Ki Tavo
For the week of September 4, 2004 / 18 Elul 5764
Torah: Devarim / Deuteronomy 26:1 - 29:8
Haftarah: Isaiah 60:1-22
First published the week of August 24, 2002 / 16 Elul 5762

It's Time To Shine

Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn (Isaiah 60:3).

Israel is not one of the more popular nations in the world today. We get the impression sometimes that the whole world is against her. This is expressed through the statements of world leaders, media writers and broadcasters, and the general uneasiness of people. We also see this in the Land of Israel itself through the great decline in tourism over the past couple of years.

The people of Israel have lived through severe criticism, violent persecution, and general indifference for much of its history. Concepts like "the Jewish Problem" and "Zionism is racism" are evidences of the negative feelings the rest of the world have had towards this relatively small group of people.

And yet the promise of God is that one day things will be very different. The attention of the world will still be upon Israel, but the attitude of the nations will no longer be negative. In fact the nations will come to Israel with an overwhelming desire to receive spiritual benefit. The nations will no longer curse Israel, but will abundantly bless her.

What is the reason for this great change? First Israel herself will undergo a dramatic change.

See, darkness covers the earth, and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you (Isaiah 60:2).

In contrast to the dismal condition of the rest of the world, we are told that a great spiritual experience will be imparted to Israel. When this happens, the nations will recognize it and turn to Israel in order to share in its blessings.

At the time when Isaiah spoke these words, this was not the experience of Israel. And as I have already mentioned, this is not Israel's experience today. But in anticipation of this, God, through Isaiah, calls for a response:

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you (Isaiah 60:1).

The people of Israel are being called to live as if the promised future reality is theirs now. In anticipation of what God will do, they need to live as if it is already happening.

If you were playing a game, and were losing badly, yet for some reason knew for certain that you would win, how would that affect the way you would play? You certainly wouldn't be discouraged. On the contrary, you would play with confidence and with a very positive attitude. Others may wonder why you are behaving that way. But when you know you are going to win, you act as if you are going to win.

Currently things don't look good for Israel. God seems far away. The nation is hurting and confused. Antagonism toward Israel is increasing. There is not too much reason to shine. But there is, because of the bright future promised to us by God.

The more we begin to anticipate God's light, the more we will shine with that light now. We don't have to wait for the end of the game, so to speak. The future reality can live in our hearts now even while things are not so good. As we do we may just find that others will begin to look to us for God's blessings now, just like Israel will experience in fullness one day.

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