Parashah Korach 2019 (Korach) Numbers 16 – 18

The story of the rebellion of Korach, Dathan, and Abiram is pretty well known, even to those who are not very well versed in the Bible. Essentially, Korach (a Levite) with Abiram and Dathan (Reubenites) plotted against Moses and Aaron, having seduced some 250 of the tribal leaders to follow them in this rebellion. Moses’s authority as God’s representative was challenged, as was Aaron’s, and God took care of this rebellion by first getting rid of the rebels. He had the ground open up and swallow the families and all possessions of Korach, Abiram, and Dathan, and also had fire come forth from the Tent of Meeting to totally consume the 250 men that were following them.

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Next, to silence the people who now blamed Moses and Aaron for these deaths, God had each tribal leader, including Aaron, place their staffs in the Tent of Meeting, and the next day the only one that budded was Aaron’s. In fact, not only buds but flowers and ripened almonds appeared on Aaron’s staff to demonstrate that he was the sole Levite to represent and have the honor of performing the service unto God.

There is a lot to work with in here, no doubt. But what I feel the need to talk about is not directly related to the story but to how the people reacted to the punishment God performed on the rebellion leaders. It seems reasonable to think they would say something about the miraculous way God punished these men who rebelled against him, but they didn’t do that.

They blamed Moses and Aaron for what God did. Despite Moses telling the people, over and over, that he and Aaron are nothing other than the spokesmen for God, the people saw them as the cause of these actions.

This is how the Christian world has depicted Yeshua (Jesus) for millennia. Despite how often we read in the Gospels that Yeshua constantly told those he healed that it was their faith that healed them, Christianity has taught that the credit for these miracles belongs to Yeshua, himself, even though it is written, clearly, that Yeshua gave the credit to their faith in God. Yeshua never took credit for the miracles he performed, except (possibly) one time, in Luke 5:12 when the man with leprosy said that if Yeshua was willing, he could make him clean, and Yeshua said that he was willing and cleansed the man of leprosy.

But even then, Yeshua said not to tell how it was done but to go to the Cohen to be declared clean in accordance with the instructions in the Torah and to give the required sacrifice.

Today, all too often, we do not recognize the true cause of something. This is especially evident on a spiritual level. There is a rise in antisemitism that is a spiritual battle, but the Enemy wants us to focus on something other than him. He will do his nastiness all over the world, but through others, because he knows that people do not have the discernment to see the true cause of these events.

Just as the Israelites in the desert blamed Moses for what God did, the Devil will have his representatives seem to wield power, but it will be him behind them.

We who understand this must try to make everyone else aware of it, even though we will not be believed by the majority. We cannot save the world, only those who are willing to listen to us, but to find them we must announce the truth to the world. We are looking for the needles in the haystack, and the only way to do that is to go through the entire pile of hay.

God has always been the power behind those who have performed miracles in his name, and the Son of Perdition is the power behind those who rebel against God. The people of the world are a physical facade of the underlying spiritual battle between God and those who want to usurp him.  They will lose; in fact, they already have, they just don’t want to face the truth of it. And their denial will result in their eternal damnation.

You and I need to make sure that whether it be politics, interpersonal relationships, or international agreements that we look for the true cause of the events we are witnessing, and remember that those performing these actions are only the conduit for the ones with the real power.

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Tonight begins the Sabbath, so Shabbat shalom, and until next time L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Korach 2018 (Korah) Numbers 16:1 – 18:32

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

The great mutiny.

Korach, Abiram and Dathan were all leaders within their respective tribes. Korach was a Levite and the other two were from the tribe of Reuben. They came against Moses and Aaron with accusations of tyranny, in that they accused Moses and Aaron of taking on all the authority of leadership. Korach said that they all God’s people should share in the leadership and offerings, not just Moses and Aaron.

Essentially, they were saying, “Who died and left you both in charge?”

These three had convinced 250 other men, all leaders within the 12 tribes, to follow them and God had them all bring their offering pans to the front of the Tent of Meeting. What happened next was terrible: at the tent of the three who started this rebellion Moses said if these men were correct then they would live long lives, but if they were wrong then the earth would split open and swallow them alive. As soon as he was done speaking, the earth did split open and swallowed Korach, Dathan and Abiram and their family alive, then it came back over them. At the same moment, fire came out from the Tent of Meeting and incinerated the 250 men. The fire was so hot the fire pans, made of bronze, were all melted.

