Devarim / Words
1 Timothy 3:1-7
WORDS ~ This Sabbath we begin Devarim/Words, the book of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy is basically a farewell speech to the children of Israel from Moshe. Devarim 1:1 starts out with “These are the words which Moses spoke ….” The Hebrew name for Deuteronomy is Devarim, meaning “words,” which is the plural form of deva, meaning “word, speech, a matter or thing, a commandment, a report, a message, or promise.” The Hebrew word devar is similar to the Greek word logos which we see in John 1:1. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Elohim, and the Word was Elohim.” From this verse, we see that Yeshua is the Word of both the Torah and the Brit Chadasha. He is the message of the entire Bible.
To understand the importance of Devarim, we have to understand that Yeshua is the Word in flesh as He declared in John 1:1.
In Proverbs 8, we see how Wisdom relates to the world. Specifically in Proverbs 8:22-30, it speaks of wisdom/Torah/Yeshua being created before the world. Wisdom describes herself as older than creation. In the beginning -which existed before the world was created - God first created Wisdom and then everything else. Wisdom here is imagined as a kind of principle of order and goodness that made the entire world both possible and worthwhile. The sages teach that ‘for a brief moment in cosmic time, after Wisdom was formed and before the world was created, she was the only companion of the Divine.’
Proverbs 8:22-30 ‘The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way,
Before His works of old.
23 I have been established from everlasting,
From the beginning, before there was ever an earth.
24 When there were no depths I was brought forth,
When there were no fountains abounding with water.
25 Before the mountains were settled,
Before the hills, I was brought forth;
26 While as yet He had not made the earth or the fields,
Or the primal dust of the world.
27 When He prepared the heavens, I was there,
When He drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28 When He established the clouds above,
When He strengthened the fountains of the deep,
29 When He assigned to the sea its limit,
So that the waters would not transgress His command,
When He marked out the foundations of the earth,
30 Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman;
And I was daily His delight,
Rejoicing always before Him.’
There is a connection between the farewell speech of Moshe and the farewell speech of Yeshua in John chapters 14-16. Moses was the first to prophesy about the coming of the Messiah in Deuteronomy 18:15 ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear’.
Moses is the only person to which Yeshua compared Himself in John 5:46-47 ‘For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”
Yeshua often quoted from Deuteronomy, and when asked what the most important commandment in the Torah was, He quoted The Shema from Deuteronomy 6:4-6 and He included this verse as part of his explanation of the whole Torah. In His temptation in the wilderness, He quoted Deuteronomy 8:3, 6:16, 6:13 and 10:20 when resisting HaSatan.
In Devarim, Elohim is also be viewed as a husband asking his bride to give her whole heart to Him, to follow Him and to obey him. Sadly, after Joshua, we see the conclusion of an adulterous bride. This is where God lays out the blessings for obedience and the curses for turning away in the end of Deuteronomy. Israel eventually becomes a rebellious and adulterous wife, is divorced, (a get) then given the promise of Yeshua which is made manifest.
Farewell Scriptures follow a pattern. As a father gathers his children, so do the spiritual leaders in the Scriptures, announcing that they are about to die and encouraging the people to be strong and courageous. They often predict future events, trials and tribulations, but in the end, there will be joy.
Moshe says in Deuteronomy 31:6-8 ‘Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” 7 Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it. 8 And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” And Deuteronomy 31:23 ‘Then He inaugurated Joshua the son of Nun, and said, “Be strong and of good courage; for you shall bring the children of Israel into the land of which I swore to them, and I will be with you.”
Joshua in Joshua 1:6-9 ‘Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Also in Joshua 10:25 ‘Then Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage, for thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.”
King David to his son Solomon in 1 Kings 2:1-4 ‘Now the days of David drew near that he should die, and he charged Solomon his son, saying: 2 “I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man. 3 And keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn; 4 that the Lord may fulfill His word which He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons take heed to their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul,’ He said, ‘you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’
Yeshua says in John 14:27 ‘Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’
John 16:33. “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
The Torah/Wisdom also contains a beginning and farewell found in Proverbs 8:32-36.
