Parashah 51: Nitzavim (Standing)
Deuteronomy 29:9(10) through 30:20
Parashah 51: Nitzavim (Standing) - Deuteronomy 29:9(10) through 30:20
Haftarah reading: Isaiah 61:10 through 63:9.
B'rit Hadasha suggested reading: Romans 9:30 through 10:13; Hebrews 12:14-15.
(Tanach Scriptures are from Stern's Complete Jewish Bible; B'rit Chadash Scriptures from the AENT.)
Welcome "newbies" and "oldies!" As you all know, Torah was written by Moshe (Moses) and consists of the first five Books of the Bible which contain God's original Divine Instructions in Righteousness. Since this is a Netzarim (Nazarene/Messianic) website, we refer to God by His proper Name: Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey, transliterated into English as YHWH, and most likely pronounced "Yah-way" (see Exodus 3:13-15). His Son's Name is Y'shua (most likely pronounced "Ye-shoo-ah"). Enjoy this week's Torah portion!
Today's lesson is one of the most powerful in the entire Torah as YHWH once again drove home the importance of obedience, outlining the blessings for doing His will, and the curses for not doing His will. We DO/OBEY for the sake of fulfilling His desire! His desire is perfectly outlined in the following:
Deuteronomy 30: 19 "I call on heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have presented you with life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore, choose life, so that you will live, you and your descendants, 20 loving ADONAI your God, paying attention to what he says and clinging to him - for that is the purpose of your life! On this depends the length of time you will live in the land ADONAI swore he would give to your ancestors Avraham, Yitz'chak and Ya'akov."
This is echoed in Ecclesiastes 12: 11 The sayings of the wise are as sharp as goads, and those given by leaders of assemblies are like well-fixed nails; [in this case,] they are presented by a single shepherd. 12 In addition, my son, take heed: one can write many books - there's no end to it; and one can study so much that it wearies the flesh. 13 Here is the final conclusion, now that you have heard everything: fear God, and keep his mitzvot; this is what being human is all about. 14 For God will bring to judgment everything we do, including every secret, whether good or bad. [Here is the final conclusion, now that you have heard everything: fear God, and keep his mitzvot; this is what being human is all about.]
It's also echoed in 1 John 5: 1. Whoever believes that Y'shua is the Mashiyach, is born of Elohim. And whoever loves the begetter, loves him also that is begotten of him. 2. And by this we know that we love the children of Elohim, when we love Elohim and follow his Commandments. 3. For this is the love of Elohim, that we keep his Commandments: and his Commandments are not burdensome. 4. Because, whoever is born of Elohim overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. 5. For who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Y'shua is the Son of Elohim?
Please notice that we are to love YHWH, pay attention to what He says and cling to Him! THAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE! For some reason many believers don't "get" this. They keep insisting we don't have to bother obeying because, since "Jesus" died, all we have to do is to "believe and walk by faith." Well, walking by faith means you cling to the One in whom you believe - the One who came to earth to show mankind personally who God is, how to worship Him and how to please Him through obedience.
In all the parashahs we've read over the past year, do you remember one instance where YHWH ever said, "After my Son dies, you guys will have free rein to do whatever you want. You will no longer have to bother with my Seventh Day Sabbath rest; you won't have to pay attention to my mo'edim (Feasts/Appointed Times) because in those days you can invent your own; and basically, everything I ever commanded will in those days be considered a curse because I was WRONG to give you guys rules for moral, holy living!"?
No, YHWH never said that; instead, He just kept repeating simple OBEDIENCE! Yes, many of those original commands outlined in Torah were for the priests of the day; some were only for men, some only for women, some only for a certain point in time. But there were some forever commands that still stand today, because "forever" hasn't ended yet.
Deuteronomy 29 is powerful, powerful stuff!
Deuteronomy 29: 9 Therefore, observe the words of this covenant and obey them; so that you can make everything you do prosper.
Yeshua echoed the words above in John 17: 3 And eternal life is this: to know you, the one true God, and him whom you sent, Yeshua the Messiah.
One cannot "know" YHWH unless one obeys His commands and lives according to His will!
