Shalom All, Welcome to this week’s Torah / bible section study. “When you have entered [ki tavo] the land Yahweh your God is giving you as an inheritance ... take some of the first fruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land Yahweh your God is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place Yahweh your God will choose as a dwelling for His name” (Deuteronomy 26:1–2).
Last week, in study section “Ki Tetze”, God gave to the Israelites 74 of the 613 commandments found in the Torah (His instructions for righteous living) far more than any other Torah / bible section. These laws mostly seem to be concerned with protecting the weaker members of society. They include the laws concerning the beautiful captive, paying workers in a timely fashion, and leaving a portion of the harvest in the field for the widow, the fatherless and the stranger.
In this week’s section, Ki Tavo (When You Enter), God instructs Israel to bring the first-ripened fruits (bikkurim) to the central sanctuary once the Israelites have finally entered the Land He promised to them. It must have been a relief for the children of Israel to hear that their prolonged, 40 year journey through the wilderness would finally be coming to an end. They were about to cross over into the Promised Land. In fact, the word in Hebrew for a Hebrew, Ivri, comes from the root I-V-R, which means to cross over. In a spiritual sense, anyone who has crossed over into the Kingdom of God is an Ivri.
For that reason, perhaps, Paul said that being a Jew is a matter of having a circumcised heart more than circumcised flesh. For those of you beginning to understand Paul’s New Testament teachings, you should note they are from the Old Testament. In this case found in Deut 10:16 and Jerimiah 4:4. He was not by any means negating circumcision; he was emphasizing that to cross over into the Kingdom of God, there must be an inward change. Those who worship God, worship Him in Spirit and in truth. They truly keep ALL His commandments in mind and action.
“But 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).
The wilderness experience was so challenging and defining that future rabbinic texts consider any physical or spiritual desert as an enemy to be overcome, including problems. Our challenge is to walk through the times of wilderness in our lives and be transformed so that we can enter the Promised Land. Ki Tavo promises that obedience to God will be rewarded as He stipulates. These rewards include divine protection, prosperity and blessings on families and future generations. Disobedience and rebellion against God, however result in punishment / correction. The Word of God lists 98 chilling admonitions that take up half of this section. These include diseases, plagues, poverty, famine, slavery and defeat by enemies.
For this reason, section Ki Tavo has been called “the warning chapter,” and the Torah reader, who traditionally chants the Torah portion according to a sing-song pattern, instead rushes through the recital of dreaded curses in a hushed, fearful tone. We need not look far to see that the Jewish People have been blessed by the Almighty God as He promised; but they have also done more than their fair share of suffering over the centuries due to the curses of the law that come into play because of sin (Deuteronomy 28:15–68). As covenant children of God, we are to enjoy His blessings on our lives if we are walking in obedience to His commandments.
"But Messiah has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When He was hung on the tree, He took upon Himself the curse for our wrongdoing" (Galatians 3:13).
A Heart to Know YHWH God.
Moses lamented that even though the nation of Israel had experienced God’s great salvation and seen His miracles and wondrous provision in the wilderness, they still did not have “a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear.” Moses reminded them of the things they had seen: the plagues in Egypt, the deliverance at the Red Sea, the pillar of fire and cloud, the theophany at Mount Sinai, the bountiful provision in the wilderness. He reminded them that, miraculously, their clothes and sandals had lasted forty years. Without bread or wine, they had somehow survived well-fed and nourished through the whole journey. When they faced the powerful Amorite armies of Sihon and Og, they defeated them and took their land. After seeing the miracles in Egypt, the revelation at Sinai, the wonders of the wilderness, and the constant provision on the journey, after experiencing God in such a tangible and intimate way, why would Israel be in need of reproof or warning at all? Moses knew that despite the great revelations they had received, the people were still human beings with wayward hearts. He urged them not to drift away or fall into apostasy. He said, “Keep the words of this covenant to do them, that you may prosper in all that you do” (Deuteronomy 29:9). He knew that they would not. Moses knew the weakness of the human heart. He knew that the thing they needed was a new heart.
Years later, as the terrible curses began to fall upon the people, the prophet Ezekiel looked ahead to a brighter future when God would heal the sickness of the human soul: “And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God” (Ezekiel 11:19-20). These words correspond to the promise of the new covenant when God will put His Torah (laws) within us and write it upon our hearts. In that day, Yahweh says, “I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).
