Shabbat Shalom. This week’s Parshah (Torah portion) covers Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25. It’s a section which is designated by the Hebrew word eikev. Eikev corresponds to the English word “because.” And it’s translated as because in the sense of there being a consequence for something, or something happening as a result of something else. In other words the concept of cause and effect action/reaction moral accountability is in view here.
Now Deuteronomy 7 is a logical development of what Moses said in the preceding two chapters, Deuteronomy 5 and 6. In those chapters God called on His covenant people to acknowledge that He is the only true God and to be completely loyal to Him. In Canaan, the Land of Promise, they would face idolatry temptations that could easily spiritually derail them (cf. Deut. 6:14). And so now we have a full explanation of how the Israelites were to deal with these temptations. These are instructions which amplify the second commandment not to make or bow down to any image associated with false worship (Deut. 5:8-10).
Deuteronomy 7:6-8 provides the relational context for these prohibitions against idolatry. It says, 6 For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. 7 The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the LORD brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
The implications of these verses are far reaching and profound. The Jewish people were chosen not to demonstrate their own worthiness and ability, but rather they were chosen to demonstrate the worthiness and ability of God to keep a people of His own choosing. My people, the Jewish people, are not the chosen people because we had it going on, and we invented monotheism; no, the monotheistic God invented us! He took people like Abraham and Sara, people who couldn’t have babies, and He made babies!
That’s the covenant relational background behind God’s anti-idolatry instructions. Then in Deuteronomy 7:25-26 there’s a summary of the rationale behind these instructions; 25 The images of their gods you are to burn in the fire. Do not covet the silver and gold on them, and do not take it for yourselves, or you will be ensnared by it, for it is detestable to the LORD your God. 26 Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Regard it as vile and utterly detest it, for it is set apart for destruction.
God gave His holy and righteous laws at Mount Sinai and commanded Israel to keep them in order to reflect His righteousness in a wicked world. In this way Israel was to be different from the other nations. Israel was to function as a priesthood. And the historical function of a priest was to represent man to God. And so Israel was to represent the Gentile nations before God by directing the Gentile nations to God. This is why it was critical for Israel to avoid making any defiling alliances with nations who were living lives of rebellion against God. Instead of religious and cultural assimilation into the world of idolatry, they needed to totally separate themselves from anything even remotely connected to the worship and service of counterfeit gods.
How does this relate to followers of the God of Israel and His Messiah today? How can we reflect His truth and be a transforming influence in the world? Here’s a suggestion that involves the Hebrew word eikev, which again means “because.”
1) Because of today’s climate of the new anti-Semitism, many consider it factually or politically incorrect to refer to Israel as the land promised to the Jewish People; even though the Word of God has no such limitation.
2) Because growing evangelical support of Christian Palestinianism is Christian anti-Zionism, which more often than not is also thinly disguised Christian anti-Semitism; Christian anti-Semitism is increasing. And while being pro-Israel doesn’t mean that one is anti-Palestinian, the opposite is seldom true.
3) Because of these contemporary realities, we can and must support Israel’s right to exist and right to the land. Israel is the only ray of hope in the Middle East as the only true democracy. And even though evangelical supporters of Israel are becoming a minority, as the number of Israel’s true friends within evangelical circles is continually getting smaller; at the end of the day we can roll with that because the Head of this dwindling group is actually God Himself – the ultimate Eikev (Because)!