israel to isolate themselves from the Gentiles. The Gentile nations, for the most part, are have always been obsessed with anger, depression and death. God reveals His will even to the Gentiles where there’s rampant rebellion against it.

Deuteronomy 7-8: God’s tough love

The Torah has a reputation of being offensive, but it is always truthful. The words in Deuteronomy center on God’s statutes, judgments and commandments. When we come to understand and hear God, we start to ask God why? He says, “because I love you.” Why does He punish us? Because He loves us.

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