“The Lesson of His Living Stones”
Parashah KI’TAVO (Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8 (9) Week 50
Then Moshe and all the leaders of Isra’el gave orders to the people. They said, “Observe all the mitzvot I am giving you today. When you cross the Yarden to the land ADONAI your God is giving you, you are to set up large stones, put plaster on them, and, after crossing over, write this Torah on them, every word—so that you can enter the land ADONAI your God is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as ADONAI, the God of your ancestors, promised you. When you have crossed the Yarden, you are to set up these stones, as I am ordering you today, on Mount ‘Eival; and put plaster on them. There you are to erect an altar to ADONAI your God, an altar made of stones. You are not to use any iron tool on them, but are to build the altar of ADONAI your God of uncut stones; and you are to offer burnt offerings on it to ADONAI your God. Also, you are to sacrifice peace offerings, eat there and be joyful in the presence of ADONAI your God. You are to write on the stones all the words of this Torah very clearly.” (Deuteronomy 27:1-8 CJB)
The two mountains Adonai used for His visual lesson on sin and its consequences, versus obedience and its rewards, appear again in this weekly Parashah. Before the crossing, and before their stance in the valley of decision, between Mount G’rizim and Mount ‘Eival, the people of Israel were commanded to set up large uncut stones at the base of Mount ‘Eival, plaster over them, and write into the plaster every word of the Torah, very clearly. This was the first action-order for the Nation of Israel, after crossing the Jordan River, into the Covenant Land.
As I ran and prayed out the story of Parashah Ki Tavo, replete with Covenantal promises made by Adonai to the people for their honoring of His name, ADONAI, and for their obedience to His instructions or Mitzvot, I saw the irony. I pondered over the light and darkness, the blessings and curses, the obedience and rebellion, the sight and blindness, the hearing and deafness, and a soft beating heart, or a heart of stone.
The most poignant of ironies were the large uncut stones gathered by the people, mounted at the base of Mount ‘Eival, plastered over, and clearly hand etched with the words of Torah. They were erected for anyone and everyone who would ever stand in that place, to read. Yes, the two mountains of contradiction and the uncut stones were like an entrance sign into the Covenant Land, for all time. I prayed, “Adonai this picture is so stunning in its simplicity, yet so deep and eternally wise. I pray for your Spirit to teach me this lesson today!”
As I continued on my well-worn path, I saw how only the words of Adonai make a mark on the hard hearts of humankind. Left to our own desires and progressively rebellious hearts, we become like Mount ‘Eival. Is it just me, or does Mount ‘Eival evoke thoughts of Mount Evil? I see the gathering of the heavy stones, the labor to mount them at the base of a mountain, the artistry to plaster them in white, then the baking of them in the desert sun, and finally the hand-etched words of Torah, or the way to go, as a labor of love. The words of truth from Adonai pierce the darkness and chaos of the world. His Torah truths are etched for all time and eternity, whether we write them down in loving obedience or not! His Torah truth, etched on our hearts will be the basis for our decisions as we journey into our inheritance.
We must write His truth, read His truth, and place His truth on the doorposts of our homes and of our hearts. This spiritual etching takes place over a lifetime of seeking His face. The command to inscribe Torah on plastered stones was a mirroring of the Ten Commandments written upon the two stone tablets by the hand of God. The command to etch the words of Torah into uncut stones would create the entry into the Covenant Land, like a stone banner from heaven! The words of Torah etched in front of the mountain of limestone bareness, cratered by the tombs of the dead, would remind all who passed by of the Covenant relationship between the God of Israel and the Nation of Israel. ‘His words are a sword’…another irony…the words of Torah CUT into the UN-CUT stones, by the hands of men, at the command of God!
This is the lesson of His Living Stones. “For this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Isra’el after those days, says ADONAI: ‘I will put my Torah in their minds and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they will be my people.’” (Hebrews 8:10 CJB)
This is the lesson of His Living Stones. We have been set apart for Adonai. His spirit etches our hearts by His WORDS. We become living stones for His Kingdom. Our hearts beat in a new way; hand-etched by the Creator. Grafted into Israel by way of the Divine Vine, we are now the living, breathing Torah!
This is the lesson of His Living Stones. “See, the Word of God is alive! It is at work and is sharper than any double-edged sword – it cuts right through to where soul meets spirit and joints meet marrow, and it is quick to judge the inner reflections and attitudes of the heart. Before God, nothing created is hidden, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.” (Hebrews 4:12-13 CJB)
May our lives be Living Stones; brilliantly transparent and inscribed for all to see. May our praise of His word be our weapons of warfare.
May His double-edged sword cut us first, by the circumcision or Brit Milah of our hearts!
May we recommit, on this glorious Shabbat evening, to guard (Shamar) our lives with our lips, as we pour forth His truth out into the atmosphere for all who are near to hear. With our declarations of His WORDS, every step we take for the Kingdom of God is holy ground!
Shabbat Shalom, Dear Living Stones!