Torah Portion: Beha’alotcha(He Lifted Up) (Numbers) B’Midbar 8-12
Haftorah Reading: Zechariah 2:14-4:7
This Torah section begins with the lighting of the Menorah in the Mishkan/Tabernacle for the first time. In the first three verses we read where G-d tells Moshe to relate to Aaron the instructions on the process he was to follow. There are a couple of interesting things that stand out in these verses. In Numbers 8:2 we read in English, “When you light.” The actual Hebrew word means, “When you lift up.” Here we get an idea of what the real purpose of the candles was. The Menorah symbolizes among other things, the light of G-d, the way to the Father. So we could see these verses as saying, “Lift up the light of the Father that people can find their spiritual way, that we can find our way in this world.” Really, here the words have much more to say to us than just a physical act of lighting the candles, but of lighting our way by being lifted up. It might give us a deeper understanding of John 12:32 where we read the words of Yeshua being lifted up and drawing people to Him. The ultimate purpose of that lifting up is that we should be filled with a longing to satisfy our Father. We look for ways to please Him and our own desires pale in comparison. This gives us a deeper understanding of the verses in Numbers 9:6-12 which covers the request of the men who missed Pesach/Passover because they were unclean from being in contact with a dead body. They came to Moshe and asked why they could not have the opportunity to fulfill Passover. Moshe went to G-d and G-d issued an additional commandment that allowed these men to celebrate Passover in the second month since they missed the appointed time in the first month.
Now think for a minute. They had a perfectly good reason to say, “Well we missed Passover because of our uncleanness. I guess we will have to do it next year.” However, they did not do that. Rather they beseeched G-d to make a way for them to keep His word in the year in which they were. No one would have faulted them for missing a year. But they could not miss it. They desired the closeness to G-d that celebrating Passover provided and did not want to miss it. They saw this closeness to G-d as something they could not live without. I pray that each of us are driven to live our lives with the same purpose of pleasing our Maker, of being so anxious to not miss an opportunity to serve Him and draw near to Him, to look for the opportunity to do all He asks of us.
Now I would like for us to talk about the first question I sent out this week found in Numbers 10:34-36. “Arise oh L-rd and let your enemies be scattered, and let them that hate You flee before Your Face.” My question was, “What is the difference between enemies and those that hate you? Why would this matter to us today?”
Enemies are people who behave in an antagonistic way toward G-d. Think of this in history. Who were America’s enemies in WWII? Japan and Germany. Are they enemies today? No. Usually enemies are enemies because they fear you and you are a threat. We can be an enemy of G-d when we act contrary to His demands on our lives. We don’t like it so we rebel and do it our way not His. It is a behavioral thing that can change. Hate on the other hand is something from the heart. Someone hates you just because you exist, not because of anything you have done – but just because you are. This carries over to G-d. People who hate G-d cannot stand the idea of a creator. It is a much deeper problem than enemies. Also it is the root cause of anti-Semitism. People, countries, hate the Jews not because of their actions or a perceived threat but because of who they are. This hate has at its heart a hate of the Father. As adopted members into Israel we see Christians around the world persecuted and killed not because they are a threat but just because they exist.
We as G-d’s people cannot fall into this trap of hatred toward a person or a group of people. To do so puts us at odds with the Father. In I John 4:20 it says, “If someone says, “I love G-d,” and hates his brother, he is a liar, for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen how can he love G-d whom he has not seen?” We may disagree with someone or a group of people but we cannot allow it to grow into hatred. An example of this is found in Genesis 37:4, “But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.” We can read the story of Joseph’s brothers and how their hatred of Joseph changed their lives and his.
There are many verses about hatred. I encourage you to read some of these. Psalms 38:15,
I John 4:19-20 Genesis 37:4, Leviticus 19:17-18, Matthew 10:22, Luke 21:17. There is one thing we are commanded to hate and that is evil. Psalms 97:10, Proverbs 8:13, Proverbs 6:16-19. You will notice people are not in this list only actions. Our role as G-d’s people is to love people and bring the light of G-d into lives and never allow ourselves to be drawn into hate for that will bring nothing but destruction into our lives both spiritually and physically.