You would think that would satisfy the people that Moses and Aaron were God’s choice, but it didn’t. The very next morning the people accuse Moses and Aaron of murdering God’s people, and God is so angry he sends a plague out that kills tens of thousands. The plague was stopped only when Aaron risked his life by carrying embers from the eternal flame in his fire pan directly into the crowd where the plague was running wild to stop it.  God commanded that the 12 tribal leaders and Aaron place their staffs in the Tent of Meeting to show God’s choice of leader, and in the morning nothing changed except for Aaron’s staff, which not only grew buds but had ripened almonds on it. God then charged the Levites to surround the Tent of Meeting and that they should not allow any of the common people (non-Levites) to come close to it, or to inter-marry with them or have them partake of any of the holy foods. The Levites were to be separated and apart from the rest of the tribes, with no inheritance or job other than the service of the Tabernacle. They are also to give a tithe from the tithes they receive.

The Haftorah reading for this parashah is 1 Samuel, 11-13, which is the story of Samuel anointing Shaul as the first king.  The reasoning is that both Moses and Samuel had to take a rag-tag group of people and form them into a nation, all the while being accountable to God and subject to the same rules and laws that the people were. Whereas Korah rebelled against the leadership of Moses, the people (in the Haftorah) rebelled against Samuel by asking for a king.

I think this Haftorah choice is a good one, but I would add one more thing. I would add Micah 6:8 to the reading, which says:

He has told you, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Today’s drash is about the motivation behind Korach’s rebellion, which is obviously jealousy and an over-active desire for power. He thought he was also entitled to be in charge. It is obvious from the influence he had that he was, indeed, an authoritative and important person in his own right. But that wasn’t enough. He found like-minded men in Dathan and Abiram, and their combined influence allowed their little rebellion to grow from just those 3 to a total of 250 people. Jealousy and a desire for power were the motivations, but was that the real cause of their rebellion?

I believe this rebellion was not the result of desiring something but from the lack of something. That something that was lacking was…humility.

The grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence and we humans don’t seem to be satisfied with anything. It is ironic that sometimes those who have the least are generally the ones that are most satisfied with what they do have. The rich only want to get richer and when we have plenty we still want to have more. Proverbs 15:17 tells us it is better to have a meal of vegetable in a house full of love than meat in a house full of strife, meaning that appreciating what you have it is better than having but not appreciating it. We also get this same message in Ecclesiastes, where no less than three times we are told to simply eat, drink and be merry and to enjoy whatever God has provided, for that is our lot in life.

Clearly the men in this rebellion did not have the humility to accept God’s chosen leaders or what God had provided for them. Korach was a leader in the tribe of Levite, but he wanted more because he didn’t appreciate the position of importance God had given him. The same went for Abiram and Dathan. As for the 250 men that followed them we are not really told anything about their motivation, but it seems safe to say they were also wanting to have more.

I have often said pridefulness is the mother of all sin, and lack of humility is a symptom of pridefulness.  We must be humble in our lives if we are to be able to serve the Lord. That means accepting what we have and appreciating what God has done for us, every day. I am not saying we should sit by idly and not try to improve ourselves or our financial situations. I am saying that we are to be appreciative for what God has given us and share it willingly with others. We are to respect God’s choice of leadership just as Shaul (Paul) said we should in Romans 13:1:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

Finally, trust that God is in charge and will provide what you need. If you want a better job, ask yourself why? Is it only to make more money and have more “toys”? If so, maybe that’s not the best reason. However, if you want a new job so you can be a better provider for your family that is unquestionably a proper reason for wanting more, and when you pray to God for help he will help you.

We must remain humble in our attitude towards God and towards each other. We must be satisfied with God’s provision and make sure that whatever we want, it is for the proper reasons. We can want more, but not if it is for selfish reasons, such as just to have more money, power or influence.

Wanting that is a result of prideful desire will only lead to ruin, whereas a humble desire to do more to please God and provide for others will yield blessings.

Parashah Korach (Korach) Numbers 16-18

Korach was a Levite, a member of that family which was granted the responsibility to attend to the Sanctuary items. This was an honorable position. However, he wasn’t satisfied with that and wanted to possess the position that Aaron and his sons were given, that of the Cohen, the High Priest who was allowed to enter and service inside the Sanctuary. He organized men and formed a rebellion against Moses and Aaron, which was to be brought before God.

Korach was not alone in this rebellion. Dathan and Abiram, leaders of the tribe of Reuben, also convinced men, leaders within the entire community, to rebel against Moses’s authority.

