As we know, Moshe ministered to Israel mainly during the time spent in the wilderness. YHVH had made it known that this was a period in which His people were to be taught and learn obedience to His commandments, statutes and ordinances, but not without the Almighty’s grace. The Children of Israel did not lack anything; food, water, or shelter, and neither did their clothes and shoes wear out during the forty-year journey. In the course of the sojourn in the dessert they were to be a testimony and a witness to the surrounding nations of the One who had redeemed them and brought them out of the bondage of Egypt. However, in spite of the grace, their hearts remained hard and their necks stiff towards their Elohim.
Therefore, shortly before entering the land, Moshe delivered a very disturbing message to the people. He revealed to them, that YHVH had not yet given them a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear (ref. Deut. 29:4); and then predicted that they would break covenant with Elohim once in the land that He was about to give them. Consequently they were not going to live long in the land, but be cast out and scattered amongst the peoples. But in spite of this harsh forecast, he did not leave them without hope. In the latter days, Moshe added, they would return to YHVH their Elohim and listen to His voice (ref. Deut. 4:25-30).
Of all the curses upon Israel’s disobedience, the severest is to be living outside the land. To be exiled amongst the other nations is like being back in the wilderness again, which the Bible calls the “wilderness of the peoples”. As we know from history, Moshe’s predictions came to pass, and in 722 BC the Northern Kingdom of the House of Israel was taken by the Assyrians to the northern regions of Assyria and later, in 556 BC, their brethren, the House of Judah, met the same fate in the Babylonian exile.
In the days of the prophet Ezekiel (590-560 BC) the elders of the Northern Kingdom approached Ezekiel, who was amongst them on a divine mission, and enquired if they could come back to the land. YHVH refused to answer them, other than to remind them of the abominations of their fathers, and admonishing them to forsake their ancestral ways. It was bad enough that they had rebelled in the wilderness, but once entering the land they had committed even worse offences (see Eze. 20:27-31). Now, in the “galut” (diaspora or exile), they were enquiring when they could return to the land.
Thankfully YHVH informed them that even though they had wanted to be like the other nations, serving wood and stone and playing the harlot, He would not allow them to carry on living in this manner: “Surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will be king over you. I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face. Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you… I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am YHVH” (Ezekiel 20: 34-38).
Although this seemed like good news to those elders, it was not to be that generation that would return. But is it good news for the generation that will return? “With an outstretched hand and fury poured out” does not sound like much fun. Those elders of the House of Israel who were listening to Ezekiel must have been very disappointed. But because they were in rebellion against the Almighty they did not know nor understand what the prophets had spoken to them about their destiny, and that unfortunately is much the same case today. At that time YHVH’s plan for them to become multitudes, and even many nations, in accordance with the covenant that He had made with their forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, was just in the beginning stages.
Now, almost 3,000 years later, it is evident that YHVH has kept His covenant and multiplied the seed of Israel like the sand of the sea. And although most of the Ephraimites are still in the “wilderness of the peoples”, there are signs that we could be living in the day of the restoration and return of the whole House of Israel. One of those signs is that this rebellious house would remember the Torah of Moshe, which was their instruction while in the “wilderness” after emerging from the house of bondage, and how much more so for their time in the “wilderness of the people”. "Remember the Torah of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments…before the coming great and terrible day of YHVH” (Malachi 4:4-5). Another sign that is in accordance with the “new covenant” was that, YHVH would write His instructions on the circumcised heart of the believing - resurrected Israelite. What Moshe said to our forefathers about YHVH not giving them a heart to understand, was now going to change with the “new covenant”. Therefore those who have received the grace to believe into this new covenant have no excuse for living a Torah-less life style.
It is interesting to note that during the time of the rejection and dispersion from the land, the House of Judah declared to the House of Israel: “Get far away from YHVH; this land has been given to us as a possession” (Eze 11:15). But let us hear what YHVH says about this: "Although I have cast them far off among the Gentiles, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet I shall be a little sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone. Therefore say, 'Thus says YHVH Elohim: "I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel’" (Eze 11:16-17).
However, in order for this to come to pass there is an obligation that must be met. YHVH is not going to bring us back in the same condition that our forefathers were in when they were booted out. Repentance is going to be forced upon us until we smite our thigh for the sin of our youth; that is, the sin of our forefathers that we are still living in today even as believers in the “new covenant”, under which repentance is mandatory. Thus it is written about the House of Israel:
“There is hope in your future, says YHVH... I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself: 'You have chastised me, and I was chastised, Like an untrained bull; Restore me, and I will return, For You are YHVH my Elohim. Surely, after my turning, I repented; and after I was instructed (in Torah), I struck myself on the thigh; I was ashamed, yes, even humiliated, Because I bore the reproach of my youth'” (Jeremiah 31:17-19).
Be blessed as you count the seven weeks. Remember it was during this time that Yeshua was teaching His disciples about the Kingdom of His Father (ref Acts 1:3).