Deuteronomy 29: 10 "Today you are standing, all of you, before ADONAI your God - your heads, your tribes, your leaders and your officers - all the men of Isra'el, 11 along with your little ones, your wives and your foreigners here with you in your camp, from the one who chops your wood to the one who draws your water.
Note who was also standing before YHWH: The "foreigners"...those who had not yet accepted YHWH and His Torah! They too stood before Him to hear what He was telling Israel! YHWH's message was for ALL to hear. Just like in Numbers 15:13-16 when He reiterated four times in a row that ALL who accept Him as God MUST obey His Torah! Obedience to His "forever" commands was never, and will never be an option....
In Deuteronomy 29:13-20 we see Moshe (Moses) telling his people that YHWH's covenant and oath were made with everyone who believes in Him; not just with those who were standing before Him on the day He uttered these words. (Please note how He kept telling His people (paraphrased), "Obey Me; obey Me; obey Me - and if you've messed up, repent and return to Me!):
Deuteronomy 29: 12 The purpose is that you should enter into the covenant of ADONAI your God and into his oath which ADONAI your God is making with you today, 13 so that he can establish you today for himself as a people, and so that for you he will be God -as he said to you and as he swore to your ancestors, to Avraham, Yitz'chak and Ya'akov.
14 "But I am not making this covenant and this oath only with you. 15 Rather, I am making it both with him who is standing here with us today before ADONAI our God and also with him who is not here with us today. 16 For you know how we lived in the land of Egypt and how we came directly through the nations you passed through; 17 and you saw their detestable things and their idols of wood, stone, silver and gold that they had with them. 18 So let there not be among you a man, woman, family or tribe whose heart turns away today from ADONAI our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Let there not be among you a root bearing such bitter poison and wormwood.
If Deuteronomy 29:14-15 somehow slipped by you, please read it again. YHWH was making His oath not only with those standing before Him, but with all future generations of those who have accepted Him as their Elohim! (Remember, as believers in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, YOU are part of Israel - Halleluyah! He made this oath with YOU: Obey Him and all will go well with you; disobey and you will be cursed....)
Deuteronomy 29: 19 If there is such a person, when he hears the words of this curse, he will bless himself secretly, saying to himself, 'I will be all right, even though I will stubbornly keep doing whatever I feel like doing; so that I, although "dry," [sinful,] will be added to the "watered" [righteous].' 20 But ADONAI will not forgive him. Rather, the anger and jealousy of ADONAI will blaze up against that person. Every curse written in this book will be upon him. ADONAI will blot out his name from under heaven.
Moshe then goes on to remind us that if the people disobey YHWH the land will always end up dry and barren. This is exactly what is happening to the United States (and the rest of the world) today! Even unbelievers are realizing there is "something going on" as the world has begun to feel the birth pangs of natural disasters of biblical proportions.
Deuteronomy 29: 22 "When the next generation, your children who will grow up after you, and the foreigner who arrives from a distant land, see the plagues of that land and the diseases with which ADONAI has made it sick, 23 and that the whole land has become burning sulfur and salt, that it isn't being sown or bearing crops or even producing grass - like the overthrow of S'dom, 'Amora, Admah and Tzvoyim, which ADONAI overthrew in his furious anger - 24 then all the nations will ask, 'Why did ADONAI do this to this land? What is the meaning of such frenzied, furious anger?'
Are "all the nations" today asking why YHWH has done these things to the land in which they are experiencing the various horrors of earthquakes, tsunamies, fires, floods, famines, etc.? No! Most attribute it to "global warming" or "El Nino"....Most don't realize that YHWH has removed His Hand from the world which is now "as in the days of Noah" (Luke 17:26-27).
Deuteronomy 29: 25 People will answer, 'It's because they abandoned the covenant of ADONAI, the God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt. 26 They went and served other gods, prostrating themselves before them, gods they had not known and which he had not assigned them. 27 For this reason, the anger of ADONAI blazed up against this land and brought upon it every curse written in this book; 28 and ADONAI, in anger, fury and incensed with indignation, uprooted them from their land and threw them out into another land - as it is today.' 29 "Things which are hidden belong to ADONAI our God. But the things that have been revealed belong to us and our children forever, so that we can observe all the words of this Torah.
