Living in the Kingdom

This portion is all about the principles of government in Israel, ‎how to rule yourselves. In Devarim 16 we are told to appoint ‎judges and officers in our gates/towns. The portion also includes ‎the crucial section on ‘a better prophet’ and how/when/if a king is ‎to be appointed. It teaches us about justice and righteousness, ‎the need for witnesses who are unbiased and truly neutral, how ‎evidence needs to be collected and assessed, who may do the ‎judging and its implications for submitting to the rulings handed ‎down. This was a recipe to avoid anarchy in the Land; Torah ‎needs to be interpreted to the people and applied if it is going to ‎bring Life! Without the rule of Law there would never be justice ‎and anarchy would prevail.‎

The role of the king in Israel, mentioned in the middle of this ‎passage, is enigmatic and some would say controversial. Why ‎put it here? It feels out of place, disrupting the flow. Some say ‎Moshe didn’t see a real reason for having a king, so he placed ‎the section here which was as good as anywhere! I don’t think ‎so. This ‘kingly’ passage actually draws the whole piece ‎together. This portion defines justice and who may administer it. ‎The priests had their part to play, but the King too.‎

Many have misunderstood the Kingdom of G-d. Yeshua ‎Mashichaynu told us to pray ‘Your Kingdom come’ not take me ‎to your kingdom. We should be active in making room for the ‎Kingdom now, here, firstly in Israel as the actual basic core ‎focus of the Kingdom and its borders, but also reaching the ‎influence of that Kingdom far beyond its borders. The Talmidim ‎in the book of Acts were concerned about when the Kingdom ‎would be restored to Israel. One thing is for sure: the Kingdom of ‎G-d is not in Heaven (alone). Mashiach was far more interested ‎in seeing the Kingdom and the rule of its King established on ‎earth. His comments that the Kingdom is ‘within you’ have sadly ‎been misconstrued. The Kingdom has never resided in the ‎hearts of man. The Torah, the constitution of Heaven, is written ‎there, but His Kingdom resides outside. It is of no use if the ‎Kingdom merely operates in our hearts, it has to impact outside ‎of us too. Yeshua meant that with Him standing there in front of ‎them, the Kingdom was truly in their midst (a much better ‎translation). He was and is King of Israel and therefore rules in ‎the Kingdom. That is why Yeshua says in Matt 6:25-34 (verse ‎‎33) seek first the Kingdom and righteousness. He wasn’t saying ‎search your hearts! This passage makes it clear too that ‎Kingship and righteousness belong together just as Yeshua ‎said. But only with Him as King!‎

In the Kingdom justice and righteousness work together. The ‎priests and those appointed would judge Israel using the Torah ‎as the guide book, the book of Law. We must follow after His ‎justice. Devarim 16:20 is the key verse for us, in Hebrew it says ‎‎‘Justice Justice follow after it. The Hebrew is strong, not just ‎follow but ACTIVELY pursue it. Torah justice and righteousness ‎is NOT just going to come to you, that’s a sign of our society, ‎bring it to me, feed me. Torah says SEEK IT OUT. It doesn’t ‎come naturally to us. If we don’t pursue what is right and just and ‎true we shall not find it. If we don’t seek, we won’t find. It’s a very ‎simple equation. G-d rewards those who dig deeper and actively ‎pursue Him, He looks for our response. We live in a laid back ‎society where we have forgotten how to single-mindedly pursue ‎something, and TWICE in this portion G-d says ‘not to the left or ‎the right’ the road is narrow and straight. Things will try and tie us ‎up to take our eyes off what is true, just and right, we have to ‎train our hearts and minds to pursue G-d wholeheartedly.‎

The Kingdom is based on us living in the rulership of our King ‎Messiah, Yeshua. It will also return to a geographical reality too ‎in the future. In His rule there is justice and righteousness, ‎because He is just and righteous. But we need to pursue ‎wholeheartedly this Kingdom, only those who push in will truly ‎see it.

Parashat Shoftim