Therefore, choose life

The weekly Torah portion (Hebrew: פָּרָשַׁת הַשָּׁבוּעַ Parashat ha-Shavua, popularly just parasha) is a section of the Torah read publicly and aloud in weekly Jewish prayer services, usually in full during the Shabbat (Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath). Each week, the ECI Young Adults are providing us with a commentary on the week’s parasha.

Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20 ~ Parasha Nitsavim, נִצָּבִים — Hebrew for “ones standing,” the second word, and the first distinctive word, in the parashah.

“Ye are standing this day all of you before the LORD your God: your heads, your tribes, your elders, and your officers, even all the men of Israel” – Deuteronomy 29:9

The Children of Israel, from the greatest to the least, are called to stand before God. They stand before Him to make a covenant with Him. God speaks to them of the rich blessings that come from following after God. However, the consequences of abandoning God was to invite curses to come upon them if they should ever turn away from serving Him and serve idols instead.

This week’s Parasha covers the blessings that follow those who walk in the ways of the Lord and how it brings prosperity to a nation, but the curses drive the people from their land and homes.

As we look at these scriptures we see the heart of God speaking to a nation and wanting to be in a relationship with them. So too, as we continue to read through scriptures. do we see that the God Eternal wants and seeks a relationship with each of us. The overflow of God is to bless us and those blessings flow from walking in covenant with God. Only blessings can exist in the presence of God, just as light can only exist in the presence of a light bulb. To walk away from the Lord is to walk away from the only thing that can release life and blessing. The Lord draws a clear picture of the consequences of sin as we read through this chapter. With love and passion he speaks to the Children of Israel,

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore, choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” – Deuteronomy 30:19-20

The Lord is seeking to show us His love and wants us to place our hope, trust, and love upon the only one who can give us life, Jesus Christ the Son of God.

An old nation, but a relatively new state, Israel is still trying to make it without the help of God. Yet, Israel is God’s chosen people, “His beloved, His Bride”. God speaks to them throughout the Bible, calling out to them as a broken hearted husband calls to an unfaithful bride who has broken covenant. The modern state ought not hold secular humanism as its strength; for this demonstrates no more than the faith of man to solve man’s problems. Instead, Israel can only grow in its promises and identity when she turns to God and places Him at the centre of the nation and her identity.

Israel must return to her first love and to grab hold of the Lord her God. As Psalms 121:1 says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” Apart from God and his covenant Israel cannot find the blessing and peace that it seeks. It must choose the life that is found in God.

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore, choose life.” – Deuteronomy 30:19

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