Thought for the week

'PARSHA NITZAVIM- VAYEILECH

WATCHMEN AND FREE CHOICE

Deuteronomy 30:3-6: “The LORD your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the LORD your God has scattered you. If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. Then the LORD your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”

This week’s ‘parsha’ is a double ‘parsha’, ‘Parsha Nitzavim – Vayeilech’.

The first ‘parsha’ (‘Torah’ portion) this week, Nitzavim’ (‘standing upright’), is found in Deuteronomy 29:9 – 30:20; the corresponding ‘haftorah’ (reading of the prophets) is found in Isaiah 61:10 – 63:9.

The second ‘parsha’ this week, Vayeilech’ (‘then he went out’), is found in Deuteronomy 31:1 – 31:30; the corresponding ‘haftorah’ is found in Hosea 14:2-10 and Micah 7:18-20.

‘PARSHA NITZAVIM’

‘Parsha Nitzavim’ is the 51st weekly ‘Torah’ portion in the annual Jewish cycle of ‘Torah’ reading, and the eighth in the book of Deuteronomy.
‘Parsha Nitzavim’ always falls on the ‘Shabbat’ immediately before ‘Rosh Hashanah’, the Jewish New Year.

‘Parsha Nitzavim’ - as does the whole of the book of Deuteronomy – consists of Moses' parting words to the Children of Israel on the eve of their entry into the Promised Land and it opens with the words in Deuteronomy 29:9: “Therefore keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.”

Moses told the children of Israel that they all ‘stood upright’ before G-d. They stood before G-d so that they would enter into the covenant of their G-d. They would also enter into His oath which G-d was making with them on that day in order that G-d would establish them for a people to Himself and that He would be G-d to them just as He had spoken to Israel and just as He had sworn to their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
G-d then said to them that the covenant and the oath that He was making with them was not only with them, but with all the Jewish people – past, present and future.

Moses then warned of the consequences of Israel's failure to remain faithful to their covenant with G-d including the devastation of the land and the people's banishment from the land into ‘galut’ (exile).

However, together with the dire warning came the promise that when all these things would come upon Israel and they would take them to heart among all the nations to which G-d would scatter them and return to G-d and obey His voice according to all that He commanded them that day, G-d would bring them back to Israel from their captivity and have compassion on them.
G-d promised to gather the Jewish people from all the nations amongst whom He had scattered them and bring the Jewish outcasts back to Israel from “the farthest parts under heaven”.
G-d then spoke of a future redemption when He would circumcise the hearts of the Jewish people to “love the LORD their God with all their heart, and with all their soul” so that they may live.

Two more fundamental principles of Judaism are stated in ‘Parsha Nitzavim’: The practicality and accessibility of the ‘Torah’ and the principle of free choice.

G-D told Israel that the commandments which He commanded them to do that day was not hidden from them and it was not far off. Rather it was very near to them; “in their mouths and in their hearts, that you should do it.”
Regarding the principle of free choice, G-d told Israel that He had set before them life and good, death and evil. G-d went on to say in Deuteronomy 30:19-20: “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

‘Haftorah Nitzavim’ is found in Isaiah 61:10 – 63:9 and is the final instalment of a series of seven ‘haftarot of Consolation’. These seven ‘haftarot’ commence on the ‘Shabbat’ following ‘Tisha b'Av’ and continue until ‘Rosh Hashanah’ (the Jewish New Year).

The prophet Isaiah begins by describing the great joy that Jewish people will experience with the Final Redemption, comparing it to the joy of a newly married couple.
Isaiah then declares his refusal to passively wait for the Redemption - Isaiah 62:1: “For Zion's sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns.”
He implores those “who make mention of the LORD” not to be silent and to give the L-rd no rest, until the L-rd restores Jerusalem and establishes her in glory.

The ‘haftorah’ then recounts G-d's oath to eventually redeem Zion, when the Jews will praise G-d in Jerusalem; speaking of the future redemption of the Jewish people when, as a nation, they will understand that Yeshua is the ‘Mashiach’ that they are waiting for and they will accept Him as their Messiah and their Saviour.

The ‘haftorah’ also contains a description of the punishment that G-d will mete out to Edom and the enemies of Israel.

‘Haftorah Nitzavim’ concludes with the prophet Isaiah prophesying the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua: “For He said, “Surely they are My people, children who will not lie.” So He became their Saviour. In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His Presence saved them; In His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bore them and carried them all the days of old.” (Isaiah 63:8-9)

‘Parsha Nitzavim’ is a prophetic ‘parsha’ prophesying the regathering of the Jewish exiles back to their Jewish homeland, Israel; the establishing of Jerusalem as a “praise in the earth” and the redemption of the Jewish people.

What a glorious ‘parsha’ and ‘haftorah’ we read this week.
Why are they glorious? Because they prophesy the times that you and I are living in right now; and they prophesy the redemption of the Jewish people through the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua…and this has already begun.

