Moreover, people may come and go in our lives, but God is the faithful One who will never abandon us.
We may come to depend upon people, even those who are capable, strong, spiritual leaders, but ultimately we need to trust that it is God who will be our “ever-present help in times of trouble. Therefore we will not fear.” (Psalm 46:1–2)
Succession Planning and the Torah
Succession in this Parasha was not only about leadership. Moses ensured that the people had what they needed to bring them into the future.
He wrote down the Torah and commanded the Israelites to read it every seven years in the year of the Shemitah (Sabbatical year) at the time of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles).
Moses entrusted the safekeeping of this Torah into the hands of the sons of Aaron who were the Cohanim (Jewish Priests) as well as all the Levites, who were charged with carrying the Ark of the Covenant, among other duties.
In this way, the Torah was to be taught and handed down to generation after generation so that they would fear the Lord and keep His commandments.
We also have a responsibility to teach the Word of God to our children—that they may teach their children and so on down the generations—to fear God and obey His Word.
“Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the LORD your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess.” (Deuteronomy 31:12–13)
The responsibility to diligently teach our children the Torah is still taken seriously today by much of the Jewish people, based on the command:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” (Deuteronomy 6:4–7)
Passing on our faith in God to our children is not the job of the youth ministry teacher once a week during congregation services; it is meant to be a lifestyle of living out faith and obedience in front of our children, as well as talking about God and His Word throughout the day—every day.
Sin, Repentance, and the Glory of God
In this Parasha, we come to realize that God knew that despite all His warnings, the people of Israel would go astray and commit spiritual adultery by seeking after other gods and worshiping the idols of the pagans around them in the Promised Land.
“And the LORD said to Moses: ‘Behold, you will rest with your fathers; and this people will rise and play the harlot with the gods of the foreigners of the land, where they go to be among them, and they will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them.
“‘Then My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured. And many evils and troubles shall befall them, so that they will say in that day, ‘Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?’” (Deuteronomy 31:16–17)
Twice, God says He will hide His face (hester panim) from His people because of their sins. This term does not indicate the lack of Divine Providence but the concealment of it.
We can see this at work even today. God is maintaining His state of being hidden from the people of Israel—but the Father is revealed through Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah).
“Anyone who has seen Me,” Yeshua said, “has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
In Yeshua, we see God in all of His glory:
“For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Yeshua the Messiah.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)