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!
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!
In this week’s Parashah (Tetzaveh) in Exodus 27:20-30:10, Adonai tells Moses to take a collection from the people, pure olive oil to ignite the “everlasting flame” of the Menorah in the Mishkan, which Aharon was to kindle every day, “from evening until morning.” Noteworthy, last week in Parashah Terumah, a similar instruction was given where the people were to take up a collection for the Mishkan, and that “from anyone who wholeheartedly wants to give.” (Exodus 25:1) Of this, our potion, the verbiage is more direct and with the opening verse notes,
“You are to order the people of Israel to bring you pure oil of pounded olives for the light, and to keep a lamp burning continually. Aharon and his sons are to put it in the tent of meeting, outside the curtain in front of the testimony, and keep it burning from evening until morning before Adonai” (Exodus 27:20-21a)
As with Parashah Terumah last week, where we are reminded that God’s greatest desire is to dwell with and in us, so the “everlasting flame” in the Tabernacle (and on the Ner Tamid) above of the Ark and Torah in every Synagogue reminds the observant of God’s abiding and perfect presence (or Shekinah) in our midst, and that by virtue of the covenant of love He has made with us, Adonai will never leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6)!
From the Apostolic Writings, Yeshua on a deeper level draws on this idea stating, “I am the light of the world; whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light that gives life.” (John 8:12) In the end, it is Messiah who alone is our Light and we exist only because His presence is with and in us.
In the hustle and bustle of this life, we can rush so fast though that we forget that the Divine Presence is with us. We love the Lord and we seek to serve Him, but our hectic schedule at times seems to blanket the clouds of His Shekinah. Of our calling to acknowledge and experience Adonai in both eh spiritual and mundane, Chassidic Sage, Ba’al Shem Tov acknowledges that, “Replete is the world with a spiritual radiance, replete with sublime and marvelous secrets. But a small hand held against the eyes hides it all.”
Dear friends, do not cover your eyes or hide you face from the radiance of God’s glory or of Yeshua as the Light of the World, … instead open your eyes and heart wide and take it all in! See Him in His glory and experience His great love for you!
~ Rabbi Mark Rantz
In our Parashah, (Yitro) Moses’ father-in-law Jethro hears of the great and mighty miracles which Adonai has performed through his son-in-law and on behalf of the Children of Yisra’el. In Exodus chapter 18 he comes to God’s prophet in Midian, bringing Moses’ wife and his two-sons. During his time with Moses, Jethro however provides Moses some fatherly advice, instructing that he should setup a hierarchy of Magistrates and Judges to assist him in the governance and leadership of God’s people. In this, Jethro advises, “What you are doing isn’t good. You will certainly wear yourself out - and not only yourself, but these people here with you as well. It’s too much for you - you can’t do it alone, by yourself.” (Exodus 18:17b-18)
For us in the Body of Messiah, this is good advice as well! Where one could concentrate on the model of the establishment of shammishim (deacon's) in a congregational setting, what stands out the most here might be the phrase, “… you can’t do it alone, by yourself - and not only yourself!” All too often in this life, we act as if we can do it on our own. In our pride, insecurity and fear we easily have an attitude of “Oh, no - I’ve got this,” and by doing so we rob others from being a blessing, and we rob ourselves from knowing how deeply love and appreciated we truly are.
Dear friends, as we seek to follow Yeshua, never forget that to be in community requires that we let our guard down, that we choose to receive and that we let go of our pride. Remember you can only be loved or show love when you choose to unfold your arms and let someone in!
Here at Beit Hallel, lets walk in Covenant Relationship together in Messiah’s holy name! ~ Rabbi Mark Rantz
“Moshe reached his hand out over the sea, and Adonai caused the sea to go back before a strong east wind all night. He made the sea become dry land, and its water was divided in two. Then the people of Isra’el went into the sea on the dry ground, with the water walled up for them on the right and on the left.”~ Exodus 14:21-23, CJB
Living in Florida, none of us are immune to or unfamiliar with violent unpredictable storms, rolling thunder or gale force winds during our annual hurricane seasons. Very few of us have lived in Florida our entire lives, and whenever new comersencounter their first weather impact, they are often shocked and frightened at its display and the sheer force of nature. On the other hand, for the seasoned-Floridian, it is not that they lack a healthy respect of the attacking annual rains and wind, but instead, one often witnesses in them a noticeable peace and quite calm in knowing what to do in the moment to protect oneself and those around them, and most importantly how things should be done without panic, anxiety or fear. In the end, for them there is an overriding sense of focus and direction.
In our Parashah this week (B’shallach) we encounter a similar storm, where the threat is not coming from the clouds, but instead an invading Egyptian army intent on killing God’s people! Yet, even in the midst of this stormy threat, we find a quite calm in the person of Moshe (Moses), standing in the gap on behalf of the people. For most leaving Egypt, their emotional state was that of feeling of trauma and in seeing the expanse of the water and the oncoming military force, they all must have thought that their worst fears were being materialized as they thought they were going to be destroyed! Yet, just at the right moment Moses reached out his hand over the sea and Adonai caused it to be transformed into dry ground as the waters walled up to the left and to the right.
Often in our lives we are like the children of Israel who in the same way and fail to see God’s mighty arm in the midst of the threats and the storm. We look to the circumstances and we crumble thinking that all is lost and that there is no hope - all the while forgetting that Adonai has always been the master over the storm!
We see this lesson vividly played out for us with Yeshua in Mark 4:35-41 where he speaks to the storm, “Quiet! Be still” as “… the wind died down and … was completely calm.” Yet, even with this powerful passage, we must not ignore our first, and common human response in verse 38 where “The disciples woke [Yeshua] and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown’?” In this, I believe that God provides us with verse 38 to remind that these disciples are “everyone” and how we so easily trade our hope for worry and despair.
Sadly, in our own lives, many approach the Father with fear and a sense of abandonment, as if he does not care if we drown, … that he is distant and that we must all face our battles alone. At these moments, the Adversary reinforces our hurts and bewilderment by lying to us and telling us that we are in fact alone and that God is nowhere to be found!
However, the truth has always been that God longs to calm the storms in our lives and reveal his mighty hand of grace and mercy during our times of pain, despair, loneliness, questioning and heartache. In this we have the confidence that we are never alone, never forsaken and that he alone is the one that has always carried us! In the Tanakh, the Children of Israel were carried through dry ground as their enemies were swallowed up by the sea and for us today, Messiah is the one who calms our storm and gives us confidence and hope. Like our life-long Floridians who see the oncoming hurricane and respond with focus, confidence and assuredness that everything will be alright, God is the one at the helm of our lives, guiding us through every storm and keeping us safe between harbors and during every disaster we face. In the end, through the winds and the waves, it is his Spirit that daily speaks and says, “my child, I will never leave you or forsake you.”
Dear friends, if you would like to know more of the unfailing love and protection that comes from Yeshua our Messiah, then please make a point is joining us for our weekly Shabbat worship service, each Saturday at 10:30am. Come and let’s experience the goodness of our God together!
Beit Hallel Messianic Congregation
3801 N. US Hwy. 441 Ocala, FL. 34475
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