Three times a year, at set times, the men of Israel were commanded to make pilgrimage to the place where God would put His name. This place was Jerusalem, and particularly, the temple. The three times for pilgrimage corresponded to three of the Appointed Times which God commanded to be observed: Passover, Shavuot (Pentecost), and Sukkot (The Feast of Tabernacles). The current portion is taking place during the feast of Sukkot, so that is where we will here focus our attention.
Judeo-Christian Clarion — Portions
The weekly Torah portion, called a ‘parashah’, combined with a Haftorah and New Testament reading can help us to see the themes which run throughout Scripture. We have this yearly Scripture reading schedule here for you.
Yom Kippur: The Day of Atonement
God told the people of Israel that one day each year, the high priest was to make atonement for the tabernacle, and it was only at this time when he would be able to enter the Most Holy Place where God’s glory resided. The rest of the people also had a role to play: they were to humble themselves in fasting and prayer. What is this day all about, and what value does it have in the life of we who have put our faith in Yeshua (Jesus) for our atonement?
Ha’azinu: Jeshurun Grew Fat
God instructs Moses to read the people of Israel a song about their past and their future. In it he describes God’s love and care for the people and how after they enter the land and become comfortable, they will turn their back on God and worship idols. Let’s look closer at the mistake they made so that we will be sure not to follow their example.
Nitzavim + Vayelech: Circumcision of the Heart
Many Christians believe that physical circumcision has been replaced by a spiritual circumcision of the heart. It is evident from the New Testament that for Gentiles who believe in Yeshua (Jesus), circumcision and conversion to Judaism are not necessary for salvation, and in fact these things are discouraged. But what about Jewish believers? And what does it mean that a person’s heart is circumcised?
Ki Tavo: Blessings and Curses
When God was preparing the people to bring them into the land which He had promised to give them, He warned the people that in order to inhabit the land, they would need to obey God and keep His commandments. If they disobeyed, God would bring curses upon the people, and if they continued in their sins through all of these curses, they would be exiled among the nations. While the literal interpretation of the effects of the peoples’ sin is only relevant to the physical inhabitation of the land of Israel, the underlying truth remains the same for every believer in Yeshua.
Ki Tetze: Straying Livestock
Yeshua (Jesus) commands in Luke 6:31, “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” The essence of this commandment is also found in the Torah, where God provides specific examples of how we are to treat our neighbor as we would like to be treated.
Shoftim: The King
As Moses continues giving instructions to the people of Israel before they are to enter the promised land, he gives them instructions about a future day when they will desire to set up a king for themselves. The king played an important role as the head of the nation of Israel, and Moses, according to God’s command, provides specific instructions on how the king is to conduct himself.
Re’eh: Follow the Signs
When we read through the accounts of Yeshua’s (Jesus’) miracles which He performed, we may wonder how it is possible that people could question whether He was the Messiah or not. We see, however, that miracles and extraordinary acts are not an adequate reason to believe that someone was sent from God. This is just as important for us to understand today as it was in those days, so let’s take a closer look.
Ekev: Trials and Tribulations
Throughout all of the wanderings in the wilderness which the people of Israel endured, there was not one step that God did not ordain beforehand to take place. Although at times the people felt as if they were wandering around in circles (because they were), there was a reason they had to suffer through these tests. What can we learn about the trials we experience in our own lives from their example?
Vaetchanan: The Greatest Commandment
In the New Testament, Yeshua (Jesus) tells us that the greatest commandment is to love God, and the next greatest is to love your neighbor. Scripture even tells us that by keeping these two commandments, it is as if we are keeping the entire Torah. But what does this do for all of the other commandments?