Shoftim - August 14, 2021

Torah Portion:
Shoftim - August 14, 2021

Torah: Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9
Haftarah: Isaiah 51:12-52:12
Portion Summary:
—The legal system is detailed, and laws concerning kings are given.
—The inheritance of the Levites is discussed.
—Occultism in all its forms is rejected.
—A great prophet is prophesied.
—The conditions of the cities of refuge are discussed.
—The preparations for battle are given.
—Instructions are given in the event of a murdered person being found in a field.

Devotional by Janet Cothrell:
The Asherah Pole
“Justice, justice you must pursue, so that you may live and possess the land that ADONAI your God is giving you. You are not to plant for yourself an Asherah pole of any kind of wood beside the altar of ADONAI your God that you make for yourself.”  Deuteronomy 16:20-21 (TLV)

The mention of Asherah poles (trees, sculptures, or similar objects used in the practice of idol worship) is an intriguing subject to address alongside the commandment to appoint those who would “judge” Israel. What I found gives insight into the placement of this decree on idolatry.

Baal worship was prevalent in the land Israel was about to take possession of. Asherah was said to be the consort of Baal, and later the people would claim this was the same for ADONAI. The people placed an Asherah pole next to the altar as a way to “join” this false god to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Thus not only were the people committing idolatry but also mixing it with belief in the one true God.

This would prove to be like a deadly snare for Israel going forward, because for them practicing idolatry was the same as treason. It was the betrayal of the God and King of the nation! In our day, the same is true; even though we are not in Israel, when we turn our hearts away from God and toward an idol, we are betraying our God and King.

It is all too easy to mix faith in the one true God with things from other religions. If we do this, we dim our understanding of who God is, and what He stands for. Looking for Him in such things as astrology, new-age philosophy, and anything else that doesn’t fully declare the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as the one true God is folly. Be aware of philosophies that draw you away from God’s Word. If you believe in Yeshua, you are a citizen of His kingdom!

Dear Lord,
Thank you for leading me to truth. Give me discernment so that I do not mix it with unclean things and lose the sense of who You are. Strengthen me with Your Spirit and Your Word to resist the temptation of false philosophies.
In Yeshua’s name, amen.
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