Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #36: B’ha’alotka (When you set up) B’midbar (Numbers) 8:1-12:16
Haftarah: Z’kharyah (Zechariah) 2:14-4:7
B’rit Chadashah: Yochanan (John) 19:31-37 Messianic Jews (Hebrews) 3:1-6
In the beginning of this parashah we see another regulation that indicates the Bible is not written in chronological order. The subject is the Menorah and Adonai tells Moshe how the lamps are to be set up in front of the Menorah in order to cast the light toward the main stem. This is also explained in Exodus 25:37 where the three wicks on the right and the three on the left are directed toward the center with the light casted forward; not backwards or side to side. This is significant. Because the light was spread out in a forward fashion, the Menorah symbolized G-d, the Source of all light or the Ein Sof (Infinite Light) as we learned in Kabbalah, Who did not need to illuminate the Tabernacle (Rashi). This is consistent with the description of the new Temple described in Revelation 21:22 and forward; “I saw no Temple in the city, for Adonai, G-d of heaven’s armies, is its Temple, as is the Lamb. The city as no need for the sun or the moon to shine on it, because G-d’s Sh’kinah gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.” Perhaps the two sides of the Menorah also represent grace and law; Gentile and Jew coming together to redirect their part of the Light given them by the Ruach back to the Source; YHVH/Yahshua. According to Sforno, the right symbolizes those engaged in spiritual pursuits while the left symbolizes temporal activity. If we compare this to modern psychology, it would seem the opposite would be the case as the left side of the brain is associated with task-oriented concepts and the right is associated with creativity. Regardless of how we want to perceive the left and right sides of the Menorah, we can only speculate at this time. We do know that we cannot obtain or shine without first drawing the Light from the Source Himself; YHVH/Yahshua. It’s all about Him, not us. By having both sides of the Menorah project light forward, we can understand that we are to let our lights so shine before men in the same manner. Similarly, the moon can only shine light forward that it obtains or reflects from the sun. It has no light of its own and does not store it. We too must not hoard the light we receive from the Ein Sof/YHVH/Yahshua, but let it shine forward/reflect it forward to the world around us that includes all creation. This concept is verified in the B’rit Chadashah in Luke 11:33 and Matthew 5:15.
In Numbers 9:11 we read that the Paschal Lamb is not to have its bones broken. Furthermore, the laws concerning the celebration and process of preparing the Pesach lamb are specifically clarified as the same for the foreigner as for the citizen of the land. This is to say, anyone including Christian clergy who teach their congregations that “the Jews are under the Law” have no understanding of what they are saying. We learn and obey G-d’s laws (not the traditions of men) as taught by G-d, reiterated, and upheld by Yahshua, the very One Christians profess to love and follow! One of the main problems is that Christians are not taught the difference between the traditions of men associated with the Oral Torah and the perpetual truth of G-d’s Torah. Another major problem is that Christians are taught a false theology of a Trinity rather than the truth of the Complex Unity of the G-dhead. Understanding these two truths are critical to moving forward with the correct knowledge of G-d’s Torah. True believers are not “under the Law” as we follow G-d’s laws out of love and obedience because that is what G-d/Yahshua demands of a true believer (see John 14 and Romans chapters 2-3). Christians who believe they are “free from the laws of G-d” are sorely mistaken as evidenced by Numbers 9:14 and all of G-d’s commands that are to be followed regardless of whether we are Jew or Gentile. Whether or not Gentiles believe the original biological Jews succeeded or failed in their mission to set an example for the world to follow in living G-d’s Torah, the fact that G-d expects us to follow it out of love and obedience remains. G-d does not change! Non-Messianic Jews do not have a golden ticket to salvation. Moreover, all people must be grafted into the covenants of Israel and meet the criteria of a true believer in the Seven-Fold witness found in the book of Revelation spoken by Yahshua Himself!
