This parashah has enough in it to for an entire summer-long bible study.
The Red Heifer for removal of uncleanliness (this is interesting because what has to be done to make you clean makes you unclean while doing it), Miriam dies, the sin of Moses at Meribah when he struck the rock to give water to the people (which prevented him from entering the Land), Aaron dies, the destruction of the king of Arad, the sending of snakes against the people for their complaints (and the creation of the brass snake which later became an idol), ending with the conquering and total destruction of Og, king of Bashan and Sichon, king of the Amorites.
So much to talk about, so little time to do it. However, since this week I have been talking about Yeshua (Christian name-Jesus) and of His existence as a man, I will work with the snake because, as you will see, what happened to the snake also happened to Yeshua.
And Yeshua told us it would be that way.
The story of the snake is in B’Midbar (Numbers) 21:4-9. The people complained about the route they were on, there being no water, and they are telling Moses (actually, kvetching to God) that they can’t stand any more manna. God sends fiery serpents among them to bite them and many die. They repent and ask Moses for help, and after Moses prays for them God says to make a serpent out of brass and place it high on a pole, where all the people can see it no matter where they are in the camp. If they are bitten, they need only to look to the brass serpent and they will not die. They still get bitten, and it must have really, really hurt, but at least by looking to the brass serpent, representing their repentance and reliance on God for salvation, they get to live.
In John 3:14-15 Yeshua says:
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.
Many have taught that this is a prophecy regarding the way Yeshua was going to die, lifted up on an execution tree where all could see Him. Other teachings I have seen relate this to the snake in that sin is in us, as the venom was, and looking to God and Yeshua for salvation is what saves us. Both are good teachings.
What I see is an immediate prophecy regarding His death, and a future prophecy regarding Yeshua being looked to not as God’s means of salvation but as God, Himself, in that Yeshua replaces God. And anything that comes between mankind and God is an idol.
In 2nd Kings, 18:4 we read how this very snake, a symbol of God’s salvation, was regarded as a god, called Nehushtan, and the people offered sacrifices to it. King Hezekiah destroyed it.
The relationship I see is that Yeshua came to earth to be the means of our salvation, our Messiah. He was to give His life so that we could have eternal life. His function, if you will, was to be the representation of God’s power, of God’s forgiveness, and of God’s salvation. He was, and still is, the instrument of God. However, in many churches He is no longer seen as the instrument but as the musician. He is worshiped as God: people pray to Jesus instead of praying to God and He is considered to be all there is and all that we need.
Just as the serpent was changed from a symbol to a god, they have changed Yeshua’s role and function from Messiah, the servant of God, to God, Himself.
Read everything that Yeshua said, and try to find one word, one phrase, just one single syllable that Yeshua utters that even remotely infers He thinks we should worship Him, or pray to Him, or even think about Him over his Father. On the contrary, every single thing Yeshua did, every miracle, every action, every word, was to give glory and honor to God. If Yeshua lived His entire life as a representative from God, then how can we treat Him as God? Let’s look to John 14:9-14 :
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Here Yeshua tells us, absolutely, that He and the Father are separate beings, not the same being. Yeshua says, essentially, that He is nothing except that which the Father tells Him to be. Yeshua is God’s marionette on earth, doing, saying and acting whatever His Father wants Him to do.
Religion has turned this on it’s head, and instead of recognizing and honoring Yeshua as being filled with the Spirit of God, many now teach that He IS God. I think how disappointed and upset Yeshua must be to see this happen; He spent His entire ministry telling us of the wonder, glory and honor that God deserves. Now He is seeing us turn that around and by worshiping Yeshua and praying to Yeshua instead of God, we dishonor God, instead. To turn a faithful, loving and subordinate son into a Absalom, a son that rebels against and usurps his father’s position and authority, is the great sin that many churches are teaching.
Yeshua is the son of God, which is not so much a parental relationship as a spiritual one; He was born supernaturally, He did supernatural things through the power of God (just as the prophets did) and He died as a human, so that He could accept the sin of the world. And today He sits at the right hand of God. That is where He said He would be when facing the Sanhedrin. Not on the throne of God, but at God’s right hand.
If Yeshua told us that He is not God, and told us that He serves God, and told everyone He healed that it was their faith that healed them, where do we come off praying to Him instead of in His name? Where do we come off teaching that He is God when He denied it in everything He said? Where do we come off worshiping Yeshua instead of worshiping God?
Good questions. What do you think? Do you pray to God or to Yeshua? If you pray to Yeshua, then there is no need to pray in His name, right? I mean, you’re praying to Him, why invoke His name, again? If so, you are refusing to do as Yeshua said- He said that when we pray in His name we will receive what we ask for, so if we pray to Him, which means we shouldn’t use His name, we won’t receive. Unless, of course, He lied to us and we don’t need to pray in His name to receive. Of course, if He lied He isn’t sinless, His sacrifice won’t count, and we have no salvation..
Can you see where this goes? Anytime, anyway you try to show Yeshua is God, you lose salvation in the end.
God is all there is, and it is all about God. Yeshua is worthy to be God’s messenger, He is worthy to break the seals on the scroll, and He is the Messiah God promised to send to us so that we all can be reconciled to God and saved from our sinfulness. He is all those things, and more.
But He ain’t God.