In this week’s reading from Parashat Nitzavim (Devarim / Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20), Moshe writes that at a future time, Israel will sin and the Lord will send them into a distant nation, into captivity. After having been scattered to the nations in rebellion, the people will remember the Lord their God, and He will restore them from their captivity and have compassion (mercy, וְרִחֲמֶךָ) on them and gather them from all the nations. (30:1-3) It is in this repentant state whereby the Lord God tells Moshe saying, וּמָל יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶת-לְבָבְךָ וְאֶת-לְבַב זַרְעֶךָ לְאַהֲבָה אֶת-יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּכָל-לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל-נַפְשְׁךָ לְמַעַן חַיֶּיךָ 30:6 ‘Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live. (NASB) The scriptures use the term “uncircumcised heart” as a reference to those whose stubbornness and pride make it impossible to obey the Lord. What is described here is something unique and different. In Devarim / Deuteronomy 10:16 the Lord commands the people to circumcise their own hearts (וּמַלְתֶּם אֵת עָרְלַת לְבַבְכֶם) whereas here in Devarim / Deuteronomy 30:6 the Lord God says that He will be involved in the process of circumcising the heart (וּמָל יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶת-לְבָבְךָ) and the hearts of their children (וְאֶת-לְבַב זַרְעֶךָ). The Scriptures say that the uncircumcised heart does not submit to God’s will and it is the uncircumcised heart that guides and directs one in the way of sinfulness. This promise of God to circumcise the heart of His people illustrates the inward change the Lord will perform which is coupled with remembering the Lord, what He has done, Teshuvah (repentance), and having a desire and love to draw near to the Lord God in heaven.
While studying the Torah, it is interesting to observe as we progress through the Torah narrative from the creation until now in Parashat Nitzavim, we find a progressive pattern of the Lord drawing His people near where He is directly involved in our lives. The Torah provides us with a greater understanding of circumcision and our relationship with God. The Scriptures describe the circumcision of the heart (Devarim / Deuteronomy 10:16, 30:6), the circumcision of the ears (Acts 7:51), and the circumcision of the lips (Shemot / Exodus 6:9-7:13). The uncircumcised heart is the one that is rebellious, does not listen, is closed off, and impervious to the Lord’s calling. The uncircumcised heart has no desire to draw near to the Lord, and has no interest in God’s Word or how it is applied to our lives today. Does your life fit this context today?
ספר דברים פרק כט
ט אַתֶּם נִצָּבִים הַיּוֹם כֻּלְּכֶם לִפְנֵי יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם רָאשֵׁיכֶם שִׁבְטֵיכֶם זִקְנֵיכֶם וְשֹׁטְרֵיכֶם כֹּל אִישׁ יִשְֹרָאֵל: י טַפְּכֶם נְשֵׁיכֶם וְגֵרְךָ אֲשֶׁר בְּקֶרֶב מַחֲנֶיךָ מֵחֹטֵב עֵצֶיךָ עַד שֹׁאֵב מֵימֶיךָ: יא לְעָבְרְךָ בִּבְרִית יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ וּבְאָלָתוֹ אֲשֶׁר יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ כֹּרֵת עִמְּךָ הַיּוֹם: [שני] יב לְמַעַן הָקִים-אֹתְךָ הַיּוֹם | לוֹ לְעָם וְהוּא יִהְיֶה-לְּךָ לֵאלֹהִים כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר-לָךְ וְכַאֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע לַאֲבֹתֶיךָ לְאַבְרָהָם לְיִצְחָק וּלְיַעֲקֹב:
Devarim / Deuteronomy 29:10-13
29:10 ‘You stand today, all of you, before the Lord your God: your chiefs, your tribes, your elders and your officers, even all the men of Israel, 29:11 your little ones, your wives, and the alien who is within your camps, from the one who chops your wood to the one who draws your water, 29:12 that you may enter into the covenant with the Lord your God, and into His oath which the Lord your God is making with you today, 29:13 in order that He may establish you today as His people and that He may be your God, just as He spoke to you and as He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (NASB)
According to the opening verses in Parashat Nitzavim, Moshe is speaking to all of the people, the chiefs, elders, officers, and all the men of Israel. He also includes the children, and women, and the foreigner living in the camp who chops wood. Note that the one who chops wood is a reference to those whom Israel made a covenant with the people in the Promised Land not to destroy, and the result was to enslave the inhabitants for the chopping of wood and drawing of water (see Joshua 9). Moshe says that the people who are standing here have made a covenant with the Lord God in heaven. The purpose of the covenant is the Lord will establish (הָקִים) “lift us up, raise us up” as His people, so that He will be our God and we will be His people. The point is, the Lord is looking for a special and treasured people (Am Segolah), and the way to do this is for Him to lift up His people and to bring them to this special place that He has prepared for them. The Lord has a calling upon our lives, to live for Him according to His Word, to have faith, and to turn in Teshuvah daily, to remember, and to believe that He is able to save us. This is the conclusion that may be made according to one page from the Torah.