Moses and Aaron faced these 250 men and had them bring their censors with incense before the Tent of Meeting. God would have destroyed the entire assembly (i.e., all the people) but Moses stood in the way of God’s anger (as he had done before) and convinced God to only punish the leaders and not everyone. Korach, Dathan, Abiram, with their entire families and possessions, were literally swallowed up by the ground under their feet in the full sight of the entire community. Then at the same time, fire broke out from the Tent of Meeting and engulfed the 250 rebels, fire pans and all, leaving only melted fire pans and ashes.

The people were absolutely terrified, but the next morning they got up, and continued to rebel, calling Moses and Aaron killers of Adonai’s people. In God’s righteous anger at this continual rebellious attitude, He sent a plague out that killed 14,700 people. Now the entire community was so terrified of the Tent of Meeting, which is where these events took place, that they cried anyone who even came near the Tent of Meeting would die.

God commanded that the tribal leader’s staffs, 12 in all (Aaron’s staff representing Levi) be gathered , identified and placed in the Tent of Meeting. He said that the staff of the one He chooses to be His priest would have buds the next morning, and that morning Aaron’s staff not only had buds, but blossomed and had grown ripe almonds.

Having established that God picks His priests, and that God decides who is in charge, He reaffirmed the position of the Cohen HaGadol (High Priest), the Cohanim and the Levites with regards to their positions, their payments from the tithes and offerings, and that they are not to possess lands as an inheritance because God is their inheritance.

As I often say, there is so much here to work with. What I feel led to discuss, which “popped” into my head as I was reviewing this parashah, is how God continually states that the people should do this or do that or not do these things in order that they don’t die. That sounds OK in and of itself- don’t do anything that will cause you to die. But then I thought, “Hey, wait a minute! God is saying don’t do this so you don’t die, but He is the one killing them! What’s up with that?”

The punishment God sends among the people is certainly one that would put fear and terror in anyone’s heart, yet He says at the same time He is killing thousands of people that He doesn’t want them to die. Doesn’t this seem to be a contradiction? It seems to be, but it isn’t: God is holy, and just, and He keeps His word. He is also, during these 40 years in the desert, weeding out the tares.

This rebellion occurs after the defeat of the Israelites trying to enter Canaan after God told them they would remain in the desert for 40 years. They rebelled against God by not entering the land, then they rebelled against God by trying to enter when He said not to, and now they are rebelling against God and blaming Moses for not keeping God’s promise to bring them into the land. Uh, people- you were right there, Moses was all set to bring you in, and you refused to go. It wasn’t Moses’  fault you’re not in the land, it’s yours!

Rebellion after rebellion after rebellion, carping , crying, whining, complaining: that’s all these people did, all the time. No wonder Moses was so upset, and no wonder God was so fed up with them. God did what He needed to do, and not because He was pissed off (although He was) but because He is holy, righteous and fair, and their actions demanded that He do something about it.

OK, so what am I trying to say here? God is a loving, compassionate and forgiving God, but He is also God- holy, above everyone and everything, and He is our Judge. When He gives a command, He expects us to follow it, and as such when we refuse He is obligated by His own holiness to punish us. That is why, even as He is destroying the guilty, He is warning us not to continue to force Him to do this. It is almost like we actually have some power over God: even though His heart is full of compassion, love and forgiveness, when we rebel, reject, blaspheme and turn our backs on God, we force Him to take action for the sake of His name. That is why God seems to be a destructive, punitive God in the Old Covenant, whereas the New Covenant makes Him out to be all about love and forgiveness and nicey-nicey stuff.   He is all nicey-nicey when we are obedient, and He is all about love and compassionate forgiveness when we are repentant and ask for forgiveness.

On the other hand, when we are obstinate, rebellious and blatantly reject God, then He is Judge, Jury and Executioner. And once He has made up His mind, there is no court of appeals because His decision is final.

This is one of those things that confuses people because they want to make God act the way they want Him to act, and don’t respect His authority or recognize that He is so far above us that whatever we think is right or good or fair, it has no hold on Him.

The point to take home today is this: God is loving, compassionate and just, but He is also holy, and for the sake of His name He will enforce His commandments when people are obstinately rebellious and flaunt His authority. So stay on His good side, OK?

Parashah B’midbar (In the Wilderness) Numbers 1 – 4:20

In last week’s Parashah ( for 5/20/17, which was a double) we finished the book of Leviticus. That book was mostly legislative in nature, and now we start the book of Numbers, which is more historical. Throughout this book we will learn of the events that occurred while the Children of Israel spent 38 years wandering in the desert.

