Torah Portion for 19th July - 25th July
Torah portion ……. Deuteronomy 1:1 to 3:22
Haftarah portion ….. Isaiah 1: 1-27
There are conditions ?
“Devarim”, Deuteronomy in English, consists of a number of discourses by Moses, preparing the Israelites for life, as a nation, in their new land after his days. They are, in effect, farewell messages, reminding the people of the instructions God had provided them for living righteously with each other and with Himself. Just as Leviticus contains a lot of legal detail concerning the Levites,( the Priesthood) so Deuteronomy contains much legal detail for the laity.
Neither Leviticus nor Deuteronomy involve journeying’s. They are purely instructive, and in many cases repetitious of instructions given to Moses ‘on the mountain’.
In this first portion from Deuteronomy, Moses recites the progress which has been made over the past 40 years, from the captivity in Egypt to the banks of the River Jordan on the plains of Moab. They are reminded of God’s faithfulness in all their travels, as a prelude to His promised care for them as they enter the Promised Land.
Moses must have been sad when he confessed before the congregation of Israel in Chapter 1: 37,38 that he would not be with them as they went into the Land, but he graciously instructed them to encourage Joshua in the task that lay before him. He also reminded them, that because of lack of trust in the promises of God, all those who had wavered at Kadesh Barnea were now dead.
So this is a sort of series of ‘sermons’ before they ENTER the land.
Now let us move forward approximately 900 years. The HAFTARAH portion, from Isaiah 1, contains the first ‘sermon’ to them as Isaiah prophesies that unless they change their ways, it will not be long before they are EXPELLED from the land. (which they were a few short years later in 586 b.c.e.)
The Land gift to Abraham’s descendants is certainly unconditional, it is theirs by God given right, but the occupation of the land given in the Mosaic covenant has always been conditional. Moses carefully reminds the people of that condition. It is all about OBEDIENCE to the instructions for righteous living (Torah) which God prepared for those He calls “His special treasure”. People who live differently to those around them.
I was brought up as a young Christian to believe “once saved, always saved”. The land is ours, no-one can throw us out, live as we like, a loving God will forgive us !! It is a most comforting state of mind. But that is not what my Bible says. What? there are conditions? Yes there are conditions. Or at least a condition, and that condition is willing OBEDIENCE.
Read what the Apostle Paul said in Romans 11: 11-22. Then read what Samuel said in 1 Samuel 15:22.
To finish our ‘reflection’ today, we must look at the really good news. It is found in the HAFTARAH. Isaiah was tasked with giving the people a sharp reminder of their shortcomings. It is evident that they had become most neglectful in their obedience (or lack of it) to God’s instructions for righteous living. Then God in His amazing mercy, love and grace provides a way. To this saved, but neglectfully disobedient people, these words :-
"Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.
If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; …” Isaiah 1: 18,19
Those words are just as true for us today as they were for the Israelites of Isaiah’s day. Trust me, when you see the word IF in a sentence, as in the Scripture quotation above, it means that “there are conditions”.
Do you remember what Yeshua said in John 14:15 ? The more accurate Nestle-Aland Greek and United Bible Societies text ( NU text) reads “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments”. So yes, there are conditions through which we show our love for Him.