As you read this, the “outcasts of Israel” – the Jewish people – are being regathered to Israel from their ‘galut’ (exile). In fact, as you read this, Jews are landing in Israel making ‘aliyah’ (immigrating) to Israel.

Also, as you read this, somewhere in the world redemption is coming to another Jewish soul as one more Jew comes to salvation. And over the past year, huge numbers of Jewish people have come to faith in Yeshua.
In fact, I am a fulfillment of ‘Parsha Nitzavim’ as, by the grace of G-d, redemption came to me when G-d lifted the veil off my heart and mind to Yeshua.

However, this week’s ‘parsha’ and ‘haftorah’ places a responsibility on those “who make mention of the LORD”…both Jews and Gentiles.

Are you a watchman for Jerusalem? Isaiah 62:6 declares: “I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem”.

Are you praying constantly for Jerusalem to be a praise in the earth? Isaiah 62:6-7: “They shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.”

Are you, as the gentile church, provoking the Jewish people to jealousy thus fulfilling your G-d given mandate? Romans 11:11: “I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.”

Is your heart’s desire the redemption of the Jewish people? Romans 10:1: “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.”

This is truly the desire of my heart; that redemption comes to my people of the flesh, Israel – the Jewish people, as well as to all people. This is my life’s work.

‘PARSHA VAYEILECH’

‘Parsha Vayeilech’ is the 52nd weekly ‘Torah’ portion in the annual Jewish cycle of ‘Torah’ reading, and the ninth in the book of Deuteronomy.
With just 30 verses, it is the shortest of the ‘parshiot’.

‘Parsha Vayeilech’, as well as in the next two ‘parshiot’ of ‘Ha’azinu’ and ‘VeZot HaBrachah’ describe the events and words spoken on the last day of Moses' life. Moses told Israel that he was a hundred and twenty years old, and that G-d had told him that, because of his disobedience to G-d when he struck the rock instead of speaking to the rock, he would not cross the Jordan to enter the Promised Land.

Moses then entrusted the leadership of Israel to Joshua and put the ‘Torah’ into writing. He commanded Israel to observe the ‘mitzvah’ (commandment) of ‘Hak'hel’ (gathering) - Every seven years, on the festival of ‘Sukkoth’, the king was to read to Israel from the ‘Torah’ so that they would hear, learn, fear G-d and “observe to do all the words of this Torah.


Moses again warned the people of abandoning G-d and the ‘Torah’. He then told Israel that G-d Himself predicted that they would abandon Him and the ‘Torah’; however, Israel would eventually return to their G-d.

‘Haftorah Vayeilech’ is found in Hosea 14:2-9 and Micah 7:18-20.
The Shabbat between ‘Rosh Hashanah’ and ‘Yom Kippur’ is known as ‘Shabbat Shuva’ (‘Sabbath’ of Return or Repentance). The name is a reference to the opening words of the week's haftorah: “‘Shuva Yisrael’“Return O Israel to the LORD your God” (Hosea 14:1)
This ‘haftorah’ is read in honour of the ‘Ten Days of Repentance’, the days between ‘Rosh Hashanah’ and ‘Yom Kippur’.

The prophet Hosea exhorted the Jewish people to return to the L-rd their G-d, encouraging them to repent sincerely and ask for G-d’s forgiveness. He then urges the Jews to put their trust in G-d; not in Assyria’s powerful horses or idols.
The prophet then goes on to foretell the return of the exiles and the cessation of idol-worship amongst the people.

‘Haftorah Vayeilech’ concludes with a brief portion from the Book of Micah, which describes G-d’s kindness in forgiving the sins of His people. “He does not maintain His anger forever, for He is a lover of kindness. He will have mercy on us; He will grasp our iniquities and cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”
Micah then concludes with an enjoinder to G-d to remember the pacts He made with the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

There are three lessons to be learnt from ‘Parsha Vayeilech’.

The first lesson is found in the words spoken by Moses to the children of Israel: Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

These are almost the same words that G-d twice spoke to Joshua as he prepared to lead Israel into the Promised Land – Joshua 1:5-7: “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous…” and Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

What an encouragement to Israel… that “no man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life - I will not leave you nor forsake you”…And this is so - to this day.
To this day G-d has never left nor forsaken the Jewish people. To this day, try as they may, the surrounding Arab nations have not ‘been able to stand before Israel’.

And this is so for you and for me.
All G-d asks of us is to “be strong and courageous”, putting our faith in Him and trusting Him in every area of our lives, because “He will never leave or forsake us”.

The second lesson is found in Hosea 14:5-8: “I will be like the dew to Israel; He shall grow like the lily, and lengthen his roots like Lebanon. His branches shall spread; His beauty shall be like an olive tree, and his fragrance like Lebanon. Those who dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall be revived like grain, and grow like a vine. Their scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon. “Ephraim shall say, ‘What have I to do anymore with idols?’” I have heard and observed him. I am like a green cypress tree; your fruit is found in Me.”

