The next Torah portion is called “Ekev” and it means “Because (on the heels of”) and it goes from Deut 7.12 to 11.25. The word Ekev is related to the name “Ya’akov” (Jacob) and you can see the relationship with “because” and “on the heels of.” Often we trample beneath our “heels” the commandments, especially the “least” of them (Matt 5.19). But soon this leads to the “big ones.”
In Deut 7.12 we have the words “listen, keep and do.” Keeping the commandments involves all three. So, before we move on, let’s go over the definition of “keep.” To “keep and observe” the commandments means “to incorporate the things of God into our lives and to stay true to the blueprint (tavnit/picture) God has given for a specific thing to be done at a specific time, at a specific place by specific people.” Please keep that in mind as we use these words “keep” and “observe.”
God has made covenants with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and we can benefit from them if we believe. It is not possible to divorce ourselves from all the things that has happened before. If we believe that our spiritual life is based on “my relationship with God” and not based on these things that have happened before, we are making a big mistake. We have a spiritual inheritance which is the result of the covenants he has made before. However, if we had been the only person in the world that needed to be saved, he would have sent Yeshua anyway because he said he would, for his name’s sake.
In Deut 7.13-26 we learn that the Lord will bless Israel as they “listen, observe and keep” the commandments. He will love and bless them, multiply them and their herds and ground. He will remove sickness from them and not put any of the diseases of Egypt on them. Egypt was known for their diseases (Deut 28.27, 60). They were to consume all the nations around them and not pity them. They were not to fear them and to remember what God did to the larger and greater army of Egypt.
Now, the key to their victories is stated in Deut 7.22 where he says he will clear away these nations “little by little.” He will clear the land like a hornet. It will come in waves. These “hornets” will be raiders and desert bands (it could also be literal). There are three basic reasons why the Lord is going to clear these nations “little by little” and not at the same time. First, his purpose is to give the people time to know the him and repent. Second, he is greater than their gods. Third, he is delivering the people from wild animals if larger areas of land were desolated all at once. This is what he does in our lives. Victories, knowledge and insight doesn’t come all at once. He teaches us “little by little.”
Deut 7.23-26 has some applicable instruction for us. They were not to be ensnared by other gods. They were to burn them with fire, and they were not to covet the silver and gold that these gods were adorned with. They were to derive no benefit from them. They were not to bring an “abomination” (idol) into their houses and become a “banned” thing like the idol was. They were to detest and abhor these abominations because they were idolatrous images.
Deut 8.1-20 tells us that Moses now looks back in history as a motive to obey God. Verses 1-4 are life verses. As he goes on, the Lord will show us how they apply. They will be very important. At times he tested Israel, to humble them. He let them go hungry and fed them, teaching them that “man does not live by bread alone but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.” These are the words of Yeshua in Matt 4.4. Deut 8.1 says we are to keep “all” the commandments, which is hard to do when we are with others who don’t believe.
Let’s talk about the concept of the “shadow” in relation to the commandments and what does it mean. In Col 2.17 it says, “Things which are a shadow of what is to come.” This is talking about the Torah (v 16). If we are out in the sun we will cast a shadow, and it is a likeness (shadow picture) of us, but it is not the substance (us). If we drove a car over that shadow it won’t hurt us. However, if someone walks up to our shadow and spits on it, that person will get our attention because contempt is involved. The Lord has an opinion about those who show contempt for his “shadow pictures” in the Torah. You want to say the Sabbath is nothing, explain that to the Lord of the Sabbath. If you want to say the Torah, the festivals, the new moons are of no value, explain that to the Lord who is the subject of what these are teaching about. You want to call animals that God called unclean clean so you can eat them, explain that to the Lord who said we should not eat them.
We would advise anyone not to speak against the “shadow” of anything the Lord said was a picture of him and what he is trying to teach us in the Torah. We are not to have any likeness or representation of him or we will suffer the consequences. How does this apply? But, there is a likeness of God in the world that we should honor, and that is every brother or sister in the Lord. They are in his likeness and they belong to him. We do this as if we are honoring and speaking to their father.
The “shadow” is never in conflict with the “substance.” When we dishonor and show show contempt for the Torah, we dishonor and show contempt for the Lord. Yeshua also said in Matt 25.40, “The king will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine (the shadow), you did to me (the substance).'” Every commandment has truth or wisdom in it. If we ignore them, we are diminished and something isn’t right. What Moses will be saying all through this book is “keep the commandments” and “live” and “it your life” (Deut 30.6, 32.47). Our physical life is a drop in the sea compared to eternal life. We are to understand, there are blessings for being obedient, but he is a God of judgment also. We will look into this aspect in Deut 28.15-68.
We will pick up here in Part 9.