Devarim (Deuteronomy) 7:12-11:25, Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 49-51, Yochanan (John) 13-15
Welcome to Nazarene Israel. I am Norman Willis, and this is Parasha Ekev for 2022. Before we begin, we have a couple of important announcements. The first one is that we are on mission here in South Columbia (in the Andean Highlands) and it is very noisy here at this time of year. If you hear noise, just know that the Catholic church has done an amazing job of teaching people to be satisfied with only half the truth.
They know enough to worship a Jewish Messiah, but they do so on all the wrong days and in all the wrong ways. One of the things they do is they will make a nativity scene, or they have a gathering and will hear a sermon with someone talking, but then they will blast loud music for the rest of the night. This is their manner of celebrating the Nativity in their minds of the Messiah.
There is a lot of need for prayer here and there is a lot of room for the Great Commission throughout Latin America, so please pray for the mission to be a success. In fact, please pray for our mission to the entire world because Yahweh has been blessing us amazingly in these last few weeks. We now have four new language branch heads. I will be passing the parashiot over to our new head of the English language discipleship branch, Ulices Rodriguez (Uli).
He will then be taking over the English language parasha. He will pick up (Father willing) next week with parasha Re’eh (or the following parasha). And Uli plans to make it a parasha on restoring the right family order and restoring the right family structure according to Scripture. He also hopes to help men order their families the way Scripture says to order their families, so they are no longer dysfunctional and mixed with the world. I was studying at one point to be a shrink and was enrolled in a Ph.D. program. I then unenrolled to do this. And that is the joke (one of many jokes), is that 95 percent of all families are dysfunctional, and the other five percent, they cannot find them.
While family relationships are never easy, they can be greatly improved by following Yahweh’s ways and overcoming problems not in the flesh but by Yeshua’s Spirit and he hopes to talk all about that. He has a lot of experience in helping families turn around, so please stay tuned for his parasha. In the meantime, I am going to go back to work on the doctrinal studies and also some other special projects that should help both Ephraim and Judah and all of the body of Nazarene Israel together so please stay tuned for those also.
We see that there are two main themes here in Ekev. The first is the blessing that we get when we willfully submit and obey everything that Yahweh says. The second thing is the theme of intercession for those who are not yet willing to submit to Elohim’s Spirit and be diligent to do everything that He says and be obedient. First, we are going to look at the obedience theme and then, in the second half of the parasha, we will take a look at the intercession theme.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 7:12
12 “Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them, that Yahweh your Elohim will keep with you the Covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers.”
Ekev begins in Devarim (Deuteronomy) chapter 7 and verse 12 where Moshe says, “Then it shall come to pass because (ekev) you listen to these judgments and keep and do them that is why Yahweh your Elohim will keep with you the Covenant and the mercy which He swore to our forefathers”
We look up this word because (ekev) and we find it in Strong’s Concordance Hebrew or older testament 6118 ekev and it means a heel.
From H6117 in the sense of H6119; a heel, that is. (figuratively) the last of anything (used adverbially, forever); also result, that is compensation; and so (adverbially with preposition or relatively) on account of: X because, by, end, for, if, reward.
[Strong’s Hebrew Concordance.]
It shares the same three-letter root as Yaakov’s name, so it is referring in fact to “a heel”. But used in this context (remembering Hebrew is an action-oriented language), what it means in this context is, it means “on the heels of”. Meaning “as a result of”. What Yahweh is really saying here is, “Then it shall come to pass as a result of Shema-ing or hearing and obeying Yahweh’s judgments and then keeping them and doing all of them with a whole heart, that is why Yahweh your Elohim will also keep the Covenant of mercy which He swore to our forefathers with us”. (Because we obey that is why we get blessed).
There is a very definite cause-and-effect relationship here. It is basically the same message every week, but here in this parasha, the message that Moshe is trying to impress upon our forefathers is the fact that in order to remain in Yahweh’s favor, we have to hear His voice and obey it. Or if we cannot hear His voice, we have to follow the leading of someone who does.
It is the same message every week and the reason that it is the same message every week is because most of us in Ephraim and Judah are just reading right by it. It could not be plainer than day it is right there in the pages of the text if you would just read the word and do what it says. If we (His people) will seek His face then we (His people) will experience His grace for His unmerited favor (khane, khen). But the thing is, there is only one way to do that. There is only one way to get there from here and that is to hear what Yahweh’s voice is saying and then obey everything His voice says willingly with a whole heart, with all of our heart, with all of our soul, and all of our strength.
