Weekly Drash - Ekev
Compliments of First Fruits of Zion
Ekev - עקב : “Because”
Thought for the Week:
Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men-- robbers, evildoers, adulterers-- or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 8:10-14, NIV)
Do not say in your heart when the LORD your God has driven them out before you, “Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land …” (Deuteronomy 9:4)
Moses earnestly warns Israel against feeling self-righteous. He warns them not to attribute their successes to their own merit. He tells them, “it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people” (9:6). If not for Moses’ intercession and atonement on their behalf, Israel would not have even survived the journey from Egypt. They had Moses to thank for their deliverance thus far. Furthermore, Moses reminded them that the LORD was giving them the land of Canaan to fulfill His covenant obligations to the patriarchs. There could be no talk of merit and righteousness.
In addition, he said, “It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land … the LORD your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” (Deuteronomy 9:5). In other words, God was blessing Israel, not because they merited His blessing but because He was fulfilling covenantal obligations to the patriarchs.
These lessons are important for believers to remember. It is easy to start to feel self-righteous about our relationship with God. Perhaps those who practice the Torah have an even greater tendency to do so. We must be vigilant to guard against any such vain imaginings of ourselves. God did not save us because of our righteousness, nor does our righteousness sustain our salvation. Instead, God sent His Son Yeshua precisely because of our unrighteousness. Just as Moses interceded for Israel, sparing them from the wrath of God in the wilderness, so too Messiah intercedes for us by means of His sacrificial death.
Paul demonstrates that our salvation does not come from our own righteousness. We do not earn salvation through obedience to Torah. Instead, the Torah condemns sin. All men have sinned and fallen short, and all men stand equally condemned by Torah. No one’s righteousness is adequate. Therefore, salvation is based upon the Torah’s covenantal promises to Abraham. He says, “The promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through [observance of] the Torah, but through the righteousness of faith” (Romans 4:13).
Shavuah Tov! Have a Good Week!
FFOZ's Weekly e-Drash is based on our popular Torah Study
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