Many are under the false impression that "grace and mercy" only started with Yeshua. But can you see the grace and mercy in these parashahs? Grace and mercy have ALWAYS been around since the Garden of Eden where YHWH could have killed Adam and Eve for their disobedience instead of allowing them to live!
Deuteronomy 30: ... 2 and you will return to ADONAI your God and pay attention to what he has said, which will be exactly what I am ordering you to do today - you and your children, with all your heart and all your being. 3 At that point, ADONAI your God will reverse your exile and show you mercy; he will return and gather you from all the peoples to which ADONAI your God scattered you. 4 If one of yours was scattered to the far end of the sky, ADONAI your God will gather you even from there; he will go there and get you. 5 ADONAI your God will bring you back into the land your ancestors possessed, and you will possess it; he will make you prosper there, and you will become even more numerous than your ancestors. 6 Then ADONAI your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your children, so that you will love ADONAI your God with all your heart and all your being, and thus you will live.
In other words, IF you will return and repent, He will be merciful and allow you to live in His Presence once again!
A wonderful example of "turning and repentance" can be found in the true story of Tamra and Eve, a lesbian couple who gave up their "gay" lifestyle once they realized YHWH considered homosexuality a sin. Today, Tamra and Eve are Torah observant and live together as "sisters" who concentrate all their efforts on pleasing YHWH to the best of their abilities. They learned the hard way that, whereas YHWH allows us all the leeway to be Free to Sin (scroll to bottom of page), once we have accepted Him as our God and begin to obey His "forever commands" we are free FROM sin!
Deuteronomy 30: 10 "However, all this will happen only if you pay attention to what ADONAI your God says, so that you obey his mitzvot and regulations which are written in this book of the Torah, if you turn to ADONAI your God with all your heart and all your being. 11 For this mitzvah which I am giving you today is not too hard for you, it is not beyond your reach. 12 It isn't in the sky, so that you need to ask, 'Who will go up into the sky for us, bring it to us and make us hear it, so that we can obey it?'
It boggles the mind to know that myriads of Christians believe "That stuff was just for the Jews...plus, Paul said if you break just ONE of God's commandments, you've broken all of them, and therefore, all we need to do today is to just believe in Jesus!" Today's parashah clearly reveals there is more to God and the Bible than just "believing in Jesus" and that YHWH's commands are NOT hard to keep!
Deuteronomy 30: "13 Likewise, it isn't beyond the sea, so that you need to ask, 'Who will cross the sea for us, bring it to us and make us hear it, so that we can obey it?' 14 On the contrary, the word is very close to you - in your mouth, even in your heart; therefore, you can do it! 15 "Look! I am presenting you today with, on the one hand, life and good; and on the other, death and evil - 16 in that I am ordering you today to love ADONAI your God, to follow his ways, and to obey his mitzvot, regulations and rulings; for if you do, you will live and increase your numbers; and ADONAI your God will bless you in the land you are entering in order to take possession of it.
17 But if your heart turns away, if you refuse to listen, if you are drawn away to prostrate yourselves before other gods and serve them; 18 I am announcing to you today that you will certainly perish; you will not live long in the land you are crossing the Yarden to enter and possess.
What "other gods" was YHWH referring to? Not just the various "gods" we see in the myriad "religions" (such as Islam's "Allah"; Hinduism's "Krishna"; the rituals of Japan's Shintoism; Satanism's "Satan", etc.), but also the idols in our lives, such as food, drugs and alcohol, money, possessions, etc. - all those things that draw attention to ourselves and take our eyes off YHWH and His will.
It's simply amazing to think of the number of "gods" being worshipped in just the USA alone! "The world" demands that we be "tolerant" - but what did YHWH say, over and over again? "I AM YOUR GOD; OBEY ME!" Yeah, sure you don't have to obey if you don't want to. On the other hand, if your choose to refuse, YHWH doesn't have to give you eternal life, either....
