20180310 Parsha 123 Warrior Mentality
The parsha for this week is the entire chapter 33 of Numbers. It begins with a recounting of the travels of the Israelites from the Exodus to their present location, the Plains of Moab.
Many of the locations we remember from earlier Parashot because something noteworthy occurred there. Let’s recap some of these events, as they lead up to B’Nei Israel becoming ready for their transition from Egyptian Exodus to Conquering Canaan.
1.Pillars of Cloud and Fire
2.Red Sea Crossing
3.Healing of Marah Waters
4.Manna and Quail
7.Zeal of Pinchas
After B’nei Israel left this first campsite, the Lord attended them in a cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night (Ex. 13:20–22).
They had witnessed all the plagues of Egypt, but were still unsure of their security with G-d as Father. In many ways, their understanding of Him was nearly like a fairy tale, an oral narrative that had been passed down the generations since Abraham. They were taking their first steps as a nation, the same way a child takes unsteady steps toward a patient father. The pillars served as a constant guide, like a night light warding off the things that go bump in the night.
Israel passed through the Red Sea, laden with the riches of Egypt, and the promise of a future. (Ex. 14; Num. 33:8).
In a miracle that should have been the sealing of their faith, the nation of Israel is born through the parting of the waters. They left Egypt laden with the riches of and every necessary thing that would help them build the Tabernacle that would house the Holy One of Israel.
The Lord healed the waters of Marah when Moses threw the Tree into the water. (Ex. 15:23–26).
Allowing their flesh to cloud their minds, they complained of thirst, not trusting Adonai to provide for them. The waters of Marah were as bitter as their souls, yet Adonai made it sweet again when Moses threw the Tree bringing life and healing to the water and the people.
G-d used Manna to lay the foundations of Shabbat, as they were to collect it for 6 days, a double portion on the 6th day, then rest on the Sabbath. (Ex. 16).
The Lord established many things on the journey to Canaan, and his Holy Shabbat was one of the alterations to their lives that they were instructed to honor. He used Manna to teach them what Shabbat was, and to prove to them that He is their portion.
G-d called Moses up (with Joshua) to the mountain to receive the two tablets of stone with the ten commandments written by the finger of God. (Ex. 19–20).
God called Moses and Joshua up to Mt. Sinai to give firm boundaries to the Hebrews, establishing the Law which would become the code by which they would be identified through all generations. The Law laid the foundations that led the way to understanding the need for blood to cover sin, so that we could know why we need Yeshua HaMashiach to be our savior and redeemer.
Israel spent 38 years here, where everyone over the age of 20 from the original exodus from Egypt died, numbering 1.5 million Hebrews. Also Korah’s Rebellion.
Kadesh Barnea saw a lot of action, as the Hebrews spent nearly all of their desert experience in this location. Miriam died here, as did the rest of the ungrateful and grumbling generation who refused to believe the goodness of God. Significant events here include Korah’s Rebellion, where Adonai firmly established the sanctity of the priestly line through Aaron. Spies were sent out to neighboring kingdoms, resulting in a distinction between the original unfaithful generation, and the younger generation that was ready to overcome the enemies of G-d.
Where contention existed between the Israelites and G‑d, Pinchas sought to replace it with love, as G‑d says, “Pinchas… has turned My wrath away from the children of Israel.’
The Israelites have been wandering about in the Middle Eastern desert for 40 years. Everyone over the age of 20 who came out of Egypt was condemned by God to die in the wilderness because of their lack of faith. They chose to believe the report of 10 faithless spies who convinced the people that they could not take the land God had promised them. Only two men remained from that generation, Joshua and Caleb, and now they are beginning a new phase of the journey.
Pinchas embodied the zeal that filled the hearts and minds of the younger generation, who were ready to do whatever it took to bring healing to the nation and restore relationship to G-d. Their zeal paved the way for the Hebrews to occupy Canaan and claim their promised birthright.
God’s chosen people were on the cusp of realizing the promise given to their father Abraham some 600 years earlier.
Then Adonai appeared to Abram, and said, “I will give this land to your seed.” So there he built an altar to Adonai, who had appeared to him.
