W hat do you see in this image? What you see depends on your point of view, your perspective.
There’s both a white vase and a two black profiles, but one of them stands out depending on the way you see things.
This same principle applies when we read the Bible. We read it from a certain perspective. It may be a preconceived notion we have. It may be through a filter of how we’ve come to understand a certain passage. It may be a perspective we were taught. If we’d never read the Bible and pick it up one day, we’ll see things through our own experiences, sensitivities, fears, orientation to life and our notions of God.
We can’t help it, as humans we bring all of our psyche and intellect to everything we do.
In reading through the Torah – and specifically those books with a lot of commandments – your perspective will determine how you characterize God.
If a person believes God to be a harsh taskmaster and tyrant, that’s what they’ll see when they read it, that’s what will stand out and it’ll reinforce that belief.
Most people in churches today are taught (sometimes very subtly) that the God of the Old Testament was mean and grumpy, but that Jesus is loving and merciful. The basic sentiment is often, “Thank goodness for Jesus; now we don’t have to deal with that mean God anymore.
It’s so ingrained in us and in Christianity that even if no one says it, it’s alluded to or assumed in conversations we have with some Christians.
Sometimes they bash the Old Testament or the God of the Old Testament without even realizing it. Or sometimes it’s more blatant.
Take the 10 Commandments, for example. When reading the 10 commandments, it’s often with a stern, demanding tone:
“Thou shalt have none other gods before me. 8 Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, 11 Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: 12 Thou shalt keep the Sabbath day 16 Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother, 17 Thou shalt not kill. 18 Neither shalt thou commit adultery. 19 Neither shalt thou steal. 20 Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbor. 21 Neither shalt thou covet.”
Then they say, “God is just a list of rules, do’s and don’ts with punishment if you don’t keep them all.”
Yeshua spoke about the 10 commandments in Matthew 5. When people read Yeshua’s words, they read them with kind and loving tone:
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘you good-for-nothing’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”
Yeshua’s instruction is actually more stringent than the Old Testament commands. But we read it with love, because we believe Yeshua to be loving.
My dad used to say, “If Jesus was God in the flesh and he was merciful and loving, then God is merciful and loving. If Jesus was never unfair, unjust or hard-hearted, then God never was.”
We have to come to the commandments of the Old Testament believing God loves us, or we’ll miss the whole point. Worse than that, we’ll put words in God’s mouth and motivations in his heart that were never there. We’ll make him out to be something he’s not. We have to read them convinced of his love for us.
I want to show you something I think you’ll find surprising. Look at this handout. It shows how many times the word “love” is used in the various books of the Bible and in the Torah. It also shows the frequency of the word “rejoice” and the phrase “bless you”.
Deuteronomy is a book of love and blessing, where rejoicing is a commandment. It’s a love story. We don’t want to miss this!
I’d like to review Parashah #47, Deuteronomy 11:26 – 16:17, convinced that Yehovah really loves us and see what we find. This Parashah is part of Moses’ speech to the second generation of wilderness Israelites just before they are about to go in and take the Promised Land. We’ll start in Chapter 10 because this is where the topic picks up. Specifically look at the parts I’ve underlined and highlighted.
10:12-11:1 is all about love and blessings:
Fear the Lord
12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?
14 To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. 15 Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today. 16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. 20 Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. 21 He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. 22 Your ancestors who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky.
Love and Obey the Lord
11 Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always. 2 Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the Lord your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm; 3 the signs he performed and the things he did in the heart of Egypt, both to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his whole country; 4 what he did to the Egyptian army, to its horses and chariots, how he overwhelmed them with the waters of the Red Sea[a] as they were pursuing you, and how the Lord brought lasting ruin on them. 5 It was not your children who saw what he did for you in the wilderness until you arrived at this place, 6 and what he did to Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab the Reubenite, when the earth opened its mouth right in the middle of all Israel and swallowed them up with their households, their tents and every living thing that belonged to them. 7 But it was your own eyes that saw all these great things the Lord has done.
11:8-11 is about the blessings Yehovah wants to give us – making us conquerors, extending our lives and being abundantly provided for:
8 Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 9 and so that you may live long in the land the Lord swore to your ancestors to give to them and their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10 The land you are entering to take over is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you planted your seed and irrigated it by foot as in a vegetable garden. 11 But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. 12 It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.
Next, in 11:13-15, we see that love is not in the 10 commandments, love is the summary of all 613 commandments. Promises of blessing are because of this love relationship.
13 So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul— 14 then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil.15 I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.
11:16-17 is a warning. A good father warns of dangers and consequences.
