For the week of September14, 2002 / 8 Tishri 5763
Torah: Devarim / Deuteronomy 32:1-52
Hafatarah: 2 Sam 22:1-51
Replaced by Hosea 14:2-10; Micah 7:18-20; Joel 2:15-17

Weep for Israel

Let the priests, who minister before the Lord, weep between the temple porch and the altar. Let them say, "Spare your people, O Lord. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, 'Where is their God?'" (Joel 2:17).

Throughout the years of doing TorahBytes, my preference has been to focus on personal type issues. One of my initial reasons for TorahBytes was to demonstrate how practical and relevant the Hebrew Scriptures are for our daily lives. I hope that to some extent I have done that.

But there are issues in the Scriptures that are bigger than just you and me. God is concerned about more than us as individuals, he is also concerned about communities and nations. The one nation that receives the greatest attention in the Bible is obviously Israel.

Throughout the centuries biblical scholars have approached the centrality of Israel in the Scriptures in various ways. For some Israel is simply an ancient object lesson with no implication for today. These scholars believe that the New Testament somehow spiritualizes God's intentions for Israel. In my opinion this view undermines the validity of the Scriptures by negating God's faithfulness to his promises.

The followers of Yeshua understood Israel's crucial place in God's plan. This is why what appears to be their last question of Yeshua prior to his being taken up from them was:

Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel? (Acts 1:6).

Those that contradict God's promises to Israel claim that this was one of those occasions where Yeshua's followers were still confused as to what Yeshua was trying to teach during the previous three years. But Yeshua's answer to them addresses the time factor, not the issue of Israel's restoration. The kingdom will be restored to Israel. It's the timing that was not made clear.

Just as God is concerned about Israel, so we should be. I mentioned that one of my intentions in providing TorahBytes was to demonstrate the personal practicality of the Scriptures. I am starting to see more than ever that the issue of Israel is also very relevant to our daily personal lives. If the people of Israel is central in God's heart, they need to be central in ours.

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