Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah # 36 B’ha’alotkha (When you set up) B’midbar 8:1-12:16
Haftarah: Zechariah 2:14-4:7
B’rit Chadashah: Hebrews 3:1-6
In previous teachings on this parashah, I focused on the meaning of the first paragraph; what it means to let our lights shine forward as G-d commanded for the Menorah. We compared the lights to the seven types of people characterized as “churches” in Revelation and how all people fall into one or more of the categories. We also discussed how we can overcome such character flaws and allow our lights to shine by the Light of G-d’s Torah (Ps. 119:105).
This week we are going to concentrate on G-d’s leadership, provision, and the gravity of a complaining heart and mouth. We must realize that it is only by His loving kindness chesed, that we are not all zapped out of existence when we complain as much as we do. Do we not realize that everything G-d allows is for our ultimate benefit? We should highlight or somehow otherwise mark three specific verses that confirm this truth: Romans 8:28-38, Romans 5:3-5, and 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
Our parashah gives us explicit examples of what happens when we gossip or complain that G-d’s provision is not sufficient. We will also learn that when our Father says “go,” we must go; when He says “stay put and let your lights shine forward in your current environment,” we are to stay.
First, an emphasis is place on observing Pesach with provision for those who are unclean during the regularly mandated observance. Note that we are not “excused” from observing this mandated Holy Day. To ignore it is to be cut off from Israel and suffer the consequences of this sin (Num. 9:14). The rules are the same for the citizen and the foreigner travelling with Israel. That translates to Israel (true believers) and those who choose to follow the same G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Seven times G-d’s Torah states that it is the L-rd alone who directs and guides His people.
We learn of the specifics of taking down and putting up the tabernacle and travelling beginning in Num. 9:15 and continuing on to verse 36. The length of this narrative is no mistake for it has application to our lives today as does every other teaching in G-d’s Torah. The people camped as long as the cloud remained over the tabernacle. This might sound benign and easy. However, sometimes the cloud was a few days over the tabernacle, “sometimes the cloud was there only from evening until morning! Even if the cloud remained up both day and night, they traveled. Whether it was two days, a month, or a year that the cloud remained over the tabernacle, staying on it, the people of Israel remained in camp and did not travel; but as soon as it was taken up, they traveled.” Here is the important part “At Adonai’s order, they camped; and at Adonai’s order, they travelled- they did what Adonai had charged them to do through Moshe.” Now if only a small pup tent was involved, that might not be such a great task. But we are talking about the tabernacle and over 1 million people moving across the desert! Nevertheless, G-d was in charge then, and G-d is in charge now. We are not our own but were created to glorify Him through our service to Him.
Newlyweds spend a year together before the husband must go to war (Deut. 24:5). So Yisra’el remains at Sinai for nearly a year. Suddenly, the cloud lifts and the people must pull up stakes and move on through the wilderness journey, much as a newlywed couple begins their unified walk together through life.
Judah and the eastern flank departed first with the other tribes following as G-d commanded. When the cloud rested, Judah would stop first. The sons of Gershon and M’rari would erect the framework ahead of the arrival of the next tribe. Once this was prepared, they could receive the ark at the center of camp from the sons of K’hat. This process was incredibly efficient as one should expect when the order was directed by G-d!
Next, we see an illustration of what happens when we mix “two types of cloth.” Recall we are not to mix wool and linen (Deut. 22:11). This command offers another valuable teaching. When two different clothes are mixed together, the integrity of the garment will be compromised in some way. We are given a human example of this in this parashah. In Num. 11:4 we read “Next, the mixed crowd that was with them grew greedy for an easier life; while the people of Israel, for their part, also renewed their weeping and said, ‘If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt- it cost us nothing! -and the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, the garlic! But now we’re withering away, we have nothing to look at but this man.” The people of Israel were already complaining about their perceived hardships (Num. 11:1). The mixed crowd added fuel to the fire. Yet, Adonai held His punishment and granted Moshe respite by having him choose 70 leaders of Israel on which Adonai placed some of the Spirit on them to assist Moshe in dealing with this unhappy bunch (Num. 11:16-17).
Now Adonai prepares to deal with the ungrateful Israelites and the mixed crowd. Numbers 11:18 begins “Tell the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you will eat meat; because you cried in the ears of Adonai, ‘ If only we had meat to eat! We had the good life in Egypt!’ All right, Adonai is going to give you meat, and you will eat it. You won’t just eat it one day, or two days, or five, or ten , or twenty days, but a whole month!- until it comes out of your nose and you hate it!- because you have rejected Adonai, who is here with you and distressed him with your crying and asking, ‘Why did we ever leave Egypt?’”
This was only the beginning. One might think eating quail would not be so bad for a month. One may arrogantly think that there would be no problem handling that kind of meat and that G-d’s response was a relinquishing His better judgment for the sake of complainers. However, we read in Num. 11:30 that a wind was blown up that blew up and dropped quail everywhere. There were quail stacked three feet high on each side of the camp and all around it. One might think the people might start to get the hint that something was amiss just as we would hope that society today would at least start considering that everything happening today is not someone else’s fault. IN the case of the Israelites, they collected the quail with the person gathering the least still collecting 10 heaps. They started eating. But before they completely chewed the meat, Adonai struck them with a plague in response to their greed. This begs the question; what will become of the greedy in this generation? G-d’s Torah tells us here and beyond that greed will not be tolerated forever. The results of mans rebellion against G-d’s Torah, greed, and pride will be the downfall of our world just as it was for the Temples and the Northern tribes of Israel.
