Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, August 27, 2022 

Shabbat Shalom,

Growing in Love for God 31 

by David Harwood

There had been a rash of highly publicized abductions and rapes in the NYC area. A long term friend and I were talking about them and, frankly, as we talked we were getting angrier. Then the discussion changed. Let me share the gist of our conversation.

I said, “Can you imagine if God feels the same way about our breaking the command to love Him above all else?” 

My friend, visibly stunned, said, “Do you think He does?”

I replied, “I think so. That’s why it’s the most important command. That we can’t relate to any outrage in the breaking of it reveals how alienated from God we are.”

By way of reminder, this is the foremost command.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:5 TLV) 

Can you imagine? Can you conceive of God viscerally feeling anger at humanity’s idolatry? The Scriptures convincingly convey that He does care about this. Can we relate to such holy jealousy? I find that challenge to be challenging. 

In Ephesians we are warned to not grieve the Holy Spirit.

Do not grieve the Ruach ha-Kodesh of God (Ephesians 4:30a TLV) 

Understood aright, Paul’s exhortation is actually a warning. He was citing Isaiah.

For He said, “Surely they are My people, children who will not deal falsely.” So He became their Savior. 9In all their affliction He was afflicted. So the angel of His presence saved them. In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, then He lifted them and carried them all the days of old. 

10But they rebelled, and grieved His Ruach ha-Kodesh. So He turned to become their enemy. He Himself fought against them. (Isaiah 63:8–10 TLV) 

In the most profound way possible, in response to the greatest need imaginable, God has become our Savior. In all our affliction, He was afflicted. In His love and mercy He  redeemed us. When we believe the Good News we are changed, and a manifestation of that transformation is grateful appreciation. We begin to really love our Savior. As we do, we abide in Him.

Yeshua said that He was the true vine and we are His branches. Like branches we are called to stay connected to this vine. We abide in God’s love, receive life from the God we love, and bear the fruit of that life. It is through this mutual love that we stay vitally connected. 

A result of abiding in Yeshua is that we yield the fruit of being yielded. We are called to a yielded obedience that is motivated by love. We are called to love to the degree that we yield and obey. 

Through abiding in the vine we begin to love God wholeheartedly and experientially. We partake of the vine’s life: Messiah’s person, priorities and power. 

We are like branches, created to abide in loving relationships with God and one another. However, in our natural, fallen state we have been separated from this true vine (John 15:1). I hate to say it, but humans are like spiritual zombies: animated, dead people. It is written:

We were dead in our trespasses (Ephesians 2:5b TLV) 

Our iniquities created a separation between us and God. The result is that by our own power we do not love God with all our hearts. Even if we agreed with the rightness of the Great Command, in ourselves we can’t, and won’t, love Him with all we are and have. 

For the mindset of the flesh is hostile toward God, for it does not submit itself to the law of God—for it cannot (Romans 8:7 TLV) 

Now a natural man does not accept the things of the Ruach Elohim (1 Corinthians 2:14a TLV) 

 Left to our own capacity to love God we wretchedly fail and it seems like there’s no remedy. But, amazingly, there is. Paul wrote:

Miserable man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—it is through Messiah Yeshua our Lord! (Romans 7:24–25a TLV) 

Now we are reconciled to our Creator. We are abiding in Him and He in us. I exhort you to Believe that your love for Him is significant because in His eyes, you are significant.

The branch cannot itself produce fruit, unless it abides on the vine. Likewise, you cannot produce fruit unless you abide in Me. (John 15:4b TLV) 

Ask for illumination about the Creator who treasures your love.

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)

Sat 27-Aug-2022   30th of Av, 5782 Parashat Re’eh Rosh Chodesh Elul (Day 1)

De 15:19-16:17 Isa 66:1-24 Rev 21:9-27 Nu  28:9-15