Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 4

The chapters in this portion are loaded with concepts and instruction, and there is a theme of “seeing” and “hearing.” It contains the Ten Commandments and the Shema. There is no way to improve on the words of this portion. Yeshua quotes from this section without changing a word, and that is a very important concept to remember. Why do believers think they can change the words? They change the Sabbath to Sunday, or they think they can keep the festivals outside of Jerusalem and a Temple, or they change what a graven image is or is not?

In Deut 3.25 Moses pleads with the Lord to “cross over” and see the “fair land that is beyond the Jordan, that good hill (mountain) country and Lebanon.” But in Deut 3.26 the Lord responds with “Enough” (ravlach), which means “enough for you.” In the peshat (literal), God is saying, “Stop asking and accept my judgment on you.” But there is more to this.

God reassures Moses that there will be a reward enough for him later. He had the privilege of leading Israel out of Egypt, and he met the Lord “face to face” on the mountain and received the Torah. They are enough, and more, even if he doesn’t enter the land right now. This teaches us not to give up in prayer. When you think about it, when we return with Yeshua at the end of the Birth-pains it will be the first time Moses will enter the land. God is merciful and Moses did not give up asking, even when it looked bad. It’s like the old saying, “It’s not over till it’s over” but there does come a time and Moses has reached that point.

How did Moses comprehend God’s justice and how he administered it? What is our comprehension of it? The Lord never punishes except to correct the effects of sin and to rehabilitate the sinner. Whatever God decreed as a consequence for the sin of striking the rock instead of speaking to it was necessary to correct the damage done by Moses. Like a child to a parent, Israel looked to Moses for their needs, not God. By striking the rock Moses reinforced their belief that Moses was their mediator and God would not hear them. The Lord had to correct this by teaching the people to relate directly to him, not through Moses or his family. His non-entry into the land was for their benefit.

Deut 4.1-8 is a very important portion of Scripture because it tells us that no commandments ever given were better than these. That means Rabbinic Judaism and the Oral Law, and Replacement Theology Christianity and their teachings that the “Law has been done away with” and replaced by church doctrine is really a belief system that that calls God a liar. Those man-made laws are not better than those recorded here in Deuteronomy, according to the Lord (v 8). Israel was the founder of modern civilization. Benjamin Disraeli, a British statesman in the 19th Century, responded to an anti-semitic remark by saying, “When the ancestors of the right honorable gentleman (Parliamentarian Daniel O’Connell) were brutal savages, mine were priests in the Temple of Solomon.”

Should a believer obey the Lord? Are these the commandments of the Lord? Should we observe them as they apply? That is where we get into trouble. In Replacement Theology Christianity, they don’t keep them because they say they have been done away with and replaced by man-made laws, and despite any positive aspects that the Rabbinic Oral Law may or may not have in “clarifying” the principles of scriptural cases, Yeshua criticized the traditions and additions of the Oral Law and these additions were prohibited here in Deut 4.2 anyway. The Oral Law may have some useful guidelines, but human judges make errors. We are not to change the “tavnit” (blueprint, pattern). People would rather be “religious” than understand the truth.

There are a handful of laws concerning the Sabbath, but there are over 1500 Rabbinical laws concerning it, and that goes for just about any other law in the Torah. No wonder the Jewish people don’t believe in Yeshua, they don’t don’t even believe Moses (John 5.39-47). There is nothing in the Gospels and Epistles that will take issue with Moses and the Torah. The Gospels and Epistles amplify and help explain the Torah to believers. They are commentaries on how the Torah applies to Jewish and non-Jewish believers in Yeshua.

What kind of a person says these commandments don’t apply anymore? How do they reach that conclusion? what path in their mind do they take to come up with that in the face of all the verses that say otherwise in this portion, and in the Scriptures themselves? Deut 4.9 tells us to “give heed to yourself and keep your soul (heart, mind, spirit) diligently.” In other words, “Renew your mind” (Rom 12.2). How do we renew our minds? Deut 4.9 gives us the answer, “but make them (Torah/Moses) known to your sons and your grandsons.” Go back to what Moses taught. Don’t forget, the same teaching Moses gave applies today, only the situations have changed (no Temple, not in the land, etc).

We will pick up in Deut 4.10-24 in Part 5.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 3

Deut 1.32 tells us that this was about trust in God or not. The Torah is about trusting others in the administrative and judicial system that was set up. It goes over key events and battles so that they will trust God for protection. It also teaches us to trust God for our provision.

There are some who say that the Torah is a means of salvation, and that was what some thought in the First Century (Rom 9.30-31). The underlying view is that love and law (Torah) are different, and love (or grace) can replace the law as a way to be saved. But this book shows us that love and law are linked and that was the concept being expressed in John 1.17. The Torah and the work of Yeshua compliment each other. A believer who says, “I do, or I will” keep the commandments is giving a statement of love or belief (John 14.15).

The next Torah portion in Deuteronomy is called “Va’etchanan” and it means “And I pleaded.” It goes from Deut 3.23 to 7.11. You can see right away the word “chanan” in the phrase “Va’etchanan” and all forms of this word signifies a free gift. Each Torah portion is named after a word or phrase in the first verse of that particular section. They did that because when they memorized scripture, when someone said the opening verse of a particular portion it would help the people recall the rest of the portion. Yeshua did it on the cross when he said “Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani” only with a twist. So, let’s look into this for a moment. We will be quoting from the book, “A Key to the Original Gospels” by George M. Lamsa, P 102-104 and this is a very important concept to go over, and Lamsa explains this misunderstood saying very well.

Lamsa begins to explain the above statement by Yeshua on the cross by saying, “All versions of the Gospels have retained these words in the original tongue and given them a different meaning. Matthew, according to Eastern version, does not translate them, because he wrote to the people who had seen Jesus and heard him preaching. It also seems probable that the later writers did not agree on the exact meaning when they translated them into Greek. This term even at present is only used by the Aramaic-speaking people in Assyria, the same language which the Galileans spoke at the time of our Lord. This phrase in Aramaic means, “My God, my God, for this I was kept (this was my destiny; I was born for this).”

“Jesus did not quote the Psalms. If he had he would have said these words in Hebrew instead of Aramaic, and if he had translated them from Hebrew he would have used the Aramaic “nashatani” which means “forsaken me” instead of the word “sabachtani” which in this case means “kept me.” Even the soldiers who stood by the cross did not understand what Jesus said in that hour of agony and suffering. They thought that he was calling on Elijah because the word Elijah in Aramaic is “Elia” which is similar to that for God, “Eli.”

“In those last minutes of suffering Jesus watched the crowd, which was composed of Rabbis, Priests, men and women of Jerusalem, who had come up to watch him dying. Some insulted him, others spitting in his face, and others calling him names and challenging his claim that he is a man of God, but instead was a malefactor and sinner. Jesus only made a statement to himself and to the friends who were also standing and hiding in the crowds near the cross, that he was born for that hour, that he may bear witness to the truth and open the way for the others who were to be crucified, that this was his destiny, that there was nothing else that could be given such a glorious victory as the cross.”

“The disciples and women who were from Galilee never for a moment could have thought that Jesus said that God had forsaken him. How could he say that when he had told his disciples that the whole world would forsake him, even they, but that the Father would be with him when he told Peter that if he wished he could bring angels to fight for him, and when he said, “Father, let it be thy wish if I should drink this cup.” These words, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani” even today are used by the Assyrians when they suffer and die unjustly. Instead of complaint and dissatisfaction, they leave everything to God. They believe that it is God’s desire that they should pass through such experiences. This is the reason why in the east people do not commit suicide.”

The opening line of Psalm 22 in Hebrew is “Eli, Eli, lama azavtani” and it does mean, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” It is very similar to “Eli, ELi, lama sabachtani” but it doesn’t mean the same thing as we have noted from Lamsa’s book. Psalm 22 is called the crucifixion psalm and if you read it it describes what is happening to Yeshua. Yeshua may be using this memorization technique of the first portion of scripture to have the people recall Psalm 22. By saying “this is my destiny” to them on the cross as they were thinking about Psalm 22, he is reassuring his people that everything that is happening to him is prophetic and not to be in despair, it was God’s will for him, it was “my destiny.” After all, he had been telling them that he was going to be crucified and die for the remission of sin, and it was for that event that he was born (John 18.37). They weren’t killing him, he was laying his life down for them.

So, each Torah portion is named after a word or phrase in the first verse of that particular section to give it a name and to help remember what is being said in that portion. The word “va’etchanan” is also related to the word “chan” which forms part of the word for “chanukah” or “dedication.” This “gift” is not to be understood as some sort of “handout” but this relates to “effort.” According to effort put in is the reward. Chanan implies a deep desire for an intense relationship with the Lord. This is what Noah had. When Moses says in Deut 3.23, “I also pleaded with the Lord” he is saying, “Don’t grant my request because of all the good I’ve done, but on the relationship we have, my love for you.”

We will pick up here in Part 4.

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Tanak Foundations- Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 2

We have different “voices” calling out to us. Who are we going to listen to? Will we believe in the Lord? Can we trust him with our family? That is what Moses is saying in Deut 1.1-40. Our faith is good for congregational meetings on the Sabbath, but will it work when it is life or death? The Lord does not bless unbelievers, but those who show forth and sanctify his name, repeat his words and do them. We must never show our own “glory” or our own “words.”

Our faith will be tested, especially as we get closer to the end times and the Birth-pains. We must stand up and make it count for something. Does our faith mean anything to us? If we can’t really believe him, why do people keep going to him? They act like they believe but they really don’t. If God is not the God of the Torah, the Prophets (Nevi’im), the Writings (Ketuvim), Gospels and Epistles, what are we doing? The answer is people will get another God. If he didn’t do all the things he said he did, why are we fooling with him to begin with. We either believe him or get out of the way, do something else. Either he is God or he isn’t. He will reward those who diligently seek him. God’s word is true and what will people do when they see an altar going up on the Temple Mount and a priesthood being prepared?

Some believers are like the children of Israel, God tells them what to do and they hesitate. They are afraid of the “sons of the Anakim” out there. In Deut 1.41 it says they repented for not going into the land, but it was too late to go right at that moment now. They replaced faith with a show of boldness. That’s what we do when we fail to obey God’s word. Is our faith strong enough for a wilderness? People have fallen for a lot less. We need to learn from their failures so that what they went through counted for something.

Now, in form, the book of Deuteronomy resembles other ancient covenants and treaties, but this is unique in that this is God’s Law (Torah). There is no sacred and secular wall, no separation of “Mishkan/Temple and State” in the Torah of God. Life has a kedusha and everything was seen as associated with God. Readers of this book will immediately discern a “change in style.” Deut 1.1 begins by saying, “These are the words of Moses” which is a departure from, “And God spoke to Moses.” Did Moses make this up himself? No, God spoke through Moses.

This is a “divine farewell speech” and a review of the last forty years. Not bad for a guy who said he was not good with words (Exo 4.10). In Deut 1.2 he chastises the people for what might have been. It was only eleven days from Sinai (Horeb) to Kadesh Barnes (Wadi Rum). But it took forty years. In review, let’s go over some relevant terms again. Sinai means “Mountain of the Moon” (moon alludes to the believer). Horeb means “Mountain of the Sun” (sun alludes to the God/Messiah). Kadesh Barnea means “Holy Desert of Wandering” and Wadi Rum (modern name for Kadesh Barnea) means “Valley of the Moon.” They rebelled against the judicial system of God and the Ten Scouts rebelled against God. This teaches us we need to fulfill our potential now, tomorrow may be too late.

Changes were coming in this book. They were going to be “decentralized” and living away from the leadership. They were going to have to travel to worship at the Mishkan/Temple and will have contact with pagan religious systems in the land of Canaan. Moses is giving them constructive criticism, but why is he doing it now, in the first few chapters? He is following Jacob’s example before he died (Gen 49.1-27). The Torah says to rebuke (Lev 19.17). If Moses did it before this he would be seen as “nagging.” They wouldn’t have to face him later and they wouldn’t feel as defensive. They will pay attention to him now because they know these are his “dying” words.

Constructive criticism is just that, constructive, not destructive. It is for the best and Moses does it out of concern for Israel’s honor and dignity. He merely alludes to the previous sins. The original Hebrew clarifies the “rebuke.” We should “toch’acha” our neighbor. But, this word is related to “hoch’acha” meaning “to prove.” The way to get our neighbor to change is not through a harsh rebuke, but clear and obvious “proof.” Self-realization eliminates defensive reactions.

How do we reach our potential? Ask for constructive criticism. Giving “toch’acha” is everyone’s obligation. If we really love someone, we won’t be able to see them being misguided by false teachers, etc. Who gives the most criticism? Those who love us the most (parents, wife, best friend, etc). This does not mean shouting louder that the other guy. It is demonstrated through action and deeds. But Moses is talking to the wrong group here, do you know why? Most of what he says applied to the people who have already died in the wilderness. Why is he talking to them now? He wanted the new generation to learn from history. He wanted them to know the underlying cause of that history and why they were still in the wilderness after forty years. That was the only life most of them knew.

For example, historians can point to economics and social reasons for the rise of Babylon, However, the prophets said Nebuchadnezzar was given the power he had from God to destroy the Temple and exile Israel. In other words, it was God who built Babylon, not Nebuchadnezzar. The same goes for the Roman Empire. This applies to any great power, including the United States of America. It wasn’t the people or the government system that made America great, it was a great God who made America great for his own purposes. Israel is the only nation that has a covenant with Yehovah, all the other nations that have ever existed (including the USA) do not. Read Daniel 11.1-45 to see a history of the kingdoms of the earth before they even existed, and what would befall the Jews in the latter days.

Moses tells the generation going into the land that their parents failed in their attitudes. How were they going to correct this? They needed to know the underlying reason their parents failed, and they needed to repair the damage. The Torah is not like any other legal system. It attaches to our everyday life and gives it meaning before God, even down to what we eat. It gives significance to everything. But, when the Torah becomes “just another method” of settling disputes, etc, it reflects an attitude just like any other system in the world. To “rebuke” like Moses is doing, is a fine art. There are principles to keep in mind, so let’s see what he did.

