©2021 Mark Pitrone and Fulfilling Torah Ministries
Year 2 Sabbath 49
Numbers 3:1 – 4:16 – Isaiah 43:1-13 – Psalm 93 – Hebrews 12:1-29
B’Midbar 3.1-4 – Here we see Moshe and Aharon and Aharon’s sons named as priests of Y’hovah. V.1 named all the sons of Aharon ‘on the day that Y’hovah spoke to Moshe on mount Sinai’, which I take to mean on Shavuoth, when he gave them the 10 commandments. Only Aharon’s sons are numbered here, not Moshe’s. Moshe’s sons, Gershom and Eliezer, are not listed in this chapter – in my opinion, because they are not in the camp of Moshe and Aharon. In fact, there is no mention of them in the books of Moshe after Ex.18. I think that Moshe’s sons are back in Midian with Tzipporah and Yithro. They are not named anywhere in this passage, though the Stone’s Chumash postulates that v.27 names Amram’s sons and that this includes Moshe’s sons as sons of Kohath. However, v.17 names all the same names as sons of Kohath, and that is also how they are listed in v.27, not as Moshe’s sons. Would these be the sons of Tzipporah? Or the sons of Moshe’s mysterious ‘Ethiopian (H3571 Kushiyth or Cushite) wife’ that ticked Miriam and Aharon off so in ch.12? My opinion is that Moshe married one wife, Tzipporah, and that her umpty-ump grandmother was Avraham’s wife/concubine Keturah who was possibly a dark-skinned woman, as her name means “that makes the incense to fume”. If that were the case, Tzipporah could easily have been a dark skinned Midianite. This is all speculation on my part, but it is also speculation on the parts of all the rabbis consulted in the Chumash’s commentary, for there is NO EVIDENCE to work with in this matter anywhere in Torah.
V.4 tells us that Nadav and Avihu, who died for offering ‘strange fire’, offering incense out of time and out of order, had no sons. In fact, Elazar’s and Ithamar’s sons are not named here, either. We hear little, if anything, about them until Zimri, the Israelite, takes Cozbi, a Midianitish woman, into the Tent of Meeting to have forbidden sex in a forbidden place in Num.25, and Pinchas, Elazar’s son, ran them both through with a javelin, thus staying the plague that had broken out. Pinchas became the successor to Aharon as High Priest as a result. No Levite is ever anointed except the Kohen haGadol, and that only after the predecessor, well …. deceases, dies. Pinchas got the distinction of having his sons appointed as priests in perpetuity
10 And Y’hovah spake unto Moshe, saying, 11 Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aharon the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy. 12 Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace: 13 And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his Eloha, and made an atonement for the children of Israel. (Num.25.12-13)
I see a connection here to the Satanic counterfeit in Rev.13, where the False Prophet/junior Beast is able to do miracles in the presence of the Beast, as Aharon’s sons Elazar and Ithamar minister before Aharon.
11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. 12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. 13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, 14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. 15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. 16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: 17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. (Rev.13.11-17)
Of course all that so-called ‘spiritual power’ is satanic sleight of hand and human reverse engineering of demonically inspired technology at work. It will fool the gullible and unaware, even among folk we assume are among the elect. So be watchful. Trust only Y’hovah, and no man.
Vv.5-10 – The Levites are appointed as the servants of the Kohanim and the Tabernacle, as the Kohanim are appointed to the service in the Tabernacle. Each is to jealously guard his office, to sanctify it from b’nei Israel, who sinned in “The Golden Calf Affair” (sounds like a thriller title). This is where our Constitution found a separation of powers in government as a very good thing. Congress should be putting a stop to the ‘rule by executive order’ the President has enjoyed for over 150 years. Only Congress can guard its power, as only the judiciary can guard its power, as only the executive can guard its power. Congress’ failure to guard its power from both the executive and the judiciary is the main problem with our American Republic today. Levi is not just given to Aharon as servants in the Mishkan, they are n’tunim n’tunim,“PRESENTED presented”, to Aharon and his sons for service (KJV says ‘wholly given’). Y’hovah doesn’t repeat himself in this way very often. He does it to make it unequivocally known that this is their calling and noone else’s. Q&C
Vv.11-13 – Here is the only thing even close to ‘replacement theology’ you’ll find in scripture. Levi ‘replaced’ the physical bikkurim. V.12 says, in a Mark ‘pigeon-Hebrew’ translation, “And I, behold, I have taken to me the Levi’im from among the children of Israel in place of all the firstborn that open the womb (pether rechem) among the children of Israel…” KJV seems to be very close to right on the money (it usually is). It was for the sin of the Golden Calf that the firstborn of Israel were no longer counted as the firstborn of Y’hovah and Levi was appointed the substitutionary, or ‘replacement’ firstborn. The firstborn were supposed to have performed all the service to the Aharonic priests and the Tabernacle, so they had been set apart by Y’hovah when he DIDN’T kill them in Egypt on Pesach, and now again he sets them apart with the loss of reward for their sin. As always, the loss of reward as consequences of our actions serve to remind us to remain true to Y’hovah’s Word.
