Parasha Re'eh

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This week we read Parasha Re’eh, Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17, as we move further through the final book of the Torah.
Re’eh begins with an introduction to the Blessings and Curses that we’ll go into further detail in towards the end of Deuteronomy. It then moves into chapter 12 with a discussion of the place that Adonai chooses from all of the Promised Land to place His Name, which we know would be revealed later in Israel’s history as Jerusalem. God commands Israel to destroy all the places where the Canaanites served and worshipped their gods, and that Israel should not sacrifice to HaShem just anywhere, but we should seek out the place where He has placed His Name so that we are not like the nations around us. Chapter 13 details a warning against false prophets and how we are to determine whether or not they are speaking the Word of the Lord. The first part of Chapter 14 details the Kashrut laws again, meats that can be eaten and what can’t, and the latter part of Chatper 14 reminds Israel of the third year tithe. Chapter 15 reiterates the details of the Shmittah. And finally, Chapter 16, the first part of which is the closing of Parasha Re’eh, is a reminder of the Shalosh Regalim, the three pilgrimage feasts of Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot.
Danielle and I have been married for a pretty good amount of time, in fact, we’ll be rolling up on our 20th anniversary in October. We’ve actually been together since our freshman year of high school, and we got married right out of high school, so this amazing woman has had to put up with me for nearly 24 years and that reality alone deserves some sort of medal. Now, we’ve been together for a long time, even though it really hasn’t felt like it’s been that long and we both talk regularly about how it just doesn’t feel like two decades, I won’t pretend to be some marriage guru with all the answers or anything, but we have learned some stuff over the years.
But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned along the way in our marriage that is more important than most, it is that I have to put our relationship first and foremost. I am not going to say I am always 100% successful at that, I have a terrible attention span and sometimes have to ask her to repeat herself because I forgot to pay attention to what she was saying or I just never heard what she was saying and have to ask the same question numerous times. But, more specifically what I’m saying is I have to put her above all other women...
I’ll be honest, this is a lesson I have learned the hard way sometimes… Unfortunately, in a fallen world, men have a propensity for wayward eyes, that’s not an excuse, just an admittance of a battle we have to face day in and day out in our walks with the Lord. But, in the past, I have had issues with pornography and it has wreaked havoc on our marriage in the past. Very little in this world will make a woman feel more jaded than when her husband is splitting their interest and attraction between her and others… This is lesson that I had to learn the hard way, I should have had to and I knew better… But sin has a funny way of creeping into our lives, right?
Thankfully, through a lot of prayer, through deliverance, and through a lot of accountability this has been an issue I have overcome and I strive everyday to not only put my wife above all others, but I also strive to make her feel like she’s the only woman in the world. Now, I still have my faults, I still only catch about a third of everything she says and have to ask her to repeat herself at least 300 times a day… But, I really do try my hardest to put her first in my life and to not have wayward eyes.


And, if we’re honest, we all have had (and maybe some still have) similar issues in our lives. And for each of us that’s going to be a little different...
For some of us, maybe it’s in our employment, we’re always one foot out the door looking for the next best thing.
For some of us, maybe it’s in our personal relationships, the current friend group is good enough, but maybe there’s a better one.
For some, maybe it’s in congregational life… This synagogue is pretty good and all, but maybe there’s a better one or a church that is better.
For some, maybe it’s our children (and children can feel this animosity), “Well, I love my children, but why can’t they be more like so and so’s children…?”
And there are countless different scenarios we could play through like this… Maybe God is already working on your heart with regard to one as we speak...