In the B’rit Chadashah in John 19:31-37 we read that when Yahshua’s body was approached by Pilate’s guards, He was already dead and there was no need to break His bones. This fulfilled the prophetic regulation in Torah described in Exodus 12:46. In verse 32 we read the description of how Yahshua was to die by being lifted up on a stake. It is very important for us to realize this was a Roman form of punishment, NOT a Jewish one. Remember, the Jews took their guidance from YHVH concerning who was to be killed ant the method used, which was accomplished by stoning. Under Roman rule, the Jews were not given the authority to decide who was to die. This provides sufficient proof that the Jews did not crucify Yahshua (“Christ’). This was a Roman political conspiracy to eliminate and up and coming source of competition. In the book of Daniel, you will read that the Anti-Messiah will come out of the people who executed Yahshua. This is the Rome. Unfortunately, the false teaching of Christianity provides a convenient scapegoat for the sins of ALL humanity in blaming the Jews for Yahshua’s death. If we look at the recent current events in our world, we can see that nothing has changed. We never look to ourselves or society as a possible source for the catastrophes and adversities that are occurring with increasing frequency and intensity. All the individual who is genuinely interested must do to find the answers to the questions we have about what is going on in the world today, is to prayerfully and humbly read the books of the Prophets. There is no difference in how G-d punished His people for their sins of rebellion and idolatry and punishments He will again allow for the rebellion and idolatry against His Torah in the present and in the future. G-d is trying to get people’s attention; He wants us to repent and turn our lives over to His service; not our own selfish gratification.
In Numbers 9:15 -23, we learn that we must be ready to move whenever G-d calls us to the task. Note that in verse 16 we are told that when the cloud was taken up above the tent of the testimony, the people of Israel continued their travels. This term is important, indicating that they understood that they were not going to be settled until they reached the Land. Sometimes they had to pack up and move the entire camp after only a 12-hour period! We are talking about over a million people! Most important is the last phrase of verse 23; “they did what Adonai had charged them to do through Moshe.” There are no statements indicating they complained, refused, tried to sequester support against the order, etc. They did what Adonai charged them to do, period. This is a lesson for us, whether Jew or Gentile. If we profess to love G-d, we are obligated out of love to do what He says without trying to rationalize, justify, or minimize how we can get around His commands and regulations. In 11:1 when the people started complaining, Adonai gave them a warning by causing a fire to break out against them, consuming the outskirts of the camp. Even after they cried to Moshe, Moshe prayed to G-d. and the fire was stopped, a mixed crowd that was with them grew greedy for an easier life, at which time the people of Israel started whining too, this time for meat and the foods they had back in Egypt! All we need do is continue reading to find out what happens when we exhibit the same types of behaviors. WE must read through verse 34 and not stop when we think we’ve had enough. G-d will not tolerate our obstinacy and rebellion forever. How arrogant can we be to think that G-d would punish His people during the Exodus and not punish people now for the same sins? If we follow the teachings of Christianity we might say it doesn’t matter what we do, all is forgiven through the blood of “Jesus.” Unfortunately, or not, this is not the truth of the Bible. What is the truth?
Let’ explore the Old and “New” Testaments for consistency. When the soldier stabbed Yahshua’s side, at once blood and water flowed out. In Lev. 17:11 Adonai said; “For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls for it is the blood that maketh and atonement for the soul.” It is very clear that atonement is costly. The crucifixion of Yahshua illustrates this truth. (Matt. 26:28; Luke 22:20). In Heb. 13:20 the blood is described as “an eternal covenant.” In Hebrews 9:14 “blood that cleanses the consciousness”; these being metaphors in the language of sacrifice. In legal language we have “redemption” (Eph. 1:7) and “justification” (Rom. 5:9). These metaphors show that only G-d could provide atonement; Yahshua/G-d was/is both Priest and Offering.
Now let us look at the Levitical purification process. Why? Because this was the priestly cast in the Old Testament. We are called the New Priesthood in 2 Peter. We need to follow the same pattern/process. In order to act as a substitute for the firstborn in serving G-d and transporting the Tabernacle, they required a sacrificial ritual, as did the consecration of the Kohanim. These servants required purification (water) and atonement (blood). IN the B’rit Chadashah in John 19:31-37, we read that the blood and water is mentioned again. In this instance, it is from Yahshua’s side. Why this repeated reference to blood and water? Water is the cleansing component, or another metaphor for the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit); not fire. Blood is the covering or atonement. We must come under the covering of the blood of Yahshua is order to be set apart for His service; then we are cleansed with the “water” or Ruach. We can now see the correlation between the Kohanim (priests) and ourselves. In 2 Peter we are described as a priesthood, a people set apart for the service of G-d. We are then no less obligated by the same laws and regulations for cleansing and atonement in order to be set apart for G-d’s service.
