Deut 10 - 11 (Ekev)
Deuteronomy • Sermon • Submitted
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There’s something very endearing and heart warming about the words we find in and of all the Torah portions, Eikev is a dear one.
There’s something very endearing and heart warming about the words we find in . In preparing for this week, I felt as if the words themselves don’t need any man, or any voice, to speak on their behalf. There’s something about this portion that lacks confusion and that completely lacks pretense. It’s message is just there in all it’s simplicity; in all it’s glory; and it bears almost no comment.
This week the words of Scripture bear no elaboration and need no man to speak on their behalf. Granted, Scripture never does, but here the message both shallow and deep, high and low, is plain for people to see.
Eikev has a simplicity that all can easily grasp.
By means of a few questions, let me try and demonstrate what I’m getting at;
This portion that lacks a little something that seems to shroud other words in the Bible. Here in Eikev, we have a simplicity that is truly touching and glorifying to our God in Heaven.
Who is God?
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe.
What does He want from us?
“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,
Why does God care about us?
The Lord delighted only in your fathers, to love them; and He chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as it is this day.
We, who were once strangers to Him, Eikev teaches are brought near.
Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
How do we know He would remember our Fathers and deliver us?
His signs and His acts which He did in the midst of Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, and to all his land; what He did to the army of Egypt, to their horses and their chariots: how He made the waters of the Red Sea overflow them as they pursued you, and how the Lord has destroyed them to this day; what He did for you in the wilderness until you came to this place;
Where is He taking us?
“For if you carefully keep all these commandments which I command you to do—to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him—then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess greater and mightier nations than yourselves. Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the River Euphrates, even to the Western Sea, shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand against you; the Lord your God will put the dread of you and the fear of you upon all the land where you tread, just as He has said to you.
Speaks for itself does it not?
Absolutely. But with that said, we’re here now, so I’ll do my best to add just a little bit of flavour to the message which Eikev is giving us today.
I’ll start by starting with this very simple fact; God has dominion over everything.
Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God, also the earth with all that is in it.
Another very simple fact I want you to comprehend.
So God, who has dominion over absolutely everything, ‘chose’ to love Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their descendents.
Choice is one of the main concepts of the Eikev and the implications of such a simple action are profound.
In light of God’s choice we can infer the doctrine of election and of salvation by grace. You can learn of the character of our God who chooses us only because He desires us and loves His people. We can know that we have a God who is devoted and faithful.
In light of God’s choice we can infer the doctrine of election, of salvation by grace, and learn of the character of our God who chooses us only because He desires us and loves His people. The message of Eikev is there in just a few short sentences.
The message of Eikev is there in just a few short sentences.
God loves you because He chose you.
Given that, I thought I’d take a look at the Hebrew for ‘choice’ because not only does it teach us about God but obviously, choice is how we engage in relationship with Him in return.
The word ‘choice’ is ‘yivchar’ in Hebrew; the root is ‘bachar’ and it means, unsurprisingly, ‘to choose’.
God has dominion over EVERYTHING.
God therefore CHOSE Israel
The word ‘choice’ is ‘yivchar’ in Hebrew; the root is ‘bachar’ and it means, unsurprisingly, ‘to choose’.
Yivchar is used 30 times in the book of Deuteronomy and all but twice it’s referring to God’s choice of Israel or something to do with Israel’s life. It starts with;
And because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them; and He brought you out of Egypt with His Presence, with His mighty power,
God’s choices, throughout the Bible, shape Israel’s history. A few examples;
His “choice” led to their redemption from Egypt (Deut. 7:7–8), sent Moses and Aaron to work miracles in Egypt (Ps. 105:26–27), and gave them the Levites “to bless in the name of the Lord” (Deut. 21:5). He “chose” their inheritance (Ps. 47:4), including Jerusalem, where He dwelt among them (Deut. 12:5; 2 Chron. 6:5, 21).
