ראה See

Deuteronomy 11:26 – 16:17


Good morning and Shabbat Shalom. This morning, we will continue our journey through the book of Deuteronomy, as Moses gives his final speech to the nation of Israel — providing a retelling or reapplication of the law for this new generation who is about to enter the promised land.

The Torah portion this week is called “Re’eh,” which is a Hebrew verb meaning “See!” or “Understand.” Here, Moses explains to Israel the “two paths” or two options that are set before them, which we touched on last week: “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse” (Deut 11:26). The blessing will come from obedience: If Israel obeys, they will experience physical protection and prosperity. The curse will come from disobedience: If they disobey, they will be kicked out of the land.

 Now, with these two paths set before you, the answer seems obvious: you want blessing! However, we must keep in mind that the path to life is not necessarily easy — it is actually a calling to live a completely different lifestyle, one that requires spiritual discipline, a neglect of our own desires, and a greater dedication to the God of Israel. Remember how Moses told Israel that they were to have God’s word on the doorposts of their house, on their heart and their mind. Why? Because the “path to life” requires a lifestyle that is completely focused on the Lord.

And Yeshua also presented us with two paths in life as well (one leading to life, and the other to death). And once again, it is not like they are both equally desirable. Yeshua tells us that the path that leads to life is much harder. He says that the gate for destruction “is wide and the way is broad” whereas the gate that leads to life “is small and the way is narrow” (Matt 7:13-14).

 Now, like ancient Israel, we may say “We want the path of life” and we enter that narrow, harder road. But as we read through Scripture, we notice an issue. Sometimes those on this path of life become distracted, or discouraged. Last week, we looked at Asaph the psalmist, who followed God faithfully, but when he looked around and saw how the wicked prospered, he concluded: I kept my hands clean for nothing!

Even ancient Israel tried to compromise at times, and walk on both paths. At the time of Elijah, Israel decided that they would worship other gods (like Baal) alongside the God of Israel. They tried to have one foot on each path.

But Elijah challenged Israel, telling them to choose a side: “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him” (1 Kgs 18:21). In other words, stop jumping from one path to the other. In the same way, if we choose the narrow path, we must ask the question: How do we stay faithfully on that narrow road? Or like Paul, how are we to keep pressing on? In Parasha Re’eh, there are two things that Moses highlights.

The first thing is that we must engage in proper worship, meaning we need to know the God whom we worship. Moses tells Israel that when they will enter into the land, God will choose a location “to establish His name” and there, Israel will come to worship him (Deut. 12:5). In other words, God did not want people just sacrificing anywhere, at their own time, doing whatever they liked. Rather, God cares about the way we worship, how we approach Him, and the lifestyle we will adopt which represents Him. Therefore, when we read God’s revelation and instructions in Scripture, these commands direct us on how to remain on the path. So, the first thing is that true worship requires authentic knowledge about God.

The second thing Moses highlights flows out from the first: When we truly know God, we live out His commands. And one of the most common instructions is to care for our neighbors. In this parasha, Moses reiterates the need to care for the needy — to care for the Levite who did not have land, for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow (Deut. 14:28). We are to give generously and with a grateful heart. How? It is only by acknowledging that God is the source of all blessings, and that as we give to those in need, we are merely acting as His hands and feet, and spreading His blessing to others. Therefore, Moses says that the path of obedience is paved by focusing our eyes on the Lord, and intentionally living out His mission to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Let’s remember Elijah’s challenge: to choose who we will serve, and to no longer swerve between one path or the other. Instead, let us keep our eyes focused on the Messiah, press on to the goal of knowing Him more, and encourage one another daily to do the same (Heb 3:13).