There is a spiritual component, we have to love Him enough to do that, but we also have to obey not just part of His Commandments rather we have to obey what brother Judah would call “taryag-mitzvot” or all of the Commandments, everything Yahweh says. Not just the ones we like or and not just our own version of the Commandments in Talmud either.
What Yahweh is trying to tell us (if we would just listen), is if we will hasten and be diligent to do what He says, that is when He is going to hasten and be diligent to show up for us. If we will obey Him, that is when He answers our prayers. That is when He saves us in the battle. That is when he saves us in the day of distress.
As we are loyal and faithful to Him so is He loyal and faithful to us. It is a very definite cause-and-effect relationship. He shows up for us on the heels of our obedience (ekev) and not otherwise. There are a lot of Ephraimites and Jews who are very confused on that point. It is a good time to get that straightened out. There is only one way to receive the blessings of obedience and we talk about that in this parasha. Please join us.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 7:12
12 “Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them, that Yahweh your Elohim will keep with you the Covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers.”
In Devarim chapter 7 and verse 12, Moshe is summarizing everything for our ancestors. He is getting ready to die and to pass the reigns onto Joshua. It is like he keeps saying the same things over and over and over again throughout Devarim (Deuteronomy) and the reason why is because our forefathers are just not hearing it. It is like they hear the sound of the words; it kind of goes in and bounces around and goes out the other ear. They are not hearing it. They are not getting it. They are not Shema-ing the word of Yahweh.
In the previous parasha, we saw how Moshe is recounting the Commandments for the people. He is trying to get them ready for them to go into the land and he is not going to be there. So, here in the Ekev, it is the same message as always. “Then it shall come to pass (ekev) on the heels of (as a result of). Then it shall come to pass ekev, listening to these judgments, coupled with your keeping them, and doing them that Yahweh or Elohim will also keep with you the Covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers. He will love you and bless you and multiply you for your willing obedience to His word. He will also bless the fruit of your wombs, the fruit of your land, grain, your new wine, your oil the increase of your cattle, and the offspring of your flock in the land of which He swore to your forefathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all people. There shall not be a male or a female barren among you or even among your livestock. And Yahweh will take away from you all sickness and He will afflict you with none of the terrible diseases of Egypt which you have known, but He will lay them on all those who hate you.”
Basically, if we are 100 percent loyal to Him to the point of manifesting His Son’s Spirit, then He will be 100 percent loyal to us because He is being loyal to a manifestation of His Son’s Spirit. Meaning, if we will make that maximum effort to obey Him (in 100 percent of everything) and listen (Shema) diligently for His voice and hasten to do all that His voice says, then He will make life better for us more than we can ever even imagine. And if not, basically He is going to exterminate us for our disloyalty (and not in a fun way), but He is righteous about it.
We also saw last week in Parasha Va’etchanan that every one of our ancestors who held fast to what Yahweh said, lived and made it into the land. They obeyed Him and so they survived. They survived that tribulation because they served Him with their whole hearts. Is that not really what He wants? He wants all of our attention because He tells us that He is a jealous Elohim, and He is jealous of our attention.
Uli will talk about this more when he gets into his family-oriented parashiot, but the point is that regardless of what anyone else around us is doing or not doing, if we (ourselves) will put Him first (put Him above everything else, (I am talking about family, friends, and worldly pursuits) if we will truly put Him first, then He will bless us more than we could ever even imagine. But in order to please Him, first we need a spiritual transformation. It is not something that we can do in our own flesh. We must be transformed by the renewing of our minds such that we no longer think about ourselves and our own good, but that we trust that if we will serve Him with everything that we have, He will make things so good for us, we cannot even imagine it. We also need to follow the examples of Yeshua and Moshe. One of the things that we see both Yeshua and Moshe doing is interceding for the people. It is a sad and then glad history.
Luqa (Luke) 22:31-32
31 “And the Master said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.
32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
Yeshua tells Shimon Kepha (Peter) that he will fall away from Him, and that Satan will sift him like wheat but the thing is, Yeshua did not condemn him for it. He could have, but rather Yeshua prayed for Kepha that after he had returned that he would then turn and strengthen his brothers.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 9:20
20 “And Yahweh was very angry with Aaron and would have destroyed him; so I prayed for Aaron also at the same time.”
It is the same way with Moshe. In Devarim chapter 9 and verse 20, Moshe tells us that Yahweh was very angry with Aaron to the point that He would have destroyed Aaron for leading our forefathers astray in the sin of the golden calf. So what did Moshe do? Moshe interceded and he prayed for Aaron at the same time he was praying for our ancestors.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 9:25
25 “Thus I prostrated myself before Yahweh; forty days and forty nights I kept prostrating myself because Yahweh had said He would destroy you.”
