This weeks sidra is titled Devarim meaning "Words". The first Parasha begins "These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel in the desert east of the Jordan". The two and a half chapters of this sidra Moses is recanting the journey, struggles, defeats and victories that the children of Israel had experienced over the last thirty nine years and eleven months. Of course by this time all that were assigned to die in the wilderness had died, with the exception of Moses, and the new generation of Israel were preparing to enter the land that had been promised to their fathers.
A brief overview of this sidra shows when HaShem commanded the Israelites to leave Sinai to begin their travels to the promised land (ch 1 vv 6-8). The appointment of leaders or judges to help Moses manage the nation (ch 1 vv 9-18). The sending out the spies to give the report of the land of Canaan (ch 1 vv 19-25). Israel’s rebellion against HaShem to take the promised land (ch 1 vv 26-36). Moses blames the Israelites as being the reason for his exclusion to the land along with the promotion of Joshua to take Moses’s place as the one to lead Israel (ch 1 vv 37-40). Israel attempts to repent and take the land by force without the blessing of HaShem (ch 1 vv 41-46). Israel’s wandering path through the desert and the defeat of Sihon King of Heshbon (ch 2). Finally, the defeat of Og King of Bashan and the division of the land east of the Jordan for the tribes of Ruben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh (ch 3 vv 1-20).
There are so many details mentioned here about their travels, but there are also so many details that are left out. What about the remembrance of the golden calf, Korah’s rebellion or the idolatry with the Moabites? Could this sidra, the purpose of Moses words here, be not of the remembrance of sin but a warning of faith, or a lack there of. The nation moved from Sinai to Kadesh Barnea at HaShems command. We are reminded how the Israelites requested spies to be sent into the land to examine the produce, the people and the inhabitants fortifications. The nation succumbed to fear, relying on their on might and not on HaShems faithfulness to His word, they rebelled at the thought of taking the land. Let us revisit HaShems faithfulness to His word back in Numbers 14:20-23, I have forgiven them, as you asked. Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times - not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it." We know of course that HaShem was faithful to this word, and so did the Israelites at this time.
HaShem exhibits great patients with His children by allowing them to investigate the land but shows no toleration in their lack of faith in Him after all He had shown them. Moses further reminds them of HaShems faithfulness through their defeats of Heshbon and Bashan. All of the words spoken by Moses in this sidra were said to lead up to the last two verses of this reading. Deu 3:21-22, "At that time I commanded Joshua: ‘You have seen with your own eyes all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings. The Lord will do the same to all the kingdoms over there where you are going. Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God Himself will fight for you." The children of Israel are preparing to take the land that had been promised them.
Israel needed to be reminded that not so long ago in their past their own fathers stood there preparing to do the same but lacked trust and faith in their Elohyim. They were a new generation, most without ties to the bondage and dependence to Egypt, but a life spent under the protection of HaShem. It took a new generation, a generation of people who from the time of their birth and through all their life they only knew to trust and rely on HaShem. The nation needed to be born again to have enough faith to take possession of the land. I personally cannot say that I have seen the fire from the mountain. Nor have I picked up manna from my yard or filled my pitchers with water from a rock. I have not stood on the borders of Canaan to observe the land that I am going to poses. Yet I have faith in these things to have been and are yet to come without having the experience. There has been a time in many of our lives were we did not believe in these things, just as the first generation of these Israelites did not believe even with the experience of the miracles. How is it that one day we have no faith in the kingdom to come and the next day, until our last breath is taken, we know of these things to be true? Are our lives portrayed just the same as these two very different generations of Israel that we read about in this portion? One without faith and the next a new generation of faith. Yeshua tells us in John 3:3 that, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." We may relate this statement from Yeshua to our own lives, which is correct, but as part of our faith and trust in HaShem He has given to us in this reading the example that the nation of Israel needed to be new, born again, to exhibit this faith and trust. But also, very importantly, they needed to look back at what their lack of trust did for them. How it took them so long to poses their land and to remember what or who they lost on their journey. So with us, can we be reminded of our past, before we were born again, and recall our journey in our wilderness and all those that were lost in our past due to our lack of faith. We should never dwell on our history, but remember it, so we can make the future better as a new creation a new generation that lives by faith in HaShems word.