It’s almost time to kick back and relax. Whether you’re religious or not, Rosh HaShannah is coming and it’s time to celebrate! As the new year kicks off and we are taken through a rollercoaster of celebrations and times of fasting, we can’t help but be drawn into reflection on the happenings of the previous year as well as the possibilites of the year to come. And let’s face it – if there’s one thing that we want in life, it’s the “good life”. To be healthy and well in every aspect. To live life to the full.
Our ancestors were also looking to live life to the full.
Our ancestors were also looking to live life to the full. Brought out of a life of slavery in Egypt in a wonderful and miraculous way, the initial high wore off and they found themselves facing up to the harsh realities of desert life, all the while looking forward to the Promise that God had given us – a land of our own. A land where we would be safe, where we could live out the good life, a land that would be ours. Finally.
We’ve almost arrived at the end of the yearly Torah reading cycle. Ki Tavo finds us still poised to enter the Land. God is giving us some final instructions through Moses and we’re waiting in anticipation. Perhaps some of our ancestors were already dreaming of swimming in milk and honey…
Lest we were to get distracted with daydreaming of the good life, God reminds us in this week’s parasha that life lived to the full wouldn’t be found in the Land we were about to enter. Yes, it was a good and wonderful land, but that wouldn’t really be where we would find our fulfilmint. We would find it in Him. In fact, our material wellbeing in the Land would be directly linked to our relationship to Him. In Ki Tavo, God sketches out the blessings that we would experience in the Land if we would stay close to Him. However, He also details the calamities that would overcome us if we were to be unfaithful to Him. Reading through this section is particularly painful because it essentially reads as a history of our people, confirmed by the record of the Tanakh. Instead of being blessed, we were overwhelmed with disaster.
But we need to stop here a second. To our western ears, the idea of being obedient to a higher authority sounds antiquated and even offensive. It also sounds mightily arrogant on the part of God, that we would need to obey Him in order to live life in abundance. Our society teaches us that we are our own god, that we don’t need any one else. We only need to look deep inside ourself to unlock the potential that is there. This is much more appealing to us, because it means that we are not dependant on others. The only problem is, it doesn’t work.
Since the initial rebellion of our first parents, Adam and Eve (who ironically followed this very line of thinking!), the whole world is broken. Our parents ruined themselves and their world and we inheirited their brokenness. If we really do take the time to look inside ourselves, we might not like what we find. Hatred, envy, biogtry is our heritage. Broken people cannot fix their world. First, they must be fixed – by someone outside of themselves.
“I have come that they might have life, and life to the full!”
Even though we may long to be independent of all authority, including God, He doesn’t want to be independent of us. We ignored His intial warnings to us in the Torah and as a result discovered the truth of those very words. We lost the good life – cast out of our land, given over to our enemies. Thanks to His mercy, He restored us after our exile to the Land. But God knew that we would always be led astray by the lie that the good life is found outside of Him. This is why He sent the Messiah: Yeshua came to fix our broken world by reconciling us to God through dying for our sin and rising from the dead. God came to us, because He knew we would keep running away from Him. Just as the good life for our ancestors was bound up in living for God, so it is for us today – our life is bound up in the Messiah’s, the one who died for you and me to reconcile us to God. Indeed, Yeshua said, “I have come that they might have life, and life to the full!”(Yochanan/John 10:10). Through the Messiah we can be spiritually reborn and have an intimate connection to God. We can live life to the full.
As the Jewish year 5776 comes to an end and we look forward to 5777 it’s a good time to ask ourselves whether we really our living life to the full. Are we fulfilled in what we do, or is there still something missing? Although it’s a cliché, life is short and our time here on earth is transient. We don’t know what lies round the corner, but we can be assured that it won’t all be plain sailing. But if our lives are bound up in the life of the Messiah Yeshua, we have the promise that our lives will be lives led to the full. What if Yeshua was really speaking the truth when He said, “I have come that they might have life, and life to the full!” Wouldn’t you like to find out this New Year?
The Good Life