Deuteronomy 6:4-5: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”
The ‘parsha’ (‘Torah’ portion) this week is ‘Parsha Va’etchanan’ (and I pleaded), found in Deuteronomy 3:23 – 7:11; the corresponding ‘haftorah’ (reading of the prophets) is found in Isaiah 40:1-26.
‘Parsha Va'etchanan’ is the 45th weekly ‘Torah’ portion in the annual Jewish cycle of ‘Torah’ reading, and the second in the book of Deuteronomy. It is always read on ‘Shabbat Nachamu’, the ‘Shabbat’ immediately after ‘Tisha B’Av’.
‘Parsha Va’etchanan’ also contains the foundational statement of faith of the Jewish people: “Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad” – “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”
‘Parsha Va'etchanan’ continues Moses' repetition of the ‘Torah’ which began in last week's ‘parsha’.
In the closing weeks of his life, Moses speaks to the new generation of Israelites who were about to enter the Promised Land and implement their mandate to serve as G-d’s chosen “nation of priests” and “holy people”; a mandate which they received at Sinai forty years earlier.
Moses tells the people of Israel how he pleaded with G-d to allow him to enter the land of Israel but G-d refused, instructing him instead to ascend a mountain to see the Promised Land.
Moses recalls the great events that forged the people of Israel - the Exodus from Egypt and the giving of the ‘Torah’ at Mount Sinai - which this generation experienced as children and youths, or which they heard about from their parents. He repeats the laws and teachings which he taught them during the past forty years, and reiterates the fundamental principles of the ‘Torah’.
Moses warns them against abandoning the ‘Torah’ amidst the abundance and plenty they will enjoy in the Land.
‘Parsha Va'etchanan’ includes some of the basic texts of Judaism including the Ten Commandments (as repeated by Moses), the ‘Shema’ (which proclaims the oneness of G-d), the duty to love G-d and to study His ‘Torah’, and for Jewish fathers, to teach His ‘Torah’ to our children.
It also includes the ‘mitzvot’ of ‘tefillin’ (phylacteries) and ‘mezuzah’ - Deuteronomy 6:8-9: “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
‘Parsha Va’etchanan’ also includes Moses' prediction of the exile of the Jewish people and their eventual redemption: Deuteronomy 4:27-31: “And the LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD will drive you. And there you will serve gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to the LORD your God and obey His voice (for the LORD your God is a merciful God), He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them.”
Moses proclaims that the Revelation at Sinai was an event unique in human history. He goes on to proclaim this wonderful statement found in Deuteronomy 4:35: “To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD Himself is God; there is none other besides Him”, showing that G-d revealed Himself and His law to the Jews first.
Moses then goes on to say in Deuteronomy 4:39: “Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the LORD Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.”
Moses then describes the establishment of three “cities of refuge” on the eastern side of the Jordan and he repeats the Ten Commandments. This is found in Deuteronomy 5:6-21.
Moses then goes on to quote the foundational statement of faith of the Jewish people - The ‘Shema’, found in Deuteronomy 6:4: “Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad” – “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”
He goes on to say in Deuteronomy 6:5: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”
He ends with these words, found in Deuteronomy 6:8-9: “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
This serves as a reminder to Jewish people throughout the ages and all over the world of the love and faithfulness of the awesome G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and his ‘Torah’, His teaching.
‘Parsha Va'etchanan’ concludes with Moses telling the people that they would be entering ‘a land of plenty’ where they would receive houses full of good things which they did not fill; places for storing water which they did not make; vine-gardens and olive-trees which they did not plant and that they would be filled with food.
He warns Israel to take care that they keep their hearts true to the L-rd who took them out of the land of Egypt, out of bondage.
He tells them to fear the L-rd their G-d and not to go after other gods, the gods of the peoples round about them. Moses also tells them not to put G-d to the test, and to keep with care the orders, rules and law of the L-rd; to do what is upright and good in His eyes so that it may be well for them and that they would go in and take their heritage – the land which the L-rd undertook by an oath to give to their fathers.
Moses tells the children of Israel that they are a holy people to the L-rd and that G-d chose them as a special people to Himself. Moses tells them that G-d did not set His love upon them or choose them because they were more in number than any people; rather He chose them because they were the fewest of all peoples and because He kept the oath which He had sworn to their fathers.
Moses goes on to tell that that they must “Know therefore that the LORD your GOD, He is GOD, the faithful GOD, who keeps covenant and truth with those who love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations.”
Moses ends ‘Parsha Va'etchanan’ with the following words: “You shall keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the laws, which I command you today to do them.”
‘Haftorah Va’etchanan’ found in Isaiah 40:1-26 is the first of a series of seven ‘Haftarot of Consolation’. These seven ‘haftarot’ commence on the ‘Shabbat’ following ‘Tisha b'Av’ and continue until ‘Rosh Hashanah’.
This section of Isaiah begins with G-d’s exhortation to “Comfort, yes, comfort My people (Israel). Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned;” - Isaiah 40:1-2.
