Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #36: B’ha’alotkha( When you set up) B’midbar (Numbers) 8:1-12:16
Haftarah: Z’kharyah ( Zechariah) 2;14-4:7
B’rit Chadashah: Hebrews 3:1-6
We discussed parashah Naso two weeks ago as we celebrated Shavu’ot on June 4 according to the Essene calendar. Today we resume with the regular Messianic schedule to discuss Parashah #36.
There are several passages in Exodus that address the procedure for constructing and lighting the menorah (lampstand). The symbology and significance of theses instructions which today includes the actual lighting and placement of the lamps is a study in itself. We previously learned that the fourth lamp in the lampstand symbolizes the servant lamp which symbolizes Yahshua as the One in the center of the lampstand from which all others draw their light. The seven lamps may also be compared to the seven assemblies discussed in the book of Revelation, all of which G-d addressed through John’s writing. We learn that the light is to burn day and night, indicating that G-d is active in our lives around the clock. We also learn that the lamps are to burn forward, again symbolic of our purpose on this earth to shine our light before men that G-d would be glorified and that His Name be made known throughout the nations. There is so much more to learn from the description of the menorah and the lampstands that is addressed in previous parashot taught in the past on our website at http://www.rabdavis.org along with other teachings. However, today I want to cover a couple of other points in the parashah that are not discussed as often.
The purification process for the Levitical Priesthood is also a major portion of this parashah. This process includes being sprinkled with water and ashes from the para aduma for decontamination, shaving their bodies and bathing for decontamination, then the laying on of hands similar to the laying of hands on sacrificial animals. Finally, they undergo dedication by being elevated before the L-rd at the tabernacle and then given to the charge of the kohanim to whom they are subordinate. Among their duties is guarding the tabernacle and the nation. In case of war against Israel, the Levites are responsible for leading the offensive.
Another area of discussion is the establishment of an alternative date for Pesach should those who want to obey the command be barred due to of ritual impurity or are on a long journey. These individuals are to celebrate Pesach exactly one month later. Those who choose not to celebrate Pesach as commanded are cut off from their people. This mandate applies to the native Israelite and the stranger. One rule for all. This is a common theme in G-d’s Torah for those who want to be included as one of G-d’s people. This concept is substantiated and validated throughout G-d’s Torah. Anyone who wants to enjoy salvation and an eternity with G-d must follow the “House rules.”
As a side note, the plan of salvation throughout G-d’s Torah follows the same process as the Jewish wedding. Following this process, Israel who accepted the “marriage contract” which are the 10 Commands remains on Sinai for nearly a year just as newlyweds spend a year together before the man must be available to go to war (Deut. 24:5). We see references to Judah being the wife of G-d and Israel the soon to be Bride of Yahshua described in the book of Revelation. A deeper explanation also requires more time than can be devoted on one Shabbat. However, more information may be found on o the website rabdavis.org for your erroneous believe the “Church” is going to raptured away and become the Bride of “Christ.” The Torah simply dies not teach this assertion. Again, one rule for all applies in G-d’s Torah for those who want to be considered a “good and faithful servant in G-d’s economy. Grace is not a “golden ticket” to heaven that allows us to eat forbidden foods, negate G-d’s mandated designated times, and even adulterate and desecrate Shabbat. His grace does not exclude His truth and righteousness. In Exodus 20:6 we read the third of 10 Commandments of G-d “ You are to have no other gods before me. You are not to make for yourselves a carved image of any kind or representation of anything in heaven above, on the earth beneath or in the water below the shoreline. You are not to bow down to them or serve them; for I, Adonai your G-d, am a jealous G-d, punishing the children for the sins of the parents to the third and fourth generation f those who hate me, but displaying grace to the thousandth generation of those who love me and obey my commands.”
Other gods are anyone or anything that distracts us from following G-d’s commandments out of love for Him. This may include family, friends, money, jobs, possessions to name some of the basic distractors. There are numerous scriptures that validate the dangers of placing anyone or anything before our service to the G-d of Israel. I make a point to say “God of Israel” and the “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” because Christianity often teaches that they and observant Israelites follow the same G-d. This is simply not true. Readers who would like more information on this subject and scriptural references that substantiate this truth may contact me at rabdavis.org and submit comments or questions to “ask the Rabbi” link.
