Promises Kept

Nor is it with you only that I make this sworn covenant, but with him who is not here with us this day as well as with him who stands here with us this day before the Lord our God Deuteronomy 29:14-15

Is Not Here – Who isn’t there?  Moses delivers an everlasting covenant commitment to those who stand before him that day – and to those who do not stand before him.  Who isn’t there?  The Hebrew phrase is exactly the same as the previous designation of those who are present with the addition of eynenoo (eynenoo po eemanoo) “those not with us.”  In Hebrew thoughts, all generations of Israel are present in the moment the covenant is given.  Heschel calls this “history in reverse: thinking of the future in the present tense.”[1] This is a crucial difference between Hebrew and Greek thought.  Our culture perceives reality in the “here and now,” but Hebrew culture is never disconnected from its past.  The past is present in all its events with God.  The future is present in all its promises from God.  No one is absent when God speaks.

Furthermore, when Moses and the people who stood at Sinai committed themselves to “hear and obey,” they committed every subsequent generation to the same obligation. Just as the promise of God is unbreakable, so the obligation to God is unbreakable.  It doesn’t matter one little bit that you and I didn’t stand there on that day, looking at the mountain shaking with the power of the Holy One.  We were there anyway.  We were there because we were represented in the legacy passed on to us.  We were there in the blood of our ancestors who experienced the awe of God.  Their obligation is our obligation – and we are held to it just as though we spoke the same words as they did.  Hebrew thought is continuity of community, not individual acceptance of responsibility.  As followers of the King, we have no right whatsoever to refuse the covenant obligations He placed on our predecessors.

Heschel makes the distinction absolutely clear:

“Socrates taught us that a life without thinking is not worth living.  Now, thinking is a noble effort, but the finest thinking may end in futility.  In thinking man is left to himself; he may soar into astral space and proclaim the finest thoughts, yet what will be the echo and what its meaning for the soul?

The Bible teaches us that life without commitment is not worth living, that thinking without roots will bear flowers but no fruit.  Our commitment is to God, and our roots are in the prophetic events of Israel.”[2]

The Bible is not a handbook of ethical action.  It is a confrontation with a holy God.  He demands certain responses; responses which are not always available to rational explanation.  They are the product of revelation, not reasoned argument.  On the day God gave the covenant to Moses, He brought all of us near to Him.  We were there, standing before Him, acknowledging His right to rule over us as He sees fit.  Woe to the one who pushes aside such an obligation, brought about by blood and tears, made available to him through the countless generations of followers who sacrificed in order that the covenant might pass from generation to generation.  Woe to the one who says, “I am not obligated.  I was not there.”  Woe to the one who does not see himself standing with the people of the Lord, who does not recognize his soul in the loins of his ancestors.  He is truly lost, cast adrift without an anchor in God’s promises.  The God of the covenant requires something of us – and we who follow Him rejoice that this promise is extended to asher eynenoo po eemanoo hayom (those not standing here with us today).

Topical Index:  is not here, eynenoo po eemanoo, covenant, obligation, Deuteronomy 29:15


[1] Abraham Heschel, “The Moment at Sinai,” in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity, p. 15.

[2] Heschel, p. 16

14 thoughts on “Promises Kept

  1. Shalom,

    When we are grafted into the Root (Yeshua) and become part of the people of the covenant we are heirs to the promises … but we are also responsible for the heritage.

    Just as all sinned with Adam … all bore witness to the glory of The Lord at Sinai! If we are grafted into the community then we can not escape the unchanging truth that their way is our way.

    The Hebrew notion of ledor vedor (generation to generation) has been discussed many times on the TW venue. But what good is it to say that we are “grafted in” and then presume that there is no accountability to foster the ways of the people?

    Sadly there have been many tragic theological and doctrinal mistakes shoved down the throats of the believing community for nearly 2,000 years. Mistakes that have built up a wall of partition even after Yeshua caused the veil to be torn in two. Mistakes that have fostered separation and denial of the “ways of the people”. Mistakes that have broken down the continuity of the community!

