Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parasha #36 B’ha’alotkha (When you set up) B’midbar (Numbers 8:1-12:16
Haftarah: Z’karyah (Zechariah) 2:14-4:7
B’rit Chadashah: Hebrews 3:1-6
Part of today’s parashah describes the Temple menorah: 8:1-3; “Adonai said to Moshe, tell Aharon, ‘when you set up the lamps, the seven lamps are to cast their light forward, in front of the menorah.’ Aharon did this: he lit its lamps so as to give light in front of the menorah, as Adonai had ordered Moshe.” Typical of the Torah, this scripture has a deeper meaning than the initial understanding that the light from the lamps was to shine forward. I previously taught on the relationship between Yahshua and the servant candle in the Temple menorah, and that we must receive our light from Him in order that we may shine our lights forward into the world. Additional information on this teaching can be found on the website under the parashah link (http://www.rabdavis.org). Today I want to focus on a possible symbology for the seven lamps of the menorah which is different than the Hanukkah Menorah which has nine lamps. Could the seven lamps represent the seven assemblies spoken of in Revelation chapters 1-3? Let’s look at chapter 1 verse 20; “Here is the secret meaning of the seven stars you saw in my right hand, and of the seven gold menorahs: the seven stars are the angels of the seven Messianic communities, and the seven menorahs are the seven Messianic communities.” Note these seven communities represent types of people, not churches in the stated geographic locations. This makes perfect sense when we read how Yahshua focuses on specific issues within each type. They are definitely not churches, because there were no churches at this time in history. There were , assemblies ,called out ones from the word ecclesia for which the word church was inserted. Each of the admonitions given by G-d apply to each of us. If we follow G-d’s instructions (Torah), our light will shine forward as directed in our parashah. If you recall Yahshua’s marching orders for his disciples, they were (and we are) to go out; that is, project or move forward to reach the lost sheep of Israel first (Matthew 10:6), then later to the Gentiles. Let’s look at the specific instructions to the seven types of people described in Revelation.
Rev. 2:1-7Ephesus “I know what you have been doing, how hard you have worked, how you have persevered, and how you can’t stand wicked people; so you tested those who call themselves emissaries but aren’t- and you found them to be liars. You are persevering, and you have suffered for my sake without growing weary. BUT you have lost the love you had at first. Therefore, remember where you were before you fell, and turn from this sin, and do what you used to do before. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your menorah from its place-if you don’t turn from your sin!..7 Those who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the messianic communities. To him winning the victory I will give the right to eat from the Tree of Life which is in G-d’s Gan Eden.”
Rev. 2:9-11 Smyrna- “I know how you are suffering and how poor you are (though in fact you are rich!), and I know the insults of those who call themselves Jews but aren’t- on the contrary, they are a synagogue of the Adversary. Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. Look, the Adversary is going to have some of you thrown in prison, in order to put you to the test; and you will face an ordeal for ten days. Remain faithful, even to the point of death; and I will give you life as your crown. Those who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the messianic communities. He who wins the victory will not be hurt at all by the second death.
Rev. 2: 12-17 Pergamum- “I know where you are living, there where the adversary’s throne is. Yet you are holding onto my name. You did not deny trusting me even at the time when my faithful witness Antipas was put to death in your town, there where the Adversary lives. Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: you have some people who hold to the teaching of Bil’am, who taught Balak to set a trap for the people of Israel, so that they would eat food that had been sacrificed to idols and commit sexual sin. Likewise, you too have people who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore, turn from these sins. To those who have ears, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic communities. To him winning the victory I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone, on which is written a new name that nobody knows except the one receiving it.”
Rev.2:18-29 addresses the community of Thyatira. G-d is revealing their sin of following those who teach falsely; eat food offered to idols, and commit sexual sins without a desire to repent. However, they also love, trust and persevere in doing more for G-d than before. G-d says, “Hold fast to what you have until I come. To him who wins the victory and does what I want until the goal is reached, I will give him authority over the nations; he will rule them with a staff of iron and dash them to pieces like pottery, just as I have received authority from my Father, I will also give him the morning star. Those who have ears let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic communities.”
Rev. 3:4-6 G-d is addressing the community of Sardis, telling them although they have a reputation of being alive, they are dead! He is admonishing these people to repent before it is too late. However, He knows there are some who have not soiled their clothes; 3: “and they will walk with me, clothed in white, because they are worthy. He who wins the victory will, like them, be dressed in white clothing; and I will not blot his name out of the Book of Life; in fact I will acknowledge him individually before my Father and before his angels. Those who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic communities.”