First, how did he say the things he was saying? Second, what did he say? He was subtle and he did not come right out and mention the sins, but he hints at them. Third, timing is very important. It came after Sihon was defeated and before he died. Fourth, he planned his words. Lastly, he showed he cared by not humiliating them openly. If we know what we want to say on our deathbed, we will know what to say at the table also.

Why does he start out with the sin of the Ten Scouts and not going into the land? There is a strong parallel between the situation they are in at that moment and the situation their fathers were in with the Ten Scouts. Both groups were getting ready to go into the land of promise. Moses goes on to recount the victories in battle and the peoples that were defeated. This alludes to the “iniquity of the Amorites” being complete, and now came the judgment (Gen 15.16). This was to remind them that the Lord was with them and they were not to take credit for themselves (Deut 2.33, 36, 3.3).

In Part 3 we will pick up here.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 1

These are the last words and testimony of a man who is about to die. It is the farewell address of Moses. He reflects on the last 40 years. The first Torah portion from this book is called “Devarim” which means “words” and it is the actual name in Hebrew for this book. This portion goes from Deut 1.1 to 3.22.

The word “Deuteronomy” is Greek and it means “Second Law (Torah)” and immediately you can see the Greek word for “law” in this word (“nomos”). Anomos means “no law” or “against the law” and it is translated in English as “lawless” many times in the Gospels and Epistles. It means people who think they are free from the Law (Torah) and it doesn’t apply to them. You do not want the Lord to call you “anomos” or “lawless” in the judgment because that means you are against the Torah, as many so-called believers are today. The False Messiah is called “lawless” in 2 Thes 2.8 because he is against the Torah, and so are some people who think they are believers (Matt 7.21-23). They believed the Torah didn’t apply to them anymore and they were “free from the Law” and the Lord says “I never knew you.”

As we learned at the end of the book of Numbers, Israel is at the border of the promised land and Moses recounts the events of the previous 40 years. He warns the nation of all the impending temptations awaiting them in Canaan. He warns them of God’s judgment if they disobey, and the blessings if they observe the Torah. He goes over the principle laws (Ch 12-26) which were to be observed in the land. He gives a farewell song in Deut 32.

The word “Devarim” (“words”) in verse 1 is a unique word. Devar means “word” and it can also carry the meaning of “speak” or “things.” Where this has meaning for us is at creation where the Lord “spoke” and there were “things.” The word for “wilderness” is “midbar” and it has the same root as “devar” (dalet, bet, resh). The Holy of Holies is called the “Devir” (speaking place) in 1 kings 6.5 (and other places) and that is because that is where the Lord “spoke.” All of these words have the same root.

In English, this book is called Deuteronomy and it comes from the Greek meaning “Repetition of the Law” but that isn’t exactly accurate. It repeats the Torah, meaning “teaching or instruction.” It repeats the teaching but it is the “words” of God (Devarim). This book is quoted many times in the Gospels and Epistles, and the book talks about “transitions.” We all know about that. The Lord has multiplied the people from a small group to as many as “the stars of heaven” (verse 10). Here is concept to understand. When the phrase “stars of heaven” is used the Lord is alluding to “heavenly/spiritual children. When He uses “dust of the earth” he alludes to earthly/physical children.

You will notice as the Moses begins to recount history he mentions the fact that he needed help with the people in Deut 1.9-15. He says in verse 13 he was to choose “wise and discerning (perceptive, discreet, intelligent, observant, prudent) and experienced men” to help him. But in v 15 he says that he took “wise and experienced” people and appointed them as leaders. You will notice that “discerning” was left out. Did Moses have a hard time finding such men? Are people any different today?

Deut 1.19-40 is a very interesting passage and it gives the words said the day Israel did not get into the promised land. Why didn’t the Lord let them go in? They did not have confidence (faith) in God and they were not willing to go in. What did they do? They sent in scouts to look at the land, which was not God’s idea, and these scouts were not really needed. The Lord brought them out of Egypt with a mighty hand for the purpose of going into the land, and he didn’t need scouts to determine whether or not that was possible or not. They were looking for excuses not to go in because they didn’t believe. They refused to follow the “pillar.”

They were not willing to “go up” (v 26) and they rebelled. They grumbled and complained saying “God hates us.” They say he brought them out of Egypt so that they could be delivered into the hands of the Amorites and be destroyed (v 27). He saved them, gave them covenants (his “devar”) and that makes their belief look illogical. But we feel like that sometimes and we think God hates us because of the troubles we have had. We need to look at the big picture and keep our eyes on the pillar.

Now, some say “but my present situation” but that is all part of the plan. We need to remember we have covenants going all the way back to Adam. Moses clearly tells them in this book that God was testing them to see what was in their hearts. God knew what was there, but the people didn’t. They stood at Sinai and said “Whatsoever the Lord tells us, we will do it” (Exo 19.8). What was in their hearts? They really weren’t willing to do what the Lord says, and the tests will prove it. The key for us is to get what comes out of our mouth to match what is in our hearts. When we say something, believe it. Don’t honor God with our mouth and not in our hearts. When did Israel “test” the Lord? When they said, “Is God among us?” This angered the Lord.

In Deut 1.19 it talks about “that great and terrible wilderness” and it was. Water evaporates immediately and there were fiery serpents, scorpions and death all around them. Believing isn’t what you did in the past, we must do it everyday. In John 11.21 Mary had faith in the past, and in John 11.22 she had faith in the present, and in John 11.24 she had faith in the future. Her problem was she wasn’t so sure what Yeshua would do “now.” Martha had some conflicts because she thought Yeshua was upset with her because he let her brother die. Have we ever thought like that?

Yeshua wept in John 11.35 because nobody believed him, even after all they had seen, but that is not the whole story. In John 11.33 it says he was deeply “moved (Greek ’embrimaomai’ …#1690 in Strong’s meaning ‘to snort with anger’) in spirit” and was “troubled” (Greek ‘tarasso’..#5015 in Strong’s meaning ‘agitated’). He was angry about this and was agitated (v 33-38). It was the same same thing in the wilderness, they didn’t believe God either and it led to rebellion, and the Lord was angry about it and the people were judged. People today don’t think they will be judged for unbelief in God’s word in the Torah because “grace” covers it all. However, Jude warns us otherwise (Jude 5). In what religion has a whole nation heard the voice of God? They all knew what to do (Torah-Deut 4.32-40). That is a unique religion, and in spite of all this, they didn’t believe.

In Deut 1.31 we have the imagery of a man and his son. This imagery is alluded to in Exo 19.4 where it says, “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles wings and brought you to myself. The idiom “eagles wings” means “protection from heaven (eagle).” God covered them from heaven. Some people think being borne on “eagles wings” means they never had any trouble, but we know that they did. This imagery is talking about protection from heaven (Rev 12.14) and Matt 6.9 talks about “our Father” and Yeshua is reminding them that this is the same Father who provided for their fathers in the wilderness (Deut 1.31). That is who to believe in.

In Part 2 we will pick up here.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Conclusion

Num 36.1-13 deals with what is called the “Laws of the Heiress” and it is in addition to a previous ruling. We learned in Num 27 that daughters can inherit family assets in the absence of male heirs. Here, the sons of Joseph brought a question to Moses concerning inheritance (v 2-4). The land was given and divided by lot into portions. Now the concept of “lots” is a major theme in the Scriptures. Purim (lots) is even a festival. Lots were cast every day in the Temple to see who would do what. This was to avoid jealousy and favoritism among the kohanim (priests). The two goats on Yom Kippur were designated by lot, Yeshua’s garment was given by lot and in Acts 1.26 Judas was replaced by lot.

So, if your tribe got good land by lot you could say, “Look what the Lord gave us as an inheritance!” If you got desert land and barren hills they could say, “This is our inheritance and there must be a blessing in it.” Why is it that God calls one guy to teach and not another? If you compare the two, you may wonder why God called that one to teach and not the other. It is like a “lot” and it seems random, but it isn’t. There is a level of probability and sophistication involved.

In Num 36.1-7 the question came up about a daughter who got her inheritance of land, but then wanted to marry someone from another tribe. Does that land no go over the the tribe of the man she marries? Moses says this was a good question (v 5) and begins to tell them that the woman who inherits must marry within the family of the tribe of her father (v 6). Since the tribes were large enough, this presented no problem. Besides, the land reverted back to the original owners at the Yovel every fifty years. No inheritance will be transferred from one tribe to another. This is said two times (v 7 and v 9). The bottom line is Israel cannot trade land among their own people.

But this brings up a question for today. If Israel could give up the land they had as an inheritance to someone from a different tribe, what makes them think they can give up the land of their inheritance to other nation now? A daughter could not intermarry with other tribes, and v 10-13 shows us how the daughters of Zelophehad did it. They married within their father’s tribe to keep it “within the family.”

In all these previous issues we have seen individuals give up something important, like the right to avenge (Ch 37), safety, the right to marry whoever they want (Ch 36) in order to benefit the community. Issues will always be there. The Nazi Party resolved these cases one way, the United States Congress another way. We need wisdom to resolve the issue of personal freedom versus community responsibility, and there lies the problem. If you cannot advance the “cause” there is no reason to do it.

What do we do when we are told by the Lord to do something, and yet we are presented with the dilemma that your job requires you to do something else? At what point do we believe? At what point do we say we are going to obey the Lord in regard to what he has told us? The secular person says that the Torah is full of “ancient commands and they don’t apply anymore.” But Yehovah said these commands were for the descendants as well. If we don’t obey them, our descendants will not get the full blessing.

If our fathers had obeyed the Lord, then we would have received a blessing from the Lord. However, our enemies have been a “prick in our eyes and a thorn in our side.” Paul used this term when he was talking about his enemies in 2 Cor 12.7-9 when he said, “And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me -to keep me from exalting myself.” In Hebrew this idioms means an adversary, to use, abuse, falsely accuse, slander and gossip (Num 33.55; Judges 2.3; Ezek 2.6, 28.24; Josh 23.13; Hos 2.6). A messenger (angel) was used to keep Paul from exalting himself, so trouble was stirred up everywhere he went in order to keep him looking to the Lord for help and think of himself as someone special. Trouble has a way of humbling us and this was to keep Paul “in bounds.” But the point is, this idiom denotes persecution and trouble.

We know that Messiah will restore all things and return us to our full inheritance. We are not doomed to “wandering in the wilderness” forever. We can establish justice on earth, like the revenge on the Midianites, and accidental manslaughter is not revenged (cities of refuge), etc.

This book ends with the sons of Israel in the plans of Moab (of father) by the Jordan River. It began with the nation “in the wilderness” and now they are close to going into the promised land, in fact, about as close as you can get. They are standing across from Jericho, and we need to remember what it took to get them to this point. God describes it as bringing them out “on eagles wings” in Exo 19.4. This term will be used again in the book of Revelation in describing how he will bring Israel out to the wilderness when fleeing from the False Messiah (Rev 12.14). When they left Sinai they struggled with the flesh, they murmured, complained and gossiped about one another. They were a generation of unbelievers and were condemned to die in that wilderness.

Yehovah led them for 38 years in the wilderness. They moved around but made no progress. There was mutiny (Korah) and murmuring. They were just running out the clock until that unbelieving generation died off. In their place, the children would be brought to maturity and brought into the land, and that is who is standing on the banks of the Jordan now. When they set out for the land a second time, and faced the same pressures their fathers did, they dealt with them better and that is why they made it the border. Spiritually many believers die in the “wilderness” because they will not trust the Lord or walk in emunah (faith/action/confidence). Many people live in the wilderness rather than on the doorstep of the promises. We should learn by their example (1 Cor 10.11) because we are poised to go “into the land” (Olam Haba) too.

There is a tradition that says when one finishes a portion of study they say, “Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek” which means, “Be strong, be strong, let us be strengthened.” We have received instruction from the book of Numbers. Now, utilize what we have learned and rise up to the next level.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 34

In Num 34.2 Moses is commanded to tell Israel, “This is the land.” What did they think? It was going to take a fight and it wasn’t going to be easy and there was a lot of work involved. Many people think that when they become o believer that all of their problems will be solved. But then we are faced with with reality (giants in the land) and things begin to settle down and all of a sudden we realize we have a fight on our hands. If we don’t drive the enemy out trouble is going to be all around us (Num 33.55-56). This is the case in Israel today. Another concept can be seen in the phrase, “the land of Canaan according to its borders (boundaries.” In Hebrew it is “ha eretz Canaan lig v’lot’eah.” This phrase has a numerical value of 961, the exact amount of letters in Gen 15 which has the “Covenant between the Halves.” Borders are the things that divided a believer from a non-believer in this world. The Torah is a book of borders and declarations.

In Num 35.1-34 we have the Lord giving the Levites an inheritance of cities to live in because they did not have a land inheritance, but they were to be placed in these cities by the Lord so that they were scattered throughout the land to shepherd, teach and minister to the people living in the area. Pasture lands were also to be given around these cities for them to use. These pasture lands were for their cattle, flocks and herds and all their animals. These pasture lands were to extend from the wall of the city outward for a thousand cubits. On the east, west, north and south side of the city two thousand cubits were to be measured for fields, vineyards and orchards, besides the pasture land.

In Num 35.6-35 we have the instruction for forty-eight cities, and six are to be “cities of refuge.” Forty-two will be cities for the Levites to live in. The cities of refuge is an interesting concept and it has eschatological meaning. They were for a “manslayer” who has killed someone unintentionally to flee to as a refuge from the “avenger of blood (Goel).” The manslayer won’t have to die until he can stand before a court to determine what happened. Three cities will be across the Jordan (east side) and three cities in Canaan.

