Welcome to this week’s Torah Portion, which is called Re’eh (See/Behold).
This is the portion of Scripture that will be read during Shabbat (Saturday) morning services in synagogues around the world. Enjoy!
Re’eh (See / Behold)
Deuteronomy 11:26–16:17; Numbers 28:9–15; Isaiah 54:11–55:5; Matthew 7:7–29 [Shabbat Rosh Chodesh: Isaiah 66:1–24]
“See (רְאֵה Re’eh),” says Moses to the people of Israel, “I place before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.” (Deuteronomy 11:26–28)
Last week in Parasha Eikev, Moses promised the Israelites that if they were obedient to the commands of the Torah, they would prosper in the promised land.
This week, as the children of Israel stand poised to cross over into the Jordan, God sets before the people two separate and distinct directions: a way of blessing if they choose to obey God’s commandments and a way of cursing if they choose to walk in disobedience to those laws.
These two directions, the blessing and the curse, are to be proclaimed on two mountaintops in the land: Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal.
“Now it shall be, when the LORD your God has brought you into the land which you go to possess, that you shall put the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal.” (Deuteronomy 11:29)
Today, Nablus rests between Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal, the mountains on which the Israelites were commanded to pronounce the blessings and curses upon entering the promised land. This is also the location of Biblical Shechem, the place where Abram built an altar to the Lord (Genesis 12:6–8).
Each one of us has been given this same choice to follow Him or not; in fact, the entire direction of our lives depends on which path we choose, the path of the blessing or of the curse.
Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah also told us of two paths, the narrow path that leads to life, and the broad path that leads to destruction. Sadly, it seems that few choose the narrow path. Most walk that broad path of destruction.
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13–14)
Why does Yeshua, who is the Gate to salvation, tell us that the path of blessing is difficult, and that few enter His gate?
Because each day, we have to make hard choices between what our carnal nature desires and what is in alignment with the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). To obey God requires that we crucify the desires of our flesh.
“I have been crucified with Messiah. It is no longer I who live, but Messiah who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Staying on the Path of Blessing During Trials
Sadly, human pride, love of sin, and opposition from spiritual forces of darkness keep many walking the broad path of destruction, preventing them from entering into a life of blessing through obedience to God.
As well, too many new believers think that coming to faith in Yeshua and living a life of obedience to God are supposed to make all the problems and trials of life disappear.
Yeshua did not promise this. In fact, he assured us that in this life we will have trouble. He himself was persecuted, as were his followers.
Despite that, we need not be discouraged. We can be of good cheer, joyful in the Lord, for he has overcome the world.
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Choosing to obey God’s commandments in times of trouble is not always easy, especially when the whole world seems to be going in a different direction.
Going against the current can take a great deal of exertion and determination, whether for spawning salmon or for people desiring to live a righteous life. It takes effort to swim against the current.
Even simply making the choice to obey God can be excruciatingly painful. Yeshua experienced this in the Garden of Gethsemane when facing the choice to submit to God even to the point of death on the tree.
It was here, in the dark valley of decision that the battle was won, when Yeshua said, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42)
This decision was so agonizing for Yeshua that He seemed to sweat drops of blood: “Being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44)
Messiah in the Garden of Gethsemane, by Vasily Grigorevich Perov
We may not actually sweat drops of blood, but we may come to a crossroad in our lives where we must also decide whether to obey God’s will or to choose our own way, and the cost may seem beyond our ability to bear. But God has promised that his grace is sufficient for us in every circumstance.
Choosing to obey God will lead to blessing; however, we may not receive our full reward until Heaven.
For that reason, we must always live with an eternal perspective, not allowing the trials of life to weaken our faith.
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)
The Steps on the Path of Blessing
“For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 14:2)
This Parasha emphasizes that the path of blessing includes not following false gods or false prophets. All elements of pagan worship must be purged from our lifestyle so that we may be the holy people that God has called us to be.
He made this astounding statement: “Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill…. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches people to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17–19)
The path of blessing also includes giving tithes to the Levites, who were dependent on the people for their livelihood:
“You shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates, for he has no part nor inheritance with you.” (Deuteronomy 14:27)
As well, generosity toward the poor is also important.
God said we are to open our hand and our heart to give to the poor in our land, “If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs.” (Deuteronomy 15:7–8)
Prosperity and financial blessing are not simply the result of working hard. It is also not owed to us because we are believers. It is dependent upon exercising the spiritual principles of sowing and reaping. As we give, it will be given back to us (Luke 6:38). God will bless us as we sow generous seeds in giving to the poor and to God’s faithful servants.
“You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand.” (Deuteronomy 15:10)
Choosing the Path to Eternal Life
"But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5)
One of the most important choices each one of us must make is whether or not to receive Yeshua the Messiah as the atonement for all of our sins and through him receive eternal life.
Our Messianic redemption (liberation / salvation / entrance into eternal life) is not something that we simply read about or hear preached. It is a not-so-distant reality.
When Yeshua returns, he will come on the clouds and every eye will see (יראו) , from the same root as the imperative see or behold, Re’eh) him.
“Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over him. So it is to be. Amen.” (Revelation 1:7)
This New Covenant Scripture about the Second Coming of the Messiah is founded on several Messianic prophecies in which the Hebrew prophets also foresee Adonai coming with the clouds:
“A prophecy against Egypt: See, Adonai [YHVH] rides on a swift cloud and is coming to Egypt. The idols of Egypt tremble before him, and the hearts of the Egyptians melt with fear.” (Isaiah 19:1)
"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.” (Daniel 7:13)
One day, we will all see the Son of man coming on the clouds with great power and glory! Until that day comes, may we choose to faithfully and diligently walk on the path of blessing, keeping his commandments.
"Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it." (Luke 11:28)
Time is short. Yeshua is returning soon.