Thoughts on Ki Tavo

canstockphoto0885276In Parasha Ki Tavo, “When you come…”, Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8,[i] Moshe continues to encourage the children of Israel to observe the mitzvot ADONAI has placed before them as they prepare to enter into the land promised as an inheritance to their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

This day ADONAI your God is commanding you to do these statutes and ordinances—so you are to take care and do them with all your heart and with all your soul. Today you have affirmed ADONAI as your God, that you will walk in His ways, keep His statutes, mitzvot and ordinances, and listen to His voice. Now today ADONAI has affirmed you as His treasured people, (עַ֣ם סְגֻלָּ֔ה) as He promised you; that you are to keep all His mitzvot; that He will set you high above all the nations He has made, for praise, fame and honor; and that you are to be a holy people (עַם־קָד֛שׁ) to ADONAI your God, as He has promised.” (Deuteronomy 26:16-19)

Last week, if you remember, I mentioned that at times a healthy fear of the LORD can or should serve as motivation for obedience. This week, the parasha reinforces this motivation as more than fifty verses describe the curses and consequences that will come upon Israel for not keeping the mitzvot ofADONAI, while there are less than fifteen verses that describe the blessing that come from keeping the mitzvot. However, the choice to be blessed or to be cursed remained one of Israel’s own choosing, as it does with us today. In next week’s parasha, we will read Moshe’s exhortation,

See, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil. What I am commanding you today is to love ADONAI your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His mitzvot, statutes and ordinances. (Deuteronomy 30:15-16)

But we know that Israel did not heed the warning and as a result, has had a roller coaster ride of blessings and curses throughout her over four-thousand-year history. In this week’s Haftarah, Isaiah 60:1-22, the 6th Haftarah of Consolation between Tisha b’Av and Rosh Hashanah, we see HaShem expressing His love and concern for Israel with many of the promises in this haftarah overturning or undoing many of the curses mentioned in this week’s parasha. Aside from the connection to the parasha, the Haftarah connects further to the current month of Elul. Twice a day in synagogue we read Psalm 27, לדוד, ה׳ אורי וישעי, “By David, The LORD is my light and my salvation…”. This week’s Haftarah begins

Arise, shine, for your (Israel) light has come! The glory of ADONAI has risen on you. (Isaiah 60.1)

However, the light of ADONAI is not just for Israel. Its purpose was not only to comfort and restore Israel, but to cause Israel to become the “light of the world” so as to overcome the darkness in the world.

For behold, darkness covers the earth, and deep darkness the peoples. But ADONAI will arise upon you, and His glory will appear over you. Nations will come to your light, kings to the brilliance of your rising. (Isaiah 60:3)

In Besorat John, Yeshua made the proclamation, “I am the light of the world. The one who follows Me will no longer walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) As the representative of Israel, the chosen one of the Father, He is the one who has the power and authority to bring those in darkness to the light. Rabbi Mark Kinzer, states that “N. T. Wright has argued that this view of Yeshua as the representative and individual embodiment of Israel is central to the New Testament’s theological vision.”[ii]

Sadly, regardless of Yeshua’s position as one-man Israel, much of corporal Israel rejected Yeshua’s claims and according to some church tradition forfeited their right and position as the favored, chosen ones of HaShem. Concerning this presumed rejection of the Jewish people, Rav Shual proclaims to the believers in Rome and to all throughout the subsequent centuries,

I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He knew beforehand. (Romans 11:1-2) … I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! … (Romans 11:11).

Affirming this non-rejection status, the prophet Jeremiah speaks this from the LORD,

“Thus says ADONAI: ‘If I have not made My covenant of day and night firm, and the fixed patterns ordering the heavens and earth, only then would I reject the offspring of Jacob, and of My servant David so that I would not take from his offspring rulers over the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will restore them from their exile and have compassion on them.’” (Jeremiah 33:25-26)

In other words, Israel, the Jewish people, remain the people of God; they remain His treasured and holy people (Deuteronomy 26:18-19), waiting for the light of Messiah to fully shine upon them so that in turn, Messiah’s light might be shone throughout all humankind. As we are preparing to enter into the High Holidays, specifically Rosh Hashanah, may this year see the coronation of the true son of David and King of Israel, Yeshua our Messiah.

Shabbat Shalom

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

[ii] Rabbi Mark S. Kinzer, Postmissionary Messianic Judaism: Redefining Christian Engagement with the Jewish People, Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2005, p 220.

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