Watch: Parasha Nitzavim 2022-23: Who Do You Think You Are?
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 29:9-30:20, Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 61-63, Luqa (Luke) 24
Shalom and welcome to this week’s Parasha Nitzavim. I am your host, Ulices Rodriguez. In this week’s parasha, we are going to learn about our identity and how it shapes the way we live our lives because if we identify as children of Elohim, then naturally speaking we are going to live life a certain way. The opposite side of that is, if we identify as gentiles, then we are going to live life a different way.
So exactly how does Yahweh want us to self-identify? What exactly is it that determines our identity? Is it the culture we grew up in? Is it the ethnic background we come from? Is it the faith that was handed down to us? Is it the country we live in? These are all valid questions to ask because only when we know who we are and where we come from, that is when we can determine our future. When we know who we are, then we can better understand how to raise our families and the sort of culture to instill in our children.
Finding out who we are and understanding it is a key element to our faith because Satan and his demons will do all that they can to try and confuse us. If we are not firmly rooted in the truth of who we are and who Yahweh and Yeshua actually are, then we will be misled and misguided. If you would like to know more about who Scripture says you are please join me as we study Yahweh’s word.
In our Torah portion this week starting in Devarim chapter 29 and verse 9, we see that Yahweh is reminding our ancestors to “keep the words of this covenant and do them that they may prosper in all that they do”.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 29:9
9 “Therefore keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.”
This reminder is also for us today because if we take a look at the words of Yeshua in John chapter 14 and verse 15 “If you love Me keep My commandments”.
Yochanan (John) 14:15
15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
This idea is further cemented in truth by reading the words of John the Apostle in first John chapter 5 and verse 3 which says “For this is the love of Elohim. And we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome”.
Yochanan (1 John) 5:3
3 “For this is the love of Elohim, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”
I know some people may argue that we are promoting a form of legalism. However, this idea is not supported by Scripture, and it must be avoided because Yahweh’s commands and Yeshua’s commands are the same. Yeshua did not come to preach anything different. Yahweh’s commands are more than a list of dos and don’ts. They are there to shape the way we think which shapes our identity and culture.
Let us read further along in Devarim to really get a better idea about this. In Devarim (Deuteronomy) starting in verse 10 we see two things. First, the invitation to the covenant is for everyone. Not just the Jews or somebody who is genetically related to Abraham, but to everyone. To include the stranger and the one who draws water and cuts the wood.
Second, we see that the covenant and the oath was not just for our ancestors then, but for future generations as well (which is us today). “All of you stand today before Yahweh your Elohim: your leaders and your tribes and your elders and your officers, all the men of Israel. Your little ones and your wives also the stranger who is in your camp, from the one who cuts your wood to the one who draws your water. That you may enter into covenant with Yahweh your Elohim and into His oath, which Yahweh your Elohim makes with you today. That He may establish you today as a people for Himself and that He may be Elohim to you, just as He has spoken to you and just as He has sworn to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I make this covenant and this oath, not with you alone, but with him who stands here with us today before Yahweh our Elohim, as well as with him who is not here with us today.”
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 29:10-15
10 “All of you stand today before the Lord your God: your leaders and your tribes and your elders and your officers, all the men of Israel.
11 Your little ones and your wives also the stranger who is in your camp, from the one who cuts your wood to the one who draws your water.
12 That you may enter into covenant with Yahweh your Elohim, and into His oath, which Yahweh your Elohim makes with you today,
13 That He may establish you today as a people for Himself, and that He may be Elohim to you, just as He has spoken to you, and just as He has sworn to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
14 “I make this covenant and this oath, not with you alone,”
15 But with him who stands here with us today before the Yahweh our Elohim, as well as with him who is not here with us today.”
We see that keeping the commandments is not only part of the deal of being in right relationship with Yahweh, but it is something that everyone has to decide for themselves. We see that Yahweh makes the covenant with each and every one of us so “choose this day whom you will serve as for me and my house we will serve Yahweh”.
Yehoshua (Joshua) 24:15
15 “And if it seems evil to you to serve Yahweh, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the elohim which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the elohim of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve Yahweh.”
