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    Ha'azinu  
(Deut 32:1 - 52)

D'varim/Deuteronomy 32:1   Hear, o heavens, as I speak! Listen, earth, to the words from my mouth! (CJB)

Who Is ...

Rashi: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040-1105 CE), French rabbi who wrote commentaries on the Torah, the Prophets and the Talmud, lived in Troyes where he founded a yeshiva in 1067; focuses on the plain meaning (p'shat) of the text, although sometimes quite cryptic in his brevity
Rashi comments that Moshe is calling the heavens and the earth as witnesses to the warning that he is about to deliver to Israel, and then asks the question, "Why?" Why did Moshe need witnesses? Because, Rashi answers, "Moshe said, 'I am flesh and blood. Tomorrow I will be dead. If Israel were to say, "We did not accept the covenant upon ourselves," who would come and contradict them?' This is why he called ... witnesses who last forever." Moshe was telling Israel that there would always be witnesses to the covenant and to Israel's acceptance of it. Our people were to be permanently put on notice.

Jeremiah the prophet makes an interesting comment to this perspective when he says, "This is what Adonai says who gives the sun as light for the day, who ordained the laws for the moon and stars to provide light for the night, who stirs up the sea until its waves roar - Adonai Tzva'ot is His name: 'If these laws leave My presence,' says Adonai, 'then the offspring of Isra'el will stop being a nation in My presence forever'" (Jeremiah 31:34-35, CJB). Not unless the physical laws of creation are terminated will Israel cease to be G-d's covenant people. Now that's an eternal perspective, isn't it!

Judaism historically teaches that the whole creation was created in and is maintained in and by the Torah; that it is G-d's words, as expressed in the Torah, that governs not only the people but the very earth we live in. So Isaiah was told to proclaim, "All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the L-rd blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our G-d stands forever" (Isaiah 40:6-8, NASB). Isaiah focuses our attention on G-d's word as the truly eternal component of the mix.

In a late saying from His earthly ministry, recorded in all three synoptic gospels, Yeshua tells the disciples, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away" (Matt 24:35, CJB; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33). There will come a time (Isaiah 66:22, 2 Peter 3:10) when the current heavens and earth will be swept away to be replaced by a new heavens and earth. So even they cannot stand as witnesses for eternity. Yeshua is moving out the limits of our faith so that we truly trust in G-d and not the physical world we see around us. It is not that the current world is only an illusion - no, it certainly exists and is a very real reality. But our security is to be in G-d whose word will outlast all physical reality and endure for eternity.

Further Study: Isaiah 55:8-11; 1 Peter 1:22-25

Application: Have you been squeezed by the pressures of life to concentrate on the here and now, the physical world around you, to judge yourself on that basis? If so, now is the time to take a fresh look at G-d's standards and consider His eternal perspective not only for the world, but for you!

© Jonathan Allen, 2004

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