D'varim/Deuteronomy 32:13 He will cause him to ride upon the heights of the Land and he ate the fruits of the field
The whole parasha forms the Song of Moses - a songHaShem instructed Moshe to teach the people, so that when the events it prophesies come to pass, they will have to acknowledge not only its truth, but that G-d knew it all along. This particular verse speaks of one of the blessings that HaShem is about to give to Israel as they enter the Land. Targum Onkelos takes it in a slightly allegorical way and renders it: "He ensconced them upon the strongholds of the land and fed them the spoils of their enemies." That does draw attention to the words , heights of the land, here used in construct form, this is an unusual double plural of , itself the plural of , meaning a high place. The high places were often sites dedicated to religious worship, occasionally to the G-d of Israel but most often to the various pagan deities of the Canaanite inhabitants of the Land. HaShem gave the Israelites dominion or authority over not just a particular set of high places, but over all the high places in the Land - that they might destroy them and the pagan worship system in favour of worshipping the One True G-d.
The same phrase, , also occurs in the book of Isaiah: "If you refrain from trampling the Sabbath ... I will set you astride the heights of the earth and let you enjoy the heritage of your father Ya'akov" (Isaiah 58:13-14, NASB). Here this is a clearly conditional promise - encouraging the Israelites to reform their observance of Shabbat and holding out the offer of being able to re-take the high places for G-d and to see the restoration of Israel's position of authority over pagan worship when the people were in right relationship when the people were in a right relationship with Him. The high places, as sites of pagan worship, represented a stronghold or place of power for the enemy; a focus of demonic, satanic activity and authority that could only be challenged by the people when they were is a correct position of obedience and submission to G-d. As long as the high places continued to exist, they exerted an influence over the Land and the Israelites would not be able to reap the fruits and harvest of the fields below the high places. To be able to enjoy G-d's blessings, the high places had to go!
Rav Sha'ul wrote about our attitude to the strongholds of the enemy in the world: "We demolish arguments and every arrogance that raises itself up against the knowledge of G-d; we take every thought captive and make it obey the Messiah" (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, CJB). He goes on to ask the question: "What fellowship does light have with darkness? What harmony can there be between the Messiah and B'liya'al? ... What agreement can there be between the temple of G-d and idols?" (2 Corinthians 6:14-16, CJB), before quoting Isaiah when G-d told the Israelites to "Go out from their midst; separate yourselves; don't even touch what is unclean" (v.17, CJB quoting Isaiah 55:4). As we read this portion on Shabbat Shuva - the shabbat that falls in the Days of Awe between Yom Teruah and Yom HaKippurim, so named because of the Haftarah reading for the day from the book of Hoshea: "Return, O Israel ..." to focus on repentance and turning to G-d - we should remember that we have to destroy the "high places" in our lives before we can enjoy the fruits of repentance and closeness to G-d.
Further Study: 1 Kings 12:25-31; Habakkuk 3:16-19
Application: Do you have any "high places" in your life where Yeshua is not L-rd and you are holding on to habits, patterns of thought and behaviour, or attitudes that are resisting G-d's rule and authority? If so, then today would be an excellent opportunity for joining our people all around the world in open and honest confession and repentance to enable you to move forward into G-d's blessings.
© Jonathan Allen, 2006
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