This brings us to our next subject which is discussed in Num 10:29-33:“ Moshe said to Hovav the son of Re’u’el the Midyani, Moshe’s father-in-law, ‘we are traveling to the place about which Adonai said, “ I will give it to you,” ‘ Come with us and we will treat you well, because Adonai has promised good things to Israel.’ “ But he replied, ‘ I will not go; I would rather go back to my own country and my own kinsmen.” Moshe continued. ‘ Please don’t leave us, because you know that we have to camp in the desert, and you can serve as our eyes. If you do go with us, then whatever good Adonai does for us, we will do the same for you.’ So they set out from Adonai’s mountain and traveled for three days.”
There is often confusion about who Hovav is although he is described as a Midianite and Moshe’s father-in-law. The name Hovav is another name for Yitro (Jethro).The name Hovav means “friend,” “devotee,” or “admirer.’ This name for Yitro is used to describe him both as a friend to Moshe and the Israelites and devoted to the G-d of Israel. We have further evidence that Yitro acknowledged G-d as the One true G-d when he told Moshe “ Now I know that Adonai is greater than all other gods, because he rescued those who were treated so arrogantly.” (Exodus 18;11). This was in reference to Yitro learning that G-d had delivered Israel from the Egyptians. Yitro also offered a burnt offering and sacrifices to G-d.
Another point on today’s parashah as it relates to Shabbat and the prohibition on the preparation of food is made referring to Chapter 11:7-10. The people would gather up the man and grind it up in mills or use a mortar and pestle to grind it up. Then they would cook it in pots and make it into loaves. There is obviously a process of preparing manna rather than simply eating it as in the form in which it came down from heaven. From this narrative and the prohibition against any mundane work on Shabbat we can understand that food preparation is a mundane task and should not be done on Shabbat. Our meals for Shabbat should be prepared before sundown on Friday night.
Finally, we are reminded that the complaints of a few are often attributed to an entire assembly or society in which the majority remain silent. In the first instance, the people began complaining about the hardships of the journey which are not specified. G-d causes a fire to consume the outskirts of the camp as sort of a “shot across the bow.” The people cried to Moshe, he prayed to G-d, and the fire abated. That “warning shot” did not seem to prompt the people to change their attitude to one of repentance and gratitude. Instead, a mixed crowd grew greedy for an easier life; this attitude and complaining people in the desert who spreading to the Israelites who added a complaint about the food. Imagine! A people who had been delivered from Egypt, was led by G-d in the cloud by day and fire by night, who provided manna from heaven, complaining about this miraculous provision and their lives as they traveled. The people were demanding meat. This rebellious attitude was about to be dealt with by G-d in a way that only He could accomplish. Moshe was distraught and in great despair, with approximately a million people in his charge who were complaining and became more of a burden than he could bear alone.
G-d came to his rescue and had Moshe call out 70 leaders of the people who would receive a portion of the Spirit to help Moshe bear the burden of the quarrelsome people. Those who received a portion of the Spirit prophesied at that time, but not afterward. Two men who stayed in the camp rather than going out to the tent and who continued to prophecy in the camp. However, this was not seen as disobedience but a virtuous act. Moshe was notified, but rather than becoming jealous, he said “ I wish Adonai would put his Spirit on all of them! (Num. 11:29).
The L-rd always intervenes at the perfect time to protect his glory and allow His will to be accomplished.
