Parashah 39:Chukat “Ordinance of” or “Regulation”
B'midbar (in the desert / wilderness) '(Numbers) 19:1-22:1 Psalm 95
Shof'tim (Judges) 11:1-33 Yochanan (John) 3:10-21
by Messianic Teacher Dr. Daniel Boley
In looking at this regulation dealing with the red heifer we see an interesting process established that almost begs us to look for deeper meaning. Let me offer a few thoughts:
• A young female cow is sacrificed and used in a purification rite before the LORD. This is in direct contrast to many pagan religions which worship it. In this it is separated from and distinct from paganism.
• It was a red cow: the color pointing to the blood required for purification from sin. (Heb 9:22)
• It was without fault or defect: a perfect sacrifice. (Heb 9:14)
• It had never borne a yoke: it still had its full strength, uncorrupted by the entanglements of the world and worldly efforts (Heb 12:1-3; 2 Pet 2:20)
• It was brought outside the camp to be sacrificed (John 19:17)
• The priest took some of its blood with his finger and sprinkled it before the Tabernacle:
• our High Priest offered His own blood, by the hand of God, that we might become the temple of His Holy Spirit (John 10:17-18; 1 Cor 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16)
• The blood was sprinkled seven times
• seven being a biblical number for completion
• the blood dealing with purification
• complete purification is available through the blood of God's sacrifice
• our purification is complete through the blood of God's sacrifice
• Wood, hyssop and scarlet yarn were used:
◦ Our purification sacrifice was offered on wood (Matt 27:35)
◦ He was offered a drink on a stalk of hyssop (John 19:29)
◦ Scarlet is associated with escaping destruction, covering our wounds, and redemption (e.g. Josh 2:18; Isa 1:18; Matt 27:28; Heb 9:19)
• Hyssop – אֶזוֹב [eh-zōv] in Hebrew and ὕσσωπος [hussōpos] in Greek
Ezov (Hebrew: אזוב) is the Classical Hebrew name of a plant mentioned in the Bible in the context of religious rituals. In some English-language Bibles, the word is transliterated as ezob.
The Septuagint translates the name as ὕσσωπος hyssop, and English translations of the Bible often follow this rendering. The Hebrew word אזוב and the Greek word ὕσσωπος probably share a common (unknown) origin.
In the Bible, ezov is described as a small plant found on or near walls, with an aromatic odour. Maimonides, Saadia Gaon and earlier Jewish commentators identified ezov with za'atar, which may refer to various local herbs, including marjoram, oregano and thyme, which have aromatic and cleansing properties, grow wild in Israel, and can easily be bunched together to be used for sprinkling.
The book of John in the New Testament (written in Koine Greek) mentions that hyssop was used, along with vinegar, to alleviate the thirst of Jesus, during his Passion. Matthew and Mark mention the occasion but refer to the plant using the general term κάλαμος (kálamos), which is translated as "reed" or "stick." Origanum has short stems and some scholars say it would have been too short to reach the mouth of Jesus during crucifixion. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ezov, accessed 22 Jun 15)
• This last sentence is, of course, based on the assumption that people were crucified on high stakes when in fact they were at various heights as long as their feet were off the ground so they could not raise themselves up to inhale without great effort and pain. That the Romans would often crucify people to make an example of them does not require a high stake, but simply that they be readily visible, e.g. along a main road or on some hill top as was the case with Yeshua.
• The heifer, wood, hyssop, and scarlet yarn were all totally consumed by fire
• Everything dedicated to the LORD is either totally set apart for His service (e.g. the priests), or totally consumed by fire (e.g. many of the offerings)
• The ashes were combined with water for purification
• Our purification comes from the sacrifice Yeshua made on our behalf and “cleansing with the water of the Word” of God (cf Eph 5:26)
• The Word both written and personified!
• The priests involved in each step of the process were unclean until evening.
• In Hebrew thought and culture each day begins at sundown (evening), based on the Creation week of Genesis 1, “... And there was evening and morning ….”
