G-d in our midst
Torah Portion: B’midbar (In the Desert) Numbers 1:1-4:20
Haftorah Readings: Hosea 1:10-2:20
Tonight, we begin the fourth book of the Torah. This book covers almost the entire time Israel spent in the wilderness. It has the fewest number of commandments of any book up until now. It is mainly a narrative that covers the coming of age of the Children of Israel before they enter the Promised Land.
As you read this portion you probably noticed it dealt with the taking of censuses. However, hidden in all of these numbers are many truths that will enhance our understanding of G-d. For example, we see a G-d of order. We see a G-d who is concerned about every person. Every person counts. Every person is important. Now let’s see what G-d has for us tonight. I would like to begin with the name of the book, “BaMidbar.” The root of this word is the three letter d,b,r in English. These letters in Hebrew are also associated with other Hebrew words that will give us a deeper insight into where Israel was and also sometimes where we find ourselves.
One word that comes from these three Hebrew letters is the word dvar or word, as in “the word of G-d.” In Hebrew the Ten Commandments are called the 10 diburim or 10 Words. So here in the “midbar” or desert, the people heard the dvar or word of G-d. Think about this for a moment. They were in an isolated deserted place with no distractions and there they were about to hear the word of G-d clearly. In our lives sometimes it is hard to hear G-d because of the noise that surrounds us. It is hard to study or concentrate because of all the competing things going on around us.
I thought of the time we have all been in for the last couple of months. We have been isolated, hopefully quiet before G-d. This time has given us the opportunity to hear Him without all the distractions we normally have. I pray we all have taken advantage of this time to seek Him while we can. By using the time we are in now the time can be transformed into sacred space, sacred time, a place where G-d can diber (speak) to us.
Another lesson we can learn is that the Father is a G-d of order, even to the smallest detail. We see the tribes counted. Each person was counted. Each person was part of the whole. Each person had a task, a role to play in G-d’s order. When we look at the command given to how the people would break camp and go to a new destination there was an order to that also. The more numerous tribes went first after Moshe and Aaron. In fact, the tribes were broken down according to number of people and their ancestral background. Judah, Issachar and Zebulon were all descended from Leah. They were at the forefront along with Reuben, Simeon and Gad, who were also Leah’s sons with the exception for Gad, who was the son of her maidservant. After these tribes were the Levites carrying the Mishkan and items of worship. Next came Ephraim, Menasseh and Benjamin, all who descended from Rachel. Finally, we see Dan, Asher and Naftali, all descendants of maidservants. The point being everyone was in the place where they could be best used. Sometimes we look at things differently and think G-d has forgotten us or we are not as useful or important as someone else. In fact, the opposite it true. We all have our place in G-d’s plan. All of us are important and needed.
In our portion, all of these parts, all of these people, worked together to do their part because the Mishkan or Tabernacle was in the midst of them. When we look at the layout of how the tribes were arranged when they encamped and when they moved, the Mishkan was always in the middle of the tribes. G-d was in their midst all the time. Please look at B’midbar/Numbers 2:17 where we read, “The tent of meeting, the camp of the Levites, shall travel in the midst of the camp.” This brings me to my question of the week. What spiritual meaning can we find when looking at the placement of the Mishkan?
In our verses the Presence of G-d was always in the midst of the people, whether they were encamped or marching. The Hebrew word used for midst is betoke. This word can mean, in the middle of or in the midst of. So no matter whether the people were camped or marching G-d was with them. We see this word also used in Shmot/Exodus 25:8.
So what does it mean to us as G-d’s people today? What does it mean to have G-d in our midst? John 1:14 tells us that Yeshua dwells among (betoke) us. Think of it as no matter where we are or what we are going through the Messiah is among us in our midst. Eph 2:22 expresses the same thought. In our world today, with all the distractions around us, it takes an effort on our part to keep Him in our midst. It takes time to pray, to study, to seek His will for our lives. If not, we will find our faith becoming less important in our lives and in the decisions we make on how to live our lives.
If we are diligent in our walk we will truly find G-d in our midst. He will be with us every day, all the time. He will be in us. Bless you all.