I am sure that the majority of my audience probably understands the need to keep the Torah and they most likely identify as an Israelite already. However, I want to speak directly to my Christian brothers and sisters for a moment and for everyone who might not yet view themselves as an Israelite or understand their true identity in history as an Israelite. Allow me to explain what I mean by this. We choose to acknowledge and serve Yahweh as the one true Elohim, we choose to accept Yeshua as our Messiah, we enter into covenant with Elohim, and we are effectively grafted into the body of Israel.
Perhaps decendant of Eber, also another name for an Israelite
Part of Speech: Adjective and name of a people; noun
Phonetic Spelling: (ib-ree’)
Definition: perhaps decendant of Eber, also another name for an Israelite
[Strong’s Hebrew Concordance]
Region across or beyond, side
Part of Speech: Noun Masculine
Phonetic Spelling: (ay’-ber)
Definition: Region across or beyond, side
[Strong’s Hebrew Concordance]
Then we become known as Hebrews because when we take a look at the word Hebrew (Ibri) and study it, we see that the root word is eber which means a region across or beyond, as in beyond from the opposite side. And the literal meaning to this and the name applies in a spiritual way that we may not have looked at before.
Abraham did live on the other side of the river as we can see in Joshua 24 verse 3. “Then I took your father Abraham from the other side of the River led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants and gave him Isaac.”
Yehoshua (Joshua) 24:3
3 “Then I took your father Abraham from the other side of the River, led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants and gave him Isaac.”
The word used for “the other side” in this verse is eber. So, if our ancestors were called Hebrews (Ibrim) which is derived from the word eber, then in a spiritual sense, when we eber (cross over) into new life in Messiah Yeshua, then we too are called Hebrews (Ibrim). Before Yeshua and our Salvation, we were beyond. We were on the other side of life. We were on the other side of Salvation. We stood on the side of death.
Through Yeshua, Yahweh led us from beyond and we crossed over the river into new life with Yeshua. It does not matter what gentile background we come from, when we accept Yeshua as our Messiah and acknowledge and serve Yahweh as the one true Elohim, then we can forget all about our gentile past. We now have a new history. We now have a new future.
Prior to Abraham, there were no Israelites, Jews, or Hebrews. All of mankind were known as gentiles. So, we see that it is the covenant that we make with Yahweh (the covenant that He has already established for us) that makes us Hebrews. We simply need to accept the terms of the covenant and let Him lead us and guide us across.
I know the common misconception, or the common misunderstanding is that there is a faith for Jews and the faith for gentiles. However, this could not be any farther from the truth. Numbers 15:16 states (and this is Yahweh speaking) “One Torah and one custom shall be for you and for the stranger who dwells with you”.
Bemidbar (Numbers) 15:16
16 “One law and one custom shall be for you and for the stranger who dwells with you.”
So whatever Gentile background we come from, when we come into covenant with Yahweh (through Yeshua), we become Jews. We become Hebrews. We are grafted in. There is only one faith for everyone and anyone who is in covenant with Yahweh. Whatever background we come from, we leave it behind and forget about it just as our ancestor Abraham left his father’s house and crossed over the river into the land of Canaan and was known as the father of the Hebrews from then on.
We have the same spiritual transformation in Yeshua and because we do, we must take special care to listen diligently for Yahweh’s voice, obey it, and be careful to observe His written commands. If we decide to serve Yahweh as the one true Elohim and accept Yeshua as our Messiah, then we are entering into a covenant with Him. We are accepting the terms of the bridal contract and ignorance of what the covenant actually is, is no excuse for breaking His commandments.
I urge all my brothers and sisters to not just take my word for it, but study it for yourselves. Show yourself approved and then live it out. Do not just be hearers of the word and not doers, for faith without works is dead. Our works are strong evidence for our faith because if Abraham was called righteous (because of his faith which was demonstrated by his obedience to Yahweh), then it is no different for us today.
As we read on in Devarim chapter 30 verses 1 through 8. “Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where Yahweh your Elohim drives you. And you return to Yahweh your Elohim and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul. That Yahweh your Elohim will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where Yahweh your Elohim has scattered you. If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under the heavens, and from there Yahweh your Elohim will gather you, and from there He will bring you. Then Yahweh your Elohim will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. And Yahweh your Elohim will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. Also Yahweh your Elohim will put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. And you will again obey the voice of Yahweh and do all His commandments which I command you today.”
