Shalom Chaverim (dear friends),
This week’s Parashah is Re’eh (See) in Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17, God gives Israel very explicit instructions that are quite applicable to us today. First, in the opening verses of the Parashah, Adonai tells us,
“See. I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse - the blessing, if you listen to the mitzvot (commandments) of Adonai your God that I am giving you today; and the curse, if you don’t listen to the mitzvot (commandments) of Adonai your God, but turn aside from the way I am ordering you today and follow other gods that you have not known.”
Now if you remember our blog from last week, you will see a repeat in the passage above, where God is reminding Israel to “Listen Up,” to all that God is calling them to do and how they should live. As noted last week, we should “… return to the Fine Art of Active Listening and give our full attention to the voice of Yeshua our Messiah.” By doing this we are in fact taking every effort to listen to and do all that God is directing us to do, in the moment he us calling us act!
Yet in this week’s Parashah, the Lord takes the argument to a whole new level warning us not to just pay attention to God, but to make him the absolute priority in your life. In this, our Sages speak of the sin of “avodah zarah,” and God command throughout our passage on not going after and worshipping other “gods.” So important, Israel is commanded in Deuteronomy 12:2-3 stating,
“You must destroy all the places where the nations you are dispossessing served their gods, whether on high mountains, on hills, or under some leafy tree. Break down their altars, smash their standing stones to pieces, burn up their sacred poles completely and cut down the carved images of their gods. Exterminate their name from that place.”
From the beginning, after leaving, we all had a problem with idolatry and from the Golden Calf on, when the going got tough, all too often in our history we chose to betray the lover of our souls and run after imitation gods who offered salvation to no one! Although the words of the Shema rang in our hearts, our feet nevertheless took us to places we shouldn’t have been and altars of wickedness.
In reading this though, some of you might be saying, “Yes, that is all very bad and it is sad that our people betrayed God that way back then, but I follow Torah, I attend Synagogue and in Messiah Yeshua, I worship no other God but Adonai. So, Rabbi, tell me what does avodah zarah have to do with me?”
Dear friend, if this is your question, then I am so glad you are wondering …
The truth is avodah zarah is a temptation in all our lives, and is not limited to act of worshipping Molech or other pagan gods of the nations I the times of the Ancient Near East! In fact, avodah zarah can occur any time we, as a believer in Yeshua, choose in the moment to place anything ( … yes, anything) above the Lord!
In the end, idolatry can be one’s job, the ministry, one’s hobbies, your family or even your spouse! We might try to rationalize that we do not bow down to false deities, but do we at any time give supremacy to anything in our lives that is not Yeshua?
With this ever-looming threat beloved, we must continually be on guard of the subtle temptations of the Adversary that would lure us aware from our first love. True, we serve a God that is all loving and will forgive all sins, but we forget so easily in our day that Adonai is also a holy God who will not share his glory with any other. This is why in Deuteronomy 12:2-3, Israel is commanded to destroy the idols and false places of worship because (1.) he is holy and alone Adonai, and also (2.) he knows that as humans we are weak and so easily tempted and lead astray. It is so this reason that God in the beginning of the Parashah gives us a choice for blessings and life, and that of curses and death.
In our arrogance we can insist to do it our way, or worse yet deny that avodah zarah has no effect on us, or we can be real and run to the safety of the arms of our loving Father, who along can protect us from all falsehood, deception and lies.
Dear ones, as we soon approach our High Holy Days, may we rededicate our lives to Adonai and his commandments and may we choose life and blessings and never the alluring sights and sounds of falsehood.
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