This law will apply to the “Ger” (alien who has embraced the Lord and the Torah) and for the “T’shav” (sojourner who lives by the Torah laws that apply to him and lives in the land). However, if the person intentionally killed someone he is a murderer and shall be put to death. If the person is not a murderer and is innocent, then he is delivered from the hand of the avenger of blood and he is taken to his city of refuge until the death of the High Priest who waaas anointed with oil at the time of the slaying (v 25). If the manslayer goes beyond the border of his city of refuge and the avenger of blood finds him and kills him, the avenger will not be held guilty (v 26-27). A murderer is to be put to death and they were not to accept a ransom for their life. Now we are going to look at this instruction and see some very interesting concepts that relate to our spiritual walk.

The manslayer was to live with the priests and Levites and these cities of refuge were not seen as “jails” or “detention camps.” They were environments in which reckless people became aware that careless actions have consequences. They were instantly under the influence of their neighbors, the Levites. They would observe them, pray with them and learn to interact with others. They would see what awareness and concern for others really was. Its goal was to mold a new person, a person who was kinder, gentler and careful.

We need to be like the Levites and be “signposts” leading the way to these cities, clearly marking the way to Yeshua and life. Sometimes people need a refuge from the “avenger” who is called “Satan.” We learn from the cities of refuge that life can be altered by our destructive behavior and it may take fifty years till we are released. God has bound the killer with the High Priest and each has boundaries for doing the right thing. Now we are going to take a look at how these cities give us an eschatological picture.

Heb 6.18-20 says, “in order that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil where Yeshua has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.” This means that Yeshua is the only direct descendant of the heavenly Temple there in the Olam Haba. The writer of Hebrews goes on to explain what this “order of Melchizedek” means in Heb 7.1-28.

This order of priesthood is superior to the Aaronic priesthood because man is still in the Olam Ha Zeh (this present age) and subject to death, but Yeshua lives on forever in the Olam Haba (the world to come). The ages in Scripture will relate to two things, chronology and state of being. For example, the Talmidim lived in the Olam Ha Zeh when Yeshua appeared to them after the resurrection (chronological), but Yeshua was in the Olam Haba (his state of being, having a glorified body and living forever). These ages can “overlap” at times. That’s what makes the Olam Haba better than the present age we live in, and that is one of the main subjects of the Book of Hebrews and must be understood if one is to correctly interpret what is being said.

These passages in Heb 6.18-20 are a clear allusion to the cities of refuge, and “within the veil” speaks of the Olam Haba. These verses relate to our salvation. The Mishkan was a “seventh” place of refuge into God’s presence, alluding to the Olam Haba. In the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim (Holy of Holies) there were six boards on the west side of the room, and these six boards allude to the six cities of refuge (Exo 26.22).

Are we guilty of the death of Yeshua? If so, the avenger of blood can take us out and slay us if we are not in the city of refuge. However, let’s look at this a little closer. If we reject Yeshua deliberately, his blood is on our hands. However, if a person has faith and accepts Yeshua, even though his sin caused his death and did not realize the end result of his actions, he is guilty of manslaughter and allowed to stay within the veil (the Olam Haba and seventh place of refuge) as long as the the high priest (Yeshua) lives, which is “L’Olam Vaed” (forever and ever).

In Part 35 we will pick up with Num 36.1-13 and the “Law (instruction) of the Heiress.”

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 33

The next Torah portion begins in Num 33.1 and goes to 36.13, and it is called “Masei” meaning “Journeys.” There will be many concepts in this portion that we are going to be dealing with. This portion is going to tell us about the “stages” out of Egypt to the land of Canaan. This portion will also deal with the “stops” they made rather than the “journeying.”

There will be 42 stops or stages and this will mirror our own “Exodus” out of sin to our own destination. The number 42 is the number of transition and these stops had good and bad aspects to them, but things turned out according to God’s plan in the end. This should be an encouragement to us in our journey (Rom 8.28). Israel failed at certain points of the journey, and so do we. That is where teshuvah (repentance) comes in.

We will see that Israel progressed in these 42 steps and things did not get easier for them either. The number 42 here alludes to the 42 generations from Abraham to Messiah (Luke 3.23-38). There will be 42 months from the beginning of the Birth-pains to the False Messiah, and 42 months from the False Messiah to the coming of Yeshua. The famine in the time of Elijah was 42 months. There were children who mocked Elisha and animals came out of the forest and killed 42 of them (2 Kings 2.24).

The number 42 in Hebrew is made up of the letters Mem and Bet. Mem has the meaning of “water, mighty and blood.” Bet has the meaning of “house or tent.” The word “Masei” carries the idea of “breaking camp” and it took Israel 40 years to make an 11 day journey (Deut 1.2). That is the hardest part about camping, the breaking up of the camp. The wilderness experience was not a lot of fun, but it teaches us about how the Lord is a loving parent who took care of his people. They had some very difficult moments. It also showed how the people loved the Lord to keep moving, often without much water. God expresses his appreciation in Jer 2.2.

The total count of the journeys is 42, and if you take off the first 14 which were before the 10 scouts, and the last 8 which occur during Israel’s move forward into the land of Canaan after the death of Aaron, you have 20 moves in 38 years. This is a move every every two years or so. This demonstrates how even an evil decree is tempered by God’s kindness.

Why does Num 33.2 repeat itself? It is because when we look at the future we must know the past, and when we look at the past we must realize what lies ahead. Many Torah-based congregations do not have a building of their own. They are usually small groups in a community and there can be a lot of moving. These groups can usually break camp in two years of less. They can identify with Israel’s experiences. In the Torah, there are certain passages you read all the way without stopping for commentary. Exodus 20 is one and this portion is another.

When we read Num 33.1-56 we find 42 locations in 40 years. Why does the Torah mention the names of all these encampments? If you do a word study on all the names they will speak of growth, insight and prophecy, so lets look at a few examples. For instance, “Rameses” in Num 33.3 means “child of Ra” or “created by Ra.” Ra in Hebrew means “evil.” Meses (Moses) means “created by” or even “delivers” in Egyptian. The numerical value of Rameses is 480, and it was 480 years from Abraham to the Exodus. The place called “Sukkot” in Num 33.7 means “stables or booths.” The numerical value is 480. and it was 480 years from the Exodus to the building of the Temple (1 Kings 6.1).

Migdol in Num 33.7 means “tower” and this has allusions to the Lord (a strong tower) and the place where Yeshua would be born (Mic 4.8-“Migdal Eder” or “tower of the flock”). In Num 33.13 we see “Alush” and it means “I will knead” as in bread. It is where the manna was first received. In Num 33.29 we have “Hashmonah” which is related to Hasmoneh” which was the last name of the leaders of the Chanukah story. It is the 25th stop, and Chanukah starts on the 25th day of Kislev. This list teaches Israel’s journey from slavery to freedom. Our lives are in stages (Ecc 3.1-8). each person has his own challenges and purposes, and we must learn from them.

Miriam dies at Kadesh (related to kedusha) and it is known today as Wadi Rum, and Aaron dies at Mount Hor (v 36-37). In Num 33.47, “Avarim” means “crossing over” or “those on the other side (of the Jordan).” You can cross the Jordan at several places there and there is a lush valley. This is where Reuben and Gad wanted to stay (half of the tribes). Manasseh wanted to stay for their cattle business. They said they were going to send their warriors to help the other tribes secure their land inheritances.

In Num 33.50-56 we get our introduction about coming into the land and how to do it. Israel is told to drive out the inhabitants and if they don’t, those who they let remain will be a “prick in their eyes and a thorn in their flesh.” There are few in Israel who will stand on these verses today. They let the Canaanites dwell, and they learned their ways. As a result of not driving them all out, Israel was driven out and delivered into the hands of their enemies. We are saved from the slavery of sin and death and look for our “promised land.” Our life is like these stages till we cross over into the land of promise (Olam Haba). In the meantime, our “tents” will get old, too. We are to learn the lessons Israel learned in the wilderness, they are for our instruction (1 Cor 10.1-6). In the Birth-pains there will be “stages” and moving will be a common thing (Matt 10.23).

In Part 34 we will pick up here with Moses showing the land to the people. We will also develop the concept of “borders.”

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 32

In Num 31.1-20 the Lord tells Moses to make war on Midian, and afterward he would be gathered to his people, an idiom for death. Midian tried to influence the people of Israel with Baal. They got involved in a fight that wasn’t theirs. Moab had a legitimate fear of Israel at least. Baal was the son of Dagon (a son of god) so they misrepresented the true Son of God. Moses carries this out without delay, even though he knows that he will die soon after the war is over. He overlooks any personal advantages. Satan has tried to pollute the story of the Son of God coming, the resurrection and the redemption. This perversion goes all the way back to Babylon and every pagan culture has it in its past.

They will not go out against Midian with all the army, which was six hundred thousand plus plus. One thousand from each tribe will go out, totaling twelve thousand, but why only twelve thousand? First of all, the Lord doesn’t need twelve thousand warriors, or any warriors, to defeat Midian, so the number means something. The number alludes to the one hundred and forty-four thousand who will go out and make war with paganism in the land and the world during the Birth-pains (Rev 7.1-8, 14.1-8; Mic 5.7-90. Events in the land today help us understand why God commands Israel to drive out the inhabitants of the land.

In Num 31.7 we learn that Israel went to war against Midian, although Moab was also involved they were not the main player (Deut 2.9). But all the males of Midian were to be cut off. Then in Num 31.8 it says they killed the five kings of Midian named Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur and Reba. Then it says they killed Balaam with the sword. Balaam did not go back home after he got done trying to curse Israel, and he did not believe his own prophecies about Israel, and he died.

The sons of Israel captured the women of Midian and their children. They also took their cattle, flocks and all their goods. Then they burned all their cities and all their camps. All of this was brought to Moses and Eleazar the High Priest and to the congregation of Israel at the plains of Moab. Moses was angry with the officers of the army because they spared the women because he said it was the women who caused the sons of Israel to sin against the Lord, through the counsel of Balaam, bringing a plague.

So, Moses said they were to kill every male among the children, and every woman who has had sexual relations with a man. All the young girls who have not known a man intimately were spared. Those that killed anyone were to stay outside the camp of Israel and we to be ritually purified on the third and seventh day. In Num 31.21-24 Eleazar the priest tells them to purify the vessels that can pass through the fire (gold, silver bronze, iron, tin, lead, etc). Whatever could not pass through the fire safely would be purified by water. This process alludes to the judgment of God. The vessels are people. The first judgment was with water, and later they will pass through the fire of the Birth-pains.

In Num 31.25-54 we learn that the booty taken was divided. This will be how things will be done when Yeshua returns (Isa 53.12; Zech 14.14). We need to remember this in our walk with the Lord. We will have rewards and we should expect them and desire them. We need to “fight for them” like Israel did against their enemies. we need to be willing to take the heads off of anything that stands in the Lord’s way. A good soldier thinks that way and they are committed to the goal and focused on it. Rewards, eternal life, forgiveness, a new body, wisdom, insight, discernment, knowledge, understanding, gifts, gold, homes and a land are just a few of the rewards we can look forward to. This is the “spoil” if you will.

What motivates a person on the job? Some will say that they like what they are doing because it is rewarding but when all is said and done, its the money, really. On job applications, here is a tip. When negotiating up on a salary, if they question what you say, come back with “If you don’t believe me when I say this is what I need in a salary, how are you going to believe me when I say anything related to the workplace, or I tell you to change such and such to a customer?” What motivates us is that we get a reward, a monetary gain in a job. In our walk with the Lord, rewards are important. If its anything else we have missed it.

They got twelve thousand people to take the land because they were focused on the “spoil” (reward). They did what a whole nation couldn’t do in Num 13. The one hundred and forty-four thousand will be the same. One thing we learn from Scripture is you don’t mess with these people. They are committed and sealed by God and are not there to play around. No “religious” games will be played with them. One of their objectives will be to take the land for the Lord, and that includes the whole earth. If you can get just a few people in a city committed to the vision of God, a whole city can be spared in judgment. It doesn’t take thousands, just a “few good men and women.”

In Num 32.1-42 we learn that the tribes of Reuben and Gad have been blessed with an abundance of flocks and herds. They fear that there won’t be enough room to graze them in the land, so they propose to stay on the east side of the Jordan. Were they trying to avoid the battles that were coming in Canaan? It doesn’t seem likely because they would go to war with everyone else (Num 32.16-19).

Moses will get upset with them because in making their request they also disregarded the needs of their children and only mention their cattle (v 4-5). They had a warped priority and by saying they would not go in, they were making the same mistake the ten scouts made in demoralizing the people (v 6-15). The leaders get the hint in a limited sense (v 16) and they approach Moses again to restate their request. This time they mention their children, but only after speaking about their livestock.

Reuben never seemed to have a very high value on his children (Gen 42.37). Gen 37.29-30 tells us that he did not have much concern for his brother Joseph either. Moses is not very happy with their lack of priority. They were putting business before family. As a side note, when the Assyrians exiled the Jewish people, the first tribes to be conquered and sent away were Reuben and Gad.

Moses tells them the proper order in Num 32.24. We then learn in Num 32.26 that they adjusted their priorities to “our little ones, our wives, our livestock and all our cattle.” This type of thinking happens to all of us. We know our priorities but sometimes we get distracted. We must have clarity and strength to connect our heart to our head in order to act upon what we know is right. Don’t ever let our children know that they are not our most valued possession. This proved disastrous for Reuben and Gad. There were three cities of refuge for nine and a half tribes, and three for two and a half tribes. The east bank became a place of violence and bloodshed. Another lesson here is the wants and the needs of the smaller community or individual sometimes must give way to the wants and the needs of the larger community (v 16-17).

We will pick up here in Part 33.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 31

Num 30.2 tells us that the Lord will hold us to our word by saying, “He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.” This is a very important concept in the Law of the Tongue. Num 30.3-4 gives us a few more concepts, “If a woman makes a vow to Yehovah and binds herself by an obligation in her father’s house in her youth and her father hears her vow and her obligation by which she has bound herself, and her father says nothing to her, then her vow shall stand, and every obligation by which she has bound herself shall stand.” Now, these verses talk about her father, but they will also apply to her husband and how he can annul her vow.

This is a very interesting instruction in the Torah, and a tender area in these days and times. There has been an all out effort by certain groups to downplay the role of men and to make men stand in the background, but that is not God’s way. How do we deal with a woman in our home and authority? Most men don’t know what to do with it. What does the Lord say? We clamor and argue about it.

