A Blessing and a Curse — The Oak Trees of Moreh and a Kingdom of Priests

(This study is taken from Natan’s Torah study guide for Parashat Re’eh.)

Deuteronomy 11:26–28, This Torah portion begins with the words,

Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; a blessing, if you will obey the commandments of YHVH your Elohim, which I command you this day; and a curse, if you will not obey the commandments of YHVH your Elohim, to go after other gods, which you have not known. (Deut 11:26–28)

After this, in verse 29, YHVH instructs the Israelites that upon entering the Promised Land, they are to stop between the mountains of Gerizim and Ebal, which are located at the entry point of the land. The former mountain represents a blessing, while the later represents a curse. The town of Shechem is located between the two mountains.

The Hebrew word Shechem means “shoulder” or “back” (Strong’s H7927). The shoulder supports the head, which through the disposition of the mind and the direction in which the head is pointed, determines the path a person will walk whether good or evil. It was at Shechem, between the two mountains representing good and evil, that Israel renewed its covenant with YHVH before entering the Promised Land (Josh 8:30–35).

The power of the covenant that the people made with YHVH on that day thousands of years ago is still visible in the modern land of Israel: Mount Ebal is bare and devoid of vegetation, while Mount Gerizim is lush and green with foliage. This fact stands as a loud testimony and reminder to man today to the power of blessing and cursing, and to the reality and validity of YHVH’s Torah, its covenants and its ability to bless or curse us depending on whether we obey it or not.

Israel renewed its covenant with YHVH at Shechem at the plains (or oak trees) of Moreh (Deut 11:30). What was significant about this place? It was this exact spot, at the entry point to the Promised Land, that YHVH had established his covenant with Abraham some 500 years earlier. We read about this in Genesis 12:6, “And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Shechem unto the plain [or oak] of Moreh [or teacher].” And it was to this exact spot that YHVH brought Israel to both fulfill and renew his promises he had made to Abraham. It was there YHVH would begin to teach them to walk victoriously and righteously before him in their promised inheritance IF they would choose to obey his Torah (or his instructions in righteousness) and to turn their backs on the pagan gods and practices of the nations around them. It was at the same spot that Jacob, upon entering the Promised Land, buried all his family’s false gods and pagan accoutrements (Gen 35:4).

YHVH is calling his people to do the same as we prepare to enter into our promised inheritance as YHVH’s kings and priests ruling with Yeshua on this earth. YHVH is urging his people to come out of Babylon (Rev 18:4), and to come out from the world and to be separate and to touch no unclean thing (2 Cor 6:17).

Now, let’s return to our Torah portion. As noted earlier, this parashah starts with Israel having to choose between the blessing and the curse—obeying YHVH’s commands, which leads to life, or disobeying them, which leads to death (Deut 11:26; see also 30:15–20). Making the right choices as we go through life is what determines our outcome both here on earth and eternally, whether good or bad, life or death. Earlier YHVH declared that it was Israel’s spiritual destiny to become a nation of priests (Exod 19:6), and as such Israel would become an example to the nations of the world of YHVH’s righteousness and the wisdom of Torah (Deut 4:6–8).

YHVH is calling his people today who have put their faith in Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel, to be a royal priesthood (1 Peter  2:9), and to reign with Yeshua as kings and priests in his millennial kingdom (Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6). To be a priest of YHVH Elohim requires choosing righteousness over wickedness, the holy (set-apart) over the profane (that which is defiled, polluted or worldly, see Ezek 44:23; 22:26). One cannot represent a holy, set-apart, sinless and righteous Elohim before the nations of the world unless one is set-apart (from the world) themselves. Yeshua told his disciples that though they were in the world, they were not to be of the world (compare John 17:11 and 14). YHVH admonished his people to be holy or set-apart as he is holy or set-apart (Lev 11:44 and 45), and the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews declares, “Follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see YHVH” (Heb 12:14).

One cannot choose that which is holy (kodosh or set-apart) from that which is unholy (defiled or polluted) unless one knows what is holy and what is not.

YHVH, not man, determines what is holy. In the rest of this Torah portion, YHVH outlines various times, places, things, actions and foods that are holy to him by which his people can enter into holiness and holy communion with him. There are holy times (YHVH’s annual festivals and the sabbatical year), holy places (where YHVH places his name for his people to gather to worship him), holy food (clean verses unclean meats), holy income (our material income is sanctified or made holy through our tithing a portion to YHVH), holy lips (YHVH’s people are forbidden to allow the names of pagan deities to come on their lips), and YHVH’s people are to destroy any pagan, corrupting, defiling influences (the false gods of the heathens) by putting these things out of their lives.

Being holy or set-apart is our mission, our destiny as YHVH’s set-apart people, and it all depends on the choices we make, for good or for evil, to obey YHVH or to disobey him.


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