Ekev – “Because” Deuteronomy 7:12 – 11:25
Are we in danger of forgetting YHVH our Elohim? Do you ever think about why you were born an American?
About 20 years ago, we looked into the idea of adopting a child from Ethiopia. We discovered that I was “too old,” as I was already older than the average lifespan of an Ethiopian man. I was only in my early 40’s.
We take so much for granted in this country. While we are middle-class Americans, compared to much of the world, we are wealthy indeed. This past week, when I was wandering through a Southern California grocery store, I was struck with the sheer variety and magnitude of quality food available here. How blessed we are!
Did You Build it – or did YHVH your Elohim?
When Barack Obama was running for re-election a few years ago, he caused quite a stir when he stated, “If you own a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
In a way, he was right (he was wrong too, but the point here isn’t political!). We often take credit for things when the credit belongs elsewhere. Let us not forget YHVH our Elohim.
In my own life, there have been periods of success when I had the attitude of “I did that!” While we do have the right to enjoy the fruits of our labor, and we are commanded to work, we must remember that ultimately all good things come from YHVH our Elohim.
The Israelites & YHVH Their Elohim
In many ways, Deuteronomy is my favorite book in the Bible. In this week’s Torah portion (Deut 7:12 – 11:25), Moses is preparing the people of Israel for their impending takeover of the Promised Land. Most of this vast crowd were not yet born to see the miracle of the plagues of Egypt, or the parting of the Red Sea.
For 40 years, they had to trust YHWH for the essentials of life. Each day they had to rely on Him for water and food, and protection from their enemies. Theirs was a life of utter dependence.
But Moses knew the hearts of these “stiff-necked” wanderers, and that once they settled in their new homeland, they might quickly forget from whence they came. They might forget YHVH their Elohim.
Be on Guard Lest You Forget YHVH You Elohim
“Be on guard, lest you forget YHWH your Elohim by not guarding His commands, and His right-rulings, and His laws which I command you today, lest you eat and shall be satisfied, and build lovely houses and shall dwell in them, and your herds and your flocks increase, and your silver and your gold are increased, and all that you have is increased, that your heart then becomes lifted up, and you forget YHWH your Elohim who brought you out of the land of Mitsrayim, from the house of bondage, who led you through that great and awesome wilderness—(Deut 8:11-18. Emphasis mine).
fiery serpents, scorpions and thirst—where there was no water, who brought for you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, in order to humble you and to try you, to do you good in the end, you shall say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand have made for me this wealth!’ “But you shall remember YHWH your Elohim, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, in order to establish His covenant which he swore to your fathers as it is today.”
Imperfect People in an Imperfect Culture
Are we any different today? We live in a land of plenty. The generations before us paved the way for the life of relative comfort that we enjoy today.
The founders of the United States, while imperfect men, understood and believed in the principles of Torah and the rest of Scripture. Our culture was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and the heart of that foundation can be found in Moses’ address to the people of Israel, as described in the Book of Deuteronomy.
It is evident to anyone paying any attention at all that we are as a culture rapidly abandoning any pretense of Biblical principles.
Torah, Success & YHVH Your Elohim
Torah brings success, success brings complacency, complacency brings neglect of Torah, and neglect of Torah brings failure.
As individuals and families, we can have minimal impact on the culture at large. However, we can still follow His Instruction to obey his commandments. We can remember that;
“It is not because of your righteousness of the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wrong of these nations that YHWH your Elohim drives them out from before you, in order to establish the word which YHWH swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Yitshaq, and to Ya’aqob. And you shall know that YHWH your Elohim is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people.”(Deut 9:5,6).
We can understand that we are blessed because of His promises.
Our part is to simply obey. Lest we forget YHVH our Elohim.
How do we do that? Where do we find the strength and courage to obey Him? It is found in the same Portion.
“Fear YHWH your Elohim. Serve Him and cling to Him, and swear by His name. He is your Praise, and He is your Elohim, who has done for you these great and awesome deeds which your eyes have seen.”(Deut 10:20,21).
Fear Him. Serve Him. Cling to Him. Praise Him.
We are blessed, indeed. And we didn’t do it.