Torah Readings: Chukat (Statutes) B’midbar/Num. 19:1-22:1; Haftorah reading: Judges 11:1-33; Balak, B’midbar/Num. 22:2-25:9; Haftorah reading: Micah 5:6-6:8
1.Our first of two Torah sections this week begins in Numbers/B’Midbar 19:1. It is called “Chukat” or statutes/regulations in English. These statutes are usually seen as those teachings in which there appears no rational explanation. Why would G-d give us commandments that defies logic or a rational answer?
To see if we trust Him. In Exodus 1:8 we can see Miriam and her mother risk their lives because they feared G-d not Pharaoh. We see it in Yeshua when He could say, “Not my will but Thine be done – In Luke 22:42. So when we read about this chok of the red heifer it should remind us of what our deepest spiritual motive is: doing what G-d commanded just because we love Him and want to please Him, not for any other reasons. We don’t always understand but we don’t have to. He is our G-d and we love Him. So we read this and other chukim with that in mind.
2.In B’Midbar 19:19 we read of the process an unclean person had to go through. He was sprinkled with the ashes and water of the Red Heifer on the third day and on the seventh day. Then he passed through the water (Mikvah). Do you find the third day or the seventh day referenced anywhere else in scripture?
In the Hebrew scriptures we see the third day referenced as associated with resurrection and of course Yeshua rose on the third day. What was important about the third day and sacrifices? After three days whatever was left had to be burned because it had begun to decay. Yeshua had to rise on the third day. Jonah 1:17 says Jonah was in the belly of the great fish three days. Yeshua referenced Jonah’s three days in the belly of the great fish as a metaphor for his resurrection. (Matthew 12:38-40) Hosea spoke of G-d’s resurrecting work for Israel as occurring on the third day in Hosea 6:1-3
But why the seventh day? Also in Judaism seven is the number of completion – final – redemption – entering into G-d’s presence. (Sabbath is a picture of this) So seven can symbolize that final victory over death. (I Cor. 15:54-55 based on Isaiah 25:8, Hosea 13
3.Also, can you find references to the red heifer in the Messianic Scripture?
The writer of Hebrews mentions it specifically in Hebrews 9:11-14. As the Red Heifer and the sin offerings were burned outside the camp so Yeshua suffered outside the camp (Jerusalem). As the Red Heifer cleaned a person from the defilement of the contact with the dead so Yeshua cleanses us from sin which leads to spiritual death.
Remember, the red heifer was the only sacrifice that was offered outside the whole camp of Israel in the wilderness and none of the offering was eaten by anyone. The whole animal was burned all the way to ashes, and only the ashes were used for different modes of purification of lepers, and clearing a woman who is accused of adultery (See Numbers 5:11-30).
It is interesting that in the Messianic scriptures, it is written in Hebrews 13:10 -16. “We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. 12 Therefore Yeshua also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 13 Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. 14 For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. 15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to G-d, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. 16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices G-d is well pleased.” Please notice that this sacrifice, that the writer of the book of Hebrews is talking about, is sacrificed outside the camp. Notice that the priests are not allowed to eat from this sacrifice. Notice that the blood of this sacrifice is brought to the temple for atonement of sins.
He is not talking about the sin of the High Priest’s sins, or individual sins, but the collective sins of those who serve in the temple. After reading the text from Numbers 19 – it is very interesting that the writer of the book of Hebrews makes the Red Heifer sacrifice, that comes from our Torah reading on this Shabbat from the portion Chukat, applicable and fulfilled in Yeshua who was sacrificed “Outside the camp in order to sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.”
The conclusion of this situation is that Yeshua was actually the ultimate sacrifice of the Red Heifer outside the camp and we, Yeshua’s disciples, must be willing to go with Yeshua outside the camp, and bear His reproach.
This is a very important teaching calling us, the disciples of Yeshua, the living Torah Himself to bear His reproach. A majority of the church is no longer willing to bear His reproach or suffer the persecution and rejection of the world.
The worldly church today, wants to be in concert and consensus with the world; to inherit the wealth of the world. The worldly church today wants to be not outside the camp, but to lead the world away from the suffering and sacrifice of the cross. It doesn’t want to “take up the Cross and follow Yeshua!”