What does it mean to walk in God’s ways? It means that we are to imitate the ways of God (Imitatio Dei). Moses said, “Now, Israel, what does Yahweh your God require from you, but to fear Yahweh your God, to walk in all His ways …” (Deuteronomy 10:12). The commandment to imitate God is the fundamental principle of godliness. The Master expresses the idea, encouraging us to imitate God, “That you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:45).
A classic Jewish teaching of walking in His ways is: ‘You shall walk after the LORD your God?’ Is it really possible for a human being to walk after the Shechinah; for has it not been said [in Deuteronomy 4:24], ‘For the LORD your God is a consuming fire?’ It must mean to walk in the ways of the Holy One, blessed be He. Just as He clothes the naked, as it is written [in Genesis 3:21], ‘The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them,’ so too should you also clothe the naked. The Holy One, blessed be He, visited the sick, as it is written [in Genesis 18:1], ‘Now the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre’ [while he was still recovering from circumcision], so too should you also visit the sick. The Holy One, blessed be He, comforted mourners, as it is written [in Genesis 25:11], ‘After the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac,’ so too should you also comfort mourners. The Holy one, blessed be He, buried the dead, as it is written [in Deuteronomy 34:6], ‘And He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab,’ so too should you also bury the dead.” We read Yahshua gave similar directives in His sermon on the mount and Mat 25:35+ Mat 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Therefore, the commandment to “walk in the ways of God” includes clothing the naked, visiting the sick, comforting mourners and burying the dead; but the commandment is not limited to those five deeds of loving kindness. He is also the God who feeds the hungry, assists the poor, has mercy on the sinful, rescues the perishing, heals the brokenhearted, restores homes and families and does good to all seeking Him. He is the God of absolute integrity, truth, holiness and justice. He is righteous in His every decision. Just as the Holy One, blessed be He, is called merciful, so you should be merciful; just as He is called gracious, so you should be gracious; just as He is called righteous, so you should be called righteous; just as He is called devout, so you should be devout. (based on Deuteronomy 10:12).
The Master lived this principle out perfectly in every situation. All that He did and said He derived directly from the Father. He walked in the ways of God, making God’s will His will in every decision. He said: “I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him” (John 8:28-29). As such, He revealed the glory of the Father. His life glorified God in that it accurately represented God. He spoke in truth when He said to His disciple Philip, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). As we imitate the ways of Yahshua, we learn the ways of God and keep the commandment to imitate God. That is the essence of discipleship and unity with God.
Blessings Come from Being a Blessing.
Clement the disciple of Peter spoke of the Jewish people as God's first fruits. Just as the farmer presented the first fruit of his harvest to Yahweh, the Jewish people are the first fruit from among the nations. A light to the world to bring gentile nations who had not the law of God, to keeping it. Rom 15:18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed.
In the days of the Temple, the farmers in Israel were obligated to give an annual tithe to Levites, then take a second tithe for festival expenses and to share with the poor. In addition to the tithes, the farmers of Israel were to offer the first fruits of their produce. “You shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground which you bring in from your land that Yahweh your God gives you and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place where Yahweh your God chooses to establish His name (Deuteronomy 26:2). The principle of offering first fruits means that when God prospers us, we are to show our gratitude by returning a portion to Him in the form of charitable gifts for the poor and financial support for those who do the work of the kingdom. When writing to the Corinthians, Clement quoted a passage from Deuteronomy to demonstrate how God had divided the nations of humanity but chosen Israel as His own portion. He went on to quote an unknown source that speaks of God taking Israel out of the nations like a farmer taking the first fruits from his threshing floor. Just as the first fruits are set aside from the rest of the crop to be a holy gift to the LORD, so too Israel is set apart from the other nations to be God's holy people:
"When the Most High divided the nations ... His people Jacob became the portion of Num 3:12 And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine; and Israel the lot of His inheritance" (Deuteronomy 32:8-9). And in another place [it is said], "Behold, Num 3:12 And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine; takes for Himself a nation out of the midst of the nations, just as a man takes the first fruits of his threshing floor, and from that nation shall come forth the most holy" (1 Clement 29:1-3).
