Parashsh Pinchas (in Numbers/B’Midbar 25:10-30:1) immediately follows the attempted cursing and desired destruction of the Jewish people at the hands of “the destroyer,” Balak, the King of Moav and the false-prophet and sorcerer Bil’am (referenced in last week’s commentary). In review, three times, Balak entreats Bil’am to curse God’s people and three times he cannot, as God blocks him both angelically and through a talking donkey. In turn, the false-prophet declares the opening words of our Ma Tovu,
“How lovely are your tents O Jacob, your dwelling places O Isra’el.”
Yet before we are lulled into a false sense of security, Parashah Balak merges into Parashah Pinchas (were from Balak), in Numbers 25:1-3 the Sidra notes,
“Isra’el stayed in Sheetim, and there the people began whoring with the women of Moav. These women invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. With Isra’el thus joined to Ba’al P’or, the anger of Adonai blazed up against Israel.”
At this point enters Pinchas! He was the son of El’azar, the son of Aharon the Cohen HaGadol who for the zeal of Adonai drove a spear through Zimri, the son Salu leader of one of the clans of the tribe of Shim’on and a woman from Midyan named Kozbi, the daughter of Tzur, (Numbers 25:7-15). But, what was the reason for Pinchas’ killing of Zimri and Kozbi? Was it out of vengeance or out of his own strength? No! It was because, not only had Balak sought to fulfill his desires in destroying Israel from within (through sexual sin and spiritual compromise) but also due the Israelites abandoning the worship of the one true God and serve the demonic, Ba’al P’or! In the end, for Pinchas’ righteousness, Adonai made,
“... a covenant with him and his descendant after him that the office of cohen will be there forever. This is because he was zealous on behalf of his God and make atonement for the people of Isra’el.” (Numbers 25:13).
Of this, our lesson from the beginning of this week’s Parashah is of vital importance, where we must not turn our back on Adonai or to go after other gods or false faiths and serve them, but to remain faithful to the Lord unto the end.
In the Aser’et Ha ‘Dib’rot(Ten Utterances), Adonai, in Exodus 20:3 commanded of Israel, “You are to have no other gods before me,” which for us even today reminds that of all things, God desires an eternal and covenantal relationship with us, and that his love for us is so great, that he does not desire to share us with anyone, especially that of a false or imaginary deity.
Secondly, in Exodus 34:14 we read, “… you are not to bow down to any other god, since Adonai - whose very name is Jealous - is a jealous God.” In saying that Adonai is jealous is to communicate something about his divine nature. Of this, God in his compassion does not want us to be consumed by falsehood or haSatan (Satan, the Adversary), the god of this world. For in the end, all God has ever wanted with us is a relationship with us and that we might be molded by his love and transformed by the power of his Ruach HaKodesh. In pointing back to our Parashah however, where do we place this zeal which Pinchas held? One author notes, in speaking of the jealousy of Adonai, one scholar notes - “There is a difference between God’s zeal. God’s zeal has a future and a hope, but the driving force of human zeal is only about one’s own life, interests and earthly advantages.”
Although our passage in no way is to justify for us today to kill the unrighteousness, we nevertheless see that Pinchas loved God, knew God’s heart and held a passion for his Torah and commands.
For us as believers in Yeshua, may we be zealous for Torah, zealous for serving Adonai great love and in being a witness to our people, Israel. May Adonai pour out on us his shalom and cause us to embrace the fulness of what it means to be a Kingdom of Priests!
Within Parashah Balak (Numbers 22:2-25:9), one of the most vivid displays within the Torah is revealed as King Balak of Moav not only hires the false-prophet and sorcerer Bil’am, but also summoning him to curse Israel in stating,
“The people who came out of Egypt [i.e. the Jewish people] have spread over the land, now, come and curse them for me; maybe I will be able to fight against them and drive them out.” (Numbers 22:11, CJB)
From almost the beginning of time, there has always been those who have sought to harm God’s chosen people, the Jews. Although God in his mercy, chose Isra’el to be a blessing to all the nations of the world, and serve as ambassadors of God’s grace for all peoples, there has always been evil forces and strongholds that have sought to thwart and destroy the purposes of God, his Kingdom and that of his elect, national Isra’el. In describing such strongholds, Dr. Brad Long, President of PRMI (Presbyterian Reformed Ministries International) in his new book, “Timeless Lessons for Prayer Warriors,” in speaking of exposing our Adversaries tactics and piercing Satan’s cloaking, notes,
“…This tactic is based on how Satan works to form demonic strongholds. A stronghold is a human-demonic social organization that provides Satan, who is spirit, with the human, political, financial and sometimes military means to carry out his purposes on earth. For instance, for Satan to carry out his terrible plan to exterminate the Jewish people, he built the demonic stronghold of Nazism.” (pg. 47-48)
On speaking of these “strongholds,” such oppression is best seen in the actions of Balak who through human-demonic social organizations and coupled with the political, financial and military endeavor and through a spirit of divination (witchcraft) sought to destroy the chosen people of Adonai, all the while holding no regard for the eternal consequences of his actions. Although in Genesis 12:1-3, God promises Avraham that he will bless those who bless him and curse those who bring curses to God’s people, Balak nevertheless aligned his heart to evil and hires a diviner for the purposes of opposing the holy things of God!