“Now therefore, listen to me, my children,
For blessed are those who keep my ways.
33 Hear instruction and be wise,
And do not disdain it.
34 Blessed is the man who listens to me,
Watching daily at my gates,
Waiting at the posts of my doors.
35 For whoever finds me finds life,
And obtains favor from the Lord;
36 But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul;
All those who hate me love death.”
This is the Word speaking to us, this is wisdom speaking to us, and this is Yeshua speaking to us.
‘In the beginning was the Word/Devar and the Word/Devar was with God, and the Word/Devar was God. 2 He (wisdom/Torah) was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him (wisdom/Torah) was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.’
HafTorah Portion Isaiah 1:1-27
Brit Chadasha 1Timothy 3:1-7
This is the final book of the Torah, Devarim/Words. This parsha gets its name from the beginning sentence, ‘These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel on this side of the Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain opposite Suph, between Paran, Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Dizahab.’
Devarim is said to be the second law. But in what sense is D’varim a second law and what is the difference? Moses repeats the history of the Israelites, reinstating the covenant because there is a major change of circumstance about to happen. The Israelites are about to change from a group of nomads – wonderers in the wilderness of Sinai to dwellers that inherit the land.
They had the tabernacle of God with them right in the center of the camp. God dwelled with them, the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. They will now spread to a much larger territory and the Tabernacle will be stationary.
In chapter 2, Moses recaps instructions regarding the descendants of Esau, the tribe of Moab, and the people of Ammon. With each case, the instructions are to: ‘not harass, contend or meddle with.’ Interesting choice of words: Harass / to plot, to pester, annoy. Meddle / to interfere, tamper with, intrude. Contend is also used/ Strongs #1624 garah – to grate, to meddle, to stir up, to cause strife.
For each of the three instructions, God gave His why – Concerning Esau ‘…for I will not give you any of their land, no, not so much as one footstep, because I have given Mount Seir to Esau as a possession.’ Concerning Moab ‘…for I will not give you any of their land as a possession, because I have given Ar to the descendants of Lot as a possession.’ And concerning Ammon ‘for I will not give you any of the land of the people of Ammon as a possession, because I have given it to the descendants of Lot as a possession.’
In Jeremiah 18, The LORD explains the symbolism of the potter and His Children, yet His warning is rejected, Jeremiah 18:15-17 ‘Because My people have forgotten Me, they have burned incense to worthless idols. And they have caused themselves to stumble in their ways, from the ancient paths,
To walk in pathways and not on a highway, to make their land desolate and a perpetual hissing;
Everyone who passes by it will be astonished and shake his head. 17 I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will show them the back and not the face in the day of their calamity.”
Following this, in Jeremiah 18:18-19, Jeremiah is persecuted by those who contend and harass.
In Job 9:2-4, Job gives the ultimate answer; ‘“Truly I know it is so, but how can a man be righteous before God? 3 If one wished to contend with Him, He could not answer Him one time out of a thousand.
4 God is wise in heart and mighty in strength. Who has hardened himself against Him and prospered?’
Do we contend/harass God? What foolish man would contend with God? Yet, the world is filled with people who strive against their Maker. Isaiah 45:9, “Woe to him who strives with his Maker!
Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth! Shall the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ Or shall your handiwork say, ‘He has no hands’? 10 Woe to him who says to his father, ‘What are you begetting?’ Or to the woman, ‘What have you brought forth?’
The verse from Job 9:3 teaches that a man cannot win even one out of a thousand points of debate in an argument with God. God is never wrong. He never makes a mistake.
