Torah Portion: Mattot (Tribes) & Masa’ei (Stages) B’Midbar (Numbers) 30-36
Haftorah Reading: Jeremiah 1:1-2:28
Today we finish our study of Numbers (B’Midbar) by reading a double portion of Torah. My question this week comes from the second portion but before I get to that I want to talk about several other points that I believe will give us a clear understanding of G-d’s love for us and our ability to express our love for Him.
In Numbers 32:20-22 we read of an exchange between Moshe and the people of the tribes of Ruben and Gad. These tribes came to Moshe and asked to settle on the East bank of the Jordan River rather than enter with the other tribes. Moshe was dismayed and spoke harshly to them. The two tribes expressed their willingness to go over with all of Israel and fight at the forefront of the battle until all Israel was settled. Moshe accepted their offer and then in verse 22 said to them, “Then afterward you may return and be blameless before G-d and blameless before Israel.” Here Moshe expresses a principle that must be a part of our walk each day of our life as we interact with the world. Our life must not just be about doing what is right in the eyes of G-d. We must also live and act in a way that is above reproach in the eyes of our fellowman. We must, to the best of our ability be above suspicion in the eyes of our fellow man.
If you asked someone to describe how they see you as a believer what would they say? If people read your Facebook posts how would they describe you? We are called to live our life according to G-d’s will and word. However, that must be done in a way that brings life to those around us and not death. We must be a people who are slow to anger, and not get caught up in judging those we disagree with. Our life is to be lived in a way that shows the love of G-d. Judgment belongs in the hands of G-d not ours. I think this is what Moshe was telling the other ten tribes of Israel.
As much as we can, we are called to live a life that is above reproach, honest, loving, gentle and compassionate. If not we are but a clanging cymbal. This is what Moshe was talking about when he said, “blameless before G-d and before Israel.” Yeshua stressed this over and over in His life as did his followers. May our life be a reflection of who we are in our relationship with the Father. Our ego gets in our way many times. We as humans like to feel good about ourselves and we sometimes feed our ego by looking at ourselves as better than others.
I read something this week that really struck me as a wonderful example of what our relationship with G-d should look like. The first and second temples were destroyed because of the sins of Israel. G-d could no longer abide with them in the temple because their ego had grown to the point that there was no room left for Him. I thought of my own faith experience. When I first came to that place in my life and put my faith in Yeshua that act required me to allow G-d control of my life. I was not in charge. He was. I had to willingly humble myself and acknowledge my sin and need of the Messiah. My ego was reduced. However as time moved on my ego began to exercise itself demanding its place back again. I got off track and began to act on my own desires never considering if they were the Father’s desire for me. Slowly I found myself estranged from G-d. There was no place for him in my life, I was in control. Such a place never ends well. G-d’s will is that He is given the major control in our life. His will is the point, not ours. That is the answer to our wanderings, that is where we all must come to to restore our relationship. It isn’t about us, it is about Him.
This brings me to my last point. Numbers chapter 33 is a recounting of all the places that G-d brought Israel through over their 40 years of being in the desert. Why take an entire chapter to cover something that was already set out in the scripture. I believe it was a way to recount the love story of G-d and His people. It was a way of reliving and remembering all that G-d did for them over the years. He fed them, gave them water, provided for them, protected them and chastised them.
Think of your own life. We all know G-d loves us but sometimes we falter. Each of us have a life in the desert so to speak. It is helpful to reflect on how G-d never left us, was always there with us, loving us, providing for us, protecting us and sometimes chastising us. So I think this chapter is G-d’s love letter to Israel and to us. Bless each of you.