Numbers takes up where Exodus left off, which is the first day of the second month of the second year after leaving Egypt, when the Tabernacle of the Lord has been completed and is now in service. This parashah starts with a census God orders Moses to take, which identifies the numbers from each tribe of those over 20 and fit for military service. We see this type of census taken, with God’s approval (unlike the one David took in  1 Chronicles, 21) whenever the people needed to be prepared for war. The census did not include the Levites, who were counted separately, as their duties were not for war but service to God by being in charge of the Tabernacle. God also tells Moses which of the Levitical clans will be responsible for which parts of the Tabernacle, as well as the formation of the camp.

Here is a picture of how the encampment was configured:

 

This parashah doesn’t appear to have any really deep and spiritual messages, does it? I mean, all we are told is how many of each tribe there are, where they camp and how they are to march. We are also told which clan of Levi is responsible for which parts of the Tabernacle when on the march. There just doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of “meat” to this parashah.

Then, again, let’s look a little deeper and cheat a bit, by knowing what is to happen later.

Did you notice that the Kohathites were encamped next to, and marched alongside of, the Reubenites? Do you remember how Reuben had not received the rights of the Firstborn due to his sleeping with one of Israel’s concubines (Genesis 39:3-4), and that Korah also felt slighted because the Kohathites were not to perform the duties of the High Priest. So although we don’t see anything of particular importance in this parashah, by looking back to it later on we can see that the seeds of collusion and rebellion were planted when the tribes of Kohath and Reuben were made neighbors. Perhaps if they had been at opposite ends of the camp, they would not have come together in rebellion?

Certainly God would have known that this placement, which He decreed, would have resulted in the collusion between these men. And, that being a given, we would have to ask, “Why would God have done that?”

Good question. I think I have an answer, which is the same answer God gave to Job: we won’t always understand God’s plans or why He does what He does.

In the case of Job, God allowed all that suffering to show Satan that Job’s faith is greater than Satan’s attacks. Now, from Job’s viewpoint (as well as his friends) there could be no reason why these terrible things were happening, but in the end we learn that the real issue was between God and Satan, not between God and Job. God used Job to show Satan that strong faith in God is more powerful than anything Satan could do.

Perhaps the positioning of Korah and Dathan so close to each other was to test their faith, and if they failed that test (which they did), then to allow Moses and Aaron to be glorified and honored in the sight of all Israel, which is what happened. God used the evil these men intended against His servants to glorify Himself and show Moses and Aaron to be His chosen leaders (Numbers 17:5):

 The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites.”

The bible is one complete book, and even though we might not see what message there is for us in one part of it, when we look at it in its entirety, study it well enough to know what will happen and what has happened, then we can see that there is something for us to learn in every part of the book. Such as in this parashah, which on the surface seems to be a collection of names and numbers, but when looked at knowing the events that will later occur, we can see how God is setting the stage now to glorify Himself later.

This understanding of how God works should fortify our faith in God, and give us comfort during times of trials. Just because we may not see, here and now, what God has planned we can always know that He does have something planned. It just may not be time for whatever he has planned to happen, that’s all.

Take comfort in knowing that everything God does, He does with a plan to glorify His name and to establish His rule. When we accept that and work within it, we will be blessed and supported by God, just as Moses and Aaron were; when we work against what God decrees, we will suffer as Korah and his followers did.

We all follow someone, so take the lesson from today’s parashah when you choose whom to follow, that lesson being: look passed the obvious and ask the Ruach Ha Kodesh for insight so you can see not only what seeds are being sown, but what will grow from them.

Parashah Korach, Numbers 16-18

Monday, July 4 I wrote about this parashah, and about how fear of the Lord is not the same as being afraid of the Lord. This parashah is the story of what my Chumash calls “The Great Mutiny”, when Korach (a Levite), Dathan and Abiram (Reubenites) came together, and under Korach’s leadership gathered 250 men- righteous, respected leaders- from the 12 Tribes and led them in rebellion against Moses and Aaron. The reason was to discredit Moses as the one God choose to be in charge by accusing him of taking on too much responsibility, and by association also accuse Aaron of doing the same by being the only person allowed to offer fire before Adonai.

I can’t do this story justice repeating it, and if you don’t know it you really need to read it. Spoiler alert!– Dathan and Abiram (who refused to go before the Tent of Meeting with the others) were destroyed right in their own tents, swallowed up by the earth, and the others in front of the Tabernacle offering incense met their fate as Aaron’s sons, Abihu and Nadab, met theirs- consumed by God’s fire.

