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Parashat Vzot Ha-Bracha - 'And This is the Blessing' (Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12)

This is the last portion in the annual Torah reading cycle. After this, we start all over again with Genesis 1:1. This portion is read on Shemini Atzeret, or the "eighth day" after Sukkot (outside the Land, it is read the day after). That means that for most years, two portions are read this week: the last one of the Torah (Vzot Ha-Bracha), and the first one of the Torah (Bereshit).

This parasha is the bittersweet moment when we say good-bye to the faithful servant Moses. This is the portion where Moses prophetically places his blessing upon us.

The title from this portion comes from the first verse:

V'zot ha-bracha asher berach Moshe ish ha-Elokim et-b'nei Yisra'el lifnei moto.
And this is the blessing where with Moses the man of G-d blessed the children of Israel before his death.
Deuteronomy 33:1

What blessing? There are multiple blessings within this passage. What is the singular blessing? The prophetic blessings given to each tribe were not given within a void. They all depended upon one another. The blessing that Moses gave on the Plains of Moab was not to individual tribes only - it was given to all Israel. The blessing given on the Plains of Moab was not given only to those native-born, it was given to the sojourner among them. It was not given only to those on that day - it was given to us as well. This is our blessing. It is the blessing of HaShem, Who spoke mouth to mouth with His man Moses - and gave to us His self-revelation.

The blessing is the Torah itself - not only the first five books, but the balance of Scripture as well.

King David understood the incredible gift that had been given to man in the Torah of HaShem. He understood that it is the self-portrait of the G-d of the Universe. He treasured it. Psalms 119 conveys his love for HaShem and for His Torah:

Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your Torah.
Remove from me the way of lying, and grant me Your Torah graciously.
Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your Torah;
indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it.
So shall I keep Your Torah continually, forever and ever.
The Torah of Your mouth is better to me
than thousands of coins of gold and silver.
Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live;
for Your Torah is my delight.
Forever, O HaShem, Your word is settled in heaven.
Your testimonies I have taken as a heritage forever,
for they are the rejoicing of my heart.
I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes forever,
to the very end.
HaShem, I hope for Your yeshuah [salvation],
and I do Your commandments.
I long for Your yeshuah [salvation], O HaShem,
and Your Torah is my delight.

Excerpts from Psalms 119

Contained in Moses' blessing on us, he tells us something about the past, and something about the distant future. He gives us a glimpse of the giving of the Torah at Sinai, and then hints at the coming of Messiah and establishing His Kingdom, and His Torah. It is found in Deuteronomy 33:2-3:

HaShem came from Sinai, and dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, and He came with ten thousands of saints; from His right hand came a fiery Law for them.
Yes, He loves the people; all His saints are in Your hand; they sit down at Your feet; Everyone receives Your words.

Deuteronomy 33:2-3

Habakkuk gives us some further insight into this fiery Law in the right hand of HaShem.

G-d came from Teman [south, Sier region], and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. And His brightness was as the light; He had kar'nayim [shafts of light] coming out of his Hand: and there was the hiding of His power.
Habakkuk 3:3

The word kar'nayim is a plural form of the karan [shining, shafts of light] that shown from Moses' face when He spoke face to face with G-d. Here is how it that is described:

Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses' hand when he came down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face karan [shone, shafts of light] while he talked with Him.
Exodus 34:29

You will remember, that this is the reason for wearing the veil. The veil covered what was shining [karan] from Moses' face.

The Apostle Paul tells us about this veil and this karan. Although horribly perverted by some translators, the original language overlaid with what we read in Exodus 34 tells us quite plainly what the shining [karan] of Habakkuk 3 and Exodus 34 is.

Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the goal [telos] of what was being hidden.
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of HaShem, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of HaShem.

2Corinthians 3:13; 18

Beloved, the shining [karan], the goal [telos] of this fiery Law is this: It is a Person. It is Messiah Himself. The Torah is His self-portrait.

This is what Yeshua said of how He is revealed in the Torah:

For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?
John 5:46-47

Isaiah 63:1ff and Jude 1:14-15 give us a yet future picture of King Messiah returning in majesty and for judgment. He did not come to annul the Torah in His first coming, and He most certainly will not do so in His second coming. When He establishes His Kingdom, there will be no doubt Who is King on earth, and in the hearts of His people.

Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of HaShem's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of HaShem, to the house of the G-d of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths." For out of Zion shall go forth the Torah, and the word of HaShem from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations...
Isaiah 2:2-4a

In His coming Kingdom, the people of G-d will bow to King Messiah and His words. So why do so many of G-d's people now discount or ignore Messiah's self-portrait found in the Torah? How can they twist David's words of praise for HaShem's commandments to mean something other than what they say? How can they twist the Master's own words to be teaching a Gospel that not only ignores the commandments of G-d, but declares those that honor them to be in sin?

It is time for You to act, O HaShem, for they have regarded Your Torah as void. Therefore I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, than fine gold!
Psalms 119:126-127

What do you love? Can you say that G-d's Word is the blessing? Can you say that all of it is? Can you say that you love in His commandments? Can you say that you love Him?

For this is the love of G-d, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
1John 5:3

As is customary upon completion of a book, all the congregation says,

Chazak! Chazak! V'nitchazeik!
Be strong! Be strong! And may we be strengthened!

I am amazed that the more I study G-d's Word, the more it convinces me that I need to study more. How little I know, but how much there is to know. What a great privilege it is then, to now roll the scroll back - all the way to the beginning and start the study once again. There we read...

Bereshit bara Elokim et ha-shamayim v'et ha'arets...
In the beginning G-d created the heavens and the earth...

Ah, isn't His Word the blessing? Let's dig in again...

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Standing in Prayer with all Israel,

Rick Spurlock
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