• Our High Priest, Who completed the process, bore our uncleanness so we can start a new day, clean in Him (Isa 49:8-13; 2 Cor 6:2)
10 … For the people of Isra'el and for the foreigner staying with them this will be a permanent regulation.
• This applies to everyone wanting to live by God's covenant.
• “permanent” here is the Hebrew word עוֹלָם [ō-lahm] meaning:
◦ Strong's: properly, concealed, i.e. the vanishing point; generally, time out of mind (past or future), i.e. (practically) eternity; frequentatively, adverbial (especially with prepositional prefix) always
◦ BDB: long duration, antiquity, futurity, forever, ever, everlasting, evermore, perpetual, old, ancient, world
▪ ancient time, long time (used of the past)
▪ (used of the future)
• forever, always
• continuous existence, perpetual
• everlasting, indefinite or unending future, eternity
• Standing on a long, straight stretch of highway, or railroad track, it looks like the road goes on “forever.” It goes to the vanishing point, or even beyond, from our point in time and space.
• That point, for the priestly sacrifices, was when our great High Priest, Jesus / Yeshua, presented Himself as a sacrifice on our behalf, once for all.
• After Moshe had proclaimed every command of the Torah to all the people, he took the blood of the calves with some water and used scarlet wool and hyssop to sprinkle both the scroll itself and all the people; 20 and he said, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has ordained for you.” 21 Likewise, he sprinkled with the blood both the Tent and the things used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, according to the Torah, almost everything is purified with blood; indeed, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
23 Now this is how the copies of the heavenly things had to be purified, but the heavenly things themselves require better sacrifices than these. 24 For the Messiah has entered a Holiest Place which is not man-made and merely a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, in order to appear now on our behalf in the very presence of God. (Heb 9:19-24, emphasis original [bold red = emphatic, bold red italics = strongly emphatic])
• This is the kind of cohen gadol that meets our need – holy, without evil, without stain, set apart from sinners and raised higher than the heavens; 27 one who does not have the daily necessity, like the other cohanim g'dolim, of offering up sacrifices first for their own sins and only then for those of the people; because He offered one sacrifice, once and for all, by offering up Himself. 28 For the Torah appoints as cohanim g'dolim men who have weakness; but the text which speaks about the swearing of the oath, a text written later than the Torah, appoints a Son who has been brought to the goal forever. (Heb 7:26-28, emphasis original)
• But when the Messiah appeared as cohen gadol of the good things that are happening already, then, through the greater and more perfect Tent which is not man-made (that is, it is not of this created world), 12 He entered the Holiest Place once and for all. And He entered not by means of the blood of goats and calves, but by means of His own blood, thus setting people free forever. 13 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 9:11-14, emphasis original)
• It is in connection with this will that we have been separated for God and made holy, once and for all, through the offering of Yeshua the Messiah's body. (Heb 10:10, emphasis original)
• For the Messiah Himself died for sins, once and for all, a righteous person on behalf of unrighteous people, so that He might bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh but brought to life by the Spirit. (1 Kefa [Peter] 3:18, emphasis original)
11 Anyone who touches a corpse, no matter whose dead body it is, will be unclean for seven days.
• From the least to the greatest, the youngest to the oldest, the poorest to the most wealthy – no matter whose dead body it is.
• Unclean for seven days for touching a corpse (the body of a human who has died)
• Yet touching the carcass of an unclean animal only made a person unclean until that evening (e.g. Lev 11:24)
• Even when stated negatively, humans are much more valuable and important than even the best animal.
• Out of all of Creation, only mankind was created in the likeness and image of God (Gen 1:26-27)
◦ the LORD is concerned about even a small, seemingly insignificant bird like a sparrow, how much more is He concerned about each of us (Matt 10:28-31).
• Each animal, in special ways, demonstrates the creativity and awesomeness of the LORD. But it is man, created in His image, that was blessed and charged with ruling over the animal kingdom as the LORD's direct representative on earth.
• Not that man is an animal, but he is to rule over them as God would (e.g. with loving care and concern).
