Torah – Numbers 1:1-4:20; Haftarah – Hosea 2:1-23; Brit Chadeshah Romans 9:22-33
Parasha this week begins the fourth of the five books of Moses (Torah), Bemidbar, the book of Numbers. The entirety of the four chapters covered deal with the census that G-d commanded Moses to take of the children of Yisra’el. Numbers 1:2-3, “Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Yisra’el, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of the names, every male, one by one; from twenty years old and upward, all who are able to go out to war in Yisra’el. You and Ahron shall number them by their divisions.”
As you read through the four chapters of Numbers that are this week’s portion, you will see not only the listing of the children of Yisra’el but you will see how carefully G-d shows us not only the genealogies of the twelve tribes of Yisra’el, but also their numbers according to tribe and family. You will also learn of their placement and position around the Mishkan and the specific jobs that each tribe was entrusted to carry out. There is much to learn here but as always, my task is not to offer an exhaustive study but to offer a summary and to share a lesson that is upon my heart.
I will come back to Numbers chapter 3 for the specific lesson this week, but for now let’s move over to look at Hosea. This is a beautiful and powerful portion from Haftarah. You catch a glimpse of the love, passion and long-suffering heart of our Father. Yisra’el had gone astray from the marriage to G-d which occurred at Har Sini (Mount Sinai). The nation of Israel had prostituted and corrupted herself by chasing after false gods. Instead of destroying her and being finished with her we see how G-d chooses to win her back. I love how he says he will place a hedge of thorns around her so that her lovers will turn away from her and He places a wall around her so she will not be able to follow after Ba’al. What is the purpose of this? In doing so, she (Yisra’el) will have awakened and realized that all of her chasing after these things had lead her to nothing and that she would return to her first love! The chastisements of the Father are more often than not intended not to destroy, but to redeem. Baruch HaShem! (Praise the Name)
In Romans we see a continuation of sorts of the idea of G-d’s patience, love and mercy in Hosea. Rabbi Sha’ul presents the question of ‘What if?” What if G-d, in order to display His patience and power, endured vessels that were destined to destruction? In other words we are all vessels intended to contain His glory and walk out His purposes in the earth. But, because of our own wrong choices and rejection of His gift of salvation through Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah we ultimately become these vessels doomed for destruction. And by the way, this applies to both Jew and gentile alike. Then Paul looks at the vessels of mercy! This or these are those whom have attained glory, salvation through Yeshua the Messiah, again Jew and gentile alike! Look at how patient G-d is! Sure, He displays great patience in each of our individual lives. But on a much grander scale the course His chosen have taken over thousands of years! It is not just the flow of the multitude of individuals who have lived and are living, but also the corporate actions of nations and peoples.
Alright, let’s go back to Numbers chapter 3 where we again see G-d pointing out the sin of Ahron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, which lead to their deaths. It is a pretty simple concept, but, clearly it was important enough for G-d to reiterate so it’s surely important enough for me to draw your attention to here. We know that these two sons had been trained up in the proper and prescribed ways of service in the Tabernacle. They clearly knew and understood the instructions of G-d in these matters. However they made the wrong choice of doing things their own way and circumvented the will of the Father by offering ‘strange fire’ to the L-RD. It was strange because it was something that was outside the norm. It was not at all what G-d had instructed. So, as a consequence, they brought upon themselves the due penalty. What I find interesting is the comparison of how Moses approached G-d, and how Nadav and Avihu approached him. What I am referring to is not the actions they walked out but rather in the position of their hearts. Solomon tells us in Proverbs that only a man of a humble heart and contrite spirit can see G-d. Moses had both of those things going for him. He is said to have been the most humble man alive! Because of his humility and his obedience, he was able to approach G-d. In stark contrast, these two men had to have been pretty high minded and arrogant. They thought in their hearts that they had some right to have what Moses had and somehow this authorized them to shortcut the patterns and boundaries set before them by G-d.
Personal will is an amazing thing. It is both a beautiful gift from a Father who loves us so much and wants us to want Him. It is also, as we see in this parasha, a dangerous and serious thing. It is our will which charts the course of our eternal destinies. But think about this. It is the will of our Savior which even allowed our wills to matter in the first place. What it means is this. The Father of course, exercised His will by setting forth His sovereign and omnipotent plan of creation and redemption. G-d laid down His very own life to redeem us through the person of Yeshua. Read Matthew 26:39 and you will read something that blows me away every time I read it or think about it. Here we see Messiah crying out to the Father prior to being placed on the execution stake of the Romans. Understand this, he did NOT want to endure what he knew was coming. He did not want to endure the humiliation. He did not want to endure the flogging, beating and shame. He did not want to endure the spikes which would be driven through his flesh. He did not want to experience death itself! Think about this! Yeshua was not merely some good man who came to teach us the way. He WAS the way! He was G-d Himself, incarnate in the flesh. Do you understand how amazing this is? The very one who is ALL life himself was about to experience the curse of death and pay the penalty of sin so that we, mere flesh could be redeemed from eternal damnation which we were more than deserving of! Holy is the L-RD G-d Almighty!!!
You see, Yeshua like the sons of Ahron had a choice to make. Unlike Ahron’s sons, Messiah made the right choice. The choice to set aside self-will and follow even unto death the will of the Father. Praise G-d He did! All of history, all of humanity teetered on the precipice of this one decision. You and I would have been lost forever had Yeshua followed his flesh. Whose example are you going to follow? Nadav and Avihu? They followed their flesh and it lead to death. Perhaps we should ask G-d to search our hearts now and show us any area of our life where we are following after our flesh instead of His Spirit. Father forgive us. Help us to have pure hearts which follow whole-heartedly after you and you alone. Thank you for Yeshua and His steadfast will to follow your will.