1 Cor 14.34 says, “Let the woman keep silent in the congregations, for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves just as the Torah (law) says.” We are going to examine this verse and what it means by saying “just as the Torah says.” These verses are based on Gen 3.16 and Num 30.1-16.

There are two reasons why this subject is never taught. First, it is about woman. Second, it says, “just as the Torah (law) says” and people don’t know what it says, nor do they care to know. What does the Torah say? We just read it in Numbers 30, and we have read it in Gen 3.16! The father or the husband has the authority in the home. He is her covering when she speaks a vow. He is the “shevet” (rod, staff) of that family. He will decide if such vows and proclamations are going to be made and approved by him.

Nobody can speak for the tribe of Benjamin unless the head of the tribe says it is allowed. It is the same thing with a wife and husband. She can speak for the family if the husband agrees. But, when he hears the vow or rash statement she makes he has the authority to reverse what she says. If a wife or a daughter wants to commit the family to a task, the husband or father can decide otherwise. But in the day that he hears it and he says nothing, then it is confirmed and he can’t go back later to annul it. Silence is consent in regards to this law and she has spoken for the family.

1 Cor 14.34 is saying that a wife should not be breaking into a service to judge prophecy. In 1 Cor 14.28-33 he uses the same word “silent” (v 28 and 30) for a man that is used in verse 34, so this has nothing to do with male chauvinism. He said the same thing about a man. Paul is saying that they were to be courteous and to stop interrupting if someone is revealing a truth. He already said that women can pray and prophesy in a congregation in 1 Cor 11.5 so “silent” is not the the issue here, but judging a prophecy is.

Spiritually, this law applies like this. We were in our “father’s house” called the “world” and we were subjected to the will and wants of the nations. It seemed like it was really impossible to fulfill the will of God and it can appear that the Lord has no “say” with us. However, as we turn our hearts toward God, the power of the nations over us is weakened, like when one is engaged. The last stage is when we will leave the father’s house (world) to live as married with the Messiah in the Natzal who will have full rights over us, and the father’s house (world) will lose all power. We will be under God’s authority now. The world today is not going to like this, but the man is the leader of the family, and many families make up the Kahal (congregation). How far reaching is this?

We communicate with the mouth. We have already mentioned that God is the seal of truth (“emet”). We speak in one of three time periods, as we have said before, every time we speak. The “past” is where most people speak from. We do this when we argue about something, complain, confuse, explain, clarify, comment, defend, demonstrate, decide, discuss, justify, show, teach and expound. The “present” is when something is changed or something is accomplished, or in a transaction. The “future” is where a “vow” (neder) comes in. It is a declaration to do something or consecrate something to the Lord. It is a declaration, or to swear, or an oath. From this point on into the future a reality is created. This reality is not only for us, but for those around us, too. A vow modifies a part of the creation of God.

Rabbi Gamaliel once said to a student, “Go get the best meat at the market.” So the tamid brought back a tongue. Then he said, “Go get the worst meat” and he brought back a tongue. This teaches us that there is nothing better than a good tongue and nothing worse than an evil tongue. Vows use words, the very same thing God used when he created the universe. Now we are in his realm when we use words, and if you are going to use words to create realities around you with vows, you are going to do it God’s way with his rules.

So, that is why the husband “bears the rod” for his family. If he hears a vow contrary to this “staff” (his authority) he has the authority from God to annul it. If he doesn’t block it, and says nothing, it is a reality and even he must live with the reality of the vow. He must help fulfill it from that point on. As we have said before, this chapter is about the “Law of the Tongue.” This is a different realm because a vow creates a reality for others, too. The past is explained away and hidden, but vows are future.

There is nothing in the Torah that says a woman cannot teach, prophesy or speak in a congregation. We have seen that daughters had an inheritance in Num 27 and Deborah was the fourth judge of Israel, a prophetess and was also a military leader (Judges 4). Huldah was a prophetess (2 Kings 22.14-20; 2 Chr 34.22-28). In a congregation these principles operate and there should be no repression on who serves. This is true as long as she is not usurping the authority of her father or husband, or the congregation. This understanding will give us a better understanding of controversial verses in the epistles. We have already briefly looked at 1 Cor 14.34, now let’s look at 1 Tim 2.11-12.

These verses will also be based on Gen 3.16 and Num 30.1-16. 1 Tim 2.11-15 says, “Let a woman (wife) quietly receive instruction (learn in tranquility and silence is the composure) with entire submissiveness. I do not allow a woman (wife) to teach (wrong doctrine) or exercise authority over a man (dominate a husband but to be in quietness) but to remain quiet (Literally, ‘a wife, in quietness, I let learn’).” Paul goes on to say in 1 Tim 2. 14-15 that Adam was created first, then Chava, and she was deceived and fell into transgression. However, she will be preserved (saved) through the bearing of children (even though they will bring forth children in pain and sorrow according to the original curse in Gen 3.16) if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint (not a temporary confession like some-Luke 8.13). When you understand that “woman” or “women” in these verses are referring to a “wife” or “wives” it makes more sense, in light of Num 30.1-16. Paul is not saying a wife cannot speak in a congregation, but they were not to do it in spite of their husbands. For a complete understanding of these verses, we refer you to the writings of Dr. Spiros Zodhiates on the New Testament and he goes into great detail on these verses.

Women were prophets, teachers, judges, evangelists and apostles and they could do whatever the Lord wanted them to do, but they could not usurp the authority of their fathers or their husbands (1 Cor 11). There are leaders or husbands who will exercise their authority, so that must be understood. It is right and proper for them to do so. However, they can only exercise that authority on the day they hear of the vow. Here is a reminder. Yeshua first appeared to a woman because she believed. There is nothing wrong with a woman serving in a congregation, but they are to do it according to what the Torah says.

The Book of James says the tongue is like a rudder and it can turn the ship. The right word at the right time can bring a lost soul to the Lord. It is the same thing with us. Our tongue will turn us, so we need to be careful about what we say. There is a thin line between a promise and a vow. There is a difference between, “I need to go get gas tomorrow” and “I am going to get gas tomorrow.” We have a tongue to say it but we have no authority to make it happen. We can’t make the earth turn and we may not even have our next breath. A storm can come and destroy our car and the gas station! We are not to make rash statements which is a meaningless vow. Let our “yes” mean “yes” and our “no” mean “no.” Stay in the present tense by saying. “as the Lord wills.”

There are two covenants we want to mention. There is a Covenant of Circumcision and the Covenant of the Tongue. The Covenant of Circumcision dedicates the physical creative power to God, and the Covenant of the Tongue dedicates the spiritual creative power of the tongue in man to service of the spirit, soul, heart and mind. James 4.13-17 tells us not to make plans in our own strength because we don’t have any control over tomorrow. Instead, we should say “as the Lord wills” when we discuss what we want to do because a boast is an improper vow. Now read James 5.1-12.

There is a rule found in the Torah. The force of light is always greater than the force of darkness. When words are not tainted, the mouth is a good vessel. Good words have the power to overcome and transform the darkness. What if we utter a curse and it is future (a vow). The Lord will teach us to be patient and to not make those mistakes. The Lord will hold us accountable for our words.

We will pick up in Num 31.1-20 in Part 32.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 30

When an animal was going to the place of slaughter it was a hard thing to do. Some people prayed for the strength to do it. In the Temple, a lot of that happened. The individual realizes he is about to take a life and feels different. Some have a wrong impression of the korbanot. Here is an important concept to remember. In the Temple, the place of slaughter is called the “Beit Ha Mit’b”chaim” or “The House to/from Life.” That is how they saw the korbanot, they were life (Num 28.2).

When the altar for the next Temple goes up very soon, it is possible the process will start before the Natzal (catching away/rapture) of the believers on Yom Teruah (Rosh Ha Shannah), Tishri 1, year 6001 from creation. We believe that the altar will be set up before the Natzal, and the korbanot will begin to be offered according to the Torah (Ezra 3.1-6). But, when that altar goes up and those lambs start ascending, and people see it, it will hit them about what the Lord did. It will also infuriate unbelievers.

We are not worthy and we deserve death. The soul that sins shall die, that’s fair isn’t it? But God isn’t fair, but he is just. Can you imagine all those animals dying? This brings us to another problem. Christianity will say all of this has been “done away with.” A symbol that might do a work in our heart is gone, and that’s a good thing, right? Hos 6.4-6 tells us the Lord is displeased with Israel. They were not loyal and their hearts were wrong. All the symbols that God had set up had become meaningless. Does that describe our walk sometimes? We get into a routine day after day. After awhile nothing moves us, or impresses us anymore. That’s how we drift into disobedience. Things are very meaningful at first, then later it isn’t. We have all sorts of messianic symbols set up so we can have the proper instruction about who God and Messiah is and what the Lord is doing. Apostasy, or denominations, are what happens when we lose sight of what God really said or who he is. If you can change his identity, you can change his commands.

Men have given up on the central teaching of the Torah. Rom 11.17-18 gives us Paul’s Olive Tree Theology. The believers are the branches, and the fruits are the teachings/results of what they are doing as they observe what God has said. The Torah is the trunk of the tree and it brings nourishment to the branches (believers). The Messiah is the root, the source of nourishment, the “stabilizer” (Isa 33.6). The problem is we cut out the trunk (Torah) and then we end up with dead branches and no fruit.

The Torah establishes truth (Psa 119.142, 160; 2 Pet 1.12) just as the trunk stands strong and lifts up the branches. Have you ever had this conversation? People will say, “I have Yeshua and I don’t need sacrifices, or the Temple, festivals or the Torah.” So then say, “If you don’t have the acceptable sacrifice on the acceptable altar in the correct Temple, according to the tavnit (pattern/blueprint) in the Torah, you have no sacrifice, right?” Yeshua said that religious men always think the sacrifice is more important than the altar (Matt 23.16-22). A person of God knows the altar is more important because it has a kedusha, and that is what gives the offering a kedusha.

The Ten Virgins did not have oil for their lamps (Matt 25.1-13). The lamps are symbolic of the Torah (Psa 119.105). Today, we don’t even have the lamps! Those who say they have oil are in possession of a flammable liquid without any proper containers. Anything can happen then. The oil can go all over the place and if lit, it can burn people and property.

Another name for the Torah is “The Tree of Life.” If you don’t have an altar, you don’t have an acceptable korban according to Yeshua. That is one of the messages of Num 28-29. People are very opposed to this altar. If Israel has nothing to do with your walk, what gate are you going to use to get into the New Jerusalem (Rev 21.10-12). The people listed there were Torah observant Jews and some of them wrote the Gospels and Epistles. A “gate” in Scripture alludes to spiritual forces that filter down from God (Psa 24.7). The “pearly gates” are named for the twelve tribes. The number 12 in Hebrew is the letter “Lamed” and it means “teaching or purpose.” If you can’t get into the city, you are “outside the camp” and “cut off” (Rev 22.14-15). We don’t get judged on whether we have kept the commandments, we get judged on whether we “know the Lord” or not and the Torah is related to that (Jer 9.23; Matt 7.21-23; 1 John 2.3-4). Keeping the Torah (commandments) is the evidence that you “know the Lord.”

What happens to the branches that are not connected to the trunk (Torah). They are gathered up and burned. That is why we teach and emphasize the Torah (Acts 15.21). It connects us to the root (Messiah). The rich sap can nourish us, producing good fruit (teaching, results).

Now we are going to move on to the Torah portion called “Matot” meaning “Tribes” and it covers Num 30.1 to 32.42. This portion covers what is known as the “Law of the Tongue” and it is about the power of the spoken word. In Num 3.1 we learn that Moses speaks to the heads of the tribes (Matot). This will be based on the nomadic tradition about tribal customs and order. He is not talking to the Kohanim (priests) or the “sons of Israel.” This is the only portion given to the heads of the nation.

A congregation is made up of many families (tribes) and this alludes to a father over his family. Matot goes to the heart of vows and matot also means “staff or rod.” Each head of a tribe (family) had a staff to signify his headship and authority concerning that family.

A “vow” is something that is dedicated to God. In Hebrew it is the word “neder.” An “oath” is something that obligates us and in Hebrew that is the word “sh’vuah” and its root means “seven.” When we make a vow we change reality. Moses knows the lesson of word power (Num 20.6-13). Now, we speak in one three time periods in everything we say. Those periods are past, present and future. God’s seal is truth, in Hebrew “emet.” This word is spelled with an aleph, mem and tav. Aleph speaks of the past, mem speaks of the present/transition and tav speaks of the future.

With this in mind, we will pick up here in Part 31 with the “Law of the Tongue.” Understanding this concept will also help us understand several misunderstood scriptures like Gen 3.16; 1 Cor 14.34-35 and 1 Tim 2.11-15.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 29

Finally we come to the death of Moses and his death will be a picture of Yeshua as we will see in Deut 34.1-12. In Num 27.12-14 it tells us that the Lord told Moses to go up the mountain of Abarim (top of Pisgah), one of the peaks of Mount Nebo. From there he was allowed to see the land that was promised to Israel. He is told that after he has seen it he will be gathered to his fathers, and he is told why he cannot enter.

In Num 27.15-23 we see that even now Moses was concerned with his people and who would lead them once he is gone. Who do we choose to be a leader? Is it a person who constantly makes good decisions or someone who “blooms” in a crisis? A crisis is unique and a passing event, and society or an organization is not in a crisis most of the time. The best leader is one who can be steady and consistent day to day.

A crisis is a great topic for talk shows, soap operas, newspapers and television news, but it skews our perspective of the normal. People think that normal is boring and unworthy of attention. We’ve turned our lives into a constant quest for crisis. However, we need to be adequately equipped to face the non-crisis, which will avoid certain events from developing into crisis proportions.

