This week's parashah begins with Moshe being taught the laws of the red heifer whose ashes purify a person who has been contaminated by contact with a dead body. We also witness the death of both Miriam and Aharon (Moshe's sister and brother); and see Moshe leading the people in battles against the Emorite kings Sichon and Og (who seek to prevent Israel's passage through their territory) and conquering their lands, which lie east of the Jordan.
It is interesting to note the "Red Heifer" sacrifice was extremely unique, for several reasons:
- It was the only sacrifice that specifically required an animal of a particular color. This animal was extremely rare and unique of its kind (in fact, Maimonides wrote, "Nine Parot Adumot were prepared from the time the Commandment was given until the destruction of the Second Temple. Moses our Teacher prepared one, Ezra prepared one and seven more were prepared until the Destruction of the Temple. The tenth will prepared by the Mashiach."
- It was the only sacrifice where all the rituals were carried out outside of the camp / outside the Temple precincts.
- It was the only sacrifice that ritually contaminated the priest who offered it, but made the one who was sprinkled by it clean.
It was the only sacrifice where the ashes were preserved and used (other sacrifices required the ashes be disposed outside of the camp).
Yeshua, our Mashiyach, is the perfect fulfillment of the Red Heifer sacrifice, since He was completely without sin or defect (2 Corinthians 5:21; John 8:46); He was sacrificed outside the camp (Hebrews 13:13); He made Himself sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21); His blood makes us clean (1 Peter 1:2; Hebrews 12:24; Revelation 1:5); and the "water of separation" that His sacrifice created is the means by which we are made clean from the impurity of sin (Ephesians 5:25-6; Heb 10:22).
As we continue reading through the Torah beginning with this week's portion, Numbers 19:1-22, we cannot help but notice the continuous reiteration of "cleanness"! These passages reveal that, no matter what point in time we are in, one cannot come before YHWH in a filthy state, body or mind:
Numbers 19: 1 ADONAI said to Moshe and Aharon, 2 "This is the regulation from the Torah which ADONAI has commanded. Tell the people of Isra'el to bring you a young red female cow without fault or defect and which has never borne a yoke. 3 You are to give it to El'azar the cohen; it is to be brought outside the camp and slaughtered in front of him. 4 El'azar the cohen is to take some of its blood with his finger and sprinkle this blood toward the front of the tent of meeting seven times. 5 The heifer is to be burned to ashes before his eyes -its skin, meat, blood and dung is to be burned to ashes.
6 The cohen is to take cedar-wood, hyssop and scarlet yarn and throw them onto the heifer as it is burning up. 7 Then the cohen is to wash his clothes and himself in water, after which he may re-enter the camp; but the cohen will remain unclean until evening. 8 The person who burned up the heifer is to wash his clothes and himself in water, but he will remain unclean until evening. 9 A man who is clean is to collect the ashes of the heifer and store them outside the camp in a clean place. They are to be kept for the community of the people of Isra'el to prepare water for purification from sin. 10 The one who collected the ashes of the heifer is to wash his clothes and be unclean until evening. For the people of Isra'el and for the foreigner staying with them this will be a permanent regulation.
The people of Israel were to do these rituals for the purification of sin - and in verse 10 we see that this was to be a permanent regulation! Obviously, we cannot obey that particular rule today because (1) there is no Temple nor cohens (priests) who can perform these rituals right now (but there will be once the Third Temple is rebuilt); and (2) Yeshua was our Final SIN Sacrifice! Today, thanks to Him, we have the opportunity to repent for our sins and do our best to "get right" with God and go on from there. No killing of innocent animals or need to "live outside the camp" for seven days, etc. Halleluyah!
This whole chapter showed the people of Israel how to separate the events of life from the holiness of the Temple. They could not come into YHWH's Presence unless they were clean - physically, morally, or spiritually - and neither can we, today! If we go through a period of "uncleanness" of any type, we MUST take personal steps to return to cleanness before entering into His Presence.
