The next Torah portion is called “Nitzavim” and it means “you are standing.” It goes from Deut 29.10 to 30.20 and this one of the last portions in the Torah. Nitzavim suggests an act of the will, a physical statement of “here I am” and Israel is getting ready to answer the call.
We are coming to the end of the life of Moses and our legal system considers the last words of a dying man to be most truthful. It is called a “Dying Declaration.” Moses knows that these were his last words and a dying declaration. This day was very important to him because you will see how many times he says “today.”
Nitzavim is related to the word for “tziyun” which means “monument” in Hebrew, and Moses was leaving and there would be no one like him until Yeshua. The people gather around him like stones, gathered for a monument or an altar, and they are a living monument (1 Pet 2.4-10). So, before we move forward, we need to go back and discuss a covenant found in Deut 29.1 to 30.14. This covenant is called the Covenant at Moab, and Moab means “seed of the Father.” What many do not realize is there are many covenants in the Torah, and this covenant was made with Israel “besides the covenant which he made with them at Horeb” (Deut 29.1).
This concept is so important we are going to develop this covenant out because it is found at the end of the previous Torah reading (Deut 29.1-9) and them picks up in Deut 29.10 in Nitzavim and so we want to deal with it as a whole. We are going to cover some amazing concepts.
There are two main covenants in the Torah, and what many people do not realize is that the Torah is a work of grace. We are going to use several terms to differentiate between these two main covenants. We will have the covenant at Sinai, mediated by Moses (Exo 19.7) to those present that day (Deut 5.1-5..”in your ears”). Then we have the covenant at Moab, made at Mount Nebo (meaning “prophet”) in Moab (“Moav” meaning “seed of the father”) shortly before they entered the land of Canaan.
We learn in Deut 29.1 that the covenant at Moab was made “besides” the covenant at Sinai. The people said they would keep the Sinai covenant (Exo 24.7) but they didn’t, so there was a need for another covenant. It is not like the covenant at Sinai because this had promises made with everyone, even those who were yet unborn (Deut 29.10-11, 14-15). The covenant at Sinai was made with people who were going to die in the wilderness, and the covenant of Moab was made “in the seed of the father” and it will be Yeshua who will lead the people into the Olam Haba. Yeshua is the mediator, or the “surety” of this covenant (Heb 7.22, 8.6, 12.24) and ratified in his blood (Heb 9.12-24, 13.20).
The covenant at Moab had blessings and curses. Israel would be honored in the earth, the land would prosper, their enemies would be defeated and they would be the head and not the tail. It will be centered around teshuvah (Deut 30.2,8) and promises. They would be regathered after captivity (30.3-4) and they would have a circumcised heart (30.2,6). Israel is God’s people and he is their Elohim (29.13), the land is promised (30.5) and so is life (30.6,15,19). Israel must repent from idolatry and return to Yehovah alone, keep the commandments and then the Lord will fulfill his above promises. This covenant includes Torah observance.
Jeremiah spoke of this covenant. In Jer 11.2-4 he quotes Deut 27.26 and the curse that was on the people for failing to give heed to the covenant at Sinai. He warns them this curse was coming (Jer 25.9-12, 26.6-7, 29.10). In connection with this return Jeremiah speaks of a “new” covenant (31.31). The new (or renewed) covenant is the covenant at Moab. That means there are two “Mosaic” covenants.
Now, how does the covenant at Moab compare with the new covenant? First, the covenant at Moab is repeated in Ezek 36.22-38. We should do a comparison between Deut 29.1 with Jer 31.31-32; Deut 30.2,6 with Jer 31.22, 32.40; Deut 29.13 with Jer 32.28; Deut 30.3-5 with Jer 32.37. That means the “new” covenant is Torah based (Deut 30.10) and everlasting (Jer 32.10) which gives everlasting life (Deut 30.6,15,19) and it is not inconsistent with the covenant at Sinai. It is part of it and that is why the word “new” is “chadash” and it means “renewed.” It related to the word “chodesh” which is the word for month. The “new moon” is Rosh Chodesh and it means a renewed moon, not a totally different or “new” moon. The “new” covenant is to be understood in the same way. It is a “renewed” covenant not a totally different covenant like Replacement Theology Christianity teaches.
At the end of the 70 year curse, Daniel was in Babylon and he was studying the prophecies of Jeremiah (Dan 9.2). He knew that the curses in the Torah had come with God’s reply, and Israel would fall into a 490 year cycle (Dan 9.13, Lev 26.14, Deut 28.15). He also knew that if there was no repentance it would be seven times worse (Lev 26.18-28). In Daniel 9.3-23 he prays for mercy because he knows Israel has failed to repent and he knows seven times seventy is four hundred and ninety years. Gabriel comes with God’s reply, Israel would fall into a 490 year cycle. In Dan 9.24-27 Messiah is prophesied to come after 483 years of that cycle and be “cut off” (killed). They would need to repent and turn to the Torah, and keep a complete sabbath cycle (seven years) and at the end of the 490 years they would enter into the new covenant.
