Be-Har & Be-Hukkotai
For the week of May 8, 2010 / 24 Iyar 5770
Torah: Vayikra / Leviticus 25:1 - 27:34
Haftarah: Jeremiah 16:19 - 17:14

Worthless Lies

O LORD, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble, to you shall the nations come from the ends of the earth and say: "Our fathers have inherited nothing but lies, worthless things in which there is no profit. Can man make for himself gods? Such are not gods!" Therefore, behold, I will make them know, this once I will make them know my power and my might, and they shall know that my name is the LORD. (Jeremiah 16:19-21; ESV)

The story of the Bible is one of rescue and restoration. The human predicament, which is largely denied today, yet is nonetheless prevalent, is explained in the story of Adam and Eve. Our first parents' rebellion against the Creator resulted in the profound dysfunction which has overwhelmed humankind ever since. But even as God pronounced judgment upon us, he promised that the day would come when evil would one day be destroyed. It would not be until the time of Abraham that how God would accomplish this would begin to unfold: from Abraham would arise a nation that would be the instrument of God's blessing to all other nations (see Bereshit/Genesis 12:1-3). As the history of Israel developed the nature of this blessing became clear: through faith in the Messiah, the son of David, Abraham's descendent, the nations of the earth would be reconciled to God.

Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, the prophetic writings in particular, the anticipation of this reconciliation is expressed in a variety of ways, an example of which is found in this week's Haftarah. God through Jeremiah predicted that the day would come when the non-Jewish nations would realize that their religions, traditions, and philosophies were nothing but worthless lies, were of absolutely no benefit to them, and that the God of Israel is the only true God. In so many different ways from Abraham onwards, this is the emerging picture. The world existed in spiritual darkness, but God made himself known to the people of Israel in anticipation of restoring the nations to himself.

This is exactly what has happened since Yeshua the Messiah came about two thousand years ago. The Jewish people of that time believed correctly that through the Messiah the reality of God would come to the entire world. How they envisioned it happening was very different from how it did happen, but happen it did. Or I should say, rather, that it is still happening. Beginning with Yeshua's first followers, the reality of the God of Israel has transformed the lives of people the world over. Entire cultures have been transformed by the truth of God's Word as people from almost every nation have realized that the ways they inherited from their ancestors were worthless and that the God of Israel is the only God.

Notice the two aspects of this. Not only do the nations realize the truth of the God of Israel, but they completely reject the worthless lies that they inherited from the past. Just because we claim to believe in the true God doesn't automatically mean that we have cast off everything that is not of him. We have a tendency to retain or incorporate aspects of ungodly thought and practice with our worship and service of the true God. We may not always recognize this, but anything that is not of God's Truth is a lie and is worthless. True faith in the Messiah includes both embracing everything he stands for and rejecting all that he rejects. Why hold on to worthless lies?

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