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As always, there is just so much in this reading to talk about. We are told about the cleansing ritual using the ashes of the Red Heifer, Miriam dies and Moses and Aaron, in providing water from the rock lose their right to enter the land. We read how God punishes the people with snakes for their constant rebellious attitude, of Arad attacking the Israelites and being destroyed, as well as the victory over Sichon and Og, kings of the lands to the East of the Jordan River (later to be occupied by Gad, Reuben and half of Manasseh.)
I want to interpose one thought here, not to be discussed in length, but can you imagine how disappointed Moses and Aaron must have felt when God told them they could not enter the land? This is at the end of their journey- it has been nearly 40 years and all that time Moses and Aaron were looking forward to being in the land God promised their forefathers. Now this one mistake and they are out! There is a real lesson here, but it will be for another time.
Today’s message is a simple one, based on the regulations for preparing the ashes of the Red Heifer.
Let’s start off by saying that this regulation is one that even Solomon is said to have never been able to understand. The ashes are to purify one who is unclean, but everything to do with preparing the ashes renders one unclean to start with! This is quite a conundrum- what I need to make me clean will make me unclean as I prepare it! HUH?
If someone was to ask my why God gave these instructions, I have what I consider to be the definitive answer: it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter why God says we should do something, or what his reasons are for telling us not to do something. The only thing that matters is that God said so.
Humans have curiosity and that is a blessing; without curiosity there can be no advancement or improvement. Yet curiosity is a two-edged sword in that too much curiosity can lead us down a path that has a very bad ending. I refer to how people constantly use human reasoning to explain why God gave certain commandments. We shouldn’t eat pork because pigs carry trichinosis; no sexual relations during the time of Niddah because studies show that sexual activity during the menstrual cycle increases the chance of cervical cancer; do not have sexual relations with close family members because incest causes genetic mutations, etc..
God doesn’t give us the reasons for his commandments and regulations but we need to know why so we figure it out on our own. I believe we do this because once we know why God said to do something we can then come up with a reason why it is no longer necessary.
For example: yes, way back then pigs carried diseases but today the USDA and proper cooking equipment prevents us from being infected so we don’t need to do that anymore. You see? For those who want to reject God’s laws but not get in “trouble” for doing so, knowing why God said to do something is the means by which they can justify their ends, which is that they don’t need to do it anymore.
The faithful Believer knows that it doesn’t matter why God says what he says; what matters is that he said it and we are obligated to faithfully accept that it is good for us and we should obey our Father, our King and our Savior. Yeshua said that if we do not come to God as little children (meaning we should have unconditional and total trust) we can never enter the Kingdom of God.
Are you faithful enough to do what God says without questioning why? If not, I respectfully suggest you ask yourself, “Why? Why can’t I just do what God says to do without needing to why he wants me to?”
I can give you the answer: pridefulness. It is your prideful desire to do only what you really want to do and that will eventually weaken your faith. In my book, “Back to Basics: God’s Word vs. Religion” I address this in the chapter I call “Buffet Believers.” That is what I call people who look through the bible, pick and choose which commandments they are comfortable with and make excuses for rejecting the ones they don’t want to obey. And when they are done filling their plate with their favorite foods, they sit complacently by and tell others that try to take everything on the table they are wrong to eat so much.
When it comes to Psalm 34:8 (“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”) gluttony is not only a good thing, it is a blessed activity. God has provided us with spiritual manna which we call commandments, and the more we partake of that food the more blessed our lives will be.
It doesn’t matter why, it only matters that God said so. That is true faith.