20220730 Parsha Mattot-Massei – Living water or Broken Cisterns
Torah Portion Numbers 30:1-8
Haftarah Jeremiah 2:5-13
Besorah John 7:32-39
The name of the forty-second reading from the Torah is Mattot, which means “tribes.” The name is derived from the words of Numbers 30:1, which says, “Then Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes of the sons of Israel.” Numbers 30 discusses the laws of vows and oaths. Numbers 31 tells the story of Israel’s war with Midian. Numbers 32 relates the story of how the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Mannaseh came to inherit the land east of the Jordan River. Except in biblical calendar leap years, Mattot is read together with the subsequent Torah portion, Massei, a word that means “journeys, on the same Sabbath. It comes from the first verse of the reading, which begins with the words “These are the journeys of the sons of Israel” (Numbers 33:1). Massei is the end of the continuous narrative of Torah that began in Genesis with the creation of the universe. The narrative does not resume until the end of Deuteronomy, when Moses dies.
Last week I spoke from the Haftarah Portion, and I will do the same this week. We will examine the words of the Prophet Jeremiah.
Jeremiah, known as the weeping prophet, warned the people of Jerusalem of their impending judgment by Babylon’s invasions in 598 BCE and 587 BCE. His ministry was solely to plead with the Jewish people to repent and return to the Lord. Interesting notes about his personal life are that he was called by God at a very young age, subsequently forbidden to marry, beaten and abused by his embarrassed family as well as the Judean regime, and left to die in the bottom of a well. He lived and died alone, without any recognition of his prophetic accuracy. Jeremiah preached doom and gloom messages, but his ultimate intent was to inspire repentance and restoration.
For all of Jeremiah’s lamentations, it has always been interesting to me to note something about Jeremiah’s writings. When God called him to be a prophet, God made an incredible statement.
Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I set you apart—I appointed you prophet to the nations.”
When does life begin? According to that scripture, it appears that life begins even before conception. God said even before you were formed in the womb, I KNEW YOU. And I believe that He also has plans for you and me. Whether you were planted in a Jewish or gentile family, God does not make mistakes. Be the man or woman God formed you to be and run with it. Don’t question God. He knows what He’s doing.
Jeremiah was called by God to be a prophet to the nations, not just Judah in 627 BCE. He prophesied to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for 40 years, warning them of the impending judgement that was about to fall. His message was simple and straightforward. Repent. Repent. Repent.
We have already read this portion of Jeremiah, but it bears repeating.
Jeremiah 2:4-5 Hear the word of Adonai, O house of Jacob and all the families of the house of Israel. (5) Thus says Adonai: “What fault did your fathers find in Me that they strayed so far from Me? They walked after worthless things, becoming worthless themselves?
SLIDE 5: JEREMIAH 2:6 (48 WORDS)
(6) They did not ask ‘Where is Adonai, who brought us up from the land of Egypt and led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and rifts, through a land of drought and distress, through a land where no one travels, where no one lives?’
SLIDE 6: JEREMIAH 2:7 (29 WORDS)
(7) Yet I brought you into a fertile land, to eat of its fruit and goodness. When you came, you defiled My land. You made My heritage an abomination.
SLIDE 7: JEREMIAH 2:8 (31 WORDS)
(8) The kohanim did not ask, ‘Where is Adonai?’ The Torah experts did not know Me. The shepherds rebelled against Me. The prophets prophesied by Baal and went after unprofitable things.
Bnei Israel saw the miraculous interventions of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob time after time. Yet they forgot. That is why the observance of Passover is so important. Why do we do it every year? So we do not forget the wonderful miracles God wrought on our behalf. We should never forget, nor let our children forget, who we are and what Adonai has done for us.
The priests drifted away, busy with their rituals and liturgy. The Torah teachers became experts in dividing the words but forgetting who wrote the words. Even the shepherds, the common everyday people like you and me turned against God. The so-called prophets were corrupted and prophesied in the name of Baal.
We can sometimes get so wound up in our routine, even our religious routine, that the prayers, the liturgy, Bible reading becomes just that….routine. Something we can do without even thinking. It’s like formulaic prayers we say at meals, or bedtime. Take a step back and think about what you are doing and what you are saying. When I say you, I mean me too. I have to remind myself what those Hebrew words mean and to whom I am speaking. Continuing with Jeremiah…
Therefore I will plead with you again!” It is a declaration of Adonai. “I will contend with your children’s children. Cross to the coasts of Kittim and see! Send to Kedar, and observe carefully. See if there has been anything like this.
Has a nation changed its gods—even though they are not gods? Yet My people have exchanged their glory for worthless things. Be appalled at this, O heavens! Be utterly horrified and dumbfounded.” It is a declaration of Adonai.
My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me—the spring of living water—and they dug their own cisterns—cracked cisterns that hold no water.
I don’t think I have to tell you the importance of water. It is the most precious commodity in all the world. It is important in part, because you must have water to make coffee.
So what is a cistern? Cisterns are a substitute for clean running water. Ancient cisterns were a necessary survival tool, peppered throughout all throughout Israel, the most impressive of which are in desert regions like the fortress of Masada. The problem with cisterns is that they leak, losing all that precious rainwater. If you have a really good cistern and it doesn’t leak you will have problems of stagnation.
Cisterns themselves are not good, nor bad, but they must not replace the preferred life-giving source of fresh running water. Today we still dig cisterns, as coping mechanisms, to shore us up during personal tragedies. We rely on friends, family, government to bail us out of our dry spells. What we really need to stay close to Ruach HaKodesh, drinking from the well who never runs dry.
