Nizzavim & Va-yelekh
For the week of September 16, 2006 / 23 Elul 5766
Torah: Devarim / Deuteronomy 29:9 - 31:30
Haftarah: Isaiah 61:10 - 63:9
The Basis of Restoration
When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come upon you and you take them to heart wherever the LORD your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you (Devarim / Deuteronomy 30:1-3).
God through Moses anticipated that the people of Israel would be unfaithful to their covenant with God. The day would come when the nation would be dispersed to the four corners of the earth. But this was not to be the end of the story, for God also anticipated another day, further in the future - when we (I speak as a member of the Jewish community) would be restored to the Promised Land.
Moses speaks of that day as one when we would take to heart the words of God and return to him, resulting in our restoration to the Land.
Yet there are those who insist that this works the other way around. They say that it is necessary that we must return to the Land first before we experience a spiritual renewal. In other words we won't know the Messiah until we are back in the Land of Israel. Passages such as Ezekiel's vision of the dry bones (see Ezekiel 37) and Zechariah's prophecy of seeing the Pierced One (Zechariah 12:10-14) suggest that the revelation of the Messiah will come to the whole nation in the Land at a particular moment of time.
Do these predictions contradict what Moses said? Not necessarily. It does seem to be clear that a great spiritual awakening will happen to the people of Israel in the Land. Yet Moses tells us that God will restore us to the Land as we return to him. It seems to me that both are true. Whatever things may happen in the future, Moses provides us with the basis of restoration, which is turning to God. If you accept the whole Bible, both Old and New Covenant writings, then you know that truly turning to God is only experienced through the Messiah, Yeshua of Nazareth. It was a Jewish follower of Yeshua who said to leaders of his own people, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
If this is true, then how is it that the modern state of Israel came to be? You may or may not be aware that for the most part modern Israel was founded as a secular state. In fact many religious Jews protested its establishment believing that only the Messiah could bring about the return to the Land. They saw modern Israel as the presumptuous efforts of apostates.
Still, modern Israel was born, and against all odds it has not only survived, but has thrived. Does this then mean that God has been restoring the people to the Land in spite of Moses' words requiring a return to God first? Not necessarily.
You may not be aware that the interest in returning to the Land of Israel after 2000 years coincided with a great turn of Jewish people to Yeshua. There were thousands of Jewish people in Europe during the 1800's who believed in Yeshua. Could it be that God, in keeping his word through Moses, responded by opening the way to return to our homeland? It is also noteworthy that when ancient Jerusalem came into Jewish hands as a result of the Six Day War in 1967, it was during another significant turning of Jewish people to Yeshua, this time primarily in North America.
Is it possible then that God's favor has come to his ancient covenant people because we have been turning back to him? While the percentage might seem small, God has often blessed the whole nation as a result of the faithfulness of a few. That most of those who have returned to the Land are not the same ones who have turned to God through Yeshua is not an issue when we understand that God deals with Israel as a nation. Also, whatever we have experienced so far, both in our return to God and our restoration to the Land, is only a foretaste of greater things to come.
God has blessed the whole people of Israel because of the faithfulness of a small remnant among us. As we have begun to return to him through the Messiah, so he has begun to shine his favor upon us as a nation again.
Yet the state of Israel and the Jewish community worldwide is in peril. As a people we are hurting and confused. What is our solution, if it is not in God? Where is our salvation, if it is not in Yeshua the Messiah? Sadly many of those who know the truth of God's salvation in Yeshua are keeping that salvation from us in the name of biblical prophecy, when the fulfillment of those prophecies will only come about as we take God's word to heart and turn to him in Yeshua the Messiah.
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