Parashat Ki Tavo
Who wants to prosper? I could guarantee that if that question was asked of anyone they would put their hands up. Who doesn’t want to prosper? You’d be mad not to. It seems so simple doesn’t it? G-d will bless you if you walk in obedience to Him, in the Torah He has given. We know of course that we have to know what the commands mean and how to apply them, whether in faith or legalistically, but the bottom line is clear. We are blessed if we walk in obedience, and the nations around are meant to see that blessing. We are ‘cursed’ if we walk contrary to G-d.
Yeshua Mashichaynu approaches the Torah in a similar way with His ‘Woes’ talk in Matthew 23, linking together with the ‘Blessed are you’ comments He taught on. Yeshua was saying to His people this or that will happen if covenantal disobedience occurs. The very terms ‘Blessed and Cursed’ (or ‘Woe to you’) are covenant terms that only make sense if you understand the covenant to which they refer. A blessing is the outcome of obedience, not just a random act by a ‘god’ who is looking for likewise random acts of kindness (however you define kindness). Equally, a ‘curse’ or woe is covenantally related and defined. That’s why it was so important for Israel to not follow idols, the world needed to know who (the true) G-d is.
It says exactly this in Devarim. The nations of this world are meant to look at Israel, us, and know that G-d exists! Why do you think that Jerusalem is unmissable? Barely a day goes by where at some point Israel or Jerusalem or the Jewish people don’t get a mention. That was G-d’s intention. We are a light to the nations, everyone could see what the G-d of Israel was like, and see how His faithfulness was received. Either through the blessings given or through the cycles of discipline, the world was meant to take note.
The Torah says He will establish us as a holy PEOPLE. And what is the hallmark given of this people? If you walk and keep the commandments we shall be called by His name. This is us. We are to be seen and known as the people of the G-D OF ISRAEL. We belong to Him and so our obedience points to the G-d we serve and us as His special people. We follow Him because of what the One true G-d has done and no other ‘god’.
What you do, say, think marks out which god you serve. You may not see it this way, but the people around you certainly do. In Hebrew the word for serve and worship are linked, by our serving G-d we worship Him. The tithe for instance, mentioned at the beginning of this portion, just by giving it we serve and worship G-d. Doing can be and is worship. We’re just used to thinking of worship as ethereal and spiritual, more a subjective emotional reaction than acts of obedience. But actually how we live dictates which god we serve. If we say that the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has redeemed us, then we had better start living that way.