Haftarah: Z’kharyah (Zechariah) 2:14-4:7
This haftarah contains a vision of the golden Temple Menorah, whose daily kindling is ordered and described at the beginning of our parashah. Similarly, we are to light our menorahs for reflecting the light of Yahshua, the Light of the world is our purpose. We are to keep our lights burning, renewing on a daily basis. The prophecy of the menorah was committed to Zachariah shortly before the building of the second Temple. G-d outlined the rewards that await Joshua and his descendants IF they follow G-d’s ways. This is yet another reminder that G-d’s laws are NOT dead. The greatest reward that awaits those who keep G-d’s commands and His ways is the initial and subsequent arrivals of the Messiah, the Shoot of David; Yahshua.
Zechariah then describes a vision of a golden seen-branched Menorah. An angel interprets the meaning of this vision; “This is the word of the L-rd to Zerubbabel, (descendant of King David, one of the protagonists in the building of the second Temple. ‘Not by military force and not by physical strength, but by My Sprit, says the L-rd of Hosts.” Zerubbabel’s descendant, Messiah Yahshua, will have no difficulty in accomplishing His task. It will be as simple as lighting a menorah. Yahshua is the Light of the world and it is our reasonable service to emulate Him and “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16). “Works” is an action verb. Faith without works/deeds is dead (James 2:14-26). James was the brother of Yahshua (Jesus) and consistently supported G-d’s laws as taught by his brother and Sha’ul (Paul) who was a Torah-observant Messianic Jew, not a Christian. This is something worth considering for those who have been taught a conflicting interpretation. May we prayerfully and humbly study the Word of G-d to show ourselves approved (2 Tim. 2:15).
B’rit Chadashah: Hebrews 3:1-6
In 3:1 we read that Yahshua, like Moshe, was YHVH’s emissary, conveying YHVH’s truth and wishes to the people of Israel. In this role, Yahshua acts as prophet, as was Moshe when he predicted in Deut. 18:15-19. Like Moshe, Yahshua intercedes for the people (7:25), and as such, He is fulfilling the role of Kohen, a priest, just as Moshe did when the people worshipped the golden calf (Ex. 32:32) and at other times.
Verses 2-4 tell is that Yahshua is not merely on the same level as Moshe, but better than Moshe, just as He is above the angels. This is not a truth accepted by the Orthodox Jew in general. They continue to proclaim Moshe as the greatest prophet of all time. However, as Messianic believers with the complete Torah at our disposal, we know that Yahshua deserves more honor than Moshe. Even if we look strictly at Jewish sources, the idea that the Messiahs is better than Moshe can be realized in Genesis Rabbah 2:4; “And the spirit of YHVH hovered over the waters,” This phrase from Genesis 1:2 alludes to the spirit of Messiah because Isaiah 11:2 states “And the spirit of Adonai (YHVH) will rest upon Him”[ that is, upon the “shoot of Jesse,” which is a name for the Messiah]. We also learn from the same text in Genesis 1:2 that the spirit of Messiah comes through the spirit of repentance, for in Lamentations 2:19 repentance is likened to water: “Pour out your heart like water.” (Genesis Rabbah 2:4). Note how this passage equates the “spirit of Messiah”, a term used in Romans 8:9, with the Spirit of YHVH who is the same as the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit).
“At the beginning of the creation of the world King Messiah had already come into being, because He existed in the mind of YHVH before the world was created.” (Pesikta Rabbati 33:6).
Nothing like this is said in any Jewish sources about Moshe, but the same is taught about Yahshua in the Messianic Scriptures (NT) in John 1:1-18; 8:59, Col. 1:15-17.
Verses 5-6 provide another reason why Yahshua is greater than Moshe in that Moshe was a servant, but Yahshua is like a son. A comparison between a servant and a son is described in Gal. 4:1-7 and John 15:15.
For additional learning:
Who is given the opportunity to make a second Pesach? Why did they deserve such an opportunity?
How can we learn from this week’s parashah that tzara’at comes as a punishment for speaking badly about someone?
Rabbi Tamah Davis