Nitsavim (Standing) / Vayelekh (He Went)
Are We There Yet?
Last week we looked at a “Today” which would happen sometime in our future. It would be a day of bringing our offerings in a basket to Jerusalem. We will set our basket down in the presence of Messiah and give thanks for the good land and blessings He has brought us to. Before that “Today” can happen, there has to be an event called the end of exile. We read of this promise in Deuteronomy 30.
To set the stage for these words, let’s consider the setting. First of all, we are reading words first spoken around 1400BCE or over 3600 years ago. Moshe is telling a people who have never stepped foot in the land that their time in the land will not be very long and because of disobedience they will be exiled from the land and driven to the four corners of the earth. Side note, these are four corners yet to be discovered by man.
Stop and consider this. You are Nitzavim (Standing) in front of Moshe with great anticipation, considering just how long this last sermon of his is going to take. Your mind has been wandering just a bit because just over his shoulder you can see your destiny. Suddenly your mind kicks in as you hear him say you will be driven out. “What, he must be kidding. We haven’t set foot in the land yet.” Right on the heals of those words is a promise of return and re-gathering from exile. You decide to just dismiss the last words and focus again on where you are soon heading. Focus as you may, generations to come will live the words of exile, a time and place you and I find ourselves today.
So here is the question, are we there yet?
I seldom use stories of my own children for their privacy, but today I am going to break the rule. It was family vacation, Kathy and myself with two children are heading to Disney World. Our oldest son Steven was pretty small but old enough to have a good grasp on where we were going. We had been telling him for months that we were going and his excitement was off the scale by the time we finally got in the car for the journey. His “Are we there yet” statements were too many too keep track of and even though each “Are we there yet” brought a firmer and more impatient “No”, he never lost sight of his dream. We would stop at gas stations and restaurants and he would engage anyone who would listen with the dream of his destination. Some people would become so caught up in his excitement they would ask if they could come with him. I think a couple of them may have gone home and planned their own trip based on his enthusiasm.
The time finally came when his “Are we there yet?” was answered by “Almost.” Shoes on, poised in position to bound out of the car, he was ready and yes, it was a time he would not forget.
Do I need to ask if you know where I am going with this? Just in case, I will continue.
I read these words of return and I can just feel the words “Are we there yet” bubbling up from down deep inside of me. As I write, it dawns on me that my daily reciting of the Shema is turning into my own “Are we there yet?’ Watching wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, hurricanes, interaction with my Jewish brothers and sisters; it is all causing those words to form more rapidly in my spirit.
What saddens me in the midst of my own excitement is how much easier it was for Steven to get people excited about going to Disney than it is for me to get people excited about going “Home.” I am not talking about people outside of covenant, but rather those who profess to be within it. Yes, there are a few who are excited, but it is a small remnant today. As I speak of “Home” and ask forms of the question of are we there yet, I am still met with so many glassy eyed stares. This causes me to wonder and consider if the excitement I am portraying is more surface than I want to admit. Is my excitement proved in my actions or is it merely words people are seeing through to be phony?
This past week I attended a small congregation in our area. It was my first Shabbat home in over a month. The group will normally study the Torah, but leave the other writings for personal study. As we came to the end of the portion our daughter-in-law asked if we could read the Haftarah of Isaiah 60. When I saw the first few words, a lump formed in my throat. It is hard to explain the feeling of hearing her read the words. She read as a person who has not only walked The Land, but as someone whose heart and life are connected to The Land and her people. She read with gentle passion of a time when our exile is over, the tribulation is behind us and Messiah has set up His Kingdom. It is a day Torah is going forth from Jerusalem and the nations are streaming to her to learn to walk in His ways. As she read I was looking at their son, my grandson, and wondering, could these verses be of a day he will grow up seeing with his own eyes?
I held back the tears as she read. As she completed the last words, I simply said, “May it be soon and in our day.” By the way, that is now my Hebrew idiom for “Are we there yet?”
May we, in Him, be found worthy to be the generation which sees the end of exile. May our children and grandchildren be part of the first generation raised in His Kingdom. May our Heavenly Father grant to each of us the longing and excitement which will pierce through the glassy eyed stares of those still without a vision of where “Home” truly is.
May it all come to pass soon and in our day, or as we used to say, “Are we there yet?” (Click to Site)