The word ‘bachir’ in Hebrew is translated as ‘chosen ones’. It’s the noun form of the word ‘bachar’ as opposed to ‘yichar’ which, being a verb, is to choose. Bachir, ‘chosen ones’, is used 13 times in the Old Testament.
I’ll explain in a little why this is profound, but ‘bachir’ is used 13 times in the Old Testament.
The Hebrew noun for ‘choose’, as opposed to the verb, is used 13 times and is always; I stress, always, used to refer to God’s chosen people. For example;
One example is;
The noun ‘bachir’ is always; I stress, always, used to refer to God’s chosen people. For example;
O seed of Israel His servant, You children of Jacob, His chosen ones!
In the Septuagint ‘bachar’ is primarily translated with the Greek word ‘eklegein’ and as a word is likewise central to the doctine of God’s choosing His people. For example;
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,
And this one;
You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.
The method of choosing is the COVENANT.
Covenant is God’s way of doing relationship.
Covenant is God’s way of doing relationship. I won’t belabour the concept today because it’s mostly understood by people, but a covenant binds 2 parties together and stipulates the conditions of that relationship.
This is completely unique in the Ancient World between a group of people and a god. In describing other gods scholars have coined the term ‘The Great Symbiosis’. This term refers to the co-dependent nature of the gods relationship with people because in the ancient world the gods had no qualms admitting that they relied on and responded to people feeding them, housing them and clothing them. In ancient eyes this was the function of the temple and of ziggurats. In return for people’s provision, the gods protected them and blessed their crops etc. thereby establishing a relationship that was co-dependent (aka. symbiotic).
Referring to the ancient world scholars have coined the term ‘The Great Symbiosis’ which refers to the nature of the gods and their relationship with people. The term ‘the great symbiosis’ refers to the co-dependent nature of this relationship because in the ancient world the gods had no qualms admitting that they relied on and responded to people feeding them, housing them and clothing them. Such was the function of the temple in pagan religions. In return, the gods protected their people and blessed their crops etc. thereby establishing a relationship that was co-dependent (aka. symbiotic).
Israel stands in stark contrast and ‘the great symbiosis’ is rejected in the Bible. God makes it clear that He does not need us. We do not feed Him, we do not clothe Him and the Temple is not a place a He needs to live in. In the ancient world the gods’ relationship with people was determined by their needs. With the God of the Bible, YHWH, the relationship was ordered by means of God’s covenant with us.
Moses makes it very clear that there’s nothing we can do to ‘earn’ the favour of our God.
It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God drives them out from before you, and that He may fulfill the word which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
God’s relationship with Israel, again, is simply because He chose us and loves us. He doesn’ need you, but that’s ok, He’s willingly with you, always.
YAHWEH - THE WHO COVENANTS
No surprises then that YHWH, the name of our God, can actually be understood as meaning ‘
HE IS FAITHFUL
The very nature of YHWH as the covenental and loving God is seen is His very name itself.
You may have heard it said that YHWH means ‘to be’, that is, ‘to exist’. This is true, and not only does it speak to existence of God but given that YHWH is a verb in Hebrew, it speaks to the fact that He is the one causing all things to exist.
In analyzing the name scholars have made some further observations. They note that 1) the root word of YHWH’s name can be seen in other semitic languages where it speaks of relationship and a union between people and 2) scholars note that in the ancient world names spoke to function and purpose. It’s not enough in ancient eyes to accept that YHWH simply means to ‘exist’, but what for what function does existence serve. Sure, YHWH is the creator God, but what is the purpose and function of creation?
Scholars answer, and in light of their research into the culture and language, suggest that YHWH not only means that He is a God who creates, but that He is a God who creates in the sense of someone seeking to enter into a relationship. YHWH, they say, actually refers to a ‘God who enters into covenant.’
YHWH, be definition then, is believed to refer to God who ‘enters into covenant’.
