Parashat Re'eh - August 19th

ראה R’eh

Deuteronomy 11.26—16.17

Parashat Re’eh begins like the Shema; “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse.”

Both are exhortations and appeals to the people of Israel by Moses in the last month of the forty year sojourn in the wilderness. Use the faculties God has given you that you may know him. Hear (with your ears) about the absoluteness of his nature and see (with your eyes) the two paths he has put before you of which you must choose one. To follow his instructions brings blessing; choosing to disregard them brings cursing. This parashah covers a lot of ground to live out this principle, including dietary issues, false prophets, the sabbatical year, servitude, and the three pilgrim festivals.

However, there is an underlying theme that permeates this entire parashah and ties most of these things together; it is the issue of the place in which God chooses to manifest his name. That place, which we know to be Jerusalem, is mentioned almost twenty times in these five chapters. Moses is very clear about destroying the high places where the previous inhabitants of the land sacrifice to their gods. The obliterating of these places and the names of the gods that were connected to them was to serve as a reminder to the people of Israel not to do as the Canaanites had done. Moses even stressed that how Israel was doing things in the desert on the way to the land was a temporary measure until the land was taken and the place established where God would manifest himself.

“But you shall seek the Lord at the place which the Lord your God shall choose from all your tribes, to establish his name there for his dwelling, and there you shall come. And there you shall bring your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the contribution of your hand, your votive offerings, your free will offerings and the first-born of your herd and of your flock. There also you and your households shall eat before the Lord your God, and rejoice in all your undertakings in which the Lord your God has blessed you.” (Deut 12.5-7).

This same idea is amplified in the dedication of the Temple in 2 Chronicles 6. King Solomon says that many needs will arise in the life of the nation, and he ties the resolution of these issues to this Temple, the place where God has put his name. Even if one is not able to get to the place, it is enough to face in that direction and pray; and God will answer. In chapter 7 the Lord appears to Solomon and confirms that he has accepted the king’s prayer and that this is the place where he will put his name. “Now my eyes shall be opened and my ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever and my eyes and my heart will be there perpetually.” (2 Chr 7.15, 16).

Jesus said in his prayer in John 17.6, “I manifested your name to the men whom you gave me out of the world.” In John 17.11, “Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” And in John 17.26, “I made known to them your name, and I will make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Messiah Jesus came into this world as the manifestation of the living God. He was the one on whom the father placed his name. The name was to be “heard, seen with our eyes, beheld and held with our hands” (1 John 1.1) – not in a place, but in a person. All that could be accomplished by turning in prayer and repentance towards the house of God built by Solomon can be received in the person of the Messiah. However, that person is returning to that place and the name of God will be in the original place, renewed and experienced through the eternal person.

[Moshe Morrison]




Haftarah: Isaiah 54.11—55.5

Isaiah 55.3: “Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.” The mention of David points to Messiah, the Son of David. It is with him that God will establish a new covenant with Israel. This covenant is mentioned also in Jer 31.31; 32.40; 33.14-21; 50.5; Ezek 37.26.

Shabbat Shalom!


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