During the Wilderness Adventure and the first few Kohen G’dolim in the Land, they stayed true. After the division of the nation in Reho/Jerobam’s day, the decline went rapidly in the sanctity of the priesthood. There had been some that were less faithful than others up to that time, but as a general rule, the High Priests and the Levites were truly sanctified men who ruled their own houses and the religion well. I think the reason we know about the rotters among the priests and Levites in the historical narratives of Judges, Kings and Chronicles is to make the point that they were ‘just guys’, like the rest of us, if they didn’t work at their sanctity through obedience to Torah. The vast majority did. Those who didn’t were ‘set-apart’ in their own right by getting mention in the historical narratives and especially later in the prophets. The further the priests and Levites got from their personal sanctity, the further Israel and/or Yehudah slid into spiritual adultery with false elohas. We who take it on ourselves to teach others are worthy of the double honor when we stay truly set-apart to the Word in our walk and our words. We are also worthy of double judgment when we stray from our sanctity in walk and word.
Vv.14-16 – The census of the Levi’im is commanded. This is also a way that Levi was sanctified by Y’hovah – they were counted from one month old and there was no limit to what age they could be counted. If there was a 125-year old Levite male, he was counted. If a male Levite child was at least 30 days old, he was counted. It does not say, of the 1st month, but 1 month old. If the child lived that long, his chances were excellent to live to serve, barring unforeseen circumstances, like war, famine or disease.
The Levites were to pitch their camps in close proximity to the Mishkan, to guard it from improper approach by the other tribes of Israel. Levi’s sons, Gershon, Kohath and Merari, were the houses of Levi, which were further broken down into families. The Levite houses were to be assigned general duties in service to the priests and the Mishkan. The families were assigned their special duties, which are not enumerated by family. There were 8 families in the 3 houses of Levites. Gershon, being the firstborn of Levi was the house counted first, then the house of Kohath and finally Merari.
Vv.17-26 – The house of Gershon, which camped on the back, or west, side of the Mishkan (closest to the Holy of Holies), between it and Yoseph’s camp, consisted of the families of Livni and Shimei, and totaled 7500. Gershon’s zachan, elder, was Eliasaph (my Mighty One gathers), whom I assume camped closest to the Mishkan on the west. His job was to oversee taking down (gathering) and building back up the Holy place and the court, including all the hangings, door curtains and cords appertaining thereto.
Vv.27-32 – The house of Kohath, which camped on the left, or south side of the Mishkan, between it and Reuven’s camp, consisted of the families of Amram, Izhar, Hevron and Uzziel and totaled 8600. Kohath’s zachan was Elizaphan (my Mighty One treasures), whom I also assume camped closest to the Mishkan on the south. His job was as lieutenant to Elazar, who had overall command of the movement, while Elizaphan actually had charge of the work of ‘carrying’ all the furnishings of the Mishkan; ark, altars, Menorah, tables, the instruments used in the sacrificial service and their coverings. The Kohanim actually placed the coverings over all the stuff used, but the non-priest Kohathites carried them from camp to camp.
Vv.33-37 – The house of Merari, which camped on the right, or north side of the Mishkan, between it and Dan’s camp, consisted of the families of Mahli and Mushi and totaled 6200. Merari’s zachan was Zuriel (My Rock is the Mighty One), whom I also assume camped closest to the Mishkan on the north. His job was oversight of the boards, with their bars, sockets and fillets as well as the tent pegs and cords (like guy wires) to tether the poles to the ground for both the Mishkan and the court.
