Parsha Ki Tavo

Deuteronomy 27:1-3 “Then Moshe and all the leaders of Isra’el gave orders to the people. They said, “Observe all the mitzvot I am giving you today. When you cross the Yarden to the land AD-NAI your G-d is giving you, you are to set up large stones, put plaster on them, and, after crossing over, write this Torah on them, every word -so that you can enter the land AD-NAI your G-d is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as AD-NAI, the G-d of your ancestors, promised you.”

As Israel crosses over the Jordan and enters into the land she is to erect large stones coated with lime and written upon them the words of the Torah. In effect this was a mezuzah for Eretz Yisrael. These standing stones were to remind her that the Torah is to be the foundation of who we are.

Let’s take a look at a sequence of events beginning with the exodus that takes us to where Israel now stands in the weeks Parsha. As Israel stands in bondage to slavery in Egypt G-D calls her out and redeems her with a strong arm. She is to take the blood of the Paschal lamb and place it upon the door frames of their homes. Anyone inside this home would be spared the judgment of G-D as the angel of death would Passover them. As Israel is brought out of Egypt G-D speaks to her in these words in Exodus 6:7.

Exodus 6:7 “I will take you as my people, and I will be your G-d. Then you will know that I am AD-NAI your G-d, who freed you from the forced labor of the Egyptians.”

Does G-D then take Israel to the land He promised unto the descendents of Avraham? Before they inherit the land they must receive G-D’S revelation. This generation proved themselves unworthy to enter into the land because of their rebellion with the sin of the spies. G-D through the hand of Moshe spends 40 years preparing the next generation to enter into the land. 40 years have passed and now Israel stands at the border ready to receive the promise that was given unto her father Avraham. As she crosses the Jordan the stones are placed at Mt. Ebal to remind her that the Torah of G-D will be her protection.

It is important to understand the sequence of events for this is the key to understanding our own relationship to G-D and His Torah. First Israel is redeemed by the hand of G-D than she is brought to the places she would receive His revelation. So in it’s proper place the Torah is for the redeemed.

Deuteronomy 27:4-8 “When you have crossed the Yarden, you are to set up these stones, as I am ordering you today, on Mount ‘Eival; and put plaster on them. There you are to erect an altar to AD-NAI your G-d, an altar made of stones. You are not to use any iron tool on them, but are to build the altar of AD-NAI your G-d of uncut stones; and you are to offer burnt offerings on it to AD-NAI your G-d. Also you are to sacrifice peace offerings, eat there and be joyful in the presence of AD-NAI your G-d. You are to write on the stones all the words of this Torah very clearly.”

Note here that the stones are placed on Mt. Ebal not on Mt. Gerizim. In this weeks Parsha when the elder Levites pronounce the curses they are to pronounce them towards Mt. Ebal. The blessing on the other hand would be pronounced towards Mt. Gerizim. What is significant about these two mountains and why is the stones placed at Mt. Ebal instead of Mt. Gerizim were the blessings would be recited?

Deuteronomy 27:9-13 “Next Moshe and the cohanim, who are L’vi’im, spoke to all Isra’el. They said, “Be quiet; and listen, Isra’el! Today you have become the people of AD-NAI your G-d. Therefore you are to listen to what AD-NAI your G-d says and obey his mitzvot and laws, which I am giving you today. That same day Moshe commissioned the people as follows: “These are the ones who are to stand on Mount G’rizim and bless the people after you have crossed the Yarden: Shim’on, Levi, Y’hudah, Yissakhar, Yosef and Binyamin; while these are to stand on Mount ‘Eival for the curse: Re’uven, Gad, Asher, Z’vulun, Dan and Naftali.”

Both Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal are part of the mountain range of Ephraim. Mt. Gerizim is located on the south side of the valley of Shekem while Mt. Ebal is located on the north side. These two mountains are in effect located side by side. They both rise up from the same soil, they are both watered by the same precipitation, and pollen passes over them both equally. Yet there is a striking contrast between the two. Mt. Gerizim is covered from its base to its top with lush vegetation; its soil bares much fruit. Mt. Ebal on the other hand is completely barren. There is no vegetation to speak of; even though it shares the same soil as Mt. Gerizim it bares no fruit.

Can you imagine the visualization as Israel crosses the Jordan and sees before her the two mountains, one completely barren and the other lush. The lesson is obvious, we are always faced with two options blessings or curses, Life or death. This lesson was so important that Moshe speaks about it twice in Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 11:29-32 “When AD-NAI your G-d brings you into the land you are entering in order to take possession of it, you are to put the blessing on Mount G’rizim and the curse on Mount ‘Eival. Both are west of the Yarden, in the direction of the sunset, in the land of the Kena’ani living in the ‘Aravah, across from Gilgal, near the pistachio trees of Moreh. For you are to cross the Yarden to enter and take possession of the land AD-NAI your G-d is giving you; you are to own it and live in it. And you are to take care to follow all the laws and rulings I am setting before you today.”

Deuteronomy 27:14-15 “The L’vi’im, speaking loudly, will proclaim to every man of Isra’el: “‘A curse on anyone who makes a carved or metal image, something AD-NAI detests, the handiwork of a craftsman, and sets it up in secret!’ All the people are to respond by saying, ‘Amen!’ “

Imagine the children of Israel as six tribes are gathered on Mt. Ebal and six are standing on Mt. Gerizim as the blessings and curses are being read by the elder Levites. The word picture for them is obvious.

