This week’s Haftarah portion is Jeremiah 16:19–17:14. Listen in as Dr. Jeffery Myers discusses the final instructions given by Hashem in the last parashah of the Book of Leviticus, from the context of the Haftarah.
Follow along in the AUDIO PODCAST, by clicking on the play button below, and reading along with the notes, as you listen to today's Haftarah:
Lion of Judah Speaks: Haftarah Portion – Jeremiah 16:19–17:14
The last chapter of Leviticus begins with a harsh warning: “If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them; then I will provide the rain you need in its season, the land will yield its produce, and the trees in the field will yield their fruit.” Leviticus 26:3-4. However, there is also the consequences if Israel does not obey in Leviticus 26:15-40. As they gather at Mount Sinai, the Israelites receive a final set of instructions before they depart for the land of promise. No one imagined at this time that 38 more years of wandering lay ahead.
At this crucial moment, as Israel thinks about taking possession of the Promised Land, how striking to realize that this inheritance will not really belong to Israel at all. The land remains Adonai’s property and will revert every 50 years to the original division decreed by Moses to the first generation to enter the land. Thus, each share is a holding, not a possession with freedom proclaimed every 50th year and each holding returned to the original family. We have been bought with a price…our lives are not our own but HaShem’s…always was, always has been, and always will be!
As we glance into the Haftorah, it discusses the punishments that await those who disregard Adonai’s law and the blessings that follow the obedient. The prophet Jeremiah rebukes the people for their idolatrous ways and for not having trusting faith in Yah. For those who do not trust in HaShem he articulates Adonai’s words of wrath. Jeremiah 17:5-7, “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind, who makes the flesh his strength and turns his heart from Adonai. That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. But blessed is the one who trusts in Adonai, whose confidence is in Him. He shall be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
So, as we close out Leviticus, the main theme is that of covenant faithfulness, which is fitting since the whole book is about holiness. To be holy means to be set apart, and for HaShem’s people this means set apart to Him by being members of the covenant with Him. Those things which Yah has given us as the mitzvot of the covenant are to remind us of the relationship we have with HaShem and help us maintain our faithfulness to the covenant. Leviticus introduces the principle of dispossession, a key to life in the Age to Come. Ownership implies the right to use one’s property however one desires, including the right to sell it. But the Israelites cannot sell any holding within their inheritance. What do we actually own if we have yielded our life, given up our rights to our Master? So, everything we are, own, possess is actually a holding not a possession. We get into trouble when we start possessing things that are not ours…our lives especially!
Rabbi Hillel noted long ago, “The more possessions, the more worry.” We need to revisit the law of repossession especially in this age that elevates greed into virtue. We spend our energies worrying about what we have acquired or not acquired, but in the end, we acquire nothing. The law of dispossession relieves us of such worries and provides a way of nearness to HaShem. It causes us to walk in His ways and not our own!
Possessions may sometimes be a gift from Adonai, but they can stand between us and Elohim too. Our Messiah’s message, His motivation to follow Him involves dispossession; “Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33). He reveals what it entails in Phil. 2:5-8, “Have this in mind among yourselves, which is yours in Yeshua, who, though He was in the form of Yah, did not count equality with Yah a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, and being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Yeshua’s act of dispossession is on our behalf. He endured death as the 2nd Adam that we would no longer be disobedient but have life and live it out in obedience to Him. Paul tells us to “let the same mind be in us that was in Messiah Yeshua.” This type of mind places obedience to Yah ahead of the inheritance from Yah. We see that the blessing of Elohim can keep us from the simple obedience that HaShem requires. To accomplish this purpose requires dispossession more often than possession. As we possess nothing in this world, Adonai takes possession of us for the world to come. Everything I have is on loan from HaShem, the One who owns it all. If I forget this, it brings anxiety, greed, and distraction from what matters most.
This being the case, we should be diligent to be obedient to His Word and at the level of the smallest mitzvah we learn a most valuable lesson, one which applies to all acts of obedience, namely, that apart from His grace in giving us life and strength, not only would we be unable to obey Him, but we would not even have the heart to do so.
Did you see that one of the covenant blessings listed in this Torah portion was the presence of the Ruach, the Spirit of Yah, and His promise not to reject us? The Presence of HaShem in our midst, His walking among us, strengthens us to desire His ways and to do them. This divine “circle” means, in the end, that we are always and ultimately dependent upon Him for all things, including a heart to love Him. We have the hope that we will be the overcomers that we are meant to be. Hope is what keeps us striving forward. We have hope for the future, and hope in HaShem. Hope is defined as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Synonyms for hope include aspiration, desire, wish, expectation, ambition, aim, goal, plan, and design. We hope in a merciful Yah. We worship the Yah of hope. We put our hope in His Word. We hold onto hope. Our hope is Messiah!
The haftorah ends with these important verses: Jeremiah 17:13-14, “Hope of Israel Adonai! All who abandon you will be ashamed, those who leave You will be inscribed in the dust, because they have abandoned Adonai, the source of living water. Heal me, Adonai, and I will be healed; save me, and I will be saved, for you are my praise.”
Let me ask this final question, “Is your hope in Adonai only or have you allowed your possessions to take possession of you?"
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May Adonai watch over you and bless you! Have a great Sabbath and give the King the praise that is due His name!