The world is not my home

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The readings for this Shabbat are from Parashat Eikev: Deuteronomy 7:12 – 11:25. From the prophets, the Haftarah: Isaiah 49:14 – 51:3. From the New Testament we will be reading Hebrews 11:8-13, and Romans 8:31-39.

The Torah portion for this week is the third portion. We have passed the repetition that Moses gives of the Ten Commandments and his complaint that God doesn’t let him cross the Jordan River. Now in Deuteronomy chapter 7 Moses is beginning to prepare the people of Israel for their new experience of entering the land of Canaan, the land of promise.

Moses understands that all that these people will now see, in the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, will be totally new for them. They might be surprised and shocked and challenged and must fight their way into their allotted territories given to each tribe by lots cast in the name of the Lord. In chapter 7:7-8, we find the following verses:

“The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” – Deuteronomy7:7,8 [NKJV]

These verses are the foundation for Yeshua’s parables and stories that contain the mustard seed. The words of Yeshua “The least of all peoples” (Matthew 13:31) is not talking of the mustard seed at all.

Because the mustard seed is far from being the smallest seed among the garden plants. The seed of the parsley, dill, Thyme, oregano, are all much smaller than the seed of the mustard. However, in the Bible the word “seed” is used more for people, the seed of Abraham, the seed of David…

So, Moses says that Israel as a nation is the smallest of all the nations. The text of Deuteronomy 7:11-16 is the ultimate encouragement for this band of second-generation slaves that was born and raised in the wilderness of Sinai and have never lived in normal cities and villages and in stone homes.

They are going to face an enemy that is a trained army with fortresses. This will be a hard and new experience and Moses has to encourage them and give them strength by assuring them that the Lord is with them and will bless them and protect them and heal them if they will be obedient and keep the covenant given to them at Mount Sinai.

The surprising part of these instructions that Moses gives them is in verse 16:

“Also you shall destroy all the peoples whom the Lord your God delivers over to you; your eye shall have no pity on them; nor shall you serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you.” – Deuteronomy 7:16 [NKJV]

For us in the 21st Century, this command of God through Moses to destroy all the peoples and have no pity on them seems too harsh. But, when you consider that these pagan tribes and nations that have gathered in the land of Canaan have no Torah and have no idea of treating the stranger and the weak civilly – the only realistic way to possess the land and minimize troubles is to be obedient and do what God commanded Israel, that is to have no pity on your enemy.

Every great warrior like Alexander the Great, Napoleon, or Genghis Khan understood well these principles, and this is the reason why they were successful to win their battles. Please open your bible and read Deuteronomy chapters 7:12 – 11:25. Reading this text you will come out encouraged and full of questions and informed of how the Lord works and what he demands from us even unto this very day.

I don’t mean to kill our enemies, but to neutralize them by making them our friends if that is possible, or to keep them at bay by being much stronger and better equipped. Or if there is no choice, to stop our enemies with the best war machines available to us.

The reading from the prophet Isaiah 49:14 – 51:3 is also a very interesting text. Isaiah 49:1-14 is a very important text in which God switches His servant from being the whole nation that failed miserably to do the mission of being the light for the nations (gentiles).

Now God moves that mission to one person who will accomplish all that the nation of Israel was supposed and destined to accomplish. In chapter 49:6 the mission to be a light to the nations is moved from the nation of Israel to one individual person who will accomplish being that light to the nations and bring the gentiles to the full fellowship and knowledge of God through that one person who represents all of Israel, the Messiah. This Messiah will be revealed more in chapter 52:13 and chapter 53.

Hebrews 11:8-13 and Romans 8:31-39 bring us the catalogue of the faithful and that specific verse reminds us of our Father Abraham who is called “The father of the faithful.” This is a reminder that Abraham, who was promised the land of Canaan as his and his seed’s eternal inheritance, didn’t get to inherit the land but was a stranger and a tourist in the land that was given to him.

This reading is important for us to remember that we are living a nomadic life in this world at best, and that we don’t have a permanent home in this world. We are all like the children of Israel entering the land of Canaan to possess it, but like Abraham, regardless of where we build our home, and whatever materials we use, we are still going to be pilgrims and strangers on God’s good earth.

In the whole universe, our galaxy is also a transient place, it has a beginning, and it also has an end. Even Steven Hawking, the writer of the book “A Brief History of Time,” wrote that there was a time that our world (galaxy) didn’t exist and then came into existence, and that there will be a time that it will no longer exist. For this very reason the writer of the book of Hebrews is stressing the fact that Abraham the Father of faith was a stranger in the land and didn’t have a permanent home.

For me this is a very important truth that we often forget and we try to be attached to all these non-permanent things. I suppose that this is one of the most important lessons that I received from the Torah, the prophets, and the New Testament readings.

Everyone in our transient world must remember Rabbi Nachman’s short poem:

“The whole World complete is a narrow bridge and our task is to cross this bridge without fear!”

There is also an old Christian hymn that I have not heard for a long time in any church or Messianic fellowship. It is a hymn that still reverberates in my mind, and I need to remember it:
This World Is Not My Home, by Jim Reeves

This world is not my home
I’m just passing through
My treasures are laid up
Somewhere beyond the blue

The Angels beckon me
From Heaven’s open door,
And I can’t feel at home
In this world anymore

Oh Lord, you know
I have no friend like you
If Heaven’s not my home
Then Lord what will I do

The Angels beckon me
From Heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home
In this world anymore

I have a loving’ mother
Just hovering up in Gloryland
And I don’t expect to stop
Until I shake her hand

She’s waiting now for me
In Heaven’s open door,
And I can’t feel at home
In this world anymore

Oh Lord, you know
I have no friend like you
If Heaven’s not my home,
Then Lord what will I do

The Angels beckon me
From Heaven’s open door,
And I can’t feel at home
In this world anymore

Just over in Gloryland
We’ll live eternally
The saints on every hand
Are shouting victory

Their songs of sweetest praise
Drift back from Heaven’s shore
And I can’t feel at home
In this world anymore

Oh Lord, you know
I have no friend like you
If Heaven’s not my home,
Then Lord what will I do

The Angels beckon me
From Heaven’s open door,
And I can’t feel at home
In this world anymore…

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