16 Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. 17 Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut up the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the Lord is giving you.
11:18-21 is part of the Shema, the creed we profess to confirm our covenant. Did you know it ends with a blessing?
18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.
11:22-25 repeat the promises and blessings that will follow when we love Yehovah.
22 If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow—to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him and to hold fast to him— 23 then the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you. 24 Every place where you set your foot will be yours: Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea. 25 No one will be able to stand against you. The Lord your God, as he promised you, will put the terror and fear of you on the whole land, wherever you go.
11:26-32 tells us the end from the beginning, exactly how we can obtain Yehovah’s blessings and what will stop the blessings.
26 See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse— 27 the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; 28 the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known. 29 When the Lord your God has brought you into the land you are entering to possess, you are to proclaim on Mount Gerizim the blessings, and on Mount Ebal the curses. 30 As you know, these mountains are across the Jordan, westward, toward the setting sun, near the great trees of Moreh, in the territory of those Canaanites living in the Arabah in the vicinity of Gilgal. 31 You are about to cross the Jordan to enter and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you. When you have taken it over and are living there, 32 be sure that you obey all the decrees and laws I am setting before you today.
Chapter 11 has been all about the rationale for obeying Yehovah’s decrees. Chapter 12 begins explaining what the decrees are.
The One Place of Worship
12 These are the decrees and laws you must be careful to follow in the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has given you to possess—as long as you live in the land.2 Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains, on the hills and under every spreading tree, where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods. 3 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places.
4 You must not worship the Lord your God in their way. 5 But you are to seek the place the Lord your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go; 6 there bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, what you have vowed to give and your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. 7 There, in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you.
12:1-7 is telling us not to worship the way the people in the Land do. Instead Yehovah wants them to come to his “dwelling place”, which we know today is Jerusalem. Why would he want that? Because that’s where his presence is; He wants us in his presence. Remember in the wilderness, they all lived together. Now in the Land, they will be spread out in their own territories. Yehovah wants them to come together with each other in his presence. We see this in our own families – our parents and grandparents rejoice when all the kids and grandkids come together in one place.
In verses 6-7, when Yehovah commands them to bring offerings and sacrifices, most of these were eaten and enjoyed by the one giving them and his family. Opposite of what we think of as a sacrifice today, this is a feast. And what’s more, in verse 7 we also see the first mention of rejoicing. This is a joyous feast with the whole family in Yehovah’s presence, celebrating the blessings He has bestowed on them.
In 12:10, we see another promise:
8 You are not to do as we do here today, everyone doing as they see fit, 9 since you have not yet reached the resting place and the inheritance the Lord your God is giving you.10 But you will cross the Jordan and settle in the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and he will give you rest from all your enemies around you so that you will live in safety.
12:22-24 repeats the commandment of this joyous feast with the family in Yehovah’s presence:
11 Then to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name—there you are to bring everything I command you: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, and all the choice possessions you have vowed to the Lord. 12 And there rejoice before the Lord your God—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites from your towns who have no allotment or inheritance of their own.13 Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings anywhere you please. 14 Offer them only at the place the Lord will choose in one of your tribes, and there observe everything I command you.
The third mention of rejoicing comes in verse 19.
15 Nevertheless, you may slaughter your animals in any of your towns and eat as much of the meat as you want, as if it were gazelle or deer, according to the blessing the Lord your God gives you. Both the ceremonially unclean and the clean may eat it. 16 But you must not eat the blood; pour it out on the ground like water. 17 You must not eat in your own towns the tithe of your grain and new wine and olive oil, or the firstborn of your herds and flocks, or whatever you have vowed to give, or your freewill offerings or special gifts.18 Instead, you are to eat them in the presence of the Lord your God at the place the Lord your God will choose—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites from your towns—and you are to rejoice before the Lord your God in everything you put your hand to.19 Be careful not to neglect the Levites as long as you live in your land.
Verses 25-28 continue with the commandment to bring offerings into his presence at Jerusalem.
20 When the Lord your God has enlarged your territory as he promised you, and you crave meat and say, “I would like some meat,” then you may eat as much of it as you want.21 If the place where the Lord your God chooses to put his Name is too far away from you, you may slaughter animals from the herds and flocks the Lord has given you, as I have commanded you, and in your own towns you may eat as much of them as you want. 22 Eat them as you would gazelle or deer. Both the ceremonially unclean and the clean may eat. 23 But be sure you do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat.24 You must not eat the blood; pour it out on the ground like water. 25 Do not eat it, so that it may go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord.
