Torah Portion for 2nd August - 8th August
Torah portion Deuteronomy 7:12 to 11:25
Haftarah portion Isaiah 49:14 to 51:3
A special treasure for God
Moses continues to remind the people of the special status they have in the eyes of God. He wants them to KNOW that they are special, and different to the people they will eventually displace as they occupy the Land of Promise.
Immediately we pick up the message that those who are chosen to be part of His Kingdom, are likewise ‘special to God’. No exceptions. But just as in the case of the Israelites of old, that special status is retained through obedience to His commandments in the way we choose to live our lives. No exceptions.
In Deuteronomy 7::5, they have a specific instruction about destroying the altars, the sacred pillars, the wooden images and carved images.(see also Deuteronomy 12 and Deuteronomy 33) which are also referred to as “high places”. (It is these instructions which have caused an increasing number of Christians today to question the relevance and propriety of the celebration of Christmas and Easter, because neither are “mo’edim” of God, but both festivals have origins in pagan culture long past, and therefor considered to be ‘high places’ where the deity of that culture was worshipped).
Deuteronomy 7:8 has a phrase which is viewed as a ‘throw-away’ generalization by some, meaning ‘for a very long indeterminate time’ and as a phrase of great significance to others. Since a generation is generally thought to be 40 years, the ‘thousand generations’ means 4,000 years. The point being that it is now approximately 4,000 years since God cut the covenant with Abram !!
The real burden of Moses heart, I think, is expressed in Chapter 8. Please take time to read it. He reminds the people of the faithfulness of God in their wilderness travels. He encourages the people with a description of the fruitfulness of the Land of Promise. Then he agonises over the thought that when they are settled there, have built a life there, are comfortable there, in their own eyes become self-sufficient, that they will become slack in their worship and obedience :-
"Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest—when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; ……. then you say in your heart, 'My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.' from Deuteronomy 8 : 8-17
Moses words to these Israelites 3,500 years ago might well have been addressed to Australia in 2015. How easy it is to forget that even our very next breath is a gift of God. By His grace, we are blessed. We need always to give grateful thanks to God for ‘all His benefits’. It may be appropriate to remember the words of Yeshua to the rich ruler as recorded by three of the gospel writers. (Matthew 19, Mark 10 and Luke 18).
A final ‘reflection’ on this Torah portion is found in Deut. 11:10 – 12. Here Moses provides a brief description of the fruitfulness of the Land. Then in verse 12 a statement about the Land we know as Israel, which every Christian should have burned into their consciousness :-
“ ….. the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the LORD your God cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year.”
“Zion’s Voice” is a ministry of prayer and support for Israel. It did not come into being by accident. It was commenced by some ladies following the prompting of the Holy Spirit. What a special privilege those ladies have been granted to participate in a ministry which has benefit for those who are “a special treasure to God”, as is evident from the statement of Moses in Deuteronomy 11 quoted above.