Numbers 19: 11 "Anyone who touches a corpse, no matter whose dead body it is, will be unclean for seven days. 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. 13 Anyone who touches a corpse, no matter whose dead body it is, and does not purify himself has defiled the tabernacle of ADONAI. 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. 14 "This is the law: when a person dies in a tent, everyone who enters the tent and everything in the tent will be unclean for seven days.
Numbers 19: 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. The water for purification has not been sprinkled on him; he is unclean.
Verses 13 and 20 show how very adamant YHWH is about being CLEAN before Him, in every sense of the word!
While most of us never have or had any occasion to touch a corpse, the idea is, certain things make us unclean, and we cannot enter into the Presence of YHWH with earthly filth on us (filth - literally and figuratively). We must remember, the people wandering in the desert for 40 years did not have running water or the sanitary equipment we take for granted today and so YHWH provided special instructions that allowed time for people to recognize how and why they were "unclean" and then they were forced to wait until such a time as when He would render them "clean." (Either that or - and this is just a guess - the germs/disease would die off naturally on their own.) The bottom line is, He constantly showed them who God was and what He expected of His people!
An example of those who have not grasped the idea of "clean" and "unclean" is a man from our former synagogue who one day announced that the Holy Spirit had told him to stop bathing for two years. After several months of this (wherein the weak leadership tolerated this behavior!), some people ended up leaving the synagogue because they couldn't stand the smell anymore. This man - who was clearly going against Scripture - refused any attempt at correction by the rabbi and the elders because he was convinced that the Holy Spirit had told him to stop bathing. After several months, when membership dropped and it was clear that new people were basically turning around at the door, the man was finally asked to leave.
This incident serves to illustrate the importance of following Scripture! If something cannot be verified in Scripture, then it is NOT of God! In the case of this man, he was clearly demonized because, even when shown various scriptures revealing why and how he was off the mark, he simply could not understand that the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) would NEVER have told him to stop bathing, as we are commanded to BE CLEAN BEFORE entering into the Presence of YHWH!
Another example is Pastor Ted Haggard who deceived his congregation in Colorado Springs' New Life Church (which at that time boasted some 14,000 members) via his secret, homosexual lifestyle. Unbeknownst to his congregation, Haggard - while preaching against homosexuality - was secretly meeting with a homosexual prostitute in Denver. Had Haggard not been deceived with his "We're under grace and Jesus forgives us, no matter what" attitude, he might have thought twice before engaging in intentional/deliberate sinning!
Had Haggard actually had a healthy "fear" of YHWH and been Torah obedient, then, instead of paying lip service to only the last quarter of the Bible known as the "New Testament" (specifically passages like the ones we read in today's lesson), he would either have recognized that he was no longer a representative of God and done the right thing by stepping down; or he would have stopped the acts that YHWH calls "an abomination" (Leviticus 20:13), and immediately repented before YHWH and his congregation. But, instead, like most, he allowed his ego to keep on twisting Scripture, and he is now pushing his lukewarm ideas and agenda on members of his new church!
We find commands to "be clean" throughout the Torah in various ways. The wearing of tzit-tzits (Numbers 15:37) serve as reminders to "be clean" because tzit-tzits remind us daily of His Torah commands. Even His Shabbat rest reminds us to be "clean" - because on Shabbat we basically "shake the dust off" the week from any "carnality" or any sins we may have accidentally committed, or the "stuff" that happens in our daily lives! On Shabbat, we simply REST in Him, become rejuvenated through the Word, and then face the world once more with a "clean" and refreshed and holy outlook....
Moving on to Numbers 20:1-2 we see the Israelites entering the Tzin Desert and shortly thereafter, the death of Moshe's sister, Miryam, who is buried in Kadesh. In verses 2-5 what do we see, but the people whining (again!), this time due to the lack of water. Then, in verses 8-13, we are once again reminded that YHWH is not kidding around when He demands our trust and obedience! Here is how things unfolded:
Numbers 20: 8 "Take the staff, assemble the community, you and Aharon your brother; and before their eyes, tell the rock to produce its water. You will bring them water out of the rock and thus enable the community and their livestock to drink." 9 Moshe took the staff from the presence of ADONAI, as he had ordered him. 10 But after Moshe and Aharon had assembled the community in front of the rock, he said to them, "Listen here, you rebels! Are we supposed to bring you water from this rock?"
