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Parasha Ki Tavo (When You Enter): Love, Joy and the Book of Life

Ki Tavo (When You Enter)
Deuteronomy 26:1–29:8; Isaiah 60:1–22; Luke 21:1–4

“When you have entered [ki tavo] the land the Lord you God is giving you as an inheritance and have taken possession of it and settled in it, take some of the firstfruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the Lord you God is giving you and put them in a basket.  Then go to the place the Lord you God will choose as a dwelling for His name….”  (Deuteronomy 26:1–2)

Fruit stalls-Mahane Yehuda-market-Jerusalem-The Shuk

The Mahane Yehuda Market is an outdoor market in Jerusalem that is often called “The Shuk.”  With more than 250 vendors, it’s a popular place to come on Thursday and Friday to stock up for Shabbat (Saturday).

Last week’s Parasha, Ki Tetzei, contains 74 of the 613 commandments found in Torah, including the laws of the beautiful captive, the rebellious son, and divorce.

This week, in Parasha Ki Tavo (When You Enter), God instructs Israel to bring the first-ripened fruits (bikkurim) to the Temple in Jerusalem once the Israelites had finally entered the Land He promised to them.  After they had settled in the Land and cultivated it, they were to present this offering to the Levites (Deuteronomy 26:2–4).

In giving this ‘firstfruits offering,’ which included wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates, the Israelites were offering thanksgiving to God for all the amazing things He had done for them.

He had rescued them from great hardship in Egypt and from wandering in the wilderness.  He had brought them into a good land that was rich and fertile to become a great nation, dwelling in comfort, safety and security.

“The Lord heard our voice, and saw our misery, toil and oppression.  So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with miraculous signs and wonders.”  (Deuteronomy 26:7–8)


Field of artichokes in Israel

Acknowledge God’s Goodness When Presenting the Tithe

“And He has brought us into this place… a land flowing with milk and honey….”  (Deuteronomy 26:9)

The tithes given to the Levites and the poor were not given in silence, but with a confession of the awesome mercy and goodness of God!

Likewise, when we present our tithes and offerings to the Lord, we also should acknowledge the many ways in which we have seen the goodness and mercy of God in the land of the living.  As Israel did in ancient times, we should recall how he has healed us, delivered us, and provided for our needs.

And although many of us may not know the exact place to which God is bringing us, we can rest assured that He is leading us somewhere.  And if He is leading, it’s going to be a ‘good land.’  Hallelujah!

When God brings us out of a difficult place, delivering us from the horrible pit and setting our feet on the solid rock, we need to thank Him and be willing to give back materially from His incredible bounty.

“Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year.”  (Deuteronomy 14:22)

When we do this, we demonstrate that we know He’s the source of all our blessings.

“And now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, O Lord, have given me.”  (Deuteronomy 26:10)

offering-Firstfruits-illustration-Bible card

Firstfruits offering: illustration from a Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company between 1896 and 1913.

Finding Strength in the Joy of His Presence

“Rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household.”  (Deuteronomy 26:11)

Once we have given our offering, there is only one thing left to do—rejoice!

All too often, the enemy seeks to steal and destroy our joy.  Why does he want to do this?  Because the joy of the Lord is our strength.

“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  (Nehemiah 8:10)

If we allow the enemy of our soul to steal our joy, we won’t have the strength to possess the good land that God is giving us.

Still, there are times when we just wake up feeling weary, discouraged or defeated.  Joy seems like it’s nowhere to be found.

Maybe we have pain in our body, or maybe we lack finances.  Our family relationships might be going through a rough patch.  How do we recover our joy in these cases?

There is only one solution—enter in (tavo) to the presence of Adonai where there is “fullness of joy.”

“You will show me the path of life: in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”  (Psalm 16:11) 

Torah-scroll-hagbah-Western Wall-Wailing Wall

Holding up the Torah for all to see in Jerusalem at the Western (Wailing) Wall.

