The parasha for this Shabbat is entitled Eikev, which means “Consequence”. The Book of Deuteronomy is organized as a series of three discourses by Moses with a concluding address or his final “words” given to the Nation of Israel as they prepared to enter the land that Adonai promised on oath, first to Abraham, then to Isaac and to Jacob and eventually to all Israel. These words recall the past activities of God in order to build identity for this new generation. The people are then called to commit to faithfully serve Him in the future based on that community identity. Moses knows that he is about to die, but before he does, he wants to impart wisdom to the people about what is really important. So he gives them a sort of “Last Will and Testament”.
Moses tells them that they must “listen”, and then “keep” and then “do”.
Beginning in chapter 7, verse 12, he says “Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you His covenant and His love which He swore to your forefathers”.
In verses 13 through 16, God’s people are promised many blessings ranging from an abundance of children to material wealth and the increase of their livestock, grain, and new wine. They are promised good health and victory over their enemies. Moses assures the people they need not fear their enemies, because the Lord Himself will send hornets to drive the people out bit by bit. The same great and awesome God who led Israel out of Egypt with an outstretched hand promised that He would fight their battles for them, even using elements of His own creation.
In Verses 25 and 26 we find a thought provoking command that is given to God’s people. It says: You shall burn the carved images of their gods with fire; you shall not covet the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, lest you be snared by it; for it is an abomination to the Lord your God. Nor shall you bring an abomination into your house, lest you be doomed to destruction like it.
The Lord was using the nation of Israel to drive out the Canaanites because of their wickedness. Specifically, their despicable religious and sexual practices. Israel was to have nothing to do with such things.
To allow gold or silver ornaments from their idols to be coveted and taken into their tents was a direct offense to Adonai, to the point that He called it an abomination. They were not keep the spoils of war, nor were they to be put into the Tabernacle treasury.
In chapter 8 Moses instructs the people to always remember God and all He has done for them. Verses 11 – 20 are a strong warning that we not forget the One who is the source of all blessings. All good things come from the Lord, and He wanted Israel to never forget that He alone is the source of all their blessings, including their very lives.
Israel came out of 400 years of slavery and were on their way to becoming a mighty and rich nation. Moses reminds them (and ultimately reminds us) that it is God who provides our material comforts and needs. He tells us that once we have attained these material blessings, not to become proud-hearted and forget God, nor give our attention to other gods…whatever they may be.
In chapter 9 Moses reviews Israel’s rebellion and speaks of Israel’s history and future. Moses tells the people that the Lord will go before them as a consuming fire and destroy their enemies. He further explains to them that they should not think in their hearts that these victories are because of any righteousness they feel they have. He goes so far as to repeat it three times between verses 4 and 7. “Don’t think to yourself, ‘It is because of my righteousness that Adonai has brought me in to take possession of this land”. And again “It is not because of your righteousness or because your heart is so upright.” And again “Therefore understand that it is not for your righteousness that Adonai your God is giving you this good land to possess.”
In Chapters 10 and 11, Moses challenges the Israelis to seek God. He begins by going over the making of the two new stone tablets which replaced the first tablets Moses shattered after Israel made the golden calf. Moses went back up the mountain and Adonai wrote His commandments on the tablets once again.
In the New Covenant we have a new dynamic. Instead of writing His laws on tablets, God now writes them on our hearts so that no one has any excuse.
If there is one recurring theme we see throughout the Bible, it is that our God rewards obedience and punishes disobedience. Therefore it’s not enough to merely hear God’s commands, and then either ignore them or do them half-heartedly. That is being a wicked servant; a disobedient servant.
For believers today, if we listen, keep and do those things that the Lord has commanded us, He will bless us – not necessarily with the outward blessings of wealth, like He promised to bless Israel under the Sinai Covenant – but He will reward us with spiritual prosperity.
God’s people were not to covet the wealth of the Canaanites. This principle should be used today in offerings received at our congregation. No matter how challenging our financial situation might be, the very idea of accepting money earned through objectionable practices should be abhorrent to us. It could be something as simple as accepting money from someone who murders innocent babies by performing abortions, or money gained from politicians trying to buy our votes.
Using this parasha as an example in our own lives, we should readily examine our past, and ask God to examine our hearts and our thoughts. When we find that we have failed in thought word, or deed, we can feel confident in the fact that those of us who have placed our faith and trust in Yeshua alone for salvation, and have truly accepted Yeshua into our hearts will always hear that quiet, still voice calling us back to repentance. Will you obey it? Will you listen, then keep and then do them? And finally will you continue to impress God’s words upon your hearts and minds and teach them to your children, your neighbors, even your parents if necessary? “Listen,” “keep,” and “do” should be in our hearts and minds as we go about the tasks of each day, because this is something that God expects of us. I pray that we may all examine our hearts and minds and use that as an opportunity to get closer to our merciful Father in Heaven.