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 30:1-8
1 “Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where Yahweh your Elohim drives you,
2 and you return to Yahweh your Elohim and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul,
3 that Yahweh your Elohim will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where Yahweh your Elohim has scattered you.
4 If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there Yahweh your Elohim will gather you, and from there He will bring you.
5 Then Yahweh your Elohim will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.
6 And Yahweh your Elohim will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.
7 “Also Yahweh your Elohim will put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you.
8 And you will again obey the voice of the Yahweh and do all His commandments which I command you today.”
We are currently in the middle of this prophecy that Yahweh foretold to our ancestors. Yahweh is moving mightily among His people, so I urge all our brothers and sisters to wake up to what Scripture is saying and where we are in the midst of it. Every day, Yahweh’s people are being awaken to the truth of Scripture.
Right now, as the body of Messiah, we are scattered, and we need to unite. This applies for our Messianic brothers and sisters as well as for our Jewish brothers and sisters. Why do you think Yahweh’s people are starving for the truth? The truth has been concealed from us for some time now and if you would like to know more details on that, please watch our video study titled Christianity: The Lost 10 tribes of Israel.
Now there are several prophecies and events that need to take place before this specific prophecy is fulfilled, but rest assured that the Torah is not done away with. When our hearts are circumcised by Yeshua, we are given the desire and the power through the Set-Apart Spirit to obey all of Yahweh’s commands. It is because of our faith that we obey, and it is our faith that pleases Yahweh. Because Yahweh is pleased with us, He will bring us back to the land that was promised to us.
As of right now, we are scattered among all the nations of the earth. Right now, there is the land of Israel, but it is not the Biblical land of Israel that we read about in Scripture because our Jewish brothers and sisters still do not accept Yeshua as the Messiah. Therefore, we have not fulfilled the prophecies in Scripture that speak about us returning to the land united and Yahweh pouring out His blessings on us. We must still patiently wait for Yahweh’s perfect timing. When we read in verse 15; “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil”.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 30:15
15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil,”
Yeshua says the same thing in John Chapter 14 verse 6; “Yeshua said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me”.
Yochanan (John) 14:6
6 “Yeshua said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
When Yahweh was saying before our ancestors “life and death good and evil”, the life we choose is the eternal life in Yahweh through our Messiah Yeshua. The “good” that we choose is the good that comes from righteous obedience which is done by diligently listening for Yahweh’s voice and obeying it; and being careful to observe all His written commandments. When Yeshua says, “I am the life”, He is the eternal life we obtain when we place our full trust in Yahweh to save us. When Yeshua says, “I am the truth”, the “truth” is that the covenant still applies for us today. We are in the mess that we are in because we did not stand rooted in the truth of our identity which led to our disobedience to Yahweh.
It is not our perfect obedience that saves us but our belief in Yahweh because if we believe and have faith in Elohim, then even when we slip up and make a mistake, we will repent and return to keeping the covenant. When Yeshua says, “I am the way”, what He is saying is that there is no other way to life. There is no other covenant besides the covenant that Yahweh already established for our ancestors and us. Yahweh is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
As we move on and take a look in our prophetic portion this week, there are a few things to look at. In Isaiah 61 we read about the coming Messiah Yeshua and how he was anointed by Yahweh’s Spirit to proclaim liberty to the spiritual captives and to heal the brokenhearted. This is confirmed by Luke chapter 4 verses 16 through 19. “So he came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: The Spirit of Yahweh is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of Yahweh.”
Luqa (Luke) 4:16-19
16 “So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
18 “The Spirit of Yahweh is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 to proclaim the acceptable year of Yahweh.”
When we study this in detail, we see that when Yeshua heals the brokenhearted, He helps us to overcome sin. How many of us are left with broken hearts because of sin and generational curses that we cannot seem to overcome? Oftentimes, the consequences of sin did not just affect the ones who committed the sin, but often the children, the family, and the community is affected by one person’s sin. This can be difficult to bear. This will indeed cause broken hearts, broken families, and broken communities but, by the power of Yeshua working through us, we can overcome all things.
