Thoughts on Eikev

This is the 2nd Shabbat of Consolation between Tisha b’Av and Rosh Hashanah. On Tisha b’Av we read the plaintive cry, “Why (Hashem) do You always forget us and forsake us for so long?” (Lamentations 5.20). 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)

Even though discipline and judgment will most certainly come, Israel will never be left alone or abandoned, she is and always will be the chosen, am segula of ADONAI.

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, were and are supposed to not only separate ourselves from the repugnant things of the world, but to “utterly detest and utterly abhor” them. These are anything that draws us away from Hashem, anything that has the power to ensnare us, separating us from Hashem. Possibly this is what the psalmist when he wrote that if we trust in Hashem, our fortress and refuge, “…He will rescue you from the hunter’s trap (snare) and from the deadly pestilence.” (Psalm 91.3)

Thinking of that which has the power to ensnare and separate us from Hashem, 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 answers 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). However, neither Shaul nor Yeshua said, however, that we can not willingly walk away by choosing to 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 keywords in this passage. The first is “abide,” meaning that a person dwells with/in the Living Word, Yeshua. The second, 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. Yeshua will not share his dwelling place with anything that is an abomination or is detestable.

Israel was told what it would take to remain in proper relation to Hashem,

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)

Yeshua echoes the same sentiment when he told his talmidim,

He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me. He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him. (John 14:21)

As Yeshua urged his talmidim to abide in him (John 8:15 above) so Rav Shaul encouraged the Yeshua believers in Colossae to continue abiding in Messiah.

Once you were alienated from God and hostile in your attitude by wicked deeds (abominable or detestable things). 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)

Here again, as in John, is that keyword, “if.” Hashem, 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. However, He requires that we continue in Him and “to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27)

Shabbat Shalom

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