Well, Friends, we have arrived to the last book of the Torah -- the book of Deuteronomy. Just as with the other books of the Torah, and their parshas, this book is originally named D'Varim -- "im" making it plural -- after the first distinctive word in the reading, "words." "These are the words..." It wasn't too far into my learning of Hebrew that I realized that devar/dabar had 2 primary meanings, word or thing. This is very intriguing and the basis of understanding the word of God -- it produces something. Word and thing are the same word because words produce things, the earliest account goes all the way to the creation, and shows us that this expectancy of words to produce fruit originates from God. Elohim does not expect of us what He didn't already set as an example, and as the example, invites us to walk as He walked, marry Him, be one with Him.
I had to say all of that because here in this book of Love, this book of "words" -- and yes, it is a book of Love, as the book of Deuteronomy is full of constant reminders of how much Adonai loves as a Father and a Bridegroom, and a returning commission to love Him faithfully -- that I'm going to discuss the Law. Friend, we have too many people dividing Law and Love, and we have embarrassingly been a poor example to the world of the order and law involved in love, but rather have given way for the world to redefine it into tolerance and momentary self-serving pleasures. If the people who claim to know the writer of the D'Varim that we call the "Holy Scriptures" think that one cannot love [God] unless they be separated from Law [Torah], then we really cannot be disgusted with the world around us. We can see that on an earthen, physical level, this is absurdity to even say that one loves his sovereign when he doesn't keep that sovereign's law, utterly rejects it, hates it, even purposely goes against it (Beloved, there are some people I've heard purposely speak against circumcision because it is in the 'Old Covenant' and others who will work the Shabbat so as to not in any way appear to keep the Torah, all the while claim that the Messiah is their King!) These sorts of things cannot be! Why does this not appear likewise absurd in a spiritual kingdom? The physical has a way of being a manifestation of the spiritual, a reminder of what is going on past our deceived hearts. The physical, in this way, has not ceased to maintain its purpose. This "Christian" country should be a slap in the face of the reality of what its Christians are doing in their Eternal Sovereign's kingdom.
Oh, we will surely have some rebuttals from the pulpit, perhaps those even using our own haftarah portion for this week:
"Why are all those sacrifices offered to me?" asks Adonai. "I'm fed up with burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened animals! I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls, lambs and goats! Yes, you come to appear in my presence; but who asked you to do this, to trample through my courtyards? Stop bringing worthless grain offerings! They are like disgusting incense to me! Rosh-Hodesh, Shabbat, calling convocations -- I can't stand evil together with your assemblies! Everything in me hates your Rosh-Hodesh and your festivals; they are a burden to me -- I'm tired of putting up with them!" -- Isaiah 1:11-14 Complete Jewish Bible
Wow, it sounds like the Lord does not like Torah in saying He does not like burnt offerings, sacrifices, nor Shabbats, but this would contradict some other statements He made of them when He established these things, calling said offerings a "sweet smelling aroma," (yes, YHWH loves the smell of barbeque), and the Shabbats by the same description He gives Himself, "set apart," begging us likewise in the same book of the verses above quoted, to call the Shabbats "a delight." So then we must realize that taking these group of verses as evidence that God does not like offerings nor Shabbat-keeping is grossly taking the charge out of context. If we continue to read, we see what the problem truly is...
"Wash yourselves clean! Get your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing evil..." Isaiah 1:16
This is a works/deeds issue, not an issue with the keeping of the Torah nor its sacrifices and holy days.
How the faithful city has become a whore! Once she was filled with justice, righteousness lodged in her; but now murderers! -- Isaiah 1:21
Once faithful as a wife, she is now (was then) a whore. I put this verse in this, from the same Isaiah haftarah portion, to help make a point. Envision a marriage. It has anniversaries, it gets fed sweet acts of love. Envision that the husband is no longer faithful but whores himself to other women. Envision that he continues to keep his anniversary and still brings his wife roses every so often. If you are the wife, are you to accept such and meet for anniversary date nights, happily? Such a spouse would more gladly throw those roses out and speak of how they mean nothing! Does the wife actually hate roses or does she hate what her spouse has done? Roses in their beginning were sweet smelling fancies for her, but now she despises them, and not that she despises them truly but she despises getting them from a man who cannot set her apart from the other women in his surroundings and keep faith with her by being faithful. YHWH does not despise His own Torah, His own sacrificial system and ways He receives love, He despises the cheating spouse, continuing in her adultery, meeting Him on their intimate appointments and offering the gifts of love all the while she still whores herself.
