Parashah Studies

B'midbar -01

Parashah 34: B'midbar (In the desert / wilderness)

B'midbar “In the desert / wilderness” (Numbers) 1:1-4:20 Psalm 122 Hoshea (Hosea) 2:1-22 Romans 9:22-33

by Messianic Teacher Dr. Daniel Boley

Numbers 1 1 Adonai spoke to Moshe in the Sinai Desert, in the tent of meeting, on the first day of the second month of the second year after they had left the land of Egypt. … 18 and, on the first day of the second month, they gathered the whole assembly to state their genealogies by families and clans and recorded the names of all those twenty years old and over, as well as their total numbers. • Moses got the order from the LORD and immediately took action  How often do we hear from the LORD and …. wait for conformation, wait to strategize, wait to … whatever?  How often do we hear from the LORD and recognize His voice?  How often do we hear from the LORD and, because it doesn't make sense to us, we rebuke the devil?  The LORD is my Shepherd … (Ps 23:1)  Yes, indeed! I tell you, the person who doesn't enter the sheep-pen through the door, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 But the one who goes in through the gate is the sheep's own shepherd. 3 This is the one the gate-keeper admits, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep, each one by name, and leads them out. 4 After taking out all that are his own, he goes on ahead of them; and the sheep follow him because they recognize his voice. 5 They never follow a stranger but will run away from him, because strangers' voices are unfamiliar to them. (John 10:1-5)  For an example of sheep following their shepherd's voice see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2NP_OZr3Ek (especially comparing the first minute or two with the last two minutes) and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e45dVgWgV64 (both accessed 19 May 15)  It begs the question, who's voice are we following as our shepherd?  These people knew their genealogies by families and clans  Knowing where we come from can be helpful because our past trajectory will determine our present and future direction (basic physics)  Unless acted upon by an outside force!  “Yes, indeed,” Yeshua answered him, “I tell you that unless a person is born again from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)  What if He did this in order to make know the riches of His glory to those who are the objects of His mercy, whom He prepared in advance for glory – 24 that is, to us, whom He called not only from among the Jews but also from among the Gentiles? 25 As indeed He says in Hoshea, “Those who were not My people I will call My people; her who was not loved I will call loved; 26 and in the very place where they were told, 'You are not My people,' there they will be called sons of the living God!” (Rom 9:23-26)  Notice that this change in direction must be affected by an outside source.  Otherwise, as a pastor friend explains, the momentum of life will carry us along in the same direction. If we are going slow enough a u-turn is possible, but if we are careening down the highway, we might turn the steering wheel, but momentum will carry us along in the same direction (and the vehicle will be even more out of control). 4 Take with you from each tribe someone who is head of a clan. 5 These are the men to take with you: • The LORD knew and called each one by name. ◦ He also knows each of us and calls each of us by name. 16 These were the ones called from the assembly, the chiefs of their fathers' clans and heads of thousands in Isra'el. 17 So Moshe and Aharon took these men who had been designated by name; • There may be any number of people in various levels of leadership, but to serve God's purposes, each one needs to be called by the LORD and designated by name. 44 Moshe, Aharon and the twelve leaders of Isra'el, each from a clan, 45 counted the people of Isra'el by their clans, those twenty years old and over, eligible for military service in Isra'el; 46 and the grand total came to 603,550. 47 But those who were L'vi'im, according to the clan of their fathers, were not counted in this census; 48 because Adonai had told Moshe, 49 “Do not include the clan of Levi when you take the census of the people of Isra'el. • There are physical battles to be fought and won, but we must always remember that there are also spiritual battles to be fought and won. ◦ For although we do live in the world, we do not wage war in a worldly way; 4 because the weapons we use to wage war are not worldly. On the contrary, they have God's power for demolishing strongholds. We demolish arguments 5 and every arrogance that raises itself up against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey the Messiah. (2 Cor 10:3-5) ◦ Finally, grow powerful in union with the Lord, in union with His mighty strength! 