NOTE: The transcript does not exactly match the recording.
The true confession of our faith involves reciting our history, knowing who we serve, testifying to our own obedience so that we may identify as Israel and not as a citizen of any other nation. We are to view ourselves as strangers in the nations of our birth.
This ritual reaffirms our national identity so that we do not forget who we are. It is a tribute to YHVH when we repeat our national history and, in this way, maintain our identity as Israelites. Our people – all 12 tribes – were scattered over the earth. This confession, if performed regularly would help us to destroy the religions we came out of to identify ourselves as Israelites.
Being citizens of Israel, Israelites, is the focus of this ritual. Just like the nations, with their one-day-a-year celebration to commemorate and strengthen the national identity in individual citizens, so is this ritual. And it can only be done in the place where YHVH put His name.
Deu 26:2 that you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you shall bring in from your land that Yahweh your God gives you. You shall put it in a basket, and shall go to the place which Yahweh your God shall choose, to cause his name to dwell there.
To THAT place, which we know is Jerusalem, we shall make our confession which happens at the Feast of Firstfruits.
Deu 26:3 You shall come to the priest who shall be in those days, and tell him, “I profess today to Yahweh your God, that I have come to the land which Yahweh swore to our fathers to give us.”
The first item in this ritual which you must confess is that YHVH has brought His people into a land flowing with milk and honey (Deuteronomy 26:9) and, by contrast, we are saying that YHVH took them from a land – Egypt – that did NOT flow with milk and honey. And you will affirm that He fulfilled His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!
And then from verse 4 through 9, we confess the history of Israel.
In verse 10, comes our humbling.
Deu 26:10 And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O LORD, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before the LORD thy God, and worship before the LORD thy God:
This humbles us before YHVH and the people. Open to the eyes of everyone is our required and deliberate submission to YHVH as our King..
Deu 26:12 When you have finished tithing all the tithe of your increase in the third year, which is the year of tithing, then you shall give it to the Levite, to the foreigner, to the fatherless, and to the widow, that they may eat within your gates, and be filled.
This ritual is your annual tithe. Some teach this as being done only in the third year tithe based on the mention of the third year tithe in verse 12. There is also a debate whether this was done at some unspecified time in scripture during the year or at the Feast of Firstfruits, or even if it was only done one time in that particular generation.
I believe this ritual was associated with the Feast of Firstfruits because Deuteronomy 26:2 says “you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground” and verse 10 calls it “firstfruits”.
The Feast of Firstfruits pertained to the barley first and then to this ritual second. Why? Because the Temple’s Firstfruits, the barley, was most important and then the people’s Firstfruits, their own produce, was secondary but not less important. Everything in the Temple was done in order and the order of presenting Firstfruits was done orderly.
This is an annual ritual with YHVH making sure you do this ritual even when you will not be bringing your tithe to His storehouse. Instead, in the third year tithe, you will take it to your city gates to take care of 4 categories of people: The Levites, strangers (ger), orphans and widows.
The word “tithe” means “one tenth”. It is symbolic of its next larger, and complete, companion – 100. One hundred percent means “all”, “everything”. Thus, the tenth represents that “all” and “everything” belongs to YHVH. You get to keep the nine parts, 90%, for yourself because it is His behest to you from the goodness of Himself in His Kingdom. He takes care of you by letting you keep 90% and give to Him 10% but the 10% represents His ownership of all of it!
Verse 12 explains that in the years when we are not bringing our tithe to YHVH’s storehouse, we will give it to others within our own gates. In this way, YHVH’s Kingdom is benevolent for everyone who resides with Him in His Kingdom, even for the stranger, the “ger”.
Deu 26:13 You shall say before Yahweh your God, “I have put away the holy things out of my house, and also have given them to the Levite, to the foreigner, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all your commandment which you have commanded me. I have not transgressed any of your commandments, neither have I forgotten them.
Not only are to give to the Levites, strangers, orphans and widows but we are to confess that we have, indeed, done so. May we not lie about this to our Heavenly Father!
Deu 26:14 I have not eaten of it in my mourning, neither have I removed any of it while I was unclean, nor given of it for the dead. I have listened to Yahweh my God’s voice. I have done according to all that you have commanded me.
We also confess that we have not used YHVH’s tithe inappropriately. This tithe is holy to Him. We must not handle it in an unclean state or give it to the dead in the many ceremonies of religious death cults throughout the world and throughout history.
Deu 26:15 Look down from your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless your people Israel, and the ground which you have given us, as you swore to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.”
