Skip to comments.The Sermon on the Mountaintop
Posted on 08/18/2009 8:42:03 AM PDT by Ari Bussel
Seeking Lord, Our God, with Our Heart and Being by Ari Bussel
And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD; that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the LORD swore unto thy fathers. Deuteronomy 6:18
To Journey We Go
How often do you read the Bible? Many of my Christian friends carry a well-annotated Bible with them at all times. Reference a verse, and they immediately flip through the pages to the correct citation.
For the Jews, the Bible is what the Christians call the Old Testament. Not a period can be added to or subtracted from it. In every Israeli home one would find a Bible. Well, almost in every home my cousin moved several times and so, we discovered, there was not a Bible when we needed one. It was a good excuse to bring my cousin and her husband a present, dedicated to the birth of their new son Roee (my shepherd).
Once, very special dates denoting births, weddings and deaths were noted in the inside cover of the Bible. It was the one constant that was always there, spanning a familys history on this earth.
Today, many barely read the Bible, even when we have one at home. The Book stands on a shelf or inside a drawer, orphaned from a mother and father, neglected and alone. It is a hidden treasure, a wealth of bedtime stories. There is love and murder, wars and battles and exile. There is creation and paradise, and a great flood, explosions and columns of fire or smoke. There is friendship and trust, deceit, courage and wisdom all interwoven into the storyline. More than the superficial interest, there are lessons and commandments, rules to follow and examples from which to learn. In short, there is content appropriate for all.
Rather than turn on the TV for yet another gruesome report you wish you or your children had not seen, away from the computer, spending hours at a time roaming through dangerous and often hideous sites on the Internet, hold The Book in ones hand.
The reward of telling a story from the Bible: a magical glimpse in ones eyes and a twist of passion of the heart, a breath of fresh air, a gift of no boundaries. Select it at random - any page you open finds you in a protected neighborhood - and venture out. Take your spouse with you, have the kids join in this adventure.
The Sermon on the Mountaintop
As one turns the pages of Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the Torah (Torah is the first five books of the Old Testament), one is transferred by magic carpet to another time and place, another world. We are present, but not seen. We can hear, but cannot be heard.
Moses tells a story to his people, the Israelites, as they are about to enter the Promised Land.
It was forty years of wondering the desert since God had redeemed the Israelites from slavery to freedom and the time a new generation emerged ready to enter the Promised Land. During these forty years they were well fed and well clothed, and when normal food was insufficient, a new food appeared from Heaven.
God looked upon His people as they wondered, a very stubborn people, and like a parent with endless love, He had to suffer seeing them go through the tribulations of adolescence to maturity. But it was a stage of their evolution they needed to experience as a people.
Moses recounts the difficulties he had faced over the past forty years that culminated in the smashing of the two stone tablets upon which God wrote His words to the Israelites. He recognizes that his people are very stubborn, so he repeats again and again what is expected of them: To have no other gods, to carve no image to be worshiped, not to carry Gods name in vain, to maintain the Sabbath as day of rest, to honor and respect ones parents, not to murder, commit adultery, steal or bear false witness and not covet ones friends wife or any of his belongings.
Surrounded by his people, Moses recounts the amazing events they have witnessed. Moses tells them this treasure chest, the deeds of God, must be told and recounted from generation to generation, night, morning and mid-day. The Lords blessings must be acknowledged with gratitude.
Moses says: All God expects is that you love Him as much as He loves you - with all your might and all your will, your heart, soul and being - and abide by the rules God has set. To live a just life, you must follow Gods commandments.
The Promised Land, the Land of Israel, the Land of the Israelites, the Land of the JEWS
At this stage, after going onto a mountaintop to view the Promised Land, Moses is fully aware he is not permitted to enter. He implores God to allow him entry, but although disappointed by Gods answer, he is not discouraged, his devotion is undiminished and his loyalty stronger than ever.