G-d promises that He “will be like the dew to Israel”. He promises that the Jewish people “shall grow like the lily, and lengthen his roots like Lebanon”.
I believe that this refers to the day when Jewish people come to the knowledge of Yeshua as their L-rd and Saviour. On that day, they will proclaim: “What have I to do anymore with idols?”
For on That Day, the Day of the glorious return of the ‘Mashiach’, Yeshua, when He stands with His feet on the Mount of Olives and sets up His Kingdom in Jerusalem, Jewish people living at that time will, as a nation, receive Yeshua as L-rd and Saviour, fulfilling this prophecy.

The third lesson is found in Micah 7:18-19: “He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”
This speaks of the Redeemer of mankind, Yeshua, who, through His death and resurrection, “subdued our iniquities and cast all mankind’s sins into the depths of the sea.”

Romans 10:8-13 declares: “But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth Yeshua and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.””

This scripture echoes the scripture in the ‘Tenach’ which declares in Joel 2:32: “And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.”

What are you facing that you fear? Are you afraid of the future? Are you afraid of death? ‘Parsha Vayeilech’ tells us not to fear but to be “strong and courageous”.

“Easier said than done” you might say.
Not if you call upon the name of the L-rd. Through Yeshua, you can be strong and courageous; you need not be afraid about the future; and you certainly do not have to be afraid of death…Because believing in Yeshua and accepting His gift of salvation grants us the forgiveness of our sins and everlasting life in heaven.

G-d says that He will forgive our sins and “cast them into the depths of the sea”. He offers us stability in an uncertain future, telling us to be “strong and courageous” and that He will “never leave us nor forsake us”.

However, true strength and courage; true forgiveness of sin and everlasting life in heaven can only come through Yeshua.

To my Jewish brethren, this is the time of the ‘Yamim Nora’im’ (Days of Awe), the time of ‘Asseret Yemei Teshuva’ (Ten Days of Repentance). No amount of prayer, petitioning or penance and no amount of fasting or spending the day in synagogue will grant Jewish people (or any people) forgiveness of sin and everlasting life in heaven. Only through Yeshua is this possible.

Will you, at this solemn time in the Jewish calendar, ponder on what you have just read? Will you, with an open heart and mind, ask ‘HaShem’ if what you have just read is truth.

I make two calls:
Firstly, to the church – Please share the gospel with Jewish people as well as with all people. Not doing this is total disobedience to the ‘Great Commission’ as well as to the mandate given to the gentile church to ‘provoke the Jewish people to salvation’.

This is the time that Moses spoke of in ‘Parsha Nitzavim’ when He told Israel that the time would come when G-d would circumcise the hearts of the Jewish people and they would turn to Him.
There are more saved Jews today then all the Jews saved from the early church until now; you see, this is “THAT TIME”
All G-d asks of you is to plant seeds into the hearts and minds of the unsaved – both Jews and gentiles – of the gospel, the good news of salvation.
Forgive me for saying this, however I say this unashamedly: Keeping the gospel to yourself is utterly selfish, shows total indifference to the lost, and is disobedience to Yeshua.

Secondly, to the unsaved – Are you living a life in harmony with G-d? Are you at peace with Him? Do you have a personal, intimate relationship with Yeshua? If you died today, are you sure of your eternal future?
In fact, on what basis should G-d let you into heaven?

‘Parsha Nitzavim’ makes reference to the principle of free choice. And you have a choice: Do you want to spend eternity with G-d in heaven or apart from G-d in Hades…and this applies to both Jews and Gentiles.

All you need do is believe in the death and resurrection of Yeshua; confess your sins and repent of them; receive His forgiveness and invite Yeshua to be your L-rd and Saviour.
To do this, pray the prayer of salvation found at the end of this article.

Finally, we are living in amazing times; the time of the fulfilment of prophecy. In these times, we need to focus on the grace that comes through Yeshua and the cross.
We also need to take time to earnestly pray for Israel and to publicly and unashamedly stand with her.

We love you.

Shalom.

Scriptures of the week: Isaiah 62 and Joshua 1:9

SALVATION PRAYER

Thank you Yeshua for Your love for me.
Thank you for giving up Your life on the cross for me and for taking my sins upon Yourself.
I confess that I have sinned.
I repent of my sins and I turn from everything I know to be wrong.
I invite You to come into my life as my Messiah, my Saviour.
By Your grace I will serve You all the remaining years of my life.


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PRAYER OF SALVATION

Perhaps you have never drawn close to Yeshua. Maybe you have never committed your life to Him?
Why not take this opportunity to pray the following prayer of salvation?


Thank you Yeshua for Your love for me.
Thank you for giving up Your life on the cross for me and for taking my sins upon Yourself.
I confess that I have sinned.
I repent of my sins and
I turn from everything I know to be wrong.
I invite You to come into my heart and live in me.
By Your grace I will serve You
all the remaining years of my life.

Amen

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