After we have completed the history ritual from verses 5 through 9, we ask this blessing. But notice that we do not ask it for our personal selves! Instead, we ask this blessing for all Israel, for the Kingdom. Isn’t that interesting!
YHVH’s salvation, deliverance, blessings, curses are all national first and individual second. Since His nation is comprised of individuals, salvation, deliverance, blessings and curses fall on individuals, too, secondarily but not less importantly. The national and individual ranking is for the purpose of national orderliness, not necessarily the importance of one over another. The nation, Israel, is our first focus and ourselves is secondary.
The Kingdom of Israel is actually a circular reference. There is no nation without individuals, but there also can be no Israelites without the nation. Each one points to the other. In the ranking of importance, though, the Kingdom is first and individuals are second. But neither is less important than the other. Paradox.
As a practical illustration of this concept, I have often said that if I am focused on everyone else’s well-being, then my own needs will all be taken care of. If I put others first, which is to say that I lay down my life daily for YHVH’s Kingdom (because He is very concerned about the well-being of His subjects) then my needs will automatically be taken care of. Why is that? It is because while I am focusing on everyone else, everyone else is helping me. And not only will my needs be met, but I will gain wealth because of the abundance of care being given to me and everyone will be taken care of as well.
Deu 26:16 Today Yahweh your God commands you to do these statutes and ordinances. You shall therefore keep and do them with all your heart and with all your soul.
We are commanded to perform the statutes and ordinances in this ritual and to do them with our complete heart and soul. We are commanded to WANT to do them and be eager to do them to show YHVH that we love Him, His Kingdom and His Law. We should be eager to please our God and King and to show Him, in this ritual, that we have pleased Him because we get to and want to, not because we have to.
Someone with a “have to” heart really is saying that YHVH’s ways are unjust. Yet in this ritual we see His justice and His care for everyone and His justice and care for everyone creates a benevolent Kingdom which all human beings should want to join. We should rejoice that we get to participate! It gives us a purpose and meaning in our lives to help others. What greater purpose can there be in life? This is not a philosophical question. This is a practical statement because upon our death if we have done little or nothing for others, our life will have had no meaning at all and there will be no reward of eternal life for us. This is, then, a wasted life. The life lived only for oneself. And to those who give to others, but they do so for the praise they receive from people or to assuage some kind of guilt, their fate is the same.
This ritual is our confession of history, identity and servanthood. I have covered the first two but what is a servant? One who sees a need and responds to it by helping a struggling person. One who sees there is work to be done or a load to be carried and just comes alongside the one struggling to do it and starts helping. One who discovers someone having a hard internal struggle and comes alongside to ask how he can help.
How can we know when someone is struggling inside? Watch them. Are they different than usual? Perhaps more quiet than usual or maybe their words have become blunt or sharp or sarcastic. These and other signs tell us someone is struggling. So it isn’t just the visible struggles that we are to help others with, it is the struggles that people try to hide, as well.
A servant is always looking for a way to serve because YHVH’s Kingdom is a service oriented Kingdom.
Deu 26:17 You have declared today that Yahweh is your God, and that you would walk in his ways, and keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his ordinances, and listen to his voice.
Here is what I told you earlier that I would explain what else this is besides a ritual way to keep our history alive, a way to focus our identity in Israel and a reminder that we are servants of the Kingdom. What else is this? It is our confession of faith!
Christianity and Judaism both have confessions or faith, the swearing of loyalty to their particular religion and then to each church or synagogue. Christians recite confessions of faith often but these are made up and fake confessions which vary from denomination to denomination and from church to church. Right here in Deuteronomy 26 is the standard! It never varies. It is our confession of loyalty to our King, Yeshua.
Back then, the people only knew Him as YHVH. Just as Abraham only knew Him as El Shaddai and Elohim, and then during Moses’ generation they got to know Him as YHVH, those people did not know He was Yeshua. Yet Yeshua He was and Yeshua He is to us in our generation.
Therefore, the confession that Yeshua is the Messiah who lived and died for sins and then arose so everyone can be saved is important but the way it is presented in Christianity is perverted.
How is it perverted? The confession says His obedience, and His alone, is required for our access to His Kingdom. This is a perverted confession because His obedience followed by our own is required. Thus comes the doctrine that there is nothing for His followers to do in regard to the Law which they claim was nailed to the cross, meaning it died on the cross. What they leave out, however, is that the Law resurrected with Him. There is nothing in scripture that says the Law stayed in the grave.
So in Christianity’s basic confession of faith is the glory of Yeshua’s obedience. This is the perversion. Our confession of faith in this Deuteronomy 26 ritual is about our own, personal obedience, not His. We must testify that WE are obedient to YHVH’s commandments and God help us if we say these words and they are not true!