Rev. 3:8-22 Philadelphia- “I know what you are doing. Look, I have put in front of you an open door, and no one can shut it. I know that you have but little power, yet you have obeyed my message and have not disowned me. Here, I will give you some from the synagogue of the adversary, those who call themselves Jews but aren’t- on the contrary, they are lying-see, I will cause them to come and prostrate themselves at your feet, and they will know that I have loved you. Because you did obey my message about persevering, I will keep you from the time of trial coming upon the whole world to put the people living on the earth to the test (the Rapture). I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. I will make him who wins the victory a pillar in the temple of my G-d, and he will never leave it. Also I will write on him the name of my G-d and the name of my G-d’s city, the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from my G-d, and my own new name. Those who have ears, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic communities. The above passage includes a very important proof that G-d is speaking to types of people rather than separate churches. He speaks of the Rapture and the saving out of people from the Tribulation. This is not addressed to a single church of Philadelphia (freedom). G-d is addressing those who are clinging to Torah and the hope promised by Messiah. For those who persevere, true believers as defined in the seven-fold witness in Revelation; Israel; real bride of Yahshua!
Rev. 3:14-22 Laodicea- “I know what you are doing: you are neither cold nor hot. How I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth!… My advice to you is to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich; and white clothing, so that you may be dressed and not have to be ashamed of your nakedness; and eye salve to rub on your eyes, so that you may see. As for me, I rebuke and discipline everyone I love; so exert yourselves, and turn from your sins! Here, I’m standing at the door, knocking. If someone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he will eat with me. I will let him who wins the victory sit with me on my throne, just as I myself also won the victory and sat down with my father in his throne. Those who have ears let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the messianic communities.”
In each case, we read of the behaviors of each of the types of Messianic communities represented by various types of people mentioned. Can we find ourselves within one or more of these community types? What will we do with this information? Let’s go back to the parashah to regain our focus. Our lamps are to shine forward. The light is not to be refracted or reflected back to ourselves. It is to be neither hidden nor owned. All of the lamps are to shine forward, in unison, together. Note 8:2, “the seven lamps are to cast their light forward, in front of the menorah.” From one Source, the Shamesh Lamp (Yahshua) we are to be one light and one community.
Let us move to Chapter 11. To this point, there has been no mention of hardships. G-d was with the people, they were given manna, water, marching orders, and everything else they NEEDED, not necessarily wanted as we shall soon see. They were to march forward and not look back just as Lot’s wife was guilty of and perished. Chap 11:1 begins describing the people complaining about their hardships, whatever those may have been. G-d became upset and scorched their tails (the outskirts of their camps), but the people didn’t get the message. Note in Verse 4 it is the mixed crowd with them that got greedy for an easier life. Instead of the main community of Israel admonishing the others and encouraging them to straighten up and fly right, they started whining too, descending to the level of those not indigenous to Israel proper. The miraculous manna wasn’t enough. The column of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night was not enough. Freedom from varicose veins and worn out clothing wasn’t enough. Provision of water in the midst of the desert was not enough. They wanted the galloping gourmet; they wanted meat. Meat they wanted, meat they were going to get! Verse 11:30 describes just how greedy the people were. It never dawned on them that G-d was about to teach them a lesson, just as He is about to punish the nations today. The person who gathered the least amount gathered 10 heaps. Yet they never acknowledged having enough. Instead, they started eating without so much as a “thank you G-d” before starting to stuff their faces. G-d wasted no time in striking the people with a plague before they swallowed a bite. The greedy were buried then and there. This is the speed with which we expect the Rapture, the beginning of the Ezekiel 38 war, and the beginning of the Great Tribulation to occur. Greed is one of the worst and most pervasive plagues since the creation of humankind. Think about the first sin. It was all about greed. Eve and Adam, who had everything, were yet not satisfied. They wanted the forbidden fruit; they wanted more. They wanted to be like G-d by gaining access to the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. The foundation of the American way is built on acquiring more, and more, and more. When will we learn that less is actually more (Rev. 2:9)?
