Vaetchanan "And I pleaded"
In this Torah portion, Moses pleads to be admitted to the Land of Israel and its holy mountain. Do you see that? He PLEADS. Begs. As we've seen over the past year of Torah studies, the Land of Israel is the physical sister to the spiritual Garden of Eden. Righteous re-entry into Israel prophesies of the entry of the righteous to the Garden at the resurrection.
For this reason, Moses recaps the Shma, the Ten Commandments, and several other points of Yeshua's righteousness that are vital to prolonging one's days in the Land. In other words, they are the behaviors of righteousness pertaining to eternity.
If only believers today begged and pleaded with the Holy One for the means to set foot in the Land of Israel the way that Moses did! Moses did not beg to enter a perfect Israel, but a place inhabited by giants and pagan people, yet he pleaded, "
Vaetchanan...!" We can improve in and learn righteousness if we will just set our feet down in that Land worth begging for.
The Jewish sage Rashi comments on the root word of
John the Baptist, or Yochanan the Immerser, preached and immersed around the Jordan River. Jordan, or Yarden, means to go down, but even a native Israelite who repented and immersed could "come up" out of the water to Israel as Moses longed to do. Repentance suggests that a believer wants to be single-minded about the journey into Israel all the way to the holy mountain of Jerusalem.
The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail. (Lk 16:16)
For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. (Mt 11:13)
Yeshua's statement about the Law and Prophets prophesying until John makes sense. The gospel has always been proclaimed. John's Hebrew name is Yochanan, a form of
Chanun, the free gift. Moses asks for the "free gift" of the Land, not by his merit, but even mentioning his failures. Moses could not be granted this free gift...but he could see it...until Yeshua came, typified by Moses' successor Yehoshua. Yochanan the Immerser supervised mikvaot in the waters of the Yarden, the side that Moses could not cross until Yeshua came.
Moses' free gift was realized in Messiah Yeshua, who could do more than pluck him from the Nile River. Yeshua plucked Moses from Abraham's bosom, the [comfortable] prison of Sheol, and gave him the free gift of entry into the Garden to await the resurrection. Moses could do more than see with spiritual and natural eyes; he could enter in. Through Yeshua, Moses could cross over the Jordan and be immersed into Yeshua.
A Jewish teaching about the Torah is that everyone has the key to the inner chamber, the heart of the Torah, yet not the key to the outer gate. Why? That outer gate is
Yirat Adonai, or the Reverence/Fear of Adonai, which is also the beginning of all Wisdom, which leads to Understanding, Counsel, Power, and Knowledge. Unless one is willing
to break through the outer gate and acquire a Reverence of Adonai, then he or she will never be able to open the inner chamber, the spiritual heart of the Torah. Yeshua affirms that
everyone has to break through to find the heart of the Word and use the key, Yeshua's free gift of pure love that opens the gate to the Garden.
That brokenness is humbling one's self to realize that one doesn't deserve salvation or forgiveness, yet Yeshua offers both. Humility leads to gratefulness. Gratefulness leads to love. Love generates the passion to break through the outer gate and use the key to the inner chamber of intimacy with the Word.
If we want to grown in the Spirit of the Torah as well as the written Word of the Torah, we will have to break down barriers that prevent us from studying, praying, and applying its principles. We will have to break down the barriers that say Israel is only an imperfect place like all others; we have to see it as the place where we set our feet because we have faith that Yeshua will teach and grown the Father's children in righteousness so that they may live long in the Land of Eternity.
Part Two: Embezzling from the King?
Messiah Yeshua warns:
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon [wealth]. (Mt 6:24 KJV)
Yeshua teaches this principle also in Luke:
Now He was also saying to the disciples, 'There was a rich man who had a manager, and this manager was reported to him as squandering his possessions. And he called him and said to him, 'What is this I hear about you? Give an accounting of your management, for you can no longer be manager.' The manager said to himself, 'What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig; I am ashamed to beg.
I know what I shall do, so that when I am removed from the management people will welcome me into their homes.' And he summoned each one of his master's debtors, and he began saying to the first, 'How much do you owe my master?' And he said, 'A hundred measures of oil.' And he said to him, 'Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.' Then he said to another, 'And how much do you owe?' And he said, 'A hundred measures of wheat.' He said to him, 'Take your bill, and write eighty.'
And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light. And I say to you,
make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings.
He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.'
Now the Pharisees,who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. And He said to them, 'You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.
The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.'
