Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Parasha Re'eh - Devarim 11:26-16:17

Re'eh - see, behold, pay attention

The word re'eh is usually translated into English as "see". However, just like the word shema means more than just "hear", re'eh means more than just "see". Hebrew does not always translate well into English, not through the fault of the language, but through the diffence in mindset. Hebrew is understood with a Near-eastern cultural mindset that is different from our Western mindset. English often uses multiple words to convey a thought that Hebrew will convey with a single word. Shema is a good example. It is most often translated as "hear", but to a Hebrew mind, it means hear and obey. It is a stronger action verb than its common English counterpart. Re'eh is another good example. The Hebrew connotation is see (pay attention) and understand. In this week's Torah portion, it refers to spiritual vision. It is not enough to get the words that Moshe is speaking. He wants all of Israel to have a spiritual understanding of the meaning of the words.

This Torah portion begins like so many in Devarim, with Moshe talking about the blessings and the curses. Considering the blessings and curses are mentioned in almost every parasha in the book of Devarim, do you think they might be important? The common theme of the entire book is a simple promise: Obey and get the blessings of YHVH, disobey and get the curses of Egypt. It's your choice. That sums up the entire book. Since Devarim is a summary of Torah, that sums up one of the central messages of Torah as well. Notice that there is no mention of salvation in the summary. When one of my christian friends or relatives tell me that I can't be "saved by the Law", I tell them they are right! The Law (itself a terrible translation of the word Torah) is not about salvation. It is about obedience for the sake of the blessings of YHVH. You can receive salvation without getting the blessings and conversely, you can get the blessings with receiving salvation. Salvation is only through Yeshua Ha'mashiach (Jesus the Messiah for you Westerners). The blessings come from obedience to YHVH's written word, the Torah. Therefore, to receive salvation and the full blessing requires faith in Yeshua AND obedience to Torah. They are not interchangeable, nor are they contradictory. For too many years, Christianity has tried to say that "Jesus" did away with the law and we don't have to follow it anymore, as if Yeshua's presence can somehow replace Torah. That's the implication that they are interchangeable. Pull out the old part and insert the new improved one. On the other hand, Judaism has claimed that belief in Yeshua means abandoning Torah altogether. This implies they are contradictory. These arguments are two ends of the same lie. Torah obedience and faith in Yeshua are both necessary to receive the fullness of YHVH's blessing and salvation and to fully realize His plan for His redeemed people, Israel.

Moshe tells the people to put the blessing on Mt. G'rizim and the curse on Mt. 'Eival. He reminds the people that the mountains are across the Yarden (Jordan River), so they will have to cross the river to make the choice. If they are unwilling to enter the land, the decision is no longer theirs to make! The mountains are a visible reminder of the choice we must constantly make. It is also necessary for the people to walk on the mountains because of the statement in the last Torah portion, "Wherever the sole of your foot steps will be yours". Devarim 11:24 As soon as the people walked on those mountains to proclaim the blessings and curses, they became property of Israel.

YHVH commands the people to destroy eveything the dispossessed nations used to worship their gods. He tells them to destroy them on the high mountains, on hills and under some leafy tree. He is reminding them that the people in the land had many gods that they worshipped in many places. Unlike the people of Israel, the dispossessed nations had no understanding of the One True Elohim, YHVH. The people were told to tear down the altars, smash the pillars, burn poles, destroy carved images and idols, and exterminate their name from that place. YHVH's name is to be in one place; the place He will choose. The people are not to even try to learn how they worshipped their gods. As I said before, there is a spiritual aspect to all they are being told. We must destroy all the idols and false worship in our own lives. If we make something so important in our life that it is preventing us from worshipping YHVH, it is an idol that must be destroyed. If we have been worshipping falsely and we learn better, we must remove the false worship. As we learn more, we must remove those things we know were learned in error. For example, Christmas, Easter, "tattoos for Jesus". Even if these things were done in the past with a heart for Him, as soon as we know it is wrong, we MUST remove it from our lives.

I could go on with more teaching from this Torah portion, but I'm already late posting it so I'll stop here. I think I covered the most important aspects of the teaching. If you have any questions about what Moshe is teaching in this portion, just remind yourself of the main point. You have a choice, obey and receive YHVH's blessings or disobey and receive the curses. There is no middle ground.

May YHVH bless you and keep you! Shalom.

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