The Book of Life

Believers in Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah have the responsibility and privilege of rejoicing continually in our God—not just when circumstances seem to be going their way, but always.

While in a prison cell, Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice!”  (Philippians 4:4)

We must not allow circumstances to dictate our level of joy.

Despite what may be going on around us, we can always rejoice that our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life for eternity!  Hallelujah!

Indeed, Yeshua told His disciples not to rejoice that spirits were subject to them, but to rejoice that their names were written in the Book of Life.  (Luke 10:20)

The Book of Life is also a Biblical theme that Jewish people use as a greeting and prayer during the Fall Feast of Rosh Hashanah (September 16–18, 2012).  Jewish people traditionally send cards to their friends and family that say, “May your names be written in the Book of Life.”


The Sefer Torah is a handwritten copy of the Torah, also called the Pentateuch.

Real Love Is Sacrificial

In the Book of Exodus, we read that Moses knew his name was written in the Book of Life (Exodus 32:32).

We also read, though, that after the Israelites constructed a golden calf and worshiped it, he was willing to have his name blotted out of the Book of Life in exchange for the salvation of Israel!

God was about to destroy them completely, but Moses entreated God on their behalf with the following:

“This people have committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves.  But now, if You will, forgive their sin—and if not, please blot me out of Your book which You have written!”  (Exodus 32:31–32)

Moses had a sacrificial, unfailing love for the people of Israel.  Now that is real love.

Praying-Western Wailing Wall-Jerusalem

A Jewish youth prays at the Western (Wailing) Wall wearing tefillin.

Centuries later, Yeshua (Jesus) demonstrated this same love for the lost sheep of the House of Israel when He gave His very life to redeem them from their sins.

He said, “The shepherd gives his life for the sheep.”  (John 10:11)

The apostle Paul wholeheartedly followed in the footsteps of Moses and Yeshua, echoing the same sacrificial love for Israel.  (Romans 9:1–5)

Those who shepherd God’s people are also called to this life of sacrificial love!

May each of us be willing to make the sacrifices necessary for the Jewish People and the nations to hear about Yeshua.


“The shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  (John 10:11)

Most Jewish people hope that their name will be written in the Book of Life through good deeds, prayer, repentance and the giving of charity.

The only way any of us, however, can know for certain that our names are recorded in God’s Book of Life is by knowing God through faith in Yeshua the Messiah, and walking in the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), which leads us to a holy life of prayer, repentance, and good deeds.

God’s Word clearly states that if our names are not written in the Book of Life, then we are doomed to eternal condemnation.  The Hebrew prophet Daniel, for instance, prophesied the following:

At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise.  There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then.  But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered.

Many who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.  (Daniel 12:1–2) 

The Hall of Names-Yad Vashem-Jerusalem

The Hall of Names at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, is a memorial to the Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

Schindler’s List

Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, displays a typed list of names on old, yellowing paper.  At first glance, this list seems to be an ordinary list on ordinary paper.

But upon closer inspection, one can see that it’s no ordinary list—this is the list made by Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist credited with saving 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust by designating them “essential” employees.

During the Nazi occupation of Europe in WWII, having one’s name on Schindler’s list was the difference between life and death for the Jewish laborers of the Plaszow work camp.

Oskar Schindler-grave

Side view of Oskar Schindler’s grave, which is found in the Mount Zion Franciscan Cemetery in Jerusalem.  His is the only grave piled high with stones, a custom usually seen only in Jewish cemeteries, indicating the many Jewish visitors to his grave site.

The Lamb’s Book of Life

While having one’s name on Schindler’s List meant more time to treasure this mortal life, having one’s name in the Book of Life involves eternity.

Those whose names are written in this wonderful book will have life eternal and also the privilege of being part of the Bride of Messiah in the New Jerusalem.

Then I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.

…and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.  (Revelation 21:1–2, 27)

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