Weekly D'rash Vayetzei
This week our Torah portion follows Jacob as he goes to the land of his mother and grandparents to find a wife. Most of us are a bit familiar with the story of Jacob and Laban, as well as Rachel and Leah. This is an important part of the whole Genesis story because it explains the origins of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. But just as important, it tells the story of the providence of God and His involvement in bringing the events to pass. Throughout Genesis, God is at work bringing about His promise of descendants for Abraham and a people to bear His name. Without the hand of God, there would be no "children of Israel."
The Haftarah portion from the Book of Hosea is a plea for Israel to remember her humble beginnings. In Hosea's day, both Israel and Judah were powerful nations. They had forgotten their humble beginnings and became prideful. This led to immorality, unethical behavior, and the glorification of themselves resulting in idolatry. They had forgotten the warning in Deuteronomy 8:11 about not forgetting the Lord their God. Hosea begs them to remember their beginnings and return to Him. The way the text is written, God is conflicted between the need to judge them and restore them. It reminds all of us that the love of God is unconditional, but it is not a free pass!
Remembering one's humble beginnings helps us to appreciate what we have and remember where we come from. It also helps us to remember our calling. In Hosea’s day, Israel and Judah had forgotten their calling. As a messianic congregation, it is vital that we remember our beginnings and the mission of Beth Messiah to be a light of Messiah. Our primary focus is on the Jewish community, and to be a home for Jewish and Gentile followers of Yeshua who desire to express their walk with the Lord in a Jewish way.
We remember the past, but we live in the present and the foretaste of the future. Our past helps us to remember the trajectory—that is, where we are going. Part of our task is educating our congregation and the community at large about the Jewish essence and heritage of the faith, and why we worship and fellowship the way we do. It is vital that we remember that it is God who raised up this work, and it is He who sustains it. Therefore, we must always be sensitive to His leading.
Individually, how important it is to remember when we embraced Yeshua—so that we never lose our first love and continue to be devoted to the Messiah in humility and devotion. Paul always remembered the grace shown to him when he embraced Yeshua. It helped him to remember his calling (1 Tim 1:12–17). God is always calling us to return to Him and stay on the right path. In the last chapter of Hosea we read, “Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to Him, ‘Take away all iniquity and receive us graciously, that we may present the fruit of our lips. Assyria will not save us, we will not ride on horses; nor will we say again, Our God, to the work of our hands; for in You the orphan finds mercy’” (Hosea 14:1–3).