Folks, I have to take a break away from the history of Israel to say before we go pointing out a speck, we must look at the beam in our eyes. Church, there are plenty within that likewise come to God with some act of love, let's say worship or tithe, all the while keeping up with adulterous acts, like adopting the world's ways of loving their gods through their holy days and rituals. Do we think the Lord should accept such gifts, coming from under the skirt of asherah? Is this love?
If ever we were confused on what is love, we should understand 2 things: God is love (I John 4:8), and so therefore God gets to define love. Pray tell, where has He given this description of love, but in the Law? It is like the faithful testimony of Yeshua, who tells us that if we love Him, then keep Him commandments, and again His beloved disciple who says, "This is the love of God, that we keep the commandments, AND they are NOT burdensome." Love can be defined no other way but by God Himself, and whose character is revealed in written format in the Torah and manifested in Yeshua, the Living Torah. God is the Torah and Torah is Love.
Let Israel up to this point in the Torah be a witness for us, as reiterated through our New Testament reading, Hebrews 3-4:
And to whom did He swear that they would not enter into His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they were unable to enter in because of unbelief. -- Hebrews 3:18-19 The Scriptures
The writer seems to at first say the first generation Israel post-exodus couldn't enter because of lack obedience, but then in the very next sentence says it is lack of belief/faith. This is because, as Ya'akov tells us, "Faith without works is dead." Their fruit told the truth of their faith, or lack thereof. The heart is deceitful and often tells us we are of faith, but when the fruit (which is our works) is tested, does it show we are true or liars?
Therefore, let us be terrified of the possibility that, even though the promise of entering his rest remains, any one of you might be judged to have fallen short of it... -- Hebrews 4:1 Complete Jewish Bible
It is a scary thought to think that one can fall short of their faith, and that is if they do not keep it! Reader, let us remember there is a faith to be kept, and the fruit of its keeping through the Torah, through obedience, because Torah is the only description any advocate of God's tells us is the instructions for good works.
We must keep Torah. We must keep Shabbat, because, as the writer says, we have not yet entered rest. "Oh but we rest in Jesus. He is my rest." Friend, tell that to the writer of Hebrews, who says,
For if Y'hoshua (Messiah, not Joshua of post-Moses, check your translations!) had given them rest, God would not have spoken later of another "day." So there remains a Shabbat-keeping for God's people. -- Hebrews 4:8-10
I hope you, Reader, are not getting confused with my point and the writer of Hebrews' point, having the Shabbat thrown in there! The Shabbat is very important to the point! Coming into the promised land is paralleled to rest, as God Himself said of those who would not cross into it, "They would not enter my rest." The writer of Hebrews is showing us that this crossing over into the land is paralleled to spiritual rest, and that just because one has come into Covenant (like Israel did at Sinai) does not mean he will enter that rest. He uses Israel, post-exodus, to show us this. The first generation Israel failed to keep the faith and so they did not enter the rest. They failed to keep it by lack of obedience, which is lack of faith, because their faith did not produce obedience to the belief that God would bring them in (chapter 3's verses above). He is saying that we, today, have NOT entered our rest. If Yeshua had given us rest (as some say as a means to forsake the weekly rest), then He would have not talked about a future rest. So then we must continue to walk as Israel should have walked...faithfully until that rest, and we have not yet received it...through obedience to the command, and we must continue to keep the Shabbat because we have not been given rest to cease from our work. He continues that below:
For the one who has entered God's rest has also rested from his own works, as God did from his. Therefore, let us do our best to enter that rest; so that no one will fall short because of the same kind of disobedience. -- Hebrews 4:11
Seeing as we have not entered rest, we are commissioned to "work" until that future rest. Failure to do so is to fall short of faith, as the writer clearly tells us by example of Israel. Faith without works is dead, and good works are...torah. The one who enters God's rest has rested from his works, just as God rested from work when He entered His rest in the beginning. Remember, God has given us example from creation of what He expects, and invites us to be echad/one with Him. Until that rest, there is work to do, which he equates to "keeping of the faith," and the work better be good work, and we have already established only Torah describes "good works."
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