PARASHA: “B’Midbar” (in the wilderness)
NUMBERS 1:1-4:20………HOSEA 2:1-22……. LUKE 11:1-12:59
Israel's very first IDF is formed, by God's command.
We start the new Torah Sefer called “Numbers” in English because it talks about “numbering” the tribes of Israel. We wonder why the reason of “numbering the people?” for this reason, we need to go back to the beginning to see.
In Egypt, Israel was a hodge-podge of undisciplined slaves working for Pharaoh, In Adonai’s timing, He sent Moshe, a “Messiah Type” to lead the people out of slavery to freedom. Once out of Egypt, came the task of taking Egypt out of the Israelites. They came to Har Sinai, ready to become a nation united under YHVH.
The Ten Commandments served as the document in stone, a “Ketubah” to solidify the covenant. Now, the United Tribes of Israel under YHVH is established. But this is only the first part. Each Shavuot, we remember the giving of the “Torah in Stone” in the midst of thunder and fire.
Now that the nation is established, YHVH takes a count, why the count? As a nation, as every nation in the world has, the Nation of Israel needs an army! So, the count is taken to form the very first IDF (Israel Defense Force). I am sure that many of you that are reading this have served in one of the branches of the Armed Forces of the USA, or of other countries. I myself served in the US Army from 1972-1984. I met many people and learned many things. It was a great experience and a special time in my life. Quite a few of my family members also served in the Armed Forces, the first being an ancestor of mine, Richard Ellis, who served in the Massachusetts Militia in 1640.
YHVH takes up the count and “enlists” every man who is 20 years old and older. They will serve in the armies of Israel. All those who are …”20 years old and upward who are able to go to war.” After the numbering, part of the daily life would have been practicing and learning how to use different combat weapons, back then would have been swords, spears, bows and arrows, and slingshots.
Every soldier has a job to do. Today we call these jobs MOS, (Military Occupation Specialties) One of mine was that of a chaplain assistant. I was to assist a catholic chaplain who everyone called; “Father McCarthy” who had a bulldog named “Gus” who also went to chapel with him. 11 of the 12 tribes were called to be fighting men yet the tribe of Levi, was called to be the “chaplain tribe” They were exempt from combat duty, they would attend the Tabernacle and services. There were the cohanim (the priests) who would be the “chaplains” and the “Levites” who would serve as the “chaplain assistants” sort of speaking.
So, you are thinking, what does this numbering have to do with us as born-again believers in Messiah Yeshua? We need to again, go back and look at our lives before and after Messiah Yeshua. Before we were just a bunch of “hodge-podge lost sinners in the camp of HaSatan, until Yeshua took us out of that camp by shedding his blood on the cross of Calvary when we accepted his sacrifice, we were officially “out” of the camp. Yet, there would still be a lot of “HaSatan and worldly influence” still in us, so, like the Israelites, “Egypt” was still in us.
When we accepted Messiah Yeshua as our Mashiach and Goel (Redeemer) we were added to the Commonwealth of Israel, now part of the Community, the “Adat” which began at Sinai 3500 years ago. We are the “olive branches” that have been “grafted into” the Olive Tree.
Now that we are members and citizens of “HIS People” we also are considered “soldiers” and in the LORD’s Army. However, we fight a different type of war. In this world, armies fight with RPGs, M-16s, Kalashnikovs, Berettas, M-60s, etc. We fight against, “spirits and principalities of darkness” it is a spiritual war against HaSatan and his demons. Only through the Ruach HaKodesh (The Holy Spirit) and the power of His WORD can we overcome the onslaughts of the enemy. He realizes he has lost the war, yet still continues to fight a losing battle, which was won at the cross 2000 years ago.
As the Cohenim ministered and had jobs to do, and also the soldiers had their jobs to do, we believers also have jobs within our “Kehilot” and “Adat” (congregations). That is why the Holy Spirit has given gifts of the Spirit, so that we might all serve in different capacities in the body of Messiah. In this way, the body grows and prospers. Some of us are rabbis, pastors, who also serve as teachers, also we have ministers in music and praise, finances, maintenance, prayer intercessors, counselors, and the list can go on.
The twelve tribes of Israel encircled the Tabernacle, with the tribe of Levi next to it. The “Mishkan” was at the center of the People. So also, YHVH should be the “Center” of our life. The whole purpose of our life is to serve our God and Creator, while loving and supporting our brothers and sisters in the faith, reaching out to others who are lost and teaching Torah to those who have ears to hear and learn. We are “numbered” in the eyes of Elohim, HE knows who we are, He has numbered the hairs on our head, and there is no such thing as “retirement” in the work of YHVH, well, there is…. It is called d-e-a-t-h.
