Ha'azinu
For the week of September 15, 2007 / 3 Tishri 5768
Torah: Deuteronomy 32:1-52
Haftarah: Hosea 14:2-10 (English: 14:1-9); Micah 7:18-20; Joel 2:15-17

 

Stay on the Road

Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them. (Hosea 14:10; English: 14:9)

The readings this week occur between Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year/Feast of Trumpets) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). These occasions are designed to cause us to reflect on our lives, our relationship with God, and our relationships with others. The goal of these reflections is to cause us to take God and life seriously enough to the point that we would truly walk in God's ways.

I have the impression that most people never take the time to reflect in this way. Even those who profess a faith in God seem to be content to let life take them on its course with little or no significant thought. Some people drift through life, while others are driven by it. They are either life's servant or victim (depending on their personality).

But God is calling us to something very different. He is looking for those who will hear his word and desire to do his will. He is looking for people who are not content with the way things are and will stand for the way God wants them to be.

In order to do that we need to heed the cry of the prophet Hosea: "Who is wise?...Who is discerning?" While we cannot understand the things of God without his help, we do have a part to play. As we hear his word we need to grasp it and act upon it. God will not do that for us. Too many of us are waiting for God to bring about dramatic change in our lives and life's circumstances without realizing that he is waiting for us to act.

Let me say again that I know that we cannot do this without God's enabling, but as we trust him, he will enable us. We need to make sure that we are in right relationship with him, something that can only occur by submitting ourselves to Yeshua the Messiah. It is as we follow Yeshua, that the presence and power of God works in us and through us. But that is not a passive thing. When we truly know God, his word will come to us again and again. If we do not allow ourselves to be instructed by him and respond to his directives with all our hearts, we will be useless.

As Hosea says, the righteous walk in God's ways. That means we understand the path he calls us to and purposely walk in it. It's as if God's path is an invisible road that co-exists among a complex and confusing super highway. As cars and trucks whiz by and neon signs lure us to lose ourselves in a multilaned frenzy of supposed pleasure and popularity, it is the truly discerning who understand that the super highway not only goes nowhere, but will result in catastrophe for all who stay on it. The discerning sees God's road, turning from the distraction of the world's superhighway and walks the lonely path of truth and life.

As Yeshua said,

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13,14).

Notice how both the entrance to the way of life and the resulting journey are narrow. Walking with God is not like an amusement park ride where all you have to do is get on and it will pull you along whether you like it or not. It is a step-by-step journey on a narrow road, requiring ongoing discernment and a willingness to take the steps necessary to remain on that path. It seems that God's narrow road intersects with the world's superhighway on a regular basis. Without the needed discernment and the willingness to do whatever it takes to stay on the narrow road, we may find ourselves on the superhighway to destruction.

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