• Unfortunately public schools in this country espouse materialist evolution as fact and the biblical account as fiction (if the biblical account is mentioned at all).
• The inevitable result of being constantly taught that you are an animal and the product of animals, is that you act like an animal. Go figure! Why is anyone surprised?
12 He must purify himself with [these ashes] on the third and seventh days; then he will be clean. But if he does not purify himself the third and seventh days, he will not be clean.
• Could it be that the third and seventh days point back to man's need for relationship with his triune God (3) for his completion (7)?
13 Anyone who touches a corpse, no matter whose dead body it is, and does not purify himself has defiled the tabernacle of Adonai. …
• There are some cultures where reportedly if someone murders another, the punishment is that the corpse is tied to the murderer's back and they are forced to carry it wherever they go. In time, as the corpse decays, because they are touching, the rot overtakes the murderer's body as well and kills them.
• “Touching” what is unclean causes us to be unclean. The longer we are in contact with it, (by long exposure or multiple shorter exposures,) the more that uncleanness attaches to us and we need to be purified.
• “Touching” may be physical, of course, but being triune beings ourselves (i.e. spirit, soul, and body) there are other ways to “touch” unclean things.
• When something “touches” us in some way it will affect all parts of our being, e.g.:
• If I stay up late playing computer games or watching movies, neither of which are necessarily “bad” in themselves, I may be too tired to attend service, read Scripture, or even pray the next morning.
• If I get a good night's sleep and am therefore able to wake up in time to pray, read in the Word, and attend service, I am more “in tune” with the Spirit of God and better able to hear from Him, which blesses my spirit and soul.
• “ … has defiled the tabernacle of Adonai.”
• Could this be an illusion or reference to the concept that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit? (See 1 Cor 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16)
• The Temple of Artemis (Diana) at Ephesus is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Built three times in the same location, each successive temple was larger and more grand. The third structure measured 137 m (450 ft) long by 69 m (225 ft) wide and 18 m (60 ft) high with more than 127 columns. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_of_Artemis, accessed 25 Jun 15.)
• The 127 pillars of marble were more than 60 feet high and 5 feet in diameter. 36 of them had sculpture carved on them and were overlaid with gold. (Raynard Vander Laan, Gods of This World, from https://www.thattheworldmayknow.com, accessed 11 Feb 07.)
• As I recall from my studies each column took the equivalent of 52 work years to make. That means that a person could have spent their entire life working on just one column – dedicated to a demon!
• All this is compared, then, to the followers of Yeshua. Where is His temple? If He is so great, why isn't there a temple for His followers to worship Him?
• Paul Wilbur's song Sh'ma touches on an answer. Here are the lyrics:
Hear O Israel all you chosen ones
The Lord our God the Lord is One
Blessed be Your name
Glorious kingdom come
The Lord our God the Lord is One
Majesty too great to dwell
In temples made of stone
You have chosen hearts of flesh
To make Your glory known
Let Your kingdom come (repeat)
Let Your will be done (repeat)
Wind of Heaven blow (repeat)
Make Your presence known (repeat)
Like an ocean wide (repeat)
Let Your glory rise (repeat)
Cover all the earth
Hear O Israel
Our God is One
Hear O Israel all you chosen ones
The Lord our God the Lord is One
Faithful Father Spirit of the Lord
Messiah Son our God is One
Majesty too great to dwell
In temples made of stone
You have chosen hearts of flesh
To make Your glory known
Hear O Israel
The Lord our God is one God
The Lord is one
(From http://lyrics.wikia.com/Paul_Wilbur:Shema, accessed 25 Jun 15.)
• It can be listened to at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXYB9F8Yxvk which also has the lyrics, accessed 25 Jun 15.
• Our lives will show what we ascribe worth to; what we worship.
◦ Do our lives and actions accurately show the world what the LORD is like?
◦ If He is our heavenly Father there should be a good family resemblance, is there?