Here is the text itself from the book of Hebrews. I am repeating the relevant text and urging the Body of the Messiah to get ready for rejection, and persecution, and alienation of the followers of Yeshua ,who are living and walking and practicing what our L-rd and the Apostles commanded us to do and live. “Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. 14 For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. 15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to G-d, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”(Hebrews 13:13)
4.In Numbers 20:2 we see the first complaint about lack of water for almost forty years. Kadesh was an oasis but outside of that where did millions of people get water every day? In Exodus 17 we read about the people complaining about no water. That was the last time until this verse. So, where did they get water?
Ancient Jewish commentaries give a creative answer that we would likely dismiss. They say that the rock Moses struck in Exodus 17 followed them around for the next 40 years. Could this possibly be backed up with scripture? In I Cor. 10:1-4 we read Paul saying this rock was Messiah and just as it provided water for the Israelites in the desert Yeshua provides spiritual water for us. The water that flowed in the desert can be applied to our lives as the rivers of spiritual water that flows into our lives each second of the day. They sustain us (John 7:38) Yeshua is our spiritual source and that sustains us each day.
5.As we read the second Torah portion called Balak, we see a man called Balaam. He was known throughout the region as one who could connect with the spiritual world to bring a curse or blessing upon a person or kingdom. Balaam had the appearance of a spiritual person. This caused me to consider how do we judge if a person is a spiritual person? Is it by appearance and reputation or something else?
The Haftorah this week gives us a good guideline for living spiritually. In Micah 6:8 we read, “This is what the L-rd requires of you: to do justly, to love mercy and walk humbly with G-d. What is meant by, “do justice?” One thing to note is that this is an active verb in Hebrew. We speak out for and stand up for those who are the weaker, more vulnerable members of society. Justice extends a hand to the weak. We are called to DO justice and not just speak about it.
We are to love mercy. Mercy is a quality that prevents false piety and self-righteousness. Mercy shows the qualities of Yeshua exhibited toward the woman caught in adultery in John 8:1-11. He extended His hand in mercy. We should esteem each other and rejoice over what G-d is doing in each of our lives rather than judge so quickly the undone things that someone has not dealt with yet. Never let us judge another person but instead be merciful.
We are to walk with humility. Another way to translate this word is to walk in purity before G-d. Purity suggests holiness. Humility is the opposite of pride. We have to remember what has been given us, not because of who we are but just because He loves us. Humility keeps the focus on G-d not on us. These three things G-d requires.
G-d hates hypocrisy, a person who pretends to be one thing but inside is an empty shell. Balaam fits this description. He portrays himself as a spiritual giant but G-d shows him that even his donkey has more insight than he does.
Also a description of spiritual people is found in 1 Cor 2:12-16. “Now we have received not the spirit of the world system, but the Spirit who is from G-d, so that we may comprehend the gifts freely given to us by G-d. So then we teach these truths, not ever expressed in words of human wisdom, but taught by the Spirit to those who are led by the Spirit, spiritual wisdom applied through discernment. A worldly minded individual does not embrace the teachings from the Spirit of G-d for they are foolishness to him, and such an individual cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The one who is Spirit led, however, discerns all spiritual matters but is not judged by anyone. After all, “Who has known the mind of the L-rd, so that a mere mortal would teach Him?” We, however, have the mind of the Anointed One.”
6.In this Torah portion we read how Balak, King of Moab was in fear of the approaching Israelites. Should he have been afraid? No. Why? Who were the Moabites?
The Moabites were descendants of Lot. In D’Varim (Deut) 2:9 G-d tells Israel they are not to disturb Moab because they are cousins and G-d has given them their own land. So actually Balak had nothing to fear. He just didn’t know it. How often we fear what has no real threat because we do not know who we are as G-d’s children.
7.As we read this Torah portion we see G-d telling Balaam not to go with Balak’s messengers. He did not want to take no for an answer so he went back and asked G-d again. Why did he go back? He already had an answer. Have we ever found ourselves doing the same thing? When G-d answered him he didn’t like what he heard so he continued to ask the same question.