So, Moses is talking to the Lord about his successor and he is told to take Joshua, who had the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit), and lay his hand on him. He is to stand before witnesses. This is what is called “Semicha” or the “laying on of hands.” Contrary to what Christianity and false teachers say about it, it is not a magical gesture establishing contact between God and Man, or to symbolically imply that a person or an animal is a substitute for the person doing the semicha. Instead, it is a solemn attestation that the person or animal having the hands put on them has come from this particular person who is performing the semicha on his head (1 Tim 5.22).

But the question is, why was Joshua chosen by the Lord and not someone else, like Pinchas? This story comes right after the heroics of Pinchas so that we can have a contrast about what a real leader looks like and should be, as opposed to what we think he should be. Joshua had been reliable, dependable, loyal and consistent to the people day in and day out. If you want a leader, then pick the one who has studied the instruction first. For this reason, Joshua was the best choice for a leader. It is only our preoccupation with crisis that could make us think Pinchas (or any hero in a crisis) was more qualified.

Israel has been numbered and a successor to Moses has been chosen. Num 28 and Num 29 gives us a look into the public korbanot to be brought to the sanctuary daily, and on the Sabbath and festivals. Now, for definition sake, let’s define the words that will be used from here on out. The Mishkan is the tent structure used until a Temple in Jerusalem was built. So, the Temple will refer to that building. When “sanctuary” is used, it will refer to either the Mishkan or the Temple.

These korbanot will consist of daily and festival offerings, in the order they were to be given on the Altar. Num 28.1-18 describes the Tamid (continual) offering given two times daily, at the hour of prayer (approximately 9 am and 3 pm). For more information on the Tamid, go to the “All Teachings” selection on the menu and scroll down to the teaching called “Temple 201-The Daily Tamid Service” which will be in five parts. Num 28.9-10 tell us about the Sabbath offerings, and Num 28.11-15 tell us about the New Moon offerings. Num 28.16 tells us about the Passover and Num 28.17-25 tell us about Hag Ha Matzah (Unleavened Bread). Num 28.26-31 ends with instruction concerning Shavuot (Pentecost).

Num 29.1-6 will tell us about the Yom Teruah (Rosh Ha Shannah) offerings. This day is called Yom Teruah or “day of the awakening blast” of the shofar. This alludes to the Natzal (or the catching away, the gathering or the “rapture”) of the believer which will happen on this day. Num 29.7-11 tells us about the Yom Kippur offerings and Num 29.12-38 tells us about the Sukkot offerings. Now, let’s look at a few interesting points and passages in these Sukkot offerings.

First, you will notice that there are bulls offered for seven days, but the number of bulls diminish each day. There will be a total of seventy bulls offered for the seven days. Seventy is the number of the nations based on the number of people who went into Egypt (Exo 1.5; Deut 32.8) and Sukkot is called the “Festival of the Nations” because in the kingdom all nations will come to Jerusalem to worship the Lord on Sukkot (Zech 14.16). The number of bulls diminishing alludes to the fact that in the Messianic Kingdom the influence of the nations will diminish.

In another interesting teaching, in Hebrew there is an extra latter in Num 29.17, 19 and 32, and these letters spell the word “Mayim” or “water.” The Rabbis used this fact to say that mayim (water) was to be poured out on the altar at Sukkot. This ceremony is called the “Beit Ha Shoevah” or “House of the Water Pouring” ceremony. We have additional information on this ceremony on our website in the teachings concerning Sukkot. In Num 29.35 we learn about a solemn assembly called “Shemini Atzeret” which is the eighth day of Sukkot.

They say that the blood in the Temple was very deep in the Azarah (courtyard) after the offerings for Sukkot. The blood would be washed out of the courts by an elaborate water system that came into the courtyard and washed the blood into what is called the “Amah.” The Amah was a conduit that took the blood and water down hill to the south and it emptied out into a place called Akeldama (Acts 1.19).

These offerings required hundreds of priests and that Altar was a busy place. It had three fires burning on it at all times, requiring a lot of wood every day, and it was very large. You had priests singing, blood being thrown on the Altar, skinning, rinsing and cutting going on, and priests holding other animals, smoke, salting and music being played. Everything was done in reverence and coordination. For a good look into the Temple service and how impressive it looked to an observer, go to what is called the “Letter of Aristeas” on the Internet and read about it. He witnessed the Temple services and he describes the priests as being very strong, and how they could rest when tired. He says they willingly served and how silent it was in the courts (besides the singing). He saw hundreds of priests and remarked about how everyone knew what they were to do. We recommend that you read this letter.

In Part 30 we will pick up here and talk about the place of slaughter called the “Beit Ha Mit’B’Chaim” or the “House to/from Life.” Interesting name for the place of slaughter in the Temple isn’t it?

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 28

Num 26. 1-65 tells us about another census. The first one was before the wilderness in Num 1, and now we have a second one after the wilderness here. It is like the Lord, the good shepherd, is counting his sheep after a wold attack. Here is another concept to remember. It is not important that you have a testimony that “I came out of Egypt” in Num 1. Almost all of those who had that testimony died, except for Caleb and Joshua (Num 26.65). What is important is to make a testimony that they were going into the land of promise, the list in Num 26. Receiving the promise is better that the first list in Num 1 because faith prevailed.

Now, we are going to end up with almost the same totals as the first list. We should never be satisfied that we are “in the camp” which means we have said a “sinner’s prayer” or “walked an aisle” and been baptized, joined a congregation and call ourselves a believer. All the people who came out of Egypt could say that. But, they needed to get up and walk in the Torah everyday, and it is the same with us. Jer 9.23-24 says, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not a man boast of his wisdom and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows me, that I am Yehovah who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things’ declares Yehovah.”

If we don’t walk, we will be left behind. Take note of one group in Num 26.11. It says that “The sons of Korah, however, did not die.” They were the founders of a family of psalmists who wrote Psa 42, 44, 46, 47, 48, 49, 84 (a total of seven psalms, the number of completion). Their father’s legacy did not stop them. The wilderness experience wasn’t so good for some, but for others, they went forward to proclaim the name of Yehovah in the Psalms and lived. Talk about a bad home life. Korah’s sons had a father that was in rebellion against God, yet they went on to the promised land because they did not let their father influence them when it came to following the Lord, and they lived.

Jer 7.21-26 deals with this issue, and in v 24 it says the people in the wilderness went “backward and not forward.” When all was said and done, more was said than done for the Lord. Ecc 12.13 puts it this way, “The conclusion, when all has been heard, fear God and keep his commandments because this applies to every person.”

Num 26 gives us the actual census. They will need to know how to allot the land and in how many portions. This census applied to all males 20 years old and up, whoever is able to go to war. There will but two people who are numbered in Num 26 that were numbered in the first census when they came out of Egypt. These two will be Caleb and Joshua (Num 26.13).

Num 27 gives us the Law of Inheritance. It records the petition of the daughters of Zelophedad. It was decided that when there were no male heirs, the inheritance should pass to females, and if there were no females, to the next of kin. The Torah permitted inheritance through the mother and this is how Yeshua can be the Messiah (Luke 3.23). In contrast to Israel’s neighbors, early Torah law reflected a nomadic clan structure. The foremost goal of the legal system was the preservation of the clan. Equity between members of the tribe/family preserves peaceful relationships and strengthens cooperation. SO, the daughters of Zelophedad were just in their request where upholding the clan/family was concerned.

Now, there is a word called “pilpul” and it means a “peppered argument.” It is an argument that can get a little “spicy.” There is a rabbinical argument that asks, “Is it better to be king of Israel or a priest?” This debate involved David and Aaron, and it went back and forth. Finally, Aaron wins and it is over the issue of inheritance. All of Aaron’s sons get to be priests, but only one of David’s sons get to be king.

The argument (pilpul) concludes by saying, “The Messiah, after the order of Melchizedek, must come first to do the work of a priest before he comes to do the work of a king because of the reason of inheritance, so that we can receive the inheritance of eternal life first (the spiritual work of the High Priest), then he can do the work of a king (rule as a warrior high priest).” Now, that is very close to how we see Yeshua! He came to do the work of a priest first (sacrifice) and then he will come as a king to rule.

Eph 1.4-14 talks about our election and our inheritance. It tells us we have been chosen in him before the world was even created that we should be set apart (have a kedusha). He has predestined us to adoption as sons. We are redeemed, have salvation and are sealed with the Ruach ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) who has been given to us as a pledge “of our inheritance.” That’s why our names are in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Phil 4.3). We are in a census to receive an inheritance.

We have a Father who has left us with an inheritance. We have something to look forward to. We need to remind ourselves of this and be like the worldly people wanting the inheritance of their fathers. We have an inheritance of the Lord and we should want it. The Lord wants us to want it and he desires to give it to us. And unlike a worldly inheritance, it does not diminish because we have other brothers and sisters!

That is why some call this book “Numbers” in English. The Lord is numbering his people so that they can receive an inheritance. This concept of inheritance is one of the most important concepts in the Scriptures and one of the least understood. Num 27.1-11 is totally out of step with the issues of the day so far. When everyone else was saying, “Let’s go back to Egypt” the daughters of Zelophedad were interested in the land and their inheritance.

Five daughters plead their case about the inheritance of their father who died in the wilderness. He did not participate in Korah’s mutiny but “died of his own sin.” He left no sons and they requested a possession among their father’s brothers (uncles). But first, they needed a word from God on this so they go to Moses,and so should we when we need a word from God. The words, “their case” in Hebrew is “Mishpatan” and it is written with an over-sized “nun.” The letter “nun” is number 50 and it alludes to the 50th year of the Yovel when property and homes return to their ancestral owners. Shavuot is 50 days after leaving Egypt and the Torah is given. In the Lord our inheritance won’t be taken away from us, and we won’t lose it.

Looking at these passages eschatologically, this issue of inheritance and the daughters of Zelophedad is based on the concept of the “Seed of the Woman” in Gen 3.15. The Torah permitted inheritance through the mother based on that verse. That means Yeshua can be king through his mother. The key verse for that is Num 27.11 where it says, “And if his father has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to his nearest relative in his family, and he shall possess it; and it shall be a statutory ordinance to the sons of Israel, just as the Lord commanded Moses.” Too often people view the Torah and the ways of Israel in conjunction with the Torah as being anti-female. However, this is not true and it is the exact opposite. This hasn’t been an issue until the last 100 years or so.

In Part 29 we will pick up with the successor to Moses upon his death.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 27

The next Torah portion is called “Pinchas” (Phineas) and it goes from Num 25.10 to 29.40. First of all, we notice something different. This Torah portion is named after an individual. This is significant because Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah don’t have a portion named after them. Pinchas was the grandson of Aaron and son of Eleazar (Exo 6.25). He will be a type of the Messiah who risked his life to stop the plague of sin, and he turns away God’s wrath and anger. To get the whole context of what Pinchas did, we need to go back to Num 25.1-9.

Israel was at Shittim and Balaam has departed from Balak. The whole incident with Balaam gives us several conclusions. It shows God’s sovereignty and he will use lying spirits to do his bidding (2 Chr 18.19-21). He will also use Stan to test or sift a believer (Job, David). He will deny the prayers of his people (like Yeshua in the garden) and grants the desires of the wicked in wrath to accomplish an agenda that is bigger than the people and of which they know nothing about.

Israel began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab. These daughters had invited the people to the sacrifices to their gods and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel joined themselves to Baal-peor (associated with Mount Hor) and the Lord was angry. Yehovah said to Moses that he was going to take all the leaders of the people and hang them up against the sun before the Lord (v 4). So Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Each of you slay his men who have joined themselves to Baal-peor.”

Then one of the sons of Israel came and brought to his relatives a Midianite woman from one of the cities. This was in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation, while they were weeping at the doorway to the Ohel Moed. That was when Pinchas, the son of Eleazar, saw it and arose from the midst of the congregation and took a spear. He went after the man of Israel in a tent and pierced both the man and the woman through the body at one time (tells you what position they were in). Then the plague was checked, and 24,000 people died. This plague was due to Baal worship.

Balaam was unable to harm Israel, but he suggested that Moab send their daughters to entice the men. Midian decides to join in, and Balaam’s plan was implemented and carried out. If Balaam couldn’t curse them, get Israel to sin and God would do it (Num 31.16). So, that brings us up to the word “degradation.”

We know that Lot got intoxicated and had relations with his two daughters, and two sons were born (Gen 19.33-38). The younger daughter felt uncomfortable about the incest, so she named her son “Ben Ammi” which means “son of my people.” She modestly concealed the baby’s lineage. The older daughter, not wanting to feel uncomfortable about the incest, dealt with it by presenting incest as a valid “alternative lifestyle.” This would justify her behavior and then she would have nothing to feel uncomfortable about. So, she names her son “Moav” which means “from my father.” She made incest the child’s name. Israel is enticed by his descendants.

Two people are openly having sexual relations in Num 25.7-8, which is the culmination of Baal worship. The man’s name was Zimri (my music) and the woman’s name was Cozbi (my lie). He was a prince of Israel (v 14) and she was a Midianite princess (v 15). This was done to discredit Moses. They chose a spot before the Ohel Moed (v 6). They wanted to deliver the people from the restraints of the Torah, they wanted to be “free from the law.”

Now, Zimri was no less “fanatic” than Pinchas was, both were “sincere” but we need to take the Pinchas approach and take action against that which can harm us (Matt 5.29-30). Fighting evil on God’s behalf is in itself peaceful, but everyone must be on the same page and have the same goal. God says in Num 25.12, “Behold, I have given him my covenant of peace.” The word “peace” (shalom) is written in Hebrew with a broken vav (incomplete), meaning peace will be incomplete until Messiah comes (Ezek 37.26). That is what Pinchas did. Peace can only be maintained when we are at peace with God. What he did was not peaceful, but it brought peace.

So, what is “peace.” Many think that peace means that no matter what happens, there should be tranquility and never any fights. That is not the meaning of “shalom.” Shalom comes from the word “shalem” which means “perfect.” That is when there is no friction between God and his people. If the people are experiencing no friction, but there is friction between God and the people, that is not shalom. In order to restore shalom, it was necessary to kill Zimri and Cozbi. That is what God calls a peacemaker (Matt 5.9). But, peacemakers (shalom-makers) are perceived by sinners as doing harm. So, let’s look at the “Law of the Zealot.”

