Foreseeing Israel’s Rebellion
“You are going to rest with your fathers, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them.” (Deuteronomy 31:16)
This Parasha, which is very short—only 30 verses, reveals that God, who knows the end from the beginning, foreknew that Israel would turn away to foreign gods.
“I know what they are disposed to do, even before I bring them into the land I promised them on oath.” (Deuteronomy 31:21)
It is not, however, only the ancient Israelites who suffer from the ‘malady of a sin nature.’ All humankind was infected with the venom of the serpent in the Garden.
God knows the human tendency to be stiff-necked and rebellious, and so even before the Israelites stood on the banks of the Jordan ready to cross over, God already had a plan in place to redeem, deliver, and save Israel from their sins. But not Israel alone.
That plan was manifested in the flesh in Yeshua HaMashiach (the Messiah) who took all our sins upon Himself on the execution stake. Halleluyah!
“For just as through the disobedience of one man [Adam] the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the One Man [Yeshua] the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19)
Shabbat Shuvah: Shabbat of Return
“Return, Israel, to the LORD your God. Your sins have been your downfall!” (Hosea 14:1)
This week’s Shabbat occurs during a very special 10-day period between Rosh HaShanah (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) called both Yamim Nora’im (Days of Awe) and Aseret Y’may Teshuvah (Ten Days of Repentance).
The Days of Awe is traditionally the period to get right with God and our fellow man through repentance and asking forgiveness.
This Shabbat, therefore, which falls between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, is the first of the Jewish new year.
It’s called Shabbat Shuvah or Sabbath of Return since the Haftarah reading begins with the exhortation “Shuvah Yisrael—Return O Israel.”
It is also called Shabbat Teshuvah (Shabbath of Repentance) because it’s one of the 10 Days of Repentance. Teshuvah is derived from the Hebrew verb shuv which means to return or to turn back.
Tashlikh and Finding Mercy
“You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19)
A well-known promise of forgiveness is also read on Shabbat Teshuvah from a brief portion in the book of Micah.
Earlier this week, on Rosh HaShanah, this scripture was also recited when the Jewish people practiced the longstanding custom of Tashlikh (casting off).
That is the tradition in which the Jewish people go to a river or live body of water and cast bread crumbs into the water to symbolically cast off sin. While doing this, they recite the following verses:
“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”
“You will be true to Jacob, and show mercy to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our fathers in days long ago.” (Micah 7:18–20)
Hosea urges the people to trust in God and not in any other force whether powerful nations, war-horses or idols.
Hosea promises that when Israel returns to God and confesses his sin, God will turn away from His anger and bring healing and restoration to Israel.
“I will heal their way wardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily.” (Hosea 14:4–5)
God is waiting for each one of us to return to Him in teshuvah (repentance). When we do turn to Him, we find Him waiting with open arms to pour out His love, healing and restoration freely upon us. What are you waiting for?
We cannot appeal to God’s mercy based on our own righteousness, but on the basis of Covenant.
The Jewish People understand this and know that God is faithful to the Covenant He swore to our Fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Each follower of Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah) also stands before God on the merit of Yeshua’s blood covenant (Matthew 26:28; Luke 22:20; Hebrews 9:20; Hebrews 10:29).
Furthermore, Believers are members of the commonwealth of Israel and partaker in the eternal everlasting covenant of mercy and peace with God (Ephesians 2:12, 19; Isaiah 14:1; Ezekiel 47:22).
And since today’s portion of the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) reminds us to bring the Gospel to Israel and the nations, may we be strong and courageous in sharing the good news of forgiveness in Yeshua HaMashiach:
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:14)