What we have here is page 380 from Ginsburg’s Masoretic Text, which states the following:
Devarim / Deuteronomy 30:1-13
30:1 ‘So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the Lord your God has banished you, 30:2 and you return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, 30:3 then the Lord your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. 30:4 ‘If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back. 30:5 ‘The Lord your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. 30:6 ‘Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live. 30:7 ‘The Lord your God will inflict all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. 30:8 ‘And you shall again obey the Lord, and observe all His commandments which I command you today. 30:9 ‘Then the Lord your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for the Lord will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers; 30:10 if you obey the Lord your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul. 30:11 ‘For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. 30:12 ‘It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ 30:13 ‘Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ 30:14 ‘But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it. 30:15 ‘See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; 30:16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. (NASB)
Moshe begins Devarim / Deuteronomy 30 speaking of all these things that are described in the blessings and the curses happening to Israel if the people fail to keep God’s commands. (א וְהָיָה כִי-יָבֹאוּ עָלֶיךָ כָּל-הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה הַבְּרָכָה וְהַקְּלָלָה אֲשֶׁר נָתַתִּי לְפָנֶיךָ וַהֲשֵׁבֹתָ אֶל-לְבָבֶךָ בְּכָל-הַגּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר הִדִּיחֲךָ יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ שָׁמָּה: ב וְשַׁבְתָּ עַד-יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ וְשָׁמַעְתָּ בְקֹלוֹ כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר-אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיּוֹם אַתָּה וּבָנֶיךָ בְּכָל-לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל-נַפְשֶׁךָ: ג וְשָׁב יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶת-שְׁבוּתְךָ וְרִחֲמֶךָ וְשָׁב וְקִבֶּצְךָ מִכָּל-הָעַמִּים אֲשֶׁר הֱפִיצְךָ יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ שָׁמָּה:). The implicit meaning of the Hebrew text which states “So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you…” is on the importance of remembering. If we do not remember, we will not be caused to come to Teshuvah (repentance). The Hebrew text says “when all of these words come” (יָבֹאוּ עָלֶיךָ כָּל-הַדְּבָרִים) suggesting that the words are being sent forth and taking action either for or against the people. The Scripture says, if you “turn” (וְשַׁבְתָּ, the root word for turning, repenting, Teshuvah) and if you will “listen” (וְשָׁמַעְתָּ) to His voice (to God’s voice). The remembering, turning in repentance, and listening (hearing) the voice of God are all connected. This is why King Solomon said what he did in Mishley / Proverbs 28:9 He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, Even his prayer is an abomination. (NASB) If we do not hear the word, we will not be convicted of our sins.
While reading Parashat Shemot, the verses from Shemot / Exodus 4:1-8 details the signs Moshe was to perform before Pharaoh and before the elders of the Children of Israel, (i) the staff turned into a snake and (ii) his hand being covered with Tzaraat. Moshe asked the Lord “what if the people do not believe him.” The Lord gives Moshe these signs, and states in Shemot / Exodus 4:8 saying וְהָיָה אִם-לֹא יַאֲמִינוּ לָךְ וְלֹא יִשְׁמְעוּ לְקֹל הָאֹת הָרִאשׁוֹן וְהֶאֱמִינוּ לְקֹל הָאֹת הָאַחֲרוֹן that if they do not believe the first one, they will listen on performing the second sign of his hand being made to be covered with Tzaraat. Note that the Hebrew text says that if they do not יִשְׁמְעוּ לְקֹל “listen to the voice” of the first; they will וְהֶאֱמִינוּ לְקֹל “believe the voice” of the one that follows. Notice how the performing of the sign before the people functions as “a voice to listen to,” illustrating the importance on how we live our lives speaks as a witness for what we believe, our lives act as a voice on behalf of God. This may be the reason for the NASB English translation using the word “witness” in this verse. The Aramaic Targum Onkelos agrees with the Hebrew text saying, וִיהֵי אִם לָא יְהֵימְנוּן לָךְ וְלָא יְקַבְּלוּן לְקַל אָתָא קַדְמָאָה וִיהֵמְנוּן לְקַל אָתָא בַתְרָאָה that if they do not listen to the voice the first one they will believe the voice of the one that follows.