Moshe constantly preached obedience, obedience, obedience. Even though Moshe was probably more obedient to God than any of us could ever hope to be, notice that YHWH refused to allow him entrance into the Promised Land because he had been guilty of the sin of disobedience, himself. Case in point, YHWH had told him to SPEAK to the rock that brought water - but, because the people had angered Moshe, he hit the rock, instead (Numbers 20:8-11).
Today, thanks to the atoning death of Yeshua who died for our PAST sins, we are afforded the opportunity to enter the "Promised Land" of heaven - and all we have to do is to "believe"...which, of course, leads to hunger for knowledge and obedience to our Creator.
Hosea 14: 1 Return, Isra'el, to ADONAI your God, for your guilt has made you stumble. 2 Take words with you, and return to ADONAI; say to him, "Forgive all guilt, and accept what is good; we will pay instead of bulls [the offerings of] our lips. 3 Ashur will not save us, we will not ride on horses, and we will no longer call what we made with our hands our gods. For it is only in you that the fatherless can find mercy."
Who is Israel again? YOU ARE! Israel does not just consist of "the Jews," but ALL who believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! Our guilt has made us all stumble, but He accepts us with open arms if we are willing to repent and to turn our lives around.
This is reiterated in today's Haftarah portion:
Isaiah 61: 10 I am so joyful in ADONAI! My soul rejoices in my God, for he has clothed me in salvation, dressed me with a robe of triumph, like a bridegroom wearing a festive turban, like a bride adorned with her jewels. 11 For just as the earth brings forth its plants, or a garden makes its plants spring up, so ADONAI, God, will cause victory and glory to spring up before all nations.
Isaiah 62: 1 For Tziyon's sake I will not be silent, for Yerushalayim's sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out brightly and her salvation like a blazing torch. 2 The nations will see your vindication and all kings your glory. Then you will be called by a new name which ADONAI himself will pronounce. 3 You will be a glorious crown in the hand of ADONAI, a royal diadem held by your God.
4 You will no longer be spoken of as 'Azuvah [Abandoned] or your land be spoken of as 'Sh'mamah [Desolate]; rather, you will be called Heftzi-Vah [My-Delight-Is-In-Her] and your land Be'ulah [Married]. For ADONAI delights in you, and your land will be married 5 as a young man marries a young woman, your sons will marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over the bride, your God will rejoice over you. 6 I have posted watchmen on your walls, Yerushalayim; they will never fall silent, neither by day nor by night. You who call on ADONAI, give yourselves no rest; 7 and give him no rest till he restores Yerushalayim and makes it a praise on earth.
8 ADONAI has sworn by his right hand and by his mighty arm: "Never again will I give your grain to your enemies as food; nor will strangers drink your wine, for which you worked so hard; 9 but those who harvest the grain will eat it with praises to ADONAI; those who gathered the wine will drink it in the courtyards of my sanctuary." 10 Go on through, go on through the gates, clear the way for the people! Build up a highway, build it up! Clear away the stones! Raise a banner for the peoples! 11 ADONAI has proclaimed to the end of the earth, "Say to the daughter of Tziyon, 'Here, your Salvation is coming! Here, his reward is with him, and his recompense is before him.'" 12 They will call them The Holy People, The Redeemed of ADONAI. You will be called D'rushah [Sought-After], 'Ir Lo Ne'ezvah [City-No-Longer-Abandoned].
This is also reiterated in today's B'rit Chadashah portion:
B'rit Chadashah portion:
Romans 9: 30. What will we say then? That the Gentiles who ran not after righteousness, have found righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith: 31. But Israel who ran after the Torah of righteousness, has not found the Torah of righteousness. 32. And why? Because they went after it, not by faith, but by the works of Torah. For they stumbled at that stumbling-stone: 33. As it is written, Behold, I lay in Tsiyon a stumbling-stone and a stone of offense: and he who believes in him, will not be ashamed.
In other words, Paul is NOT saying that "all one has to do is to believe in Jesus!" He is saying that once one has accepted the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and begins to OBEY Him, everything changes! Many were guilty of simply doing by rote the Seventh Day Sabbath and the Feasts, etc. But their HEARTS weren't it! They were doing because that's what everyone else was doing...without actually KNOWING YHWH and doing these things out of love or the desire to have a real relationship with Him.