The people, after they stopped running around screaming in abject horror and fear for their own lives, came against Moses again the very next day (Again? How long will they remain stupid, right?) and accused him, Moses, of killing God’s people! Well, that pissed the Lord off so much that as He was telling Moses how He was going to destroy them, a plague already started, and Moses had to tell Aaron to take fire from the alter and incense, run in the midst of the people (now remember there is a plague killing people right where Aaron is running to) and stop the plague. Aaron risked his life to help people that were there to stone him.

There is more to the story, and near the end all the people cry out that they are all going to die if they even come near the Tabernacle.

These people may have looked like they were made of skin and bone, but they were really made out of Polytetrafluoroethylene. You may know it better as….Teflon.

Teflon people, like the frying pans and cooking pots, never have anything “stick” to them. They have been in the desert for 2 years, they have seen God destroy Egypt with miracles and wonders, they have seen Him split open the sea, they have received water from rocks and manna from the sky, birds enough for a million people to eat for a month and a pillar of fire every night and a cloud leading them every day.

Yet all they know is that they were told to stone a man to death for collecting sticks on the Shabbat, Aaron’s sons, Korach and 250 leading members of their nation were burned alive, Abiram and Dathan with their entire families were swallowed up by the earth, they were struck with a deadly plague and to top it all off- they are not going to get the land they were promised. And who do they blame for all this T’souris? Moses and Aaron.

Oy! What a bunch of Meshuggahs!

The real reason all these terrible things happened is because they sinned: the man collecting sticks on Shabbat showed irreverence and rejection of God’s commandment, Aaron’s sons refused to follow Adonai’s orders about worship, Korach and all his associates refused to accept God’s authority and choose to follow a man (Korach) instead, and the people, well, the people just rebelled against God over and over. They complained about no meat when they had provisions from God that met their needs, they complained about no water, and they refused to take the land God gave them (then, after being told they were not allowed in, they tried to get in, anyway.) These people all earned their punishment, and proved over and over that their repentance was superficial and not really heart-felt. Their T’Shuva, turning from sin, was not a 180 degree turn- it went a full 360 degrees so they ended up going in the same direction that got them into trouble in the first place.

Teflon people are the hardest to work with, and the slowest to learn because, as the name implies, nothing “sticks” to them, i.e., they take no responsibility for their actions and are not accountable, in their minds, for what they do and say. As such, how can they ever learn anything?

I think we all have a little Teflon in us; I confess that there are many times I do something wrong or make a mistake and I would like to redirect the blame somewhere else, to someone else. I feel that way because I am a sinner and sinners don’t like to ‘fess up’ to their wrongdoing. But I also have the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, indwelling which reminds me and admonishes me to accept the blame and not just confess, but ask for forgiveness. And more than that, it convicts me of my errors and when someone else does wrong to me it forces me to forgive them. That is the only reason I do anything that pleases God- it is because of His spirit in me, not because of who I am.

His spirit in me doesn’t make me a different me, it just makes me a better me.

We all have to deal with Teflon people, mainly because there are just so many of them out there. The best way to deal with them is not to waste your time trying to convince them or change them. What we, as Believers, should do is show them how to act in a way that is pleasing to God. If they throw their problems at you because they know things stick to you, you need to be gentle as doves and wise as serpents to CYA in everything you do so that when they throw stuff at you it bounces off your shields.

Daniel was upright and just in all he did, which is why the Satraps trying to trap him could only do so by fooling the king into making a law regarding something they knew Daniel did which was a righteous thing in and of itself (Daniel Chapter 6.) I’m not saying we can all be like Daniel- I know I sure ain’t gonna be that righteous, ever- but we can follow his example.

Teflon people are out there, everywhere, and they need to find someone who is stickier than they are. That would be you and me, because the Ruach haKodesh makes us accountable. And when you feel unjustly accused or you are in trouble for something you know isn’t your fault, accept it with humility and trust that God will justify you, sooner or later.

These Teflon people will one day come before the judgment of the Lord; He will strip off their Teflon and leave them with raw, unprotected skin that will have the lemon juice of their sins poured on it by the gallon. They will be held accountable for what they never felt accountable for, and they won’t be able to do anything about it.

Brothers and Sisters, all we should feel for these poor, ignorant sheep is pity.

 

 

The 3 Biggest Lies about Jesus

Third Biggest Lie: If you are Jewish and you believe Jesus is the Messiah then you can’t be Jewish anymore.

