“Eikev” (Because). Deuteronomy 7:12–11:25; Isaiah 49:14–51:3; John 14:1-31.

Shalom,   Last week, in study section Va'etchanan, Moses predicted that the people in future generations would be exiled from the Promised Land and scattered among the nations because they would turn from God and worship idols.  But Moses also foresaw that in the last days they would once again seek Him and obey His commandments.  The title of this week’s section, Eikev, means because.  It is used in this study as a conjunction to create a relationship between experiencing God’s blessings and obedience to His Torah.  In connection with this, the prophetic study section for this week contains an important prophecy that provides us with added insight into how to walk in the blessings of God through faith and obedience.  These three,  faith, obedience, and blessings, are seen operating in our forefather Abraham, who first believed and then out of faith, obeyed God and was circumcised.  Abraham exemplified the concept that obedience is more than exercising our will over our own flesh; it is faith in action.  Out of his faith flowed obedience to God. 

In Genesis 15:6, we see that his faith was counted to him as righteousness, and the ancient Hebrew prophet Yeshayahu (Isaiah) beckons us to look to Abraham, our father of faith.  We are to be like him; putting faith into action.  Then we too will experience the blessings that flow from obedience.  “Listen to me, you pursuers of justice, you who seek YHWH: consider the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were dug; consider Abraham your father and Sarah, who gave birth to you …”  (Isaiah 51:1–2). 

Eikev: The Heel of Messiah. 

The word eikev comes from the verb akav, which means to take by the heel.  Similarly, the Hebrew noun akev means heel, as in the heel of a foot.  All of these words share the root letters ayin-kof-vet.  The word akev is first used in Genesis in an important prophecy: the seed of Chava (Eve) will eventually crush the head of the serpent.  “And I will put enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel [akev].”  (Genesis 3:15).

This is the first Messianic prophecy in the Bible. 

From it we understand that the enemy would attempt to strike at the heel of the Messiah; instead however, our Messiah would crush the enemy’s head and destroy the works of the devil.  

“The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning.  The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work.”  (1 John 3:8). 

In section Eikev, Moses is continuing his closing address to the Israelites before they cross the Jordan River (which he began at the beginning of Deuteronomy).  The people are to possess the Land and not fear the nations living there because God would expel them.  “You are to devour all the peoples that Adonai your God hands over to you … nevertheless, you are not to be afraid of them; you are to remember well what Adonai your God did to Pharaoh and all of Egypt.  

He tells them that if they are obedient to the Torah, they will prosper in the Land they are about to conquer.   He reminds the house of Israel of their last forty years in the wilderness.   Since leaving Egypt, God had provided their every need.  Even their clothes and shoes miraculously survived the long journey.  Yahweh God fed them manna (bread) from heaven; literally or as it were from the hand of God.  Moses explained that God fed them manna to teach them “that man does not live by bread alone; but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of Yahweh.” 

A person might suppose that he subsists upon the material things necessary for sustaining human life such as food and water.  A simple hand-to-mouth philosophy like that reduces human existence to mere striving for food, shelter, and clothing.   Yahshua refuted that idea: “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25). He chided His disciples, “The Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; but your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Matthew 6:32).  When a person fixes His attention only upon the material world, he expends all of his effort for material things. 

The miracle of the manna reminds us that the material world is not our source of life.  Instead, God is our source of life.  The material world came into existence from the utterance of His mouth.  Therefore, we should seek to serve the Creator, not the creation.   Yahshua says, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). 

The manna provided a daily reminder that God is the source of life, sustenance, and provision.  Not part of the natural order.  The manna was like a new creation that occurred every day (except for the seventh), coming forth from the mouth of Yahweh daily as He spoke it into being.  This does not necessarily means He spoke it into being every day it occurred.  Like the sun, moon and all other things that obey His once set ordinances, He could have set the repetition ordinance only once. 

All things have come forth from the mouth of God, spoken into being by His Word.   Moses said, “Man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of Yahweh,” reminding us that God created the whole world by the agency of speech.  Through His divine Word, the physical universe continues to exist.  Is His Word His son?  Joh 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  Joh 1:2  The same was in the beginning with God.  1Jn 1:1  That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 1Jn 1:2  (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)  1Jn 3:5  And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.  In another study I have scripturally shown that the commandments as given via Moses was the Word of God.  Word and son are shown to be the same.  Commandments and son also the same? I think so; but leave it to your study.  We are told the son and Father are the same as ice is to frozen water.  Does this not lead to God being seen in His given commandments? 

The manna, which daily descended from heaven symbolizes God's divine Word (Memra/Logos) entering the world. This is why Yahshua referred to Himself as the bread from heaven in John 6. He is the Word of God (and the Word was God) made flesh.  “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven; but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven.  For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world ... I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst (John 6:32-35).  From a Messianic perspective, we may understand Deuteronomy 8:3 in reference to Yahshua, the bread from heaven, the divine Word that proceeds from the Father.  We do not live by the sustenance of this world alone; but by Messiah, the bread of life. 

