Va'etchanan - ואתחנן: "And I besought"
Torah : Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11
Haftarah : Isaiah 40:1-26
Gospel : Luke 22:13-38

Thought for the Week:

There are two primary reasons which would motivate us to serve God: fear and love. Love is higher than fear. The ancient Rabbis (of the Sifrei) discerned two primary ways of demonstrating our love for God. The first is to study Torah, the revelation of God, the second is to bring others to love Him.

Commentary:

We might obey God because we fear His wrath and punishment. We might choose to obey Him because we fear the consequences which He will visit upon us if we do not. We might obey Him because we fear damnation. Fear makes for a very pragmatic kind of relationship with God. It is the same reason we drive the speed limit — we fear the consequences of being caught breaking it. Yet it is also a very self-interested relationship. The emphasis is on protecting myself.

Love, on the other hand, is selfless. It is a higher path of service. The Apostle John explains that our faith in Messiah removes the fear motivation and purifies our service of God to one of pure love. (1 John 4:17-18)

Yeshua teaches that to love the LORD is the foremost commandment. (Mark 12:29-30) Our love for God should be the core impetus behind everything we do. It should be an unquenchable passion, such as a young man or woman feels for his or her betrothed.

Love is not too much of Him to ask of us. After all, "He first loved us." (1 John 4:19) His love was made manifest in that "He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4:9-10)

Yet how do we express our love for God? The Apostle John goes on to teach us that the true expression of love for God is to keep His commandments and to love others (which is the second greatest commandment). He says, "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome." (1 John 5:3) And he also says, "If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen." (1 John 4:20)

The ancient Rabbis (of the Sifrei) discerned two primary ways of demonstrating our love for God. The first is to study Torah, the revelation of God. If we truly love Him, we will do all we can to know Him and serve Him. The second is to bring others to love Him. If we truly love Him, we will desire to see others reconciled to Him as well. Therefore, we best show our love for God by studying His Torah, keeping His commandments, and bringing others into relationship with Him through His son.

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