Unlike the Ancient World, our God sustains all things and despite being the almighty Lord of Lords, He seeks covenant with all His chosen.
I mentioned before that God’s ‘choses ones’ (bachir) are mentioned 13 times in the Old Testament. 13 just so happens to be the gematria of the word for ‘love’ in the Bible (ahava) and it also happens to be the gematria for the word ‘echad’, which means ‘one’. There’s a few things you can infer from these ‘coincidences’; namely that God absolutely loves His chosen ones and that ‘love’ is the true ingredient for unity and covenant with YHWH.
Thrown in the pot with all this is the undeniable knowledge that God loves his chosen. Why enter into covenant, why choose us, why do any of this if not for the love that is required in order for the covenant to work.
I mentioned before that God’s ‘choses ones’ (bachir) are mentioned 13 times in the Old Testament. 13 just so happens to be the gematria of the word for ‘love’ in the Bible (ahava) and it also happens to be the gematria for the word ‘echad’, which means ‘one’, in the Bible. There’s a few things you can infer from these ‘coincidences’; namely that God absolutely loves His chosen ones and that ‘love’ is the true ingredient for unity and covenant with YHWH.
As an interesting little tid bit I noticed when reading this that the name YHWH has the numerical value of 13.
Knowing this reveals a mystical aspect to the ‘shma’ where we read;
13 just so happen to be the numerical value of the Hebrew word for love and as we noted before God’s ‘choses ones’ (bachir), are mentioned 13 times in the Old Testament.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!
The latter part of the verse reads ‘YHWH is Echad’ and the hidden aspect to this comment is that it’s also saying ‘God is Love’.
1 John chapter 4 is not innovating anything new when it says the same thing; it’s actually a Hebraic reference to the shma.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
he doesn’t need us. He does what He does becaue of His covenatn.
As with God’s name, ‘love’ is not just a state of being nor an emotion that simply exists.
Emotions in Hebraic thought are typically understood in unity with the actions that result from them. So the word love, Hebraically, is not understood in isolation as the feeling, it is that, but it’s taken hand in hand with the actions that result from the emotion. It’s a very Western concept to describe an emotion and then have to describe the actions that should result.
What then is the actions that result from the emotion of love?
As with the ancient understanding of love, the commandments, the ‘doing’ of love if I can put it that way, are inseparable from love itself. You cannot love without the commandments.
I know that’s very basic but unfortunately we live in a world where we have been told that the commandments are a burden and are a means by which to ‘earn’ something. Nothing could be further from the truth. The commandments are simply the ‘doing’ of the covenant, born out of choice and freewill and done in love and faithful devotion. This is Moses’ cry throughout all of Deuteronomy. Love God is the message for today and every day.
Eikev makes this perfectly clear and demonstrates the inseparability of the commandments from God’s covenant.
“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good?
“Therefore you shall love the Lord your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always.
The concept has no delineation in the Bible and continues right through into your New Testament;
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
The relationship is the reason we keep the commandments. Love is the reason we keep the commandments.
The relationship is the foundation of discipleship. It is imitating Him.
God LOVES US.
Attachment stuff and consuming fire stuff.
But here I want to point out something and ask a question that the sages themselves asked a very long time ago.
They point out verse 20 of chapter 11;
Our portion also says some interesting in verse 20 of chapter 11.
The sages ask
You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall hold fast, and take oaths in His name.
And they ask; how can you ‘hold fast’ (or cling) to a God who is a consuming fire?
Therefore understand today that the Lord your God is He who goes over before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them and bring them down before you; so you shall drive them out and destroy them quickly, as the Lord has said to you.
The answer is easy to dismiss. The sages say that the way to ‘hold fast’ to God is to hold fast to his righteous ones. In their case, they’re referring to themselves as doers and scholars of the Torah.
Easy to dismiss in a rabbincally adverse world. But their’s something incredibly true in their lesson.