Vv.38 – On the front, or south side of the Mishkan, before the entrance veil of the Tent of Meeting, was the camp of the Kohanim: the prophet Moshe, and the Priests Aharon and his sons. Moshe did not have a sukkah of his own, but actually dwelt in the Tent of Meeting, in the presence of Y’hovah. It was the Kohanim’s job to guard the Mishkan from all interlopers who got passed the 2 wheels (ophanim) of defense. As we will see in a couple of months, even though he had not been anointed Priest, Pinchas took his charge of guarding the sanctity of the Mishkan seriously and, using his trusty javelin, stayed the plague that Y’hovah unleashed upon Israel in Num.25.
The definition of ‘stranger’ is different in different places. The word here is H2114 zur, which Stone’s Tanakh translates as alien. In this case, it means anyone who is NOT a Kohen. If a non-Kohen Kohathite tried to get into the Mishkan, Aharon or one of his sons, or even Moshe was to stop him by whatever means was necessary. If a Danite, even if it was the elder of Dan, tried to get into the Levite wheel, it was Merari’s job to stop him from going any further, and so on around the camp. The last defense in the outer wheel was the elder of the Camp – Nachshon, in Yehudah’s case. If the non-Levite got passed the zachan of the outer camp, it was the Levite’s job to stop him from going further.
In Num.25, when Zimri took Cozbi into the ToM, he not only attempted to defile it with his own non-priestly presence, but with a complete alien who didn’t even belong in the Camp of Israel, much less the Court or the Mishkan itself. IOW, noone in the camp tried to stop the desecration of the Sanctuary. Now you might get an idea of why Y’hovah had sent a plague that killed over 32,000 Israelites in a few minutes. He was about to wipe out the entire camp. Pinchas LITERALLY saved Israel from annihilation, IMHO. Q&C
Vv.39-51 – If we take the totals of each camp of Levites, we see that it adds up to 22,300 Levi’im. But v.39 is specific in saying there were 22,000. V. 39 is not wrong, since 22,000 are certainly contained in the 22,300, but why is there such a blatant discrepancy?
Stone’s Chumash gives a reasonable explanation on pp.742-743. Among the Kohanim there were firstborn of the Kohanim who needed to be redeemed by a 5 silver shekel offering. Their dedication to the service of Y’hovah could redeem one person, but not 2. If he was counted as the redemption of the physical firstborn of another Israelite family, he could not redeem himself, and so had to pay his own redemption price – 5 silver shekels.
Perhaps the 300 had a physical blemish that made them ineligible to serve in the Mishkan as it says in Lev.21.16-24;
16 And Y’hovah spake unto Moshe, saying, 17 Speak unto Aharon, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of Elohaiv (his Eloha). 18 For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous, 19 Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded, 20 Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken; 21 No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aharon the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of Y’hovah made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of Elohaiv. 22 He shall eat the bread of Elohaiv, both of the most holy, and of the holy. 23 Only he shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries: for I Y’hovah do sanctify them. 24 And Moshe told it unto Aharon, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel. (Lev.21.16-24)
There may be other possibilities, but those come to mind readily. We are not told right here in the immediate context why the discrepancy, but it is for good reason, I’m sure. Q&C
4.1-4 – The next thing Y’hovah commanded Moshe to do was to take another census of all the Kohathites between the ages of 30 and 50, the ones who would be used in the service of the Mishkan and who would actually carry the articles of the Mishkan from camp to camp. Moshe and Aharon are sons of Kohath, so what the Kohanim did when the Mishkan moved was given here.
When the order came to break camp, the first thing the Kohanim did was the cover the ark with the veil that hung between the ark and the Altar of Incense. Only the anointed Priesthood was allowed to see what lay within the Mishkan. This would be the only time Elazar or Ithamar would see the ark, and that for the briefest time while they covered it with the veil. This veil was perhaps 4-6 inches thick and made of gold thread, Techeleth, purple and scarlet wool and fine twined linen, cunningly woven to portray the angels of heaven in service in Y’hovah’s throneroom. The Mishkan itself, the inner covering of the Most Set Apart place, was made in the same fashion as the veil, so that when the Kohen Gadol went inside to sprinkle the blood of the goat on the Kipporah, he would see the angels ministering all around him in the ceiling and veil and the reflexions in the gold walls. They would cover the ark with the veil, which was covered with the badger’s skin and then that was all covered by a techeleth colored wool covering. The Hebrew word xlated badger in the KJV is tachash, which the Chumash explains was a beautiful multi-colored antelope that has since gone extinct. The tachash, or badger (KJV), naturally had a ‘coat of many colors’ that would link it to the Tzadik, Yoseph. Since there are two covers of 2 different materials that need to be coupled together it COULD be that they represent the House of Yehudah and the house of Yoseph, joined in Yeshua, our MelchiTzadik High Priest.
