Nitzavim נִצָּבִים - Standing (Witnessing)
Reading #7 - Deuteronomy 30:15–20
If your heart turns away, you will perish (verses 16-17). This is a concurrent theme throughout Scripture. We must not turn to other gods (money, relationships, sin). Our life depends on it. We must only follow Hashem and His Torah. This requires us to “guard” our hearts. And how does that work? That means we stay saturated in His Word. That means we don’t go places or hang out with people that give us temptation to sin. Instead we surround ourselves with people who love Hashem with all their hearts. It also means we pray and worship Him consistently. Remember, Torah is life. To not follow Hashem and His Torah is death. I choose life.
When you choose life it is required (according to today’s reading) that you; love Hashem, obey His voice, and cling to Him. We know how to hear His voice (I hope). We know how to obey Him. But, how do we cling to Him? Ruth “clung” to her mother-in-law Naomi. She told her she would love her, follow her and her G-d, her country - everything. That is what “clinging” is. You hold close. It’s not letting go when you hug someone. I challenge you today to not let go of Hashem. To cling to Him. Give Him everything you have. Do everything for Him and for others. He is your life. Don’t let go.
Reading #7 - Deuteronomy 30:15–20
30:15 Behold, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and evil. 16 For I command you today to love Hashem your Elohim, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His ordinances, that you may live and multiply, and that Hashem your Elohim may bless you in the land where you go in to possess it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away and worship other gods, and serve them, 18 I declare to you today that you will surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you pass over the Jordan to go in to possess it. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore choose life, that you may live, you and your descendants, 20 to love Hashem your Elohim, to obey His voice, and to cling to
Him; for He is your life, and the length of your days, that you may dwell in the land which Hashem swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
This Haftarah is clearly about redemption in the Olam Haba (the world to come). In verse 63:9 we read, “In His love and in His pity He redeemed them. He bore them, and carried them all the days of old.” Through love and pity Hashem redeems us -- He forgives us and restores us. Isn’t that so wonderful? He understands how weak we are, and how strong He is. Not only does He redeem us, but He “bears and carries” us. It’s like He stretches His arms out wide, picks us up and carries us through our difficulties. During the storms of life, some of us feel His presence and others do not. In fact, some get very mad at Hashem during hard and difficult times. But, if you study Torah, you know that He never leaves you or forsakes you. He is there through horrible times even if we don’t “feel” His presence. We must rely on that. We must depend on Him and His Word through these times. Never give up on Him because He certainly never gives up on us. Amen?
In verse 62:12 we read how Hashem will portray us to the world, “They will call them “The Holy People, Hashem’s Redeemed”. You will be called “Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken”.” Isn’t that amazing? The world will recognize us as Hashem’s. There will be no doubt that we are His. Jerusalem will not be forsaken, but Hashem will “seek” out His people and gather them back to the city, to the Land. My challenge today is to reflect on all of this. Do you want to be a part of His Redeemed? Do you want to be recognized as part of His “Holy People”? I do. That means we must start acting like we are -- today. Just like I wrote about in today’s Torah reading. We must follow Him, obey Him, worship Him, love Him and love others. This is the beginning of becoming a part of His Holy People. And that is for eternity. Don’t you want that?
Haftarah: Isaiah 61:10-63:9
10 I will greatly rejoice in Hashem!
My soul will be joyful in my Elohim,
for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation.
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth produces its bud,
and as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring up,
so Hashem Elohim will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.
62 For Zion’s sake I will not hold my peace,
and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,
until her righteousness shines out like the dawn,
and her salvation like a burning lamp.
2 The nations will see your righteousness,
and all kings your glory.
You will be called by a new name,
which Hashem’s mouth will name.
3 You will also be a crown of beauty in Hashem’s hand,
and a royal diadem in your Elohim’s hand.
4 You will not be called Forsaken any more,
nor will your land be called Desolate any more;
but you will be called Hephzibah,
and your land Beulah;
for Hashem delights in you,
and your land will be married.
5 For as a young man marries a virgin,
so your sons will marry you.
As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so your Elohim will rejoice over you.
6 I have set watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem.
They will never be silent day nor night.