And this is exactly what the opening of this week’s Parasha is all about, but with our walk with the Lord. See, at Mount Sinai Israel entered a covenant with HaShem, but it wasn’t just any covenant, it was a marriage covenant. Tradition tells us that the Sinai experience was a wedding betwen Adonai as the groom and Israel as the bride and that the Cloud of His Presence which covered the mountain was the Chuppah or wedding canopy, the covering of the wedding. Israel, much like our forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were called out from among the Nations in order to be in covenant relationship with HaShem.
And there’s a powerful principle we see in Parasha Re’eh...
It’s hard to prove we’re taking a relationship with the Lord seriously if we’re constantly chasing after the ways of the world…
This is the message of the first part of Parasha Re’eh, God is reminding Israel to not be like the Nations around us, to not be like those we’re going in to dispossess, and to not treat or serve Him like they serve their gods.
So, let’s begin to take a look at the Parasha.
Deuteronomy 11:26–32 TLV
“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse— the blessing, if you listen to the mitzvot of Adonai your God that I am commanding you today, but the curse, if you do not listen to the mitzvot of Adonai your God, but turn from the way I am commanding you today, to go after other gods you have not known. Now when Adonai your God brings you into the land you are going in to possess, you are to set the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. Are they not across the Jordan toward the west, in the land of the Canaanites who dwell in the Arabah—opposite Gilgal, beside the oaks of Moreh? For you are about to cross over the Jordan to go in to possess the land Adonai your God is giving you—you will possess it and dwell in it, and you will take care to do all the statutes and ordinances that I am setting before you today.
There’s a couple of things interesting about this first little bit of Parasha Re’eh. First is the very first line…
Deuteronomy 11:26 TLV
“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse—
In the Hebrew the word see is Re’eh and it is in the singular, whereas the word you, Lifneichem, is in the plural. Grammatically this comes across a little curious. But, it is said that the usage of the singular with the plural is to show that each person is to personally see that the blessing and the curse will affect the entire community of Israel. This value is called Arevut, which is a mutual accoutability, and the idea of caring for the welfare of one’s fellow Jew is expressed in the phrase kol Yisrael arevim zeh bazeh, all Israel is responsible for one another.
In other words, each individual is responsible for choosing blessing or curse, for choosing life or death, for choosing to walk in HaShem’s ways or not. But, each persons decision individually effects the community as a whole, which is why Israel is commanded so often to remove the sin from the camp. This is the concept we see in Leviticus 19.
Leviticus 19:17–18 TLV
“You are not to hate your brother in your heart. Instead, you are to firmly rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. You are not to take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am Adonai.
And again in Galations 6
Galatians 6:1–2 TLV
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught doing something wrong, you who are directed by the Ruach, restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness—looking closely at yourself so you are not tempted also. Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you fulfill the Torah of Messiah.
Just like in a marriage, where the sins of one spouse can potentially destroy the whole marriage, the same is true in the congregation. The sins of one person can sew discord and division in the community. Even worse, the sins of one can be something that, left unchecked, can cause others to go down the same path. So, in the same sense that we have a personal responsibility to walk in faithfulness with the Lord in our own lives, that personal responsibility has communal implications. And we are, in love, to strive to restore our fallen brothers and sisters as well. We have a mutual responsibility, personally and communally.
It’s hard to prove we’re taking a relationship with the Lord seriously if we’re constantly chasing after the ways of the world…
And there are actually three key words in this section we just read out of Deuteronomy 11 in the Hebrew that we must wrestle with as we learn to live this out.
Those three words are Re’eh (see) in verse 26, Shema (hear/listen/obey) in verses 27 and 28, and HaDerekh (the way) in verse 28.
With the blessing and curse Adonai is giving us a choice, to serve Him and Him alone, or to be like the nations. One choice leads to life, and the other to death. But God doesn’t force our hand on it, He doesn’t make us love Him or serve Him, He doesn’t need robots… He wants relationship, and relationship requires choice.
To be in relationship with Him we must open our spiritual eyes and see (Re’eh) the choice laid before us, blessing or curse. The blessing is in if we hear and respond or obey (Shema) to His mitzvot or commandments, His Word. The curse is in if we do not hear and respond or obey (Shema) and we choose to not walk in His ways (HaDerekh) and instead decide to go after HaDerekh of the world around us.
The choice is ours… Later in Deuteronomy when we see the Blessings and Curses expounded upon we read...
Deuteronomy 30:15–20 TLV
“See, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil. What I am commanding you today is to love Adonai your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His mitzvot, statutes and ordinances. Then you will live and multiply, and Adonai your God will bless you in the land you are going in to possess. But if your heart turns away and you do not listen, but are drawn away and bow down to other gods and worship them, I tell you today that you will certainly perish! You will not prolong your days on the land, where you are about to cross over the Jordan to go in to possess. “I call the heavens and the earth to witness about you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore choose life so that you and your descendants may live, by loving Adonai your God, listening to His voice, and clinging to Him. For He is your life and the length of your days, that you may dwell on the land that Adonai swore to your fathers—to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob—to give them.
