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Saturday @ 10:00am
Oct 1, 2017

True Repentance

In Parshat Nitzavim, Moses warns the entire assembly of Israel that if they sin, they will go into exile, but he also predicts their future repentance & return to the Land of Israel.

Commentary by Daniel Williams.

Now, Moses has been making this covenant with the people ever since Sinai, but something as important as a human being’s commitment to serve the one true God bears repeating.

What is the nature of covenant?

Much has been said of the differences between the covenants in scripture, but the more I study them the more I am struck by the similarities. In every case, God is reaching His hand out to man and offering connection. It is really hard to pin down a definitive list of covenants because they are made and remade throughout scripture. I think this is why the “new covenant” must be all encompassing in its scope because it is the last one. And its sign, Yeshua, is such a clear articulation of this connection God wants with man. This is the true meaning of the word made flesh. You see He encapsulates every covenant and actually always has. The New Covenant is simply the purest form of each and all. Put another way, if Abraham were offered the New Covenant today, would he say yes? What about David?

Now, to be clear, I’m not saying there aren’t differences between the covenants. Of course, there are very specific differences. I’m just trying to understand the similarities.

You see, the nature of God’s relationship to man depends entirely on man’s willingness to be with God, because God has already made His decision and he has given man free will. Now, for the most part, the way man demonstrates his love for God is service and obedience to God’s instruction. Put another way, God knows how our relationship with Him should perfectly look, so if we truly want relationship with Him, we will WANT, LOVE and NEED his instruction however we can get it.

hidden things are God's and revealed things are for man 

Hidden and revealed things

Let’s read one of the key verses from our portion…

 Deuteronomy 29:29 -The hidden things belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this Torah.

This verse describes the complex dynamic of God’s covenants with Israel. There are 3 things at play here: God’s part (the hidden things,) our part (the revealed things) and the reason we should do our part (that we may follow His instruction). This is a picture of how relationship can be had between an invisible, all-powerful God and a naïve, vulnerable human being. If you’re still with me, let’s work with these facts and see if we can strengthen that relationship with Him.

I would define the hidden things of God as things yet to be revealed. They are as invisible to us as God himself. And we would never discover them on our own without God’s spirit revealing them to us.

So what about the revealed things? I would define the revealed things as sketches of hidden things. And they belong to us for the simple fact that God has the real. He has the hidden things. So, the revealed things are to benefit us. But not just in an abstract way, always to a purpose. And that purpose is to follow all the words of his Torah or instruction, as we just read.

 What is required of us?

This point would be easy to gloss over because this is the part where something is required of us. Yet, aligning ourselves with the instruction of God is the whole point of the relationship. If Yeshua was the perfect man and he was the word made flesh, what better goal could we each have than to become walking Torahs like he was? If we do, we are clothed with a revealed thing and therefore we become a revealed thing that beckons others to follow Torah in the footsteps of Yeshua. Let’s see how Moses applies these themes in our passage.

Deuteronomy 29:2-4- Moses summoned all the Israelites and said to them:

Your eyes have seen all that the Lord did in Egypt to Pharaoh, to all his officials and to all his land. With your own eyes you saw those great trials, those signs and great wonders. But to this day the Lord has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear.

So, Moses describes the wonders and signs that have been revealed to the people: pretty significant stuff. Yet, God has not given them understanding. Why not? If God revealed the proof of his covenant but didn’t allow his people to understand how it proved his covenant, that sort of defeats the whole premise of a covenant to begin with.

I think the people’s understanding or lack thereof has more to do with how their hearts interacted with these powerful revelations of God. What is Yeshua’s constant refrain after telling a parable? “Whoever has ears, let him hear.” So, we learn that God reveals his truth to open hearts. And then, there is a certain responsibility that comes with receiving a revealed thing from God. At the very least we must hold on to it, but even better He may want us to share it with others (in His timing of course.)

Do we have to obey God?

Okay, now what if someone is standing there to take the oath, ready to receive all the blessings as part of Israel yet doesn’t feel convinced of the obedience part?

 Deuteronomy 29:18-20- Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the Lord our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; …

When such a person hears the words of this oath and they invoke a blessing on themselves, thinking, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way,” they will bring disaster on the watered ground with the dry. The Lord will never be willing to forgive them; his wrath and zeal will burn against them. All the curses written in this scroll will fall on them, and the Lord will blot out their names from under heaven.

Why wouldn't a loving God forgive?

So, this is describing a person who has a hidden thought. No man can see, but it doesn’t belong to man. The hidden things are God’s to know. So, why wouldn’t God be willing to forgive such a person? Because it is relationship He is after and this person is not interested in the relationship part! There is instead a void where relationship should be.

In almost every case throughout all of scripture, God’s revelation of power or truth has the same purpose: to either demonstrate His justice or to call humble hearts to desire righteousness. Just like the verse said: the hidden is God’s, the revealed is man’s, in order that we may follow all the words of Torah.

Now, when a bitter root later develops within God’s people and they turn from the instruction of God, God will use Israel to bring the nations to repentance. Why? because Israel itself is a revealed thing.

Deuteronomy 29: 24-25- All the nations will ask: “Why has the Lord done this to this land? Why this fierce, burning anger?”

And the answer will be: “It is because this people abandoned the covenant of the Lord

So, personally as a member of the nations, I have to ask myself what lesson do I learn from Israel’s disobedience? And now as God has revealed this truth to me, how will I respond to the revealed things? And as I walk out this new covenant, let me not say:

 “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way.”

 Let me instead say, “I will cling to the fringes of Yeshua’s righteous garment and ask him to teach me every word of instruction.”

Torah in the treasure room

In the book of II Kings, chapter 22 we find the story of Josiah. He was a king who did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. After reigning for 18 years, he was renovating the temple and this really bizarre thing happens. Hilkiah, the high priest is in the treasure room, gathering money to pay the workers who are renovating the temple, and he finds “the Book of the Law.”

Apparently, the Torah was not read in those days and hadn’t been for quite some time.

So, it is brought to Josiah and read to him, and he is completely overcome by it. He realizes his kingdom is full of idols and idolatry. Even the holy temple is full of idols that were seemingly unnoticed for a very long time. Israel, even the priests and even the king had become so familiar with the profane, that they couldn’t even see the idols anymore.

Josiah then proceeds to search out every corner of his kingdom for anything that profanes the instructions of God. He did such a thorough job, that scripture records these words concerning Josiah:

II Kings 23:25- Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.

Now, for many of us, at some point we too desired to make renovations to the temple of our hearts. And our high priest Yeshua has brought us the scroll. It was right there all along in fact, hidden in the treasure room. And when we heard it with our ears to hear, we tore our clothes. And this revealed thing has begun to reveal all of the idols that are cluttered about in our lives – ones, we couldn’t see before. In this season of repentance, may we respond as Josiah did to that which the Lord has revealed to us.


Quote for today

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Psalm 32:8

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Kehilat Sar Shalom, generally referred to as "KSS" or "Sar Shalom," is a Messianic Jewish community dedicated to teaching and living out the Jewish foundations of our faith in the Messiah Yeshua. We strive to identify with our Jewish heritage through the celebration of God's Word - the Torah, its Feasts and instructions.