Is there a difference between harassing God and questioning? In the parsha Vayishlach, Jacob wrestles all night with a mysterious messenger representing God. Because Jacob successfully survives this encounter, his name is changed to Israel. The translation of Israel is “to struggle with God”. The Torah is saying that to struggle with God is common. Most people require inquiry and study, as adults, to come to terms with their personal encounter. We should not accept blind faith, but rather personalize it, study it and seek obedience. It is a journey that seeking and praying results in awareness and closeness to Adonai. To contend would be to not seek the answers to our questions, but rather seek the rightness of our own way. To make our own path, to return to our self as in the story of Balaam and Balak.
Luke 1:17 reminds us: ‘It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’
Romans 2:8 ‘…but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.’
As we grow towards the perfect ending, may we not harass/contend with God but rather question, seek answers, listen, learn and obey His word.
In Matthew 13:18-23 Yeshua defines His parable of the sower and the seed, those who contend and those who ‘who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.’
There is One Way; Jeremiah 32:38-41 ‘They shall be My people, and I will be their God; 39 then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. 40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. 41 Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul.’
Devarim ~ The Words
HafTorah Portion ~ Isaiah 1:1-27
Brit Chadasha~ Acts 9:1-21
Last Shabbat we finished B’midbar/Numbers with vows and oaths, words we speak. This Shabbat we are starting D’varim / Words. D’varim comes from the Hebrew in the opening verse: “Eleh ha d’varim…”, “these are the words.” - that Moses spoke to all Israel beyond the Jordan in the wilderness…” Deuteronomy 1:1.
D’varim reveals much about the attributes of God. It is directly quoted over 40 times in the Brit Chadasha (exceeded only by Psalms and Isaiah). Deuteronomy reveals that the Lord is the Only One God and that He is jealous, faithful, loving, merciful, and true yet will not tolerate sin.
The sages originally called D’varim Mishneh Torah, a “second law”. Hence the Latin name Deuteronomy. But in what sense is D’varim a second law? Moses repeats the history of the Israelites, reinstating the covenant because there is a major change of circumstance about to happen. They are about to change from a group of nomads – wonderers in the wilderness of Sinai to dwellers.
They had the tabernacle of God with them right in the center of the camp. God dwelled with them, the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. They will now spread to a much larger territory and the Tabernacle will be stationary.
The words that God speaks are His Divine words of covenant. These are the words of life. Words we speak and words we hear have great influence in and over our lives. If we change His words, we change the imparting of blessings.
Hebrews 4:12 ‘For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Matthew 4:4 ‘But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Psalm 119:105 ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.’
John 1:1 ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’
2 Timothy 3:16-17 ‘All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.’
Matthew 24:35 ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.’
Luke 11:28 ‘But He said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
John 17:17 ‘Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.’
Isaiah 40:8 ‘The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.’
John 6:63 ‘It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.’
Proverbs 30:5 ‘Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.’
James 1:22 ‘But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.’
Psalm 119:11 ‘I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.’
These are powerful verses and only a few in regards to the Word of Elohim. His word keeps us pure, His word is true, His word will never fade, His word is a light, a lamp, a path. His word is living and sharper than a two edge sword. We are also instructed to not add or take away from the Word of God.
Psalm 119:130 ‘The unfolding of Your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.’
Matthew 7:24 ‘“Everyone then who hears these words of Mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.’
Psalm 119:9 ‘How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your word.’
Proverbs 30:5-6 ‘Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.’
There is a beginning to the altering of God’s Word and how easy it was for the Protestant religions to sway under the Catholic Church.
The Roman emperor Constantine, a sun-worshiper, professed conversion to Christianity, though his subsequent actions suggest the “conversion” was more of a political move than a genuine heart change. Constantine named himself Bishop of the Catholic Church and enacted the first civil law regarding Sunday observance in A.D. 321.
“On the venerable day of the sun let the magistrate and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country however, persons engaged in agricultural work may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits; because it often happens that another day is not so suitable for grain growing or for vine planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost.” —Schaff’s History of the Christian Church, vol. III, chap. 75.
Four years later, in A.D. 325, Pope Sylvester officially named Sunday “the Lord’s Day,” and in A.D. 338, Eusebius, the court bishop of Constantine, wrote, “All things whatsoever that it was the duty to do on the Sabbath (the seventh day of the week) we (Constantine, Eusebius, and other bishops) have transferred to the Lord’s Day (the first day of the week) as more appropriately belonging to it.”