When Yeshua says He comes to preach good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to the captives, and set at liberty the oppressed, He is letting all of us know that He is King, and we are His people. One day the struggles of this life will be no more. One day, we will not have to worry about shedding any more tears and those of us who are held captive by sin are now free in Messiah. Those of us who were held down from receiving the truth of Scripture because of man-made laws and traditions, are now free to worship Elohim in spirit and truth because of Messiah Yeshua.
We have found our true identity in Yeshua walking at liberty and Messiah does not mean we can do whatever we please. It just means that we are no longer held captive by the evil of this world. We are now slaves to Messiah Yeshua and as ironic as it may sound, in this form of slavery, we are actually the freest we can ever be. It is through our spiritual discipline where we crucify our flesh and where we seek to imitate our Messiah’s walk and that we learn what true freedom is.
We learn to find joy in our struggles because there is nothing fun about crucifying the flesh. The flesh wants what the flesh wants and oftentimes, when we choose to walk in humble obedience to Yahweh (because we are bodies of flesh) we are not always going to feel like obeying. This is difficult, but even when we do not feel like obeying, but we still do obey, we can see that we are free. We can see that we have been given liberty to walk in freedom in Messiah.
If we were still in the world and our citizenship was of the world, we would be slaves to sin and we would feel like sinning and we would have no problem going forth and sinning. Over time as we learned to discipline our walk of faith, the desire to sin becomes less and less. This is where we learn to find joy in our struggles because it is through our struggles that the real progression is made. Just as steel is forged in fire, we too must have our faith forged in the fire.
I want to take a look at our Brit Chadasha portion this week in chapter 24 which revolves around Yeshua’s resurrection. There are a few interesting things to note. The entire chapter is really about the unbelief and the confusion of the disciples even though Yeshua stood right in front of them and explained the Scriptures, they still had a veil over their eyes and could not recognize Him as if they were not sure who they were and who Yeshua was. Why is that?
I wonder if we are struggling with the same thing today because there are many of us who call ourselves Nazarenes, Christians, Messianic, and Hebrew roots and we seem to miss the truth that is right in front of us as if we have a veil over our eyes. As if we have names to go by but we do not truly understand our identity and therefore do not understand the Scriptures. So, I ask again, why is that?
Are we too focused on all the wrong things? Are we too focused on the things of the flesh and not the Spirit? Just as the disciples, we are scared and not convinced that Yeshua was in their midst until He displayed His hands and feet. We seem to be making the same mistake today. Look at the body of Messiah now and see how fragmented it is. Is this what Scripture calls for? Does scripture call for a bunch of independent ministries promoting their own kingdom?
Yeshua walked with His disciples for three years and in those three years, they saw miracles and had the greatest teacher of all time. Yet still they had a difficult time understanding the Scriptures and exactly how Yeshua would be given up to sinful men to be crucified and then resurrected three days later. Today we have the helper, the Set-Apart Spirit, who leads and guides us to understand Scripture and to know who Yahweh is, yet we are like the disciples in this situation. We are too focused on the hands and feet of the world. We are too focused on what is going on in our own nation and its politics, and not what Yeshua has commanded us.
We failed to see and understand where we are in relation to prophecy and these end time events. We fail to understand what the Scriptures say because we do not truly understand who we are, and this will get us into a lot of trouble. So, I ask brothers and sisters, how is your relationship with Yahweh? Do you identify as a citizen of the nation you currently live in and you just so happen to believe on Yeshua, or do you consider yourself a Hebrew who believes on Yeshua and just so happens to live in another country outside of the land of Israel? Do you consider yourself a citizen of Yeshua’s spiritual kingdom?
This distinction makes a difference in the way we live our lives because our identity shapes us and our culture in the same way the disciples were Jews living in the land of Israel. Still they had a difficult time discerning between where to put their focus and how Scripture applied to them, either on Yeshua’s spiritual kingdom or the physical nation of Judea that was under Roman occupation.
This is my point exactly. All that should matter to us is to grow Yeshua’s kingdom. Eventually it will become a physical kingdom and the piece of advice Yeshua gave us is to “seek first the kingdom of Elohim and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you”.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 6:33
33 “But seek first the kingdom of Elohim and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
So, I ask, are we citizens of Yeshua’s kingdom or are we citizens of the world?