Death seems normal, because we see it all around us. But a major message of the Bible is death is out of place in the order God created. The mysterious ritual of the red heifer sacrifice detailed in this week’s reading — חֻקַּת Chukat (“statute of”) — is a pattern of what Heaven had planned for the healing mission of Yeshua haMashiakh (Jesus the Christ).
Jealousy vs. contentment. Covetousness vs. peace. Humility vs. pride. This continual battle against short-sighted self-will and trust in the LORD’s over-the-horizon view underlies the rebellion against Aharon (Aaron), God’s anointed, led by Korakh (Korah) in this week’s reading — קֹרַח Korakh, Leviticus 16–18.
This foreshadows the rebellion against the ultimate of God’s Anointed, Yeshua the Mashiakh (Jesus).
“For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, ‘AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST’ [Psalm 95:11], although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.” (Hebrews 4:2–3 NASB)
We all have “pivot points” in life, times when a decision or circumstance dramatically changes our lives, sometimes irreversibly. A pivot toward lifestyle and character in step with the Kingdom of God leads to a fulfilling life, regardless of good times or bad times. A pivot away from the Creator can be “sin that leads to death,” unless we respond to Heaven’s warning “today” and “enter His rest” via the Passover Lamb, Yeshua (Jesus).
Such a huge pivot in the history of our ancestors in faith is recounted in the Torah reading שְׁלַח Shelakh (“send,” Numbers 13–15), when a “bad report” about Israel’s prospects for settling in a land of giant warriors, walls and grapes persuaded many of the generation of the first Passover, Red Sea crossing, etc. to abandon the LORD’s leadership.
Rebelliousness, laziness and fear lead us to fight against, avoid and run from what we know — or should know — we should do. This week’s reading, שְׁלַח Shelakh (“send,” Numbers 13–15), takes a deep dive into a pivotal moment where all three killers of Israel’s faith in the LORD and His messengers.
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.
As the Torah reading בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ Beha’alotcha (“when you raise up” [the lamps]) begins, the menorah and the Levites are dedicated to God’s service, and the Tabernacle is ready for business.
However, this reading is permeated with all sorts of ingratitude and complaining, from the people complaining about the manna to Miriam and Aaron complaining about Moses. God doesn’t put up with any of it. Whether it’s sending down a consuming fire or a plague, God doesn’t put up with people grumbling about His provision.
In the Torah reading נשא Nasso (“take up” or “carry,” i.e., conduct), we witness a type of “harvest,” not of grapes or wheat but of people. The LORD’s Tabernacle is the embassy set up to receive them, and the priests and ultimately the people are the ambassadors sent out to proclaim His message.