That’s what I have been told, and not just by Jews but the Christian world teaches that, also. They don’t come right out and say it, but the teachings are based on misunderstanding of the letters from Paul (Shaul) to the Romans and Galatians, which have been used as a polemic against following the Torah when they are really an apologetic explaining why it is still absolutely necessary to follow the Torah. There are also many subtle anti-Semitic terms in the New Covenant writings, no matter whether it is King James, NIV, or whatever. Unless you have a Messianic New Covenant, the First Century Jews and Pagans who accepted Yeshua as the Messiah God promised are called the “Church”- that is just not right. There was no “church”, at least not as we know the word to be used today. There were Jews and pagans becoming Jews. They met in groups and homes, and if we need to label them in any way, the best term would be Kahillot, the plural of the Hebrew word Kahal, which means congregation. The first century Jews who accepted Yeshua to be the true Messiah remained (and worshiped as) Jews. The pagans who accepted Yeshua as the Messiah of the Jews began to become Jewish, since there were no other religions. You were either a pagan of one sort or another, or a Jew. When you stopped being a pagan, you had no choice but to be a Jew. Duh! So, where did we go wrong? When did accepting the Jewish Messiah require converting to Christianity?  Sometime around the time when the second biggest lie started.

Second Biggest Lie: Jesus founded Christianity.

Jesus never founded Christianity. He preached only to Jews and used Torah as His only source. After the resurrection and the inclusion of the Gentiles into salvation (Acts 10) , as more and more Gentiles joined the movement it became (I believe) less and less attractive to the “everyday” Jewish person. After the suppression by Emperor Hadrian of the Bar Kochba revolt (132-136 AD) being Jewish meant being subject to persecution. If you were a Jew who accepted Yeshua or a Gentile who did the same thing, it was less “dangerous” to be Christian than Jewish.  Frankly speaking, the more Gentiles that accepted Yeshua the less appealing it became to Jews (my opinion) and the further from Torah they traveled (historical fact.) By the Third Century when Emperor Constantine had “legitimatized” Christianity (as it was being called then) and began to form doctrine and canon at the Council of Nicene, the schism was complete and Christianity was totally different from Judaism. The apple had fallen far from the tree.

Biggest Lie about Jesus: If you are a Christian the Torah is not applicable to you.

Acts, Galatians, and Romans are the three Epistles that (I believe) have damaged the truth about being a follower of Yeshua with regard to being responsible to follow the commandments and regulations found in the Torah. As we saw in the lie above, as more and more Gentiles entered the group of Jewish Believers, the Mosaic law became not a means of worshiping but a stumbling block. I mean, really- I want to be saved by this Yeshua you have told me about, but I have to let you cut what off my what? I would certainly have to think twice about that one. Especially because no one had invented Novocaine yet! Also, I have been eating anything I wanted to eat, and now I can’t eat any shellfish or pork?

I separate biblical Kosher from Rabbinical- biblical Kosher, as I call it, means essentially no pork or shellfish, but Rabbinical Kosher is keeping in alignment with what the Rabbi’s say: different dishes, no meat and dairy at all, and an entire host of rules and regulations that are hard and complicated to follow, even back then.

Even to be biblically Kosher was a big move and (again, this is just what I believe) these requirements were, for many, a deal-breaker. Clearly, strict and immediate adherence to Torah was a significant barrier, which is why in Acts 15 they reduced the requirements to be a new Believer to just the 4 rules about food and fornication. What people miss, though, is that they say these are just the initial requirements, and the next sentence states that they will be seeing the laws of Moses every day in the Temple. The clear meaning of that is that Torah will be taught to them, eventually. The “Christian world” has conveniently failed to mention that part.  Yeshua said, in Matthew 5:17, he did not come to change the laws. And when He said He came to fulfill them that meant, in the language of the day, that He was interpreting them correctly. Fulfilling a law doesn’t mean doing away with it: if that was true, when you next come to a stop sign or a red light and the car ahead of you comes to a full stop, you don’t need to. That car fulfilled the law so it is no longer valid.

Yeah, right- try that one on the cop when he is writing the ticket.

The truth is simple: Jesus, Yeshua, was Jewish and lived a Jewish lifestyle. In fact, His “claim to fame” is that He lived Torah exactly, perfectly, and as the sinless Lamb of God was acceptable as the sacrifice for sin for all mankind. If Yeshua did not live Torah perfectly, He was not sinless and was not an acceptable sacrifice. Simple. However, since He was raised, then He did live Torah perfectly.

The Christian world asks that the followers of Jesus live as Jesus lived and do as Jesus did. Then they tell you that Torah is only for Jews because Christians have Grace. Grace came from Torah, so without Torah there can be no Grace- that is the message Shaul was trying to get across in Romans.

