Numbers 8–12: Heaven wants you to be Spirit-filled

The Creator of all things, the LORD of Israel, sees what people do, but Heaven also wants to pour out the Spirit to help us become more like the Son of God.

That’s the subtext of Torah reading בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ Beha’alotcha (“when you raise up” [the lamps]). It starts with Aaron’s lighting the menorah (seven-branch candelabra in the Sanctuary), which represents the fact that God can see all we offer to Him. There was also a lot of complaining, grumbling and jealousy, but the LORD was also able to “download” His Holy Spirit onto 70 of the elders of Israel, equipping them to share a little bit of Moses’ burden.

Menorah: The LORD sees you

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to Aaron and say to him, “When you mount the lamps, the seven lamps will give light in the front of the lamp-stand.”’ Aaron therefore did so; he mounted its lamps at the front of the lamp-stand, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.” (Numbers 8:1–3 NASB)

We read about the altar at the tail end of last week’s parashah. The altar for the animal sacrifices receives the offerings of the people, including goats, sheep, cattle, birds, etc. It also receives grain offerings and some libation or wine offerings.

Today’s parashah starts with Aaron lighting the menorah, which represents the fact that God can see all we offer to Him. Next to the menorah, they set 12 loaves of bread, representing the 12 tribes of Israel so God’s eyes are on His people at all times. He is watching us to see what we will do.

Hair is symbolic of giving our time

He killed the first-born of Egypt  and swapped them for the first-born of Israel. Then he exchanged the first-born of Israel for the entire tribe of Levi.

“Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Take the Levites from among the sons of Israel and cleanse them. “Thus you shall do to them, for their cleansing: sprinkle purifying water on them, and let them use a razor over their whole body and wash their clothes, and they will be clean.” (Numbers 8:5–7 NASB)

In Numbers 8:5-26, we read about how the men of the tribe of Levi were physically and spiritually purified to prepare for service in the Tabernacle.

First, they had to wash themselves in the water of the red heifer, which was lye water, then they had to shave their entire bodies.

There are two different traditions as to what it means when they were instructed to shave off their hair. One tradition is that every little hair was removed. The other tradition says that their hair was simply cut very, very short, to the point of stubble. Either way, they had to give up most, if not all of the hair on their bodies.

Hair has a symbolic relevance, as we read about in the context of the Nazarite vow. It’s a symbol of the time that one dedicates to God, like a spiritual clock or diary of one’s service. When the hair gets cut and burned to God, it’s a symbol of all the time that one has given to God. For the Nazarite, there’s a time limit, but for the tribe of Levi, their service will be in perpetuity.

Download this: Laying on hands

When one lays hands on someone or something, you are either transferring a blessing or transferring one’s sin onto something. For example, Jacob crossed his hands to bless Ephraim and Manasseh to give them a blessing. A person who is giving a sin sacrifice lays hands on the animal to transfer their sins from themselves to the animal before it is sacrificed.

When the people laid hands on the tribe of Levi, they were transferring their responsibility and their authority onto the tribe of Levi.

If someone is going to represent you before God, you want someone who is better and cleaner than you to represent you before God. If the “representative” is a bigger sinner than you, that doesn’t help you get closer to God.

The scriptures record an example when a priestly family were actually worse sinners than the people they were appointed to serve. If you recall the High Priest Eli and his two sons. The book of 1 Samuel records how poorly Eli and his sons served in the Tabernacle. They did such a poor job at serving God and the people of Israel that God literally had to take them out. He even moved His presence to the land of the Philistines for 6 months for the people of Israel to have an opportunity to clean themselves up enough that God could come back to His own people.

Second Passover

All the holy days for the year are based on the calculation of Passover. Keeping the Passover was so important that God gives the people two changes to keep it. Passover, or Pesach, represents protection, death and eternal life. Eternal life is not earned, it’s a gift. If we miss Passover, we miss (symbolically) out on His protection, His (Yeshua’s) death, resurrection and eternal life. If we don’t receive it, we can’t live it.

After Passover, the people received all the instructions to live out a righteous life. They were saved and redeemed first, as a gift. Then they went to Mt. Sinai, received the instructions on how to live out a righteous life.  The instructions were never meant to help people earn eternal life. They were given to teach us how to live a righteous life after we have been given eternal life.

God gives you more than one opportunity to receive eternal life but there is only one way to receive eternal life and that is through His Messiah Yeshua. If you reject Passover and God’s gift of eternal life, you reject everything God wants to give you.

Go where He goes

In Numbers 9, the text says several times that they could only move when God, who was in the cloud, moved. Messiah is the one in the cloud and when He said to move, they moved. They were to seek Him wherever He goes.