11 Then Moshe raised his hand and hit the rock twice with his staff. Water flowed out in abundance, and the community and their livestock drank. 12 But ADONAI said to Moshe and Aharon, "Because you did not trust in me, so as to cause me to be regarded as holy by the people of Isra'el, you will not bring this community into the land I have given them." 13 This is M'rivah Spring [Disputation Spring], where the people of Isra'el disputed with ADONAI, and he was caused to be regarded as holy by them.
Please re-read the above and note what happened to Moshe as a result of his disobedience! Moshe and the High Priest Aharon were the holiest men on earth at the time - and because of their occasional failure to TRUST in YHWH, they did NOT get to enter the Promised Land. (And today we think today that we can get away with anything, just because we "believe"....) Today's parashah is a powerful example of the high expectation YHWH has for His leaders, and it's sad that many back then, and most today are not paying attention.
Numbers 20: 12 But ADONAI said to Moshe and Aharon, "Because you did not trust in me, so as to cause me to be regarded as holy by the people of Isra'el, you will not bring this community into the land I have given them."
Numbers 20: 23 At Mount Hor, by the border of the land of Edom, ADONAI said to Moshe and Aharon, 24 "Aharon is about to be gathered to his people, because he is not to enter the land I have given to the people of Isra'el, inasmuch as you rebelled against what I said at the M'rivah Spring. 25 Take Aharon and El'azar his son, bring them up to Mount Hor, 26 remove the garments from Aharon and put them on El'azar his son. Aharon will be gathered to his people - he will die there."
In Numbers 21 we find Israel whining again, thus once more invoking YHWH's wrath:
Numbers 21: 5 The people spoke against God and against Moshe: "Why did you bring us up out of Egypt? To die in the desert? There's no real food, there's no water, and we're sick of this miserable stuff we're eating!" 6 In response, ADONAI sent poisonous snakes among the people; they bit the people, and many of Isra'el's people died. 7 The people came to Moshe and said, "We sinned by speaking against ADONAI and against you. Pray to ADONAI that he rid us of these snakes." Moshe prayed for the people, 8 and ADONAI answered Moshe: "Make a poisonous snake and put it on a pole. When anyone who has been bitten sees it, he will live."
As usual,YHWH forgave them and gave them a way out of their dilemma....
(By the way, the "snake on a pole" - mixed with some ancient myth - is where the modern medical symbol, the Caduceus, originated. See also our article that shows the comparison between Moshe and Yeshua.)
As an aside, many have written to The Refiner's Fire using scriptures such as the below as "proof" that "the Old Testament God was mean" and that "Jesus is a much gentler God." What they don't realize is, YHWH had no problems with the destruction of pagans and the ungodly/unbelievers - and He still doesn't! He never commanded the destruction of cities consisting of HIS people....
Numbers 21: 2 Isra'el made a vow to ADONAI, "If you will hand this people over to me, I will completely destroy their cities." 3 ADONAI listened to what Isra'el said and handed over the Kena'anim, so they completely destroyed them and their cities and named the place Hormah [complete destruction].
Numbers 21: 34 ADONAI said to Moshe, "Don't be afraid of him, for I have handed him over to you with all his people and his land. You will treat him just as you did Sichon, king of the Emori, who lived at Heshbon." 35 So they struck him down, with his sons and all his people, until there was no one left alive; and then they took control of his land.
Truth is, the "Old Testament God" is the same God today as He always was! The fact is, He was never "being mean"; rather, He has always been merciful. Adam and Eve deserved to die after disobeying His command to not eat the fruit from the tree in the middle of the Garden (Genesis 2:16). But, instead, God allowed them to continue living outside the Garden WITH their new knowledge about good and evil....YHWH only became "aggressive" with man after man deliberately rebelled against Him! We would do the same with our children: If you tell your kids not to run into the street or touch a hot stove or hurt animals, or take drugs, we expect them to obey, not laugh at us and keep doing whatever they want! Disobedience always has dire consequences! How does disciplining our children suggest we're "being mean?"