Next, we read of the account of l’shon ha’ra (evil tongue/gossip). Miryam and Aharon criticize Moshe’s on the account of his wife Zipporah, who was Ethiopian, a Cushite. There are several commentaries on the possible subject of the gossip. These range from Miryam being upset that Moshe was not engaging in intimate relations with Zipporah, considering himself “too holy” to have sexual relations with her while he spent time with Adonai, to issues of her ethnicity. Moshe’s patience was tried within his own family, as well as by the people. The pretense was, that he had married a foreign wife hurting their national pride. Their envy of his G-d ordained authority may have reared its ugly head. Opposition from our near relations, and from religious friends, is most painful. But this is to be expected, and it will be well if in such circumstances we can preserve the gentleness and meekness of Moshe. Moshe was thus fitted to the work he was called to do. G-d not only cleared Moshe but praised him. Moshe had the spirit of prophecy in a way which set him far above all other prophets. G-d blessed Moshe’s humility by speaking to him in ways not used for the other prophets. Moshe’s relationship with G-d was unprecedented and not repeated. Miryam is first mentioned, because she was first in the transgression, and so was only punished; Aaron was drawn into the sin by her, and he acknowledged his fault, and was forgiven. We do not know whether Miryam spoke directly to Moshe or gossiped with Aharon about Moshe. Regardless, she was punished and had to take a seven-day “time-out” from the camp before being allowed to return.
Hopefully, we will take the aforementioned narratives to heart as we continue our walk on the King’s Highway and avoid these spiritual “sinkholes” that can pop up in the road at any time. G-d’s Torah is our perfect instruction manual, is “G-d-breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth, convicting of sin, correcting faults and training in right living; thus anyone who belongs to G-d may be fully equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16). “A fool despises his father’s discipline, but he who heeds warnings is prudent.” (Prov. 15:5). May we be prudent and learn from the past that we may avoid the same mistakes in the future. Remember, “Your word is a lamp for my foot and a light on my path.” (Ps. 119:105) Let’s keep our eyes on the “Road.”
Haftarah: Z’kharyah (Zechariah) 2:14-4:7
This haftarah contains a vision of the golden Temple Menorah, whose daily kindling is our main subject of discussion this week. Incidentally, we are to light our menorahs, that is, our goal of serving YHVH/Yahshua daily. This prophecy was committed to Zechariah shortly before the building of the Second Temple. G-d outlines the rewards that await Joshua and his descendants of they follow G-d’s ways. The greatest reward of which is the Messiah, the Shoot of David.
Zechariah then describes a vision of a golden seven-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 Spirit, says the L-rd of Hosts.’” Zerubbabel’s descendant, Messiah, 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).
B’rit Chadashah: Hebrews 3:1-6
This narrative explains the parallels between Moshe and Yahshua. Yahshua, like Moshe at Sinai, was G-d’s emissary, conveying G-d’s truth and instructions (Torah) to the people of Israel. In the Old Testament, Israel was represented by the 12 tribes. In the B’rit Chadashah Israel represents all true believers according to the seven-fold witness found in the book of Revelation. In this first comparison between Moshe and Yahshua, Yahshua fills the role of being a prophet like Moshe, as predicted in Deuteronomy 18:15-19. Also, like Moshe, Yahshua intercedes for the people (7:25), and as such He is fulfilling the role of a cohen, a priest, just as Moshe did when the people worshipped the golden calf (Ex. 32:32, and in many other instances. Let’s now look at some of the differences.
Yahshua is not merely on the same level as Moshe, the paragon of virtue within Judaism (faithful in all G-d’s house), but better than Moshe; just as he is better than angels and all other human beings in general. This is a difference in the teachings of traditional Orthodox Judaism that maintains Moshe was the greatest rabbi ever. However, even if the scriptures did not foretell of Yahshua as the Greater Rabbi, Yahshua deserves more honor than Moshe. Deut. 15:15-22: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet* like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet.* 16This is what you requested of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said: ‘If I hear the voice of the Lord my God any more, or ever again see this great fire, I will die.’ 17Then the Lord replied to me: ‘They are right in what they have said. 18I will raise up for them a prophet* like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet,* who shall speak to them everything that I command. 19Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet* shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable. 20But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak—that prophet shall die.’ 21You may say to yourself, ‘How can we recognize a word that the Lord has not spoken?’ 22If a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord but the thing does not take place or prove true, it is a word that the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; do not be frightened by it.”
Moshe was a servant; Yahshua is the Son. This does not mean that he is a separate “part” of the G-dhead. He is not a second part of what is erroneously taught in Christianity as the “Trinity.” Yahshua assumed the role of “Son” to accomplish the mission He chose to fulfill on Earth; a tangible, tactile human with whom the people could relate and emulate. For a more detailed explanation of the differences between a servant and a son in Gal. 4:1-7; Yochanan (John) 15:15. In Heb.3:3 the difference is made between Moshe who managed the house of Israel and the Tabernacle, and Yahshua who built the house and will build the Temple of the L-rd( Zech. 6:12-13), “ And speak unto him, saying, This speaketh the L-rd of hosts saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the L-rd: Even he shall build the temple of the L-rd; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” Finally in Heb.3:6 speaks of the oneness of Yahshua with and as G-d, “But Yahshua as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast to the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.”
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart