- Isaiah 40:1-6 (Shabbat Nachamu—“Sabbath of Comfort”)
Manuscript on parchment of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21, which begins,
“Hear O Israel, the YHVH our God, the YHVH is One”
Such manuscripts are placed within a receptacle which is then attached to the doorpost (mezuzah) of a Jewish home as an aid in fulfilling the commandment in Deuteronomy 6:9. (See below.)
The Parashah for this week July 22-28, 2018 is called, V’Et’chanan—“And I Pleaded…”.
Shabbat Nachamu—Following the three weeks “between the straits” ending with Tisha b’Av, the haftarah for each of the next seven weeks will be from the Book of Isaiah, focusing upon the LORD’s desire to comfort His people. This week’s haftarah begins, Nachamu, Nachamu ami—“Comfort you (plural), Comfort you my people…”. This next Sabbath is therefore sometimes called Shabbat Nachamu—the “Sabbath of Comforting.”
In addition to the “preparations and warnings for crossing-over and possessing inheritance” (3:27-28; 4:14, 21-22, 26-28; 6:1), this week’s rich and powerful reading contains the ‘Ten Commandments’ (5:6-21); the Shema “Hear O Israel” (6:4); instructions regarding knowing and memorizing God’s Word within the home, and other, often touchingly earnest, counsels and admonitions of Moses to the young generation preparing to enter Canaan.
*Deuteronomy 3:25. “I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon” (KJV). Although many English (and one Greek) versions interpret ‘mountain’ as being plural, the literal Hebrew (as with the original King James cited above) is singular, leaving room for the implication that one of the great longings in Moses’ heart was to be allowed to see with his own eyes “that good mountain”—the one about which he had been given a prophetic song immediately after leading his people through the Red Sea over 40 years before—“You will bring them in and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which You have made for Your own dwelling” (Exodus 15:17). This is of course “Moriah”— the Temple Mountain in Jerusalem, upon which Isaac had been offered by Abraham, and upon which the King of Kings will one day be enthroned (Psalm 2:6).
*Deuteronomy 3:28. “And charge Yehoshua (Joshua), and encourage him and strengthen him; for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which you will see.”
PLEASE PRAY: for the raising up of spiritual leaders in Israel—that these be noticed by alert and obedient elders who will, under the direction of the Holy Spirit “charge, encourage and strengthen” them in the power and direction of their calling. That a new godly generation will love and trust their God, fight the battles necessary and inherit the land.
*Deuteronomy 4:7. “For who is the great nation whose gods are near to it the way YHVH our God is to us in all the ways in which we call to Him?”
*Deuteronomy 4:29-31. “But from there [i.e. scattered throughout the world] you [the Hebrew people] will seek YHVH your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress, and all these things come upon you in the last days, when you turn to YHVH your God and obey his voice (For YHVH your God is a merciful God), He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them.”
PLEASE PRAY: For awakening of a powerful longing in the hearts of Jews still in the nations, a longing after the God of their Fathers and faith in this word that He will hear when they turn to Him. Pray that barriers will come down which presently seek to prohibit Messianic Jews [i.e. those who believe in Yeshua/Jesus as Messiah, Saviour and Lord] from immigrating to Israel!
*Deuteronomy 4:43. “Betzer in the wilderness on the plateau for the Reubenites, Ramoth in Gilead for the Gadites, and Golan in Bashan for the Manassites.”
These are locations of Cities of Refuge in land taken by Israel from the Ammorites, running along the eastern side of the Jordan River to Mount Hermon, an area once known as the “Land of the Giants” (Deut. 2:20; 3:13), until Og (last and greatest of the giants) was defeated by Israel before their crossing into Canaan (Deut. 3:3-11). The location of the first two lies within land presently under the oversight by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (which modern kingdom came officially into being in 1946). The last is the area of the Golan Heights, taken by Israel from Syria in the 1967 War. Zechariah 10:10 prophesies that someday Jews will return to Gilead, as well as portions of Lebanon.
PLEASE PRAY: That the Israeli government will sense and move in God’s timetable regarding these lands. Twenty three years ago, the Israeli government under Yitzhak Rabin actively engaged in negotiations to return the Golan Heights to Syria in exchange for peace. The present state of turmoil just outside the borders of that region and throughout Syria testifies to the mercies of God in not having allowed that exchange to take place! Please pray for God’s Kingdom to come in the Golan Heights—
1) that Israel will not despise this land taken once by Moses and bequeathed to Manasseh, and now in these last days entrusted once again to the stewardship of God’s people Israel.Pray that this strategic land will never be bartered for a false peace with our neighbors.
2) That it will be protected from the forces of violence in Syria which continually threaten to invade it.
3) That revelation of the true God and His Saviour/Messiah Yeshua to the Druze peoples living along the Israeli borders of the Heights.
4) For the Messianic presence (including houses of prayer) in the Golan Heights – that God encourage, strengthen and give strategy.
5) Pray that God’s Kingdom come! – for all the regions mentioned in Deut. 4:45 – that in His way and timing, the LORD of Hosts will extend the borders of Israel to encompass all the lands promised to His Covenant people.
