Nitzavim – “Standing”

Shabbat Shalom. This week’s Parasha is Nitzavim, which means, “Standing” and covers Deuteronomy 29:10-30:20. We begin in verse 10 with our people standing before the Lord. The covenant made through Moses is renewed for the generation about to enter the Promised Land to establish them as Adonai’s people. In verse 15 we read that the covenant was made not only for the people standing before the Lord that day, but for those not present as well. 

We read in verse 21 that if anyone breaks this covenant with the Lord then that person will experience disaster! Moses predicts a day will come when we will ask, “Why is Israel suffering from disaster and calamity?” The answer to this question is found in verses 25 through 28. 

25 And the answer will be: “It is because this people abandoned the covenant of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt. 26 They went off and worshiped other gods and bowed down to them, gods they did not know, gods he had not given them.

 27 Therefore the Lord’s anger burned against this land, so that he brought on it all the curses written in this book. 28 In furious anger and in great wrath the Lord uprooted them from their land and thrust them into another land, as it is now.” These verses will later be fulfilled during the first exile later in our history.

Chapter 30 is more hopeful, recording what happens when we return to the Lord. If we obey and return to Him with all our heart and soul, then He will show us compassion and restore us from captivity. Verse 6 promises that, “God will circumcise your heart and the hearts of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, so that you may live. If you follow the Lord and what He says, you will have life and be prosperous.” Where do we find what the Lord says? Only in one book, the Bible. 

As we move to the end of our parasha we have a powerful conclusion. Moses, through the Holy Spirit, states that what the Lord is commanding us is not difficult. The commandments are near us, in our mouths and in our hearts, so that we can follow them. We have the keys to life and happiness. We also have the keys to death and adversity if we disobey. We are strongly told to choose life and love our Lord, by obeying His voice and staying close to Him and His Word. 

Parasha Nitzavim presents us with two choices, Life or Death. This is the same choice that our people made when they entered into the Lord’s covenant at Mount Sinai. Unfortunately, we read this morning how Moses predicted a time when our people would turn from the Lord and choose destruction. We find this choice made throughout Scripture when our people repeatedly turn from Adonai. Our exile and suffering served as a sign for the other nations of what happens when you turn away from the Lord.

This is something that still happens today. We make the same choice when we choose to live our own path. We say to ourselves, “My way is better than your way God.” It is like we think we are the smartest cookie in the cookie jar.  But what happens when we do that? We fall and fall hard. Pride creeps its way into our hearts and separates us from each other and then we start fighting. It is a lonely path to turn away from the Lord. 

Yet, there is hope for us just like we read today! If you turn back to God, He will be there waiting for you. Like the prodigal son returning to his father, we too can turn from our destructive ways and run back to Yeshua. Today we have a new and better covenant. In Hebrews 9 verse 15 we read, “For this reason Messiah Yeshua is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”

If doing things our own way is what leads to death. Then what does it mean to choose Life? Today, it is believing in Yeshua’s death and resurrection. It is living our lives through the sacrifice He made for us all. We may fail to keep Adonai’s teachings perfectly, but Yeshua has paid the price we never could. In doing so He has placed us on the path to eternal life.

Choosing life can be difficult but there are some things we can do to keep us close to the Lord. One idea is finding out what God wants for our lives! You have to talk to Adonai. For my life it is setting a time in the day to pray. To make an effort each day to spend time with Yeshua and communicate with Him. I try to take time out of my day to read what the Lord says and seek the wisdom of those around me who also know Him. I may not do this perfectly, but spiritual discipline starts with taking the first step and then the next.  

In conclusion, we can choose life and prosperity or death and destruction. In Matthew seven verses 13 and 14 Messiah Yeshua tells us, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is constricted that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

I pray that the Lord helps us turn from that wide gate and choose life through the narrow one. That we each grow closer to Yeshua and start pointing those around us to choose life. That our love for Yeshua will be what motivates us to keep moving forward on the path to eternal life.