We see the world in two ways. We see the world through the senses by what we see and what we are certain of. Then we see through the spiritual. We feel injustice and there are absolutes and character building. We define ourselves in one of these ways in almost every act we perform. When people define themselves as inhabitants of this world, the connection to the spiritual breaks down. Miracles are connected to the spiritual.
When one is connected to the world, and someone steps in to “shock” the people back to the spiritual, it is to induce them to break away from this world. This is when restoration can begin.

However, in a congregational setting, people pursue the “tingle” provided by the senses (good music, great preaching, good visuals, etc) over the spiritual truth of God and the Torah. As a result, perception of the absolutes of God and the Torah become cloudy and blurred. That is when the plague broke out. Zimri confronts Moses and engages in sexual relations connected with Baal worship in the sight of everyone. Pinchas steps in and takes action. The shock of his violent act caused a collective “breath” and they internalized his revulsion to what was going on. They empathized with the losses of the people and it stopped. The difference between the spiritual and the physical senses came into sharp contrast, and the plague stopped. Zealous behavior tries to raise the conscious awareness of the apathetic to a problem. This should help us view Pinchas in a positive light.
God tells the Israelites to be hostile to the Midianites and strike them because they have been hostile with their tricks. and deceived them in the “affair of Peor (v 18).”

We will pick up here in Part 28.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 26

Religious people think like Balak. If you do a good deed, a bad one nullifies it and a bad deed can be nullified by a good one. Like the saying in sports, “You are only as good as your last game.” If you don’t win it all, you are unsuccessful. But, if the Lord blesses you no curse can annul that blessing. You are blessed, unless we rebel. That is a major concept in Numbers. It doesn’t matter how many non-Jewish prophets say “Israel is cursed” and “the church has replaced Israel” it doesn’t mean a thing. Israel is still blessed. A curse goes to the third and fourth generation, a blessing goes to the thousandth generation (Exo 20.5-6). The blessing is at least 500 times greater!

In the course of Balaam’s prophecies, he says that one cannot number the fourth part of Israel (23.10). This tells us that Israel camped in four parts, and we have shown earlier that it was in the form of a cross. He also said that God is not a man that he should lie (23.19); when he blesses he cannot revoke it (23.20); he does not see iniquity in Jacob (23.21). In Num 24.5 it contains the Mah Tovu, a portion that is used in Jewish prayer and there is a major prophecy about the Messiah defeating the False Messiah in Num 24.17, “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; a star shall come forth from Jacob, and a scepter shall rise from Israel, and he shall crush through the forehead of Moab, and crush the head of all the sons of Sheth.” Let’s look at some concepts in this verse.

The statement in Num 24.17, “I see him, but not now” is a major prophetical concept that we need to touch on. Eschatology is the study of the Messiah and the Redemption, and eschatology is seen from six reference points. Eschatology is seen from the historical view, Messiah’s first coming, Messiah’s second coming, the Birth-pains, the Messianic Kingdom and the Olam Haba. Prophecies can have numerous fulfillment’s and are not subject to time. We see “in part” now (1 Cor 13.12) and have “tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come” (Heb 6.5) now, and that is another way of saying “I see him, but not now” in our verse. We also see the defeat of the False Messiah in this verse where the “forehead of Moab” will be crushed and the head of Sheth will be crushed (Gen 3.15; Hab 3.13, Judges 4.21). Balaam also has another major prophecy in Num 24.20-24 where he alludes to the last days when he refers to Asshur (Russia/Gog and Magog) afflicting Eber (Israel) as we see in Ezek 38-39. We also see Kittim (Europe/Rome of the False Messiah) confronting Asshur (Russia/Gog and Magog-Ezek 38.1-6; Mic 5.5-6), and “he” (Amalek/False Messiah) coming to his end. After this we learn that Balaam went to his place, but he never made it back home (Num 31.8).

All of these truths were spoken by the mouth of Balaam, an enemy of Israel. Israel didn’t even know all these attempts at cursing them was even going on. They did not know that people were looking down of them from the mountains attempting to curse them (Num 23.9-10). But all that didn’t matter because God was protecting them. This is an important concept to remember. Don’t worry about people putting curses on you or that you have curses on you. If you belong to the Lord, you are blessed, not cursed. Even if you don’t know about someone putting a curse on you, it doesn’t matter.

In Num 25.1-9 we learn that when all of this fails, Balaam says “off the record” in Num 31.16 that they should send their daughters down to Israel. They won’t attack you. These pagan daughters should intermarry with them and lead Israel astray. As a result, their God will curse them where he couldn’t. We will look at this in more detail later. Magic won’t defeat them, sacrifices to pagan gods won’t defeat them, paganism and polytheism won’t defeat them, but introducing sin in violation of the Torah will. God will send a plague and 24,000 died because Midianite women enticed the men to worship and to eat a meal consecrated to him.

But, some people think that God doesn’t do this anymore (or does he). Obviously, if you haven’t seen this in your lifetime, it isn’t true, right? How long has God been around dealing with humans? Around 6000 years. Most people today have been around less than 80 years. If we go around thinking that God is like our experience only, that is a very limited view of God. God has said what he is like in the Scriptures. We tend to define God by the things we’ve experienced and seen, not who he has revealed himself to be.

That is why there are so many Christian denominations and groups. They make God into their denominational image instead of letting God be who he says he is. We need to conform to him, not have him conform to us. That also means there are so many ideas about the Lord, his character, how to worship, festivals and what is important. Today, it is Baal all over again.

In some places they are taking youth who are incorrigible to “sacred sites” because these places “resonate something.” This is what we see with Balaam being taken to certain areas by Balak. It’s Baal worship all over again. Ask yourself these questions. Do I follow the culture? Do I trust God or not? Do I follow the Torah or not? Do I stand for the Lord or let others dictate to me? We need to make a decision about who we are going to follow. Are we going to follow the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of the whole earth, the one true God whose name is Yehovah who spoke from a mountain, who gave us commandments and a son to show us the way of redemption? Or, are we going to follow the “Baals” that are all around us. Who will we follow? Learn the lesson of Balaam. Let our speech, thoughts and actions be for the Lord.

In Part 27 we will pick up with the next Torah portion called “Pinchas” and look into what Balaam did to cause the incident in Num 25.1-18.

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Tanak foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 25

In Num 22.22 we learn that the Lord is going to be angry with Balaam because he left right away and did not wait for the princes to call him to go, that was the condition in verse 20. So, the Lord sends an angel to stand in his way. God is going to use a miracle to get his attention. The donkey, symbolic of Balaam’s stubbornness, sees the angel standing with a sword drawn in his hand (symbolic of how Balaam would die-Num 31.8) and turns off the road, and goes into a field. So, Balaam struck her. Then the angel stood in a narrow path of a vineyard, with a wall on both sides of the path through the vineyard. When the donkey saw the angel she pressed herself against the wall, hurting Balaam’s foot (v 24.25). He strikes her again.

Then the angel stood in another narrow place (v 26) and there was no way to turn to the right or to the left. The donkey saw him, and she just decided to lay down under Balaam. This caused him some embarrassment. So, he struck her with his stick. The “wall” being referred to in v 24-25 is thought by some to be the “heap” set up by Jacob and Laban in Gen 31.52. In “Hadar Zekenim” it says they put a sword in the heap. Balaam, who may have been Laban’s grandson was being paid to cross the mound to curse Israel, breaking the covenant. He was killed with this sword in Num 31.8 and Josh 13.22 (it says he was killed with “the” sword, a definite sword).

So we learn that Balaam doesn’t understand what is going on, so he beats the animal. Then the animal talks back to him. The donkey has more insight than Balaam did, a prophet. A donkey talks and he doesn’t even notice because he is caught up with himself. This so-called “seer” could not even discern the presence of the angel.

How many times have we come across people who say “God told me” this or that? And yet, upon close examination, they have not heard from God or even know him, or his word. Now many times has God spoken to us through the news, earthquakes, wildfires and disasters? We should take a longer look at events and try to see the divine force standing with an outstretched sword. But, we don’t in many cases, and we strike out at the closest “donkey” who moves us (a teacher, etc).

The donkey is trying to save Balaam’s life. He should have concluded that the same God that gave him his power of speech is the same God who gave the donkey the power of speech. Balaam was not using his power of speech correctly, and the Lord opened his eyes (Num 22.31). The angel says that he has come out as an “adversary ” (a satan) against Balaam because he was “contrary to me.” This is a case of the angel being a “shaliach” of God, a sent one, an agent who speaks the words of the Lord exactly. The donkey saw the angel three times and saved him (Num 22.33). In Num 22.35, Balaam tells the angel that he has sinned and he will turn back. However, the angel tells Balaam he can go but he is not to curse Israel. He is to “speak only the word which I shall tell you.” Balaam will do what the Lord wants, not what Balak wants.

Prophets are not for sale but Balaam is, and men can exploit God’s ways for their own purposes. We see people talking about the festivals and Jewish thought, but they exploit these things for their own gain. They say to themselves, “What do the people need and how can i make a buck off of it.” They will try to get around what God said to make money or promote themselves. What is important to understand here is a person can be on his way to sin and will not be able to see what is in front of his eyes, like Balaam.

Balaam is going to go to three places (Num 22.41, 23.14, 23.28). He will build seven altars at each spot with a bull and ram offered at each altar This will be a total of 21 bulls and 21 rams. Cursing is expensive. In Num 22.41, Baal is mentioned, so let’s talk for a moment about the Canaanite gods.

The main god of the Canaanites was “El” and he had a brother named Dagon.” The son of Dagon is Baal (son of God) and he is “prince” and “Lord of the earth” and a “storm god.” There is another son to El called “Mot” and he is the god of “death.” Another god is “Yam” and he is “prince of the sea” and his place is in the abyss. He will confront Baal. If Baal fought Yam and prevailed, then we have the seasons of the year. But if Mot prevailed over Baal, then famine would happen. Everything they saw fit this story and it explained the natural occurrences like floods, droughts, wind, rain, snow, the moon and the sun.

The God of Israel was seen as a competitor to this pantheon and that is why he has some of the same titles (prince, son of God, Lord of the earth). Psa 24.11 says that the earth belongs to the Lord and all that it contains. Yehovah combats the “gods” to take what rightfully belongs to him. This goes on today. Money decides what is or isn’t done. Religious men want to do things so that people will come and give them money, or they don’t want to do something because people won’t come and give them money.

We see this battle of Monotheism versus Polytheism in the Exodus. Competing “powers” or “gods” against Yehovah who has all the power. Polytheism is in direct conflict with Yehovah. Pharaoh was seen as a god and he is in competition with the God of the Hebrews. Besides, Pharaoh had never heard of this “Yehovah” before. The Canaanites believed in a “son of God” and a “prince” who was “Lord of the earth.” Now, here comes Israel with the one true God and people like Balak are threatened (like Pharaoh). The Canaanites are usurping the honor, praise and worship that only belonged to Yehovah. That is the foundational problem with false gods. Balaam joins forces with people who believe in Baal. They can’t distinguish between a false god and the true God. Balaam will try and “fit in” for money.

Has “Baal” gone away today? Not really. This belief is based on fear. Decisions are based on money, not the truth from Scripture. The truth will not be taught because they would lose their congregation, so they teach what people want to hear, for money. Their livelihood depends on the people. If the people get upset, they leave and they lose money and the pastor doesn’t get paid. This isn’t just an ancient story, it happens today. Believers must take a stand and speak the truth, and they must not compromise the truth for the sake of money. When Israel went into the land they told the inhabitants that if they wanted peace with them, Israel will leave them alone. They could stay in their cities. However, if they chose to fight, they would kill all of them. Balaam chooses to fight God, but he will bless Israel instead of cursing them.

Balaam’s prophecies in Numbers 23 and 24 are very messianic and some of the most insightful prophecies in the Scripture. We will learn about Israel, Gog and Magog/Russia, Europe and the False Messiah and his destruction, the redemption, part of what Balaam said is used in Jewish prayer, and much more. We will look a these in our next study. We can figure out what he wanted to curse by looking at what he blesses. In Part 26 we will pick up here.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 24

The next Torah portion is called “Balak” and it goes from Num 22.2 to 25.9. Balak means “destroyer” and that is exactly what he tries to do. Israel was on the plains of Moab (of father) and Sihon had taken it from them. This portion is going to be a study in Replacement Theology. Balak was the son of Zippor, which means “Bird.’ You will remember that the wife of Moses was named “Zipporah” which is the feminine form of the name. Balak’s motive for what he is trying to do is replacement theology. Here is a modern example.

In 1990, the Secretary of State for George Bush was a man named James Baker. He appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and told them Israel was refusing to be moderate and to make peace. Then he said an undiplomatic thing. He gave the phone number of the State Department and said, “When you are ready, call me.” On Jan 17, 1991, Iraq fired the first SCUD missile at Israel, and the Israeli Air Force scrambled. The U.S. State Department panicked and they had to keep the Israeli’s out of the Gulf War or the coalition that was built to fight Iraq would fall apart. Who called whom? James Baker who said “You call me” is the one who came calling and begging. In another irony, in 1981, the Israeli’s bombed the nuclear reactor in Iraq. The person who offered the motion in the U.N. condemning Israel was the ambassador from Kuwait for an act of aggression against their “brothers” the Iraqis. In 1990, the Iraqis invaded Kuwait.

Balak has heard of the sons of Israel and their victory over the Amorites, and they believe they are next. This is an ancient version of the “Domino Theory.” He needs help, so he sends messengers out to a man named Balaam, which means “devourer of the people.” He is from Mesopotamia (Num 23.7). He is a type of the religious man who condemns and curses Israel, like Constantine, the Church Fathers, Martin Luther and modern day teachers. He is a non-Jew who is hired by Balak to curse Israel (22.5).

Balaam will refuse to curse Israel but his error (Jude 11) will come because he told Balak how to get the Israelites to sin by enticing them into sexual immorality, and it succeeds (Num 31.16). If you combine Balaam and Balak, you have Amalek, the perpetual enemy of Israel and a picture of the false messiah and false teachers. Josh 13.22 calls him a “soothsayer” or “diviner.” He is a type of a fake Babylonian religious system and false teachers/prophets.