26 But take your consecrated things and whatever you have vowed to give, and go to the place the Lord will choose.27 Present your burnt offerings on the altar of the Lord your God, both the meat and the blood. The blood of your sacrifices must be poured beside the altar of the Lord your God, but you may eat the meat. 28 Be careful to obey all these regulations I am giving you, so that it may always go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and right in the eyes of the Lord your God.
12:29 begins a new theme: the theme of idolatry. This section continues through chapter 13 and contains warnings and instructions regarding idolatry.
Read this section as you would a marriage covenant, which is what the Israelites had, and what we have, with Yehovah. If this language was speaking of your spouse and the other gods referred to other men or women outside your marriage, with what tone would you read it? This is exactly Yehovah’s intent here.
29 The Lord your God will cut off before you the nations you are about to invade and dispossess. But when you have driven them out and settled in their land, 30 and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.” 31 You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods. 32 See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.[b]
Worshiping Other Gods
13 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, 2 and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. 5 That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.
If one of your family or your spouse’s family or a close friend was influencing your spouse to divorce their marital vows, what would you do? Likely you would try to cut off that relationship. You’d have to take certain measures to protect your marriage. That’s how Yehovah feels about idolatry, which he explains in verses 6-11:
6 If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, 7 gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), 8 do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them.9 You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people. 10 Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 11 Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again.
In verses 12-18, if a whole town or people group are committing adultery and you value your marriage, you don’t go to that town or associate with those people. This seems obvious in a marriage, and this is how Yehovah feels about us. He wants to protect our relationship at any cost.
12 If you hear it said about one of the towns the Lord your God is giving you to live in 13 that troublemakers have arisen among you and have led the people of their town astray, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods you have not known), 14 then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly. And if it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done among you, 15 you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. You must destroy it completely, both its people and its livestock.16 You are to gather all the plunder of the town into the middle of the public square and completely burn the town and all its plunder as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. That town is to remain a ruin forever, never to be rebuilt, 17 and none of the condemned things[e] are to be found in your hands. Then the Lord will turn from his fierce anger, will show you mercy, and will have compassion on you. He will increase your numbers, as he promised on oath to your ancestors— 18 because you obey the Lord your God by keeping all his commands that I am giving you today and doing what is right in his eyes.
Chapter 14 begins a new section that’s all about how we can participate in making and keeping ourselves holy and revere the special place we have in him.
Clean and Unclean Food
14 You are the children of the Lord your God. Do not cut yourselves or shave the front of your heads for the dead,2 for you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession.
Verses 3-21 are commandments about food. In verse 21, we see that these instructions are not because these things can’t be digested or aren’t nutritious. Others can eat these things, but by following Yehovah’s instructions, we show our love, confirm our covenant, and participate in the gift of holiness for which he’s chosen us.
3 Do not eat any detestable thing. 4 These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, 5 the deer, the gazelle, the roe deer, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope and the mountain sheep.[f] 6 You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud. 7 However, of those that chew the cud or that have a divided hoof you may not eat the camel, the rabbit or the hyrax. Although they chew the cud, they do not have a divided hoof; they are ceremonially unclean for you. 8 The pig is also unclean; although it has a divided hoof, it does not chew the cud. You are not to eat their meat or touch their carcasses.
9 Of all the creatures living in the water, you may eat any that has fins and scales. 10 But anything that does not have fins and scales you may not eat; for you it is unclean.
11 You may eat any clean bird. 12 But these you may not eat: the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, 13 the red kite, the black kite, any kind of falcon, 14 any kind of raven, 15 the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk,16 the little owl, the great owl, the white owl, 17 the desert owl, the osprey, the cormorant, 18 the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat. 19 All flying insects are unclean to you; do not eat them.20 But any winged creature that is clean you may eat.
21 Do not eat anything you find already dead. You may give it to the foreigner residing in any of your towns, and they may eat it, or you may sell it to any other foreigner. But you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.
Verses 22-29 are about offerings. As we said, usually the giver of the offering gets to enjoy the food he’s chosen for Yehovah. He just wants us to do it in his presence and be joyful about it. Eating from what He’s blessed us with while acknowledging his presence with us shows our reverence and thanksgiving to Him.
22 Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. 23 Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always. 24 But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the Lord your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the Lord will choose to put his Name is so far away), 25 then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the Lord your God will choose. 26 Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice. 27 And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own.
28 At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, 29 so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.
Chapter 15 is another example of how Yehovah wants to bless us, and has set up the commandments in order to do that.
