We left the last Parashah with Pinchus killing a prince of Simeon and the daughter of a Midianite Chieftain. God tells Moses that because of Pinchus’ zeal for God that he stopped the plague He sent as punishment for the sin at Ba’al-Peor, and as reward Pinchus and his descendants were to be given the Priesthood, forever. God’s promise also was a means to protect Pinchus from avenging by anyone in the family of the slain man.
God commands a census to be taken, which is to establish the size of the army (God commands Moses to attack Midian as retaliation for their sin against Israel, which is where Balaam gets his), and also to see how many are left alive after the plague. It is interesting to note that the tribe of Simeon, from whom the man Pinchus killed came from, had the greatest loss of numbers: when they first did a census at the beginning of Numbers Simeon had 59,300 men, but now they have only 22,200.
The question of what happens if a man has no sons to inherit the land is presented by the the daughters of Zelophehad; it is determined that the daughters inherit the land, although they must marry within their tribe so the tribal inheritance is not diminished. God then gives Moses the full Order of Inheritance to be used.
Moses is told that his time to die has come, and instead of whining or asking for more time, his first thought is of the people and he asks God to appoint a successor. That person is, of course, Joshua. But Moses doesn’t die yet. The rest of this parashah is a restatement of the daily and special sacrifices that are to be performed. Each daily and festival sacrifice is described in detail; God is restating these requirements to the people as a refresher, so to speak, since they will soon be in the land.
This is the first time we hear God telling Moses he will die, even though the event, itself, doesn’t happen until the end of the Torah. The rest of the book of Numbers and all of Deuteronomy is a refresher course in all that happened and all that God requires of the Children of Israel. Moses gets to see the land, but he is not allowed to enter it. Why? Isn’t God forgiving? Why, after all the times Moses asks to be allowed in, won’t God relent, forgive and allow Moses to enter the Land?
I don’t know. But, if I were to guess, I would say it’s to show us that forgiveness is spiritual, but the consequence of sin is physical. There is no doubt in my mind that Moses is in God’s presence and was saved by his faithfulness and actions during his lifetime. Yet, the sin he committed at the waters of Meribah had consequences that his forgiveness in the spiritual world could not remove from his existence in the physical world.
How many times have we, the Jewish people, looked to the Promised Land but not entered because of our sin? What I am talking about here is the sin of rejecting salvation through Messiah Yeshua. The Messiah is like the land God promised- long awaited and longed for. But, the sins we commit in life prevent us from entering; sin such as rejecting Torah, rejecting Yeshua (this is what Judaism has done) , being unrepentant and (worse) being unforgiving. We can see the Promised land ahead of us, but our sins keep us from entering.
Unlike Moses, though, we have a chance to get in: we can enter by doing T’shuvah, by receiving the Grace of God through Yeshua the Messiah, and by forgiving those who have sinned against us. Moses did not enter the land of Israel, yet he is with God, forever. What he lost during his lifetime (which is only a mist, anyway) he received for eternity. We must keep our eyes on the eternal, and for those Christians that have been taught Torah was done away with when Yeshua rose from the dead, well, that’s a fence preventing your entering the land. And for those Jews who have been told Yeshua is not the Messiah, that is a fence preventing you from entering the land. And for anyone who has been taught “once saved, always saved”- that is a really big fence preventing you from entering the land.
We need to open the gates to these fences, and the way we do that is with the three-sided key of truth: Yeshua is the Messiah, Torah is still valid, and forgiveness is required to be forgiven. These three truths will open any fence, break down any wall and allow anyone to enter into the Promised Land.