Brit Chadasha portions:
This week's Torah portion is a story of transition, of the end of an era, of the passing of the mantle of leadership to a new generation. The message is that obedience to our God - to always be CLEAN before Him - is vital to our relationship with Him.
Thanks to the atoning death of Messiah Y'shua, we no longer have to sacrifice innocent animals to atone for our sins. Mere "belief" in Him is enough to be considered cleansed from our past sins; and diligent study of, and obedience to His Torah (Divine Instructions in Righteousness), will keep us set apart for Him. The following scriptures amply illustrate this:
John 3: 9. Niqodemus answered and said to him, How is it possible for these things to be? 10. And Y'shua answered and said to him, You are a teacher of Yisrael, and these things you do not understand? 11. Amen, amen I say to you that the thing that we know we speak. We testify to the thing that we see, and our testimony you do not receive. 12. I have explained earthly things and you do not believe. How then will I explain heavenly things? 13. And no man has ascended into Heaven except he who descended from Heaven. The Son of man is he who is in Heaven.
14. And as Moshe lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, thus the Son of man is about to be lifted up 15. So that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have life that is eternal. 16. Thus, for Elohim loved the world so as he would give His Only-Begotten Son, that whoever would believe in him would not perish, but would have life that is eternal. 17. For Elohim did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to give life to the world through him.
18. He who does not believe in him is judged, and he who does not believe is already judged because he does not believe in his name, that of the Only-Begotten, the Son of Elohim. 19. Now this is the judgment: Because the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness more than the light, for their works are evil. 20. For everyone who does hateful things hates the light and does not come to the light, because his works will be hidden. 21. But he who does truthful things comes to the light that his may be known that they are done in Elohim.
John 4: 3. And he left Yehuda and arrived at Galeela again. 4. But he had to pass through Shamria. 5. And he came to a city of Shamria, which is called Shekar on the side of a field that Ya'akov had given to Yosip his son. 6. And there was there a spring of water that had belonged to Ya'akov, and Y'shua was tired from the effort of the road. And he sat on the well, and it was the sixth hour. 7. Then a woman came from Shamrin to draw water and Y'shua said to her, Give to me water to drink. 8. For his disciples had entered into the city to buy food for themselves. 9. That Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it you are a Yehudean, and you ask from me to drink, for I am a woman Samaritan? For Yehudeans do not have social dealings with the Samaritans."
10. Y'shua answered and said to her, If only you had known the gift of Elohim, and who this is who said to you, "Give to me to drink," you would have asked him and he would have given you living waters. 11. That woman said to him, "My Master, you have no bucket and the well is deep. Where are your living waters?" 12. Why are you greater than our father Ya'akov who gave us this well and from it drank his sons and his sheep? 13. Y'shua answered and said to her, All who drink from these waters will thirst again. 14. But everyone who drinks from the waters that I give to him will not thirst forever. But those waters that I give to him will become in him a spring of water that will spring up into life that is eternal. 15. That woman said to him, "My Master, give to me from these waters that I will not thirst again, nor have to come and draw from here.
16. Y'shua said to her, Go call your husband and come here. 17. She said to him, "I have no husband." Y'shua said to her, You have said well that "I have no husband." 18. For you have had five husbands, you! And the one that you have now is not your husband. This you have spoken is true. 19. That woman said to him, "My Master, I see that you are a prophet. 20. Our forefathers worshipped in this mountain, and you say that in Urishlim is the place that it is necessary to worship. 21. Y'shua said to her, Woman believe me, the hour is coming that not in this mountain nor in Urishlim will they worship the Father. 22. You worship something that you do not know. But we worship what we know, for life is from the Yehudeans. 23. But the hour is coming, and now is when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, indeed. For the Father, He seeks worshipers as these.