Yeshua began his ministry in Luke 4.16-20 and he read the haftorah for Nitzavim (our Torah reading with the covenant at Moab) and he began with Isa 61.1-2, and he said that it was “fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4.21). In Isa 60.22, there is a rabbinic interpretation that says God would hasten the restoration of the kingdom of God, or let it come in its due time, depending on what Israel does. The offer for the kingdom began with Yochanon Ha Matvil (Matt 3.2, 4.17). The kingdom of God is the restored kingdom of Israel (1 Chr 28.5; 2 Chr 13.8; Jer 23.5-6; Isa 9.6-7; Acts 1.6-7). However, the kingdom was rejected and Yeshua compared this rejection to those who would not dance (Matt 11.12, 16-19). In Matt 26.27-29 it says his blood ratified the “new covenant” at Moab. We learn the offer of the new covenant and the kingdom of God was extended in Acts 3.12-26 if there was a national repentance, but they didn’t. In Acts 28.17-28 the offer expired because there was no “corporate” repentance.
Paul comes along and he contrasts the circumcision of the heart by the Spirit (an element of the covenant at Moab in Deut 30.6) with those circumcised in the flesh alone (an element of the covenant with Abraham and Sinai-Gen 17.9-14; Deut 10.16). He talks about the “renewal of the Spirit” of the new covenant with the “oldness” of the “letter” of the Sinai covenant alone (Jer 31.31-34). In Rom 7-8 he contrasts the two Mosaic covenants. The covenant at Moab and the Torah of God, with the law of sin in the flesh (Rom 7.25). Walking by the covenant at Sinai alone is of the flesh, but the new covenant is “of the Spirit” (Rom 8.4-5) because the Lord writes it on the heart, not on stone, by the Spirit (the Lord) that we may live (Deut 30.6, 15,19).
In Rom 10.4-8, Paul says that the people who live by the righteousness which is by the Torah shall live by that righteousness (10.5). He then compares that with the righteousness that is by faith (10.6-8) by quoting from the covenant at Moab (Deut 30.11-14) in Rom 10.6-8. He says that this same covenant is the “word of faith we proclaim” (10.8). In Gal 3, he alludes to the two covenants. He says Messiah redeemed us from the curse of the law, which is the penalty for sin (Gal 3.10-13). Rashi tells us the word “besides in Deut 29.1 distinguishes the covenant of Moab from the curse of the law. In Gal 4.16-31 Paul plainly contrasts the two covenants.
Hebrews is filled with references to these covenants. Heb 8.1 begins with the “main point” and then quotes all of Jer 31.31-34 regarding the new covenant in Heb 8.8-11. Throughout the book the writer compares the first covenant with the second (Heb 8.6-13, 9.1,15 and 10.9). Now, keep this in mind, this also relates to the comparison in Hebrews with the Olam Ha Zeh and the Olam Haba. Just as one is “better” than the other, this second covenant is “better and differed from the first in several ways. The covenant at Sinai was written on stone and ratified by bulls, and the covenant of Moab is written on the heart and ratified by the blood of Yeshua (Heb 9.12-24). The covenant of Sinai was made in the Olam Ha Zeh, but the covenant of Moab will help the believer enter into the Olam Haba.
The Torah was not changed by the new covenant at Moab, it was “renewed and repeated” with better promises (written on our hearts in Deut 30.6). In Heb 3.7 through 4.10 the writer says the “rest” we enter into is like the entry into the land which took place at the death of Moses, after making the covenant of Moab. Look at the names in Deut 34.1-12, it is the same place as the covenant at Moab.
It all comes back to Moab (“seed of the father”). In 2 Mac 2.1-8 it says that Jeremiah his=d the Mishkan and the Ark in Nebo. There is an allusion to Jeremiah and the new covenant which places the Torah in our hearts. Again, this is tied in with Moab, where Nebo was, and the covenant with Moses. According to this book, all these items will be revealed again at the regathering, a clear allusion to the new covenant at Moab (As a side note, we don’t believe that the Mishkan and the Ark are at Nebo because of the concept of kedusha. We believe that they are in the Temple Mount).
So, let’s go over the basic concepts here. There are covenants in the Torah. The “new” or “renewed” covenant is distinguished from the first covenant at Sinai in several ways. This covenant at Moab is tied to the work of Yeshua who is the “surety” of this covenant. It involves a change in the heart and inner desires to become Torah observant and to be involved in a Torah-based faith in Yeshua, planted there by the Ruach Ha Kodesh to guide us in those desires to follow Torah (Jer 31.31-34).
The covenant at Moab has been offered to Israel collectively on at least three occasions. First, it was offered to Israel upon entering the land (Deut 29.1 through 30.20), upon returning to the land (Jer 29.10, 31.27-34) and at the first coming of Yeshua (Matt 26.27-29). While Israel may not collectively enter this covenant until the Birth-pains, individuals may enter into it beforehand, becoming citizens in the kingdom of God/Israel before it has been established.
The new covenant is God writing his Torah (teaching/guidance) on our hearts. He did it by his blood and work on the cross, being the pure “seed of the father” (Moab), who ratified it (Heb 9.12-24; Luke 22.20). This fulfills the Lord’s promise to Abraham, where his “seed” (singular) would bless the nations (Gen 12.1-3; Gal 3.16). The Ruach Ha Kodesh was “poured out” in Acts 2 and on the non-Jews (Acts 10) and the new covenant was written on the hearts of believers. The Torah and the desire to keep it was placed in the heart. It was cut and ratified like the covenant with Abraham, not with the blood of bulls, goats, sheep or birds, but with Yeshua’s pure blood (1 Pet 1.19) and repeated in Ezek 36.22-38. The ultimate outcome of this covenant does not depend on Israel or their obedience, but on Yehovah and his faithfulness when he regathers Israel as his people after the Birth-pains from all the nations.
We will pick up here with more concepts in Part 25.