Sunday, May 24, 2009

Torah Portion Bamidbar - 29 Iyyar 5769

Parsha Bamidbar

23 May 2009 – 29 Iyyar 5769

Numbers 1:1 – 4:20, Hosea 2:1-22, John 1-2

I thought I would skip the book of numbers altogether. You see, I was never any good at math in school. But then I learned what this book of the Torah is all about. Bamidbar means “In the wilderness”. It is the story of the sojourn of the Children of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai for 40 years.

The wilderness was many things for the children of Israel, but the most important is that God was with them despite their sin and iniquities. Punishment for their sin was evident, but the grace of God was also with them. When the book begins, one month has passed since the children of Israel constructed the Tabernacle. The Hebrew word Bamidbar means “In the wilderness”. The wilderness is very important to the history of the children of Israel. The land of Canaan, and the modern nation of Israel, occupies a small strip of fertile land between the vast Arabian deserts and the Mediterranean Sea.

The Wilderness is a Place of Death

The wilderness was a place of death. No food or water combined with blazing heat and empty miles of space make the wilderness a place to go to die. Hagar and Ishmael went to the wilderness to prepare to die (Genesis 21:14-15). Many occasions during their sojourn, the children of Israel accused Moses of taking them to the wilderness to die. Elijah also went to the wilderness and sat down under a Juniper tree that he might die. It is a place of unclean spirits as Yeshua himself says in Matthew 12:43 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he walks through dry places seeking rest, and finds none.” (MKJV)

The prophet Isaiah describes unclean animals and evil spirits that inhabit the wilderness. In Isaiah 34:10-15 and echoed in Revelation 18:2. Yeshua went into the wilderness after his immersion and was tempted by Satan. Yeshua is our guide through the wilderness, through the valley of the shadow of death. Even though He may lead us into the wilderness just as the children of Israel were, He will be our comforter and our provider.

The Wilderness is a Place of Refuge and Provision

Though the wilderness is a dry and desolate place, it is also a place of miraculous provision. There is no better example than the children of Israel and their 40 year trek in the Sinai. God provided manna for them to eat; water for them to drink, their clothing and shoes did not wear out! There was a cloud over them by day for shade and a pillar of fire before them by night. Miraculous provision was all around them! When we are in a place where our own efforts are inadequate for our survival, we lean on God to provide. When Elijah was in the wilderness, God sent ravens with bread to feed him twice a day! Yeshua fasted for 40 days in the wilderness as angels attended Him.
Yeshua is our place of refuge and our provider. Though He may lead us into a place of “wilderness”, He protects us from the enemy. He will provide for us as he provided for those who followed Him in Galilee.

The Wilderness is a Place of Revelation

The wilderness is the place where the LORD speaks to us. When we are in despair, when we are focused away from ourselves and toward Him, that is when He reminds us that we belong to Him. With the downturn in the economy and many of us out of work, facing foreclosure on our homes and the bills piling up, we have learned that our world is precariously balanced like a house of cards. The worlds comforts are easily stripped away and we are left in a kind of wilderness that none of us expected to find ourselves in. It is this place where God will reveal his “perfect economy”.

When Moses was in the wilderness after fleeing from Pharaoh, he received a revelation from God at the burning bush. Moses had everything in Egypt. He was an adopted son of Pharaoh and stood to inherit perhaps the greatest kingdom on earth at that time. He lost everything and was reduced to herding sheep in the wilderness. Moses received the Torah of God in the wilderness, perhaps the greatest revelation of all time! Elijah fasted for 40 days in the wilderness before arriving at Sinai to receive a revelation from God. Yeshua is our source of revelation. He has passed the test in the wilderness. Not so that we do not have to as well, but as an example to us of God’s provision and revelation.

Yeshua taught us that we are to deny (or die to) ourselves in this “wilderness” of our life,

Lu 9:23 And He said to all, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. (MKJV)

Yeshua is our refuge and strength in the wilderness.

Mt 11:28 Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (MKJV)

Yeshua will bring revelation to us in the wilderness.

Lu 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. 28 And they drew near the village where they were going. And He appeared to be going further. 29 But they constrained Him, saying, Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is far spent. And He went in to stay with them. 30 And it happened as He reclined with them, taking the loaf, He blessed it, and breaking it, He gave to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him. And He became invisible to them. (MKJV)

Shabbat Shalom

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1 comment:

  1. Dan, I was struck in the fact that all of Israel were forever made to overcome the desert. The Assyrian (antichrist) who rises out of the desert will be another issue that Israel will overcome. Too, many people think that the antichrist will do this and do that...He will not suceed with any aspect of what he is allowed to do. The tower of Babel was never completed, the death of Jesus did not end the story, the return of Israel (1948) make the desrt experience an opportunity for the Lord to be GLORIFIED~


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