11 Use all the armor and weaponry that God provides, so that you will be able to stand against the deceptive tactics of the Adversary. 12 For we are not struggling against human beings, but against the rulers, authorities and cosmic powers governing this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm. 13 So take up every piece of war equipment God provides; so that when the evil day comes, you will be ables to resist; and when the battle is won, you will still be standing. 14 Therefore, stand! Have the belt of truth buckled around your waist, put on righteousness for a breastplate, 15 and wear on your feet the readiness that comes from the Good News of shalom. 16 Always carry the shield of trust, with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the Evil One. 17 And take the helmet of deliverance; along with the sword given by the Spirit, that is, the Word of God; 18 as you pray at all times, with all kinds of prayers and requests, in the Spirit, vigilantly and persistently, for all God's people. (Eph 6:10-18) ▪ All of the physical battles we face have at least some spiritual component, e.g. • Moses w/ Aaron and Hur on the mountain as Joshua fought Amalek in Ex 17 • David fighting the Philistines in 2 Sam 5:17-25 • Jehoshaphat and Judah fighting Moab and Ammon in 2 Chron 20:1-30 • All priests were Levites, but not all Levites were priests: only those descended from Aaron and his sons could be priests. • All Levites were, however, separated out for special work for the LORD in “serving” the priests; helping them with the tabernacle and its service. 50 Instead, give the L'vi'im charge over the tabernacle of the testimony, its equipment and everything else connected with it. They are to carry the tabernacle and all its equipment, serve in it and set up their camp around it. 51 When the tabernacle is to be moved onward, it is the L'vi'im who are to take it down and set it up in the new location; anyone else who involves himself is to be put to death. 52 The rest of Isra'el are to set up camp, company by company, each man with is own banner. 53 But the L'vi'im are to camp around the tabernacle of the testimony, so that no anger will come upon the assembly of the people of Isra'el. The L'vi'im are to be in charge of the tabernacle of the testimony.” • Part of the covenantal, chosen people of Isra'el, the Levites were chosen for special responsibilities in regards to the things of God. They were to:  Care for the tabernacle and its equipment;  Carry the tabernacle and its equipment; and  Form a type of protective barrier around the tabernacle  They would protect the tabernacle from desecration by the other people of Israel, animals, foreigners, etc., and  They would protect the people “so that no anger will come upon the assembly of the people of Isra'el.”  Along with the priests and elders, these shamashim (deacons) helped represent the people before the LORD, and the LORD to the people; though the calling and outworking of their ministry was (and is) different.  In a very real sense the work of the Levites is like that of the armor-bearer. So also is anyone in any form of leadership in our congregations (other than the rabbi / pastor).  They should be loyal to their officer (priest, minister, rabbi)  protecting them spirit, soul, and body  be discerning, praying for them  watching their back  not engaging in or tolerating gossip, back-biting, or slander  discussing concerns directly with the one they are charged to protect  constantly and consistently work to foster mutual trust between officer and armor-bearer  constantly train with the weapons of their warfare  listen to and faithfully follow the lead of their officer  If for any reason the armor-bearer became disqualified or could not uphold their sacred trust, they needed to  admit this to their officer,  re-qualify as quickly as possible, or  request reassignment / transfer  Slack or failure in any of these areas could mean death to both the officer and the armor-bearer, and increased danger or possible defeat for the people at large  Though we may not be able to trace our ancestry to Levi, or be in the vocation of priest / minister / rabbi, in Messiah we are called to be priests (1 Pet 2:5, 9), ministering to the LORD and representing Him others and others to Him.  We are also all called to the work of the Levite / armor-bearer whose duties are outlined above.  