Va'etchanan וָאֶתְחַנַּן - Pleaded
Haftarah: Isaiah 40:1-26
Apostolic Reading: Luke 3:2-15
Reading #7 - Deuteronomy 7:1–11
Verse 7 and 8 are just powerful, “Hashem didn’t set His love on you nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people; for you were the fewest of all peoples; but because Hashem loves you, and because He desires to keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, Hashem has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” He chose His people because He loved them and He had made a huge promise to them (for the Land and to multiply). Sometimes it is so hard to grasp that with all our actions and behavior that Hashem would love us, but apparently He does. We see it in Torah over and over, where people make mistakes and Hashem forgives them (usually punishment or consequence occurs) and He continues His path of miracles through His people. Never think for once that Hashem does not love you because of something you have done or that you are not worthy. You are His creation and He has a very special plan for you.
Rarely do we see verses about how Hashem feels or what He does if people hate Him. But, we do see it today in verse 10, “He will not be slack to him who hates Him. He will repay him to his face.” Yikes. It sounds like He is not going to lightly dismiss hatred. That there will be consequences. The biggest punishment we know is that people who do not love or serve Hashem, will be eternally separated from Him. That sounds like the worst and most awful consequence possible. Your challenge today is to take a look around you at those people who you know do not have a relationship with Hashem or the Mashiach Yeshua. See if you can start speaking positive, spiritual words into their lives. Try to be a “light” to them regarding Hashem and Torah. You never know -- this could change their life forever! Amen.
Reading #7 - Deuteronomy 7:1–11
7:1 When Hashem your Elohim brings you into the land where you go to possess it, and casts out many nations before you—the Hittite, the Girgashite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite—seven nations greater and mightier than you; 2 and when Hashem your Elohim delivers them up before you, and you strike them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them, nor show mercy to them. 3 You shall not make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to his son, nor shall you take his daughter for your son. 4 For that would turn away your sons from following Me, that they may serve other gods. So Hashem’s anger would be kindled against you, and He would destroy you quickly. 5 But you shall deal with them like this: you shall break down their altars, dash their pillars in pieces, cut down their Asherah poles, and burn their engraved images with fire. 6 For you are a holy people to Hashem your Elohim. Hashem your Elohim has chosen you to be a people for His own possession, above all peoples who are on the face of the earth. 7 Hashem didn’t set His love on you nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people; for you were the fewest of all peoples; 8 but because Hashem loves you, and because He desires to keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, Hashem has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that Hashem your Elohim Himself is Elohim, the faithful Elohim, who keeps covenant and loving kindness to a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments, 10 and repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack to him who hates Him. He will repay him to his face. 11 You shall therefore keep the commandments, the statutes, and the ordinances which I command you today, to do them.
Verse 5 reveals Hashem’s plan for the future, “Hashem’s glory shall be revealed,and all flesh shall see it together.” In the Olam Haba (the world to come) there won’t be any “doubt” about whether Hashem exists -- everyone will see Him and His glory. There will be no excuse, no escape. This is a promise. It is prophesied over and over in the Tanakh and Apostolic Writings. There is this knowledge for those of us who love Him and serve Him. We won’t always live on a corrupt and sinful planet. There is His plan for a future Place. A Place with Him and His Glory. Take some time in your life to prepare for this Place. Make sure you are right with Him.
In verse 21 we are reminded of Hashem and who He is, “Haven’t you known? Haven’t you heard? Haven’t you been told from the beginning? Haven’t you understood from the foundations of the earth?” There isn’t reason that a person should not “know” about Hashem. We have had His Torah from the beginning. And in our lives it is at our fingertips. We can read it online, we can have written copies of it in our home. We can “know” about Hashem because we have “heard” about Him. No excuses. Your challenge today is to check your heart. Run a spiritual EKG and see what your “heartbeat” is? Are you looking out just for yourself -- or do you choose to serve the Holy One and go with His plan? Double check it today. Amen.
Haftarah: Isaiah 40:1-26
40 “Comfort, comfort My people,” says your Elohim. 2 “Speak comfortably to Jerusalem; and call out to her that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received of Hashem’s hand double for all her sins.”
3 The voice of one who calls out,
“Prepare the way of Hashem in the wilderness!
Make a level highway in the desert for our Elohim.
4 Every valley shall be exalted,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The uneven shall be made level,
and the rough places a plain.
5 Hashem’s glory shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together;
for the mouth of Hashem has spoken it.”
6 The voice of one saying, “Cry!”
One said, “What shall I cry?”