There are a couple of points to make about the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) in this parashah. The first is found in Num. 11:17. Adonai tells Moshe He will “take some of the Spirit which rests on you and put it on them. Then they will carry the burden of the people along with you, so that you won’t carry it yourself alone.” We may deduce that the Holy Spirit is not infinite in quantity. Otherwise, G-d would not have to take some from Moshe. We may also deduce from this passage that the Spirit can be given and taken by G-d. Just because we may have the Ruach walking with us one day, does not mean its presence is guaranteed. This happened to Saul as the first king of Israel. This concept is consistent with salvation. The Bible does not teach eternal security. Recall Rev. 2:5, “Therefore, remember where you were before you fell, and turn from this sin, and do what you used to do before. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your menorah from its stand”, and Rev. 3:5, “and I will not blot his name out of the Book of Life”. Don’t fool yourselves into thinking G-d’s pencil used to write our names in the Book of Life doesn’t have an eraser!
The last point about the Ruach is in Num. 11:25, “When the Spirit came to rest on them, they prophesied-then but not afterwards.” Again, G-d provides the Ruach to guide and assist us in our race to win the prize, to learn, internalize and act upon His Torah, and to persevere as we seek to glorify Him in all we think, say, and do. The Ruach can be taken away just as quickly as it can be given. We are not permanently Spirit-filled. In fact, the Spirit stays beside us, not in us. We can say this with confidence as we are not pure vessels. We are a work in the making. The Ruach cannot reside in a sinful vessel any more than G-d in this role could look on Yahshua as He hung on the execution stake.
Haftarah: Z’kharyah (Zechariah) 2:14-4:7
This haftarah contains a vision of the golden Temple Menorah, whose daily kindling is our main subject of discussion this week. Incidentally, we are to light our menorahs, that is, our goal of serving YHVH/Yahshua daily. This prophecy was committed to Zechariah shortly before the building of the Second Temple. G-d outlines the rewards that await Joshua and his descendants of they follow G-d’s ways. The greatest reward of which is the Messiah, the Shoot of David.
Zechariah then describes a vision of a golden seven-branched Menorah. An angel interprets the meaning of this vision. “This is the word of the L-rd to Zerubbabel, (descendant of King David, one of the protagonists in the building of the Second Temple. ‘Not by military force and not by physical strength, but by My Spirit, says the L-rd of Hosts.’” Zerubbabel’s descendant, Messiah, will have no difficulty in accomplishing His task. It will be as simple as lighting a menorah. Yahshua is the Light of the World and it is our reasonable service to emulate Him, and “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matt. 5:16, King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
B’rit Chadashah: Hebrews 3:1-6
The information in this passage explains the parallels between Moshe and Yahshua. Yahshua, like Moshe at Sinai, was G-d emissary, conveying G-d’s truth and instructions (Torah) to the people of Israel. In the Old Testament, Israel was represented by the 12 tribes. In the B’rit Chadashah, Israel represents all true believers according to the seven-fold witness found in the book of Revelation. In this first comparison between Moshe and Yahshua, Yahshua fills the role of being a prophet like Moshe, as predicted in Deuteronomy 18:15-19. Also, like Moshe, Yahshua intercedes for the people (7:25), and as such He is fulfilling the role of a cohen, a priest, just as Moshe did when the people worshipped the golden calf (Ex. 32:32, and in many other instances. Let’s now look at some of the differences.
Yahshua is not merely on the same level as Moshe, the paragon of virtue within Judaism (faithful in all G-d’s house), but better than Moshe; just as he is better than angels and all other human beings in general. This is a difference in the teachings of traditional Orthodox Judaism that maintains Moshe was the greatest rabbi ever. However, even if the scriptures did not foretell of Yahshua as the Greater Rabbi, Yahshua deserves more honor than Moshe. Deut. 15:15-22: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet* like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet.* 16This is what you requested of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said: ‘If I hear the voice of the Lord my God any more, or ever again see this great fire, I will die.’ 17Then the Lord replied to me: ‘They are right in what they have said. 18I will raise up for them a prophet* like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet,* who shall speak to them everything that I command. 19Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet* shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable. 20But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak—that prophet shall die.’ 21You may say to yourself, ‘How can we recognize a word that the Lord has not spoken?’ 22If a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord but the thing does not take place or prove true, it is a word that the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; do not be frightened by it.” Moshe was a servant; Yahshua is the Son. For a more detailed explanation of the differences between a servant and a son in Gal. 4:1-7; Yochanan (John) 15:15. In Heb.3:3 the difference is made between Moshe who managed the house of Israel and the Tabernacle, and Yahshua who built the house and will build the Temple of the L-rd( Zech. 6:12-13), “ And speak unto him, saying, This speaketh the L-rd of hosts saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the L-rd: Even he shall build the temple of the L-rd; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” Finally in Heb.3:6 speaks of the oneness of Yahshua with and as G-d, “But Yahshua as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast to the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.”
Rabbi Tamah Davis