And because you listen to these rules and keep and do them, the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the steadfast love that he swore to your fathers.
For this week's Torah portion, we will read Parashat Ekev from Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25, which means 'Because.'
In this parashah, Moses reminds the people of Israel of the covenant God made with them, the blessings they will receive by following Him, and the consequences they would bear if they forget the Lord, their God.
Before entering the promised land, God, in His great wisdom, made sure the people of Israel did not fall prey to their pride, thinking that their righteousness gave them possession of the land.
But will they remember all His great blessings once they get to the land flowing with milk and honey? And what is the connection between God's covenant with the Israelites and Yeshua's sacrifice on the cross?
Let's explore this parashah and see how God views His covenant mercies, how Israel responded to it throughout their 40 years in the desert, and what we can learn today.
God's covenant with the people of Israel had numerous benefits.
Although it would have been enough to be chosen by the God of the universe to be His people (Leviticus 26:45), God wanted to give His people a resting place from their enemies and bless them abundantly (Deuteronomy 7:12-13):
"And because you listen to these rules and keep and do them, the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the steadfast love that he swore to your fathers. He will love you, bless you, and multiply you. He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock, in the land that he swore to your fathers to give you.״
God repeats multiple times in this parashah that if the people of Israel keep His covenant, He will remove their enemies from the land. They will find rest, enjoying the brooks, wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, olives, honey, and all manner of abundance, saying: "you will lack nothing."
But one request guarantees they will continue to enjoy all the benefits of the covenant in Deuteronomy 10:12-13:
"And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?"
That might sound like a simple exchange — fear the Lord and receive the covenant benefits.
Still, for some reason, the people of Israel often forgot the Lord their God, falling into the pitfall of pride, grumbling, disbelief, and rebellion.
A Reaction to Every Action
Before making the journey into the promised land, God reminds His people through Moses how He forgave them every time they rebelled (as with the golden calf and at Massah and Kibroth-Hatta’avah).
Why? Because He made a covenant to be their God, and staying true to his character, in His great mercy, He forgave them when Moses asked for forgiveness on their behalf (Deuteronomy 9:25-28):
"So I lay prostrate before the Lord for these forty days and forty nights, because the Lord had said he would destroy you. And I prayed to the Lord, 'O Lord God, do not destroy your people and your heritage, whom you have redeemed through your greatness, whom you have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Remember your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Do not regard the stubbornness of this people, or their wickedness or their sin, lest the land from which you brought us say, "Because the Lord was not able to bring them into the land that he promised them, and because he hated them, he has brought them out to put them to death in the wilderness."
Moses acted as a mediator between God and the people, asking God to remember the covenant He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and forgive the people for His name's sake.
He then warns them not to become conceited, thinking that God gave them the land because of their righteousness (Deuteronomy 9:4):
"Do not say in your heart, after the Lord your God has thrust them out before you, 'It is because of my righteousness that the Lord has brought me in to possess this land".
The New Covenant
The covenant God made with His people is the backbone of every fulfilled promise reflected in the sacrifice of Yeshua in the New Testament.
Yeshua came to earth to die for a world He knew would rebel, betray, abandon and take His mercy for granted.
But because of the covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Yeshua considered it a joy to seal the covenant with His blood for the eternal forgiveness of mankind.
Yeshua is a mediator between God and the His people, just as Moses was.
When the people of Israel sinned, Moses would meet with God, asking Him to remember His covenant. Yeshua, making a covenant in His blood, served as the ultimate sacrifice.
From there, Romans 6:15-16 makes it clear that although we are forgiven through His covenant, we are not to use God's mercy as an excuse to sin:
"What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?"
Just as God warned the people of Israel not to become conceited, Paul reminds the body of Messiah to obey God, not motivated by obligation but by grace and their desire to serve Him.
Although God's covenant is eternal and His love is everlasting, this should not be a reason to wrongfully take advantage of His kindness.
We are saved by God's grace, not our actions and works of obedience alone because God looks at the intention and motive of the heart.
Humbling the Heart
Throughout history, the people of Israel forgot God and the covenant He made with them. They paid a terrible price for forgetting that every good thing they had was because of Him.
Can you recognize an area in your life where you stepped out of the bounds of God's covenant and into pride, stubbornness, or disbelief?
Just as with the people of Israel, it is never too late to go to God's mercy seat, ask for forgiveness, and enter back into the safety of His protective covenant with you.
Yeshua made it possible for us to enter into this eternal covenant. Let us take advantage of it so we can walk in obedience and intimacy with Him and remember that we on our own possess no righteousness apart from what God Himself grants us through the covenant made in the blood of Yeshua.
Let's pray together: God, thank you for your covenant and unfailing love. Help me walk in obedience to your ways and give me the grace to continuously stay within the bounds of your everlasting promises to me.