“All flesh is like grass,
and all its glory is like the flower of the field.
7 The grass withers,
the flower fades,
because Hashem’s breath blows on it.
Surely the people are like grass.
8 The grass withers,
the flower fades;
but the word of our Elohim stands forever.”
9 You who tell good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain.
You who tell good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with strength!
Lift it up! Don’t be afraid!
Say to the cities of Judah, “Behold, your Elohim!”
10 Behold, the Adonai Hashem will come as a mighty one,
and His arm will rule for Him.
Behold, His reward is with Him,
and His recompense before Him.
11 He will feed His flock like a shepherd.
He will gather the lambs in His arm,
and carry them in his bosom.
He will gently lead those who have their young.
12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
and marked off the sky with his span,
and calculated the dust of the earth in a measuring basket,
and weighed the mountains in scales,
and the hills in a balance?
13 Who has directed Hashem’s Spirit,
or has taught him as his counselor?
14 Who did he take counsel with,
and who instructed him,
and taught him in the path of justice,
and taught him knowledge,
and showed him the way of understanding?
15 Behold, the nations are like a drop in a bucket,
and are regarded as a speck of dust on a balance.
Behold, he lifts up the islands like a very little thing.
16 Lebanon is not sufficient to burn,
nor its animals sufficient for a burnt offering.
17 All the nations are like nothing before Him.
They are regarded by Him as less than nothing, and vanity.
18 To whom then will you liken G-d?
Or what likeness will you compare to him?
19 A workman has cast an image,
and the goldsmith overlays it with gold,
and casts silver chains for it.
20 He who is too impoverished for such an offering chooses a tree that will not rot.
He seeks a skillful workman to set up a carved image for him that will not be moved.
21 Haven’t you known?
Haven’t you heard?
Haven’t you been told from the beginning?
Haven’t you understood from the foundations of the earth?
22 It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in,
23 who brings princes to nothing,
who makes the judges of the earth meaningless.
24 They are planted scarcely.
They are sown scarcely.
Their stock has scarcely taken root in the ground.
He merely blows on them, and they wither,
and the whirlwind takes them away as stubble.
25 “To whom then will you liken me?
Who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high,
and see who has created these,
who brings out their army by number.
He calls them all by name.
by the greatness of His might,
and because He is strong in power,
not one is lacking.
Today we read about John the Immerser and how he fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah (also today’s Haftarah). John had the privilege to prepare the people to receive Yeshua the Mashiach. He reminded them about Torah and their relationship to Hashem. He taught words of Torah to reignite their passion for Elohim. He got them ready to hear what the Mashiach would bring them -- which was all about returning to Hashem. Today we need more “John the Immersers”. We need people to prepare the way for the Mashiach to return and for the Olam Haba. We can all do this by loving and serving others. By teaching them Hashem’s Word whenever possible. By reflecting His light to the world. Start today.
John taught repentance (verse 3). You may think that this was probably not necessary, that everyone already knew about repenting for their sins. But, what if they had forgotten? What if they were straying from their relationship from Hashem and serving other gods? What if they had forgotten how to ask for forgiveness and how to forgive others? Isn’t that what is happening today? When was the last time you repented to Elohim for something you had done? When did you make restitution lately for a sin you have committed? Your challenge today is to look over your life and detect the sins you have committed. Go to Hashem immediately and ask for forgiveness -- repent (turn around) from what you have done. And make it right. Make it right with Elohim and with the people you affected. Do it. Amen.
Apostolic Reading: Luke 3:2-15
3:2 in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of Elohim came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. 3 He came into all the region around the Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for remission of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of Hashem. Make his paths straight.
5 Every valley will be filled. Every mountain and hill will be brought low. The crooked will become straight,
and the rough ways smooth. 6 All flesh will see Elohim’s salvation.’”Isaiah 40:3-5
7 He said therefore to the multitudes who went out to be baptized by him, “You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore produce fruits worthy of repentance, and don’t begin to say among yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father;’ for I tell you that Eloihim is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones! 9 Even now the ax also lies at the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire.”
10 The multitudes asked him, “What then must we do?”
11 He answered them, “He who has two coats, let him give to him who has none. He who has food, let him do likewise.”
12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what must we do?”
13 He said to them, “Collect no more than that which is appointed to you.”
14 Soldiers also asked him, saying, “What about us? What must we do?”
He said to them, “Extort from no one by violence, neither accuse anyone wrongfully. Be content with your wages.”
15 As the people were in expectation, and all men reasoned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps He was the Mashiach.