When they finished with the ark, they moved to the Table of the Bread of the Presence, which had a techeleth woolen cloth spread over its surface and the plates and utensils associated with it laid outon top of it along with the Bread of the Presence arranged on it, which was then covered by a scarlet woolen cloth, all of which was then covered with tachash skin and the staves inserted in their gold rings. This is the only thing that has any scarlet covering, signifying that Y’hovah sees us through the Tzadik’s coat of many colors, which he also sees through the blood of Yeshua.
Next they would cover the Menorah with a techeleth blue woolen cover under which would go all the cups, snuffers, and such utensils as were prescribed for use with the candlestick. Then all those accoutrements and the menorah were placed in a covering of tachash skin and the poles affixed to it.
Next they spread a techeleth blue cover on the Golden Incense Altar and then cover the whole thing with tachash skins and place the staves for carrying. The menorah, Table of bread of the Presence and the Golden Altar were covered first with a woolen blue cloth, signifying the divine nature of all the ministries done there. Even the Incense Altar, which incense represents the prayers of the saints, is a ministry of Y’hovah for us. From my study of Romans 8,
24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. 26 Likewise the Ruach also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Ruach itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Ruach, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to Eloha. 28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love Eloha, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Rom.8.24-28)
Ruach helps our infirmity, our longing for the completion of our redemption, by interceding with Avinu on our behalf with groanings so deep that they can’t even be spoken. In other words, if you think YOU can’t wait for your resurrection and adoption as Avinu’s sons, Yeshua’s and Avinu’s Ruach longs even more so.
Vv.27-28 – I think the mind of the Ruach in v.27 is speaking of the spiritually minded man (v.6), or the one who is walking after the Ruach of Elohim. The Ruach searches our hearts and makes intercession for us in keeping with the will of Elohim. I don’t know if you see it this way, but this is saying that even when we are NOT praying in the will of Elohim, the Ruach of Elohim is. Our prayers are not answered the way we think they should be because WE are petitioning Y’hovah outside of his will. But Ruach prays IN the will of Y’hovah and THAT prayer IS answered perfectly. And so, all things work together for good to us who love Y’hovah and who are the called according to his purpose because Y’hovah’s will is being performed in us, whether we like it or not. Our circumstances may seem tumultuous and terrible, but Ruach in us is interceding for us so that it will all work to our ultimate good and to his glory.
The tachash skin that reminds me of Yoseph’s coat of many colors, also suggests that everything that Y’hovah sees from his throne is seen through our Tzadik rebbe, Yeshua.
Once all the furnishings of the Mishkan were ready for transport, the Kohathites could come and do their duty of carrying it all to the next camp. All they had to do was wait their turn to march.
The weight of the ark is variously estimated at between a couple of hundred to 500 pounds in itself, but once the 4-6 inch thick Mishkan and veil and their tachash skin covering laid on top of it, it HAD to go more like 750-1000 pounds. I seriously doubt that 4 Kohathites could even lift it, much less walk anywhere with it. It would be difficult for world-class power-lifters to lift it. I think the rabbis’ speculation is correct; Y’hovah did all the heavy lifting, carrying the ark and its coverings, as well as the priests themselves, from camp to camp. Q&C
YeshaYahu 43.1-7 – The first 7 verses of the Haftara deals with chol Yisrael. Now chol Yisrael includes both Houses, Yehudah and Yoseph. When Ya’acov was returning to haAretz from Charan, he encountered Y’hovah and they wrestled all night. After the original “WRESTLEMANIA!” Y’hovah told Ya’acov that he was changing his name to Yisrael. Now Y’hovah had told Avraham what his son’s name would be, but he’d never changed a man’s name due to the man’s refusal to let him go without receiving his blessing. Yisrael means, “He shall be a Prince of El”. Hence, “I have called you by name.” This can be applied to all those who are the called according to his purpose, who endure unto the end. Yisrael had brook Jabok and the Yarden to cross before he was home baAretz, and Y’hovah promised him that he would carry him through (that could be our tie-in to the Torah portion). We get to walk through the fires of tribulation to try our faith and faithfulness. He will see us through all of them if we trust in him and not our own strength. As Yeshua said,
But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. (Matthew 10:19)
But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. (Mark 13:11)
11 And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: 12 For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say. (Lk.12.11-12)
If the time comes that we are taken captive for our faith, just don’t worry about what you’ll say to them. Praise Y’hovah that you get to be his witness and pray that he will speak through you. He’s already promised you that he will be with you, as he was when Ya’acov met Ishmael, and when Rav Sha’ul met the CCers in Antioch, and when Kefa met the Chief priests in J’lem. None of us has the power to stand like they stood, but he can do it through us, if we’ll get out of the way and let him.