The Year for Canceling Debts
15 At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts.2 This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel any loan they have made to a fellow Israelite. They shall not require payment from anyone among their own people, because the Lord’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed. 3 You may require payment from a foreigner, but you must cancel any debt your fellow Israelite owes you.4 However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, 5 if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today. 6 For the Lord your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you.
Don’t we wish everyone lived by this commandment? We can practice this in our own lives: Does someone ow you something? In the next Sabbath or Sh’mitah year, consider cancelling that debt and let Yehovah bless you instead.
7 If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. 8 Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need. 9 Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: “The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,” so that you do not show ill will toward the needy among your fellow Israelites and give them nothing. They may then appeal to the Lord against you, and you will be found guilty of sin.10 Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.
Yehovah wants to bless us; the commandments are how he does it. When we follow his commandments, we are confirming our covenant with him and participating in keeping ourselves holy. The result is blessing, abundance and Yehovah’s presence with us.
12 If any of your people—Hebrew men or women—sell themselves to you and serve you six years, in the seventh year you must let them go free. 13 And when you release them, do not send them away empty-handed. 14 Supply them liberally from your flock, your threshing floor and your winepress. Give to them as the Lord your God has blessed you. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today.
16 But if your servant says to you, “I do not want to leave you,” because he loves you and your family and is well off with you, 17 then take an awl and push it through his earlobe into the door, and he will become your servant for life. Do the same for your female servant.
18 Do not consider it a hardship to set your servant free, because their service to you these six years has been worth twice as much as that of a hired hand. And the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.
The Firstborn Animals
19 Set apart for the Lord your God every firstborn male of your herds and flocks. Do not put the firstborn of your cows to work, and do not shear the firstborn of your sheep.20 Each year you and your family are to eat them in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose.21 If an animal has a defect, is lame or blind, or has any serious flaw, you must not sacrifice it to the Lord your God.22 You are to eat it in your own towns. Both the ceremonially unclean and the clean may eat it, as if it were gazelle or deer. 23 But you must not eat the blood; pour it out on the ground like water.
Chapter 16 contains instructions for three of the Lord’s Feasts and Festivals, specifically the three that instruct us to join with him and the rest of the community in his presence in Jerusalem. Again, these are times in which the Israelites are eating the best of the land that they’ve chosen as their offering, times of rejoicing.
16 Observe the month of Aviv and celebrate the Passover of the Lord your God, because in the month of Aviv he brought you out of Egypt by night. 2 Sacrifice as the Passover to the Lord your God an animal from your flock or herd at the place the Lord will choose as a dwelling for his Name. 3 Do not eat it with bread made with yeast, but for seven days eat unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, because you left Egypt in haste—so that all the days of your life you may remember the time of your departure from Egypt. 4 Let no yeast be found in your possession in all your land for seven days. Do not let any of the meat you sacrifice on the evening of the first day remain until morning.
5 You must not sacrifice the Passover in any town the Lord your God gives you 6 except in the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name. There you must sacrifice the Passover in the evening, when the sun goes down, on the anniversary[g] of your departure from Egypt. 7 Roast it and eat it at the place the Lord your God will choose. Then in the morning return to your tents. 8 For six days eat unleavened bread and on the seventh day hold an assembly to the Lord your God and do no work.
The Festival of Weeks
9 Count off seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. 10 Then celebrate the Festival of Weeks to the Lord your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the Lord your God has given you.11 And rejoice before the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, the Levites in your towns, and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows living among you. 12 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and follow carefully these decrees.
The Festival of Tabernacles
13 Celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. 14 Be joyful at your festival—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. 15 For seven days celebrate the festival to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.
16 Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Tabernacles. No one should appear before the Lord empty-handed: 17 Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.
Parashah #47 ends with verse 17.
That’s a lot of love, blessing and rejoicing in God’s presence!
If we were to read this as though Yehovah was a control freak, bent on judgment and punishment, we’d completely miss his love and the real message of the book, not to mention the purpose of the commandments, which is abundant life in God’s supernatural blessings.
We need to read the Torah with the same voice of mercy and love with which we read the gospels. Yehovah is the same God all the way through the Bible.
In a previous job, one of my tasks was writing for the President of the company. I could write something I thought was really good, and she’d reject it if it didn’t convey her sentiment in her words.
To get anything approved by her, I had to hear her voice in my head and write it as she would say it.
What does Yehovah’s voice sound like in your head as you read his word and his instructions? We need to catch ourselves when we slip back into that dichotomy between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. Furthermore, we need to correct others when we hear it.
As you spend time in Deuteronomy, read it as a book of love — his love for us and our love for him.