54 V’zot HaB’racha Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12;
Study of the Scriptures never ends. It only begins again. With this in mind, we come to the last Torah portion, which brings us full circle back to Genesis. In this circle, however, we read of the departure of our beloved Moshe, and mourn with the Yisraelim who are nonetheless on the verge of entering the land HaShem promised them.
When taken with this Torah portion, Psalm 12 reads much like a lamentation upon Moshe’s death. Much like we do today, the psalmist bemoans the lack of faithful, g-dly, upright people in his generation. It is as though the world is a little darker with Moshe gone. Verse 7 of this psalm, however, gives us a ray of hope, albeit in a bit of a cryptic way.
Psalm 12:7 proclaims: "The words of [ADONAI] are pure words, silver in a melting-pot set in the earth, refined and purified seven times over." This is similar to 2 Samuel 22:31, which says: ""As for G-d, his way is perfect, the word of [ADONAI] has been tested by fire; he shields all who take refuge in him." Since HaShem is purity and holiness itself, why would His Words have to be tried or purified, and why would we need assurance of such refinement? Perhaps our L-rd Yeshua gives us the answer to this quandary.
In John 17:19, our L-rd Yeshua prays for His talmidim, including us: "On their behalf I am setting myself apart for holiness, so that they too may be set apart for holiness by means of the truth." The very personification of holiness nevertheless sets Himself apart for holiness. Furthermore, Hebrews 5:7-8 gives us another aspect of this enigma: "During Yeshua's life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions, crying aloud and shedding tears, to the One who had the power to deliver him from death; and he was heard because of his g-dliness. Even though he was the Son, he learned obedience through his sufferings." From these two passages, then, we see the Living, pure Word of HaShem undergoing refinement. In this case, refinement doesn’t extract impurities, since there are no impurities in our Messiah. It does, however, prove His purity, displaying it for all creation to see. If this is the case with the Living Word, do we find such an equivalent with the written Word?
When speaking of the giving of Torah on Mount Sinai, Moshe reveals it as a "fiery law" (Deuteronomy 33:2). In a sense, the Word of HaShem (i.e. the Scriptures) has been tested by history, and even by human arrogance, yet it still stands. Like the Living Word, the written Word is subject to fiery trial, not to extract any perceived impurities, but that its intrinsic purity might shine forth in all its splendor. As always, this is more than theoretical conjecture or philosophical discussion. The purity and trustworthiness of G-d’s Word is life-changing.
In a day when "scholarship" seems to be judged by how well one demeans, marginalizes, undermines, or maligns the Scriptures, it behooves us to remember that this book we hold in our hands daily has endured a lot of history. From being lost in the Temple (2 Kings 22:8-13; 2 Chronicles 34:14-21, to being suppressed under Babylonian and Greek tyranny, to being forsaken, violated, desecrated, burned, trampled under foot, and soaked in the blood of martyrs throughout the millennia, the Word of G-d, both written and living, will remain steadfast and untarnished long after we, our civilizations, and our machinations crumble to dust. So, the next time we’re tempted to relegate this most precious Word to antiquated history, arcane instruction, or just another book on the shelf, let’s remember that HaShem, the King of the Universe, the Holy One, blessed be He, took the time and trouble to reveal Himself in its pages. By studying this Word in order to do what it says, not only will Moshe\s memory live on, but we will be walking in the footsteps of Messiah Yeshua Himself, the Word made flesh (John 1:14). As it is written: "You have been born again not from some seed that will decay, but from one that cannot decay, through the living Word of G-d that lasts forever. For all humanity is like grass, all its glory is like a wildflower- the grass withers, and the flower falls off; but the Word of [ADONAI] lasts forever. Moreover, this Word is the Good News which has been proclaimed to you." (1 Peter 1:23-25) May the light and purity of G-d’s Word shine brightly through each of us to a dark, decaying, and dying world.