Yeshua’s obedience resulted in our ability to become citizens of His nation called Israel but it is up to us to continue to be part of Israel.
Our correct confession of faith which makes Israel our nation and it make Israel central to our lives.
A nation of people being of service first to their King and second to each other (their “neighbors) separates Israel from all other nations who seek to get rather than give.
Deu 26:19 He will make you high above all nations that he has made, in praise, in name, and in honor; and that you may be a holy people to Yahweh your God, as he has spoken.
Not only will all people’s needs be met under this model, but Israel will become that ideological shining city on the top of the mountain that all people will stream into desiring to be Israelites because of the goodness of Israel.
The rest of this Torah Portion again reiterates our need to obey YHVH’s commandments and repeats that doing His commandments “Yahweh your God [setting] you high above all the nations of the earth”.
The curses and blessings we read about today are suffered nationally and individually. Nationally, curses show the world what happens when an entire people disobeys YHVH. The exile of the 12 tribes – 9 from 721BC and the other 4 after they killed Yeshua – saw them suffer all these curses in one form or another. The blessings, though, show the world what happens when people obey Him.
The same applies individually, too. Individual curses show others what not to do and the blessings show others what to do to be in favor with YHVH.
Scholars like to compare the Torah to the Hammurabi code, Ham’s law. The name Hammurabi means Ham the Great. So this is Ham from the ark who survived the flood with his father, Noah. His code tells us what he thinks of YHVH’s Torah because it lists only commandments and curses. When scholars and lay people alike read the Torah, what they see is commandments and curses. Punishments for disobedience. Penalties for breaking YHVH’s Law. What they fail to comprehend is that YHVH’s Law also contains blessings for obedience. So the scholars who compare the Torah to Ham’s law are stupid. Rather, they should compare Ham’s law to the Torah and point out that YHVH is good and that we will get blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience.
And by the way, Deuteronomy 28:15 says the curses will come on us and overtake us. To be overtaken by something means to be hunted, even chased by it. The curses don’t necessarily come on you the day you rebel against YHVH. They lie in wait until such time as they are ready to cause you the greatest harm. They come when you are most vulnerable to them.
But the blessings start immediately when we begin to do everything YHVH says.
I want to put a caveat in here, though. Getting blessed does not mean we won’t ever have suffering. Family members will still die and we will still suffer. And YHVH might give us a “Job” life from time to time to see if we will be faithful to Him through it. We might have illness and loss but when we come through it, our “Job” life will include even more than we had before.
Deu 28:9 Yahweh will establish you for a holy people to himself, as he has sworn to you, if you shall keep the commandments of Yahweh your God, and walk in his ways.
Deu 28:10 All the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by Yahweh’s name, and they will be afraid of you.
Notice the word IF. YHVH will establish us as His people IF we obey Him and people will be afraid of us because of our obedience. Their fear of us is our security, as a nation, and as individuals. The word for “fear” in Hebrew is “yare”, Strong’s H3372. It means actual fear and also “revere”, or respect.
Our reward in our individual lifetimes will be as follows:
Deu 28:11 Yahweh will grant you abundant prosperity, in the fruit of your body, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your ground, in the land which Yahweh swore to your fathers to give you.
Deu 28:12 Yahweh will open to you his good treasure in the sky, to give the rain of your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You will lend to many nations, and you will not borrow.
Deu 28:13 Yahweh will make you the head, and not the tail. You will be above only, and you will not be beneath; if you listen to the commandments of Yahweh your God, which I command you today, to observe and to do,
Deu 28:14 and shall not turn away from any of the words which I command you today, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.
The reason I teach that salvation, entering into the Kingdom, is more than just confessing with the mouth that Yeshua obeyed the Law and is, therefore, the Messiah, is because YHVH explains over and over and over that our staying in the land, staying in His Kingdom, depends on what we do after we are given access to enter His Kingdom. People should not expect to gain the eternal Kingdom unless they give their entire life, their whole soul, to His Kingdom, part of which is obedience to His Laws.
Otherwise, those same people who have entered His Kingdom will suffer the curses listed in Deuteronomy 28:15-68. Yeshua became accursed for us to pay our penalty for disobedience and rebellion but in no way has YHVH removed the punishment, the curses, for our disobedience after we swear loyalty to His Kingdom. It all applies!
Let us resolve to live our confession of faith, our confession that we have been, are and will remain, loyal to YHVH. Let our lives be a light to others so that we will shine in the darkness of this world.
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