This can be likened to a teenager cleaning up his/her room because they were TOLD to. They do it to prevent punishment, not because they love their parents so much that they want to please them.
Footnote from the AENT: When the Israelites followed Moshe and were obedient to YHWH by faith, they won their battles, but when they rebelled they lost and suffered great casualties. In our day when Jews seek YHWH by faith, they find Mashiyach, but they stumble when they focus not on faith but "works of Torah" according to religious authorities and traditions. Mashiyach is the greatest "stumbling stone" to man's religions - but let's not pick on Jews only, because this applies equally to every other soul who regards their own religious traditions as more authoritative than YHWH and His Mashiyach.
Romans 10: 1. My Brothers, The desire of my heart, and my intercession with Elohim for them is that they might have life. 2. For I bear them witness that there is in them a zeal for Elohim; but it is not according to knowledge. 3. For they do not know the righteousness of Elohim, but seek to establish their own righteousness: and therefore they have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of Elohim. 4. For Mashiyach is the goal of Torah for righteousness to everyone that believes in him. 5. For Moshe describes the righteousness which is by Torah, this way: Whoever will do these things will live by them. 6. But the righteousness which is by faith, says thus: You will not say in your heart, Who ascends to heaven and brings Mashiyach down? 7. Or, Who descends to the abyss of Sheol and brings up Mashiyach from the house of the dead?
8. But what says it? The thing is near to your mouth and to your heart: that is, the Word of Faith which we declare. 9. And if you will confess with your mouth our Master Y'shua, and will believe with your heart that Elohim has raised him from the dead, you will live. 10. For the heart that believes in him is made righteous; and the mouth that confess him is restored to life. 11. For the Scripture says: Everyone that believes in him will not be ashamed. 12. And in this, it discriminates neither Jews nor Gentiles. For there is one, Master YHWH, over them all, who is abundantly generous towards every one that calls on him. 13. For everyone that will call on the name of Master YHWH, will have life. 14. How then will they call on him, in whom they have not believed?
Footnote from the AENT: MarYah, as opposed to the Greek kurios, can only refer to YHWH, giving Aramaic a huge interpretive advantage. It is a critical fact, as is pointed out here, that Rav Shaul specifically tells believers to call on the name of YHWH, which is certainly not at all represented by the name "Jesus." John 17:11 tells us that the name of Y'shua is of the name YHWH. Before Rav Shaul came to believe, Y'shua had already ascended to the Right Hand of YHWH (Revelation 19:13). Prayer was being offered unto YHWH in the name of Y'shua. Y'shua stated that his mission was to bring glory to His Father YHWH.
Y'shua's name (YHWH is salvation) is accomplishing the salvation of YHWH. It was also prophetic that the Gentiles would come to know the Name of YHWH, according to Jeremiah 16:19-21: "O YHWH, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto you from the ends of the earth and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit. Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods? Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is YHWH." And, of course, this is to be done according to the Perfect work of Mashiyach!
We pray that this lesson touched each of you, and made you aware of the importance of OBEDIENCE to our Creator, who only wants the best for us! Obedience to YHWH is NOT an option for those of us who are His! He provided endless and in-depth guidance for moral, holy living. That never changed just because Yeshua chose to become our Final SIN Sacrifice.
There is so much more that could be said about today's study, and we wholeheartedly urge you to read the cited scriptures through, if you haven't already done so. If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to write! Thank you for reading our Torah study notes for this week, and we pray for you a blessed week ahead, that may you ever grow in your knowledge of YHWH. And, as always, please let us know if you ever see anything in our studies that sounds "off the mark"! Nobody has the market cornered on absolute Truth; we are all learning and obeying to the best of our abilities....
The next Parashah reading will be:
Parashah 52: Vayelekh (He went); Deuteronomy 31:1-30.
Haftarah reading: Hosea 14:2-10; Micah 7:18-20; Joel 2:15-27.
B'rit Hadasha suggested reading: Hebrews 13:5-8.