We do not know where Clement found the verse about God taking Israel like "a man takes the first fruits," but it is a beautiful image. From the midst of Israel comes "the most holy," which might be a prophecy regarding the Messiah. Clement uses the verse about Israel's elect status to encourage the Gentile believers in Corinth. "God has made us partakers in the blessings of His elect" (1 Clement 29:1), he tells them, and he says, "Seeing, therefore, that we are the portion of the Holy One, let us do all those things which pertain to holiness" (1 Clement 30:1). These comments are in keeping with the rest of Deuteronomy 26. After discussing the obligations of first fruits and tithes, Deuteronomy 26 encourages the Israelites to keep the Torah and walk in God's ways because of their exalted status as the people of God. God has set Israel above the other nations "for praise, fame and honour." In other words, we should be proud of being part of the people of God: Yahweh has today declared you to be His people, a treasured possession, as He promised you and that you should keep all His commandments and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, for praise, fame, and honour; and that you shall be a consecrated people to Yahweh your God, as He has spoken. (Deuteronomy 26:18-19).
One of the first acts of obedience that Yahweh asks of His people is to remove the first fruits of our increase, our tithe, the sacred portion and to give it to the service of Yahweh, as well as to the poor. Meaning for the non working pastors without an alternative income to live on not for their luxuries as many rich preachers use it today.
“Then say to Yahweh your God: ‘I have removed from my house the sacred portion and have given it to the Levite, the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, according to all You commanded.’” (Deuteronomy 26:13).
I would add that this command was given to His people to help each other in their community as they serve Him not to give to all humans, especially those working against Him. You are open to disagree. If we are not obeying this command, then we have little biblical basis on which to expect God’s blessings on our finances.
"Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes, says the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 3:11). "Honour Yahweh with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce" (Proverbs 3:9).
The reverse holds true as well: if we fail to give to God the “hallowed portion” of our income, then we are breaking covenant by “robbing God”. However, as I have said many times, do not let pastors abuse this by demanding tithes, most of which go in their pocket or lavish lifestyle. Especially if they have sufficient income from other private sources as book sales. It was for the living of the Levites and poor. Also to further Yahweh’s kingdom on earth. Many churches take Malachi 3:7-9 out of context. It was because the people were not giving to Him that He chastised them. Read the whole three chapters leading to that verse!
While Yahshua has removed from us the curse of the law (ultimate penalty of death), He has not removed from us the obligation to follow His example by living a holy life. When we understand that we are walking in sin in some area, we are to repent and return to Him.
Giving to the poor is an obligation in Judaism, a duty that cannot be forsaken even by those who themselves are in need. Some sages have said that tzedakah is the highest of all commandments, equal to all of them combined and that a person who does not perform tzedakah is equivalent to an idol worshiper. This principle is affirmed also in the Brit Chadashah (New Testament), which emphasizes that if we don’t give when we see a brother in material need, it is doubtful that the love of God truly dwells within us. God has a character of giving to and caring for His children. Especially the poor, widowed and fatherless as is constantly mentioned. He is our example to follow.
“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” (1 John 3:17). See also 1Co 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Of course, Yahweh rewards compassion and generosity. He promises that when we give to the poor and needy, the widows and orphans, He will pay us back for what we have given. “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to Yahweh, and He will repay him for his deed” (Proverbs 19:17). Remember this was not to any and every poor; but spoken to Israel about the treatment of God’s people (Mat_7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine). God’s blessings is to bring persons to Him follow and obey Him; not to be wasted.
What Goes around comes around:
The word karma is a Sanskrit word that was originally used in Eastern religions (like Buddhism and Hindu) to express the concept of an action or deed begetting consequences in the future. A similar English concept says, "What goes around comes around." It is the idea of a cycle of cause and effect. All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the LORD your God (Deut 28:2).
Karma is a pagan concept. It does not appear in the Bible, but a similar idea does. The Bible explains that deeds and actions have consequences because obedience to God begets blessing and disobedience to God begets curses. Obey God, walk in His ways and keep His commandments, and He will heap blessings upon you. At least that is how it is supposed to work, and it usually does. It is a simple prescription for a successful life. Read book of Job. Even a secular person will admit that big, obvious sins have negative and curse-like consequences. For example, drug and alcohol abuse leads to ruin and dysfunction. Philandering, fornication and sexual immorality lead to abortions, deviancies, diseases, broken homes and broken hearts. Robbery, murder and other crimes lead to bad ends. The pagan world would call it "bad karma." The Bible calls it curses. The world says that "karma is going to get you." The Bible says that God rewards and punishes.
The blessings and curses of Deuteronomy work on a similar principle. If Israel or individuals obey God, they will be blessed. If they disobey God, they will be cursed. The difference between the general principle of reward and punishment and the blessings and curses of Deuteronomy 28 is that the reward and punishment are meted out not on an individual level; but on a national level. When Israel as a nation sins and strays from the Torah, the whole nation suffers for it. When Israel walks in obedience to God's laws, the whole nation profits.
