Shabbat | 24 September 2016 | 21 Elul 5776
Portion Ki Tavo ~ Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8
Blessings and Curses
A cursory read through this week’s portion invariably leaves a sober imprint of the verses regarding God’s promise of blessings for obedience, and especially His dire warning of curses for disobedience.
Here we find Israel coming into Adonai’s chosen land. Through this tiny people—the “least” among nations, the Almighty would reveal Himself and work His redemption for the world. From Jerusalem, where Adonai has placed His Name forever, His glory, holiness, justice, lovingkindness, and mercy would be made manifest to the nations. All this through Israel, even in her fall. “For salvation (Yeshua in Hebrew) is from the Jews.” (Deut. 7:7, 1 Kings 9:3, 2 Chron. 7:16, John 4:22)
All redemptive prophecy begins and culminates with and through Israel. Jesus is not a new paradigm, separate from the people of His lineage. Right up to very end, throughout the book of Revelation, He is the [Passover] Lamb, “the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David,” and He Himself proclaims: “I am the root and the descendant of David.” Revelation 5:5, 22:16
There is a grave misunderstanding among those who love Jesus. This week’s portion throws a spotlight on Scriptures that often compound this misunderstanding.
We must understand that every kingdom has a king. And every kingdom has laws, regulations, and statutes that identify it uniquely among the nations.
YHVH is God Almighty over all kings and kingdoms. His ways are beyond ours—high and lifted up—wisdom surpassing the wise—lovingkindness, grace, mercy, and justice in unfathomable measure. And He is holy, holy, holy.
Into a barbaric world, He desires to show His attributes through Israel
“See, I have taught you statutes and judgments just as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do thus in the land where you are entering to possess it. So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the Lord our God whenever we call on Him? Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today?” Deuteronomy 4:5-8
Israel was already a “redeemed” people, “chosen by God’s grace,” “set apart” for His purposes.
The “Law,” or Torah was two-fold:
- Torah means teaching. It taught God’s people HOW to live as a redeemed people—that the world would learn of the One True Living God and His Kingdom.
- It contained the system for a temporary remedy for sin until Messiah, the final sacrifice, and the end of the sacrifice system. (And transition to the new priesthood.)
Consistently throughout the Scriptures, obedience to God’s commandments carried with it the issue of relationship, love, faithfulness, and earthly promises so that the nations would see His goodness. Disobedience was tantamount to infidelity (in the sight of the nations—mocking His Name—and idolatry, whoring with other Gods. This reaped earthly disaster.
God pleaded with Israel to be faithful and live under His protection and blessing.
“This day the Lord your God commands you to do these statutes and ordinances. You shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul. You have today declared the Lord to be your God, and that you would walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments and His ordinances, and listen to His voice. The Lord has today declared you to be His people, a treasured possession, as He promised you, and that you should keep all His commandments; and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, for praise, fame, and honor; and that you shall be a consecrated people to the Lord your God, as He has spoken.” Deuteronomy 26:16-19
“Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the Lord your God; Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country…” Deuteronomy 28:1-3
Disobedience—unfaithfulness to God, was a conscious choice. Knowingly turning one’s back on the goodness of God while living in His Kingdom was folly. (Like living in a country illegally, taking the benefits, but not abiding by its laws. Yet far worse, considering this is God Almighty who bestowed His Kingdom and untold blessings upon us!) YHVH clearly delineated the spiritual laws of His Kingdom—as real as the physical laws of our world. If one jumps off a building, he is subject to the laws of gravity.
“But it shall come about, if you do not obey the Lord your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country…” Deuteronomy 28:15-16
The Tenakh is replete with such warnings. And yet, we are told that the accounts in the Old Testament happened as an example and were recorded FOR US, FOR OUR INSTRUCTION. (1 Corinthians 10:11)
So where does this idea come from... that after YHVH spent the lion’s share of the Bible using Israel (and severely punishing her) TO INSTRUCT US on how important His commands are TO HIM ... and Jesus reiterated the authority of Torah in Matthew 5:17-20 ... and Paul said the Law is “holy, and just, and good,” ... the Law “is spiritual” (Romans 7:12,14) ... we “establish the Law” (Romans 3:31), etc., ...that God suddenly did away with His Torah for the life of the redeemed who carry His Name?! Where DOES this idea come from?
I propose He didn’t. We change and waver, but He is trustworthy, unchanging, immutable. “For I, the LORD, do not change…” Malachi 3:6
“The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation.” Psalm 33:11
Blessed be His Holy Name, forever, amen!