Now, let’s address what Living Water actually means. Many Believers will tell you that it is simply refreshing from God, to renew them in their daily walk. That is not even close to the depth of significance intended for this phrase.
The Living Waters
1. Come from the Throne of God (Zech 14, Rev 7 & 22)
2. Everlasting life to those who receive Yeshua (John 4)
3. Ruach HaKodesh to the Believer (John 7)
4. Justice for those who suffered the Tribulation (Rev 7)
5. Healing of all the nations (Rev 22)
ADONAI calls Himself the spring of Living Water, but Yeshua does not. As Yeshua speaks to the Samaritan woman in John 4:14, He does not tell her that He IS the Water,
John 4:13-14 Yeshua replied to her, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. 14 But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never be thirsty. The water that I give him will become a fountain of water within him, springing up to eternal life!”
Nor does He claim to be the Living Water in John 7:37-39.
On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Yeshua stood up and cried out loudly, “If anyone is thirsty, let him COME TO ME AND DRINK. 38 Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture says, ‘out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now HE SAID THIS ABOUT THE RUACH, whom those who trusted in Him were going to receive; for the Ruach was not yet given, since Yeshua was not yet glorified.
Yeshua says that He will give to anyone who is thirsty, but He is referring to the Ruach HaKodesh.
The Water itself comes from the Throne of God, as described in Revelation 22:1-2.
Then the angel showed me a river of the water of life—bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the city’s street. On either side of the river was a tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Rev 7:14 Then he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 For this reason, they are before the throne of God, and they serve Him day and night in His Temple. The One seated on the throne will shelter them.
16 They shall never again go hungry, nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not beat down on them, nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne shall shepherd them and guide them to springs of living water, and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Where else do we see Rivers of Living Water referenced, besides John and Revelation?
Zechariah 14:8-9 Moreover, in that day living waters will flow from Jerusalem, half toward the eastern sea and half toward the western sea, both in the summer and in the winter. Adonai will then be King over all the earth. In that day Adonai will be Echad and His Name Echad.
Before the calendar was changed under Babylonian influence, the seventh month of the Hebrew year was Ethanim.
King Solomon dedicated the Temple to ADONAI in the month of Ethanim, because he understood the significance of the moedim outlined in Leviticus 23. This wise king was deliberately inviting the Holy Spirit of God to inhabit the Temple during the month when God Himself established a time of holy convocation, signifying the presence of the Holy One with His people.
Ethanim is when we are instructed to celebrate 3 crucial feasts. The Feast of Trumpets is the first day of Ethanim. The Day of Atonement is the 10th day of Ethanim, and the Feast of Tabernacles, which symbolized God walking with us, begins on the 15th of Ethanim. Those three feasts announce the very Messianic experiences of Yeshua’s return, the Day of Judgement, and the Millennial Reign.
The importance of the distinction between the Hebrew word for the 7th month, Ethanim, and the Babylonian word, Tishri, is dire. Ethanim was the 7th month, with specific biblical meanings attached to the number seven. Tishri, the current word used for the “Jewish” calendar is a Babylonian word meaning, “Month of the beginning,” which completely transformed the Hebrew calendar, forcing Tishri to be the first month of the Hebrew year, rather than the seventh month.
But the most tragic part of losing the Hebrew word Ethanim to a pagan Babylonian word, Tishri, is not the calendar sequence; it is the symbolism that comes from the word itself. Ethanim has several meanings: “perpetual” and “permanent,” like the Kingdom of God. It also means flowing water. Put the books of Zechariah, John and Revelation together, and you have the perpetual and permanent rivers of water, flowing from the Throne, moving from the base of the Throne to the east and the west.
When ADONAI is lamenting B’nei Israel and their rejection of Living Water for broken cisterns, it is more than a simile describing their rejection of spiritual refreshing. They literally rejected their Covenant identity established by ADONAI. They redefined the terms by which the presence of God came to them in the 7th month of the Hebrew year. They chose Ba’al over ADONAI, because the COEXIST movement told them to.
Those moedim cement the identity of the Judeo-Christian culture. They outline prophecy for the events that surround the coming and the return of the Messianic Kingdom. Our daily scripture reading must NEVER become mundane or routine. Give us this Day our Daily Bread, is not about food, but about feeding our souls with the Word of God. The ones who reject the Living Waters reject eternal life and embrace eternal damnation. As Believers, whether Jew or Gentile, our misunderstanding of the Living Waters as prophetic guidelines will give a foothold for compromise and false grace.
I was explaining to Pat about the theme of the drash this week. She observed that I was preaching to the choir. She’s right. This message is directly pointed at the choir, not the unbeliever. This isn’t a missionary attempt to redeem a people who are neck deep in hedonistic lifestyle choices, but instead to sound the alarm for a bored people who are satisfied with the status quo of FaceBook, instead of the Good Book.
Wake up and repent!
We, as Messianics, are all guilty of condemning and accusing the unbeliever or the casual cultural Christian, while our own righteousness is as filthy rags. Jeremiah wept as he watched the Chosen Ones become eternally damned because of their casual negligence of the mandate of holiness that God gave them.
Do we sometimes forsake the source of living water? Let me ask you this. When something in our lives goes sideways, who is connected to the other end of our 911 call?
There is only one way to fill that void and that is relying on the living water of Ruach HaKodesh. If you have not yet asked Yeshua into your life, do it today. There is no better time. If you are a Believer, don’t wander off away from the life-giving water that Ruach gives. Broken cisterns will always disappoint, but Yeshua never will.