Ki Tavo
For the week of September 16, 2000 / 16 Elul 5760
Torah: Devarim / Deuteronomy 26:1 - 29:8
Haftarah: Isaiah 60:1-22

How Did You Get Here?

"I declare today to the LORD your God that I have come to the land the LORD swore to our forefathers to give us" (Devarim / Deuteronomy 26:3).

After the people of Israel would harvest their new land, they were to give some of the produce to the Levites and the poor. The giving of this "tithe" as it was called was to be accompanied by a brief recitation of their history, spoken to the officiating priest. One of the things that they were to say to him was,

"I declare today to the LORD your God that I have come to the land the LORD swore to our forefathers to give us" (Devarim / Deuteronomy 26:3).

It was essential for them to remember that they were where they were, because of God. Their being in the Land was neither because of the outworking of circumstances or of their own great achievements. On the contrary, it was all due to the plan and purposes of God. As they continued their recounting of the events, they were to acknowledge that the Lord brought them out of Egypt to the Land of Israel "with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm." In other words it was because of God's power that they came to be there.

 How did you get where you are today? Have you ever thought about it? Some of you are in the same place and circumstances into which you were born. Others of you have experienced a great many changes throughout the years. But how did any of this come about?

Is your life guided by God? Or do you think you and others are responsible for your current situation?

According to the Torah God is the originator of life. He also calls people to account for their actions. His judgements are not directed only at his covenant people, Israel, but at all peoples. God communicates with us, revealing his will with the expectation that his instructions will be followed. He actively and purposely responds to the attitudes and actions of people.

At the same time, God doesn't treat people as robots or puppets. While he gets involved with us at personal, national, and international levels, he usually doesn't force himself upon us, but rather interacts with us.

What does this say about our life situations? If God is the supreme force in life, then nothing escapes his control. Yet he provides us with room to plan, to respond, and to decide. Still, no matter what decisions we make, there is so much of life that we cannot control. This is what the people of Israel dramatically learned. They were incapable of liberating themselves or of taking possession of the Promised Land. Even though they worked very hard through the years, it was God who delivered, protected, and provided for them.

How then does that relate to our situations today? Perhaps if we took a careful look at our personal history, either recently or several generations back, we will see that without the involvement of God, our lives would be very different.

Once we acknowledge God's involvement, we will begin to see our lives as they really are.

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