Torah: Deuteronomy 11:26–16:17
PROPHETS: Isaiah 54:11–55:5
APOSTOLIC WRITINGS: John 7:37–52
These devotionals are designed to supplement, not replace, your Bible reading.
Torah 1 & 2
The Path of Blessing
Moses lays it out straight: blessings flow from obedience, cursing flows from disobedience (11:26–32). We know this. So why don’t we naturally obey all the time?
The answer is in verse 28. Where does disobedience flow from? Following God (following is the essence of discipleship) instead of other gods (including the “god” of self) is the only way to walk down the path of obedience and blessing. This is why God so consistently calls us to a covenant relationship defined by its exclusivity (12:1–3). This requires following Him not according to the ways of other people, nor according to the ways of our own inclination, but exclusively according to the way He’s prescribed for us (vv. 4–10).
The Place God Puts His Name
Moses continues to flesh out this “way” in terms of appropriate sacrifices to offer, food to eat, and possessions to give. Some of these requirements apply to a later time after God has given “rest” (peace and safety) to His people in the land (cf. vv. 10–11 and 2 Samuel 7:1).
According to Leviticus 17:10–12 and Hebrews 9:22, why is blood always off limits? Read Deuteronomy 12:5, 11, and 18 and reflect on how God has been leading throughout history to redeem His creation by putting His Name on one people group (Israel) to reach all peoples (the nations)—and by putting His Name in one place (Tabernacle/Temple) to spread it to all places (“earth full of the glory of God,” cf. Psalm 72:19 and Habakkuk 2:14).
Torah 3 & 4
Do Not Follow Other gods
Over and over, God calls us to follow Him exclusively, according to His revealed instructions (12:29–32). He even gives us guidelines for evaluating those who try to exercise leadership by proclaiming things unseen. He points us beyond the person, the message, the sign, and the wonder to the One who continually beckons us to follow Him alone. God wants us to follow Him more than any seemingly enlightened person (13:1–5), even more than our very own flesh and blood (vv. 6–11). This means more than just reacting to those around you, but proactively pursuing those who are going astray in order to cultivate purity within God’s covenant community (vv. 12–16). God instructs His beloved community, about to enter the land, in order to stir them to trust Him and obediently follow Him for their own good and to the glory of their/our promise-keeping Sovereign (vv. 17–18).
Follow Me and Be Holy
Following God requires being like Him and walking in holiness, and will necessarily impact every aspect of our lives (14:1–2). Israel’s regulated diet both discouraged “table-fellowship” with the surrounding peoples who would lead Israel astray and laid a foundation for teaching us the difference between “clean and unclean” (vv. 3–21, cf. Leviticus 10:10). How does Messiah Yeshua build on this foundation in Mark 7:15?
Where in your life is “uncleanness” hindering your walk with the Lord? Is your marriage suffering from the bitterness of unforgiveness? Is selfishness eroding your commitment to serve others? Is pride leading you to seek the approval of others more than living to please God alone?
Consider this motto: “Trust in the Lord. And when you don’t: Repent. And trust in the Lord.” (Trust involves believing and acting out that belief through obedience.) Good instruction.
torah 5 & 6
Three Uses For Tithes
God instructed His people to set aside 10% of all He blessed them with. Remember that Israel was given a 7-year cycle which culminated in the Sabbatical year (the Jubilee year came at the end of seven 7-year cycles, cf. Leviticus 25). Throughout this 7-year cycle, the worshiper was to regularly:
1) consume some of their tithe in a feast to the LORD while rejoicing (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:7) in His Presence (vv. 22–26, cf. 12:6, 11 and 17; probably during the pilgrimage feasts of Shavuot and Sukkot).
Every three years (3rd and 6th) the tithe was to be collected and stored in each town to:
2) support the Levites, and
3) serve the poor (vv. 27–29, cf. 26:12–15 and 1 Corinthians 16:1–3).
The Sabbatical year granted release from debts for fellow Israelites (15:1–11) and the option for freedom from “debt-slavery” (an economic “safety-net” designed to protect the poor, not a system of controlling and abusing others for personal gain) for fellow Israelites (vv. 12–18).
Consider how God organized His covenant community. He called for an order that promotes justice and mercy by facilitating brotherly love and Fatherly worship! To what degree is your tithing an act of worshipful obedience (giving as unto the LORD) that promotes brotherly love (giving up what you have to help others) and Fatherly worship (growing in responsible, God-honoring stewardship remembering that everything belongs to God)? What can you do to grow in godliness in this area?
torah 7 &
Set Apart the Firstborns
Why are only the male firstborns set apart to be sacrificed if they are spotless according to Exodus 13:2; Numbers 3:12–13 and Numbers 8:16–18? Could there be a lesson about “headship” here? Headship involves a part of a group representing the whole group. Do you view male headship as a negative way that women are oppressed and controlled for the personal gain of men—or a positive way God has ordered His community for their good and His glory? Furthermore, do you view this principle of male headship as a license to exercise authority over others—or a call to take responsibility for others?
“Come To Me” Three Times a Year
One reason God called for three pilgrimage chagim (“feasts,” “festivals,” or “times of appointment,” also described in Leviticus 23) was to get the whole community together (through the male headship representatives, cf. v. 16) to encounter Him and keep Him at the center of their lives, no matter where they lived. We do not have to go to the Jerusalem Temple to encounter Him because He has made us His “temple.”
Israel failed to keep God at the center of their lives. So do we. Prayerfully keep God at the center of your thinking and speaking and living today. Especially as we approach the High Holy Days (which are really part of the third pilgrimage “encounter” with God), ask God where He wants you to invest yourself to prepare for these times and move through them in a way that pleases and honors the LORD.
We Often Choose The Path Leading To Death
During Isaiah’s life, God disciplines Israel through Assyria, who destroys the land and exiles the people (cf. 54:16). This is the outworking of Israel’s disobedience that Moses had warned them about at the beginning of our Torah portion. They chose the path of cursing. But God’s plan is to restore and redeem in order to keep promises. Thus, He reminds them of a future covenant renewal that would fulfill His promise to David out of the abundance of His love (cf. 55:3; 1 Kings 2:1–4).
Yeshua Is The Path Leading To Life
Yeshua fulfills God’s promises. Moses and Isaiah both warned of negative consequences for disobedience. They also pointed forward to the One who would fulfill God’s promises for blessing. Yeshua stood up during the third pilgrimage festival and invited the people to “come to Him” for what He knew they really needed. Those who thought they “knew” knew not (Nicodemus being a possible exception). Those who were judged as ignorant and blinded were really the ones who “got it.”
Following Jesus will inevitably cause others to judge you as “ignorant” and “blinded.” Which relationships in your life cause you to struggle with these kinds of judgments? Pray for those people and step out in faith to share God’s invitation for them to “come to Him” and receive what they really need!
Rest. Fellowship. Discussion.