Torah Portion: Massei Numbers 33:1-36:13
HafTorah: Jeremiah 2:4-28; 3:4
NT Reading: James 4:1-12
Tonight I would like to look at the verses in this week’s Torah portion from two different standpoints. This will follow closely the questions I sent out this week. Let’s start with the questions about the connections between Yeshua and the cities of refuge. In this time of history murder or the accidental death of someone at another person’s hand carried a death sentence. This sentence was carried out by the next of kin. No trial, no jury, one person was judge and jury. The Torah modified this somewhat by setting up cities of refuge where the person could flee and be protected until there could be a trial. Read Numbers 35:12. If the person was found guilty of murder then they would be punished or if not punished they would be safe from the blood avenger as long as they stayed within the city walls.
How do we compare Yeshua to this situation? First look at the city. We are like hunted men. Who is hunting us? Satan hunts us and eventually physical death will overtake us. However in this life Yeshua is our refuge. We can find safety within His walls, within His Grace. As long as we remain in Him we need not fear the enemy who seeks our spiritual life.
Then Yeshua is our Redeemer. He has redeemed us from slavery, from sin and from death. He is our Brother in the House of G-d, who has saved us from the debt we could not pay. However, in the context of Numbers He is and can be seen as the Redeemer of Israel. He will redeem Israel both physically and spiritually as Paul says in Romans. Physically He will gather them from the four corners of the earth and restore them to Israel. He also will act as the Blood Avenger in that He will judge the nations who have persecuted His people and the saints. (Psalms 110:6-7, Psalms 79:10, Psalms 9:12) In Revelations 6:10-11 we read when He returns He will return as the avenger of His people.
Lastly, Yeshua can be linked here to the death of the High Priest. Here in Numbers 35:28 the death of the High Priest somehow paid the price for the person in the city of refuge. For us the death and resurrection of our High Priest erased our debt of sin and set us free.
Now I would like to jump back to the first few verses of Chapter 33 and see if we can learn something here that will help us as we go through our lives. G-d tells Moses to remind the people of their journeys from Egypt. Why plural – journeys. It would seem G-d is saying each segment or each journey in itself moved them through another stage bringing them closer to Israel. Each built upon itself. I put a quote on Facebook this week that makes this point. “It’s not the milestones we reach, but the stones we encounter along the miles that define us and make us who we are.
In Hebrew the word for Egypt is “Mitzriam”. The root meaning is narrow. In our lives we encounter things that seem to constrict us, to limit us. To overcome requires work on our part. Getting through these struggles brings us out as a stronger person. Our lives are a succession of constrictions – when overcome or worked through brings us to a more mature place than where we were. Our awareness of G-d and His mercy is deeper. Each of us faces our own journeys. We are not to be arrogant thinking we have arrived after overcoming. This journey continues until the end. We are not to be discouraged thinking we will never be able to overcome some stone in our mile. The important thing is to keep going from one journey to the next and leave everything in G-d’s hands.
The prize in this life and the life to come is great. Paul tells in Phil. 3:14 about the race and obtaining the prize. This fits well with what Moses is telling the people here and telling us as well. May G-d grant you strength each day to fight the good fight (2 Timothy 4:7, 1 Timothy 6:12) and finish the race.