Despite his intentions of evil, in our Parashah we nevertheless find one of the first biblical expressions of spiritual warfare, where on the way to cause harm to God’s people, Bil’am is prophetically confronted by God through a donkey and immediately thereafter, he sends an angel to block his way.
In Bil’am recalcitrance, three times he therefore attempts to speak curses, but instead he can only speak blessing over God’s people and concludes by prophesying the coming of Yeshua, the Messiah in declaring,
“I see him, but now; I behold, but not soon - a star will step forth from Ya’akov, a scepter will arise from Isra’el, to crush the corners of Moav and destroy all descendants of Shet.” (Numbers 24:17, CJB)
As with our Ma Tovu, in declaring “How lovely are tour tents of Jacob, your dwelling places of Israel,” so we are assured that in the end, all of God’s promises will be fulfilled and his Kingdom alone will be established upon the earth!
But some may ask, how can this be - especially in light of all the pain, chaos and suffering in the world? But in this, we cannot forget the faithfulness of God and our calling by his power and grace into the battlespace to declare victory in Messiah Yeshua. In this, we do not have the luxury of focusing on false or perceived circumstances, but instead we have the goodness of our God who has assured us that in and through us Yeshua will accomplish all that he has promised to do for the sake of his Kingdom!
The opening of Parashah Chukat (Number/B’Midbar 19:1-22:1) begins, “Tell the people of Isra’el to bring you a young red female cow without fault or defect and which never born a yoke. You are to give it to El’azar the cohen; it is to be brought outside the camp and slaughtered in front of him.” (Numbers 19:2a-3, CJB)
Per Jewish tradition, the red heifer (or parot hadumot) was offered first on behalf of Isra’el by Moshe and El’azar, next by Ezra and two others sacrificed by Simon the Righteous and another two by Yochanan the High Priest. The seventh was offered by Eliyahu the prophet, the eighth by Hanamel of Egypt, the ninth was from Yishmael son of Piabi - but (per the Sages) the tenth and final red heifer will be burned by the Messiah at the time of the rebuilding of the third Temple. (Mishnah, Parah 3:5)
Within traditional Judaism, the appearance of what might qualify as a red heifer has always celebrated as a sign of the coming of the Mashiach and the restoration of the Temple within Jerusalem. Most recently, in September 2017, “The Temple Institute” announced the birth of “… a flawless all-red heifer that could pave the way for the fulfillment of a major end-times biblical prophecy.” For this reason, Jewish theologians have reminded from the beginning that the red heifer is essential to both the rebuilding the third-Temple in Jerusalem and will be needed to be sacrificed to complete the ritual of purification before the Mishkan.
In considering this, and our opening passage in Numbers chapter 19, how should we view this in light of biblical prophecy and the end of days? First, we must remember that Yeshua is the very substance of the shadow of the red heifer in the Torah as seen in Hebrews 9:24, 10:1-2. Yeshua’s sacrifice as our Cohen HaGadol after the order of Malki-Tzedek and as a result was prophetically fulfilled in him, proceeding the “rebuilding the holy Temple in Jerusalem. (John/Yochanan 2:19). The Temple is likewise seen as one that is made by God and not human hands by the Ruach haKodesh/Holy Spirit (Matt. 26:26-28; 1 Cor. 12:27; Eph. 4:4, 11-12; Col 1:24). As a result of such fulfillment, we as followers of Yeshua are now therefore part of the Temple of Messiah’s body as seen in 1 Corinthians 3:16, 12:27 and as a result we are referred to in 1 Kefa/Peter 2:5 “Living Stones” and Yeshua is identified as our “Rosh Pina” (chief Corner Stone) as seen in Ephesians 2:20).
So, in the end, how does our understanding of fulfillment in the B’rit Chadashah match with our aforementioned midrash in Mishnah, Parah 3:5? It is in understanding that the sacrifice of the tenth and final red heifer was Yeshua himself, who by laying down his life and by both dying and raising from the dead instituted a new priesthood after the order of Malki-Tzedek (Hebrews 5:10, cf. 1 Kefa 2:5), built upon the foundation of the Levitical priesthood of Aharon as seen in Hebrews 13:10!
Because of this, we (both Jew and Gentile) have the assurance of salvation and we have been cleaned from our sins by a “better sacrifice” than that which was a foreshadow in the Torah. (Matt. 26:28, Heb. 9:14, 12:24, Eph. 1:7, 1 Kefa 1:2, 18-19, Rom. 5:9, Col. 1:14, 1 Yochanan 1:7). As beautiful as it was - the annual sacrifice in the Temple nevertheless lacked the power to redeem once and for all, but required a continual annual offering as a kaporah (covering) our sins on. an annual basis. Yet, in Messiah Yeshua, we are now saved and redeemed once and for all, and as a result, nothing is capable of removing us from Adonai’s loving hands!
This is what our Patriarch’s hoped for and this this is the reality that we all can partake in today unto the Lord's eminent return!