In Parashat Shoftim (Devarim / Deuteronomy 18), comparing the Targum Onkelos (Aramaic) with the MT, the Aramaic translation says the people feared “hearing the voice of the Word” (מֵימְרָא) of the Lord God at Horeb and the prophet that the Lord will raise up the people are “to listen to him” (אֵלָיו תִּשְׁמָעוּן). If a man will not listen to His voice, according to the Torah, it says “I myself will require it of him” (יט וְהָיָה הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יִשְׁמַע אֶל-דְּבָרַי אֲשֶׁר יְדַבֵּר בִּשְׁמִי אָנֹכִי אֶדְרשׁ מֵעִמּוֹ:) and in the Targum, it says that “My Word (Memra) will require it of him” (יט וִיהֵי גַּבְרָא דִּי לָא יְקַבֵּל לְפִתְגָּמַי דִּי יְמַלֵּל בִּשְׁמִי מֵימְרִי יִתְבַּע מִנֵּהּ:). This comparison reveals the understanding that the “Word of the Lord” (“Memra of Adonai”) is synonymous with the Lord God Almighty. The Lord will require it of the people, His Word (His Memra) will require it of the people. The word of God that is brought by the prophet, according to the text, is significant such that the person who does not listen will be held accountable before the Lord God Almighty for their sins.
In addition, as we had noted earlier, in Parashat Ki Tavo (Devarim / Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8) Moshe warns the people saying וְהָיָה כִּי-תָבוֹא אֶל-הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לְךָ נַחֲלָה וִירִשְׁתָּהּ וְיָשַׁבְתָּ בָּהּ: “When you come into the land that the Lord God has given you as an inheritance …” (26:1), he lists the blessing that follows the one who listens and obeys (השמעים והשמרים) God’s Word and the curse that follows when one chooses not to listen and obey. Devarim / Deuteronomy 28:1 states וְהָיָה אִם-שָׁמוֹעַ תִּשְׁמַע בְּקוֹל יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לִשְׁמֹר לַעֲשֹוֹת saying “now it comes to be that you listen hearing the voice of the Lord God to keep and to do …” The phrase שָׁמוֹעַ תִּשְׁמַע is translated as “diligently obey” according to the NASB. The first word שָׁמוֹעַ is a 3rd—ע Qal noun meaning “to hear or to listen” and תִּשְׁמַע is written in the imperfect Qal second person masculine singular form denoting a past action that is in progress but not completed at the time in question. The English is translated as “diligently obey” the Lord your God. It is interesting that, the verse says “if you listen to the voice of the Lord your God” (וְהָיָה אִם-שָׁמוֹעַ תִּשְׁמַע בְּקוֹל יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לִשְׁמֹר לַעֲשֹוֹת) in Hebrew, the imperfect form indicates that listening is an ongoing process that is not yet complete. This indicates the process of listening (hearing) and obeying God’s voice is an ongoing life long process.
Within the first line of the Hebrew text from one page of the MT states “So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you…” demonstrates the importance of “listening, remembering, and hearing the voice of the Lord God” and “to keeping” (לִשְׁמֹר) and “to doing” (לַעֲשֹוֹת) what God has commanded.
In Devarim / Deuteronomy 30:6-8, the Torah states, ו וּמָל יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶת-לְבָבְךָ וְאֶת-לְבַב זַרְעֶךָ לְאַהֲבָה אֶת-יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּכָל-לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל-נַפְשְׁךָ לְמַעַן חַיֶּיךָ: [חמישי] [שלישי כשהן מחוברין] ז וְנָתַן יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֵת כָּל-הָאָלוֹת הָאֵלֶּה עַל-אֹיְבֶיךָ וְעַל-שֹנְאֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר רְדָפוּךָ: ח וְאַתָּה תָשׁוּב וְשָׁמַעְתָּ בְּקוֹל יְהוָֹה וְעָשִֹיתָ אֶת-כָּל-מִצְוֹתָיו אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיּוֹם: 30:6 ‘Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live. 30:7 ‘The Lord your God will inflict all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. 30:8 ‘And you shall again obey the Lord, and observe all His commandments which I command you today. (NASB) The Torah describes the Lord is the One who enables or empowers His people by circumcising their hearts.
