Numbers 4:21–7:89: Ambassadors for the gospel

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.

Separation of the Holy from the profane

There are three families of the tribe of Levi who are assigned to take care of the tabernacle and their furniture: Kohat, Gershon & Merar.

The family of Kohat (Numbers 3:27–32; 4:1–20) took care of the “most holy things,” touchpoints between Heaven and Earth.

The family of Gershon (Numbers 3:21–26; 4:21–28) protected the people from the glory of God. They taught the people the difference between the holy and the common.

We learned in Romans 8 and Acts 2 that Shavuot is a commemoration of the Ten Commandments and the Holy Spirit coming into people’s hearts, marking those who belonged to Yeshua. The Spirit needs to transforms us before we can be adopted into God’s family.

“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”” (Romans 8:15 NASB)

In Acts 2, Peter gave a sermon which was a summary of the entire Tanak, and those who heard it were so moved to put their trust in Yeshua, that 3,000 people came to faith in one day.

“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:19–25 NASB)

It is the Spirit Who gives us confidence and boldness to enter through the veil, but this confidence should also be tempered with reverence and free of arrogance.

“Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few. For the dream comes through much effort and the voice of a fool through many words.” (Ecclesiastes 5:1–3 NASB)

Our offerings should be connected with listening to God. We can miss out if we obey God because he’s “scary.” When we come into the presence of God to listen and hear Him, we are to put what we hear into action by obedience. That is why God wants to draw us near. If you want to come into the Holy of Holies merely to take a selfie, you will not be transformed.

We need to look at where are going, not aimlessly wandering around.

“When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,” (Proverbs 10:19 NASB)

Yeshua cautioned us against assuming that we will be heard in pray simply because we use lots of words.

We shouldn’t be like comics and talk-show hosts who gain fame by peddling pikes of piercing or prurient prose. If common conversation can contain correctives such as “TMI!” or “filter!” when the the conversation goes to a foolish place, those of us who are ambassadors of the Messiah need to be more thoughtful about what we are saying, doing and planning to do.

“But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides [lives] by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:19–25 NASB)

We all need to draw near to hear God with the intent to obey God, every word that comes out of God’s mouth. Paul speaks of the “perfect law of liberty” we need to hang on every word of God so we can be transformed closer to His character.

Yeshua told the Samaritan woman that true worship involves the Spirit and the truth, the Word of God.

“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23–24 NASB)

In Psalm 119, the love of the law wasn’t just a mental exercise but a desire to live in God’s presence. It’s about a longing for connection.

We are supposed to be a priesthood of believers (1Peter 2:5, 9) and ambassadors for Yeshua (2Corinthians 5:20), even if we are not preachers, teachers or shepherds. Everyone can bring someone to Yeshua.

The family of Merar (Numbers 3:33–37; 4:29–33) were responsible for the frames of the Mishkan (including the bars, pillars, sockets, and all the equipment) and the court (Pillars, sockets, pegs and cords). They took care of all the framework. They were the backbone, just as deacons are the backbone of the body of the Messiah, keeping its duties functioning are as important as those teaching people.

Having boundaries between the secular and the sacred is not a bad thing. It’s not “exclusionary.” There are boundaries between God’s Kingdom and Not God’s Kingdom and only God’s Kingdom is eternal.

If you are Yeshua’s ambassador, it’s your job to represent Yeshua to the world, not represent the world to Yeshua.

Out of the Camp

The Sages suggested that there were three types of “camps” as Israel moved in the wilderness:

  • Camp of the Shekhinah, where God’s Presence remained.
  • Camp of the Levites, directly around the Mishkan.
  • Camp of Israel>

Leprosy is one of those diseases that sent people outside of all three of these camps. There is also a leprosy that can creep into our hearts.

Jealousy

Some commentators have noted parallels between this command and the Code of Hammurabi: 1

The provisions of this law have connections (and discontinuities) with other laws in the ancient Near East. The Code of Hammurabi (c. 1727 B.C.) has a pair of laws that we may compare with our text:

CH 131: If a seignior’s wife was accused by her husband, but she was not caught while lying with another man, she shall make affirmation by god and return to her house.

CH 132: If the finger was pointed at the wife of a seignior because of another man, but she has not been caught while lying with the other man, she shall throw herself into the river [Euphrates] for the sake of her husband. (Ancient Near Eastern Texts, p. 171)

The waters the woman would drink was a combination of holy dirt, holy water and ink. It certainly would not be a pleasant tasting drink.

This is a parable in action. We see that God is a jealous or zealous God. We also see how Israel frequently “played the harlot” and was unfaithful to God.

Yet, God also tells us in Scripture that He willingly forgives all that because Israel will want to change and live with Him.

The real parable is that the wife (Israel) is guilty but the husband (Yeshua) took her penalty.

This ritual was embarrassing for the wife, I’m sure, but if she was innocent, then the issue is over. This was God’s way of protecting wives who are vulnerable to being abused by violent, arrogant husbands. God gives these women a way to escape suspicion and avoid punishment.

“‘Then they shall bring all your brethren from all the nations as a grain offering to the LORD, on horses, in chariots, in litters, on mules and on camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem,’ says the LORD, ‘just as the sons of Israel bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the LORD. ‘I will also take some of them for priests and for Levites,’ says the LORD.” (Isaiah 66:20–21 NASB)

The Hebrew word צַבִּים tzabbim (“litters” or “carts,” H6632) is only used in one other place in the TaNaKh, Numbers 7:3. This allusion to the commemoration of the opening of the Tabernacle suggests that the gifts approaching God on the Day of the LORD are the scattered people of God and those associated with them.

Nazirite vows

The rite of the nazir was available to both men and women. The hair is a covering that grows of itself. It’s almost like a field that grows of its own doing. It’s not something that we don’t plant ourselves. It’s just there and it grows on its own.

The nazir had to live separate from death, which is why the nazir had to avoid wine (representing blood) or any dead bodies.

Paul mentions in passing that he had his head shaved for a vow and there’s only one vow that includes shaving the head, which is the nazarite vow.

Samson, for example, was a nazir from his conception. His mother had to live as a nazir while she carried Samson in her womb.

Samson didn’t take this vow, it was taken for him. His role from birth was to liberate the Israelites from the Philistines.

Samson’s mother was one of eight women recorded in Scripture who was barren and miraculously conceived a son dedicated to the Lord for a special purpose. Samson’s parent’s had a profound connection with the Angel of the Lord. Their conversations with him changed their lives forever.

Samson was not just a deliverer but he was also a living parable, a Messianic figure to teach us a little bit about the Messiah. He was also a reminder to the children of Israel that they were supposed to be a special people and even if they wondered away from that mission or forgot themselves, they could come back to themselves and be restored.

The nazir is a sort of priest, but not a priest. The nazarite commission is special.

The tabernacle is not just a curiosity, it’s the goal where people want to be. They want to be transformed along the way to be closer to God. It was not just a tent or building in the middle of nowhere, but the focal point of the world. The ambassadors sent out from the Tabernacle were to go out to the world to bring people to the Lord.

Summary: Tammy.

Banner Photo: Emblem at the Embassy (residence) of Israel in Prague, Czech Republic, 2007. Photo by Krokodyl, posted on https://commons.wikimedia.org/


  1. Ronald B. Allen, Numbers, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein and J.D. Douglas, vol. 2 of Expositor’s Bible Commentary (EBC), (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990), paragraph 10082. Citing Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts

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