Moses told the children of Israel that the blessings of God would come upon them and overtake them. His words evoke the image of God's bounty and goodness relentlessly pursuing the people of Israel, lavishing upon them rewards for walking in obedience to the LORD. He said they would be blessed everywhere: in the city and the country. He said they would be blessed with prolific fertility through their children and livestock. He said they would be blessed with an abundance of provision: in the basket and kneading bowl. They would be blessed at every time: when they came in and when they went out. God promised to set the people of Israel high above the nations, defeat their enemies, establish them as a holy people, abound them in prosperity and set them at the forefront of all peoples. The Apostle Paul told the believers in Ephesus that God has blessed believers "with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Messiah" (Ephesians 1:3). "Every spiritual blessing" includes the blessings in the Torah. Believers have a share in the blessings God promised to bestow upon the Jewish people. Likewise, the Apostle James, the brother of the Master, said that a man who studies the Torah and obeys its teachings will be blessed in all his endeavours. Forget about karma. Cleave to God's blessings.
A Capricious God.
Is God capricious? After repeatedly telling the Jewish people to observe His commandments, did He decide to cancel the Law? All through the book of Deuteronomy, Moses drives home the message: "Keep God's Torah." When Israel failed to keep the Torah, God sent prophets warning them to repent and turn back to Torah. When they repented, they were rewarded and blessed. When they did not, they suffered the maledictions threatened in the Torah. God continuously told His people for 1,400 years to walk in His commandments, keep His Torah and His covenant. “So keep the words of this covenant to do them, that you may prosper in all that you do” (Deuteronomy 29:9).
Does it make sense to imagine that after 1,400 years, God suddenly changed His mind? Would it make sense to suppose that after all the pain and suffering of invasion, exile, re-gathering, and so on, God would suddenly change the program and announce to His people or those not His people (gentiles), "From now on, do not keep the commandments of the Torah," and then punish them when they did?
That could be compared to a father who warned his son not to play ball in the house. Every time the boy played ball in the house, his father would spank him and send him to his room. This went on for three years. Then one day, his father seized him and spanked him. The boy cried out, "Why are you spanking me?" "Because you weren't playing ball in the house," the father explained. "From now on, you must play ball in the house, and if you do not, I will beat you."
We would call a father like that capricious and deranged. Yet many theologians claim that this is what God has done to Israel or the gentiles. For 1,400 years He punished them when they did not keep the Torah. Then when Jesus came, He cancelled the Torah and henceforth punished them for keeping it. Remember there has always been one law for all and one criteria of salvation for all Exo_12:49 One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you. Num_15:16 One law and one manner shall be for you, and for the stranger that sojourneth with you. Num_15:29 Ye shall have one law for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them. Eph_4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
Obviously God is not a capricious and deranged father. Rather He is the Unchanging One, the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. “Mal 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not...” .
He has not cancelled the words of His Torah. Even today, He longs for His people all of His people to repent, turn away from sin and come back to the good and beautiful commandments of His Torah, just as His holy Son, Yahshua, has shown us. In Yahshua His people will find forgiveness for sins, and through His Spirit we find the strength and joy to serve God with gladness. “For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice” (Psalm 95:7).
Jews and Curse of the Law.
The curses of Deuteronomy 28 turned out to be accurate prophecies. The Torah says, “They shall become a sign and a wonder on you and your descendants forever” (Deuteronomy 28:46). The list of curses reads much like a history of the people of Israel, a sign that God’s Word is true and a wonder that these things which have befallen Israel were predicted thousands of years ago.
Despite that, Christians should beware the tendency to cite Deuteronomy 28 as evidence for the everlasting cursedness of the Jewish people. Christian interpretation has historically regarded the Torah’s curses as proof that God has rejected His people. The opposite is true. If God has visited these covenant curses upon His people, that proves that His covenant with Israel still stands. The Jewish people are still the people of God. Rom_11:1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
Many Gentile Christians believe that the curses of the Law befell the Jewish / Hebrew people because they rejected Yahshua. On the contrary, not all of the Jewish people rejected Yahshua. The apostles boasted about how “many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Torah” (Acts 21:20). The followers of Yahshua formed a significant sect of first-century Judaism called the sect of the Nazarenes Acts 24:5. Moreover, the Torah never indicates that Israel needed to correctly identify the Messiah in order to avoid its curses. Avoidance was by obedience. If correctly identifying Yahshua as the Messiah was really the objective, why did He conceal His identity and warn people not disclose it? Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Messiah.” And He warned them to tell no one about Him (Mark 8:29-30). See also Acts 2:41 and 4:4 where three and four thousand accepted Him as the promised Messiah.
