Parashat Ekev (Because of)
D’varim (Deuteronomy) 7:12-11:25
Haftarah: Isaiah 49:14-51:3
During my most recent trip to the US, I believe that the Lord gave me a word of exhortation for the Body of Messiah, with the words, “Now What?” In preparation for my messages, I spoke with my wife about the fact that we followers of Messiah Yeshua often focus on what we were saved from, but do not consider what we are saved for. I believe this is an important question each of us ought to ask ourselves; it is one that is also relevant in God’s story with the children of Israel.
Recently, I drove with my wife and one of my daughters; we talked about this very thing. Israel is God’s chosen people, which is a fact that no one can argue with. The more important question, however, is for what purpose were we chosen? Is it because we are more special than other people? No. It is because God chose a people to be set apart for Him — to be sacred — so that He could display His power, glory, faithfulness, and endless grace through us.
Our Parashah opens with an important verse:
Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the LORD your God will keep His covenant with you and His faithfulness which He swore to your forefathers.
Throughout history, we find that while God kept His part of the deal, we, Israel did not. I believe that we missed (and in some ways are still missing) the reason for which God chose us and redeemed us.
In Deuteronomy 10:12-22 we read why God chose Israel and what He expected them to do to bring glory to His name:
And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the LORD’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good? Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it. Yet the LORD set His affection on your fathers, to love them, and He chose their descendants after them, you over all the other peoples, as it is this day. So circumcise your heart, and do not stiffen your neck any longer. For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who does not show partiality, nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the stranger by giving him food and clothing. So show your love for the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him, and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name. He is your glory and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen. Your fathers went down to Egypt seventy persons in all, and now the LORD your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven.
It is important to note that a key verse to be able to fulfill God’s requirement is the circumcision of the heart, which can only be done through faith in Messiah Yeshua; it is a spiritual condition of the heart that no man can make happen. It is, however, a choice to allow the Holy Spirit to do this work of circumcising one’s heart. And it is a choice that one makes when one understands God’s love and grace.
With that, the byproduct of understanding God’s love and grace is found in our actions, how we live our lives. We see this in the above verses. God still desires us to walk in all His ways, love Him, serve Him with all our hearts and souls, and keep His commandments. Yeshua Himself echoed this when He said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
While Israel has failed to fulfill its role (for now), as God’s followers, however, we can find a great amount of hope in the fact that regardless of our failures or successes, our God will always remain the same. While we may turn our backs and forget Him, He will never forget us as we read:
But Zion said, “The LORD has abandoned me, and the LORD has forgotten me.” “Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.”
I would like to close with a word of encouragement for all of us who love God and find hope in Him. Regardless of the condition of the world and the evil we see happening around us, please do not give up on the hope that only He can give. Don’t stop pursuing righteousness or seeking the LORD and the Rock of our salvation. We live for Him not because of what we get, but because of what He already gave us. He will make all things new:
Listen to Me, you who pursue righteousness, who seek the LORD: look to the rock from which you were cut, and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain;when he was only one I called him, then I blessed him and multiplied him. Indeed, the LORD will comfort Zion;He will comfort all her ruins. And He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of a melody.
There is hope in the LORD!
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