Self Righteousness.

Never rely on your own good deeds or assume that God is blessing you because you deserve it.  Although there is righteousness via the law (Rom 2:26  Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law ….; Rom 9:31  But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Rom 9:32  Wherefore? Because not by faith; but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone… Rom 10:5  For Moses described the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which does those things shall live by them.; Php 3:6  Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless… Php 3:9  And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:  1Ti 1:9  Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for…  Gal 5:2  Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. Gal 5:3  For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Gal 5:4  Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace

In other words, those who are perfect or pass the test are justified to receive the promise to those attaining the pass mark.  However, those who fall short of the set mark, need mercy / grace to qualify.  This does not mean they get the full mark for not even attempting nor attaining any level of competence, only that they tried their best with the sincere intention to achieve it; but fell short.  Try your best to keep the commandments and if you fall short, God gives you the mercy  Exo 20:6  And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments

It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob  (Deuteronomy 9:5). 

For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith (Romans 4:13).  Moses assured the Israelites that God will give them the conquest of Canaan.  He warned them three times lest they presume that their righteousness provided sufficient merit for their success.  Moses had already told them that their future success would be guaranteed “because” of their obedience to the commandments.  The people of Israel might naturally assume, then, that success was an indication of their own righteousness. 

We might be prone to make a similar mistake.  A pastor with a successful, growing congregation might assume that he is in God’s favour because of the numbers.  A businessman who lands a lucrative contract may suppose that he is being rewarded for his godliness.  In both cases, the assumptions may be correct, but there might be other factors at work not at all related to one’s personal righteousness.  Remember from Noah to Yahshua all Godly speakers of Him had the least number of members in their congregation. 

Moses stressed three times that “it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people” (Deuteronomy 9:6).  He went on to rehearse the sin of the golden calf and the incidents in the wilderness that provoked God to anger.  He recounted how he fasted on their behalf and pleaded for their forgiveness.  He retold the story of how God, in His mercy, relented, and did not punish them as their deeds deserved.  If not for Moses’ intercession and atonement on their behalf, Israel would not have even survived the journey from Egypt.  They had Moses to thank for their deliverance thus far.  There could be no talk of their merit and righteousness.  Their observance of the Torah was not sufficient to merit the conquest of the land. 

If the children of Israel did not deserve to take possession of the land, why did God give it to them? Moses gave two reasons: The sin of the Canaanites and the covenant promises to the patriarchs. 

CIRCUMCISE YOUR HEART.

Moses told the children of Israel to circumcise their hearts: "So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer." (Deuteronomy 10:16). That’s a strange image. Circumcision refers to removal of the foreskin.  What does it mean to “circumcise your heart”?  In Deuteronomy 10:16, Moses compared an uncircumcised heart with a stiff neck.  A stiff neck is a biblical idiom that refers to pride and stubbornness.  A person with a stiff neck is not flexible.  He does not make his will suppliant to God’s instruction.  In Jeremiah 4:3–4, an uncircumcised heart is compared to hard, fallow soil that cannot be cultivated because it has not been ploughed:

Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD and remove the foreskins of your heart. (Jeremiah 4:3–4)

This passage from Jeremiah can be compared to the Master’s parable of the sower who cast seed on four different types of soil. The seed that fell on the unploughed soil did not take root. The seed that fell among the thorns was choked out.  In the Bible, the heart represents the seat of one’s will. The uncircumcised heart is stubborn and inflexible. It does not submit to God’s will.  The Word of God cannot bear fruit or even take root in that heart.  A person with an uncircumcised heart is a person whose flesh (physical inclinations) dictates his will. A person with a circumcised heart is one whose flesh has been removed from his will, allowing the Spirit of God to direct the will.

According to Paul, a circumcision of the heart takes place when we trust in Messiah. He says to the Gentiles of Colosse that “in [Yahshua] you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Messiah” (Colossians 2:11).  He tells the Roman believers that even though a person might not be physically circumcised, he can still have a circumcised heart. He says, “He is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God” (Romans 2:29).

Those in Yahshua should have a markedly different nature than those without Yeshua. Our will should be suppliant to God’s. Those of us who have experienced the miraculous rebirth that is the work of God’s Spirit within us through the agency of His Son are supposed to have circumcised hearts. 

Forty Years of Preparation.

If we will love the Lord our God and cling to Him and keep His mitzvot (commandments), then He will faithfully care for us and protect us.  What a wonderful assurance we have of His love. 

“For if you will take care to obey all these commandments [mitzvot] I am giving you, to do them, to love Adonai your God, to follow all His ways and to cling to Him, then Adonai will expel all these nations ahead of you; and you will dispossess nations bigger and stronger than you are”  (Deuteronomy 11:22–23).