What Jesus taught was to worship God not just in action but in mind and heart. Jesus was the living Word, and the only word was Torah- reject the Torah and you reject Jesus.

Stop living a lie and get with the program.

Parashah Shelach Lecha (Numbers 13 – 15:41) Send Thou Out

This is where we learn why the Jewish people wandered forty years in the desert. The Lord orders Moshe to send out one prince from each tribe to spy out the land of Canaan. When the 12 men return, all except Caleb and Joshua report that it is too well fortified, the people are fierce and the Anakim, the race of giants that Jewish mythology says are the children of (fallen) angels that took human wives, are there, too.  The people grumble and moan, depressed and frightened that they will die (geeze- will they ever learn?) so they organize against Moshe and Aaron. Again.

God is really fed up with these stiff-necked people and, again, tells Moshe to get away from them for He will destroy them and make a nation out of Moses, but Moses intercedes and saves the people by reminding God of His own words- that He is forgiving and compassionate. Moses also brings a good logical argument that if God destroys the people then the other nations will think less of God’s power and might. In other words, destroying the people will not bring God honor or respect. So God sends a plague to kill the 10 spies who caused this sin.

Now the people, told that because of their stubborn and faithless actions they will have to spend 1 year wandering in the desert for every day the spies were in the land (hence the forty years), decide that they were wrong to kvetch and without first asking for the Lord’s forgiveness, and for His favor and for His protection, take it upon themselves to again disobey the Lord and ignore Him by trying to conquer the land.

Ever wonder what would have happened if they had done as they should? What if they had gone to Moses, asked him to intercede (they probably didn’t know he already saved their collective butts) and offered sacrifice to God at the Tabernacle as a congregational sin sacrifice? Would God have forgiven them and then allowed them to enter the Land?

Whatever might have happened had they done that, they didn’t, and so they go to war on their own and, well, that doesn’t work out too well for them; in fact, they suffer such a terrible defeat they are pushed all the way back to their last victory, Hormah, and are so badly beaten that they really don’t have any military left.  They don’t have another military encounter for 38 years (give or take.)

After God passes judgement, the next and last part of this parashah is a restatement of the regulations regarding sacrifices. It seems strange, doesn’t it? I mean, they just found out they will not enter this land for forty years and all that are over 20 years of age will die in the desert, but God is telling them how to present the sacrifice when they are living in the land.  I am not sure why this is here, but I agree with what the Chumash says, that this is a comforting statement, intimating that they will be entering the land, eventually.

I think this is a good lesson for us, to know we can always believe that whatever God says will be, is already history. That’s how He rolls. Here, in the midst of rebellion and defeat, God doesn’t dwell on the present but moves on to the future. He has decreed their punishment, and now it is time to get ready for the end of that punishment. You’ll be wandering for forty years- to God, that’s nothing. He isn’t thinking on that anymore, it’s done- now we plan for when you enter the land.

That’s called forgive and forget- we don’t do that. We may say we forgive and forget, but we don’t really forget what we forgave, do we? God forgets our sins, so that they are as far from Him (and us) as the East is from the West. The people sinned against the Lord, He decreed His punishment, and to Him it was done. Now He has forgotten their sin and is telling them how to enter the land. To the people it’s something that they won’t even be able to do, since the punishment is that most who are able to hear and understand will be dead before this is possible. But that doesn’t matter to God- He is telling them what they must do, so they can teach their children. It’s the children that will be entering the land, and another lesson for us is that we must teach our children what to do so when God calls on them, they will be ready.

God has decreed, and it is done. Not just what happens now, but what will happen; to the Lord, it is already completed.

That’s where we gain strength for our faith. We can see that everything the Lord declares, decrees and decides to be, is as trustworthy and dependable as if it were already completed. Essentially, we should have complete trust in God because for thousands of years we can study and know the historical proof of this statement:

Whatever God says will be, is.

That’s the lesson for today. Remember this truth, trust in it, put your faith in God to always do as He says and that whatever He says will be, will be.  And don’t expect it to be when you want- it’s all about the Lord, and it will be at His good time, when He is ready, which will always be at the exact right time. It may be immediate (as the punishment of the 10 spies was immediate), it may be forty years later, it may not even happen in your lifetime. That’s no reason not to trust Him. In fact, that is more reason TO trust Him- He will not be distracted from His promise and His plans. True, He may swerve now and then, such as not destroying the people (more than once) because of the earnest prayer of one man interceding, or He may relent on punishing (as he did for Nineveh when Jonah preached the coming judgement) if we are repentant and humble before Him. But, overall, what He says He will do, He will do. And what He says will be is a certain as if it already had happened.

