As many scholars have noted, this week’s Torah Portion (Nitzavim/ Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20) is thematically divided into four succinct sections, all addressing the core fundamental principles of the Jewish faith. In this, our text begins with 29:9-10 declaring,
“Today you are standing, all of you, before Adonai your God - your heads, your tribes, your leaders and your officers - all the men of Israel, along with your little ones, your wives and your foreigners here with you in your camp, from the one who chops your wood to the one who draws your water.”
What is noteworthy of this passage is in its reminding us that the very purpose and calling of our lives is to embrace the Lord's Instruction (Torah) and never to rationalize that these words were simply given for a select few in previous generations. Despite our human inclination to skirt responsibility and place its weight on another, our Parashah serves as a reminder of how we should follow God in everything he has commanded us to do.
In looking back to those who initially received the Lord’s mitzvot (commandments) from the Prophet Moses, and for us in our collective calling, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks aptly notes,
“Their parents had entered into that commitment almost forty years before when they stood at Mount Sinai and said, ‘We will do and obey all that God has declared’ (Ex. 24:7) But now Moses has to ensure that the next generation and all future generationswill be bound by it. He wanted no-one to be able to say, ‘God made a covenant with my ancestors but not with me.”
This is a reminder to us that as believers in Yeshua all of us must stand before God and give an account for our lives and how we lead it. Likewise, we must never forget that the obligations of God’s word are for everyone, in every generation, who call upon his Name.
We cannot look back to the past and merely rationalize that all those things were for followers of Adonai before Yeshua for even he commanded that if we love him - we would keep his commandments. (John 14:15) Therefore, none of us are exempt and we all have a part to play in revealing God’s glory in these Last-Days to a broken and dying world.
In their book “Conveying a Heritage,” our leaders Rabbi Daniel Juster and his wife Patty communicates this perfectly by stating:
“The consensus of American Messianic Judaism is that Torah continues in the New Covenant, which teachers us that the Torah is written on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:31). The fullness that the New Covenant in the Age to Come promises the continued existence of the nation of Israel and the celebration of the feasts. The Torah is the instruction of God and refers to more than is described by the world ‘law.’ It is the design of God for every realm of life - family (Genesis 1, 2, Ephesians 5) congregation (Matthew 16, 18, 1 Timothy 3), business, government, education, artistry, ecology, and more. God also used the Torah to guide us in our Jewish life.”
In this, we should choose to see God’s Instruction - not just as something he gave to those who have long since passed, but instead to see Torah as A Legacy of Instruction that has been passed down l’dor va’dor (from generation to generation). Whether one is Jewish or has been grafted into the one new humanity (Ephesians 2:14-16), we should all joyfully embrace God’s instruction for our lives and choose to live it out in every sphere of our human existence.
In the end. we are not a people exempt from God’s instruction - but instead we have been welcomed to join in the Drama of the Ages in making Yeshua known and to faithfully obeying him in everything he calls us to do.
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