You who call on Hashem, take no rest,
7 and give him no rest, until He establishes,
and until He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
8 Hashem has sworn by His right hand,
and by the arm of his strength,
“Surely I will no more give your grain to be food for your enemies,
and foreigners will not drink your new wine, for which you have labored,
9 but those who have harvested it will eat it, and praise Hashem.
Those who have gathered it will drink it in the courts of my sanctuary.”
10 Go through, go through the gates!
Prepare the way of the people!
Build up, build up the highway!
Gather out the stones!
Lift up a banner for the peoples.
11 Behold, Hashem has proclaimed to the end of the earth,
“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your salvation comes!
Behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him!’”
12 They will call them “The Holy People,
You will be called “Sought Out,
A City Not Forsaken”.
63:1 Who is this who comes from Edom,
with dyed garments from Bozrah?
Who is this who is glorious in his clothing,
marching in the greatness of his strength?
“It is I who speak in righteousness,
mighty to save.”
2 Why is your clothing red,
and your garments like him who treads in the wine vat?
3 “I have trodden the wine press alone.
Of the peoples, no one was with me.
Yes, I trod them in my anger
and trampled them in my wrath.
Their lifeblood is sprinkled on my garments,
and I have stained all my clothing.
4 For the day of vengeance was in my heart,
and the year of my redeemed has come.
5 I looked, and there was no one to help;
and I wondered that there was no one to uphold.
Therefore my own arm brought salvation to me.
My own wrath upheld me.
6 I trod down the peoples in my anger
and made them drunk in my wrath.
I poured their lifeblood out on the earth.”
7 I will tell of the loving kindnesses of Hashem
and the praises of Hashem,
according to all that Hashem has given to us,
and the great goodness toward the house of Israel,
which He has given to them according to His mercies,
and according to the multitude of His loving kindnesses.
8 For he said, “Surely, they are My people,
children who will not deal falsely;”
so He became their Savior.
9 In all their affliction He was afflicted,
and the angel of His presence saved them.
In His love and in His pity he redeemed them.
He bore them,
and carried them all the days of old.
Sometimes people just do not stand up for their faith. In verse 43 we read, “...for they loved men’s praise more than Elohim’s praise.” In other words, they were looking for approval and safety from the Pharisees more than love and approval from Hashem. We can look at this 2,000 years later and in our heads “condemn” them for doing that. But, isn’t that what we do sometimes? Don’t you ever hold back on confessing Hashem’s word to someone for fear of rejection? Think of what we could be missing out on, or what blessing someone could have received from Hashem’s word if we had spoken it. You don’t have to quote a verse number, just speak His word. It is so alive and holy, that Hashem will take care of the rest. Be bold and courageous.
Yeshua was always “pointing” to the Father. In verse 44 He says, “Whoever believes in Me, believes not in Me, but in Him (Hashem) who sent Me.” Yeshua doesn’t want you to worship only Him alone, He wants you to worship Hashem in His fullness. I believe Yeshua is Hashem’s “heart”. He taught Torah, He is a walking living Torah. To love Him is to love Hashem. To follow Him is to follow Hashem. My challenge to you today is to think about this. Think about who you think Yeshua is. He represents only Hashem -- and all He is. If you study about Him in the four gospels you will learn about His life and His teachings. You will see that He only taught the “heart of Torah” and His purpose was to bring people back to Hashem. And that’s just what we want to do - right?
Apostolic Reading: John 12:41-50
12:41 Isaiah said these things when he saw His glory, and spoke of Him. 42 Nevertheless even many of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they didn’t confess it, so that they wouldn’t be put out of the synagogue, 43 for they loved men’s praise more than Elohim’s praise.
44 Yeshua cried out and said, “Whoever believes in Me, believes not in Me, but in Him who sent Me. 45 He who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. 46 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me may not remain in the darkness. 47 If anyone listens to My sayings, and doesn’t believe, I don’t judge him. For I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 He who rejects me, and doesn’t receive My sayings, has One who judges him. The word that I spoke will judge him in the last day. 49 For I spoke not from Myself, but the Father who sent Me, He gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. 50 I know that his commandment is eternal life. The things therefore which I speak, even as the Father has said to Me, so I speak.”