We are approaching the end of the Jewish year of 5779, and now we are reading from Deuteronomy 7:12 – 11:45. This portion starts with the word “Eikev”. Translated into English, it means “because.”

The Hebrew root of this word is also the root of the name “Jacob”. It literally means “at the heel of / what follows/ this is what will happen / the cause of the following events”. If history is defined as a chain of events, then this word or concept stands in the middle of this chain of events.

It is so important to me to always ask the following question, “How and why did this happen to me?” I am not talking here about good things or bad things that happen, I am just asking the question about what happened.

Maybe I would like to repeat the success or avoid the repetition of unpleasant or unfruitful chapters of my life. So, this week, after the 9th of Av, the date that will be remembered in infamy through all of Jewish history, Jews read from Deuteronomy 7:12, and start with his word “Eikev.”

It all starts with the good, the blessed, the fruitful:

“Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers. And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall not be a male or female barren among you or among your livestock. And the Lord will take away from you all sickness, and will afflict you with none of the terrible diseases of Egypt which you have known, but will lay them on all those who hate you.” – Deuteronomy 7:12–15 [NKJV]

Who would not want these wonderful blessings from God? Who would say to himself, “I am not interested to have anyone bless me?” Who would say, “I am not interested to increase and multiply the amount of money in my bank account?” Who would not be willing to pay for high medical insurance that guarantees that all sickness and affliction and terrible diseases will be taken away from himself and from his family?

There are church leaders who have become multi-millionaires by teaching fake prosperity doctrines. These preachers did prosper, at least for a season, by the fake news and the fake doctrines that say if people come to church and give money to the “church” (i.e. the pastor), God will prosper them and they will be lenders and not taking loans.

Here in the Torah there is God’s promise of prosperity, and even under this very clear word from God there is the small print that is not written and visible to the normal eye. The obedience and performance of God’s commands is not a mechanical performance of a robot, but a sincere obedience with the right motives and intentions out of the true relationship based on, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your might and with all your being!”

The right action with the wrong motives (remember that God looks into our hearts and know our motives and thoughts) is hypocrisy, and no one, not even our wives, nor our God, appreciates hypocrisy. On the contrary, hypocrisy always brings the opposite results to what we have hoped for.

The second major idea in next week’s reading is from Deuteronomy 8:1-4:

“Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers. And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years.” – Deuteronomy 8:1-4 [NKJV]

The Lord is giving us a kind of a hidden revelation of why He does some things with us, and for us, and to us! It is true that at times, even when we are so-called “being good” and “trying our best” and “doing things right and from pure motives of really trying to obey and do right from all our heart”, suddenly “boom” we get something horrible and difficult and threatening our very existence.

Well here we are! The Lord reveals to us that the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, with all the difficulties of hunger and thirst and attacks of the enemy, were a test. As simple as that. A test to see if we would remain faithful and keep our faith in God, and keep His commandments.

The words here actually make me a little upset:

“So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna… that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” – Deuteronomy 8:3 [NKJV]

My first reaction was, “Who does He thinks He is?” “Who gave Him the permission to make us hunger? Who wants to be humbled? For sure it is not me!”

Then, with a flash of freezing ice cold sweat across my forehead, I realized the importance of the lesson. It is that the Lord God Creator of the Universe was and is attempting to teach us, that man (me) does not live by bread alone! Bread here is not only pita bread with falafel, not even a good juicy beef steak, bread here is money and assets and bank accounts and savings, and every false security that we want to lean on.

To learn this important lesson, God sent our forefathers 40 years through the university of hard knocks. Many have entered and gone through this university of hard knocks for many years, and have even have the impression that they have graduated summa cum laude, but in reality, few have learned the lesson that “man does not live by bread alone.”

Those that did learn this lesson have become humble and passionate lovers of God and humanity, or shall I reverse the order and say lovers of humanity and God. Those who have successfully learned this lesson have given up their selfish desires and work for the good of many, and not just the few in their family.

I better end here this diatribe and just wish for myself to learn these important lessons that God has given us all through His word, both in print and especially through His word that materialized in the form of one great teacher, Yeshua our Messiah, Savior, and King.