Deuteronomy 28:1-6 “If you listen closely to what AD-NAI your G-d says, observing and obeying all his mitzvot which I am giving you today, AD-NAI your G-d will raise you high above all the nations on earth; and all the following blessings will be yours in abundance -if you will do what AD-NAI your G-d says: “A blessing on you in the city, and a blessing on you in the countryside. “A blessing on the fruit of your body, the fruit of your land and the fruit of your livestock – the young of your cattle and flocks. A blessing on your grain-basket and kneading-bowl. A blessing on you when you go out, and a blessing on you when you come in.”

Deuteronomy 28:11-12 “AD-NAI will give you great abundance of good things – of the fruit of your body, the fruit of your livestock and the fruit of your land in the land AD-NAI swore to your ancestors to give you. AD-NAI will open for you his good treasure, the sky, to give your land its rain at the right seasons and to bless everything you undertake. You will lend to many nations and not borrow”

Deuteronomy 28:15-19 “But if you refuse to pay attention to what AD-NAI your G-d says, and do not observe and obey all his mitzvot and regulations which I am giving you today, then all the following curses will be yours in abundance: “A curse on you in the city, and a curse on you in the countryside. “A curse on your grain-basket and kneading-bowl. A curse on the fruit of your body, the fruit of your land and the young of your cattle and flocks. A curse on you when you come in and a curse on you when you go out.”

Deuteronomy 28:24 “AD-NAI will turn the rain your land needs into powder and dust that will fall on you from the sky until you are destroyed.”

I believe there is something else besides the obvious word picture that G-D is revealing to Israel. Remember that both mountains received the same water, soil, wind, and pollen and yet one was plush and they other was barren. In this we see that blessings and curses are not based on external circumstances but on how we respond to those circumstances.

The key to understanding this lesson is revelation.

There were people from every color and background who stood at these mountains but there is one thing they had in common, their bondage in Egypt. To hear the words of blessings and curses coming from the Levites was like being born again. They all stood on an equal playing field with a blank slate.

Deuteronomy 11:26-28 ” See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse – the blessing, if you listen to the mitzvot of AD-NAI your G-d that I am giving you today; and the curse, if you don’t listen to the mitzvot of AD-NAI your G-d, but turn aside from the way I am ordering you today and follow other gods that you have not known.”

No matter our circumstances or backgrounds G-D’S revelation has been made to us and we have a choice to make blessings or curses. There is much talk today because of millennia of false doctrine about the curse of the Torah.

What is the curse of the Torah?

Galatians 3:10-11 “For everyone who depends on legalistic observance of Torah commands lives under a curse, since it is written, Cursed is everyone who does not keep on doing everything written in the Scroll of the Torah. Now it is evident that no one comes to be declared righteous by G-d through legalism, since the person who is righteous will attain life by trusting and being faithful.”

So is Rav Shaul saying that those who follow G-D’S revelation are under a curse? Of course not! I believe Rav Shaul’s words are pretty clear. I spoke of this briefly earlier and I spoke of it in more detail at the Shabbaton last week. It is such an important message that I need to speak it here today for everyone to hear. The Torah is for the redeemed. It is for those who have bowed their hearts at the alter of G-D. By Y-shua’s own testimony He came to fulfill the words of the Torah. This means more than to bring proper interpretation but to bring to fullness. Let me explain what I mean.

To our Jewish brothers who have yet to accept Messiah the Torah protects and guards them on their quest to Him. How does it do this? Because the goal of Torah is Y-shua, and as they follow Torah with all of their heart He will be revealed to them. In the life of the believer the Torah has a special meaning and should hold a dearer place to us than all peoples because the Torah was given to the redeemed and we as the redeemed have a fullness in Torah that those without Y-shua cannot fully know.

Galatians 3:23-26 “Now before the time for this trusting faithfulness came, we were imprisoned in subjection to the system which results from perverting the Torah into legalism, kept under guard until this yet-to-come trusting faithfulness would be revealed. Accordingly, the Torah functioned as a custodian until the Messiah came, so that we might be declared righteous on the ground of trusting and being faithful. But now that the time for this trusting faithfulness has come, we are no longer under a custodian. For in union with the Messiah, you are all children of G-d through this trusting faithfulness;”

As the custodian Rav Shaul was referring to one who brings the school children to the teacher. It is obvious from the reading of the test that the purpose of the written Torah is to lead us to the living Torah who is the teacher. It is only when we come to the living Torah that the written Torah comes into fullness.

As Joshua gathers Israel to the two mountains to pronounce the blessing and curses there was a choice to be made that day; life and death. For those who heard the word of G-D and choose to deny or those who heard and never applied it to there hearts the Messiah would be concealed from them and the words of the Torah would stand as there judge.

Galatians 3:10-11 “For everyone who depends on legalistic observance of Torah commands lives under a curse, since it is written, Cursed is everyone who does not keep on doing everything written in the Scroll of the Torah. Now it is evident that no one comes to be declared righteous by G-d through legalism, since the person who is righteous will attain life by trusting and being faithful.”

Here lies the curse of the Torah.

Deuteronomy 11:26-27 ”See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse – the blessing, if you listen to the mitzvot of AD-NAI your G-d that I am giving you today; and the curse, if you don’t listen to the mitzvot of AD-NAI your G-d,”

Those who have the revelation of G-D and choose to deny. The revelation of Torah is Y-shua and those who seek redemption of G-d apart from the blood of the lamb. You cannot come to Sinai without the blood of the lamb upon the doorframes of your house for you are already dead in Egypt.

Today we have a choice life and death- choose life!

 
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