In verse 25 Moshe says, “thus I prostrated myself before Yahweh; 40 days and 40 nights I kept prostrating myself because Yahweh had said He would destroy you”.
What did Moshe get out of it? Anything? Why did he do it then? It may be an oversimplification, but it is nonetheless true. The highest form of love for Yahweh is to be our brother’s keepers. That is because Yahweh created us to be our brother’s keepers. He created us to be one big happy family worldwide and it was always mankind’s job to take care of Yahweh’s planet and to serve as our brother’s keepers, but we did not like that. Why not? What happened?
The Nephilim were the first of the fallen mighty ones. They no longer sought Yahweh’s Spirit regarding marriage. The word Nephilim means the fallen ones. it is Strong’s Hebrew 5303.
From H5307; properly, a feller, that is, a bully or tyrant: – giant.
[Strong’s Hebrew Concordance]
Where they had fallen from is, they had fallen in the spirit realm because instead of letting Yahweh’s Spirit guide them (with relationships and marriage to what Yahweh wanted for them) the mighty ones who had fallen in Spirit, now began choosing their own wives for themselves. They did not wait for Yahweh to bring them, wives, anymore by His Spirit. They chose wives for themselves probably based on fleshly criteria (the way they look, family ties, power, and things of that nature).
It is the same way today with the rich and powerful Babylonian elites. They get married based on looks, family ties, power, and this kind of thing, and of course, the world all runs after that, so they make the front cover of all the Babylonian magazines. They are also the ones who have set up this whole Babylonian system whereby the strong exploit the weak rather than serving them as their own brothers, serving as their brother’s keepers. It is the exact opposite thing.
Yaakov (James) 2:8
8 “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well.”
That is why Yaakov (James) tells us that “the royal law is the opposite of the Babylonian fleshly law. The Royal law rather, is to love our neighbors as we love ourselves” How many of us say this as opposed to how many of us actually practice and seek to do this, just like Yeshua and just like Moshe?
Yochanan Aleph (1 John) 5:16
16 “If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that.”
Sometimes we can see where our brothers are sinning and this is why in Yochanan Aleph (1 John) chapter 5 starting in verse 16 tells us that, “if anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask Yahweh and Yahweh will give him life for those who commit a sin that does not lead to death” What kind of sin does not lead to death?
We are talking about an unintentional sin, or a sin committed in ignorance. “We did not know!” It is still sin and it still needs to be corrected. As soon as possible, we need to set things right. But the fact is, if the sin was unintentional or if it was committed in ignorance, it means that it is pardonable. Why is it pardonable? Because it is not rebellion or simple negligence or disregard and failure to obey all of Yahweh’s Commandments (like most of us in Ephraim and Judah).
Yochanan (1 John) 5:17
17 “All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.”
Yaakov continues, “there is a sin leading to death”. The sins that stem from rebellion, or any kind of dereliction of duty, or negligence to perform Yahweh’s commandments, iniquity. He says “I do not say that he should pray about rebellion, or iniquity, or dereliction of duty. All unrighteousness [in Hebraic idiom meaning, “all Torah breaking”], is sin”. But there is a sin that does not lead to death. Again, it means they did not know, and they correct themselves as soon as they become aware. Like we correct with the Sabbath. Like we correct with the Feasts. Like we correct with the tithe laws. Like we correct with all of the Torah.
Yochanan Aleph (1 John) 5:18
18 “We know that whoever is born of Elohim does not sin; but he who has been born of Elohim keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.”
In Verse 18, he says, “We know that whoever is born of Elohim [born of the light] does not sin”. Why? It is because he is being spiritually transformed and therefore it is no longer he who lives but now it is Messiah’s Spirit that lives within him. It is Messiah’s Spirit that moves him.
He says, “But he who has been born of Elohim [guards himself, he guards his Spirit] and the wicked one therefore can not touch him”.
The message here, brothers and sisters, is if we intercede for those who can be one (those who are not backslidden, they are not in rebellion, they are not stopping up their ears), what a wonderful thing that is. To help a sinner turn from his sin because we love them that much, we are willing to make that effort to help them.
Yaakov (James) 5:19-20
19 “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back,”
20 “Let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”
Yaakov tells us that “If anyone among [us] wanders from the truth and someone [intercedes for him and] turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins”. Is that not what both Moshe and Yeshua were doing? Is that not also what the Apostle Shaul did?