    As we reflect on our lives and the manifestation of our faith, let us consider for a moment what a chance meeting with Moshe would produce? Would Moshe see our persons and community and recognize the ways of the people? Would Moshe’s heart be gladdened because “this people” whom ELOHIM raised up remained faithful and successfully handed down the heritage?

    B/T/W … we could just as easily ask the same question as it pertains to Yeshua instead of Moshe!

    We should all shudder/tremble in fear because we know the answers to the questions posed herein. Sadly the vast majority of TW readers probably are floating in similar boats … alone and without the support of a community that understands and takes to heart the covenant which is our heritage.

    But fear not … don’t be afraid … despite our separation and the lack of thriving Messianic Communities everywhere around the globe, we are at worst – part of the Messianic Diaspora. Some day these things will change … but we can not look to the future and say “then” I will abide by the covenant … no … abide in the covenant is what we need to do today despite the hardships and lack of community.

    Hey … wait a minute … isn’t that why most of us are at TW? Hmmm!

    Brachot

  2. Good day to you all. According to the Torah who are the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation? I have heard many things but have also heard that Moses and the law is the answer. What does this mean, the two witnesses?

    1. Hello Carol,

      According to The Word there will be two end time witnesses!

      Also according to The Word … Moshe will provide witness against the unbelieving Jews!

      As far as “what does the two witnesses mean?” I think we all know it means that judgment is coming and that the Earth’s people will be witnessed against in as much that a death sentence is handed down by the testimony of two trust worthy witnesses.

      Now … regarding any metaphorical or symbolic representation of the two witnesses or the personal identity of the two witnesses … this is a whole different matter which is subject to much debate.

      If Skip wants to entertain such a discussion on this venue then I will let Skip say as much!

      1. Thanks Drew for your input here and I do hope that Skip will give me the basics here as to who the two witnesses are whether they are bodily or symbolic.

        1. Hi Carol,

          I never read Revelation, because it is too abstract for my taste.

          And I don’t usually understand it.

          Never heard of the “two witnesses” before, but they are very interesting.

          I would tend to interpret the lamp as consciousness and the tree as the Tree of Life.

          There are two things because God comes to us in twos, eg angels and demons.

          There is one of each; one above and one below.

          A total of four (YHVH).

          The Two Witnesses

          These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.

          Revelation 11:4

        2. BTW Odyssesus loved the olive tree in his courtyard, which was a symbol of his home, and from the branch of an olive tree, he carved his famous bow.

          Book 22 The Odyssey

          Odysseus leaps out of his rags and begins to shoot arrows at the suitors. He hits Antinous under the chin as he lifts a cup. The suitors look around but cannot find their weapons. They yell and Odysseus tells them that it is over.

          They are all dumbfounded.

      2. Thanks Drew. I know that when they are mentioned there is judgement. God is the Judge and the rule is the TORAH. But I have heard also Moses and the Torah. Still open for discussion but few really know for sure. Some things are still hid within the LORD Himself. Thanks also for all your comments. I do read them but am a baby with all of this Hebrew interpretation. But like I said before. I am still in the stands listening and watching and praying. Acts. 2:42

  3. Dear Skip – thanks for all the information – it is very rich and appreciated. I would like to request a pay pal scheduled payment change please. When I first signed up for the donation I thought I was doing it for a one time deal however it seems that it is coming out every month and I need that to change – please. I will, from time to time, give a donation however at this moment I don’t need an automatic withdrawal from my checking account – your help is greatly appreciated in this matter. Keep up the great work. Blessings

    Jerry Lacey

  4. “Socrates taught us that a life without thinking is not worth living. Now, thinking is a noble effort, but the finest thinking may end in futility. In thinking man is left to himself; he may soar into astral space and proclaim the finest thoughts, yet what will be the echo and what its meaning for the soul?”

    Hi Skip,

    With all due respect to Abraham Heschel, “Socrates taught us that a life without thinking is not worth living” and that is a FACT.

    And Abraham Heschel says that, “thinking is a noble effort, but the finest thinking may end in futility,” and that is also a FACT.

