True Unity for All People
Yael Eckstein | September 28, 2022
Assemble the people—men, women and children, and the foreigners residing in your towns—so they can listen and learn to fear the LORD your God and follow carefully all the words of this law. —Deuteronomy 31:12
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Vayelech, which means “and he went,” from Deuteronomy 31:1–30.
What does true unity look like? We live in a world that is anything but unified. With all the conflicts — military, ideological, and political — that are swirling around us, it can be difficult to even imagine a unified humanity.
But the Bible repeatedly reminds us that unity among all people is God’s ultimate goal for the world. We see this in prophecies like Isaiah’s vision of the future temple in Jerusalem, which he calls “a house of prayer for all nations” (Isaiah 56:7). We see it in the end-times vision of Zechariah, “The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name” (Zechariah 14:9).
For people of faith, true unity is all people serving the same God together. If you think about it, there is really no other way for there to be true unity for all people. After all, so long as people believe in different gods, or no god at all, that means that people have different sets of values, different definitions of right and wrong, and different goals for the world.
God doesn’t want us all to be the same, but He wants us to be unified.
True Unity for All People
We see the biblical picture of unity in this week’s Torah portion. God commanded Israel that every seven years, at the end of the Sabbatical year known as Shmita, on the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), everyone must gather together in Jerusalem. We read, “Assemble the people—men, women and children, and the foreigners residing in your towns—so they can listen and learn to fear the LORD your God and follow carefully all the words of this law.”
As this verse states, this gathering included not only the Jewish people, but even “the foreigners,” those God-fearing among the nations who came to Jerusalem to worship the God of Israel. And we see in Zechariah 14 that the Feast of Tabernacles is a time when all nations are called to join Israel at the Temple.
The Sabbatical year was a time when all land and produce was equally accessible to all people. Debts were canceled. It was a time of increased equality and unity for all. So, what better time than the Feast of Tabernacles at the end of the Sabbatical year to gather all people together to hear the Word of God in Jerusalem? This is the picture of true unity and God’s ultimate goal for the world.
When you pray for the peace of Jerusalem, you are praying for ultimate unity. Pray for Jerusalem today.