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This parshat opens with the Bikkurim in Deuteronomy 26:1-2. ‘And it shall be, when you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you possess it and dwell in it, 2 that you shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground, which you shall bring from your land that the Lord your God is giving you, and put it in a basket and go to the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide. 3 And you shall go to the one who is priest in those days, and say to him, ‘I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come to the country which the Lord swore to our fathers to give us.’
The land equals inheritance and the Hebrew word for First Fruits is ray sheeth. This means the beginning, the first, chief, best, and choice part. Associating these words together, leads us to bring honor, as in the word Ki Tavo; To Enter In. As we enter into His Name, His Word and Walk, we understand that everything in and above the heavens and the earth was made by Him.
By bringing the seven species that the land is known for, and referring it back to Deuteronomy 8:8 was and is a form of devotion back to God in the fruit of His promises. The sages state that all Yisrael would come to Jerusalem with their Bikkurim in festive processions, accompanied by music and celebrations. Bringing back to God the first fruit of the completed promise that He said there would be if they obeyed.
Deuteronomy 26:16-19 speaks the very essence of Torah; ‘This day the Lord your God commands you to observe these statutes and judgments; therefore you shall be careful to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul. 17 Today you have proclaimed the Lord to be your God, and that you will walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments, and His judgments, and that you will obey His voice. 18 Also today the Lord has proclaimed you to be His special people, just as He promised you, that you should keep all His commandments, 19 and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, in praise, in name, and in honor, and that you may be a holy people to the Lord your God, just as He has spoken.”
Deuteronomy 27:11-13 begins the blessings and the curses; ‘And Moses commanded the people on the same day, saying, 12 “These shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people, when you have crossed over the Jordan: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin; 13 and these shall stand on Mount Ebal to curse: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.’ The rest of chapter 27 lays out the curses for disobedience.
Chapter 28 begins with a condition – IF. ‘Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God:’
The choice of blessings or curses are ours alone to make. We are not goaded into one side or the other. No one is to blame, and no one takes credit. The Creator of Heaven and Earth, a title that is only bestowed upon Him, gives us, mere mortals a choice. What grace, what expectations, what mercy.
Deuteronomy 13:18 ‘ … if you will listen to the voice of the Lord your God, keeping all His commandments which I am commanding you today, and doing what is right in the sight of the Lord your God.
Deuteronomy 15:5 ‘…if only you listen obediently to the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all this commandment which I am commanding you today.’
Deuteronomy 30:10 ‘…if you obey the Lord your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul.’
Yeshua reiterates this: John 14:15-18 ‘If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
1 John 2:3-5 ‘And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. Whoever says “I know Him” but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in Him, but whoever keeps His word, in Him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in Him.’
What happens when we do not love and honor Him and His Word?
1 Corinthians 16:22 ‘If anyone does not love the Lord Yeshua, let him be accursed. O Lord, come!’
John 15:10 ‘If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.’
In this last verse, John 15:10, Yeshua makes a profound statement that by keeping His commandments we will abide in His love. This leads to another profound choice: He spoke those things in order for us to have His joy!
The joy of The Lord. We would possess that infinite joy if we keep His commandments, which are from the Father.
Ki Tavo astutely shows us the results of ‘if’.
Ki Tavo / When You Enter
For a person to say that their every accomplishment, no matter what – was a gift from God is one of the goals of creation.
Ki Tavo begins with the Bikkurim in Deuteronomy 26:1-2. ‘And it shall be, when you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you possess it and dwell in it, 2 that you shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground, which you shall bring from your land that the Lord your God is giving you, and put it in a basket and go to the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide.’
Following this verse, the Israelites recite the history of what God had done for them and recounted how He had taken their forefathers out of a pagan heritage and delivered them into the lifestyle and heritage of His Way, setting them free from the bondage of Egypt.
It was a form of devotion by bringing the seven species back to God that the land is noted for in Deuteronomy 8:8; wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and date honey. These represent the fruit of His promise.
Tradition teaches that all of Israel would come to Jerusalem with their Bikkurim in festive processions, accompanied by music and celebrations. Bringing back to God the first fruit of the completed promise that God said would be if they obeyed. What a joy to partake in that expression of a joyful completed promise and in a land of promise where one would eat bread without poverty.
This truly represents the physical before the spiritual. Metaphorically, the Torah is likened to bread. So the spiritual intent of Deuteronomy is that Eretz Israel, the spiritual center of the universe is the most suited land for growth in Torah. Yeshua is referred to as the living mana and the bread of life. He is also the first fruits. 1 Corinthians 15:23 ‘But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Messiah’s at His coming.’ As it is written in James 1:18, “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.” In this we follow Yeshua as we are brought forth by the truth – emet - Torah.
Israel was described as the “firstfruits of God’s harvest”. Israel was to be a pledge of a greater harvest inasmuch as the land would experience God’s redemption and witness of this redemption to the nations that they too might come to know the God of Israel. Jeremiah 2:3 ‘Israel was holy to the Lord the firstfruits of His harvest. All who ate of it incurred guilt; disaster came upon them, declares the Lord.”
Moshe told the Israelites that they would see the hand of God in every kernel of grain, if they obeyed His commands. Faith brings the birthright and obedience brings the blessing. When we develop a relationship with God in all He does, we will not be void of the understanding of His teachings, the Torah. We become truly the firstfruits.
Ki Tavo holds the promise that God keeps as we learn of the blessings and curses that He set in motion so long ago when both the Houses of Israel were as one. The Covenant is very real and with great imagery and clarity in Deuteronomy 27-29. Generational curses and generational blessings lurk in our lives and unless we learn to acknowledge them, they stay dormant until they rise up. It is us that allow the generational curses or the blessings to continue in our lives, simply by the choices we make. The end chapters of Ki Tavo are very clear in what breaks the curses. God’s Word. Only God’s Word. Deuteronomy 28:1-2 “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God…’
Baruch HaShem~ Rabbi Jay Howard