Until His triumphal entry, just a few days before His crucifixion, He silenced those who wanted to identify Him as the Son of God or as the Messiah. Again, if His primary objective was to convince the Jewish people that He was the Messiah, He should have been more forthright with that information. He should have taught, “I am the Messiah. Believe in me,” but He did not. Instead, He taught a simple message of repentance and the nearness of the kingdom: “Repent! The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Did the Jewish people incur the curses of the Law by failing to recognize the Messiah? The curses of exile which have befallen Israel are not based on misidentification of the Messiah, rather, the curses overtake the nation “because you would not obey Yahweh your God by keeping His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you.” Moses warned that the curses would come upon the nation only “if you are not careful to observe all the words of this law which are written in this book, to fear this honoured and awesome name, the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 28:58). This should act as a warning to seekers today who do not keep God’s instructions of Exodus 20:8, Lev 23 but maybe the others. He did not spare His chosen so why should He show grace / mercy to others? Exo 20:6 And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
This explains why Yahshua taught a gospel message of repentance. He tried to avert the curses by urging His generation to turn back to the Torah (His Father’s laws). The generation did not repent. The curses overtook them not because they failed to recognize Yahshua as the Messiah; but because they failed to heed His message. Gentile Christians should recognize that any curse that falls upon Israel also falls upon them since they have been grafted into Israel (its unbelieving broken off branches of Rom 11) and made a part of the commonwealth of the nation. Therefore, rather than triumphing over the brokenness of the Jewish people, the Gentile Christian should mourn along with Israel, sharing in the nation’s tragedies and suffering. When the nation suffers, the whole commonwealth suffers. The curses that befall Israel affect all of us. The exile of the Jewish people affects the whole world, especially the disciples of Yahshua. If we have no share in the suffering of the exile, why do we hope to share in the blessing of the redemption? All true believers are called to obey the commandments of God AND have the faith of Yahshua. The unbelieving Jews of Rom 11:17 were broken off for not believing in the Messiah. The seeking gentiles are graffed into among those branches for their non keeping of some of the commandments (correct holy days). When each group have obtained what they lack, they will be graffed into the olive tree itself which has both faith and obedience.
A hindrance to the present day Orthodox Jews not accepting the Messiah is His identity has been stolen by Christians who changed His name to Jesus, His commandments to one of not keeping the law nor the holy days of His Father as in Leviticus 23. If Christians followed the right Messiah and the right ways, maybe Jews would be provoked to also accept Him.
A Treasured Possession.
“And Yahweh has declared this day that you are His people, His treasured possession as He promised and that you are to keep all His commandments. He has declared that He will set you in praise, fame and honour high above all the nations He has made and that you will be a people holy to Yahweh your God, as He promised” (Deuteronomy 26:18–19). Deu 27:9 And Moses and the priests the Levites spake unto all Israel, saying, Take heed, and hearken, O Israel; this day thou art become the people of the LORD thy God. Deu 27:10 Thou shalt therefore obey the voice of the LORD thy God, and do his commandments and his statutes, which I command thee this day.
Yahweh promises the wilderness mixed multitude congregation led by Moses that if they keep all His commandments, they will be "His treasured possession.” This promise is also found in Exodus:
“Now if you obey Me fully and keep My covenant, then out of all nations you will be My treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation [mamlechet cohanim v’goee kadosh]” (Exodus 19:5–6).
Although they have experienced many curses over the generations, in the Haftarah (prophetic reading portion), the prophet Isaiah tells Israel that God in His favour and mercy will one day exalt them even in the midst of much persecution and hatred against them: “Whereas you have been forsaken and hated, with no one passing through, I will make you majestic forever, a joy from age to age” (Isaiah 60:15).
In the New Testament (Brit Chadashah), all followers Yahweh through Yahshua are called God’s special people. Just like in Exodus 12:38 a mixed multitude came out of Egypt and were given a special place in God’s mind (Deut 4:20, 10:15, Exodus 19:5-6), because of our covenant with the Almighty God through the blood of Yahshua His son, both Jew and Gentile together can know that they are God’s most treasured possession if they also keep all His commandments as He stipulated.
1Pe 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
Deu 28:9 Yahwhe shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of Yahweh thy God, and walk in his ways. Deu 28:10 And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of Yahweh and they shall be afraid of thee.