600 years is a long time to wait, but here they were. There had to be a lot of emotions swirling around the people at this time. I’m sure they felt apprehension, maybe fear, eager anticipation, anxiety. Just about every human emotion would have been present as this teeming mass of people prepared for the next step in God’s plan for their lives.
They were preparing for war. This is not a pretty passage of scripture. I’m sure it makes some people uncomfortable the think that God is telling Joshua to go into the land and drive out all the inhabitants. Don’t leave anyone alive in the land. They must all be driven out or killed.
There is a practical application for us today. Whether you want to admit it or not, we are at war.
We are at war with those who demand that our children leave their Bibles and their Godly values at the door of the school building.
We are at war with those who say it is ok for a man to go into a women’s restroom and put our women and children at risk.
We are at war with the forces of evil that push violence, sex and perversion on our youth every day in the form of TV, movies, and social media.
We are at war with those hateful regimes that strive to annihilate the nation of Israel. Not a week goes by but what we read about some terrorist killing or attempting to kill innocent people in Israel for no other reason other than they are Jewish.
We must vigorously battle those political voices in this nation that constantly denigrate people of faith and morality. That also includes those screeching voices on TV that ridiculed our Vice President because he said he listens to the voice of Jesus.
I could go on and on about who and what we should be confronting this morning, but I think you get the picture.
We cannot sit idly by on our CAT, sigh and say oh how terrible. You know what a CAT is don’t you? It’s a Complacent American Tukis. No, we need to get up on our feet.
The children of Israel lost a golden opportunity to conquer the land of Canaan because of fear and unbelief. An entire generation of people lost their lives because of their unwillingness to take up the sword and follow Adonai Elohim Tzva’ot, the Lord God of Hosts into battle and certain victory.
When an army prepares to go into battle what do they do?
They train, making sure that they are strong, fit, and capable of waging war against the enemy.
How do we train for war? Praying and reading God’s word. We cannot be overcomers if we are weak, out of shape, ill prepared believers.
What else does the successful army do before battle? They equip themselves.
The apostle Paul had something to say about equipping ourselves for spiritual combat.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.
This is a very important point here. Be strong IN THE LORD. Not in ourselves. If we rely on our own puny resources we are bound to fail. Remember, we are not battling flesh and blood but powers and principalities. Spiritual battles require spiritual leadership.
If we are to be successful in battle, we need the proper equipment. Paul says to put on the whole armor of God. Half measures lead to defeat and failure. Spiritual battles require 100% effort and dedication.
What is the full armor of God?
Belt of Truth – What was the purpose of a belt in ancient times? The same as today, it holds stuff up. The belt was important to the Roman infantryman. It held his money and possible ID. It also was a place that could keep his Sword at hand.
Breastplate – protected the soldier from frontal attack. It protected the soldier’s heart . Righteousness protects our hearts today. We need to constantly guard against those that would steal our hearts away from the one true God.
Feet strapped with cloth and leather to protect against the elements. Allowed the soldier to move over rough terrain. We need our feet protected so that when we walk over sharp rocks, thorns, and stinging creatures, the obstacles don’t slow us down or distract us from the battle. We need to be ready for anything the enemy can throw up against us.
The shield of faith is essential for when the enemy throws flaming arrows at us in the form of fear and doubt, we can fend them off. Without faith we are powerless.
The helmet of salvation. Knowing the Messiah is the crown jewel of our lives here on earth. An injury to most of the body parts already mentioned can be serious but normally, not fatal…. The brain can be particularly vulnerable in battle. But salvation and God’s grace is always effective.
The sword of the Spirit. The Ruach HaKodesh was the power that propelled the 70 to start speaking in foreign languages. It was that power that gave Peter boldness. It was that power that sustained the early believers during the lean years in Jerusalem.
I would like to point out one other thing associated with this parsha. Paul told the kehila at Ephesus, that when they had done everything they knew how to do in order to stand against evil, Then Stand.
I am a big fan of Winston Churchill. He said one time that we should never, never, ever give up. Of course he was speaking of surrender to Nazi Germany, but that would apply today to the forces of evil that so forcefully surround us today. Never, ever surrender because “greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.
We all have our own personal Canaan lands to conquer. Now is not the time to be complacent or to give up our guns. Don’t lay down your armor.