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Benefits of Reading the Week's Torah Portion

by Miriam Wakefield

Some of you have asked me, “why do we need to read the “Torah portion” for any particular week”. Good question. The Torah portion is the passage of scripture from the Old Testament that is read in every synagogue around the world starting in Jerusalem. When the same word is being declared over and over throughout the world, it impacts our lives and the spiritual atmosphere.

It is no coincidence that marketeers and politicians manipulate this strategy. They understand repetition makes things seem more plausible and the effect is likely more powerful.

The Bible says in Isaiah 55:10-12 “For just as the rain and snow fall from heaven and does not return without watering the earth, making it bud and sprout, providing seed to the Sower and food to eat, so My Word that proceeds from My mouth will not return to me void but it will accomplish what I please and it will prosper where I send it.” This is also the Haftorah Portion meaning the “prophetic” Word for this week.

So, I was thinking that if we studied the Torah portion from Jerusalem each week, and prayed it through, then it would indeed accomplish all that God pleases and will prosper where He sends it. For example, when Jesus got up in the synagogue and read from the scroll, Isaiah 61 “the spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me” he was, in fact, reading the “Haftorah portion” for that week. So, I figured that if Jesus was reading the Torah portion for the week, then perhaps we should too.

This week’s Torah Portion (Deuteronomy 11 – 16 called “Re’eh” “SEE”) is about the end of a Journey from Egypt to the Promised Land- and it’s about our life’s journey, too. The Bible uses the land of Canaan as a symbolic description of the Spirit filled life. A life of promise with possibilities of victory and failure - it is an unknown land and life to be explored under the eyes of the Lord.

There are certain great features of it that can be known to us in advance, just as Moses reminded Israel in Deuteronomy 11verse 10: “For the land which you are entering to possess is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and watered it with your feet, like a vegetable garden; but the land which you are going over to possess is the land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven, the land which the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year” – from the beginning of your life to the end.

The first thing we need to know about this land is that it is a land that needs to be claimed. There are many blessings, but they need to be realized, they need to be received.

Another thing about this land is that Moses said, “it’s a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven”. The hills and valleys are the ups and downs of life. The hills are those high places of courage and understanding and fellowship, places of far vision, places of excitement, and an invigorating atmosphere. Life has its hills for which we are so thankful, but it also has its valleys, the low places, which are sometimes very dark and forbidding. Although it may be pleasant in the valley for some, for others, life may feel monotonous - our vision is limited, our outlook short-sighted. It’s the same old, same old thing day after day.

But there is also the promise of an abundant supply of water – “springs of water fed by rain from heaven”. Notice that Moses contrasts this to the way Israel lived in Egypt. He says, “in Egypt you sowed your seed and watered it with your feet”. That’s a rather strange expression, but in ancient Egypt, the farmers would walk to the River Nile, collect water in buckets and carry it back to irrigate their fields, thereby using their feet.

The land of Egypt symbolizes a picture of a life without Jesus. The Hebrews were in a foreign country, used as slave labour, in a land that was half desert, dependent upon the flow of a single river and its overflow each spring. New born babies were murdered in the Nile and, at one point, because the suffering was so great, the men decided it was better not to live with their wives. This in itself affected the whole community, creating fatherless children, broken homes, distancing and separation and they were sorely oppressed and family life was unbearable for them all. When life in our “Egypt” becomes utterly unbearable, at the very least we can take anti depressants, which many of us do at some point in our lives, when life gets really tough.

However, in the Land of Promise, it is a land under the blessing of God, and you will find, if you look for them, springs of water in both the hills and the valleys. Water is always a picture of the Holy Spirit.

Moses said “for the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, the land of brooks of water, fountains and springs, flowing forth in the valleys and hills. Deuteronomy 8:7

The good news is “it’s a land which the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end…” Deuteronomy 11:12 So you see, in our journey of life, God is deeply concerned about our lives from the beginning to our final breath.

Sometimes we feel that our lives are insignificant. Or we feel the regret of the “if only’s” “If only I could be here, if only I could be there, if only I had done this or that”. What a depressing experience that is for us! Do we look at others and think “Oh, I wish I could be like them, they have so many more abilities and talents than I do”. Soon discouragement sets in and hard on its heels follows that deadly paralyzer, depression. But God says each one of us is absolutely necessary to the body of Christ – absolutely essential! God will not dispense with anyone of us.

Remember the story of Hagar - the Egyptian slave woman brought into Abraham’s tent – and introduced to the God of Abraham, In the words of a song by Nicole Mullen, she records, “Hagar is a single mother, she was abandoned by the family she belonged to, and there in the wilderness with her son alone, with very little provision she was wondering “Does anybody care ?” “She is crying in the desert, she’s lost in her despair, she thinks nobody loves her, Hagar thinks nobody’s there. But God says, “I will be a ring of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst, and the power of My presence will bring her to her knees, and I will lift her up again for I’m the God who Sees. Then He speaks in gentle whispers, and He softly calls her name, she feels His arms enfold her as He holds her, and she will never be the same. He’s the God who never changes, and His promises are true, and when this world deserts you, this is what He’ll do” - it’s a promise. And on this journey of life God makes a way where seems to be no way. He is saying to us, “Go in Peace. The journey on which you go is under the eye of the Lord”. (Judges 18:6) He’s a God who Sees YOU!

Shabbat shalom

Ref: Deuteronomy 8 and 11: Isaiah 55: Gen. 16:1–16; 21:8–21 Judges 18:6 Personal study notes with Ray Stedman: Hebrew4Christians: and El Shaddai Ministries. Nicole Mullen song “The God who sees”

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