Still Standing

The 2014 Torah Train is nearing the end of the line. Today’s Shabbat stop is Deuteronomy 29:9 thru 31:30. The traditional title of this parshah is nitzavim (nitz-a-veem). Nitzavim is the second word in the Hebrew text of Deuteronomy 29:9. It means to stand. And in the immediate context of Deuteronomy 29:9 nitzavim refers to numerous individuals physically standing as Moses calls the entire community of Israelites together for a final exhortation to obey their law centered covenant with God.

Nitzavim is derived from the verb natzav (nat-zav) which means to stand upright, or to be established as a pillar. And in relation to the broader context of the Land Covenant within Deuteronomy (29:1-30:20); nitzavim also communicates strength in the sense of a powerful stance. The idea here is that even though Moses prophetically spoke of Israel’s coming disobedience to the Mosaic Law and subsequent worldwide dispersion (29:2–30:1), all remaining provisions of the Land Covenant speak of various facets of Israel’s final restoration (30:2-8). And so in that final restored sense, Israel will stand because the Land Covenant is the outworking of the Land aspect of the overarching Abrahamic covenant (cf. Gen. 15:18-21; 17:8); a covenant that teaches that Israel’s ownership of the Land is unconditional while the Land Covenant teaches that the enjoyment of the Land is conditioned on obedience; obedience that will result from the Land Covenant’s provision of regeneration – spiritual death replaced by spiritual life (Deut. 30:6)!

Today’s portion of the portion is Deuteronomy 31:7-8. 7 Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. 8 It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

Here, Moses is presenting Joshua to the nation as God’s chosen leader who would soon take over the leadership of Israel. After telling the people in the preceding verse (v. 6) not to be fearful, Moses also instructs Joshua to trust God when the Israelites step out in faith to enter the Land of Canaan with the assurance of the LORD’s promises, presence, and power.

However, there’s another divine P word in play here, God’s protection. And at this point in Israel’s history the provision of God’s protection is conditional. Failure to comply with God’s instructions for life in the Land results in God’s judgment outside the Land. And again, on the other side of this real-time realization of future judgment (Deut. 29:1-30:20); there’s also provisions for not yet fully realized restoration (Deut. 30:2-8). God has not, and will not, forsake national ethnic Israel, the Jewish people.

And, with regard to one day fully realizing the totality of spiritual salvation, God has not, and will not, forsake New Covenant followers of Messiah. Writing to Jewish believers who were experiencing persecution and had special material needs in their lives; the author of Hebrews uses some of the very words that God spoke to Joshua; Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. Therefore, we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me (Heb. 13: 5-6)?

Greed can easily pull us away from a life of faithful discipleship. With regard to material wealth, we need to have a mature attitude that says, “My net worth doesn’t determine my self-worth.” Our level of contentment doesn’t have a thing to do with how much money we have, though our culture regurgitates that mantra ad infinitum ad nauseum. We have the Lord, and He’s more than enough (cf. Luke 12:15; Phil. 4:11; 1 Tim. 6:6-10). Plus, He has promised to never- ever-sever His relationship with us (Matt. 28:20).

Like Old Covenant Israel, if we choose to do life outside the protective parameters of God’s will, we set ourselves up to experience serious temporal consequences as a result of our disobedience. It’s foolish to presume that the grace of God is like a Get Out Of Jail Free Card in a cosmic Monopoly game void of any meaningful degree of personal responsibility and moral accountability. And yet solely because of the grace of God, if one is truly trusting in Messiah alone for the forgiveness of sin and eternal life He freely offers, like Old Covenant Israel, we too have promised provisions for final restoration. And in that sense, regardless of how this present life plays out, in the life to come we are more, infinitely more, than merely still standing!

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