Torah ~ Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25
Haftorah ~ Isaiah 49:14-51:3 Brit Chadasha ~ John 15:1-5
As we journey toward the High Holy Days, many of us find ourselves challenged with the desire to be closer to the Lord both inwardly and outwardly. Each week, from now until Yom Kippur our weekly haftarah portion is called a “haftarah of consolation” because each one reminds us that in the end there is victory.
The Torah portion for this week is called eikev, which in our portion means the outcome of the way we live. In the English text it is usually translated as "because." The word is only found in the first verse and the last verse of the portion (7:12 and 8:20.) “Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the LORD your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers (7:12).” “Like the nations that the LORD makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the LORD your God (8:20).” As you can see this Torah portion describes two kinds of outcomes. If we listen to the way of the Lord (remember!) and live the Torah way of life, there is a very positive outcome. If we fail to listen (forget!) and simply live in a way that does not reflect the ethical and moral way of life that God instructs, the outcome is difficult. For most of us, we fall somewhere in the middle. Actions have consequences and we experience both good and bad things in life due to the choices that we make.
The haftarah portion for this week is Isaiah 49:14-50:11. The beginning of the passage, Isaiah 49:14-26, describes a time when Zion will be restored. He comforts the people who are despondent and defeated. The people feel that God has abandoned them because their situation is difficult. The nation has made bad choices and the results have been devastating. But, God assures them that He will never abandon them even if it feels like God is absent. God likens Israel to a nursing child. Never will He abandon them. Rather ultimately, He will restore them. Chapter 50 of Isaiah describes a Servant who is a disciple (Is.50:4-9). He has a very close relationship with God. He is obedient even through suffering. He knows that the day is near when all the accusations against Him will be proven wrong and He will be declared righteous. This Servant is the one and only Israelite who meets the standard of perfect obedience. The Servant is Yeshua the Messiah. We will learn in Isaiah 53 that it is through His death and resurrection that He accomplishes the task of restoring Israel. The New Covenant portion is John 15:1-15. The good news for Messiah followers is that ultimately, in the World To Come, there will be no more sin and death and tears and negative consequences to actions. Yeshua is the perfect vine (the Servant) amongst dead branches who will restore the entire vineyard. (See Isaiah 5 for the background of the vineyard). It is through Messiah Yeshua that Zion will be restored both internally and in the land.
Today we can experience restoration as we abide in Him. Perhaps we are despondent and sad over situations in our lives. God is with you and will not ever abandon you. In Him you can endure until the end. In Him there is a supernatural peace and joy in the middle of the storm (Gal. 5:22-23). During these days of consolation, may we be challenged to live the life of a disciple, confessing our sins, and realizing that no matter what consequences (eikev) we may be enduring because of our actions, there is a day of vindication coming! Be encouraged and draw close to the Lord!