There are two concepts we need to start out with. First, this story is not about Israel. They are not even part of this story because they are not even aware that all of this is even taking place. The second point is that it is not about what happened, but about what did not happen. Unlike war where Israel fights back in this realm, in the spiritual realm, Israel has to do nothing. All the fuss, the multiple altars, blessings, arguments, different mountain peaks and the repeated efforts to find the right “angle” to hurt Israel all takes place without Israel paying any attention to it. Magic and curses are irrelevant against Israel. Israel was not to rely on magic for success, either.

Sacrifices are repudiated, in general, when they are used to guarantee success (Mic 6.6-8). There is only one way for Israel (and this lesson is for us as well) to fail. If we are going to make mistakes as believers, we are going to do one of three things. Basically, it is the way of Cain, the error of Balaam and the mutiny of Korah (Jude 11). The way of Cain is jealousy and anger, with bitter resentment. Cain thought he was losing his status as first-born. The error of Balaam is causing Israel to sin by getting them to disregard the Torah (Num 31.16). Basically, it is replacement theology for personal gain (2 Pet 2.15). The mutiny of Korah is not being satisfied with your role. He was not anointed to replace Moses and Aaron. Again, replacement theology.

Balaam was a spiritual leader seeking fame and fortune, and he had some knowledge of Yehovah (2 Pet 2.15). He is known as a “prophet” and he was from Aram (22.8). Kings came to him for counsel and he was a contemporary of Moses. What this story shows us is God is not just involved with Israel here, he was working through others who were not in the camp. He had a reputation and he fails. This is not a new thing. Evidently, he had the authority from God to bless (22.20). He should have had a proper estimation of himself. Not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter the Kingdom of God or is even saved (Matt 7.21-23).

Balaam has been asked to curse Israel because Balak fears them. However, prophets don’t go around cursing Israel. His job was to speak the very words God gave him to speak, no more and no less. His job is to speak to the people so they won’t be cursed! Today, so called “prophets” and “teachers” will try to get Jews to turn from the Torah, believe in “Jesus” and follow Christianity. They tell them they don’t have to keep the Sabbath and they can eat pork now, all that has been done away with. But, by believing and teaching this, they are actually going to bring a curse on Israel (Deut 28.15-68).

In Num 22.9 Yehovah says, “Who are these men with you?” Now, he knew who they were but he wants Balaam to see where his heart is. So, in Num 22.10, Balaam says, The King of Moab has sent word to me.” In other words, “see how important I am, Lord? A king wants to see me. My reputation and ministry has spread even to the top of the political world. I am an important guy now!” But in Num 22.12 he tells Balaam not to go with them to curse Israel because they are blessed (Gen 12.3; Prov 26.2). Balaam responds to Balak’s leaders in verse 13, “God has refused to let me go” but that is not what Yehovah said. He said that Balaam can’t go and curse a people who are blessed, but he conveniently leaves that part out of his response.

So, the messengers of Balak returned and said to Balak, “Balaam has refused to come with us” (v 14). In Num 22.17 the king gets the impression that Balaam is holding out because he wants more money. So he sends another delegation more numerous and prestigious than the first one to show Balaam greater respect. So he says to Balaam, I will indeed honor (honorarium) you richly.” He is promising money and a possible role in his court if Balaam will come and curse Israel. But Balaam says that money isn’t the issue. He cannot come and do anything contrary to what the Lord has said (v 18).

In Num 22.19, Balaam wants them to stay the night and he will go and find out what else Yehovah will speak to him. In Num 22.20, God basically says that if they come back, rise up and go with them but he is only to speak the word that he gives him. I never said you couldn’t go to bless them, he just couldn’t curse them. So, Balaam rose in the morning and saddled his donkey. The donkey is symbolic of Balaam’s stubbornness. He is going to get paid to do something that God told him not to do, curse Israel. In Num 22.22 God is angry because God told him to wait for the princes to come (v 20), but he saddled his donkey and left before they arrived. He is already going against what the Lord told him to do. Does Balaam think he is going to manipulate this situation for his own benefit and personal gain (2 Pet 2.15)?

We will pick up here in Part 25.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 23

Num 21.10-20 deals with Israel moving and going north to enter Canaan. The places mentioned from here to the end of the chapter will also deal with eschatology and the coming of Yeshua, not just their literal travels. If you go to a map, make note of the Wadi Zered (v 12), the Arnon (v 13) and Moab. Num 21.21-35 deals with the battle with Sihon, the king of the Amorites (“sayers”) and Og, the king of Bashan (in the Golan). Again, when you look at the places mentioned they will also deal with eschatology and the coming of the Yeshua.

Look at the places like the King’s Highway, the Arnon, the Jabbok, Heshbon and Bashan. These places are mentioned in conjunction with the coming of Yeshua to Jerusalem at the end of the Birth-pains. Why does the Torah use this whole story of Sihon and Heshbon? There is a saying, “Man has his plans and God laughs.” That is what history is all about. There are great ironies in history. The Amorites take the land from the Moabites, now Israel had a green light to attack it. God wanted Israel to have it, so he moved the pawns and Sihon conquered Heshbon for the Amorites. Then Israel conquered the Amorites.

We began this portion talking about how the chukim (statutes) are not so easy to understand. We want to quote from the book called “Tehillim” from Mesorah Publications, pages 1419, 1446. A basic explanation is given about this subject of the hard to explain mitzvot, so it begins by saying, “Beis HaLevi emphasizes that all the reasons advanced to explain the mitzvot of Hashem are inadequate, for man cannot comprehend the infinite wisdom of the Divine commandments. The ultimate purpose of all the mitzvot is really one and the same, i.e., an opportunity for the believer to demonstrate his complete submission to the will of the Almighty Lawgiver. True, each mitzvah provides other apparent benefits, but they are only secondary. (For instance: The prime purpose of the mitzvah of charity is to afford a person a opportunity to submit to God’s will by giving away his precious money. The secondary benefits realized by the performance of charity are that the benefactor refines his character and becomes a kinder person, and the impoverished beneficiary has some of his needs satisfied).”

“The true purpose of mitzvot, the enhancement of faith, is often unappreciated because it is a personal, intangible accomplishment that cannot be measured. The secondary achievements of mitzvot, however, are usually tangible and dramatic. They appeal to the emotions and their results are measurable, so most people misconstrue the subordinate benefit for the prime purpose. Therefore, this psalm begins: ‘Praiseworthy are those whose way is wholesome (who seek no reasons for or benefits from any of the mitzvot, whose only interest is to serve God and) who walk with the Torah of Hashem (v 1)’. The Psalmist continues: ‘You have issued your precepts to be kept diligently (v 4)’, i.e., we are commanded to fulfill these precepts simply because they are God’s commands, not because we anticipate receiving any benefits from fulfilling them.”

“The Chukim, statutes, are Divine orders with no apparent rationale. They are designed to teach each Jew to serve God with faith and confidence…The Psalmist hopes: ‘May my ways be firmly guided to keep your statutes (v 5)’; i.e., ‘Your statutes will teach me how to keep your other mitzvot for the right purpose.’ He concludes, ‘Then I will not be ashamed when I gaze at all your commandments (v 6)’, I will not distort the meaning of all your mitzvot and I will not be put to shame because of impropriety. If we deviate even slightly from other mitzvot, and do not preserve a general lifestyle of compliance, then a blind adherence of the chukim appears ludicrous to him.”

“R’Yerucham Levovitz of Mir explained that the ‘ta’am’, taste, of food has nothing to do with its nutritional value. A person could live a lifetime and thrive on tasteless food capsules or intravenous feeding. Out of Divine kindness and consideration, God introduced taste into the nutrients that sustain his creatures. Taste provides us with an incentive to fulfill our nutritional needs, for otherwise, we might neglect our meals and endanger ourselves. The same concept may be applied to mitzvot. Each command is essentially food for the soul, providing spiritual energy needed to keep the spirit healthy and close to God. It really makes no difference what actions God commands, for any action which man performs in order to fulfill God’s will provides spiritual enrichment. Any physical, psychological or social benefits accrued from mitzvot do not constitute the essence of the mitzvah, but are external incentives and stimuli enticing us to partake of the spiritual repast which our souls need. There fore, the Hebrew word describing the reason for the mitzvot is ‘ta’am’, which literally means ‘taste’, because the reasons are merely flavorings which make the essential mitzvot more attractive and palatable to us. Thus, the statute, which has no apparent reason, is called “chok”, which literally means a precise ration of food (see Proverbs 30.8); this commandment is devoid of flavor.”

So, in other words, keeping the commandments is like eating, and the food is the commandments. The reasons for the commandments are like taste and flavor, they make “eating” the commandments more inviting and “palatable” (acceptable to the mind or sensibilities) to us. By not keeping them, and following man made commandments, we spiritually starve and eventually die. Every time we keep a commandment, keep in mind that we are taking a bite of good spiritual food that will keep us strong and spiritually healthy. It is interesting that the word for taste (ta’am) and that is used to describe the reason for the commandments. Commandments are more attractive and “taste” good when we have flavor (reasons). In Prov 30.8 it says, “Feed me with the food that is my portion.” Where it says, “my portion” it is the Hebrew word “chuki” which is related to our word for this Torah portion, “Chukat.”

In Part 24 we will pick up with the next Torah portion called “Balak.”

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 22

In Num 20.14-23 we see that Israel wants to pass through Edom, Esau’s descendants. Edom says they will not allow Israel to pass through their territory, another test. In the meantime, Aaron dies on Mount Hor near Petra. This is a weakness of the priesthood referred to in the Book of Hebrews. His duties as High Priest pass on to his son Eleazar. Israel had to go around Edom after a brief battle with the Canaanites (21.1-3) where Israel destroyed their cities. Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea (Edom means “red” and that is why it was called the “Red” Sea by the Israel). They had to go back to go around Edom. The people began to grumble again and spoke against the Lord and Moses. They complained about having been brought out into the wilderness where there were no provisions.

So, we come to one of the best pictures of the crucifixion in the Scriptures in Num 21.6-9. A symbol of judgment will become the symbol of healing and life. Like the Red Heifer, the clean will become unclean and the unclean will be clean The Lord is angry with the people for their complaining and grumbling and so he sends fiery serpents among them and the people are bitten. Then the Lord tells them to make a “fiery” (serpent is added in English) and to set it on a pole or standard. When someone is bitten, they should look at the “fiery” serpent on the pole and they will live.

Now, the Hebrew word for “fiery” is “Saraph” (“Burning one”..one type of angel is the “Seraphim” from this word) and Moses made a bronze (metal of judgment) “nachash” serpent. Now we need to understand that the healing takes place from God perspective, not ours. When the people looked, they saw a snake or serpent, one cursed (Gen 3.1, 3.14= nachash/serpent). However, when the Lord looked at it he saw a “Saraph”, a burning one, a name for an angel or his sent one (Seraphim).

Now, all of this ties into John 3.14-16. To “live” you must be “born again” and the bronze serpent was a symbol of the crucifixion of Yeshua. In John 3.14-15 he tells Nicodemus that just as Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the wilderness, so to will the Son of Man be lifted up and whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. In other words, he is saying to him, “When I am crucified, look to me and live, just like Israel did with the bronze serpent.”

This truth holds true for today. One must look to the crucifixion of Yeshua like one would have looked at the bronze serpent in the wilderness in order to have life. Those that tell the Jews that they don’t need to look to Yeshua on a tree (pole) are like the ones who said “We don’t need to look at a serpent on a pole to be healed from a snake bite. That is ridiculous!” But they died. If the Jews don’t look to Yeshua, they will die from the snake bite of sin. That is what Yeshua is telling Nicodemus.

The people sinned by making the Golden Calf, and its remedy was destruction. Exo 32.20 says Moses took the calf and burned it, then he ground it up into powder, then scattered it over the waters. Then he made the people drink. It was a lack of faith in the Lord in one case, as seen by the making of the golden calf image, and in this case faith in God can be seen when the people looked to the bronze serpent to be healed and live (Heb 11.1). Faith can be seen by action, and unbelief can be seen by action.

Here is a scene that happens because it happens today. Moses has interceded for the people over the snake bites. It is the result of the people grumbling, complaining and rebelling in Num 21.1-5. Someone is bitten, and a relative runs into his tent and says, “Moses says all we need to do is look at the image God told him to make of the bronze serpent that is on a pole as it passes by, and you will be healed.” The sick person says, “What? Just look at it to be healed? That’s silly, who has heard of such a thing. I’m dying here and you bring me stories! I don’t need a serpent on a pole, I need a doctor or someone who can help. Now, get going and get me a doctor!” So he struggles with faith (action) in what God said.

So, that brings us to the question, “What is faith?” We can assure you it isn’t what most preachers tell you. The Faith Movement, as it is called, teaches you that faith is a noun, a thing to possess. Biblical faith is “Emunah” in Hebrew and it is a verb, it is action based on confidence. The word “emunah” is related to the word “Amen” meaning “true.” Biblical faith is made up of three components. The first one is “Ahav” (love of God), the second is “Da’at” (knowledge of God based on confidence and experience) and the third is “Mitz’vot” (commandments of God). All three of these components must be in action in order to have biblical faith. If they are not, there is a breakdown in faith. There is no such thing as “blind faith” in the Scriptures.

So, what is Emunah? It is hard to define in English but it basically means “confidence.” But, we can tell you what it isn’t. The opposite of faith is unbelief. Some people think it is doubt, but doubt isn’t all bad, but it is not the opposite of faith. Doubt can move us into knowledge, to seek it (Jer 9.23, Jer 31, 1 Cor 13) through study. This leads us to action and confidence. In Exo 19 we have a story that gives us the steps of faith and the breakdown of faith. The first four sons of Leah in Gen 29.31-35 teach this. First came Reuben (See, a son). First we see Yeshua. Then came Shimon (to hear/obey). Then once we see Yeshua, we hear and obey his word. Then came Levi (to join). Then we are joined to the Lord. The fourth son is Judah (praise). Once we see Yeshua, obey his word and are joined to him, we become a praise.

