Torah Reading for August 2-8, 2020
Jesus himself said, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you that everything written about me in the Law of Moses [Torah] and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled...” (Luke 24:44). With this in mind, let us look at this week’s Torah encoded reading, Deuteronomy 26:1-29:9. In the Hebrew language (God’s sacred tongue) from which our English Bible translation was taken, this week’s Torah encoded reading is called, “Ki Tavo” translated “When you come into[the land],” see Deuteronomy 26:1.
To understand this, one has to first of all identify the double references in the text. On a simple linguistic level, which is what we refer to as the first layer of the text’s meaning, the reading focuses on the code “When you come into [the land].” Thus, in the opening section, we hear Moses instructing the people of Israel, “When you come into the land that God is giving to you as your eternal heritage, and you settle it and cultivate it, bring the first-ripened fruits of your orchard to the Holy Temple, and declare your gratitude for all that God has done for you.” In the main section, Moses goes on to talk about the laws of the tithes given to the Levites and to the poor. He also gives detailed instructions on how to proclaim the blessings and the curses on Mount Gerizim and Mount Eval as discussed in the beginning of the week of “Re’eh” “See” (refer to our weekly Bible reading dated July 12, 20). Moses reminds the people that they are God’s chosen people, and that they, in turn, have chosen God. After talking about the blessings with which God will reward the people when they follow the laws of the Torah, Moses, then, gives a long, harsh account of the bad things: illness, famine, poverty and exile that shall befall them if they abandon God’s commandments. In the concluding section, Moses tells the people that only today, forty years after their birth as a people, have they attained “a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear.”
On a deeper theological level, this week’s Torah reading, “When you come into [the land]” has a profound message to us, the Church, the Body of Christ. This becomes increasingly clear when the reading is interpreted in the context of this first week of the Fulfillment season. And that is, never forget the hand of God that has brought us safely to this land. Please note that the word “land” here is a metaphor symbolizing new opportunities of ministries or perhaps our ultimate destination which is “eternal life.” How can we be sure of that? Listen, again, to what Moses said, “When you come into the land that the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance to possess, then you shall take some of the first of all the fruits of the ground...you shall put it in a basket, and you shall go the place that the Lord will choose to make his name to dwell there.” For what purpose? For the purpose of giving thanks to the Lord, your God for his faithfulness to the promise he swore to our ancestors.” (Deu. 26:1-4). Question: Why, bother to give thanks in a time of such great confusion and uncertainty? Because, as Moses puts it, “And the Lord has declared this day concerning you that you are a people for his own possession,” (Deu.26:18).
It is no wonder why the prophet Isaiah said, “Behold this is our God; we have waited for him that he might save us. This is the Lord, we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation,” (Isa. 25:9). That is why David exclaims, saying, “For you have delivered my soul from death. Indeed my feet from stumbling that I may walk before God in the light of the living,” (Ps. 56:13). Perhaps, it is for this reason that the apostle Paul puts it this way, “For through him, we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, we are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household built on the foundation of the apostles, and prophets, with Christ Jesus as the chief cornerstone.” (Eph. 2:18-20).
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