The Torah portion this week, Ekev, was (I’m a little late in posting) Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25, the Haftorah Isaiah 49:14-51:3, and the Apostolic John 13:31-15:27. As usual, there is so much to read and study and glean from.
What I absolutely love is how the Haftorah and the Apostolic portions are chosen to coincide and add to what the Torah portion says that week. It really speaks to me and solidifies the fact that all of scripture, whether told from Mt. Sinai or during exile or after Yeshua’s death and resurrection, is telling the same story of God’s love and redemption.
A basic summary of the Torah reading: There is a collection of promises from the Lord of what he will do if Israel follows his commands and love and fear him. They will be blessed, their land and people will benefit from good fruit, and they will be satisfied in the good land that the Lord has given them. He promises to wipe out their enemies. We see again the story of the Golden Calf and the rewriting of the stone tablets. He reminds the Israelites that it is not because of their own righteousness that they were so chosen by the Lord or blessed, but because of his promises to their forefathers. The portion is full of reminders to love God and serve him by following his commands.
“And now, O Israel, what does the Lord, your God, demand of you? Only to fear the Lord, your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, and to worship the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes, which I command you this day, for your good.” ~Deuteronomy 10:12-13
The Haftorah portion in Isaiah is great, too. These beginning verses get me:
“And Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me.’ Shall a woman forget her sucking child, from having mercy on the child of her womb? These too shall forget, but I will not forget you. Behold on [My] hands have I engraved you; your walls are before Me always.” ~Isaiah 49:14-16
This portion continues to speak more of God’s blessings and promises for Israel, even after her sin and iniquities bring about hardships.
The Apostolic portion seems to tie it all together. Yeshua speaks during the Last Supper about his new commandment: to love one another. Of course, his commandment is in the Torah, but he really seems to want his disciples to understand how important this commandment is to him. He echoes the call for obedience we read in Deuteronomy:
“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” ~John 14:23-24
He also promises the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, to help us after Yeshua leaves to prepare a place for us. He speaks of his unity with the Father, and if his Father, some two thousand years earlier, called for obedience to the Torah, then I believe Yeshua would want the same thing. There is so much life in his commands and I don’t think we are to see them as a burden. Think of what David says in Psalm 19 (or, you know, all of 119!):
“The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous.”