• That person will be cut off from Isra'el, because the water for purification was not sprinkled on him. He will be unclean; his uncleanness is still on him.
• There are many who claim to be Christian / Messianic whose lives prove they have no concept Who Christ / Messiah is.
• “Christ” from χριστός [chris-tόs] of the New Testament (B'rit HaDashah) which was originally written in Greek. It means “anointed” or the “Anointed One” as does מָשִׁיחַ [mah-shē-akh] “Messiah” from the Hebrew.
• Acts 11:26 tells us that “the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch,” or from a messianic perspective, “it was in Antioch that the talmidim for the first time were called 'Messianic.'”
• True disciples are those who follow a particular teacher, allowing that teachers doctrines and philosophy discipline their lives.
• Talmidim from a Jewish perspective are those who are disciples of a particular rabbi, who not only know what their rabbi knows, but who the rabbi is confident can also be what he is, do what he does, and “spread his yoke” (his teachings).
• Since Yeshua / Jesus is Jewish, yet came for the whole world, both should hold true for those who follow Him!
• Some in this category have committed horrible atrocities “in the name of Christ” when they have no more right to that Name than does satan.
• Consider, for example, the atrocities of the Crusades, pogroms, and the Holocaust, done “in the name of Christ.”
• Rape, pillage, plunder, and murder in no way exemplify Christ.
• There have been many over the centuries who have claimed to be Christian by default.
• They know they are not this religion or that, so “by default” they must be Christian.
• There are, in our congregations, a cross-section of the populace, which include
• those who honestly know Yeshua as Savior and LORD (though stated separately for emphasis, the two are in actuality inseparable): not perfect, but striving toward perfection in Him
• those who are new in their relationship with Jesus and it is very obvious they are still dealing with old habits
• those who made some profession of faith out of emotion or a desire for “fire insurance” but are not really interested in changing or becoming Christ-like
• those who are seeking
• those who are trolling: looking for a “nice girl” or a “nice boy” but their interests are purely selfish
• those who are tares in the wheat field of believers, sent by the enemy whose whole desire and mission is to steal, kill, and destroy
• Truly knowing this Jewish Messiah, this Israelite many of us call Jesus Christ, and loving and following Him as a disciple / talmidim also means having a love and affinity for what He loved, including the land, people, and culture He chose, and was born and bred in.
• Granted, many in Israel are secular in lifestyle and philosophy: so are most people in any country in the world.
• Anti-semitism in any form, however, is totally antithetical with the teachings, life, and example Jesus gives us in His Word.
• It is also ungodly; even its selectivity demonstrates this.
◦ Yes, there were times in Scripture where the LORD was “against” Israel for a time, but this was always for their discipline (to bring them back to Himself) and undergirded with an unfailing love for them.
• If our LORD, (Who is our Master, Savior, Redeemer, and God) has an unfailing love for Israel, shouldn't we?
• This includes standing against schemes such as the current boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. Though “politically correct” in some circles, (as the (so-called) Palestinians have been winning the media war,) its founders are terrorists stealing from their own people to murder Israelis and wipe the country off the map. Using humanitarian aid from Israel and the UN meant to build schools and hospitals, Hamas built miles of underground tunnels in hopes of invading Israel and murdering all of the populace. All the while firing thousands of rockets indiscriminately on Israel, who has shown unimaginable restraint. If we fall prey to their propaganda machine blood of innocents is on us.
• For an interesting, unbiased, third-party view of the Israeli military and how they respond to threats such as this, see Prager University's five minute YouTube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tN1MkAGuVyY, accessed 10Jul16.
• How much “uncleanness” is still on us?
• How much are our hands stained with blood?
• Have we placed ourselves in a position where we should be cut off?
19 The clean person will sprinkle the unclean person on the third and seventh days. On the seventh day he will purify him; then he will wash his clothes and himself in water; and he will be clean at evening. 20 The person who remains unclean and does not purify himself will be cut off from the community because he has defiled the sanctuary of Adonai.
It's only the clean person that can help the unclean become clean.