Isaiah's prophecy describes some of the miraculous events that will unfold with the onset of the Messianic era, such as the return of the Jewish exiles to Jerusalem, the revelation of G d’s glory to the Jewish people, and the rewards and retribution that will then be meted out to the nations who have gone against G-d’s chosen people.
The prophet then goes on to comfort the people, describing G-d’s power and might, and reassuring them of His care for His chosen people.
What are the lessons that can be taken out of this amazing ‘Parsha’? For me, there are three primary lessons that are revealed in ‘Parsha Va'etchanan’.
Firstly: “Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad - Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”
We can only serve one G-d. In Matthew 6:24, Yeshua tell us that “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (riches).”
How true this is. Either you are sold out to G-d and His will for your life - which means sacrifice, or you are sold out to your own will – which usually includes the pursuit of riches.
There is nothing wrong with being wealthy and having possessions. However if money, or any other idol controls you, the chances are you will not fully commit your ways to G-d.
As Moses said to the children of Israel, “I say to you: ‘Don’t go after other gods, the gods of the peoples round about you.’ ”
Secondly: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”
Yeshua expands on this in Matthew 22:37-39 showing us that the best way to love the G-d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength is found in His following statement: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ ”
It’s easy to love those who love you or who are good and kind to you. However, G-d expects you to love the pesky neighbour across the road; the man who fills your car with petrol; the lady who cleans your house; the beggar on the street corner. By loving the unlovable, you are loving G-d.
In fact in Matthew 22:40, Yeshua makes a sweeping statement: “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
In other words, loving the L-rd your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind and loving your neighbour (your fellow man) as yourself incorporates the entire ‘Torah’ as well as the prophets. Why? Because if you love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart, soul and mind, you will do whatever it takes to live your life pleasing to Him. In fact, you cannot be a racist and think that you love G-d; you are just fooling yourself.
I now want to address all anti-Semites and Replacement Theologians. If you do not love the Jewish people who are the flesh and blood brothers and sister of the Jewish Messiah and Saviour of the world, Jesus, and you think that you love G-d (or Jesus for that matter), you are just fooling yourself.
If you stand with the enemies of Israel against Israel and you think that you love G-d, you are just fooling yourself. Israel is G-d’s land, and in His sovereignty, He gave the land to the Jewish people – Psalm 105:8-11: “He remembers His covenant forever, The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations, The covenant which He made with Abraham, And His oath to Isaac, And confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, To Israel as an everlasting covenant, Saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan As the allotment of your inheritance””.
If you stand with the Arabs living in the West bank and Gaza over the Jewish citizens of Israel, and if you are advocating for East Jerusalem to be given to the Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza as the capital of a Palestinian state and you think you love G-d, you are just fooling yourself…and you don’t know your Bible – Joel 3:1-2: “For behold, in those days and at that time, When I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; And I will enter into judgment with them there On account of My people, My heritage Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations; They have also divided up My land.”
Do you really think that Almighty G-d is going to go against His word and allow Jerusalem to be divided when it’s only to an undivided Jerusalem under Jewish control that Jesus will return?
Thirdly: “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
As I wrote earlier in this ‘Thought for the week’, this serves as a reminder to Jewish people throughout the ages and all over the world of the love and faithfulness of the awesome G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
G-d is faithful – to His covenants; to His word; to His prophecy; to the Jewish people; to Israel; to the church; to you and to me.
How faithful are you to Him?
Do you love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart, soul and mind? Do you love your neighbour as yourself? In fact, true love for G-d is wanting to know Him more; it’s having a personal, intimate relationship with Him.
He loves you and He is faithful to you; make sure that you love Him and that you are faithful to Him.
How much do you love G-d? Do you love G-d’s Son, Yeshua? Do you love G-d’s chosen people – the Jewish people? Do you love G-d’s Chosen Land, Israel?
Or are you indifferent – to Him, to His Son, to the Jewish people and to Israel?
G-d gave His all for you; give your all to Him.
In fact, G-d loves mankind so much, that He even sacrificed His Son, Yeshua for you and for me. John 3:16-17 tells us “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
G-d has, through His Son Yeshua, been faithful to forgive your sins through the work of the cross. He is also faithful to grant you eternal life in heaven, through the death and resurrection of Yeshua.
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.
To my Jewish brothers and sisters, this applies to you as well; none of your good deeds or charity will grant you the forgiveness of sin or eternal life in heaven. Only through faith in Yeshua can your sins be forgiven you and eternal life in heaven be granted to you.
Scripture records that Yeshua was the perfect sacrifice. He died on the cross, shedding every last drop of His blood, thus taking our sins upon Himself, guaranteeing all who believe in His death and resurrection and who invite Him to become L-rd of their lives, eternal life in heaven.
I want to encourage you as Moses encouraged Israel - Love G-d; Love His Son, Yeshua; Love His chosen people, the Jewish people; Love His Chosen Land, Israel and love your fellow man as yourself.
By doing this, you will fulfill all that Moses speaks of in ‘Parsha Va'etchanan’.
We love you.
Scripture of the week: Deuteronomy 6:4-9: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
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.