Money or physical possessions are things attached to the physical world. For believers, those things are used to "be shrewd," that is, to acquire "friends" who will receive us the same way that a dishonest employee had the master's debtors alter their billing statements so that they owed him less. The dishonest employee knew that even though he was to be fired, he was acquiring new friends by lowering their payments while it was within his hand to do so. He had only a limited amount of time to use the master's system, and he used it shrewdly, embezzling to form friends who would help him to find work after he was fired.
Yeshua uses the contrast to show how his disciples need to be just as shrewd with the Master's earthly resources. There is a limited time of use, and they need to think about the future just like a dishonest employee. Yeshua says they, too, can make friends for the future. These "friends," however, are eternal ones, not ones who will forget the short-term friendship forged through the god of mammon, or human love of money. Mammon is not really something outside of ourselves, but the result of a divided heart, and therefore a divided soul, which olds back the money and physical resources that could go toward eternal "friends."
What the text calls "unrighteous" wealth is not the literal proceeds of embezzlement, for the resources given by Adonai are neither good nor bad. It is a medium of exchange that can be exchanged either for righteousness in the Law and Prophets, or unrighteousness by sensual, selfish, and stingy purposes. It can be used to make temporary physical friends OR
eternal friends who will be part of your eternal life and service.
The Jewish insight is that the Shema requests your very life when it says "soul": it begins with an undivided, "one", heart, which is a relinquishment of the desires of the soul to Yeshua, and it is expressed in how one apportions one's possessions and resources, which grow out of something finite, our time. There is a finite amount of time and money or possessions to build those relationships with eternal friends.
The challenge is balancing between being in the world and having to make an income, and assigning our portions of time, the 24 hours of the day. Of necessity, some of our time will be self-serving, devoted to the animal soul in order to physically live. This is not the sign of a divided soul or heart. The problem is when we truly love money and honor more, and we assign very small portions of time and money to eternal friends and disproportionate portions to earthly friends.
If this is true in the earthly Israel, how much more is it true when our attention to the assembly of Adonai below reflects our commitment to the Heavenly Temple relative to our own houses?
'You look for much, but behold, it comes to little; when you bring it home, I blow it away. Why?' declares the LORD of hosts, 'Because of My house which lies desolate, while each of you runs to his own house.' (Hag 1:9)
The Holy One of Israel will one day simply blow away the earthly friends and possessions that we have prioritized above eternal friends and possessions.
The Jewish sage Rashi says in his comments on the Shma, "You shall love...,":
Perform His words, i.e., commandments, out of love. One who serves out of love cannot be compared to one who serves out of fear. One who serves at his master's side out of fear, once the master burdens him, he leaves the master and goes off on his own.
Yeshua's burden is easy and light, but sometimes it is a burden to forge eternal friendships and devote our time and resources to the Kingdom when it is so tempting to forge relationships with the people we'd rather welcome us
now rather than through
eternity. Eternity seems so far away from right now.
Yeshua wants us to develop his heart, the shepherd's heart for the sheep, something we find in the inner chamber of the Torah after we've broken through our greater reverence for the activities of the perishing world and placed our reverence on the eternal things of our future home in the Garden and Jerusalem:
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.
The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.
No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father." (Jn 10:11-18)
The inner chamber of the Torah reflects the beauty of how man was created. We were created with free will, a choice to serve or to run away. A choice to "lose" our lives in this brief moment of mortality in order to "take it back up again" in eternity. Fear or love?
Covetousness in the recap of the commandments in Vaetchanan is evidence of a divided, not a unified heart. Covetousness will prevent us from breaking through the outer wall to use the key that Yeshua has placed in every hand.
Giving your life for the sanctification of the name of God starts in the heart, is sorted by the soul for daily living, and is evidenced by the use of time and money, your strength and possessions.
Is there any earthly honor, accomplishment, or friend that I seek that I may find is detestable or uninteresting to God when it is viewed in the Light of Heaven instead of the earthly light? How many things that I love will be "blown away" at the resurrection? Do I over-invest time and money in things that will pass away, and under-invest time and money in the eternal Spirit of the Torah?
You have the Good Shepherd's free gift of the key to the inner chamber of the Garden and the Temple above. It's time to think forward and start beating down the barriers to "coming up." It's time for some loving, shrewd, righteous embezzlement from the tempting adversary's temporary kingdom for the Eternal Kingdom.
Did these commas change the meaning of the sentence? Since commas are not in the original text, try reading the sentence without them and see if it drastically changes how you understand it.