While studying the book of Deuteronomy, and the listings of the blessings and the curses, note how there appears to be a fundamental discrepancy between these concepts, in the question of “Who comes to whom?” In other words, is it man who approaches and enters the boundaries of the Mitzvot, fulfilling and obeying His word, or is it the Lord God Who enters man’s boundaries, impacting his life, his will, and his ability to be obedient to the Mitzvot? The Lord says in Parashat Bekhukotai, “if you follow My statutes and keep My commandments and do them, then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing shall reach to the vintage, and the vintage shall reach to the sowing time, and you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.” (Vayikra / Leviticus 26:3-5) In Deuteronomy, the Lord describes what will happen “if you follow My statutes and observe the commandments.” While studying the Psalms, the Torah, and these Scriptures specifically from Parashat Bekhukotai, is the subject here concerning “following My statutes,” “observance,” and “performing the commandments,” “man’s obedience or ability,” or is the subject about obeying God? The subject is not about man himself and what is happening on the inside with regard to his struggle or ability to be obedient to the command. The subject is actually regarding the “behavioral statutes and commandments” upon which man’s existence is based. If a man “enters the boundaries” of these rules and behaves in accordance with their truth, then his existence will be firm and stable, and he will enjoy the resulting abundance the Lord God in heaven provides in which the Torah states, “I will give you rain in due seas, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.” And I will set My Sanctuary among you and My soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be My people. I am the Lord your God Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their bondmen, and I have broken the bars of your yoke, and caused you to walk upright. (Vayikra / Leviticus 26:11-13) The Scripture continues saying, “And it shall be, if you obey diligently the voice of the Lord your God, to observe and to perform all His commandments which I command you this day, that the Lord your God will set you on high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, and the fruit of your ground, and the fruit of your beasts, the increase of your cattle and the flocks of your sheep. Blessed shall be your basket and your store. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.” In Parashat Bechukotai (Vayikra / Leviticus), and in the blessings and curses within the book of Deuteronomy, we find the Scriptures formulated in both the plural and the singular form, which indicates that the Lord is speaking to us both as a nation, and also at the individual level within the nation. The approach that is taken from the Torah, the Lord is addressing us at a more inward level, from a national perspective, which consists of the individuals who are called to live within the boundaries of God’s commandments. In the book of Deuteronomy, the approach is “hearing His voice,” and the Lord God who will “set you on high above all the nations of the earth.” (Devarim / Deuteronomy 28:1) These statements are related to an inner status that is relative to all the nations of the world. The condition of the nation that belongs to God is filled with men and women who seek the Lord God in heaven and desire to live according to His commandments because of the great love that He has for His people. From this point of view, of the nation that steps into the boundaries of the commandments, there follows an assortment of blessings, expressing the abundance that can fill a person’s world and the goodness that surrounds him. On the other hand, there are also the curses, the one who does not choose or seek to live according to God’s ways, the curses will fall upon and overtake such a person. From this point on, the subject is the individual and/or the nation and the status or position that they will occupy which is described as, “Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field…” (Devarim / Deuteronomy 28:16), “The Lord shall cause you to be smitten before your enemies; you shall go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them, and shall be a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth” (Devarim / Deuteronomy 28:25), and the list goes on.
In Devarim / Deuteronomy 30:10, Moshe says, י כִּי תִשְׁמַע בְּקוֹל יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לִשְׁמֹר מִצְוֹתָיו וְחֻקֹּתָיו הַכְּתוּבָה בְּסֵפֶר הַתּוֹרָה הַזֶּה כִּי תָשׁוּב אֶל-יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּכָל-לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל-נַפְשֶׁךָ: 30:10 if you obey the Lord your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul. (NASB) Notice what Moshe is saying here, he says כִּי תָשׁוּב אֶל-יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ “if you turn to the Lord your God…,” using the word תָשׁוּב (Tashuv), the root word for Teshuvah, indicating the significance of repentance in our lives. When we hear the word of God, we remember what He has done, we remember how much He loves us, and we remember the command about sin and death, and the life that is found in the Lord God our Father in heaven. The Torah shows us over and over again that a sinner must turn from his or her sinful ways, to repent, to confess his or her sin before God, and to turn to the Lord and His ways.
