This week our parasha is Eikev, which means “consequence”, and covers Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25.  In this parasha we will see the importance of making choices and the consequences that it brings depending on how we choose.

Our parasha begins in chapter 7 continuing the speech Moses is giving our people before we begin to take possession of the promise land.  If we are faithful to keep the commandments the Lord has given us we are promised good fruitful land in Israel and that in every way we will be blessed more than any other people.  Moses assures our people that despite the supposed greatness of the Canaanites, the Lord will be with us and we will utterly destroy them.  However, we are told to not take any of their silver or gold, because it was used for disgusting practices.  Their riches are to be destroyed, but if we take it into our homes we will also be destroyed with it.

The rest of the parasha has Moses recounting the history of our people in the wilderness.  He reminds this new generation what happened to their fathers and mothers.  The incident of the golden calf is recounted along with Moses smashing the first set of tablets containing the Ten Commandments.  Other incidents where we provoked the Lord’s wrath are mentioned such as at Massah.  We are told repeatedly to not make the same sinful choices and instead remember how the Lord saved us from Egypt and has continued to preserve us through the wilderness.  We are also told that Israel is being given to us because of the Lord’s faithfulness to our ancestors, not because of our own righteousness.  It is also because of how wicked the Canaanites are that they are being destroyed.  The Lord is accomplishing everything for us because of His faithfulness and because of their wickedness, we did not earn the land of Israel from our supposed good deeds.

Towards the end of chapter 10 we have one of the most beautiful passages in the entire Torah.  In it we are told that what the Lord requires from us all is to walk in His ways, to love Him, and serve Him with all our heart and soul, following His commands.  The Lord is good and to Him alone belongs all power and glory, in His great love He has chosen us from all peoples.  We are commanded to love the foreigner who stays with us, because Adonai also loves them, and we too were foreigners in Egypt.

Our parasha ends with the second part of the Shema commanding us to diligently teach all the Lord’s commandments to our children.  We are to bind them on our hands, foreheads, doorposts, and gates.  They are to be on our lips all the time and we should immerse ourselves constantly in the teaching of our God.

One of the most striking things I find about this parasha, and really Deuteronomy in general is the amount of repetition it contains.  The name itself means “second law” in Greek.  Why does Moses, and really the Lord, find the need to constantly repeat how we need to follow Adonai’s teaching, and do the right things when we enter Israel?  The answer of course is painfully obvious if we are honest with ourselves.  The reason for the repetition throughout God’s Word is because as fallen human beings we want to do things our way and not the Lord’s.  Left to our own desires, everyone does what is right in their own eyes, as Judges tells us.  The proof is in how our people failed to listen to the instructions in this parasha and experienced the curses of God and not the blessings.

But there is another lesson I believe we can learn from parasha Eikev and that is it is possible for us to change. We have the capacity, through the Lord’s help, to change in a positive way.  As Moses recounts in this parasha the wilderness journey, it is presented as a lesson to persuade the new generation to make different choices than the old.  That generation was not helpless, they were not doomed to repeat the same mistakes again, and they had a real honest opportunity to make positive change in serving the Lord with all their hearts.  So our past is something to learn from but we are not bound to constantly repeat it.  We are called in Deuteronomy 10 to circumcise our hearts, to remove that which mentally causes us to be stubborn.  So, whether we choose to serve the Lord or choose to serve ourselves is a conscious deliberate choice each having its own consequences.  We must choose what priority the Lord will have in our lives and whether things like money, power, and the love of others come before the Lord or not.  It is a struggle each of us must wrestle with, especially when we are constantly tempted in these areas both offline and online.

Eikev encourages us that through the Lord’s help we can make the right choices each day, to have our hearts tender towards Adonai through His spirit.  That who we have been is not who will always be, and that real change is possible today, right now.  It is not how we have started but how we end.  Today we can experience the circumcision of the heart through the New Covenant made through Messiah Yeshua.  In the sinless Son of God there is real freedom to make the choices the Lord wants and not our own.  We can find freedom for our pasts, from our family’s history, and choose an ending in the eternal promised land, the New Jerusalem filled with blessings beyond our comprehension.

May the Lord enable each of us to make the right choices each day, to serve Him above our jobs, our sinful desires, and the pressures of our culture.  May each of us experience the circumcision of the heart found in this parasha, freedom from our pasts, and move forward to enter into the eternal promised land of the New Jerusalem ruled over by our wonderful Messiah.