|This is one of the most amazing Torah portions I think we have explored over the weeks. I wasn’t even sure how to tackle this portion because of all the different ideas and angles running through my head. Typically I’m struggling because of a lack of ideas, this week it was the other way around!|
The portion starts out “V’Etchanan—And I pleaded.” Moses is pleading with God to enter the Promised Land. He says “I pray, let me cross over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, those pleasant mountains, and Lebanon.” However, when we read this verse in Hebrew, it doesn’t say “…those pleasant mountains…” instead we read “Ha’Har Ha’Tov—The Good Mountain.”
The Rabbis explain this to mean, Moses desired to see Jerusalem. He wanted to see the site God had chosen as His eternal resting place. Moses, as we know, had always asked to see God’s face. Here he is still asking to be in the place God speaks of in 2 Chronicles 6 “I have chosen Jerusalem, that My name may be there….” In this same chapter of 2 Chronicles we read another verse where King Solomon, while dedicating the Temple, uses an interesting expression of words: “The Lord said He would dwell in the dark cloud…” What is this supposed to mean? I thought according to 1 John “…God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” Why would the God of light come in a dark cloud?
|This leads us back to this week’s Torah portion. We see two Mountains are mentioned. First, Moses asks to see “Har HaBayit—The Temple Mount” in Jerusalem. But the next few chapters after that deal with Israel’s experience at Mount Sinai. There are two Mountains in the same Parsha—one in the wilderness, the other in the Holy City, Jerusalem. Obviously, I could make a lot of connections at this point. But here is the connection I wanted to stress this week.|
God came down on Mount Sinai “…and the mountain burned with fire to the midst of heaven, with darkness, cloud, and thick darkness. And the Lord spoke…out of the midst of the fire.” The same thing happened when Solomon dedicated the Temple to God. “…And the glory of the Lord filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house…all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord on the temple…”
God has often shown himself to man in the form of a cloud, even a “dark cloud.” Psalm 97:2 tells us, “Clouds and darkness surround Him…” Here is why God surrounds Himself with a dark cloud. He says “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” God encompasses Himself in darkness out of His love for us. If we even caught just a glimpse of His glory, we couldn’t survive. He does things for our good. He has hidden Himself from us because of His love for us. It doesn’t mean He isn’t there…in fact He is very much with us.
|In verse 11 of chapter 4 it tells us “Then you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the midst of heaven, with darkness, cloud, and thick darkness.” The words in Hebrew used for “midst of heaven” are “Lev Ha’Shamayim—Heart of Heaven.” When God gave His Torah to the people of Israel, it came from the very heart of Heaven, from God Himself. He sent His living Torah to the earth as a way of showing us His love. The Torah is God’s love letter to us. It is His instruction manual on how we should live. Because He, as our Father, hates to see us hurt from the things in the world out to destroy us.|
Something I’ve been meditating on these past few weeks is the difference between situation and revelation. You see, Israel received the revelation of the Torah at Mount Sinai, but when it came time to enter into the Promised Land, they started walking according to their situation and not according to the revelation they had received.
In the modern state of Israel and even for ourselves, we can live with the idea that God has left us. Whenever we look for Him, all we see are clouds of darkness blocking our view. It seems He has left us and we’re on our own. But nothing could be further from the truth! We walk according to the revelation we have received “by faith, not by sight.” No matter the situation, we walk according to all God has shown us from the “Heart of Heaven” and know that all the darkness and clouds in the world are sometimes just blocking our view of God’s love and plan being worked out in the world today.
May God allow us to see everything through eyes of revelation and may we recognize that even when we don’t see Him through the dark clouds, it’s when the dark clouds show up that He is closest.