The unclean person has the choice to seek cleansing or to remain unclean.
• Provision for the people to be cleansed has already been made by the LORD
• Just as He has made a way for each of us today through the blood of Yeshua.
• But we must make the decision to accept His offer of peace and the provision He has made.
• No other way will do (see e.g. Acts 2:37-39; 4:12)
• To attempt to impress the LORD is hopeless
• Good works are important, but there is an important distinction. We are saved only by grace; but we are saved for good works:
For you have been delivered by grace through trusting [faith], and even this is not your accomplishment but God's gift. 9 You were not delivered by your own actions; therefore no one should boast. 10 For we are of God's making, created in union with the Messiah Yeshua for a life of good actions already prepared by God for us to do. (Eph 2:8-10)
• To attempt to garner His favor in any other way is to insult Him
• “For I know what plans I have in mind for you,” says Adonai, “plans for well-being, not for bad things; so that you can have hope and a future. 12 When you call to Me and pray to Me, I will listen to you. 13 When you seek Me, you will find me, provided you seek for Me wholeheartedly; 14 and I will let you find Me,” says Adonai. (Jer 29:11-14a, emphasis added)
• A future and hope are available in Yeshua / Jesus.
• I have shared with some of you that as a water survival instructor in the Navy we would tell the students about an experiment researchers did with a group of wharf rats. They took the rats out to the middle of a large body of water and put them in the water, timing them to see how long they could survive. One by one as the rats appeared to be going down for the final time, the researchers grabbed them, dried them off and put them back in their cages. The next day the experiment was repeated under the exact same conditions – but the rats lasted 6-8 times longer! After quite some discussion it was determined that there was one difference on day two: the rats had hope!
• Praise the LORD He treats us so much better than rats!
21 This is to be a permanent regulation for them. The person who sprinkles the water for purification is to wash his clothes. Whoever touches the water for purification will be unclean until evening. 22 Anything the unclean person touches will be unclean, and anyone who touches him will be unclean until evening.
• Like a virulent infection, impurity spreads by contact and negatively affects everyone involved.
2 Because the community had no water, they assembled themselves against Moshe and Aharon. 3 The people quarreled with Moshe and said, “We wish we had died when our brothers died before Adonai. 4 Why did you bring Adonai's community into this desert? To die there, we and our livestock? 5 Why did you make us leave Egypt? To bring us to this terrible place without seed, figs, grapevines, pomegranates or even water to drink?”
Every time the people have a difficulty “they assembled themselves against Moshe and Aharon” and “quarreled” with them.
Rather than looking to the true Provider of all, they focus only on what is right before them.
We wish we had died when our brothers died before Adonai.
Their brothers had died in rebellion against the LORD. Are they admitting that they are rebelling against God?
Why did you bring Adonai's community into this desert to die … ?
As if to say, you did this, you're to blame, we are God's people, you're going to be in trouble
Why did you make us leave Egypt? To bring us to this terrible place without seed, figs, grapevines, pomegranates or even water to drink?
As if they were forced to leave Egypt.
This “terrible place” where God is providing everything we need even though we are stuck here because of our own rebellion and unbelief.
Without good fruits or water, as if fondly remembering their harsh slavery in Egypt and forgetting all the LORD was continually doing for them.
6 Moshe and Aharon left the assembly, went to the entrance of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces; and the glory of Adonai appeared to them.
As they did time and again, Moses and Aaron “fell on their faces” before the LORD.
As we are confronted with ….. whatever, how do we react?
Actions can be guarded, and some people are good actors who can remain “in character” for a long time. But how people react will often tell what is stirring deep within.
We raised our four children with this idea and the fact that we will sometimes get a “pop quiz”: there will be times when we will be unexpectedly tested. The question is how we will react; how will be respond.
Once while opening a used can of paint with a screwdriver it slipped and punctured my palm. I instantly started sweating, bit my lip and groaned deeply. One of our girls cheerfully said, “Was that a 'pop quiz,' Daddy? You passed! You passed!”