To prove that he is for us, he says that he gave Egypt, Ethiopia and Sheba as ransom for the nation Israel. Then he backed up that ransom by delivering us through the trial of the Wilderness Adventure, even though we’d murmured against him as many times as we had tribes in the desert. He’s done so once, and he will do so again, as he says in v.4-5. Why are we honourable? Is it for something we’ve done? Or is simply because we are precious in his sight? As he gave Egypt, Ethiopia and Sheba, so he will give men and peoples to deliver us from the 4 winds who have called on his Name. He created us, NEW creatures, made for HIS glory.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (II Corinthians 5:17)
I take that to mean that when one trusts Y’hovah, he is made new, as was Yeshua upon his resurrection. We may not see it now, but we will when he calls us from the 4 winds.
Vv.8-13 – Blind and deaf are allusions to people in exile from Y’hovah’s presence. So the blind who have eyes and the deaf who have ears are those who have the ability to see and hear, but who will not. This is an allusion to Armageddon at the end of THIS ‘age’ and also to the final and ultimate Gog uMagog rebellion at the end of the Kingdom Millennium. At least at Armageddon there will be exactly this kind of offer made to the armies that come against Yeshua haMoshiach at his return to deliver His people in Israel.
4 Fury is not in me: who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together. 5 Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me. (Isaiah 27.4-5)
Those who come against him will be given a choice to take, keep on against Yeshua and choose death or turn to him in faith and choose life, making Shalom with him. Those who choose life SHALL have Shalom, and go into the Millennium to replenish the earth. The ‘former things’ in v.9 is literally rishon (same root as reishith, rosh) – ‘the first’ or ‘beginning’, as in the original creation. He challenges them to bring their personal witness to the beginning, OR shut up and agree that he is Truth Incarnate. We who agree are his witnesses and his chosen servants, who know that he created all that is and who also sustains it.
In v.11, Y’hovah says I, I am Y’hovah, and there is no Saviour but me. He has declared, delivered and shown when we were faithful to him, as no other people have EVER been. THAT is why he has never forsaken Yisrael. THAT is why he will deliver us again, and call us back to him from the 4 corners of the earth, and noone will slow him down.
Tehellim 93 – There just isn’t much I can add to the pashat of this psalm. Y’hovah, the King of the Universe, is invincible. Those who are his are as invincible as he, because he has promised that he will guide and guard his own in his strength. What have we to fear? The Creator of all that is, also sustains his creation and is in complete control of it. He doesn’t micro-manage it, except as he uses it to bring judgment against those who call themselves his own and still disregard or despise what he says. The whole creation speaks of his power, and those who claim to be his ought to know better than to despise or misrepresent who he is. Q&C
Ivrit 12.1- – Wherefore means ‘for this reason.’ The chapter previous is called the “Faith Hall of Fame” and tells about the tribulations endured by the heroes of the faith once delivered to the saints – the faith of the Patriarchs. Let’s just look at the last few verses of Ch.11.
32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: 33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: 36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. (Heb.11.32-40)
Because all the heroes of Tanakh were heroes, even with all their shortcomings, they are or will be witnesses to our walk of faith. We ought to take heart even in tribulation that we will receive like reward to theirs in the resurrection, if we stay as faithful as they did. V.39 above talks about faith. But faith, in the Hebraic sense, is not just acceptance of a fact or doctrine. Biblical faith includes actions that are commensurate to our belief. An old pastor from 30 years ago once said, “Our belief is that by which we live. Belief = live by.” What he meant was if our faith doesn’t change the way we live, it is only a ‘said faith’, not real faith.