When someone hits us, our first fleshly reflex is to hit them back. When someone hurts us, our flesh wants to hurt them back also so our fleshly reaction is: “Law to you and Yahweh’s favor or grace unto me!” We see this all the time inside the brotherhood. We judge other people negatively and we never think about what that says about us. Does judging not involve judgment? Does it not kind of involve revenge when we let our flesh get in the way, whereas Yahweh says vengeance is mine? I will be the one to repay, not you. You would not do it right; we would not do it right. He knows how to do it right.
We still all need to discern. We need to be able to tell whether something is a sin or something is not a sin. We need that discernment but what is so important about intercession is that the energy changes from one of discerning and then judging (which is a negative outcome), to one of discerning and then interceding (which is a positive outcome). Intercession takes all the negative energy away, then flips it and turns it into a positive. That is what Yahweh wants from us because it requires compassion and mercy rather than judgment. This is a reflection of His own heart. Yahweh is great in long-suffering, compassion, and kindness.
To be clear, discernment is good. We all need to be able to tell the difference. We need to be able to tell when someone is doing something that is wrong so that we can then rebuke him and help him. The point is to help him rather than just judge him for doing the wrong thing. Moshe was an anointed judge and he could have judged. He had that authority but when Yahweh offered to destroy our forefathers and make Moshe’s children into a nation greater than Israel, Moshe did not do that even though it would have been just. Even though it would have been to his benefit. Instead, Moshe chose the sacrificial lifestyle that Yahweh loves so much. He placed the needs of his unfaithful brothers and sisters ahead of his own needs so that he might be able to bring his brothers and sisters back to obedience which would also glorify Yahweh’s name.
Shemote (Exodus) 32:32
32 “Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.”
So he interceded for our ancestors (our forefathers) saying ,“Yet now, if You will forgive their sin but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written”.
Moshe took the negative judgment, flipped it, and converted it into a hopeful positive prayer. That is Elohim’s wish for every one of us as well; it is that we turn from Satan’s negative condemning judgment and turn toward Yahweh’s favor, grace, compassion, mercy, and love. That is how (my brothers), we go from being children of darkness and becoming children of the light.
We all get hurt, and sin does need to be put outside the camp. You cannot have someone sinning and let them stay inside the assembly. First, there is education and then there is correction. They also say that the people who are hardest to love, those are the ones who need love the most. We have plenty of situations like that in our assemblies and in our families, but that does not mean that we do not rebuke them. It does not mean we do not challenge them to obey Yahweh’s Torah and to live up to the fullness of what they know.
If Yeshua can forgive and pray for those who are putting Him to death on the cross, or the stake, or whatever you want to call it. If He can do that, is there any reason we cannot forgive those who transgress against us? Is there any reason that we cannot pray for those who are doing us wrong? Really? Like what? Is there any reason that we cannot take negative energy and then flip it, convert it, and turn it into positive energy with the help of Yeshua’s Spirit? Or are we perhaps not able to do all things through Messiah Yeshua’s Spirit?
Moshe had to wander in the wilderness for 40 years because our forefathers did not want to put Yahweh first. We did not want to obey all of Elohim’s Commandments. In fact, our forefathers acted a lot like we do today. We want all the benefits, but we do not want the costs. We want our Father’s blessings, but we only want to keep the part of His family’s rules that are convenient. We want a blessing that does not come on the heels of our obedience. We want a blessing that comes regardless of our partial obedience.
Moshe chose to wander 40 years in the wilderness with our ancestors. He could have gone straight to the Promised Land with his own children. He could have had his own nation. So why did Moshe not do it? I do not know exactly because Scripture does not say it specifically, but I imagine it has to do with the fact that Moshe knew Yahweh’s nature. He knew that Yahweh is an Elohim of compassion, mercy, and love, or else what does He want to do with us? I also imagine that Moshe, like Yeshua, dreamed that perhaps one day (sometime perhaps in the far distant future, thousands of years from then), there would be common Israelite people who earnestly wanted to keep all of Yahweh’s Commandments with all of their heart, with all of their soul, and with all of their strength.
We have the opportunity to become those people. All we need to do is to commit ourselves in giving back to the one who gave everything for us. We need to do what He wants by putting our brothers ahead of ourselves and praying for them when they fall into error.
Dear Father Yahweh, our flesh is weak. Please help to make us more like Your Son. Please help us to commit ourselves to You and to intercede for our brothers when they fall into sin. Not to judge and not to choose the way of darkness but to focus on You and choose the way of light because You desire it. Father, please lead us to walk in all of Your Son’s ways and intercede for our brothers who have fallen into sin so that we might become better servants for Your Son Yeshua (Our Messiah and King)