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Thoughts on Parashat Eikev

This is the 2nd Shabbat of Consolation between Tisha b’Av and Rosh Hashanah. Whereas Jeremiah asked Hashem, “Why do You always forget us and forsake us for so long?” (Eicha / Lamentations 5.20),[i] in this week’s Haftarah, Isaiah 49:14 – 51:3, we hear Hashem’s promise through the prophet Isaiah

For ADONAI will comfort Zion. He will comfort all her waste places. He will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of Adonai. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and a sound of melody. (Isaiah 51.3)

While discipline and judgement of sin and iniquity will surly come, Israel will not be left alone or abandoned, she is and always will be the chosen, am segula of ADONAI.

Continuing in the same vein as last week’s parasha, in this week’s parasha, Eikev, Deuteronomy 7:12 – 11:25, Israel is once again warned about the idols and other abominable items of those whom they would conqueror,

The carved images of their gods you are to burn with fire. You are not to covet the silver or gold on them or take it for yourself—or you could be snared by it, for it is an abomination to ADONAI your God. You are not to bring an abomination into your house—for you, like it, will be a banned thing. You must utterly detest and utterly abhor it, for it is set apart for destruction. (Deuteronomy 7.25-26)

Israel, as well as all of us today, are supposed to not only separate ourselves from the repugnant things of the world, but we are to “utterly detest and utterly abhor” them. Anything that comes between us and the LORD, anything that draws us away from Hashem, are has the power to ensnare us. Possibly this is what the Psalmist had in mind when he wrote he will rescue us, if we trust in God, our fortress and refuge, “For He will rescue you from the hunter’s trap (snare) and from the deadly pestilence.” (Psalm 91.3)

Rav Shaul rhetorically asked, “Who shall separate us from the love of Messiah? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” (Romans 8.35). He then answered his own question

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Messiah Yeshua our Lord. (Romans 8.38-39)

According to Rav Shaul, nothing external has the power to separate us from the love of the LORD. Yeshua, likewise taught concerning His followers, “I give them eternal life! They will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand” (John 10.28). Neither Shaul nor Yeshua said, however, that we can willing walk away or through our choice follow the ways of the world. Yeshua stated, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly My disciples” (John 8.31). There are two key words in this passage. The first is “abide,” meaning that a person dwells with the Living Word, Yeshua. The qualifying word is “if,” signifying the conditional aspect of abiding. This is not conditional on Yeshua, but conditional upon the individual dwelling or abiding in Him.

Hashem told Israel to choose life not death (Deuteronomy 30.15 & 19). In the Apostolic Writings, believers in Yeshua are assured that no one can snatch us out of Yeshua’s strong, loving hands. However, just as Israel had to remain in relation to Hashem so do Yeshua believers,

So now, O Israel, what does ADONAI your God require of you, but to fear Adonai your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve ADONAI your God with all your heart and with all your soul, to keep the mitzvot of ADONAI and His statutes that I am commanding you today, for your own good? (Deuteronomy 10.12-13)

Rashi’s comments on the words, “And now, O Israel,” expound the relationship between ADONAI and Israel and us. “Even though you did all this, (the sin of the golden calf as well as the stubbornness and grumbling in the Wilderness) His mercy and His affection are still upon you, and with all that you have sinned against Him, He demands nothing of you, except only to fear [the Lord, your God,…].”[ii] Rav Shual confirms this reality when he wrote to the believers at Colossae,

Once you were alienated from God and hostile in your attitude by wicked deeds. But now He has reconciled you in Messiah’s physical body through death, in order to present you holy, spotless and blameless in His eyes —  if indeed you continue in the faith, established and firm, not budging from the hope of the Good News that you have heard. (Colossians 1.21-23)

The LORD, the Creator of the Universe, desires to be in relationship with His creation, with His chosen people, with those who have entered into covenant with His though His Son and Messiah, Yeshua. He is committed to remaining in fellowship with us. He requires that we continue in Him as well.

Shabbat Shalom

[i] Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.

[ii] http://www.chabad.org/parshah/torahreading.asp?tdate=8/12/2017&p=5#showrashi=true

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Michael Hillel
Michael Hillel with his wife Vered and their three children, made aliyah from the US in late 80s, and in biblical fashion has, for the last 27 years, done whatever his hands have found to do. In 2013 Michael began working on a MA degree in Messianic Jewish Theology. Using the tools learned from his studies, he has been writing teaching and devotional materials from both the Tanakh and Apostolic Writings. Since Messianic Judaism shares a communal context with both Judaism and Christianity, he incorporates material from both traditionally Jewish and Christian perspectives.

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