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Eph.2.8-10)
21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. (Jas. 1.21-25)
So, because we are surrounded by witnesses who have already lived through the kind of stuff we are beginning to see all around us and we know that they were able to handle everything the enemy threw at them by the mercy and grace of Y’hovah, we should KNOW that we are also able to withstand the enemy’s onslaught. We should KNOW that we CAN run the race with patience.
Vv.2-3 agree with
4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. (1Jn.2.6)
We look to Yeshua as our standard, who knew no sin but kept Torah, and who empowers us to do the same. And our walk should reflect that power to obey. And when we get our minds and eyes off Yeshua and his Word and fall short, we know that he will be faithful to forgive us when we confess and repent our sins.
V.4 is interesting, because it is in context of looking to Yeshua. When did he resist sin unto blood? Beginning in the Garden of Gethsemane that was all he did on that Passover about 1985 years ago. From the first drop of blood he sweat out that night to the last drop of blood he shed on the tree at evening offering time, as the passover lambs were being slaughtered, he was resisting unto blood. We MAY have to resist unto blood. No matter to what degree we will need to suffer, if at all, he will be there to strengthen us and our resolve to stand fast in him. Q&C
Vv.5-8 refer not only to the cloud of witnesses, but also to the purpose of the letter, the fact that the Hebrew believers in Moshiach were considering going back to the sacrificial system because their lives were so much harder as the Netzari branch of the Hebrew religion was being persecuted in the Temple and synagogues by the CC faction. The author (I think it was Sha’ul) tells them that what they are experiencing is chastisement for their sins in the flesh. Just because we are in Moshiach does not mean we are exempt from the spiritual law of sowing and reaping. We will have eternity to enjoy the rewards we garner in this life, but have only this life to receive recompense for the sins we enter into by acts of volition. If we receive no chastisement for our sins in the flesh it is a good indication that we are counterfeit believers.
We may also suffer at the hands of wicked men because of our walk in Moshiach, which makes them uneasy. When THAT happens we need to
… count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (Jas.1.2-4)
Vv.9-13 – If our human parents chastise us for disobedience, and we honor them for it, why would we NOT honor Y’hovah Avinu for the same reason? By the way, in the context of the great cloud of witnesses, the KJV translation leaves something to be desired. The translation is a good literal translation, but there is another perfectly acceptable literal translation that better fits the context. KJV has “Father of spirits”, but it could as easily read “spiritual fathers”; i.e., Avraham, Yisrael, the patriarchs and prophets of Y’hovah, who comprise the “cloud of witnesses”. I think it could go either way or, more likely, both ways. Either way, the choice before us is life, which is our commanded choice in
19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: 20 That thou mayest love Y’hovah thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which Y’hovah sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them. (Deut.30.19-20).
Our human fathers chastised us according to their standards, but Avinu’s Word holds us to a perfectly righteous standard. And as we said earlier today,
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love Eloha, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Rom.8.28)
He chastises us for the purpose of making us fit to be partakers of his holiness. We take no pleasure in it while we are subjected to it, but his chastisement has a yield of the fruit of Shalom with him, which is the purpose for which we were created in the 1st place.
So, IN the chastisement, praise him for it, lift up your hands and your hearts to him and thank him for the chastisement and suffering he puts us through, because when we endure it by his power, we become more like his beloved Son, Yeshua haMoshiach.
V.13 tells us to make straight paths to walk on – it says nothing about finding a straight path, but MAKING one. We already know what the straight path is – Torah. We need to consciously walk in it, having strengthened our ‘feeble (paralyzed) knees’ so that we can walk without a limp, which would naturally lead us off the narrow way. ‘Feeble knees’ gives me the impression of fright – knees knocking so badly that we can’t walk a straight line. It’s kind of like failing a field sobriety test. But if you aren’t drunk (or afflicted with vertigo as a result of kissing 1000 lbs. of falling tree), you should have no problem passing a field sobriety test. Even I can walk a straight line (though it ain’t easy). I take this as a picture of our walk in Messiah. It is sometimes a struggle for me to walk in a straight line, the more tired I become, the more likely I am to ‘wander a bit’. I cannot work in construction as a carpenter, because that would take climbing ladders and walking scaffolds. But I don’t have trouble staying on the strait and narrow path to life;
Torah – unless I get in myself, which will wear me out quickly. Then my knees get feeble, my balance gets off and I have to work harder to stay on the straight Torah path to life. That’s when I need to remember to rest in Moshiach’s power and let my batteries recharge. Q&C End of Midrash notes.