In Bamidbar / Numbers 5:6-7 we read the following, 5:6 ‘Speak to the sons of Israel, ‘When a man or woman commits any of the sins of mankind, acting unfaithfully against the Lord, and that person is guilty, 5:7 then he shall confess his sins which he has committed, and he shall make restitution in full for his wrong and add to it one-fifth of it, and give it to him whom he has wronged. (NASB) These verses tell us what is required of us before the Lord. We are to repent and make restitution if we have wronged someone else. The restitution that is to be made to God due to our sins rests solely upon His mercy and our faith in the Messiah Yeshua. The Torah states specifically that a person is to “repent from his sin” וְהֵשִׁיב אֶת-אֲשָׁמוֹ where the word וְהֵשִׁיב “Heshiv” means “to turn” indicating that repentance consists of a physical response (of an action in one’s life) to turn from sin and not simply showing remorse in the heart. This is the idea of making restitution in full for the wrong that was done. We are called to turn from the path of unrighteousness taking it upon ourselves to never do such a thing again; essentially, these scriptures show us that confession is a necessary part of Teshuvah (repentance) leading to the salvation of God.
In Matthew 8, Yeshua instructed the lepers to go and show themselves to the priests. While going to the priests, they were cleansed from Tzaraat. The ritual cleansing process from Tzaraat required a rigorous procedure of inspection and blood atonement as described in the Torah. According to Vayikra / Leviticus 14:2-3 ב זֹאת תִּהְיֶה תּוֹרַת הַמְּצֹרָע בְּיוֹם טָהֳרָתוֹ וְהוּבָא אֶל-הַכֹּהֵן: ג וְיָצָא הַכֹּהֵן אֶל-מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה וְרָאָה הַכֹּהֵן וְהִנֵּה נִרְפָּא נֶגַע-הַצָּרַעַת מִן-הַצָּרוּעַ: ד וְצִוָּה הַכֹּהֵן וְלָקַח לַמִּטַּהֵר שְׁתֵּי-צִפֳּרִים חַיּוֹת טְהֹרוֹת וְעֵץ אֶרֶז וּשְׁנִי תוֹלַעַת וְאֵזֹב: 14:2 ‘This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing. Now he shall be brought to the priest, 14:3 and the priest shall go out to the outside of the camp. Thus the priest shall look, and if the infection of leprosy has been healed in the leper. (NASB) The person with Tzaraat is to meet the Cohen (Priest) half way. Yeshua sent the lepers to show their bodies to the Cohen because the first step of acting in faith is crucial for a believer. As it says in Hosea 14:2 קְחוּ עִמָּכֶם דְּבָרִים וְשׁוּבוּ אֶל־יְהוָה אִמְרוּ אֵלָיו כָּל־תִּשָּׂא עָוֹן וְקַח־טֹוב וּֽנְשַׁלְּמָה פָרִים שְׂפָתֵֽינוּ׃ 14:2 Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to Him, ‘Take away all iniquity And receive us graciously, That we may present the fruit of our lips. (NASB) These Scriptures tell us that it is when we sincerely turn to the Lord and act upon our faith that He will take care of our problem of impurity, uncleanness, and sin. Just as we read in Devarim / Deuteronomy 30:6, ו וּמָל יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶת-לְבָבְךָ וְאֶת-לְבַב זַרְעֶךָ לְאַהֲבָה אֶת-יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּכָל-לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל-נַפְשְׁךָ לְמַעַן חַיֶּיךָ: [חמישי] [שלישי כשהן מחוברין] 30:6 ‘Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live. (NASB) The Torah describes the Lord being the One who enables or empowers His people by circumcising their hearts. In the Scriptures describing Tzaraat, the disease of Tzaraat was a spiritual malady that required spiritual discernment to both diagnose and treat. When someone was found to have Tzaraat, they were forced to leave society and undergo a period of mourning and Teshuvah (repentance). Notice how the one stricken with a spiritual malady, according to the covenant relationship, is told to leave for a period of repentance prior to being reintegrated into the community of believers. Following this period of repentance, he undergoes inspection and then cleansed and purified through the ashes of the Red Heifer. The details are listed in Vayikra / Leviticus chapter 14. Note how throughout the Torah we are told of the importance of repentance, just as Moshe writes saying, כִּי תָשׁוּב אֶל-יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ “if you turn to the Lord your God…,” using the word תָשׁוּב (Tashuv), to turn, to repent, to look to the Lord and to walk in His ways. All of these things may be learned by examining one page from the Torah!
