Parashat Haazinu (Listen with your ear) Deuteronomy 32:1-52
Haftarah: Hosea 14:2-10, Joel 2:11-27, Micah 7:18-20
This Shabbat is a special one because it is the Shabbat between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. It is called Shabbat Shuvah, or the Sabbath of Repentance. Within this week’s Torah reading there is a verse that reminds us that even though HaShem chose Israel, He will judge all people, including Israel, with His perfect standards of righteous. In other words, although G-d chose Israel to serve Him with a unique calling, this does not mean that Israel or any other people get a free pass on sin or that He will show any favoritism. This truth is clearly seen when HaShem evaluates Israel in this passage. In one verse He states,
“For from the vine of Sodom is their vine, and from the vineyard of Gomorrah; their grapes are grapes of poison (hemlock) — bitter clusters are (given) to them.” Deuteronomy 32:32
This verse is revealing that despite all the miracles and evidence of G-d’s presence and special providence in Israel’s history, especially the forty years in the wilderness, they have not submitted to HaShem nor have they produced fruit (righteous deeds) that He has enabled them to do. Why is this? The answer is because Israel is allowing their fleshly nature to lead them and therefore they are behaving like Sodom and Gomorrah. This same idea is expressed in the book of Revelation where G-d likens the Holy City of Jerusalem to that of Sodom and Egypt (See Revelation 11:8).
The Festivals of Israel are excellent reminders of Biblical truth that reveals different aspects of the Kingdom of G-d. Rav Shaul (Paul) writes in Colossians chapter two that these Festivals “are shadows of things to come, and the body is of Messiah” (Col. 2:17). This means that by means of the Biblical truth contained in the Festivals of Israel, one can learn about what is going to take place in the future, i.e. the establishment of the Kingdom, and how to be prepared for that Kingdom. Additionally, one should always remember He Who is the foundation of all of this is our Messiah Yeshua.
Messiah’s first message was that of repentance (See Matthew 4:17). In light of this may I recommend to you to use this upcoming week between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur to examine your actions and see which is having a greater influence on you. Is it the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, or the things of this world, i.e. Sodom and Gomorrah?
In the Bible, grapes are often times used to picture our deeds. This is exactly what Yeshua was implying in John chapter 15. In this section Yeshua informs the reader that He is the true vine. He warns us that we must remain in Him. That is the problem! So often we allow ourselves to disconnect from His influence and we place ourselves under the influence of Sodom and Gomorrah.
May I suggest to you that on this Shabbat and throughout the week leading up to next Shabbat, which is Yom Kippur, that you join me in reading each day John chapter 15 and see how the truth of this passage can bring change into your life.
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