Moses has been a great leader, but must now assume the role of storyteller. Offering a sermon on the mountain, Moses stands before his people God loves so much. They are about to enter Gods promised land, a specific geographic region along the shores of the Mediterranean extending all the way eastward to the Euphrates River.
Israel is a bountiful land, a land of water in the valleys and mountains, a land of wheat and barley, vine, figs and pomegranate, overflowing with olives, oil and honey. A land whose stones are iron and mountains filled with copper.
And Moses tells his people: Unlike Egypt from where God removed you, His people, from slavery, Israel is a rich land, flowing with milk and honey. It is a land that our Lord, God of the Hebrews, frequents at all times from the beginning to the end of the year.
Moses adds: God has chosen you, His people, from among all nations. He did not choose the greatest in numbers; in fact, He chose the fewest, and loved them unconditionally. God has made a promise to your forefathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, a covenant for a thousand generations, for all time: the land of Israel is Gods gift to you, the Jewish people.
As if from a dream, you return to the present era, knowing with renewed conviction: The land God chose to give His people, a land no one else can ever claim, Israel, must for all eternity belong to the Jewish people. So let it be written, so let it be done.
The Book of Deuteronomy, Excerpts (Mechon-Mamre Translation)
Open the Book, leaf through it to the fifth book of the Torah, and stop at the following selected segments. Allow the written word to guide you, as you take your family with you on this magical trip to a time of all eternity. Join Moses and listen to his sermon from the Mountaintop overlooking the Promised Land.
7 For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths, springing forth in valleys and hills; 8 a land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig-trees and pomegranates; a land of olive-trees and honey; 9 a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass. Deuteronomy 8:7-9
12 a land which the LORD thy God careth for; the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year. Deuteronomy 11:12
29 But from thence ye will seek the LORD thy God; and thou shalt find Him, if thou search after Him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. 30 In thy distress, when all these things are come upon thee, in the end of days, thou wilt return to the LORD thy God, and hearken unto His voice; 31 for the LORD thy God is a merciful God; He will not fail thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which He swore unto them. Deuteronomy 4:29-31
6 For thou art a holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be His own treasure, out of all peoples that are upon the face of the earth. Deuteronomy 7:6
5 Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thy heart, dost thou go in to possess their land; but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that He may establish the word which the LORD swore unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. 6 Know therefore that it is not for thy righteousness that the LORD thy God giveth thee this good land to possess it; for thou art a stiff-necked people. Deuteronomy 9:5-6
23 then will the LORD drive out all these nations from before you, and ye shall dispossess nations greater and mightier than yourselves. 24 Every place whereon the sole of your foot shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness, and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the hinder sea shall be your border. Deuteronomy 11:23-24.
### In the series Postcards from Israel, Ari Bussel and Norma Zager invite readers throughout the world to join them as they present reports from Israel as seen by two sets of eyes: Bussels on the ground, Zagers counter-point from home. Israel and the United States are inter-related - the two countries we hold dearest to our hearts - and so is this point - counter-point presentation that has, since 2008, become part of our lives.
© Postcards from Home, August, 2009 Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
1: The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.
2: Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.
3: And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.
4: In that day, saith the LORD, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness.
5: And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be my strength in the LORD of hosts their God.
6: In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem.
7: The LORD also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah.
8: In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them.
9: And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
10: And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
11: In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon.
12: And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart;
13: The family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart;
14: All the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart.
- Zechariah 12
9: Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up:
10: Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.
11: Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD.
12: Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.
13: Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great.
14: Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.
15: The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.
16: The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.
17: So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.
18: And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.
19: Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.
20: But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. - Joel 3:9
Hmmm -- that claim will have me doing what he advises: reading the Old Testament to see if the claim is justified.
Mediterranean coast to the Jordan River is obvious; from the Jordan to the Euphrates - have to check on that one... (That claim is sure to PO lots of Jordanians and Iraqis...)