Chukat (Ordinance) B’midbar/Numbers 19:1-22:1
Bless each of you tonight as we study G-d’s word. I would like to begin with my two questions of the week. I believe this Torah portion presents us with a few points that we will have to dig in order to find an answer.
First, the title of this portion, chukat, gives us a clue as to what will follow. In Hebrew this word is used for laws that are hard to understand or find what G-d is saying through them. In English this word can be best translated as ordinance. This tells us that this law is different from other commandments of Torah.
Most laws are called mishpatim. They cover situations that are pretty straight forward, such as don’t steal, don’t murder, etc. A chok is different in that it has no logical, simple meaning. We keep this law even though it may seem confusing. Here for example we see the priest, the people who prepare the red heifer and the ones who clean up the ashes became unclean because of their actions. The person who came to be cleansed, however, is now clean.
>It is also important to remember that in all of Jewish history there have been only nine such sacrifices. Therefore we can conclude that everyone alive now would be ceremonially unclean. If there was a temple no one could enter because of their uncleaness from being around a dead body at some time in their life.
So let’s start there and see what if anything this has to do with us. The first important thing to keep in mind is that this chok only had to do with the outside. It did not absolve us from sin. Instead, it only meant the person could again become part of the ceremonial life of the nation. So why should we ever take the time to talk about this?
It might surprise you to know this is mentioned in the Messianic scriptures in Hebrews 9:13-14. This was one of my questions to you this week. What do these verses say to us? Remember the ashes of the red heifer dealt only with ceremonial cleansing. The ashes of the red heifer are mentioned and also their role in cleansing the outward person. So what is the connection in these two passages in Hebrews and Numbers?
The writer sets out plainly that the sacrifice of the Messiah is what cleanses us spiritually. My point being it is very important to understand what Yeshua has done for us.
If there were a Temple today the ashes of the red heifer would still be required for an outward cleansing but would have no effect on our spiritual condition. Once we are clear on this it should give us a deeper appreciation of how both the Torah and Messianic scriptures work together to give us a complete picture of the word of G-d. The red heifer was a physical picture of what was to come in the Messiah.
Now on to my other question this week. I sent a second question listing Exodus 32 and Numbers 20:2-11 where, in both cases Moshe was angry. In both cases we read of his response to the actions of the people.
In Exodus 32 Moshe had been up on the mountain with G-d for 40 days. When he returned to the people he saw that Aaron had made a golden calf and the people were out of control worshiping the idol. Moshe threw the tablets of G-d to the ground breaking them and then turned to go down the mountain with Joshua. Three thousand people died that day. In this case Moshe was not punished for his actions. In fact he prayed to G-d to forgive their sins.
In our portion today the people came to Moshe and told him they were thirsty for the water flowing from Miriam’s stone had stopped at her death. This stone or rock is mentioned in I Corinthians 10:4, “…All drank from the same spiritual drink. In a sense, they were drinking from a spiritual rock which accompanied them. The rock was the Anointed One.”
What was Moshe’s reaction? What was different this time, compared to the incident in Exodus? Both times he was angry. In Exodus he condemned their actions. However in our portion today he reacted by condemning the people. He called them rebels. He was talking to G-d’s chosen. He then took his staff and struck the rock two times.
Water gushed forth. The people had water but the result for Moshe and Aaron was painful. G-d’s judgment was severe. They would not enter the Promised Land. In his anger Moshe let his actions get out of control. Rather than following G-d’s instructions he took matters into his own hands. He allowed his anger to go unchecked. He put himself in G-d’s place for a time. What does this say to us about anger? Is anger a sin? Are we allowed to be angry?
Anger is a difficult emotion to control. It can cause us to lose control and say things or do things we should not do or say. It can cause damage and hurt to people. Anger is an emotion that must be carefully guarded. At times we may become angry but at no time can we allow it to overcome us and cause pain and broken relationships.
When angry we must ask ourselves are our words addressing the issue at hand or attacking and belittling the person, a person created in G-d’s own image? We must always remember we are a representative of G-d. We must allow G-d to intervene and set things right. G-d is a righteous judge. It is His place to judge not ours. Psalms 100:5 says, “For the L-rd is good, His mercy everlasting, and His truth endures for all generations.” Bless you all this week.