It’s in our nature to follow and God was training the people of Israel to watch for Him and follow Him.

When Messiah lived on earth, He traveled all the time. When He moved, people followed Him. People followed Yeshua wherever He went.

In Moses’ time, people would come to Moses and Moses would take the people’s problems to the cloud to get answers.

They were being trained like sheep. There’s a reason that Messiah compared people to sheep. We really are sheep, we are programmed to follow. The question is what we follow.

God wants us to go after Him. God wants us to be drawn to Him, to “covet” Him. If you want God, you will follow Him wherever He goes.

When the cloud rested and stopped moving, Israel surrounded it. When Yeshua was on the earth, people followed and surrounded Him. The camp surrounded the Tabernacle. God was surrounded by His people Israel all the time.

Complaints versus petitions

If the people hadn’t complained when He gave the Ten Commandments, I wonder if He would have added an 11th commandment “Do not complain,” because as we read in Scripture, God really does not like complainers. He actually killed people for complaining.

Complainers are far more vocal than those who aren’t complainers. That’s just the truth and when you are the target of the complaints, such as Moses had been, it is quite depressing.

The children of Israel left from the wilderness of Sinai and went to the wilderness of Paran. This was a three-day journey and they couldn’t even wait three days before complaining again.

God killed a lot of people to free the children of Israel from Egypt and for them to lament and long to return to Egypt, their ingratitude annoyed God very much.

We see in Scripture how many people said “No” to God, including Moses, Peter, Abraham, Jonah, the 10 spies, Adam and Eve, Pharaoh. Some of them said “No” because they didn’t understand what was going on, such as Peter and the sheet with the unclean animals.

Complainers run a risk, but there’s a difference if one complains to God from a position of trust and longing to understand God’s plan v. complaining for the sake of complaining.

Complaining without a willingness to receive a solution angers God. When God gives you a solution, accept it and walk it out God’s instruction.

The children of Israel were actually looking for something to complain about when they first set out. It’s like the saying, “misery loves company.”

Moses didn’t fully understand what God was going to do, but Moses accepted that God could fix it.

The complaints about the food were a pretext to complain about God and how He had taken them out of Egypt, which angered God a lot. He killed the most vicious complainers with a plague.

“The LORD therefore said to Moses, “Gather for Me seventy men from the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and their officers and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you.” (Numbers 11:16 NASB)

Are these the 70 people Jethro recommended that Moses gather up to help him share the work? Probably, but I don’t know for sure.

We read in several places where God took a piece of His Spirit that He had laid upon one person and spread it out to other people including:

  • Elijah to Elisha
  • Acts to Disciples
  • Saul to David
  • Adam to mankind (through Eve)
  • Moses to the 70 elders

In each case, the God’s spirit was multiplied through division. We think of dividing things up as making them smaller but that is now how God divides. When God has a little bit, He makes it bigger.

When God gave a portion of Moses’ spirit to the 70, all 70 of them prophesied.

“But Moses said to him, ‘Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!’” (Numbers 11:29 NASB)

Moses wanted the entire camp to be prophets, not just the 70. Even through God gives His spirit to others, each person still has their mission.

‘Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow’

“Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses…” (Numbers 12:1 NASB)

Let God decide what your job is, not you. When Miriam and Aaron saw God’s spirit resting on the 70, it inspired jealousy in them. Moses didn’t hear his siblings complaints, God heard it.

This complaint was important. They were using Moses’ wife as an excuse to complain about Moses in general.

Moses had two wives: Zipporah and the Cushite woman. Neither of them were Israelite. Zipporah was a Midianite, a descendant of Abraham, but the Cushite woman was not a descendant of Abraham at all.

One of the rubs may have been that Aaron, as a High Priest and his descendants, as future high priests were instructed to only marry Israelites.

But Moses, who had a higher position in Israel than Aaron, didn’t have that restriction that might have upset Miriam and Aaron. Moses, as a God-like figure, was not marrying women as “holy” as the Israelite women.

Moses was a representation of God while Aaron was a representative of Messiah. God’s children are both Israelite and Gentile.

Moses took a woman who would have been considered a reject and brought her into the people of Israel. The High Priest Aaron was not permitted to do that, but Moses was.

Miriam did not like the idea that Moses was bringing in a rejected woman into the people of Israel. She also didn’t like the fact that Moses had certain rights that Aaron didn’t have. So, God punished Miriam by rejecting for seven days. By giving Miriam leprosy and giving her a taste of what it is like to live like a Gentile. Now, Miriam understands what it is like to be an outsider.

God does not like complainers but He does long for us to bring our problems to Him and for us to accept His answers and solutions.

Summary: Tammy.

Banner Photo: Photo by Larsson

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