Before God can entrust us with weighty things, He tests us in lighter matters.  Life is about learning to recognize and pass the tests.  Before God can entrust us with great things, we must prove faithful with the little things.  Yahshua says, "He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much" (Luke 16:10).  God tested the children of Israel for forty years in the wilderness before bringing them into the Promised Land to humble them and to see if they would remain faithful to His Torah. 

"Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). 

During the forty years that the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness, God provided for their every need.  He fed them manna from heaven and water from a rock.  He miraculously preserved their clothing and shoes so that they would not wear out.  Through these daily miracles, the children of Israel learned to trust in God for all their physical needs.  They learned that "man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD" (Deuteronomy 8:3).  All of that was about to change.  The children of Israel were about to enter the land of promise and enjoy its produce and bounty.  They would no longer need to depend on the daily bread from heaven.  God brought Israel through the hardships and trials of the wilderness years in order to train them.  "Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son" (Deuteronomy 8:5), Moses told them. 

This can be compared to a wealthy man who bequeathed a large inheritance to his son.  However, he knew that if he simply gave the money to his son, the young man would forfeit many important life lessons.  So the man put the money into a trust and did not tell his son about it. He let his son get a job, acquire a skill, struggle to raise a family, juggle bills, learn to budget and to handle his resources with thrift.  When his son asked for financial assistance, the father would give him only a small sum sufficient for the day. When the father was satisfied that the young man had learned to conduct his affairs responsibly, he gave him the inheritance.  He said, "Well done, good and faithful son. You were faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Only do not forget the lessons you have learned." 

For forty years in the wilderness, Israel learned to rely on God as the source of their provision and sustenance.  They were then ready to enter the land of milk and honey; Moses warned them not to forget the lessons they learned in the wilderness.  Our lesson does not stop at obedience to the commandments of not killing, stealing etc; but at a change of heart and actions towards our brethren.  Not retaining inner anger or pretences on the outside yet on the inside or in practice refuse to converse with or help them. 

BLESSING YAHWEH AT MEALS.

In Christian homes, it is traditional to offer a prayer of thanksgiving before meals. This is a Christian tradition inherited from Judaism.  In Judaism, it is traditional to bless God for the food He has provided prior to partaking of it. We read of Yahshua keeping this tradition several times in the Gospels. Sometimes Christians refer to this as "blessing the food," but in Judaism, the food is not blessed, God is blessed for providing the food.  In any case, blessing God before meals is a precious tradition of the Master and one we would all do well to imitate.  However, the Torah commands us to also bless God after we have eaten.  The Torah says, "When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you" (Deuteronomy 8:10). 

The Torah gave this commandment to the children of Israel so that they would not forget God. The materialism of wealth and success are dangerous to our souls.  When we are fat and happy, we are apt to ignore God, forget about His commandments and turn away from Him.  Moses warned the children of Israel that their success and prosperity in the land of Israel would give them proud hearts and make them forget the LORD. He warned the Israelites not to tell themselves, "My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth" (Deuteronomy 8:17).  This can be compared to a young student who received an allowance from his father while he studied.  The monthly allowance covered all of his living expenses.  His father also paid tuition for his son.  So long as the student depended on the monthly allowance money from his father, he was careful to meet all of his father's expectations in school, write home frequently and live in keeping with his father's directives.  After taking a campus job, though, the student found he no longer needed his father's monthly allowance for living expenses.  He no longer worried about meeting his father's expectations.  However, he forgot that his father was paying the tuition as well.

Judaism preserves an ancient after-meals prayer of thanksgiving that is still recited today. The four blessings of the traditional Grace After Meals can be found in any Jewish prayer book.  The oldest version of Grace After Meals is preserved in the Didache.  This early, apostolic-age Grace After Meals was composed by early believers.  They recited it together after meals to fulfill the commandment of Deuteronomy 8:10.  Like the traditional Jewish version of Grace After Meals, it consists of four blessings thanking God for provision and looking forward to the Messianic era. 

We thank You, our holy Father, for Your holy name that You have caused to dwell in our hearts, and for the knowledge, faithfulness and eternal life that You have made known to us through Your servant Yahshua. Yours is the glory forever. (First doxology of the grace after meals from the Didache.) 

ISAIAH:  Two verses to note.  Isa 49:15  Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.  Isa 49:16  Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me. 

Isa 49:26  And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob. 

Isa 50:1  Thus saith the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away.

Isa 51:1  Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. Isa 51:2  Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.

John 14:1-31  Verses to note: Joh 14:1  Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.  Rev 12:17  And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Yahshua.   Rev 14:12  Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Yahshua.   Rev 22:14  Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 

Joh 14:7  If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. …  Joh 14:9  Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Joh 14:10  Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Joh 14:11  Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake. 

Joh 14:15  If ye love me, keep my commandments. Joh 14:21  He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 

Shalom.

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