Central to this last week’s Parashah (Numbers 8:1-12:16) is our namesake “Beha’alotcha,” or, “when you set up,” is if’s opening passage in stating,
“… Tell Aharon, When you set up the lamps, the seven lamps are to cast their light forward the front of the menorah.” (vs. 1-2) For every serious student of Scripture, a survey of these verses reveals two important points which we should not miss.
First, we discover that there were ministerial duties that God had designated for the cohanim to performed and secondly, and as part of their priestly duties, they were to ensure that the lights of lampstands in the Mishkan were to stay lid and to illuminate in the direction of the Menorah at all times. In this, the Levitical duties of the Cohanim in Beha’alotcha are significant in that such service could only be performed by a cohen and because of their sacred service, all others in the household of Israel, under the leadership of Moshe (Numbers 12:7) were able to reap its benefit.
In reading the Book of Numbers, two points stand out that the cohanim alone were called of God to serve in the Temple and if a non-Levite were to perform priestly duties, they would be judged and even put to death by Adonai! This is a strong reminder for us in our calling as both Jews and like-minded Gentile believers in Yeshua in seeking out the callings that Messiah has given each and everyone of us. In this however, the lesson is not that an infraction could result in capital punishment, but instead, as a reminder from our loving Heavenly Father that we all have distinct callings and tasks within the Kingdom of God, as we work together to fulfill Tikkun Olam and God’s purposes on earth.
With the purposes of the Priests and non-priests alike, all of Israel has a calling, a mission and responsibility in stating, “…The people of Israel acted in accordance with everything that Adonai had ordered Moshe in regards to the L’vi’im.” It was not that non-Levites had less of an important role to play, but instead that each tribe and individual bore the equal responsibility to uphold the covenant and be faithful to God. This is equally true for us as Messianic believers where Rav Sha’ul (Paul) strongly exhorts, “… Let each person live the life the Lord has assigned him and live in the condition he was when God called him…”. (1 Corinthians 7:17-20) Sha’ul’s instruction here was clear that Jews are called to remain as Jews, and Gentiles were called of God to remain in the state in which they were called. For non-Jews in Messiah, becoming Jewish was never really to be the issue or goal, but instead we both as a Jews and Gentiles are called of God to keep the commandments of Adonai.
Dear friends, lets embrace and walk out this prophetic calling as both Jews and Gentiles together!
Within Parashah Naso (Numbers 4:21-7:89), the calling of the Nazir(and the Nazarite vow) is clearly represented stating,
“… When either a man or a woman makes a special kind of vow, the vow of the Nazir, consecrating himself to Adonai, he is to abstain from wine and other intoxicating liquor, he is not to drink vinegar from either sources, he is not to drink grape juice, and he is not to eat grapes or raisins. As long as he remains a Nazir he is to eat nothing derived from the grapevine, not even the grape-skins or the seeds. Throughout the period of his vow as a Nazir, he is not to shave his head. Until the end of the time for which he has consecrated himself to Adonai he is to be holy; he is to let the hair on his head grow long. Throughout the period for which he has consecrated himself to Adonai, he is not to approach a corpse. He is not to make himself unclean for his father, mother, brothers or sister when they die, since his consecration o=to God is on his head.” (6:2-8)
Of this passage, early in my ministry, a non-Jewish congregant once asked, “Rabbi, who is it that gets to take a nazarite vow, is it done today and how can I perform it?” Although sincere in his questioning, this question lacked a proper understanding of both biblical context and is a reminder of the mutual and distinct callings of both Jews and Gentiles within our calling in Messianic Judaism. In answer, I told him that the Nazarite vow was an oath taken by Jews alone in direct connection to Temple worship and ancient-Torah observance. The Nazir (as referenced above) was forbidden to touch a dead body, cut their hair after taking the vow or drink alcohol or anything from the fruit of the vine. Although significant only to Temple worship and the sin offering at the Mishkan, there is no longer any observance for the Nazarite since the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E.
Of the many lessons these passages teach us, Acts 21:22 brings matters into focus by stating, “…in regard to the Gentiles who have come to trust in Yeshua, we all joined in writing them a letter with our decision that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, from blood, from what is strangled and from fortification.”
Noteworthy here is the rabbinical reference, “… we all joined in writing a letter with our decision” immerges from the biblical text revealing a rabbinical ruling of a Beit Din, (or, Rabbinical Court) where in coming to trust in Yeshua, the non-Jew (for salvific purposes) does not have to keep the Torah, and frim it, come into right relationship with God! In the end, the Torah has been given to Israel as a covenantal obligation and in turn, God’s chosen people are tasked of God to be a light to all nations of the world.
This is best seen in Isaiah 42:6 stating, “I, Adonai, called you righteously. I took hold of you by the hand. I shaped you and made you a covenant for the people, to be a light to the Goyim.”
It is here that we see the full scope of both God’s revelation and calling, where both Jew and Gentile alike have been brought together as one as a “single new humanity” for the purpose of making between us all shalom, in order to reconcile us to Adonai as a single Body of Messiah! (Eph. 2:15-16) Therefore, in the end, just as we are reminded that we all have from God, different gifts and anointings for God’s kingdom (Rom. 12, 1 Cor. 12), so we as both Jews and Gentiles in Messiah Yeshua alike have unique callings, tasks and responsibilities, given to us by the Ruach HaKodesh for sake of God’s Kingdom!
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