Welcome to this week's Torah / bible study section. “You are standing [nitzavim] today in the presence of Yahweh your God …. You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with Yahweh your God” (Deuteronomy 29:10–12).
Last week’s study of the Torah / Bible titled “Ki Tavo” (When You Enter) concluded with Moses telling the people that just 40 years after they had attained nationhood, they had acquired “a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear.” Reaching that point entailed a 40 year journey in the wilderness. This week, in Nitzavim-Vayelech, the Jewish People stand before God about to enter into the covenant, a solemn oath with Him.
United They Stood.
Standing together has different significance according to the occasion or reason. Whether in unity to hear a national anthem or in response to cheering an action at a recreation event. The Hebrew language has different words for standing up. The Hebrew of Deuteronomy 29:10 uses the word nitzavim (נצבים) when Moses says to the children of Israel, "You stand today, all of you, before the LORD your God." Nitzavim implies standing at attention, more akin to the pledge of allegiance than the home run standing. Why were the Israelites collectively standing before God? It was for one reason alone: to enter into a covenant with Him. The expression you are standing (atem nitzavim) is used almost 300 times in the Bible and always to enter into some kind of contract, pact or agreement. All were invited to enter into the brit (covenant) with Adonai—from the least to the greatest. Everyone, from the leaders, elders and officers of tribes, to their wives and children had equal opportunity to receive a place in the Kingdom of God. Even the ger (stranger or foreigner) was offered an equal place in the covenant with Elohim, in order “that He may establish you today as a people for Himself, and that He may be God (Elohim) to you.” (Deuteronomy 29:13). This covenant was unique in that it transcended any limitation of time or place. It was made with “those standing there as well as with those who were not present at that time.” (Deuteronomy 29:15). After Israel broke this covenant, God promised through the Hebrew prophet Jeremiah a “New Covenant” (Brit Chadashah) for the people of Israel and Judah in Jeremiah 31:31-33.
In synagogues or other religious events, there are certain parts of the service where everyone stands. For example, whenever the doors of the ark (the chest that contains the Torah scroll) are opened, the entire congregation rises to their feet to express their reverence for God's Word. Certain prayers also require the congregation to stand and be mindful that they are in the presence of God. When a congregation stands together before God, it is more than a room full of individuals. By standing together to revere God, the congregation expresses itself as a single body.
In Deuteronomy 29, Moses knew that he was about to die. Before he left the children of Israel, he wanted to see them committed to the LORD. He asked the children of Israel to stand at attention in reverence before God. He had come to the end of his long depiction of the covenant, its history, its terms and obligations, and its consequences. Now it was time to invite the children of Israel to affirm their commitment to live according to everything that he had just said.
When we stand before God as the great assembly of His Son, Yahshua, "there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, there is neither male nor female; for [we] are all one in the Messiah Yahshua, and Messiah is all, and in all" (Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11). As believers, both heirs and coheirs with the great people of Israel, we should always endeavour to remember that differences and distinctions of person and station are irrelevant to our standing in Messiah.