The name of this week’s double parasha is Nitzavim-Vayeilech: Nitzavim means “those taking a stand,” and Vayeilech means “and he went,” and this parasha covers Deuteronomy 29:9 through 31:30. Moses stresses to the Israelis the importance of following the terms of this covenant. Everyone there was standing in Adonai’s presence to enter a covenant with Him affirming they will be His people, and He will be their God in accordance with His promises.
Moses then warns the Jewish people against engaging in idolatry, reminding them that they saw these abominations among other nations during their journey to the Promised Land. He lists the destructive consequences resulting from idolatrous practices: any Israeli who practices idolatry will be severely punished by Adonai; the future devastation to the Promised Land will be seen by their descendants and by foreigners; God will angrily remove the Jewish people from their land into another land.
Chapter 30 opens with Adonai’s promises of restoration to the Israelis when they humble themselves before Him and obey His commandments – they will be brought back to their land, they will be more prosperous and numerous than their ancestors, and their enemies will be severely punished. If the Jewish people live in obedience to God and keep His commandments, God will bless them. Adonai’s restoration of the Jewish people is also declared in Isaiah 61:10 through 63:9, which is the haftarah portion of this parasha.
What God was expecting of the Israelis was not too difficult or far away – no one would need to ascend to Heaven or cross the sea to bring it to the Jewish people, since His word would be within them. When discussing the righteousness by faith that comes from God to believers in Yeshua in Romans 10, Rabbi Paul expounds upon this passage, declaring that the righteousness by faith says no one needs to ask who will bring Yeshua down from Heaven or up from the dead, but that the word of faith is within them.
The chapter ends with Moses presenting two options to the Israelis – they could follow Adonai’s commandments and enjoy life and prosperity, or they could disobey Adonai and experience death and destruction. Moses urges them to choose life, so that God will bless them.
In chapter 31, Moses tells the Israelis that when they entered the Promised Land, Joshua would be their leader, and Adonai would go before them to deliver the nations there into their hands. Those nations would suffer the fate of the Amorite kings Sihon and Og, who were defeated by the Jewish people in Numbers 21. Moses then encouraged the Israelis and Joshua to be strong and courageous because Adonai would be with them.
Moses wrote this Law and gave it to the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant, and all the Israeli elders. He told them this Law was to be read at the end of every 7 years, in the year for cancelling debts, during the feast of Sukkot. Everyone, both native Israelis and Gentile sojourners among them, was to listen and obey this Law.
Adonai told Moses to summon Joshua to the Tent of Meeting for his commission as Israel’s leader, because Moses’ death was coming soon. Upon their arrival, Adonai appeared in a cloud over the Tent’s entrance. He forewarned Moses that the Jewish people would serve other gods after entering the Promised Land, which would anger Him, and they would suffer the consequences. Moses was to write a song and teach it to the Israelis, which would act as a witness against them when they sinned, and Moses obeyed Adonai’s instructions. We will learn more about this song in the next parasha.
Parasha Nitzavim-Vayeilech teaches us some valuable lessons that we would be wise to apply to our lives. First, we see here that when it comes to obedience to God’s laws, there were to be no double-standards – His laws applied equally to the native Israeli and to the Gentile sojourner. Those who obey Adonai will be blessed, and those who disobey Him will suffer the consequences. So, let’s show our obedience to Him by being bold in doing what He commands of us, and experience the blessings He desires to give us!
Second, we see that what God decrees will always come true. Sadly, the Jewish people forgot Adonai’s warnings here, and what He told them occurred just as He said. After entering the Promised Land, Israel worshipped other gods and suffered the consequences for this sin. However, their punishment did not last forever, and those who oppressed them were later defeated according to Adonai’s decrees. But the greatest promise God gave was that He would provide a Redeemer, through whom He would reconcile people to Himself, and His promise has come true – this Redeemer is Messiah Yeshua!
Do you wish to obey God and be in a right relationship with Him? Then you need to loyally follow Yeshua as your Lord and Messiah and Savior. It won’t be easy, and you’ll face persecution and temptations during your walk with Him. But take comfort in the knowledge that Yeshua has overcome the world, and He will never leave you nor forsake you. So, seek Him with all your heart, because His love is everlasting, and you’ll find yourself singing a new kind of song!