We open Moses' farewell speech this week with an imperative statement to see what is set before you, blessing or curse. Choose one. There is this quote I saw a while back on Facebook that read, "You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequence of your choice." The thing is, the consequence is made known (here in the parsha, in the Torah pages before, and also read Romans 1:18). It should not be such a surprise when these things come to pass, especially coming from a God all-knowing, a God who does not lie, a just and holy God, and a God all-powerful to see His counsel and balance come to pass.
It is pretty black and white. If you aren't choosing God's yoke (Torah) and blessings, then you get the yoke of your flesh and the cursing. There isn't an acceptable gray, because at that point you have already mixed the black in with the white. There are some warnings here about mixing, especially as it pertains to worship.
"...guard yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire about their mighty ones, saying, 'How did these nations serve their mighty ones? And let me do so too.' Do not do so to YHWH your Elohim, for every abomination which YHWH hates they have done to their mighty ones, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their mighty ones." -- Deuteronomy 12:30-31
Many of the church practices of worship and holy days have originated from pagan worship. I am not going to spend time going through what is already known. The question I have heard of the church these days is if the days and the practices are redeemable, or can the practices, in their evolvement, be sanctified. This is considering that, you know, even the trees used are grown by the Lord, and we can say the lights are to symbolize God who is Light, etc. The passage just said do not inquire after their rituals. If some 'saints' back in the early church days hadn't inquired of them, do you think there would even be a question of sanctification for such pagan-originated, western Church-practicing, holy days? It expressly says do not do so to YHWH, the set-apart Elohim. If we want worship and feast -- which we do because we were built to want such things -- then read the rest of the parsha! We should especially read chapter 16, where a good few feasts of the Lord are given; and read Torah, where the ways to worship Him are given to us as instructions to keep Him set apart.
"...and the sign of the wonder shall come true, or which he has spoken to you, saying, 'Let us go after other mighty ones -- which you have not known -- and serve them,' do not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for YHWH your Elohim is trying you to know whether you love YHWH your Elohim with all your heart and with all your being. ... And that prophet or that dreamer of dreams is put to death, because he has spoken apostasy against YHWH your Elohim -- who brought you out of the land of Mitsrayim and redeemed you from the house of bondage -- to make you stray from the way in which YHWH your Elohim commanded you to walk. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst." -- Deuteronomy 13:2-3, 5
This is a real issue, not just an issue that is foretold here and ceased at the end of Judah's captivity, but one we deal with today. It is an issue where people do not walk the ways of YHWH, but walk in the ways known, and established, for other gods. It saddens me greatly to see an argument of a believer towards pagan-originated holy days, pleading the redemption of such, but who won't partake of the Lord's Passover, or any other clearly given instruction from the Lord regarding worship and feast. It doesn't matter if such worship is disguised in butterflies and bunnies, rosy cheeks and jingle bells. As the Scripture tells us, the devil himself disguises as an angel of light. He knows only a few are actually enticed by horns and fire; the majority are enticed otherwise.
"You are the children of YHWH your Elohim. Do not cut yourselves nor shave the front of your head for the dead, for you are a set-apart people to YHWH your Elohim, and YHWH has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a treasured possession above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth." -- Deuteronomy 14:1-2
I come from a non-practicing Roman Catholic background. We showed up to mass only on Roman Catholic holy days, and faithfully to rosaries that we heard about in our Chamorro culture. I just knocked my own background above with the holy days, and now I will knock the background of rosaries. It was a common thing to hear in my ears someone praise a dead relative for the good weather, for finding their lost keys, etc. I saw, and still see in some of my family, a remembrance for the dead more than a remembrance of the Lord. Some will remember the dead's birthday more than they will remember the Lord's birthday of Sukkot -- some don't even know the Lord's birthday is Sukkot because of their mixing worship with paganism as said above. Some will remember the dead's death more than the death of the Lord on Passover. We are called to be His children, the children of the living God...not children of the dead. We are not to worship the dead.
"At the end of every seven years you make a release of debts. And this is the word of the release: Every creditor is to release what he has loaned to his neighbour, he does not require it of his neighbour or his brother, because it is called the release of YHWH. Of a foreigner you could require it, but your hand is to release whatever is owed by your brother." -- Deuteronomy 15:1-3
This is a hard thing to do when you think of your loss, but a minor thing to do when you think of the spiritual revelation of this passage and how God is calling you to live a physical reflection of a spiritual truth. One great Jubilee, the Lord's return will see the fullness of our debts, as His brethren, released through the application of His payment on Calvary. The foreigner to Him will not see a release of their debt, and His blood payment is not applied to them. So remember, just as you were freely given, freely give. Forgive your brother and neighbor (him living within the same land as you, this means those likewise set-apart) his debts, as you have been forgiven. This does not apply to the world, but a witness to the world that some of the world would no longer want to be of the world.
"And it shall be, when he says to you, 'I do not go away from you,' because he loves you and your house, because it is good for him with you, then you shall take an awl and thrust his ear to the door, and he shall be your servant forever. Do the same to your female servants." -- Deuteronomy 15:16-17
This is another thing therein the world has no part. The world does not release its slaves. Honestly, the first generation of redeemed Israel kept wanting to go back to their slavish lives. Haven't you seen this with people of this day? If the world would care less to hold onto them as slaves, they gladly keep going back. Yet, these won't gladly be the slave of such a rewarding and merciful, altogether lovely, Lord. What proof of the flesh's animosity towards the King of the universe!
If you read from verse 12 you will see that this is referring to the Hebrew brother who is sold to you (debts), who is to go free at the Jubilee as well. However, it does say if that brother refuses to leave you, but knows it is better for him to remain in your house and as your servant, wishing to continue serving you by the time the Jubilee comes, then his servitude has become permanent. If you recall the end of Leviticus, it spoke of dedicated things to the Lord. You could redeem these things back to yourself for a price, up until the Jubilee. If you hadn't by the Jubilee, then the dedication was permanent, forever the Lord's. I spoke then of the 'once saved always saved' being true if it refers to salvation as the end (Jubilee) result. It is then permanent, but until then the Word certainly says a man can renounce his dedicated thing -- obviously at a price he will spend eternity paying. With this thought of Jubilee in mind, you can see why the servitude is permanent, as the Word says, if the servant remains through the Jubilee.
I love how it says you are to mark his ear, thrust an awl through it to the door. It is symbolism that his ear is yours, it belongs to your house. It reminds me of us as the Lord's servants in the Shema... if we know what's good for us and refuse to leave His house, and make our servitude an everlasting one, then we must understand that includes our ear to His door. We must hear and obey. As you can see, the passage quoted above is physical reflection of the spiritual, and it is a voluntary eternal servitude. It is only for those who (as it is said) love Him and His house, and know it is good for them to dwell with Him. This is different from those who want His blood but not to live in His house as Father. To those that just want His blood, their servitude is grievous, if they serve at all. But to those that love His house, the servitude is freedom...freedom from not only the consequences of the world's choices, but freedom from the world. Only as the Lord's slave will you have blessing and life.
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