Take strength in that when you feel your faith waning. Remember, always, that God is faithful to be trusted and trustworthy to be faithful. He will forgive and forget, He will be compassionate and understanding, and He will judge rightly without respect for the rich or sympathy for the poor. He will judge each as they deserve based on their heart and their actions, not based on their economic position or social status. He is fair and just, and that should be a frightening thought to all of us.

One last thought: how do you think the children, those under 20 but old enough to understand what God’s punishment meant, felt like when they heard it? Here you are, a teenager thinking you will finally get to live somewhere with a house, fields and all the food and drink you want, and you are told to wait 40 years! When you were 12 or 16, how long did 40 years seem to you? I remember that 1 year was a lifetime to me back then. The adults probably took some consolation knowing their children would be in the land, but I don’t the kiddies really appreciated it that much.

Just something to think about.

Humility Doesn’t Come From Self-Doubt

Moses was the most humble of men, yet he was a strong and powerful leader. And not just because He had God for a Boss.

Humility is often confused, I believe, with meekness, and meekness is confused with self-doubt and weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It takes great strength and confidence to be humble. Why? Because those who are humble can put others before themselves, not because they believe others are more important or deserving, but because they treat others as they would want to be treated. People who lack self-confidence are weak and do not treat others well because they want to do what they know is right: they treat others with a higher sense of importance and with more respect than they have for themselves because they lack self-respect. They also will do the opposite- they will “lord it over others”, as Yeshua said people do, to make themselves feel important. Humble people have the strength to do what they know to be right because they know they are no more important or better than anyone else, and to do that you have to have a strong sense of self.

Now, I ‘m no psychologist and I may not be absolutely on the money with this personal diagnosis, but I have been around the block more than once, and I know people. I also know myself, as such, I recognize my weaknesses and remember how it was when I felt less important than others. We have friends who are more influential, we have friends who are richer, and we have friends who are less influential and with less money. The things that the world judges us by are not important to us, but we can’t avoid them. I know that God gives us a spirit of victory, and that isn’t just over sin, but over ourselves. It’s more important, in fact, to overcome ourselves.

Didn’t God ask Cain why was he was so upset when his offering wasn’t accepted? Did God tell him that if he does what is right he will be accepted, and that sin is crouching at his door and he has to master it? That’s the lesson here,  that’s what strength through humility gives us- the ability for me to master myself, and the ability for you to master yourself.

Moses knew this. When he was accused by the people he immediately fell to his face and begged them not to do so because he knew that God saw this as an attack against Him, not Moses. And we hear God tell the people this, over and over. Along with the humility Moses showed, he also showed his strength of character and willingness to stand up to those who were doing wrong. When Korach, Dathan and Abiram  accused him of being too bossy and hogging all the fame (so to speak) he showed humility, but when God told Moses to have all the men take their censors and meet before Him, Moses told them, in no uncertain way, that they were the ones in the wrong. He did not speak nastily to them or berate them, but he spoke the truth and stood up for what he knew was right.

The lesson we should learn is that when we profess to be Believers, and when we say we have the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) within us we should be able to find the strength to be humble. We should speak out boldly for the Lord and His ways, yet remain more concerned for the rights and well being of others before ourselves. Not because we think they are better, or because we don’t deserve nice things, but because we obey the Lord and know that means we should treat them as we want them to treat us, no matter how they really treat us.

We do what God says we should do and not because of what people do. That is the strength that comes from the Ruach, and that is how we are strengthened enough to be humble.

That’s really what humility is- doing what you know is right and not caring whether or not the people you treat correctly treat you that way. We are told how to treat people, and to wait upon the Lord when we, ourselves, are mistreated. God will judge. It isn’t “weak” to be mistreated, and it isn’t cowardly to turn the other cheek. That doesn’t mean you allow people to hit you, literally, it just means that we should be strong enough to take a few insults and be mistreated. There is nothing wrong with standing up for your rights, but we must do this while remembering that we are no better than anyone else, and that we can “take it” because God is our Judge, not people.

Show your strength and the power of God that lives in you by being humble and unassuming. When God first appeared to and spoke to the Children of Israel He thundered and flamed on the top of Mt. Horeb. It was very impressive. And when he appeared to Elijah in 1 Kings, He was not in the earthquake or the powerful wind, but he was a still, small voice.

We can be His emissary and His representative as that still, small voice.

Theodore Roosevelt said to speak softly and carry a big stick: God is the biggest stick that there ever was or will be, so we can speak softly and humbly, because we know the Big Stick that we carry.