Parashah Korach (Numbers 16:1-18:32) is one of the most pivotal sections of the Torah, revealing for us the importance of not only proper biblical order, but also the consequences that befall those who contradict and oppose God’s will. In reading our Parashah and the rebellion of Korach, what is not said - but is inferred throughout, is a sense of consistency and faithfulness in the ministry and lives of both Aharon and Moshe. It is for this reason, that the immediate action of Moshe after the assault from the deceived Korach was that of Humility and the Life of Prayer (Num. 16:4) in stating, “When Moshe heard this he fell on his face.”
As we grow as the people of God, such is important, as we seek to embrace the fullness of what Adonai’s calling on us to be as his Messianic community and to pursue faithfulness in Spirit and in Truth (Yochanan 4:24).
In the Hebrew, the word halach (of which we get halachah literally means “to walk.” Therefore, it is of the utmost importance for us that we all “walk out,” our faith and practice in a manner that not only honors God, but also, we must seek to follow his unquestionable commands. As a result, dear friends, beginning today and all the days and weeks to follow, we must be a people who embrace faithfulness to Torah and our Messiah, Yeshua in everything we do. Sadly, for many in our movement, Yeshua only seems to be “someone” or “something” only tagged on with a proper place of centrality in life and purpose.
In this, we are reminded that apart from Messiah Yeshua, there is No Hope, No Salvation and No Forgiveness of Sins for anyone - but for all who trust (to the Jew first, and then to all nations), Yeshua alone is the only means of salvation, restoration or regeneration!
In Yochanan 4:7-8, Yeshua therefore tells us that if we have seen him, we have seen the Father and in 2 Corinthians 5:19, Rav Sha’ul (Paul) instructs that the world can only be reconciled to Adonai through the person of Yeshua. Because of this, central to our worship must be Messiah as Prophet, Priest and King! In the early Messianic community, Messiah centric worship was never an issue or conflict, but instead an exclusive norm. Yet in recent years many in our movement have formulated a practicum that removes Yeshua from his rightful place to the “back row,” while providing him lip service that we are giving him that honor worthy of his holy name (Phil. 2:9-11). Sadly, with such an approach, all some reveal is that they are ashamed of the Besorah (Good News) of Yeshua and that they have conceded to the detractors of Messianic Judaism that the Good News in fact, is not the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16-17)!
When we choose to daily place and keep King Messiah on the Throne of our lives and realign our hearts and worship to the one who saved us by his blood, then we will also reapply God’s intent for us as his Messianic community as he did prophetically from the beginning!
-Rabbi Mark Rantz
In Parashah, Sh’lach Lk’ha(Numbers 13:1-15:41),we are immediately confronted with the issue of a crisis of both faith and personal identity. At the beginning of Numbers chapter 13, Moshe is told of Adonai to send scouts into the territories of the Canaanites to reconnoiter the land. (vs. 1-2) The company of the men selected were therefore chosen by tribe and dispatched from the P’aran Desert and report back to their leaders for the purpose of God’s people what out in confidence and claim what the Father had faithfully promised the them!
In verse 27, the scouts return with large bushels of fruit, reporting that the land was good, fertile and also “… flowing with milk and honey” and their report is followed by Kalev (Caleb) who in faith and optimism declares, “We ought to go up immediately and take possession of it, there is no question we can conquer it” (vs. 30). Yet, no sooner than Kalev speaks prophetically in trust and assuredness, the people who went with him respond, NO! - “We can’t attack these people because they are stronger than we are … [and]to ourselves, we looked like grasshopper in comparison, and we looked that way to them too.” (vs. 31, 33)
Following this “Negative Report”(v. 32), Israel in the following chapter of the Torah, embraced Fear instead of Faith and as per the Sages of Israel, wept “false tears,” and in turn are judged by God. Although commonly ascribed to our observance in the Jewish Calendar of Tisha B’Av, these false tears remind of our immediate problem today of many non-Jews, when coming into Messianic Judaism choose to snub our calling as a One-New-Humanity and out of a “falsehood of identity crisis,” seek to obtain that which was not promised to them.
For both Jews and Gentiles alike, when coming to faith in Messiah Yeshua - we all meet on the same place, and we are all saved and transformed by Yeshua, our single loving Savior! In the end, he (our Magnificent Obsession) is all that matters and he alone is the one who has broken down the wall of division between Jew and Gentile (Eph. 2:14) by making us a single people! Although Israel holds a covenantal calling before God, the Messianic Gentile likewise has a great calling as the Ger Tzaddik(Righteous Gentile) to dwell and thrive as a vital part of the Body of Messiah. (Ruth 1:16-17). Likewise, the Ger Tzaddikalone is called and anointed of God to serve in provoking all of Israel to jealousy in Yeshua their Messiah (Rom. 11:11)! In the end, for all of us - both Jew and Gentile - if we are to fulfill God’s calling, then we must never seek to “replace the other,” but instead remain in the special state God has called us! (1 Cor. 7:20)
Pursue your Calling, Pursue your Anointing and celebrate who you are in Messiah our Lord! This is our Last-Days Calling!
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