In Devarim / Deuteronomy 30:11-12, Moshe says, יא כִּי הַמִּצְוָה הַזֹּאת אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיּוֹם לֹא-נִפְלֵאת הִוא מִמְּךָ וְלֹא-רְחֹקָה הִוא: יב לֹא בַשָּׁמַיִם הִוא לֵאמֹר מִי יַעֲלֶה-לָּנוּ הַשָּׁמַיְמָה וְיִקָּחֶהָ לָּנוּ וְיַשְׁמִעֵנוּ אֹתָהּ וְנַעֲשֶֹנָּה: 30:11 ‘For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. 30:12 ‘It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ (NASB) King David said in Tehillim / Psalm 14:2 that the Lord looks down from heaven searching for those who seek Him. How does one go about seeking the Lord God in heaven? We are told according to the author of Hebrews the following:
12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. (NIV)
We are told to live at peace with everyone, to be holy, and to pursue holiness. Without holiness, no one will see the Lord. The word for holiness (קדוש) is to be holy, to set apart. We are being told by the author of the book of Hebrews to set ourselves apart for the Lord because without such we will not be able to see God. Pursuing holiness is the act of living in obedience to the Lord. Note that in the page from the Torah, we are told 30:6 ‘Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart…” the Lord is the One who places within our hearts the desire to pursue holiness. Do you have a desire to pursue holiness? If not, what is going on in your relationship with God? Moshe tells us that obedience to the command is not difficult and not far out of reach for each and every one of us. The importance of the Torah for our lives may be found in these concepts of repentance, and the Lord working in our hearts and our lives for His glory. Consider the following four points that have their basis in the Torah:
- Our dependence upon the Lord: “By prayer we continually humble ourselves before the Lord and depend upon Him for help.” This keeps us from saying, “By my power, and the might of mine hand, have gotten this wealth” (Devarim / Deuteronomy 8:17-18, יז וְאָמַרְתָּ בִּלְבָבֶךָ כֹּחִי וְעֹצֶם יָדִי עָשָֹה לִי אֶת-הַחַיִל הַזֶּה:).
- Our communion with the Lord: “The Lord desires to have communion with us.” The reality is sometimes our hearts are reluctant to dwell in the presence of God, it is only by the renewing of the heart and mind in God’s Word and by the power of the Holy Spirit we are able to draw near into a close relationship with Him. The Scriptures say in Devarim / Deuternomy 30:10-12 ט וְהוֹתִירְךָ יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּכֹל | מַעֲשֵֹה יָדֶךָ בִּפְרִי בִטְנְךָ וּבִפְרִי בְהֶמְתְּךָ וּבִפְרִי אַדְמָתְךָ לְטֹבָה כִּי | יָשׁוּב יְהֹוָה לָשֹוּשֹ עָלֶיךָ לְטוֹב כַּאֲשֶׁר-שָֹשֹ עַל-אֲבֹתֶיךָ: י כִּי תִשְׁמַע בְּקוֹל יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לִשְׁמֹר מִצְוֹתָיו וְחֻקֹּתָיו הַכְּתוּבָה בְּסֵפֶר הַתּוֹרָה הַזֶּה כִּי תָשׁוּב אֶל-יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּכָל-לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל-נַפְשֶׁךָ: [ששי] יא כִּי הַמִּצְוָה הַזֹּאת אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיּוֹם לֹא-נִפְלֵאת הִוא מִמְּךָ וְלֹא-רְחֹקָה הִוא: 30:9 ‘Then the Lord your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for the Lord will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers; 30:10 if you obey the Lord your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul. 30:11 ‘For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. (NASB)
- The Lord Prepares us: “The Lord prepares our hearts through prayer.” He facilitates our preparation by delaying to grant our request at the moment of our asking. We are held up in the truth of His presence until we are brought into spiritual understanding of the will of God for our lives. Whether there is sin in our lives that is resulting in calamities or simply for the increasing of patience and love for others.
- Our cooperation with God: “We are called to be fellow laborers together with God.” Scripture says that our Savior grieves with us and ever lives to make intercession. To His redeemed people He says, Matthew 26:38 Then He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.’ (NASB) According to the Scriptures and based on our own lives, there is a great work to be done in the hearts of Men.
Based upon this one page from the Torah, The Lord has a calling upon our lives, hearing is paralleled to living for Him according to His Word, to have faith, and to turn in Teshuvah daily, to remember, and to believe that He is able to save us. These are the conclusions that may be made according to one page from the Torah. BTT_Parashat Nitzavim 2015