Mattot & Masei
For the week of July 18, 2009 / 26 Tammuz 5769
Torah: Bemidbar / Numbers 30:2 - 36:13
Haftarah: Jeremiah 2:4-28; 3:4
Thus says the LORD: "What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless?" (Jeremiah 2:5; ESV)
I recently had a discussion with someone about product price setting. I had thought that at least to some extent prices were set based on the inherent value of a thing, which would include the cost of production and a reasonable profit margin. My friend explained that, at least in an economy such as ours, the only factor that should be used in setting price is what the market would bear. Therefore in order to set a price for something I want to produce, I should ask the question, "What is the highest price that people would pay for it?"
This doesn't mean that just because people are willing to pay a high price for something, then it is a good and beneficial thing. It only means that it is valuable to those who purchase it.
How we value something determines the time, energy, and money we invest in it. There was a time when our society valued the household far more than today. While we may claim that we value family and home, how we spend out time contradicts what we say. The pursuit of career, the accumulation of things, and the love of self have taken over the importance of building strong and healthy families. Just as I don't understand why people would trade so much of their hard earned money on harmful substances such as cigarettes, I don't know why we have chosen to give ourselves over to the busy-ness of business and accumulation of things over and against investing in family life.
Our misconstrued perceptions over what in life is of true value stems from how we perceive God. In this week's Haftarah, God asks the question, "What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless? (Jeremiah 2:5; ESV). The people of Israel knew the reality of God, yet they went after other things that they perceived as valuable, but were actually worthless. The picture here is of someone examining something and discovering a flaw, thus rendering the thing worthless as far as they were concerned. But what could that flaw be that God's people would turn from him? Of course, there is no such flaw. It is incomprehensible that anyone who truly knows God would turn from him. But that is exactly what the people did. Not only did they turn away from the Master of the Universe, they went after things of no real value.
I wonder how many people turn from God because of a wrong they perceive in him. This may be due to the way God is misrepresented by others. Other times we may draw wrong conclusions about God based on a misinterpretation of life events. Perhaps who God is offends us, because he doesn't meet our expectations or fulfill our preferences.
Whatever the reason, our inaccurate perceptions of God's value will result in our valuing worthless things. But notice that it doesn't stop there. When we value what is worthless, we ourselves become worthless. Made in God's image, we are of great value. God intended that we would live our lives in service to him and that we would be the reflection of all he is. But if we fail to rightly value he who is of greatest value, we ourselves become worthless, no longer able to fulfill the purpose to which we were made.
Thankfully through what the Messiah Yeshua has done for us, we can be restored to that purpose. It is not too late to realize the worthlessness of the worthless things we value and begin to value those things that are of true value, beginning with God himself.
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