Because I don’t see into my fellow man’s heart, at first glance it would seem that both the Father and the Son did not do such a good job as our teachers. It would seem that most of their students did not pass the exam.

But, then I remember school is not finished yet, and the bell has not rung yet, and the classes are not dismissed yet, and we are all waiting for the graduation ceremony to receive our report cards from the Man dressed in white, seated on the throne, calling those sheep to go to the right and the goats to the left. Graduation is coming for all of us! Let us see how much we can get done before the final bell and the shofar sounds. Shofar so good!

Please pray for the wife of a dear Korean friend who is a student in the university in Israel. Her name is Rachel, Jingyung Lee. She has been diagnosed with breast cancer. The wife of a dear friend, also young, who is dealing with cancer, is sister Hannah Yoshida of the Kyoto Glory Church. Keep our dear sister, and very brave Tiz H., in your prayer, she too has just gone through surgery for cancer and is getting chemotherapeutic treatment.

Please keep praying for Ruby L., who is battling cancer and now going through the second round of chemotherapy. Sister Angela, a leader and servant of God, is also going through chemotherapy in Taiwan. Please pray and believe for a miracle of healing for all these dear brothers and sisters who are suffering from this terrible scourge of cancer.

Especially after reading and studying this Parasha of Eikev, it is important for us to understand that some of these difficulties, and I would say most of them, are tests to see us pass and come out on the other side of these tests victorious and stronger and better servants of God. God is able to heal, and we pray and believe for healing of all those whom God has given us the privilege and burden to pray for their healing.

Please continue to pray for the whole Stern family in Jerusalem, David and Martha, and Daniel and his family.

My daughter Danah and Noaam our granddaughter are both going through a very difficult time these days, with the relationship with Danah’s ex-spouse. Also keep Joseph, our grandson, in your prayers, together with Barry and Beth, his parents, and our children.

Marcia, my wife, and her whole family are doing the memorial service for Horace E. Saunders, the father of the family, who passed away last week. The majority of the family will be gathered in East Tennessee in both grief and celebration of the father of the family who passed from this world after 93 years of life.

Pray especially for my wife Marcia, her health, and her safe return to Israel in a few days.

Israel’s political scene has not changed much in the last few years. It is just like in the USA, there is one man standing in the center of the stage and getting all the attention. That man in Israel, and the other in the USA, both deserve our prayers for good reasons, both God’s command to pray for those in power, and because we want to see more good things happening in our countries and in the world. Keeping God’s command to pray for those in leadership and powers in our countries is a good enough reason to pray for our governments.

Please be praying for our dear sister Emma in China, and add to your prayers a dear sister called Deborah Ruth who also lives in Beijing, China. Add to these specific prayers also special prayers for all our brothers and sisters in China who are followers of the Messiah. They are going through some not-so-simple times.

Please make an effort to join Netivyah’s 40th anniversary tour and seminar in November 2019. Our intention is to have one big tourist bus that holds 55 people. The numbers are approaching the limits, and I urge you that if you are interested to attend, you should be immediately registering and making your financial deposits.

Time is getting very short, dear brothers, if you would like to take part in this very special time in the land of Israel, with unusual and special events that will inspire and refresh and encourage and bless you from the land of Israel, and from fellowship with Netivyah, please act quick and register and send your deposits as soon as you can.

I ask all of you to mobilize your prayers to pray for the Aliyah and the return of the Anussim, both spiritually, outside of the adulterated brands of Christianity, back to the pure waters of God’s word, and also physically, to the land of our forefathers, the land of Zion, Jerusalem.

Keep Elena Litvak, Efim’s widow, in your prayers, and sister Altamiro from Belo-Horizonte, who also lost her dear husband Dr. Altamiro. Our brother Bob Weiner is still in need of our prayers. Please remember our dear brother Jacob Damkani in your prayers.

