The roller-coaster ride of ancient Israel through trust in the LORD, apathy and rebellion mirrors our the turmoil that swirls around our daily lives. This week’s Torah reading, דברים Devarim (“words,” Deut. 1:1-3:22), starts a “second telling,” or deuteronomy, to the post-Exodus generation of why Israel exists and what its mission is.
“As God is my witness, I will do that.” Such words can roll off our tongues easily, but we can forget that One is witnessing such a vow and watching to see whether we respect the Creator enough to follow through. That’s why Moshe (Moses), Yeshua haMashiakh (Jesus the Christ) and His apostle Ya’akob (James) warned us against dragging the LORD in to co-sign on our promises.
Adultery is seen as no big deal in today’s society. Consider, though, how the hurt person in the relationship feels. That’s why Israel’s running after false gods and treating YHWH with contempt or apathy is compared to adultery many times in Scripture. This kind of unfaithfulness and rebuilding of the relationship between Creator and created is the subtext of this passage — פינחס Pinchas (“Phinehas”).
A talking donkey may seem like fodder for a cartoon, but this passage — בָּלָק Balak, Num. 22:2-25:9 — contains a very real message for Israel about its future and the Messiah. Often, the Creator uses what we don’t expect — an animal, a prophet not of Israel — to shake up the complacent and underscore the gravity of the situation.
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).
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.