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D'varim/Deuteronomy 11:31 for you are crossing over the Jordan to go in and to possess the land that Adonai your G-d is giving to you
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Here is a very definite statement. It expresses intentionality and purpose; it contains not just a promise but a record of current status and action, the settled design for that action and the reason why the action is being taken and will succeed. Four verbs are present in the text; the first - , the masculine plural Qal participle of the root , to pass through or over, to cross over - follows the 2mp personal pronoun to make a present tense action. Translated "you are crossing", but possibly even stronger, "you are the ones crossing", this is a description of the Israelites' current status and position. Notice that it is not future - you will/shall cross - which might be a more technically correct assessment, since there are still twenty three chapters of D'varim and the death of Moshe yet to come before the physical crossing of the Jordan takes place, but represents a statement of certainty: the Jordan is already as good as crossed, because the Land - on the further bank - is the destination and destiny of the people.
The second and third verbs - and are both Qal infinitives from the roots and : to enter, and to possess or take possession of. These verbs together give the design for crossing the Jordan and describe the full extent of what will follow. This is not a tourist adventure - to tour round, to see the sights and then to go home again - the people have come on a specific mission, with a deliberate purpose and intent: this is to be their land, their home. It is necessary that they both enter the Land and - having entered - set about the business of taking possession of what is legally theirs: revoking previous claims of ownership, evicting squatters, establishing boundaries and a system of justice and rightful authority, replacing pagan idolatry with worship of the One True G-d and purging the Land of abuse and oppression. They cannot do one without the other: they cannot take possession without being physically present and involved in the affairs of the Land; they cannot enter it or settle down to live without taking up the issues of ownership.
The last verb - , the masculine singular Qal participle of the root , to give, to ascribe, to appoint - provides the rationale and the guarantee of the Israelite actions:HaShem is giving the Land to His people. He is the ultimate free-holder of the Land and He, in His wisdom and for His purpose and pleasure, has decided to give the Land to the Israelites. In generations past, He promised the Land to the Fathers, to Avraham, Yitz'khak and Ya'acov. On multiple occasions and in each generation He repeated that promise. Now is the time - having given due notice to the current occupants of the Land, who have no formal right of residence but are simply squatters, occupying the Land without permission, but tolerated with increasing disfavour until their certain eviction because at least they kept the wild animals at bay - that HaShem is about to exercise His rights and bring His chosen tenants into their promised inheritance. Again, the verb is translated as present tense rather than the future that might be expected. HaShem is now - and has been since the Exodus started, forty years ago - in the process of giving the Land to His people.
RabbiHirsch goes a step further and explains that the proclamation of the blessings and the curses on Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal commanded in verse 29, "is to be one of your very first acts at your taking possession of the land; for you only receive the land to fulfill this Torah; its being fulfilled is the sole purpose of your taking possession of it." Developing the themes in D'varim chapters 4 and 7, that G-d has chosen the people of Israel themselves for His purposes and not for any merit of theirs, Hirsch is saying that the purpose of the Israelites possessing and dwelling in the Land is to showcase the Torah and so bring glory to G-d. It is not the conquest, the miracles of which will amaze the Israelites and make the surrounding nations shudder before G-d; it is not the growth and endurance of the Israelites as a people; it is not the way that Jewish people have always been in the forefront of technology, medicine, jurisprudence and social justice. The reason the Jewish people exist is that they might keep the Torah "for that will be proof of your wisdom and discernment to other peoples, who on hearing of all these laws will say, 'Surely, that great nation is a wise and discerning people'" (D'varim 4:6, JPS) and so show the nations that G-d exists and that He is a just and righteous G-d.
Israel's rebirth as a nation state in 1948, life from the mouth of death, came about because G-d is still in the process of fulfilling His promises to "gather the remnant of My flock from all the lands to which I have banished them, and I will bring them back to their pasture, where they shall be fertile and increase" (Jeremiah 23:3, JPS). He said, "I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the Land of Israel. And they shall return there, and do away with all its detestable things and all its abominations" (Ezekiel 11:17-18, JPS). Although everything is not yet right in the Land and successive Israeli governments have allowed much unrighteousness to take place there, G-d is not finished yet. The imperfect condition of the state of Israel today is not a sign that G-d has failed or given up; instead, it is a sign that He is still at work and still working His purposes out among His ancient people. "When I have brought them back from among the peoples and gathered them out of the lands of their enemies and have manifested My holiness through them in the sight of many nations, they shall know that I the L-rd am their G-D when, having exiled them among the nations, I gather them back into their land and leave none of them behind. I will never again hide My face from them, for I will pour out My Spirit upon the House of Israel -- declares the L-rd G-D" (Ezekiel 39:27-29, JPS).
Nothing is so sure as G-d's plans for and calling on our lives. When we obey Him and seek His face we can be certain that what He has given us to do will succeed and accomplish His purposes "Then ADONAI answered me; He said, "Write down the vision clearly on tablets, so that even a runner can read it. For the vision is meant for its appointed time; it speaks of the end, and it does not lie. It may take a while, but wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay" (Habakkuk 2:2-3, CJB). The vision that He has given will endure and come to pass if we will allow ourselves to submit to the L-rd and walk in His way. What about our responsibility; what if we don't walk in His way, if we turn our backs on the vision? Man cannot frustrate the purposes of G-d - His purposes will be fulfilled, one way or the other. His overall plan and design will come to pass and succeed, whether we choose to be a part of it or not. If we walk with G-d, we will experience His blessings; if we choose not to walk with Him, then we will experience the curse of being separate from or out of fellowship with our Creator.
Scripture makes it very plain. The writer of Lamentations complains of G-d that, "He has led me and made me walk in darkness and not in light. Against me alone He turns His hand again and again, all day. He has worn away my skin and flesh, He has broken my bones. He has besieged and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship" (Lamentations 3:2-5, CJB), while Yeshua urges the disciples to "Walk while you have the light, or the dark will overtake you; he who walks in the dark doesn't know where he's going" (John 12:35, CJB). How do we walk in the light and know the certainty of being in G-d's plan? Yeshua again: "I am the light of the world; whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness but will have the light which gives life" (John 8:12, CJB). When we walk with Yeshua we will cross over the Jordan and enter the land of our inheritance, we shall settle in it and no-one will take it away from us for the King Himself has given it to us to possess and hold for Him.
Further Study: D'varim 9:1-3; Isaiah 30:18; 1 John 1:6-7
Application: Do you know the certainty of walking in G-d's vision for your life and of possessing the land that He has given you? Make sure of your inheritance today by walking in the light that Yeshua has given.
© Jonathan Allen, 2011i
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