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Korea. Please keep in prayers Kibi and the Israel Forum, and so many men and women of God who love the God of Israel and the Messiah of Israel, and have been praying for Israel so many years, and supporting good works in Israel. These are precious brothers and sisters who love God and love Israel. I pray that the Lord will reconcile his children and reunite them with one purpose, that is, prayer and support of Israel, and especially the local Jewish disciples of Yeshua the Messiah in the land of Israel. I ask you to pray especially for the board members of Kibi who have invested their lives and their money in this pro-Israel organization in Korea.

Please keep the whole Abu-Eid family in your prayers. Please continue praying for baby Lion from the Huch family in DFW.

Please pray a special prayer for Anna West (she is 99 years old and continues praying for the salvation of Israel daily). You can also include Anna’s dear son Roger and his family in your prayers.

Pray for our Jewish brother Hillel from Helsinki, and Keijo and Salme in Nokia, and for Tim Tucker, Anne-Mirjami, Satu-Maria and Anna-Majia, Sinni Tuuli, Erki and Sirpa Murto, Evelina, and Eva H., all in Finland. Pray for our dear sister Leah, who is in Finland this week. She is one of those volunteers from Finland who came in 1973, during the war, and has served the Jewish nation as a volunteer nurse for many years. She just had her 88th birthday.

Pray for Patty, Andrea, and Tineke. I heard that Tineke is not doing too good these days. Please pray especially for Tineke and for her soul. These are brothers and sisters in the Netherlands that need healing from God.

Continue to pray for Julia and Victor. Pray for our dear sister Paula in Switzerland who needs a divine breakthrough. I want to also add Barry and Dalia, two dear brothers who live in Tiberias and are suffering from illness and pain, and are in need of prayer and help.

I would like to add a dear brother and the son of a dear family of Netivyah supporters in Finland. Their son Aaron Tani is a young man with diabetic problems. Aaron has a family and children and he needs our prayers urgently. Please pray for Aaron Tani.

Please keep praying for a dear sister named Zhou WenriIan living in China. Please intercede for Pastor Isaac in Chennai. Pastor Isaac needs healing for his kidneys.

Please lift in your prayers the following brothers and sisters who need the Lord’s gracious touch of healing: George, Gary, Melanie, and Aaron Tani. Nancy Hook and her family need special prayer for Don’s health and Aaron their son’s situation and health. Also, our congregation members, Sarit, David S., Gabriela, Ahuva, Leah, Ilana, Hannah, young Gabriela, Zvi D. and Batsheva, and Jonathan B. and his wife Aviva. Our dear sisters Laurel, Orna, Sima, and Aviva.

A special prayer is needed for one of my godsons in the Lord, David B.A.

These are brothers and sisters from around the world who need your prayer and your intercession, and healing: Paulo and Noami, Marcelo’s parents, Curita Sensei, the Abe family, Toru, Takeo Sensei, Daisuke Sensei, Tomoko San, Yumi, and her father and family.

In Hong Kong, we pray and ask you to join us and pray for Louisa and Tony. Keep our dear brother Goh and his family in your prayers. In Korea pray for Sister Christy. Please keep brother Michael Knezevich in prayer. Please add to your prayers Ismael Alves who lives in Portugal, and Asher Gabriel in Kenya.

I wish all of you, who stand with Israel and who pray for Jerusalem, the best of the Lord’s blessings and the fulfillment of all His promises to His faithful children. Those who hear God and do His will are the ones who are called wise! Those who only hear His word and don’t do it are called foolish! Let us all strive to be wise and never foolish! The best is yet to come!

The Asia Messianic Forum in Bangkok was a blessed success from every parameter. There were at least 700 participants from at least 20 countries in Asia, including countries with whom Israel does not have diplomatic relationship.

Every one of the participants came to honor Israel and the body of the Messiah in Israel, and the Messiah and God of Israel. The celebration was absolutely fantastic. The teaching of all the teachers, Peter, Asher, Yehudah, and I, and the other speakers from Asia, was also an absolute delight and an inspiration.

God is working in Asia, and Asia, like Israel, will leave the idols someday, I hope soon, and turn to the God who created the world and calls Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Please pray for Asia!

The Lord God of Israel and the Grace of Yeshua our Messiah, King, Teacher, Rabbi, and Lord be with you all!