Va’etchanan – “And I Pleaded”

This weeks Torah portion is entitled “Va-etchanan” meaning – “And I pleaded”. It covers Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11.

Moses is covering the events of the last 40 years in the desert. Here, Moses is using the experiences and failures of the past 40 years to instruct and warn the nation of Israel about the manner in which they should conduct themselves in the promised land once they cross over and possess it. It almost reminds me of a parent giving you fair warning about behaving and not acting up when going over other people’s houses.

Moses continues to impress upon the people the seriousness of the situation almost pleading with them. He uses words like ” You saw with your own eyes what the Lord did at Baal Peor.” and “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen” He instructs them on how to conduct themselves and reminds them that Adonai is real, He’s watching and will be with them. He commands them to be obedient to the Lord and to completely avoid Idolatry going so far as to say should they get comfortable in the land and begin to dabble in idolatry, and I quote, “you will quickly perish from the land” “You will not live there long and will certainly be destroyed.” “The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the Lord will drive you. There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell.”

The Parasha continues in Chapter 4 where Moses sets aside 3 cities of refuge. And I’m going to circle back and dive deeper into these in just a few minutes.

Moses then presents the law to the Nation of Israel. The Law contains 613 commandments but only 10 of them are emphasized here. Yeshua summed up those 10 by saying that the most important of these are to love God with all of your heart soul and might and to love your neighbor as yourself.

The Shema is found in Chapter 6. The declaration of our God being Echad or One. In Hebrew, the word Echad can be a picture of two or more separate things coming together to make one thing. Like two individuals who get married, and they become Echad. They are two separate people but yet they are one in union. Adonai is just like that. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are all three separate entities. Yet, we do not worship 3 Gods. They are Echad. We worship One God.

So much has been written and discussed about the 10 commandments and the Shema. But you don’t hear a lot about cities of refuge and yet they are a perfect foreshadowing of the refuge that Yeshua provides and the manner in how he provides it.

The law of manslaughter was not instituted until around the 7th century in Greece. So during Biblical times, they didn’t have the same court structure or laws as they do today. In addition, they had a custom back then that if someone in your family was murdered, you had the right to seek revenge and kill him who killed your loved one. Now mind you, this was a custom, not a law from God nor did he support this custom because the Lord tells us in Deuteronomy 32 and other places that Vengeance is His.

So He had Moses establish a total of 6 cities used as cities of refuge. These are discussed in greater detail in the Books of Numbers and Joshua. In our Parasha, 3 are discussed. These three cities were chosen on the eastern side of the River Jordan and they were named Bezer, Ramoth, and Golan.

In order to qualify and gain entrance into the city you had to have killed someone unwittingly or unknowingly. You and I are guilty of putting someone to death as well. You and I put Yeshua on that cross.

Yeshua died because of us and our sins. But we killed him unwittingly and unknowingly. Remember when He was on the cross, He said “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

We were guilty, we needed forgiveness we needed a place of refuge and Yeshua has provided Himself as a refuge for us.

The name Bezer means fortification. There is a theme woven throughout several Old Testament passages where a wall, a fence, or a fortress provides a measure of protection from one’s enemies. Walls, fences, and fortresses were physical barriers to unauthorized entry.

Yeshua is that physical barrier, our fortification so that Satan cannot make an unauthorized entry into our souls. But fortifications did have gates. And if we are not careful, we can allow Satan to come into one of these gates.

But Proverbs Chapter 18 verse 10 says: The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe. And the Psalmist says God is our Refuge and strength.

Ramoth means exalted or a high place. In the Hebrew, the word high means elevation, or height.  In the Greek it speaks of above the sky or heavenly.  So, when we talk about high places it is the same as talking about heavenly places. Or the places where Yeshua dwells.

When Yeshua returns to Earth to set up his millennium kingdom he will rule from on top of Jerusalem. Jesus is always associated with high places because he is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Some of the names of these cities of refuge describe Yeshua our savior and protector, who is our refuge. He is our very present help in trouble. He is holy. He is a shoulder for us to lean on. He is our very best friend. We can fellowship with Him, when no one wants us.  He builds a hedge or a fortress around us, He is our fortification. He is our joy {exaltation}. If you have not accepted Yeshua as your Savior, I encourage you to do so today and allow Him to be your Refuge.

Shabbat Shalom Everyone.