Friday, 14 September 2012
This week's portion (Deut. 29:9-30:20) opens with Moses addressing the people of Israel as they stand before him, preparing to enter the Promised Land.
We see throughout this parasha, and indeed as an overarching theme throughout the Tanakh and Brit Hadasha, that the covenant is based on God's love for His people. The covenant is the means by which the relationship between God and us is defined. It spells out what God has done for us, and what our response to Him is to be, in order to maintain that relationship of love and blessing. We are to remain faithful to Him, and not to follow other gods, as the pagan nations do. If we do disobey and violate the terms of the covenant, however, the consequences will be severe. We are told that the Land will be devastated with disease and desolation because of our idolatry, and that we will be uprooted from the Land and sent into exile (29:18-27).
God exhorts us through Moses that obedience to His word and His commandments is not "too difficult for you or beyond your reach. The word is karov elecha, very near you, in your heart and in your mouth so that you may obey it" (30:11-15). To me, this speaks of the intimacy of the relationship that we have with God, as David said, that we can hide His word in our hearts, that we might not sin against Him (Ps. 119:11). This passage is quoted by Rav Shaul in Romans 10, in reference to receiving salvation in Yeshua, that if we "confess with our mouths that Yeshua is Lord, and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved" (Romans 10:9). God is after our hearts more than anything.
The final verses of the parasha sum up our whole relationship with God and what He expects of us and the choices that He gives us. He calls on heaven and earth to witness the renewing of the covenant, and that He has set before us a choice; choose life or death, blessing or curse (v. 19). Of course, His desire is that we choose life (v. 20), but He gives us the choice, and that is very significant. He has not made us as robots that will automatically love Him. He has given us free will, to choose Him or reject Him, to follow His ways or our own ways. In either case, we will experience the consequences of our choices. We have all experienced both the blessings of obedience and the consequences (called curses) of disobedience. I spent many years of my life wondering why things were not going well. I never made the connection between my choices and the consequences and hardships that came as a result of those bad choices. Until the One who is Life and Truth came into my life. Yeshua proclaimed that He came to give us life, and life more abundantly (Yochanan 10). Choose life that we may live, choose the way of blessing, peace and wholeness that comes from drawing near the source of life. This is God's desire for us.