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Weekly D'rash B'har

So much has changed in the last few years. If we are following the Way of the Lord (Gen 18:19), it can feel like we strangers and aliens in our own world. While the situation may be something to lament (and I say that literally), the fact that we may feel alienated is not a bad thing! If we never feel alienated by the culture around us—THAT is a bad thing! Remember that we have been delivered from the domain of darkness to the Kingdom of His beloved Son (Col 1:13).

Our Torah portion this week contains this verse: “The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me” (Lev 25:23). The chapter focuses on the ownership of land in the context of the Sabbatical year and the Year of Jubilee. The point of the verse is to remind Israel that they are stewards of the land, and that they have a unique calling to be identified with the God of Israel and live under his authority as their true king in his land. He redeemed them from Egypt and brought them to his land (Exo 15:17). He has commissioned them to live according to his ways and to be his slaves or servants (Lev 25:55). The last part of the verse speaks to identity. They live in his land, and they are a holy nation different from all other peoples with a unique way of life and destiny.

The destiny of Israel is the promise of the Messiah. Yeshua is the King of Israel, and the day will come when he reappears in this world. In that day, he will be king in the land and all Israel shall acknowledge him. In fact, in that day all the nations will acknowledge him and come to Jerusalem to worship him and learn from him. In that day, all peoples will acknowledge that all the earth belongs to him, and all will worship him and be at peace (see, e.g., Psalm 47; Isaiah 2; Zech 14:16).

Today, we must remember that we are strangers in this world and that we live under the authority of Yeshua. This means that we live a (sometimes radically) different way of life than the world, so it should not surprise us that we are uncomfortable by what we see and hear around us. Part of the culture of this world is to find identity in possessions and status. We must remember that all we have is given to us by God, and we are stewards of it all. He is our king, and we serve Him alone. Our identity is in the Lord, and not in our possessions or culture.

This does not mean that it is wrong to earn a good living, have possessions, or enjoy life! It means that we must always be thankful for all that we have, and that we should freely share with others and conduct our lives in the way of the Lord. If we are sojourners with God, it means that our hope is in the destiny that God has promised, and not in politics and technology. All that we have and do is part of the journey to the World to Come. When we live this way, we are relieved of the worry and anxiety over our possessions and provisions (Matt 6:25–34; Phil 4:11–13). We may lament over the state of our world, but remember that this is not our destiny. Yes, we must take personal responsibility for the things in our lives, but our destiny is the World to Come. Let us live according to the Way of Messiah. Study and meditate on Colossians 3:12–17 for instructions on how to sojourn in the life with God.

Finally, the Book of Hebrews describes the faithfulness of our ancestors as people who were strangers in this world. May we find encouragement knowing that our destiny is secure as we sojourn with God as aliens in this world. “All these died in faith without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13).

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Howard

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