The Parashah for this week is called, D’varim—“Words.”
TORAH: Deuteronomy 1:1—3:22
HAFTARAH: Isaiah 1:1-27
This “Sabbath of Vision” is so-called because the Haftarah for the Sabbath preceding Tish’a B’Av (the Ninth of Av—observed 22 July this year) is always taken from the first chapter of Isaiah, which begins “The vision…”. It is the third and final “Haftarah of Affliction/Admonition”.
This week we enter the Book of Deuteronomy (Hebrew: D’varim—“Words”), a great collection of addresses given by Moses to Israel shortly before his death. It includes reminiscences regarding where they have been, what God has done, final instructions, warnings and admonitions regarding what is ahead.
*Deuteronomy 1:2-3. “It is eleven days’ journey from Horev by way of Mount Seir to Kadesh Barnea. Now it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spoke to the children of Israel according to all that the LORD had given him as commandments to them…”
The implication is that the 40-year journey to Canaan from Mount Sinai (Horev) might have lasted only eleven days, but for the peoples’ rebellion and unbelief (Hebrews 3:16-19).
*Deuteronomy 1:7-8. “Turn and take your journey, and go to…the mountains and in the lowland, in the South and on the seacoast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the River Euphrates. See, I have set the land before you; go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—to give to them and their descendants after them.”
After over 2000 years, Israel has miraculously regained her ancient tongue, and begun to be gathered and returned to a portion of the land described here; she is once again a great nation, one to be reckoned with in the world. Although the area described in this passage approximates the lands which would be overseen by Israel during the reign of Solomon, her situation ‘on the ground’ today is still very different from that promised here, when she was on the verge of marching into Canaan.
*That God would establish Israel’s boundaries according to His timetable. That He will give her leaders revelation regarding those boundaries. Where are the boundaries to lie at present? (Obviously Israel does not at this time lay claim to all those areas lying within Lebanon, Syria and the present-day Kingdom of Jordan originally promised to her). How is Israel to relate to non-Jewish peoples who are presently dwelling in portions of these lands?
*That God’s “kingdom come” among Jewish people living in both internationally recognized Israel and the disputed territories—that Jacob’s children have supernatural revelation regarding both the Kingdom of Heaven and their place in it here on earth in the land of their Fathers.
*Deuteronomy 1:16-17. “Then I commanded your judges at that time, saying, ‘Hear the cases between your brethren, and judge righteously between a man and his brother or the stranger who is with him. You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid in any man’s presence, for the judgment is God’s….” Isaiah: 1:26 (From this week’s Haftarah). “I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called the ‘City of Righteousness’, ‘The Faithful City.’”
In modern Israel, there is no “trial by jury”—rather, the “judge” (or a group of judges) decides each case. We are grateful for the integrity and rightness evident in the decisions often made in the civilian courts—everyday ‘traffic’ courts, misdemeanor courts, etc. At the same time, we are aware of cases in which judges appear to have been strongly influenced in their rulings by Orthodox intimidation, or other factors related to “political correctness”. And the higher courts are often influenced by spiritual powers of which they are not aware. Our Supreme Court building itself in Jerusalem was designed and laid out for construction under obviously strong Masonic influence; part of its outer décor includes a ‘pyramid’ structure atop the roof.
PLEASE PRAY: That righteousness be supernaturally restored to Israel’s courts. That God anoint and raise up righteous judges as of old—such as Othniel, Ehud, Jephthah, Deborah and Samuel—who will be protected in their youth, and in times of need and repentance rise into their places in wisdom, truth and favor.
“Righteousness exalts a nation…” (Proverbs 14:34); “For the word of the LORD is right, and all His work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice…” (Psalm 33:4-5).
* Deuteronomy 2:10-12; 20; 22; 3:11. In these passages Moses carefully lists the Emim (2:10); Horites (2:12,22); Zuzim/Zamzumim (2:20), and Rephaim (2:11; 3:11) as peoples “great, numerous and tall” who had nevertheless been easily conquered by the time Israel came to enter the Promised Land. It was terror-rumours of these same peoples which had contributed to the evil report of the ten spies forty years before (Numbers 13). If only they could have considered (as perhaps did Joshua and Caleb) that Chedorlaomer, who had defeated all of these giant races (Genesis 14:5, 16), had himself been subdued by their father Abraham through faith in the power of his God, they might have brought back a different report.
Notably absent from the list of “giants” in Deuteronomy 2-3 is any mention of the Nephilim, claimed, in their terror, to have been seen by the ten spies in Numbers 13:33. As noted previously, the only place where “Nephilim” are mentioned after the Flood is in that evil report of those spies (including their theory that “the descendants of Anak came from the Nephilim.”). It is the opinion of the writers that, for all the recent interest in Nephilim, both in secular and some Christian circles, Biblical evidence points to their identification with the “angels who did not keep their proper domain…(whom) God has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day” (Jude 6).
PLEASE PRAY that when faced by evil terrors and spiritual giants which still linger, we will remember the God who was the shield of Abraham (Genesis 15:1), and trust in His victory over all such powers.
*Isaiah 1:16-18. “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.”
PLEASE PRAY: That these words will pierce Jewish hearts through the Holy Spirit when they are read in synagogues this weekend—that Jews will find the Way revealed and open for them to come into this cleansing!
*Isaiah 1:27. “Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and her penitents with righteousness.”
Praise God! for a redemption which is altogether just…and which brings all who repent (both Jew and Gentile) into a place of true righteousness before the Father—
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Corinthians 5:21).
– Your Friends in Jerusalem
[The Parashah for next week is called V’Et’chanan—“And I Pleaded…”: TORAH: Deuteronomy 3:23—7:11; HAFTARAH: Isaiah 40:1-26 Shabbat Nachamu—“Sabbath of Comfort.” For the seven weeks following Tisha b’Av, the readings from the Prophets are taken from the Book of Isaiah, focusing upon God’s desire to comfort His people.]