Justified Before the Judge

Parashat Nitzavim (Standing)
D’varim (Deuteronomy) 29:9–30:20
Haftarah: Isaiah 61:10–63:9

God’s timing is always perfect. As we are entering the season of the High Holy Days - Rosh Hashanah (Feast of Trumpets), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), Succot (Feast of Tabernacles), and Simchat Torah — we take time for self-reflection and repentance, remembering that it's not just about saying "I am sorry", but rather fully turning back to God with our hearts, minds, and the way we live our lives. The good news for us is that through the amazing work of our Messiah, Yeshua, we do not have to do this in our own strength, but through Him.

Our Parasha opens with these very touching words: 

You stand today, all of you, before the LORD your God: your chiefs, your tribes, your elders and your officers, even all the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives, and the alien who is within your camps, from the one who chops your wood to the one who draws your water, that you may enter into the covenant with the Lord your God, and into His oath which the LORD your God is making with you today, in order that He may establish you today as His people and that He may be your God, just as He spoke to you and as He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Now not with you alone am I making this covenant and this oath, but both with those who stand here with us today in the presence of the LORD our God and with those who are not with us here today.
Deuteronomy 29:9–14 (10–15 in English translations)

Note how clear these verses are that everyone – from the leaders to the workers, from the young to old, men and women, Israelite and the foreigner – will stand before the LORD in covenant. This is a crucial principle to understand because it applies to every single person today. The truth is that a day is coming where you and I will stand before God to give an account of our lives without excuse! This reminds me of Romans 14:12, where Sha'ul (the Apostle Paul) writes,So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.

A very important question that each of us must ask him/herself is, “How will I justify myself before the Judge?”

Further on in Deuteronomy 30:1–5, we read of the by-product of returning to the LORD in that He will show mercy and grace and will re-gather Israel back to the Land of promise, i.e. the physical return to the Land: 

So it will be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have placed before you, and you call them to mind in all the nations where the LORD your God has scattered you, and you return to the LORD your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul in accordance with everything that I am commanding you today, you and your sons, then the LORD your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you. If any of your scattered countrymen are at the ends of the earth, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back. The LORD your God will bring you into the land which your fathers inherited, and you shall inherit it; and He will be good to you and make you more numerous than your fathers.”

As we continue to read in verse 6, we read of this incredible concept of circumcising the heart:

Moreover, the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the hearts of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul, so that you may live.

I love the connection that we find here between returning to God with all of our heart, and the ultimate work of the circumcision of the heart, which only He can do for us. It is only when He does that in our lives that I believe we can love Him in the way that He desires us to. And, as the verse says, it is so that we may live.

In verses 8 & 9, we again read of the importance of returning to God:

And you will return and heard from the voice of the LORD and follow all His commandments which I am commanding you today. Then the Lord your God will prosper you abundantly in every work of your hand, in the children of your womb, the offspring of your cattle, and in the produce of your ground, for the LORD will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers; 

I am so encouraged by the fact that the Creator of the universe rejoices over us when we truly return to Him in the way He desires. He not only gives us a renewed heart through the circumcision of our heart, but He also prospers every aspect of our lives.

We see this theme of rejoicing repeated in our Haftarah from Isaiah 61:10:

I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, my soul will be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a groom puts on a turban, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

God rejoices over us when we return to Him. In the same way, we can also rejoice in Him because of what He has done for us! He is the one who will clothe us with garments of salvation through the amazing work of His Son, who was sent for us. I am so thankful!

Shabbat Shalom,

Check out previous blogs on this parashah!

Did you know? — Lone Soldier

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