Prophecy completed by the 70 elders in and outside of the tent, G-d not only causes a flood of quail to be blown in near the camp. The people went out to gather them from a heap three feet deep covering all sides of the camp at a distance of about a day’s journey. Unfortunately, as the people were eating the quail, G-d caused a terrible plague that killed the greedy. The people were buried, and the place was named Kivrot-HaTa’avah which translates as “graves of greed.” We are to be content with our portion whether it be manna or an eight-course meal. G-d is our Provider and knows our needs before we do. Avraham was the first to acknowledge the One True G-d as our Provider and says as much in Genesis 22:13” Avraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son. Avraham called the place Adonai Yir’yeh [Adonai will see to it, Adonai provides]-as it is said to this day, ‘On the mountain Adonai is seen.” May we always remember G-d will provide the needs of those who love Him. See John 14 for Yahshua’s definition of those who love Him, Romans chapters 1-3 for the definition of a “true Jew,” and the book of Revelation for the Seven-fold witness of a true believer.
Haftarah: Z’kharyah (Zechariah) 2:14-4:7
This is a beautiful narrative of comfort for those who love G-d and a death knell for those who were and are against G-d and Jerusalem and Israel. G-d calls the people out of Bavel; a statement that parallels G-d calling people out of apostate religion in Revelation 18:4; “ Then I heard another voice from heaven say ‘ Come out of her My people, so that you will not share in her sons or contract any of her plagues” G-d promises to come and dwell among His people; that he will take Jerusalem his choice. We read of how the Accuser will stand to our right and accuse us of all our sins before Yahshua. In this narrative, Y’hoshua is the subject symbolic of each of us standing before Yahshua expressed as the angel of Adonai. The angel of the Adonai (Yahshua) is the One who directs that Y’hoshua’s filthy rags be taken from him, taking his guilt away, and preparing to clothe him in fine robes and a clean turban upon his head. Of critical significance is the next sentence, for Yahshua gives us the requirements for entry into His rest. 3:6 reads, “Then the angel of Adonai gave Y’hoshua this warning: Adonai-Tzva’ot says this: If you will walk in my ways, obey my commission, judge my house and guard my courtyards; then I will give you free access among those who are standing here.”
This is just one of examples in scripture that makes clear the fact that we are not passive pawns in G-d’s plan. Rather, we are active participants who have free will to either follow G-d’s commands, His Torah or assimilate with those outside of His Torah. Those who choose to follow their own “version” of G-d will be included in those who will be sentenced to suffer the second death. We must carefully examine what we believe and follow and why we believe it. We can know for sure if what we believe and how we live is consistent with the G-d of Israel’s plan and instructions if they are found in His Torah/Instructions. I am not speaking of the Oral Torah; I am referring to G-d’s written Word in the Hebrew. We have a plethora of technological devices that make it extremely easy to research the true meaning of scripture. We must not allow ourselves to become complacent and rely on the numerous mistranslations of G-d’s Torah, the King James Version being the most mistranslated based on 20 years of personal research. We must strive to rightly divide with word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15 and work out; yes, I said work out our salvation with fear and trembling ( Phil.2;12-13). Here is just one of many examples such as the one in our Haftarah that clearly tells us faith without works is dead ((James 2:26). There is no way around the requirement to follow G-d’s instructions. Grace alone just won’t measure up with G-d.
B’rit Chadashah: Hebrews 3:1-6
This narrative draws the parallel between Moshe and Yahshua. Moshe was faithful in all his house as he was appointed by G-d. But Yahshua deserves more honor than Moshe, “just as the builder of the house deserves more honor than the house. Every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is G-d.” While Moshe was faithful in all G-d’s house, as a servant giving witness to things G-d would share later. But Yahshua as Messiah, as Son, was faithful over G-d’s house. Although verse 12-13in chapter 3 are not included on today’s reading, I am addressing it here as a reminder that we can fall away. “ Watch out brothers, so that there will not be in any one of you an evil heart lacking trust, which could lead you to apostatize from the living G-d! Instead, keep exhorting each other every day, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you will become hardened by the deceit of sin. For we have become sharers in the Messiah, provided however, that we hold firmly to the conviction we began with, right through until the goal is reached.” Salvation is not a once-saved-always-saved event! We have a responsibility to carry the testimony of Yahshua (become reconciled to Yahshua through repentance and guard the commands of G-d( follow the instructions)! This is the seven-fold witness found in the book of Revelation.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart