The Witness of Heaven and Earth Rabbi Michael Weiner
This rambles a bit, but please follow me here. The last 2 Hebrew words of Psalm 121:4 form the name of our congregation …
Psalm 121:4 Hine Lo-Yanum, V’Lo Yishan – – Shomer, Yisrael.
Psalm 121:4 Behold, the Keeper of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.
Shomer Yisrael (I spelled it phonetically as “Shomair,” but it didn’t help.) means watchman, guardian, defender or keeper of Israel. I thought that might be audacious because that is not us, but it is a good term to describe God. In fact, here it is the term God uses to describe Himself.
Notice too that Psalm 121 is the second of 15 “Psalms of Ascent.” These were 15 Psalms that were sung to prayerful petitioners as they ascended the staircase that led to the Temple Mount. Priests were stationed in clusters to sing the Psalms (now we know them as Psalm 120-134). These songs (Psalms) were chosen to prepare the hearts of the hearers to be in the presence of God.
I mention this verse today because I woke on Tuesday morning with a prayer that the Lord would lead me to write something of value today. When I opened my computer, I found an email from a friend that was sent at 12:37AM. Although I was asleep at that time, God was answering my prayer even before I woke to pray. That email quoted two verses, Deuteronomy 30:19,20. And there you go, that’s my subject today.
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 I call the heavens and the earth to witness about you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore choose life so that you and your descendants may live, by loving Adonai your God, listening to His voice, and clinging to Him. For He is your life and the length of your days, that you may dwell on the land that Adonai swore to your fathers – to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob – to give them.
God is calling heaven (His spiritual realm) and earth (our physical realm) to provide testimony (evidence) within us of life and death, the blessing of life and the curse of death. The invitation is to choose life and live, you and future generations. The promise is, “That you may dwell on the land …” Is this “land” physical or spiritual? In the words of Glenn Blank, (leader of our sister congregation in Allentown, PA) “Yes, both!”
The witness is commanded by God to be both the heavens and the earth.
Rabbi Trail: The accurate translation of “heaven” is always plural (same for “waters,” in fact it’s the same shoresh (root), mayim) because the Hebrew word for heaven is hashamayim which has a plural ending. Not so with “earth,” which is aretz. End RT.
The testimony for life and death is both from the heavens (spiritual) and the earth (physical). To receive that spiritual life (which is eternal), one must be born again. Yeshua spoke these words to Nicodemus. John 3:3 Yeshua answered him, “Amen, amen I tell you, unless one is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” And Yeshua adds this thought … John 3:5 Yeshua answered, “Amen, amen I tell you, unless one is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Water is physical birth, while spirit is from above.
The Bible even gives reference, not just to two births (as we just read), but also to two deaths. Revelation 20:6 How fortunate and holy is the one who has a share in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no authority, but they shall be kohanim of God and the Messiah, and they shall reign with Him for a thousand years.
For those who follow Yeshua, His Spirit bearing witness with our spirit is a “slam dunk.” It’s transitioning that spiritual witness into this physical world that is the greater challenge. Every promise of covenant from God involves land. Next time I want to write more about the land, which is also both physical and spiritual.