Love, the commandments etc. really comes down to emulating what God Himself is like. Doing the commandments, in a sense, is being like God, visiting the sick, caring for the poor, loving the stranger etc. We are essentially meant to be disciples of God Himself. In this the sages speak true. One way to learn is to connect with a righteous person and in a perfect world, if they’re emulating God, then by emulating them you also are in turn emulating God himself.
Nope. This is the actual concept of discipleship. It’s imitation, imitating God and His ways and so on and so on. This is why Paul can say;
Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
That is why the sages allude to a deep truth. God is a consuming fire, no one has seen the face of the Father etc.; and yet we have a righteous one we can hold fast too and in turn hold fast to the living God.
Yeshua Himself confirms what I’m saying when He teaches;
God is the God of Covenant
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
Unique in the ancient world
Chapt 7:7 God chose Israel because he loved them and because of the covenant.
The Rain of Messiah
The Rain of Messiah
God’s covenant is His reason for us to keep the commandments ( +11) +
Egypt and the Nile verse Israel and the Rain
Verse 14 ‘early and latter rain’ = Messiah
Hold Fast to Him?
We can only truly keep the commandments and ‘hold fast’ to our God via His Messiah. He is the one we look to for discipleship and all learning and instruction in how we love and implement God’s commandments.
He is our teacher and righteous one.
Eikev tells us that this righteous teacher for us to cleave to would come to us.
Let me show you;
Our great righteous one is alluded to in a way I can’t help but further share with you;
14 then I shall give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, and you shall gather in your grain, and your new wine, and your oil.
Which, on the p’shat (literal) level of interpretation, this means exactly what it says. So, as part of following God (keeping Torah), Israel will receive literal rain.
But there is a play on words here which is quite awesome.
The early rain mentioned here, in the Hebrew is Yoreh. Yoreh (early rain), has the verbal root of ‘yarah’ which means to ‘teach’ and ‘to instruct’. Yarah, is the root of the word Torah.
This is fun, because Yoreh therefore, has the double meaning of ‘teacher’. So Israel will be given a teacher…
also mentions the early and latter rains;
23 Be glad then, you children of Zion,
And rejoice in the Lord your God;
For He has given you the former rain faithfully,
And He will cause the rain to come down for you—
The former rain,
And the latter rain in the first month.
But understanding the double meaning of ‘Yoreh’, means that can be rendered as (and this is how some translations actually render it);
23 And you children of Tsiyon, be glad and rejoice in YHWH your Elohim, for He shall give you the Teacher of Righteousness, and cause the rain to come down for you, the former rain and the latter rain, as before.
We also see this understanding in the Targum Yonatan (an Aramaic paraphrase to the Bible), which renders as;
Children of Tsiyon, be glad and rejoice in the Word of the Lord your God! For He has given you back your teacher in righteousness, and he sends down rain to you, an early rain in its time, and the late rain in the month of Nisan.
Rashi, who is the most prominent Torah Scholar of modern Judaism (he’s actually a medieval Rabbi but his words are still revered), concludes;
‘this may be a reference to Mashiach who will teach the entire world the proper way of serving Hashem.’
And it is. The early rains and latter rains mentioned in our Torah portion speak of the Messiah who we know to be Yeshua. The early rain and the latter rain further speak of His two comings.
This concept of the rains being prophetic and speaking of Messiah is found elsewhere in Scripture too;
3 ‘So let us know, let us pursue to know YHWH. His going forth is as certain as the morning. And He comes to us like the rain, like the latter rain watering the earth.’
Notice the unity between YHWH and this ‘rain’, this righteous teacher that is coming?
6 Let Him come down like rain upon the mown grass,
Like showers, watering the earth
‘Just as rain descends from heaven, so too, Messiah. Just as the rain comes in two distinct seasons, so too, Messiah. Just as the rain brings life and prosperity to the land of Israel, so too, Messiah. May God send us His rain speedily, soon, and in our lifetimes.’