Torah Portion: Mattot (Tribes) Masa’ei (Stages) (Numbers) B’Midbar 30-36
Haftorah Reading: Jeremiah 1:1-2:28
Tonight we finish the fourth book of the Torah B’Midbar or Numbers. This book finishes with the people standing on the threshold of entering the Land after forty years. They left Egypt as a band of slaves and here we see them about to enter the Promise of G-d as His nation, His people. There are many points we could cover tonight, however, I want us to look at two ideas that I feel are especially important for us to consider.
The first point can be found in Numbers 31:1-3. It was the subject of one of my questions this week. In verse 31:1 we read where HaShem commands Moshe to “take vengeance on the Midianites for the children of Israel.” Then in verse 3 we read Moshe telling the people, “go against the Midianites to take vengeance for the L-rd on Midian.” How are we to understand the difference in these two commands?
An example may help us understand. In the story of the Exodus we read about the holiday of “Hag HaMazoth” or Feast of Unleavened Bread. When G-d speaks of this holiday it is always called Feast of Unleavened Bread. From G-d’s eternal view, the name of this holiday describes the fact that Israel trusted Him so much they were willing to follow Him into the desert, not even stopping to let their bread rise, instead leaving quickly. However, Israel blended this holiday into the following holiday of Passover. Today these two holidays are usually referred to as Passover. The difference in G-d’s perspective and Israel’s is, He looked at it from His deep love and affection for His people. The children of Israel majored on His redemption as he brought them out of slavery.
Two different views of one situation are what we have in this passage today. G-d’s perspective was taking vengeance for the sake of His Covenant people Israel. Moshe’s perspective was taking vengeance on Midian for slandering the name of G-d’s, same action but two different perspectives.
As believers we undertake G-d’s direction in our lives and set out on our journey to do His will. We see and love G-d for what He did for us. Our challenge is to maintain that perspective. Often life happens and we can find ourselves going through the motions and losing sight of why we live and go about our lives a certain way. We find we have lost sight of why we do what we do. We should always be aware of our role to bring glory to the Father and not just go about our lives doing things out of habit. Losing our way can cause us to reflect ourselves instead of our Maker. It is important for us to take stock of our lives, our motives and our hearts from time to time. It is important to reflect on who we are and why we do what we do. Is our life a reflection of Him or is it a self serving reflection of us? Take time to reflect on what we stand for as G-d’s people and what our true goals should be. Are we on target? This will help us stay grounded and pointed in the right direction. It will add a deep sense of purpose and meaning in all we do each day. Here in these verses, Moshe saw this command of G-d, as Israel’s purpose – to sanctify the name of G-d in the war against Midian. Everything we do should have the same purpose, to introduce and bring honor to the Father. He loves us and cares for us. He is holy. We as His people are holy. We reflect His holiness. We also read in Numbers 31:8 where Bilaam was killed in this battle as well.
Now I want us to look at the last portion we read this week. In chapter 33 we read an entire chapter where Moshe goes over every place Israel stopped on their 40 year travel through the desert. There were 42 stops in all, and with the exception of two men, all the people who entered the Promise Land had been born during the 40 year travel, not in Egypt. Why do you think Moshe took an entire chapter to recount where they had been? Possibly, G-d took an entire chapter to recount how He was always with the children of Israel. To remind them of the difficulties they had overcome with His help, how much He loves them and never left them through the past 40 years of travel. This would be an encouragement to them as they crossed over and faced new challenges. For us He says the same. As I said earlier, it is good to reflect often on our lives and journey with the Father. It is important to relive those time when the hand of G-d was evident in our lives. Some of these times we might not have been aware of G-d’s work in our lives until years later. It is an encouragement to know our Father loves us and never brushes us off when we come to Him. From this chapter Israel saw that and from our lives we can see it too. Thank G-d Almighty He loves us and is always with us.