The Call to Comfort Israel


This Shabbat the reading will be from Deuteronomy 3:23 – 7:11. From the prophets the reading is from Isaiah chapter 40. It is considered as a special Shabbat that is called “Shabbat Nachamu” – The Shabbat of comforting. The reading of Isaiah 40 starts with the words:

“‘Comfort, yes, comfort My people!’ Says your God.” – Isaiah 40:1 [NKJV]

The Lord is inviting the nations of the world to comfort Israel. The Torah portion starts with Moses pleading before the Lord to allow him to cross the Jordan River into the Promised Land. The Lord answers Moses and his pleading, begging, asking, crying, to enter the land with these words:

“‘But the Lord was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me. So, the Lord said to me: “Enough of that! Speak no more to Me of this matter.”’” – Deuteronomy 3:26 [NKJV]

The Lord that in Exodus revealed Himself to Moses as:

“‘The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.’” – Exodus 34:6,7 [NKJV]

Now is telling His servant Moses, be quiet, I do not want to hear you speak on this topic again. What do we learn from this exchange between Moses and the Lord? God has limits to his patience and when He has made up His mind even Moses to whom God spoke face to face and mouth to mouth, the answer is – no you are not going to cross the Jordan River and pleading will not help you.

I personally feel for Moses. There were not that many occasions when Moses begged God for something, and in this last request, the only place that Moses wanted a personal favor from the Almighty, the answer was “No!”

I have a personal lesson to learn from this parasha. I am a person who hates to ask for something but when I do ask something from God or from men, I hate to get a negative answer. It does not go well with me to get a “No” answer.

From this reading of the Torah I am comforted that even Moses himself didn’t get what he wanted that much and had to live with God’s refusal to allow him to cross the Jordan River into the promised land of Canaan. At the end of Moses life, it turns out that Moses is a very tragic figure.

He does not enter the land of promise, and at the end of the Book of Deuteronomy God drops an atomic bomb on Moses This is what God tells Moses before he climbs up Mount Nebo (Har Pisgah):

“And the Lord said to Moses: ‘Behold, you will rest with your fathers; and this people will rise and play the harlot with the gods of the foreigners of the land, where they go to be among them, and they will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them.’” – Deuteronomy 31:16 [NKJV]

What terrible news God shares with Moses, just before he goes to die. In simple words, God is saying to Moses, this nation that you have raised up in the 40 years of wilderness will play the harlot and worship the idols of the neighboring nations and I will hide my face from them.

This is what Moses must take with him to the next life. “My life was a waste. I failed to influence this nation with the Torah that I have brought down from Mt. Sinai, and all my life is a waste.”

I do not really know if this is how Moses felt, but if I had been in Moses’ position this is how I would have felt. All the pyrotechnics of the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai did not help to change the hearts of these people. But the end will be good if you keep reading.

The portion of Isaiah chapter 40 for the Haftarah (The reading from the Prophets) is also extremely powerful. God’s promises to Israel are so great in that chapter, and verse 3 is used to describe John the Baptizer:

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’” – Isaiah 40:3–5 [NKJV]

I love the presentation of these verses in Handel’s Messiah. Often when I hear the singing of these verses in Handel’s Messiah tears come to my eyes from the power of these words.

Especially for my generation, the generation after the Nazi Holocaust that lives in Israel and enjoys the land of Israel and the blessings of the state of Israel. It is especially for me as a disciple of Yeshua, this call that the Lord is calling the nations to comfort Israel.

What can be more significant after the Nazi Holocaust than to see the nations comfort the Jewish people? There are so many Christians who have made this verse their motto and are doing what they can and above and beyond of what they can to be a blessings to Israel and some also a blessing to the local Jewish disciples of Yeshua in this land that God gave to Abraham and to his seed forever.

This article originally appeared on Netivyah and is reposted with permission.