24. For Elohim is Spirit, and those who worship, they must worship Him in spirit and in truth. 25. That woman said to him, "I know that the Mashiyach is coming, and when he comes, he will teach us everything. 26. Y'shua said to her, I am the one speaking with you. 27. And while he spoke, his disciples came and were amazed that he spoke with a woman. But no man said, "What do you want?" or "Why do you speak with her?" 28. And the woman left her water jar and went to the city and told the people, 29. "Come see the man who told me everything that I have done! Is he the Mashiyach? 30. And the people went out from the city and were coming to him.
John 12: 27. Behold my soul is now disturbed, and what will I say? "My Father deliver me from this hour?" Rather because of this I have come for this hour! 28. Father glorify your Name. And a voice was heard from Heaven, I have glorified and I will glorify again. 29. And the crowd, which was standing there, heard it and said, "It was thunder." But others said a Messenger spoke with him. 30. Y'shua answered and said to them, This voice did not occur for me, but it is for you. 31. Now is the judgment of this world. Now the ruler of this world is cast outside. 32. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to me. 33. And this he said to show by what death he would die.
34. The crowd said to him, "We have heard from Torah that the Mashiyach remains forever. How do you say that about the Son of man to be lifted up? Who is this Son of man?" 35. Y'shua said to them, A little time longer the light is among you. Walk while you have light or else the darkness overcomes you and he who walks in the darkness does not know to where he goes. 36. Believe in the light while you have the light, that you may become the sons of light. Y'shua spoke these things and departed and hid from them. 37. And though he did all these miracles before them, they did not believe in him! 38. That would be fulfilled the word of Yesha'yahu the prophet who said, "My Master who will believe our report and to whom has been revealed the arm of the Master?"
39. Because of this they were not able to believe, because again Yesha'yahu said, 40. That "They have blinded their eyes and have darkened their heart that they might not see with their eyes and understand with their heart and repent and I heal them." 41. These things Yesha'yahu said when he saw his glory and spoke concerning him. 42. And also many from the leaders believed in him but they would not confess because of the Pharisees, or else they would be thrown out of the assembly. 43. For they loved the praise of men more than the glory of Elohim. 44. But Y'shua cried out and said, He who believes in me, it is not in me he does believe, but in Him who sent me. 45. And he who sees me sees Him who sent me! 46. I have come as the light into this world that all who believe in me might not remain in the darkness!
47. And he who hears my words, yet does not keep them, I do not judge him, for I have not come to judge the world but to give life to the world. 48. He who rejects me and does not receive my words, there is something that judges him. The word that I have spoken, it will judge him on the last day. 49. For I have not spoken from my soul, but the Father who sent me. He gave a Commandment to me what I should say and what I should speak. 50. And I know that His commands are eternal life. Therefore, these things that I speak just as my Father told me, thus I speak.
 Y'shua does not bring a new Faith, but reveals the original Faith of YHWH the Father.
Y'shua proclaims that he came to give life, then he declares that His father's Commands are eternal life! The Father's "Commands" are instruction in righteousness; this is Torah which contains Commandments, Judgments, Testimony and Witness regarding the Kingdom of Elohim. Those who enter into Covenant with Mashiyach are entering into Covenant with his Father YHWH; therefore, it is evil - an outright lie - to teach that Torah is done away with and replaced by a new theology!
The Commands of YHWH bring eternal life. YHWH's "Commands" refers to all of His Commandments; these are one and the same as every Word that proceeds out of the Mouth of Elohim. These are not Commands only between Y'shua and His Father but they are universal for all souls who will enter into the Malchut Elohim.
Y'shua speaks the Word of YHWH, not his own words; therefore, he conveys the revelation of YHWH according to the Ruach haKodesh without the baggage of man's religious tradition. Religion has a propensity to reinvent or interpret the Word of YHWH to make it "acceptable" to man's standards; whereas Mashiyach came not to please men, but to honor and bring Glory to his Father.