Haftarah: Isaiah 60:1-22
G-d does not change, for He does not need to because He is perfect. Not only is He perfect but He is also holy. Therefore although He can offer grace to man and be merciful, He cannot simply ignore sin. Many times I have been asked that if the death of Messiah pays the price for all sins, then why cannot G-d just forgive every individual and allow them into His Kingdom. The answer is because in order to receive the forgiveness one must ask in faith. A failure to respond to G-d’s gracious provision properly will cause one to be the recipient of His judgment. In this week’s Torah portion we read about a series of blessings and curses. In the section dealing with the curses one reads,
“…and there will be no savior.” Deut. 28:29
This sentence comes at the end of a long list of afflictions that HaShem Himself will strike upon Israel if they fail to respond properly to His word. There is a method of interpreting scripture which is “Kal v’chomer” which means basically “if the small, then how much the more the larger”. In the context of this section the method would say that if G-d would punish Israel with such harsh judgments and provide no solution for failing to respond to His word, how much the more so to the other nations and people.
The reason why I bring this issue up is that I am hearing more and more both from the rabbis and the Christian clergy that only good can come from G-d. While it is true that everything that is good does come HaShem like James says in James 1:17, but this does not mean that only good things can come from G-d. There is a growing tendency for people not to deal with the things which are unpleasant or what does not interest them. Being a follower of the G-d of Israel means to obey without allowing personal considerations to cause one to rebel against the will of HaShem. Which brings me to the real stumbling block for people and that is the cross. The cross signified death and suffering, two things that most people do not desire. Theologically the cross encompasses the epitome of where the world and HaShem collide. The world hates the cross because it is the emblem conviction. In other words the cross manifests the fact that I am sinful and could not save myself; that I am dependent upon His work of redemption.
In the “believing” community there is a movement away from the blood, sacrifice, and judgment. All three of these things are of course related to the cross. Returning to our parashah we read,
“Accursed is the one who does not establish the words of this Torah—to do them and all the people said amen” Deut. 27:26
I doubt that if Moses were to appear in a gathering of religious people today and quote this verse very few people would respond in this manner. Why? We have forgotten that obedience, through doing, is at the very heart of faithfulness and is the proper response to grace which saves. Yes grace and grace alone saves, but one who has experienced this grace has a desire to do the will of G-d.
Let’s pray this Shabbat that G-d would show you how to lift up your cross and follow Yeshua.
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