Our congregational services, Bible studies, and home groups are not simply to minister to us, but so we can minister to the LORD together and minister to one another in the name of the LORD  Our meetings are also not for our entertainment: this is officer training where we can better learn how to fight the good fight (1 Tim 1:18-20; 6:12-14)  Our congregational leaders have work to do and battles to fight, but a major aspect of their calling is to train others for the work of the ministry: Furthermore, He gave some people as emissaries, some as prophets, some as proclaimers of the Good News, and some as shepherds and teachers. 12 Their task is to equip God's people for the work of service that builds the body of the Messiah, 13 until we all arrive at the unity implied by trusting and knowing the Son of God, at full manhood, at the standard of maturity set by the Messiah's perfection. 14 We will then no longer be infants tossed about by the waves and blown along by every wind of teaching, at the mercy of people clever in devising ways to deceive. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in every respect grow up into Him Who is the head, the Messiah. 16 Under His control, the whole body is being fitted and held together by the support of every joint, with each part working to fulfill its function; this is how the body grows and builds itself up in love. (Eph 4:11-16) 54 This is what the people of Isra'el did – they did everything that Adonai had ordered Moshe. • What a day! That God's people would do what God says! Help us, Yeshua! Numbers 2 3 Those camping on the east side toward the sunrise are to be under the banner of the camp of Y'hudah; they are to camp according to companies … • The sun would rise first, if you will, on the camp of Judah: praise  LORD, may our days start with praise and worship to You  “Praise” does not mean “a fast song in church,” though a fast song may be included in praise. Praise is expressing to God, ourselves, and others the great and wonderful things יהוה has done.  Likewise “worship” is not “a slow song in church,” though a slow song may be included in our worship. Worship is expressing to God our acknowledgment of His wondrous, awesome, fearful, loving attributes and character. In other words, expressing love, adoration, and thankfulness for what and who He is.  Being all about the LORD, praise and worship are never dependent or based on our feelings.  Setting our minds on God and the praise due Him at the start of our day helps set the tone for the rest of the day, reminds us of our position before and in Him, and reminds us of Who is really in charge.  After consulting with the people, he (Jehoshaphat [Y'hoshafat: יְהוֹשָׁפָט ] = “Yahweh has judged”) appointed those who would sing to Adonai and praise the splendor of His holiness as they went out ahead of the army, saying, “Give thanks to Adonai, for His grace continues forever ( כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ [ki leh-o-lam khahs-do]).” 22 Then, during the time when they were singing and praising, Adonai brought a surprise attack against the people of 'Amon, Mo'av and Mount Se'ir who had come to fight Y'hudah; and they were defeated. 23 … They set to work slaughtering one another. 24 So when Y'hudah reached the watchtower overlooking the desert, they looked toward the horde; and there in front of them were corpses fallen to the ground; none had escaped. (2 Chron 20:21-24)  As part of a song chorus says, “The victory is mine when the the battle is the Lord's. Hosanna hosanna. No enemy can stand when His praise goes forth. Hosanna hosanna.” (The Victory Is Mine by Don Moen, Tom Brooks, Tom McLain, ©1989 Integrity's Hosanna! Music)  A more recent song by Paul Wilbur includes the words, “I hear the sound of an army, a nation preparing for war, I can hear Judah assembling, and praise is their weapon of war! (Song of Ezekiel by Brian Ming, Paul Wilbur, © 2013 Integrity Worship Music)  The LORD is holy and enthroned on the praises of His people (Ps 22:3).  Praising God acknowledges the One who is the Light; the One the darkness can not comprehend (John 1:1-5)  “Comprehend” in John 1:5 comes from the Greek καταλαμβάνω (kata-lam-ban-o) meaning:  Strong's: to take eagerly, i.e. seize, possess, etc. (literally or figuratively)  Thayer's:  to lay hold of so as to make one's own, to obtain, attain to (1 Cor 9:24)  to seize upon, take possession of  of evils overtaking one (John 12:35)  in a good sense, of Christ by His holy power and influence laying hold of the human mind and will, in order to prompt and govern it (Phil 3:12)  to detect, catch (John 8:4)  to lay hold of with the mind; to understand, perceive, learn, comprehend  In other words, it is impossible for the darkness to understand, overtake, possess, arrest, or stop the Light.  Going into a dark room and flipping on the switch, I have never once seen the darkness trying to wrestle down the light! When the light comes on the darkness has to leave; it is as simple (and profound) as that.  “they are to camp according to companies”  “companies” here comes from the Hebrew צָבָא [tzah-vah] (the plural being צְבָאוֹת) meaning:  Strong's: a mass of persons (or figuratively, things), especially reg. organized for war (an army); by implication a campaign, literally or figuratively (specifically, hardship, worship)  BDB: what goes forth, an army, a war, warfare, a host: an army, a host (used of an organized army; of angels; of sun, moon, and stars; of whole creation); a war, warfare, service, go out to war; service  There are many within the body of Messiah that have adopted the idea of pacifism and “live and let live.” This can only hope to work when all parties are in agreement at roots of their philosophy and world view, AND the sinfulness of mankind has been dealt with.  While we do not wage war as the world does (2 Cor 10:3-6), we must remember that we are involved in a spiritual battle and our LORD is יהוה צְבָאוֹת (Adonai tze-va-ot)! Often translated as “LORD of Hosts” this is more literally “LORD of military forces or armies.”  If we are not actively engaged in this spiritual warfare with the weapons our real Commander in Chief, Jesus / Yeshua, gives us (e.g. Eph 6:10-18)  are we derelict in our duties,  lacking a family resemblance (with God our Father and Yeshua our older Brother) that ought to be there, and / or  allowing ourselves to be cannon fodder for the enemy of our soul who comes only to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10)  Do I start my day with the LORD? (e.g. Ps 5:1-3)  Do I pray night and day? (e.g. 1 Thes 3:10)  Do I constantly praise God? (e.g. Ps 44:9)  Do I bow down and kneel in worship to my Maker? (e.g. Ps 95:6)  Do I sing to God and rejoice in His presence? (e.g. Ps 68:5)  Do I pray for my spiritual leaders? (e.g. 1 Thes 5:17)  Do I pray and intercede for national and local leaders? (e.g. 1 Tim 2:1-2)  Do I remember others in my prayers? (e.g. Rom 1:10)  Do I pray about fearlessly sharing my faith? (e.g. Eph 6:19-20)  Am I always joyful? (e.g. 1 Thes 5:16)  Do I give thanks in everything? (e.g. 1 Thes 5:18)  Do I quench the Spirit? (e.g. 1 Thes 5:19)  Do I despise inspired messages? (e.g. 1 Thes 5:10)  Do I test everything, only holding on to what is good? (e.g. 1 Thes 5:21)  Do I bring my tithes to the local fellowship where I get fed? (e.g. Mal 3:10; Mt 23:23)  Do I share what I have with God's people and practice hospitality? (e.g. Rom 12:13) 10 On the south side the standard of the camp of Reuben by their armies … 17 Then the tent of meeting shall set out with the camp of the Levites in the midst of the camps: just as they camp, so they shall set out, every man in his place by their standards. 18 On the west side the standard of the camp of Ephraim by their armies … 25 On the north side the standard of the camp of Dan by their armies ….  As they set out, following the LORD in the pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night, so they encamped: Judah (praise) first, flanked by Reuben (behold a son) on the south and Ephraim (doubly fruitful), followed by Dan (judge), with the Levites (joined to) in the midst of them.  As we follow יהוה with an attitude of praise, and are joined to Him with the heart of a priest, we are accompanied and surrounded by a Son Who makes us doubly fruitful, and Who is also our Judge and rear-guard. Numbers 3 1 These are the descendants of Aharon and Moshe as of the day when Adonai spoke with Moshe on Mount Sinai. 2 The names of the sons of Arharon are: Nadav the first born, Avihu, El'azar and Itamar. 3 These were the names of the sons of Aharon the cohen, whom he anointed and ordained as cohanim. 4 But Nadav and Avihu died in the presence of Adonai when they offered unauthorized fire before Adonai in the Sinai Desert, and they had no children; El'azar and Itamar served as cohanim in the presence of Aharon their father.  We all need regular reminders of the greatness of serving the LORD, but also the seriousness (cf Rom 11:22)  Vs 10: … Anyone else who involves himself is to be put to death (emphasis added)  Since the Fall every person born with a human father is subject to death.  Adonai, God, gave the person [Adam] this order: “You may freely eat from every tree in the garden 17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You are not to eat from it, because on the day that you eat from it, it will become certain that you will die.” (Gen 2:16-17; cf 3:19)  For God so loved the world that He gave His only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in Him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but rather so that through Him, the world might be saved. 