Remember, Peter was writing to descendants of Israel who had been scattered in regions outside Jerusalem (1Pe 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia,). He was not writing to Gentiles as many bible readers think! Also, just like Paul, Peter teaches from the Old Testament.
We might look at ourselves and say, I don’t look much like a treasure; I am too short or too tall, too fat or too thin, not pretty or smart enough to be a treasure. We might check in with our emotions and say, I don’t feel that I qualify to be called a treasure of God; I have so many faults and weaknesses, I need to work on keeping my temper; I am not yet disciplined enough; I don’t witness enough, whatever we perceive to be our weakness; but as the apostle Paul says, we are to put no confidence in the attributes of our flesh (Philippians 3:3). Certainly, if anyone could have qualified as a treasure by the certificates on his wall and trophies on his desk, it would have been the apostle Paul, who described himself in this way: “… circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless” (Philippians 3:5–6).
He considered himself without fault in the flesh and in his keeping of the Torah; yet he put no value on all of these external qualifications. Instead, he put his trust in the person of the Messiah: “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Messiah. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Messiah Yahshua, for whose sake I have lost all things …
“I consider them garbage, that I may gain Messiah and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Messiah, the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith” (Philippians 3:7–9).
Although Paul says he continued to keep the law as perfectly as possible, he understood that his faultless performance was not to be compared to the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. While our own performance may not be as flawless as Paul’s, we must accept by faith that if we are empowered to walk in God’s ways by His Spirit and are obedient, then we are in truth His special treasure. Despite our faults, weaknesses and imperfections, Yahweh loves and values us and we can say, “I am royalty, a child of the King of Kings, the segulah of Yahweh, a precious treasure!” He values us because we are His covenant children and are each created in His image and likeness. A spark of His divine Shekhinah glory is within us.
If we have a $100 bill and it accidentally drops on the ground, getting soiled, stepped on, crumpled and bent, is it worth any less than $100? No, it retains its value. So too is it with us. Many of us, however, do not understand our value. Some of us have not always been treated like a treasure. Perhaps parents, schoolmates, spouses, or fellow Believers have not treated us with honour and respect. We may have even been abused or mistreated terribly by people, as if we are someone inconsequential; but God does not see us this way. Even if we have been broken; even if our heart has been torn in two or our whole life shattered, we are still a beautiful treasure to Yahweh “a crown of beauty and a royal diadem in the hand of our God” (Isaiah 62:3).
How do we care for treasures? We put them in special places and guard them jealously, keeping them in a safe, secure place. Can we even fathom the grief and wrath that God feels when someone causes one of His segulah to suffer? We need to leave these injustices and hurts in the hands of Yahweh who says He will vindicate us. Our only choice is to forgive those who have hurt and mistreated us. Sometimes, when we don't see ourselves as valuable and worthy of respect, we send signals to others that we are valueless and worthless. The result often is that will treat us as such. Or our perception of how others treat us can prevent us from moving forward in God's promises. For instance, when the Israelites saw themselves as grasshoppers, they thought that the giants in Canaan did as well!
When we begin to value and respect ourselves in a balanced and Godly manner, we will find more and more that the people in our lives properly value and esteem us as well. Part of our healing and recovery is the transformation in the way we see ourselves, knowing our identity in the Messiah as righteous, whole, precious, valuable. We receive these precious attributes only through His Divine Covenant. Let us enter into everything that God has for us, our freedom from condemnation, the freedom from the curses, the joy unspeakable, and the peace that passes all understanding. All these and more have been given to us through the New Covenant, bought with the precious blood of the sinless Lamb of God, Yahshua HaMashiach (the Messiah)! (But remember it is conditional on obedience Deu 28:15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of Yahweh thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee and overtake thee: Deu 28:44 He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail.).
When one reads what befell the congregation (church) of Israel in the books of some prophets (Jeremiah, Lamentations etc) one should see God kept His word in bringing the curses on them for their disobedience. We should learn from their mistakes. We may not suffer to the extend they did. Who God loves He chastises. We may already be on the road to destruction and not know it.
ISAIAH: Today’s Isaiah reading gives a narrative of the last days. Note verses 60:3-5, 9-12, 19, 21.
1 Peter 2: is a letter to Jews living outside Jerusalem i.e. in gentile nations it is not to not gentiles (as are all if not most of the other New Testament epistles). Note 1Pe 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,. 1Pe 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 1Pe 2:12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall… , From Peter 2 note verses 7, 9, 24.
Shalom. Wish you a blessed week.