“You Are Standing”
Torah: Deuteronomy 29:10[9 Heb]–30:20
PROPHETS: Isaiah 61:10–63:9
APOSTOLIC WRITINGS: Romans 10:1–13
These devotionals are designed to supplement, not replace, your Bible reading.
Torah 1 & 2
Standing Before God
Deuteronomy 29:10–12[9–11 Heb]
Moses is preaching to a nation of youngsters, now grown, whose rebellious parents had died in the wilderness. He leads these adults in a covenant renewal ceremony that is referred to, but not fully described.
Who is the “mixed multitude” standing before God (vv. 10–11; cf. Exodus 12:38) to renew this covenant relationship (v. 12)?
Covenanting With God
Deuteronomy 29:13–15[12–14 Heb]
The covenant seals Israel as God’s people—and the Lord as Israel’s God (v. 13; cf. Jeremiah 31:33b). Who was included in this covenant (vv. 14–15; cf. Acts 2:39)?
Though rebellious generations have been all too frequent in our people’s history, what does v. 13 teach is the ultimate basis for covenant security? How does this “ultimate basis” relate to your security in covenant relationship with God, through Yeshua as mediator of God’s (re)new(ed) covenant? If God’s sovereignty is so huge, what about the Scripture’s emphasis on calling for man’s obedience by free will choice?
Torah 3 & 4
We Must Obey God’s Word
Deuteronomy 29:16–29[15–28 Heb]
God Will Always Keep His Word
A covenant is an agreement between two parties to fulfill the terms of the agreement. The “terms” of covenanting with God include both permanent promises that He faithfully fulfills and ongoing obligations that we are called to faithfully fulfill (thus, covenant = promises + obligations).
Our main covenant obligation is to break with our own past idolatry, and the influence of others’ false worship, and follow God exclusively. (It is tempting to view only one side of the “covenant equation” by focusing on God’s sovereignty or man’s free will. The Bible, however, requires us to stay in the “center of biblical tension.”)
God’s promises do not shield us from the negative consequences of our disobedient free will choices. Nor do they give us the freedom to disobey (cf. Romans 6:1–2).
Israel is God’s witness in the world: revealing both God’s fatherly discipline (29:22–28, for not fulfilling obligations) as well as His faithfulness as a promise-keeping God, even if some of the “restoration” is still future (30:1–5).
Some interpretations of 29:29 focus on God’s sovereignty. Traditional Christian interpretation, for example, identifies God’s deep ways as “secret/hidden” but God’s word as “revealed,” thus to be obeyed. Other interpretations, however, focus on people’s free will. Traditional Jewish interpretation of this verse identifies a person’s hidden sins as not escaping God’s knowledge, while a person’s known sins do not escape community accountability before God; thus they better follow His instructions for dealing with sin.
God sometimes talks about “heart circumcision” in terms of what He will sovereignly do to keep promises (31:6; cf. Jeremiah 31:33 and Colossians 2:11). Sometimes, however, He talks about it in terms of what we are called to do as a free will act of obedience (cf. Deuteronomy 10:16 and Jeremiah 4:4). How do these verses affect your understanding of “covenant dynamics” between a sovereign God who desires and pursues relationship with those to whom He has given free will?
torah 5 & 6
God Curses Those Who Curse The Blessed
Moses reiterates the basis premise that God will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel (v. 7; cf. Genesis 12:3). How does this apply today? In what way are God’s promises to Israel still applicable (vv. 8–10; cf. Jeremiah 31:35–37)?
God Blesses Those Who Follow The Blesser
Some theologians argue that God never intended that Israel would be able to obey the terms of the Mosaic covenant. How does Moses relate to the obey-ability of God’s instructions (vv. 11–14; cf. Romans 10:6–8)? How do you relate to the obey-ability of God’s instructions (cf. Matthew 5:17–20)?
torah 7 &
Trust and Follow God
Choose To Follow God
Deuteronomy vv. 18–20
The Hebrew of v. 15 literally offers “the life and the good” or “the death and the evil.” These are the same Hebrew words used in Genesis 2:10 and 17. In what way is God dealing with His nation similarly to how He dealt with Adam?
Israel’s choice: follow God alone and be blessed (v. 16) or be led astray and receive a just punishment (vv. 17–18).
Israel’s exhortation: choose wisely (vv. 19–20). The choice is the same today, and if we don’t actively choose every day, we will passively be led astray.
In what ways has your passivity allowed you to be led astray? In what ways can you actively “choose life” today?
God Promises His Righteousness
This haftarah is the last of seven Haftarot of Consolation following Tish’ah b’Av. Jerusalem is responding to the words of comfort begun during Shabbat Nachamu (“Sabbath of comfort,” the first of these seven Haftarot of Consolation, Isaiah 40:1–2).
Jerusalem is comforted by being clothed in “righteousness” (61:10–11). Some commentators view the “me” of v. 10 to be Messiah and not the nation. But Isaiah’s next words in 62:1–7 are all about Zion (referring to Israel or Jerusalem as the nation’s capital) becoming adorned with that righteousness which produces Godly praise upon the whole earth—and exhorting all those who “call upon the Lord” to not rest, nor give God rest, until He fulfills this promise (vv. 6b–7)! Those who were standing before the Lord to renew the covenant in our Torah portion received the promises of the covenant. In 62:8–12, God’s promises are reiterated for Israel’s blessing.
Next, there is a dialogue between Jerusalem and God. Jerusalem sees someone coming and asks who it is (63:1a, 2). God answers, and explains His way of judging rebellious nations (63:1b, 3–6; cf. Psalm 2). It seems that Isaiah is looking into the future and seeing God’s “own arm” working salvation (63:5b; cf. 59:16). This salvation, however, combines both of Messiah’s comings in this one vision that includes both the now-past mercy of Yeshua’s sacrifice, as well as the still-future wrath of God to finally judge sin (these two comings were both future to Isaiah; cf. Hebrews 9:28; John 12:47–48).
Finally, gazing upon this glorious, yet dreadful, future vision, Isaiah praises God for His deeds (63:7–9).
Wrestle with these texts and seek God’s illumination of His past and future works of both wrath that judges and grace that saves.
Messiah Is God’s Righteousness
Trusting in Him Who has become righteousness for us causes us to shine forth God’s glory! This glory has gone forth to the Gentiles to make Israel envious, so that, seeing God’s glory in saved Gentiles, Israel might “turn” and be saved too (cf. Romans 11:11–15). This salvation has been promised to “all Israel” as part of God’s plan to restore His praise upon all the earth, restoring what was lost at the fall.
How does your life “shine” the glory of God? How is Messiah’s righteousness reflected in your daily life? Let the answers to these questions drive you to the feet of our merciful Saviour for cleansing and renewal so that you can go and stand before men, testifying to the glory of God!
Rest. Fellowship. Discussion.