18 Those who trust in Him are not judged; those who do not trust have been judged already, in that they have not trusted in the One Who is God's only and unique Son. 19 Now this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, but people loved the darkness rather than the light. Why? Because their actions were wicked. 20 For everyone who does evil things hates the light and avoids it, so that his actions won't be exposed. 21 But everyone who does what is true comes to the light, so that all may see that his actions are accomplished through God. (John 3:16-21)  And it is perfectly evident what the old nature does. It expresses itself in sexual immorality, impurity and indecency; 20 involvement with the occult and with drugs; in feuding, fighting, becoming jealous and getting angry; in selfish ambition, factionalism, intrigue 21 and envy; in drunkenness, orgies and things like these. I warn you now as I have warned you before: those who do such things will have no share in the Kingdom of God! (Gal 5:19-21)  BUT to as many as did receive Him [Yeshua / Jesus], to those who put their trust in His person and power, He gave the right to become children of God, 13 not because of bloodline, physical impulse or human intention, but because of God. (John 1:12-13, emphasis added)  For if sprinkling ceremonially unclean persons with the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer restores their outward purity; 14 then how much more the blood of the Messiah, Who, through the eternal Spirit, offered Himself to God as a sacrifice without blemish, will purify our conscience from works that lead to death, so that we can serve the living God! (Heb 9:13-14)  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 humility, self control. Nothing in the Torah stands against such things. 24 Moreover, those who belong to the Messiah Yeshua have put their old nature to death on the stake, along with its passions and desire. 25 Since it is through the Spirit that we have Life, let it also be through the Spirit that we order our lives day by day. (Gal 5:22-25)  “Unauthorized” here comes from the Hebrew זוּר [zur] meaning:  Strong's: to turn aside (especially for lodging); hence to be a foreigner, strange, profane; specifically (active participle) to commit adultery  BDB: to become estranged; strange, another, a stranger, a foreigner, an enemy (participle); loathsome (used of breath) (participle); a strange woman, a prostitute, a harlot (metonymy)  Biblically זוּר is used in reference to  people (e.g. Exo 30:33; Num 3:38)  fire (e.g. Lev 10:1; Num 3:4; 26:61)  gods (e.g. Deut 32:16; Ps 44:20), and  water (e.g. 2 Kings 19:24)  but mostly to people outside of a covenant relationship with the LORD  There is a tremendous amount of responsibility (and accountability) inherent with being a priest of God.  These men tried to approach the LORD and “serve” Him  by their own works, on their own terms, in their own way, or,  in some way prescribed in the service other gods (demons)  either way, they paid the ultimate price for their arrogance and / or presumption.  Those in any position of leadership can not presume or assume in their service to God.  As believers in the Jewish Messiah, though we may not be a priest, rabbi, or minister by vocation, we are all spiritual leaders – in our homes, neighborhoods, work places: wherever we go.  Yeshua is the Light of the world (John 8:12); as His, we too are the light of the world (Matt 5:14). He is the source of life, light (John 1:4), and living water (John 4:10-13); as His, we are to pass on what we have received (Luke 6:38, Acts 3:6).  In Christ we are citizens of heaven (Eph 2:19) and serving as ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20) in a hostile world (Col 1:21, James 4:4).  Living our lives for Jesus and taking a stand for Him will draw the attention of others, just as that city on a hill can not be hidden (Matt 5:14).  By our words, deeds, lifestyle, actions (or lack thereof), and reactions (which are not easily guarded or fake) are we leading others to the LORD? Or are we possibly leading others away from Him?  These men had been consecrated to the LORD; set apart for Him (Exo 29:44; 30:29-30). As we have seen, things consecrated to God are consumed by Him, being either totally dedicated to His service or totally destroyed by fire. 5 Adonai said to Moshe, 6

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Parashah is a Hebrew word that means portion. 

Synagogues around the world read the same parashah each Shabbat. The Torah is divided into 54 weekly portions so that the whole Torah is read annually. Selections from the Haftarah (Prophets) are also read each week, and in Messianic congregations, selections from the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) are included. Holiday selections are also listed for the Feast Days.

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