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D'varim/Deuteronomy 1:6 Adonai spoke to us in Horev. He said, "You have lived long enough by this mountain (CJB)
Although the phrase is usually understood to refer to the length of time that the people had been encamped at Mt Horeb (Sinai), the two words by themselves can mean "great dwelling", "good dwelling" - as if the time there has been well spent, almost "high living".Rashi reports that there is an aggadic midrash that interprets the verse that way, pointing to the events and accomplishments that took place at that time: the construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), the Menorah and the holy implements; the giving and receiving of the Torah; the appointing of the first sanhedrin (courts). The Rabbis look back to this time as a high point in the spirituality of our people, when as a people we were closest to G-d.
Perhaps Rav Sha'ul is thinking along the same lines when he writes, "What advantage has the Jew? ... First of all that they were entrusted with the oracles of G-d" (Romans 3:1-2, NASB); and then again, "my kinsmen ... who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Torah and the Temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Messiah according to the flesh, who is over all" (Romans 9:3-5, NASB). G-d has done great things for our people and given us many gifts and great responsibility. We are to be witnesses among the nations of the world (D'varim 4:6-8), testifying in a unique way both to the existence of G-d and to His character. Moshe taught us that "The L-rd did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the L-rd loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers" (D'varim 7:7-8, NASB). And this calling remains on the Jewish people to this day, "know therefore that the L-rd your G-d, He is G-d, the faithful G-d, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments" (D'varim 7:9, NASB). Rav Sha'ul echoes this: "For the gifts and the calling of G-d are irrevocable" (Romans 11:29, NASB).
As Jewish and Gentile believers in Messiah Yeshua, both natural and wild branches, both grafted into the olive tree, we share this inheritance and responsibility. Israel continues her unique role as a national witness to the nations - each of the nations will be judged for their relationship with and conduct towards Israel, just as Israel will be judged for her obedience as that witness. But as a body of believers we all have a role to witness to the individuals that make up the nations. Yeshua Himself told us to make disciples in all the nations (Matthew 28:19-20) and we are to share the great things that G-d has done in our lives.
Further Study: 2 Corinthians 4:6-7
Application: Do we think of ourselves as witnesses, sharing the testimony of what G-d has done in our lives? We stand in the heritage of Mt Sinai, remembering that above all, G-d is faithful.
© Jonathan Allen, 2004
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