    But Alfred North Whitehead has said that all Western philosophy is no more than a “series of footnotes” to Plato, and Socrates was Plato’s mentor, as you know.

    So, in my view, Socrates’ thinking was anything but an effort in futility; people write books today comparing Socrates and Jesus and that’s pretty august company :-)

    And when Abraham Heschel says “what will be the echo (of the thinking man) and what its meaning for the soul?” well, in Socrates view, his work had everything to do with the SOUL:

    Referring to his “maieusis” (midwifery), Socrates says:

    “My art of midwifery is in general like theirs (a midwife); the only difference is that my patients are men, not women, and my concern is not with the body but with the SOUL.

    And another key concept of Socrates, “daimonion,” means little daimon and refers to a divinity-like entity that manifested itself through the human soul.

    This little daimon seems to function like a “guardian angel” and makes me think of the scene in Numbers with the angel, the donkey, and Balaam.

    In short, Socrates was not IMO a “thinking man … left to himself;” in his view the soul/self iwas related to some higher consciousness and could serve as a kind of guardian angel.

    These two key concepts, maieusis and daimonion, might also be useful when trying to understand the psychology of the Hebrew Prophets.

  5. Excellant! YHVH’s ways are perfect, just and holy. He is always teaching us from the cyclical pattern to turn back to Him, not like the greek world a evolutionary thought process which doesn’t turn back but keeps evolving which the western “church” has done. Turn (shuv) back to His covenant, His ways (derek), His paths (egol) of righteousness. I believe Shaul said, what happens to the forefathers will happen to their descendants. I still see the rainbow after each rainfall, a sign in the natural that His covenants are forever.

  6. As long as we are throwing quotes around, a Chinese proverb seems to agree with Heschel: “Study without reflection is a waste of time; reflection without study is dangerous.” I believe the latter leads to destructive introspection without the guidance of the Holy Spirit to confront, convict, cleanse and comfort.

    Then there’s also Samuel Butler, English novelist, “The truest characters of ignorance are vanity, and pride and arrogance.” Proverbs 12:15, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.”

    1. Hi CYndee,

      Speaking of Samuel Butler makes me think his utopian satire of Victorian society, “Erewhon.”

      Samuel Butler was stongly influenced by the great satirist Jonathan Swift.

      In Gulliver’s Travels, Swift satirically portrayed man at his worst as a feces throwing Yahoo.

      But in what is probably the most horrifying view of man in our post modern world is portrayed in a novel called Naked Lunch.

      In Naked Lunch an image of man that is completely devoid of Spirit; man is reduced by drugs and sex to a “desiring machine.”

      As it turns out, the concept of the desiring machine can be traced back to the satirist Samuel Butler.

      In his collaboration with Félix Guattari, Anti-Œdipus (1972), Deleuze draws on Butler’s “The Book of the Machines” to “go beyond” the “usual polemic between vitalism and mechanism” as it relates to their concept of “desiring machines.”

      1. Hi Michael, I knew this reply was from you even before going to the website to read it. You are so well read as well as up on so many movies. I marvel at all the obscure references you are able to pull into a discussion! Me, I just Google something to find it without really knowing much about the topic. Does that make me shallow or just too busy?? :-)

        1. “Does that make me shallow or just too busy??”

          Hi CYndee,

          I think Google can make us all a lot smarter; back in the 70′s I would spend hours/days in the library just looking these things up.

          Now I can Google things in minutes and find everything summarized in Wiki. It is amazing!

          I haven’t read Swift, Butler, Naked Lunch, or Anti Oedipus since the seventies and have never unpacked them since moving to Milpitas 15 years ago.

          But in graduate school, my three focus items were satire (genre), 19th century literature (period), and modern French and German critical theory (elective).

          In my first year of grad school, I studied Naked Lunch as a post modern form of the novel and the professor (Fred Jameson) related it to Anti Oedipus and desiring machines.

          His point was that Consumer society = addiction = desiring machines.

          But Google connected it back to Samuel Butler for me and you :-)

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