Another detail which I would like to add to this midrash. When Adonai numbered the people, he chose leaders out of each tribe. In all groups of “chosen” there are “leaders”. They can be pastors, rabbis, Sunday school teachers, Torah teachers, counselors, etc. But every group needs a leader or leaders. If not, we have a lot of sheep running around without shepherds. We see the names of the leaders. Many ask about the meanings of the names. Well, here they are as follows. Starting with chapter 1, verse 5;
“Elizur’ = My God is the rock;” Shelumiel” = At peace with God. (I know, it sounds like “Schlemiel” but it isn’t. “Zurishaddai” = My Rock is Shaddai; “Nahshon” = Serpent, “Amminadab” = The (Divine) kinsman is generous; “Nathaniel” = God hath given; “Eliab” = God is Father; “Elishama” = God hath heard, or God hears; “Ammihud” = The (Divine) kinsman is glorious; “Gamaliel” = God is my reward. In later times, it was the name of many famous rabbis, like the rabbi of Apostle Paul; “Pedahzur” = The Rock hath redeemed; “Abidan” = The Father hath judged;
“Ahiezer” = The (divine) Brother is a help; “Ammishaddai” = The People of Shaddai; “Pagiel” = The lot (or fate) is given by God; “Eliasaph” = God has added; “Deuel” or “Reuel” = God is a friend; “Ahira” the (divine) brother is a friend.
How would you react if God spoke to you in a dream or vision, and you knew that is was really HIM, and he told you, “Hey_________ I want you to marry a prostitute!” Weeelll, you would think, was it really God who spoke to me, or was it the pizza I ate last night giving me nightmares? Hosea was told to marry a prostitute, a “wife of harlotry” and…he obeys! Even though he knows that she will be unfaithful to him. He still loves her, in spite of her unfaithfulness.
This mirrors the love of God toward his people. Israel was unfaithful to YHVH. They went after false gods and committed “spiritual adultery” yet…the love of our LORD and Savior is beyond measure, and he forgave them, Yes, there was punishment, as all fathers will chastise and punish their sons and daughters, so Israel suffered captivity, banishment from the land, dispersion among the nations, yet we have not been forgotten, we are being gathered together and being brought back to the roots of our faith.
Will we be unfaithful to our God? Every time we break the commandments, we are in a way, being unfaithful, we are being disobedient sons and daughters, but we have a forgiving Father, King, Savior. If we wander away, let us return to the bridegroom, who awaits the return of his bride.
This portion has quite a few themes. One of the most important is the “LORD’s prayer”. Many people “pray” this in a robotic way, a series of words in repetition, many “pray” this without really thinking, “What am I saying really?” Yeshua wanted his talmidim to do more than just “pray” the words, but to “think and meditate on what the words are saying;
OUR FATHER…only believers can call God “Father” It's a special relationship, to a lost person, God is their creator and will be their judge in the future, to a born-again believer, there is a “father-son/daughter” relationship….IN HEAVEN…He lives in the heavens (plural) in Hebrew it is always plural “HaShamayim” He is in the New Jerusalem, in outer Space, in our atmosphere, in our back yard, in our front yard, in our living room, and living inside of us.
KADOSH BE YOUR NAME. His name “YHVH” is HOLY, and being Holy, His name should be spoken with reverence, whether we call him Yod Hey Vav Hey, or Adonai, or HaShem, or Adonai-Yeshua, Is our comportment as believers reflecting the holiness of HIS name?
YOUR KINGDOM COME. His kingdom is already here! His kingdom is his activity on earth. His activity began with creation. There will be a political Kingdom that WILL COME down to earth in the future, and we will all be part of it….
YOUR WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN… We should always ask for and expect his PERFECT will for our lives. There is his “permissive will” and his “perfect will” We want to be in his “perfect will” as He wants the best for us All the time.
GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD… We ask for our daily needs be met, and when we are in his will, our needs will be met, and many times, our wants as well. HOWEVER, be careful for what we ask for, since sometimes “He will give us want we want, but we won’t want what we get! If you catch the drift! Sometimes, when we don’t ask for much, he gives us that, and much more, and sometimes, he gives us just a “little at a time” to keep us humble.
FORGIVE US OUR SINS AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO SIN AGAINST US. How can our Heavenly father forgive us if we hold grudges against others who have offended us? Sometimes, forgiveness is hard, but our Father commands it, and only through the Holy Spirit can we do it.Hosea forgave Gomer, his harlot wife, just like YHVH forgives us,
LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION BUT DELIVER US FROM THE EVIL ONE. But wasn’t Yeshua tempted? Yes, and he called upon the Father for strength. When temptations come our way, and they will, we should ask that we not succumb to the temptation and pray for an escape route. The enemy preys on our weaknesses, our eyes, our mind, our ears, however, if we have our sight on Yeshua, our mind tuned to HIM, and our ears to hear his WORD, we will overcome temptation.
Shabbat Shalom. Ben Avraham