In the Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, we read:
Q. Which is the Sabbath day?
A. Saturday is the Sabbath day.
Q. Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
A. We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church, in the Council of Laodicea, (AD 336) transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday….
Q. By what authority did the Church substitute Sunday for Saturday?
A. The Church substituted Sunday for Saturday by the plenitude of that divine power which Jesus Christ bestowed upon her!
—Rev. Peter Geiermann, C.SS.R., (1946), p. 50.
Deuteronomy 4:2 ‘You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.’
Deuteronomy 12:32 ‘Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.’
Revelation 22:18 ‘For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book…’
Devarim / Words
This Shabbat we begin the book of Deuteronomy, Devarim meaning Words. This title comes from the first sentence, ‘Eleh ha devarim’ – these are the words… This is the fifth and final book of the Torah and is also referred to as ‘The Book of the Covenant’. In other words, apart from Moses’ song and blessing of the tribes, with which the book and Moses’ life come to an end, the entire book of Devarim is a covenant on a huge scale.
This covenant is not made between man and man, but God and man; a statement that should cause us to humbly come before Him and His Words – as one of the parties is God Himself! The idea that God would bind Himself to human beings, linking their destiny to His Divine Words, making them party to His Covenant is something hard to totally understand. Second, the other party to the covenant is not, as it was in the ancient world, the king or ruler of the relevant nation, but the people as a whole. Every Israelite, as we saw in Exodus 19 and 24, and throughout Deuteronomy, is party to the covenant, given a choice to choose life, His very words.
In Devarim, Moshe recounts the journeys of the Israelites, rebuking them for their rebellion and reminding them of their eternal heritage. The Book of Devarim takes place just about a month before Moshe’s passing.
We have read, discussed and learned about the journeys, the words we speak or don’t speak and our rebellion. This first sentence in this parsha is a reminder of The Words that He speaks. They are Divine Words, not originated by man, and they represent a Divine conversation which brings us into a Divine Covenant.
How can we, mere mortals go through life knowing there is a God, yet rationalizing His Words, changing His Words, or doing away with His Words? This is cause and effect – we move away from His Divine Covenant and enter into the desert, alone to wander.
The author of Hebrews brings such clarity to the Word of God, Hebrews 4:12: ‘The Word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two edge sword.’
Revelation 2:12 speaks of ‘He’ Yeshua, who is the Living Word, ‘“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword…’ Notice that this verse tells us that He/Yeshua has the two-edged sword…He has…the very Word of God.
A double edge sword would have dual purposes. Isaiah 55:11 tells us that God always fulfills His purpose: ‘So shall My Word by that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty but it shall accomplish that which I purpose and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.’
God’s Word has a purpose – a Divine purpose for Him. We can choose to live in His Words or live in our own words, yet do our words have a purpose? Do we speak life or do we utter death? Do we uplift people? Or do we flippantly without even realizing it, cut people down, tell untruths and spread gossip?
Joshua 1:8 gives us such profound instruction: ‘This Book of the Torah shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.’
This Torah portion ends in chapter 3 with Moshe recounting the events with Joshua and how he will succeed; ‘And I commanded Joshua at that time, saying, ‘Your eyes have seen all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings; so will the Lord do to all the kingdoms through which you pass. You must not fear them, for the Lord your God Himself fights for you.’ Deuteronomy 3:21-22.
2 Chronicles 20:15 reiterates this: ‘And he said, “Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.’
Exodus 14:13-14 ‘And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”
For God to fight the battles, for us to go into battle with Him, we need the armor of God, which is a representation of His Divine Word.
Ephesians 6:10-18 ‘Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…’
Ephesians tells us to put on the whole armor of God, not just part, but the complete. This is His total Word, His Divine intervention, His Divine conversation and covenant.
These are the Words…