We recognize through the fullness of revelation in Yeshua that the blessing and curse, life and death are something far greater than just life Eretz Yisrael. It is something far greater than Jew and Gentile. It is salvation in Messiah Yeshua, it is walking in His ways, living out the Word of God not because it is something we see and read in a book, but because that Word is alive and well in our hearts and permeating our very being. The key to understanding the blessing and curse of Torah is to understand that we can’t serve two masters, we can’t be in a relationship with the Lord and the World. Our relationship with Adonai is through Messiah Yeshua and must be all or nothing, and there is no in-between, and it is time the Body of Messiah wakes up to this reality.
It’s hard to prove we’re taking a relationship with the Lord seriously if we’re constantly chasing after the ways of the world…
As we spoke a few moments ago, the Torah commands us to see the choice of blessing and curse, or life and death, to hear and respond to His Torah, and to walk in His ways, not the ways of the world. We actually read of the concept of eyes that see and ears that hear over and over again n the Brit Chadashah, especially from Yeshua. However, Paul speaks to this idea of hearing and seeing at the end of Acts as he is sharing the Good News of Messiah with the Jewish community in Rome.
Acts 28:24–31 TLV
Some were convinced by what he said, while others refused to believe. So when they disagreed among themselves, they began leaving after Paul had said one last statement: “The Ruach ha-Kodesh rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, saying, ‘Go to this people and say, “You will keep on hearing but will never understand; you will keep looking, but will never see. For the heart of this people has become dull, their ears can barely hear, and they have shut their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts. Then they would turn back, and I would heal them.” ’ Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!” Paul remained two whole years in his own rented quarters and continued to welcome all who came to him— proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Yeshua the Messiah with all boldness and without hindrance.
He quotes from Isaiah 6:9-10, which Yeshua also quotes in Matthew 13. Paul’s point (and likewise Yeshua’s preceding Him in Matthew) is that our Jewish people still just don’t quite get it… Whether it was Israel in the wilderness listening to HaDerekh in the Torah and not quite getting that you can’t serve God and world, or it’s Israel in the Brit Chadashah seeing the Promised Messiah, God Himself in human form, standing right in front of them showing them HaDerekh, we kept falling short of the fullness of the mark. We accept Torah and the Promised Land, yet almost immediately begin to take on the spiritual characteristics and traits of the nations around us, the very thing HaShem commands us not to do. We long for the Messiah to come and to bring us freedom, here stands Yeshua right in front of us to do this very thing, and we can’t quite get our heads out our tails long enough to recognize it.
Now, it would often be taught in the Body of Messiah for most of the past 1800 years that what Paul was saying here is that God is done with the Jewish people. Almost as if our rejection of Yeshua was the final draw, and even though the Lord said His covenant with Israel was eternal, after the Cross He completely reneged on that. But, the reality is, this is not the case… In fact, Paul says here in Acts 28
Acts 28:28 TLV
Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!”
He then follows this in His letter to the Romans with the following words, in which he even quotes Isaiah 6:9-10 again...
Romans 11:1–11 TLV
I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He knew beforehand. Or do you not know what the Scripture says about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? Adonai, they have killed your prophets, they have destroyed your altars; I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.” But what is the divine response to him? “I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So in the same way also at this present time there has come to be a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. But if it is by grace, it is no longer by works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained; but the elect obtained it, and the rest were hardened— just as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes not to see and ears not to hear, until this very day.” And David says, “Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them. Let their eyes be darkened so they do not see, and bend their back continually.” I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their false step salvation has come to the Gentiles, to provoke Israel to jealousy.
Israel’s rejection of Yeshua does not negate the Lord’s eternal covenant with them, but what it did do was make way for the Nations to be brought into Salvation, brought into the covenant. Given the opportunity to Re’eh (to see), to Shema (Hear and obey) HaDerekh Elohim (the way of God) through Salvation in Yeshua. Why? Not to reject Israel, but rather to drive them to jealousy for their own God.
How does this happen? It happens through the Nations not only accepting Salvation, but also realizing they are being brought into covenant relationship as a part of the commonwealth of Israel. The same choice of blessing and curse, life and death spoken of in Torah is alive and well today, and as believers in Messiah, both Jew and non-Jew, we still daily have the same choice to make… Will we walk in blessing and life, or curse and death? Will we walk in faithfulness to HaDerekh because we Re’eh and Shema, or will we still desire to look and act like the world and only have a fire insurance faith in Yeshua?
It’s hard to prove we’re taking a relationship with the Lord seriously if we’re constantly chasing after the ways of the world…


What areas of your life are you feeling conviction in today?
What areas of your life are you confessing faith in Yeshua with your mouth but not with your life?
Are you taking your relationship with the Lord serious and forsaken the ways of the world? Or are you trying to live your life thinking you can have the best of both worlds?
Where your heart and desires truly are is where your eyes and ears should always be focused...


As we prepare to close today, I want to encourage you take this message to heart… For far too long the Body has been luke warm… We have been perfectly happy trying to live our lives with a foot in the Kingdom and a foot in the world. But, time is drawing short, Messiah’s return is imminent, and we can no longer afford a haphazard walk with the Lord.
Israel was commanded in Deuteronomy 12 to remove and utterly destroy all the high places, Ashera poles, and altars of the canaanites and to not worship Him like they worshipped their gods.
Let’s stop trying to find a way to make both Kingdom and world work congruently in our lives. We are in the world, but we must not be of the world.
It’s hard to prove we’re taking a relationship with the Lord seriously if we’re constantly chasing after the ways of the world…
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