*Deuteronomy 6:4-5. “HEAR! [Hebrew: Shma!] ISRAEL; YHVH [the LORD] OUR GOD, YHVH ONE!”
There are other “Hear, O Israel’s” in Deuteronomy (4:1, 6:3, 9:1, 20:3, 33:7)—but this is the one which for centuries has become the central cry of Jews throughout the world, and continues to be sung each week in Synagogues (including most Messianic ones). It takes revelation, removal of the ‘veil’, for this people to realize that Yeshua’s (Jesus’) being Son of God (Proverbs 30:4), as well as Son of David and Son of Man, does not violate this proclamation. It is a deep, eternal truth that He and His Father are ONE! (John 10:30). Satan hates this truth being voiced—when Yeshua proclaimed it, the religious Jews present took up stones to kill him.
PLEASE PRAY for this revelation of the one-ness of the Father and the Son, and that the voice and false message of the Deceiver be silenced in the ears of the Jewish people.
*Deuteronomy 6:5. “You shall love YHVH your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”
Yeshua quoted this verse in the New Covenant, calling it the First and Greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37-38; Mark 12:29-30). “All your strength” is unique in the Hebrew. Rather than a usual expression for “strength”, the word me’od is used. Elsewhere in both Biblical and Modern Hebrew me’od is an adverb meaning “very.” Webster’s describes the adverb “very” this way: “In a high degree; to a great extent; extremely; exceedingly; used as a qualifier before an adjective or another adverb.” Yet here me’od or “very” is used as a noun! To love our God with all of our very “very-ness”—in every way, “in a high degree”; “to a great extent”; “extremely”; “exceedingly”.
Only once in the Hebrew Bible is this passage repeated—in reference to the Israelite leader, King Josiah (II Kings 23:25), “Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Torah of Moses, nor after him did any arise like him.” “With all our heart” implies a tender and humble heart. Significantly, 22:19 reveals that God heard and responded to Josiah “because his heart was tender, and he humbled himself before the LORD when he heard what he had spoken.” .
Might we not pray for the current leader of Israel that he will have a softened heart like Josiah which might be pierced when he reads God’s word (something which Prime Minister Netanyahu has on more than one occasion claimed that he does with regularity)?
*Deuteronomy 6:6-9. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them (Literally, “teach them by memory”) diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts (Hebrew: mazuzot) of your house and on your gates.”
It is so important to read, learn and memorize God’s word. That is obviously the sense here—the placing of portions about the house as an aid in learning. Every Jewish house has a mezuzahon its doorpost. This is a little box with the letter Shin on it (Standing for Shaddai—“Almighty”) and bearing within a tiny scroll of parchment or paper with words from this passage Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21. Observant Jews touch the mezuzah upon entering or leaving a dwelling and then touch their fingers to their lips as a sign of love for the Word. There is certainly nothing in and of itself wrong with this. However, as so often happens with such traditions, for many it has become laden with legalism or superstition. People with no belief whatsoever in the Word, or the God who gave it, will nevertheless touch a mezuzah with the hope of its bringing luck. And there is a distressingly frequent scenario in which a family in anguish over a tragedy taking place within their apartment receives the diagnosis from their rabbi that it befell them because of this or that small imperfection in the way their mezuzah had been mounted; or it hadn’t been cleaned; or the scroll within it hadn’t been ‘blessed’ properly. Such unscriptural, unfeeling legalism crushes the spirit of those religious Jews trying to do right, and brings down the fury and contempt of secular Jews, driving them even further away from the God of their Fathers.
PLEASE PRAY: For Israelis to return to the Word of God; that they will embrace it, and that the Holy Spirit will awaken its life within them. Pray against occult and legalistic deception regarding the Living Word. Pray for Jews to investigate the God-breathed pages of the New Covenant as well as the Old!
*Isaiah 40:1-2, 9. “Comfort You (plural), Comfort You My people!’ says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem…You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’”
As mentioned at the beginning of this section, the Sabbath immediately following the 9th of Av is sometimes called Shabbat Nachamu—“The Comfort You Sabbath”—after the first words of Isaiah 40 which are read that day. From this Sabbath until Rosh Hashanah (14 September this year), the seven readings from the Prophets will be taken from Isaiah, focusing like a balm upon the comfort and love which God has for His people.
PLEASE PRAY that Israel’s ears will be opened to the Voice of Good News coming from her Father. Pray that the voice of the bearer of Good News to Zion (Meveseret Tzion) will be released strong and clear from high places around the Holy City!
*Isaiah 40:11. “He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.”
PLEASE PRAY for revelation and dreams amongst Jews regarding the One who said, “I am the good shepherd; and I know my sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15).
*Isaiah 40:26. “Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing.” PLEASE PRAY that Israelis remember God’s word to Abraham our father, how “He brought him outside and said, ‘Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’”(Genesis 15:5). Pray that they realize WHO is the “Word” referred to in Psalm 33:4-6 who made all these, “For the Word of the LORD is right, and all His work is done in truth. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD. By the Word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.”
Martin & Norma Sarvis
[The Parashah for next week 29July—4 August 2018 is called Ekev—“In Consequence of…”: TORAH: Deuteronomy 7:12—11:25; HAFTARAH: Isaiah 49:14—51:3]