Moses has been up Sinai before, so he has a love for God (ahav), a knowledge of God based on confidence because of his experience on Sinai (da’at), and now he is obeying the mitzvot (commandment) to bring the people to the mountain. All three components of faith at work in Moses. So, Moses brings them near (Exo 19.17), but the people saw what was going on and “stood afar off (Exo 20.18).” Then they tell Moses to talk to God for them, and then tell them what to do (Exo 20.19). The breakdown is when the people stood afar off when they were supposed to come up (Exo 20.21). But, what made Moses draw near? The people could have done that, but they didn’t. Faith (emunah) broke down.

God drove the affects of Egypt from Moses for forty years. He was raised in the seat of idolatry. He knew God had called him to deliver the Israelites at forty years old, but he will not be sent till he is eighty years old. He had to be a shepherd for forty years. When Moses first came up to see the burning bush, he was in fear. He also had unbelief (Here I am Lord, send Aaron!). But that eventually moves to emunah. This is what enables him to draw near and speak to God face to face, not in dark sayings.

The Torah contains all that God has made known of his nature, his character, purposes and of what he would have man to do but not in the limited sense of legalism. It is to know the Lord, that is our calling (Jer 9.23-24). In Psa 53.1 it says, “A fool has said in his heart there is no God.” Anciently, there were very few atheists. The word for “fool” there is “naval.” That means one who is morally corrupt. They acknowledge a creator or a “god” but they refuse to believe that he (the god) was interested in holding him accountable for his deeds.

But, Hosea 4.6 says in English that “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.” But in Hebrew it says, “My people are destroyed for a lack of “the” knowledge (“ha da’at”). We are to study “the knowledge” (Torah) because if we don’t, we would be destroyed. And if we don’t know (da’at) what God said (mitzvot), how can we have faith? There are two of the components of faith right there. Love isn’t enough for faith because John Said if you say you love God and don’t keep the mitzvot (commandments), you are a liar (1 John 2.3-4). Even Yeshua said if you loved (ahav) him you would keep the mitzvot (commandments).

Emunah was seen as the highest form of worship. In Greek thought, the word “school” is “scholazo” meaning “leisure.” You did it in your leisure time. In Hebrew thought, it is seen as your life and worship. We must “rightly divide” (a term from the Temple referring to properly dividing up a korban) the Word of God. So the progression downward is knowledge, to doubt, to unbelief. Faith (emunah) is action based on what God has said (mitzvot/commandments), the knowledge of God based in confidence and experience, and a good attitude (Ahav/love of God). We have more information on Emunah on this site in our teaching called “Emunah-Faith.”

This is the question today and the Torah. Will we go with the Word of God and what he told Moses? Moses told us what to do, that is how simple all of this is. People don’t want to do it because they don’t understand this story. If they listened and obeyed, they lived. If they didn’t, they died.

We will pick up here in Part 23.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 21

Moses and Aaron gathered the people, but Moses was angry with them and struck the rock instead of just speaking to it. Water comes forth anyway and everyone drank, but Moses has made a big mistake. This act of striking the rock ruined a picture of Yeshua that the Lord was trying to illustrate. In Exo 17 Moses struck the rock and water came forth. The word “rock” there is “tzur” and it is a rock with no cleft in it. This is a picture of the crucifixion.

Yeshua (the “rock” in 1 Cor 10.4; Matt 16.18; Deut 32.4; Zech 3.9, 12.3; Dan 2.31-45; 1 Sam 17.40) was struck and gave living water so that the people might live. This time, Moses only needed to speak to the rock. The word “rock” here is “cela” with a cleft (to hide in). Yeshua does not need to be struck (crucified) again to give life. But Moses disobeyed the Lord on this. It wasn’t as if he misunderstood what the Lord said. He talked with Yehovah face to face (Num 12.8).

If anyone had his ticket punched to the Promised Land it was Moses. But if the leader is lost he cannot lead. To whom much is given, much is required. Yehovah will protect the validity of what he is trying to teach. even Moses makes mistakes. Moses knew what was coming and he decides to play a little game with the people. They have been giving him a hard time so he decides to get back at them. He is thinking, “You have been giving me trouble, but to show you I am above all that I will give you water anyway.” He wants to strike them, but instead he strikes the rock. They were like rocks, hard-headed and stiff-necked. But, he was to speak to the them and engage, he was their teacher.

In the first instance in Exo 17 is like the letter of the law. It can be strict and harsh. But Num 20 was to be like the “spirit” of the law, the essence and intent that gives life. Together, the letter and the spirit is what the Torah is all about. But some will say, “Didn’t Paul say that the letter kills, but the spirit gives life” in 2 Cor 3.6? Yes, he did, so let’s look at that verse.

Paul is illustrating the difference between the two schools of the Pharisees that were the biggest teachers of the people in the First Century. The Pharisees were broken into two main groups, the House of Hillel (Beit Hillel) and the House of Shammai (Beit Shammai). The House of Hillel is where Paul came from. His teacher was Gamaliel, the grandson of Hillel. The House of Hillel taught the “spirit” or essence/intent of the Torah. The House of Shammai adhered to a strict and harsh “letter ” of the law interpretation. What Paul is saying here is strict observance of the Torah can “kill” compassion, mercy and kindness. But, the “spirit” or essence and intent of the law gives live to it. When Yeshua contended with the “Pharisees” it was almost always with those from the House of Shammai, not Hille, and this can be seen in Matt 23.1-39.

Soft speech saves us from anger and verbal persuasion is better than force. The solution is education based on values. Moses asks, “Shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?” In other words, “After all you have done to us, we should help you?” But Moses knew the Lord was going to give them water. He already said he would do it in verse 8. Moses decides he is going to play this to his advantage. That’s the problem with knowing the future. We don’t know how to use it correctly. We would probably exploit it to our advantage, too.

Forget the fact that Messiah is coming soon and the judgments, we would think in our mercenary hearts, “Can we make a buck somewhere in all of this?” Prophecy “experts” today think they know the future and they exploit it all the time for money. Before Y2K, people were prophesying that the end was coming and they were selling their tapes and having seminars about what the “Lord told me.” The when you checked them out, you would find that they were making plans for their ministries after Y2K was supposed to happen. One author believed that the Shemittah year was coming and there would be an economic collapse. But he didn’t give the book away to people to save them, he sold the book. If his message was from God (and we know it wasn’t), why was he selling the in formation that could save them? This reveals where their heart was all along.

In this case, Moses really makes a big mistake here. He doesn’t believe the Lord because he didn’t do what the Lord said to do. He tried to exploit the situation to his advantage. This was also prophetic of Messiah (the rock). He was struck the first time, and now all you need to do is speak to the rock to be saved (living water). But, he was struck again for personal exploitation, just like Yeshua is today for personal exploitation and personal gain. Moses abused his authority (rod) and if he did it in simple things, he would do it in important things. If we are faithful in little things, we will be faithful in big things.

What happens when “contention” (Meribah-verse 13) comes in? We make mistakes, even if we are a “Moses.” It brings out the worst in all of us. How ironic it is for us to help others, but sink into unbelief and sin. In the face of unloving and ungrateful brothers and friends, do we continue to serve? The answer should be “yes.”

Num 20 describes a collapse in leadership. What would have gone through our minds to see Moses and Aaron in so much distress? They were yelling at the mob, groveling before the enemy. All the consultants, flow charts and empowerment workshops in the world would not atone for a lack of leadership. There was leadership up to this point. If it wasn’t Moses, it was Aaron, or Miriam, or a developing leader like Joshua. If all this failed, there was Yehovah.

Sometimes leadership is not very systematic. There is a saying, “Crazy times call for crazy solutions.” Was Moses a failure? No, he left the world a better place. He succeeded when he obeyed the Lord. Moses did a good job. Many times he went before the Lord, but this time he did not believe him (verse 12). He went from compassionate to impatient, and he made mistakes, too. The people got their water and were happy, but Moses got the consequences. Leadership is now going to pass to the next generation. That’s it, no explanation and no protest from anyone that is recorded here (verse 12). The incident just ends and the Scriptures move on to Num 20.14-23.

We will pick up there in Part 22.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 20

The Book of Hebrews mentions this ceremony to illustrate that the korbanot only dealt with the cleansing of the flesh from a legal state of impurity. They never answered the real issues of the heart. The Second Redemption, or Messianic Redemption, does. Only Yeshua’s blood can deal with the heart (Exek 36.25). So, how does the clean becoming clean and unclean becoming clean apply?

2 Cor 5.21 says, “He made him who knew no sin a sin offering on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” Here is an illustration of this concept. Think about one sin you have committed, and a really bad one, one you would never want anyone to know. Now go and tell ten people what it was. How do you feel? What would you do if we wanted you to advertise that sin in a paper, or on Facebook? It would kill you, and humiliate you. That is what Yeshua did, and that is how we become clean and pure. He faced our sin and it killed him. We are humiliated and try to avoid it. One person’s sin was enough to kill him, but he took all our sin and it killed him. As a result, we no longer have to face those sins.

This heifer was to be unblemished (whole) with no defect (not injured) on which a yoke has never been placed (no works). Biblically, no age was required. The Rabbinical requirements that we read about today are just that, they are the requirements of the Rabbis. The Torah does not specify the age or some of the other rabbinical requirements. The Torah specifies that she must be red in color, without blemish (no limbs missing, etc) and not injured, and it must not have been used to perform any work. The heifer was brought outside the camp and slaughtered in the presence of the Deputy High Priest. The High Priest could not be defiled. Then the priest takes some of the blood with his finger and sprinkles some of its blood toward the front of the Ohel Moed (tent of meeting). He is standing east of it and this is done seven times, like he is wielding a whip.

Then the heifer was burned (the Saraph-“burning one”…more on that in Num 21) in his sight, like the priests looked on with Yeshua. The priest would take cedar wood (red), hyssop (which is called the “striking plant” in Israel. It was used on Yom Kippur, the cleansing of a leper and the first Passover. It alludes to the suffering servant Messiah in John 19.29, and a scarlet cloth. This is tied in to the blood of Yeshua. These three items were put into the burning heifer.

The priest washed his clothes and bathed in water, and afterward, came back into the camp. He would be unclean until evening. The one who burns the heifer will do the same thing. Then a man who is clean would gather up the ashes and deposit them outside the camp in a clean place. The congregation (kahal) would keep it for purification from sin and corpse uncleanness. The one who gathered the ashes washed his clothes and would be unclean until evening.

Now, if a person touched a corpse, they would be ritually unclean for seven days. That one would purify himself from uncleanness with water in the third and seventh day to be ritually clean. If he didn’t do this, the person remained unclean. Anyone who touched a corpse and did not purify himself defiles the sanctuary (Mishkan/Temple), and he was cut off (karet) from Israel. The water for impurity was not sprinkled on him.

If a person dies in a tent (house), everyone who comes into the tent (house) is unclean for seven days. Every open vessel which has no covering tied on it would be unclean. Anyone in an open field who touches a corpse, or a bone or grave, will be unclean for seven days. Ashes of the Parah Adumah are mixed with flowing water, and a clean person took hyssop and dipped it in the water. Then it was sprinkled on the tent (house), the furnishings, the people and the one who touched the corpse, bone or grave.

The clean person sprinkled the unclean person on the third and seventh day, and then the unclean person was purified. He washed his clothes and bathed himself in water and was unclean until evening. If the unclean person does not purify himself, he is cut off from the people (karet) because he has defiled the sanctuary. The water for impurity was not sprinkled on him. This was a perpetual statute.

Now, let’s briefly look at the prophetic implications. We all know that a Temple will be built and standing during the Birth-pains. But, the altar can be operating first without a Temple, which we believe will happen. It happened before in Ezra 3.1-6. They began to offer korbanot on Yom Teruah after they returned from Babylon. We believe that this will happen again. On the day that the catching away (Natzal) of the believers happens, it will be a Yom Teruah, year 6001 from creation. We believe that the korbanot will start to be offered on the altar on that day, but the Temple will not be built yet. That means that believers who will go in the Natzal will see the consecration of this altar and the purification of the priests. They will also see the red heifer ceremony.

All of this has to take place at least seven days before any priest can be purified to offer the korbanot on the altar. So, these are some of the signs we are looking for before the Natzal can occur. This also means that that the Natzal is not “imminent” as some teach and believe. The “rapture” as the Natzal is called cannot happen “at any time.” It has an appointed day called Yom Teruah, or Rosh Ha Shannah. You will also notice in Ezra 3.2 that the High Priest here is a man named Yeshua (spelled with a “J” in English Bibles). This same Yeshua is named “Joshua” in Zech 6.11-12 and Zech 3.1. Here are some other verses with Yeshua in the Hebrew text: 1 Chr 24.11; 2 Chr 31.15; Ezra 2.6, 2.40, 8.33; Neh 3.19, 7.11, 7.43, 8.7, 8.17, 9.4-5, 12.8, 12.24. As you can see, it was a popular name even then. What you will not see is some of the ways Yeshua is said today, like “Yahshua.” That name cannot be found in the Hebrew text, but Yeshua is. Anyone who says “Yahshua” does not know Hebrew. Now, let’s look at Num 20.1-29.

We learn in Num 20.1 that Miriam dies and this is 38 years after the previous verses. In addition, the congregation (kahal) was not the same. Their bodies had fallen in the wilderness. There is no mention of a period of mourning for Miriam, and Moses is obviously grieving at this point. So, we learn that there was no water at this time, and this new generation gathered against Moses and Aaron (v 2). Not only does he lose his sister, but now he has to deal with these people. Instead of consoling him, they contend with him (v 3). The people did not have water when Miriam died, and the people complained saying they wished they had died when their brothers died (at Taberah in Num 11.1-35, Korah and his company, the 14,700 in Num 16.49, etc).

We will pick up here in Part 21 with what happened with Moses and the rock in Num 20.8-13.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament