The name of this week’s parasha is Vaetchanan, which means “and I pleaded”, and covers Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11. Moses asked God to allow him to enter the Promised Land, but Adonai was angry with him because of his conduct at Meribah in Numbers 20. Because Moses hadn’t honored God for providing the Jewish people water there, but took the honor for himself, he wouldn’t be allowed to enter the Land.
Adonai told Moses to go up Pisgah and look at the Promised Land in every direction, since he wouldn’t be allowed to enter it. Moses was to encourage an commission Joshua to lead the Israelis into the Land as their inheritance.
In chapter 4, Moses stresses to the Israelis the importance of obeying Adonai’s commandments. They are to be followed exactly – nothing could be added or deleted from them. Moses reminds them of the deadly outcome for those who rejected Adonai for Baal of Peor in Numbers 25, but those who obeyed God were still alive. Obedience to Adonai’s righteous instruction would cause other nations to view Israel as wise. What a tremendous privilege to be the nation chosen to draw near to Him!
Moses also reminds the Israelis to remember what they had seen Adonai do for them, imploring them to teach their descendants of these things. He reminds them of their powerful encounter with God at Horeb, which is also seen in Exodus 19 and 20, when He gave them His covenant.
The prohibition against idolatry is emphasized next. God will not share the devotion meant for Him, or the glory that is rightfully His, with idols. He is a consuming fire and a jealous God. And He does not change. The writer of the New Covenant Letter to the Messianic Jews quotes from this passage to urge Yeshua’s followers to be reverent towards God.
If Israel disobeys this commandment, Adonai will punish them with destruction, and will exile the survivors among other nations. However, because of His faithfulness to the Covenant He made with their ancestors, He also promises to restore the remnant to their land when they humble themselves and return to Him in obedience. Moses then declares God’s power and majesty, urging the Jewish people to obey His commandments so that they will prosper in their Land.
The Israelis are given 3 cities of refuge east of the Jordan River, which are part of the 6 cities of refuge first mentioned in Numbers 35. The chapter ends with Moses giving Adonai’s commandments to the Jewish people.
In chapter 5, Moses cautions the Jewish people to learn and follow all these commandments, reminding them of the covenant God made with them at Horeb. He restates the 10 Commandments, reminding the Israelis that they had solemnly promised in the presence of Adonai to obey all of His commandments.
Chapter 6 continues the admonition to the Israelis to hear and obey Adonai’s commandments, so that they will be blessed according to His promises. Contained in this chapter is the confession of faith within Judaism known as the Shema (“hear”). Moses warns the Jewish people not to forget God when they enter the Promised Land; they must fear and serve Him alone, or He will punish them. They must not put God to the test like they did at Massah in Exodus 17, but must do what is right in His sight, so that they will prosper. Their obedience will be their righteousness. It is worth noting that when Satan tempted Messiah Yeshua in the wilderness, which is recorded in Matthew 4 and Luke 4, Yeshua quoted twice from this very chapter, stating that God isn’t to be tested and is alone to be worshipped.
The parasha ends in chapter 7 with Adonai’s commandments for the Israelis to drive out the peoples who were currently living in the Promised Land. Moses reminds the Jewish people that God chose and loved them, not because they had a large population, but He delivered them from slavery in Egypt because of His love and because of His faithfulness to the Covenant He swore with their ancestors. God promises to love many generations of those who love Him, but punish those who hate Him; so they must closely follow all that Adonai has commanded them.
Parasha Vaetchanan teaches us that obedience to Adonai’s commandments is not something to be taken lightly but must be embraced in every part of our lives. Obedience to Him is what demonstrates that we truly love Him, and we must not allow anything to take the place that God alone is to have in our lives.
As followers of Messiah Yeshua, we need to completely obey what He has commanded. He declared that those who love Him will obey His instruction. And, obedience to Yeshua’s teachings requires a lot more than just lip service; it takes actions that prove our loyalty and obedience to Messiah Yeshua, the King of kings and Lord of lords. So, as followers of Yeshua, examine yourselves; make sure that you’re loyally doing what He commands in all that you say, think and do!