Holding to His Promises

Parashat Bamidbar (In the Desert/Wilderness)
Numbers 1:1-4:20
Haftarah: Hosea 2:1-22 (1:10-2:20 in the English Bible)

The reality of what took place here in Israel on October 7th and the ensuing war is heartbreaking and tragic. To make matters worse, there is so much fake news and propaganda surrounding the war that it’s hard to know what to believe. It is easy to get confused, especially when we rely on mainstream media outlets – or worse, social media. This confusion can easily lead us to despair. This is why we must filter everything through God’s Word. Otherwise, we can easily lose perspective. 

For example, many well-meaning followers of God refuse to accept that there is evil and sometimes that evil must be confronted by war. It is a tragic reality of living in a fallen world, but it is Israel’s reality, sadly. As someone living in Israel, who chose to raise my family here, and who has lost many friends and now my nephew to war, I can say this war has deeply affected me in the most personal way. At the same time, I also understand that as God’s chosen people, we must confront the powers of darkness that actively seek to annihilate us and, therefore, we need an army to defend ourselves, as well as the Land that God entrusted to us. The truth is that the ugly reality of war is something that my beloved people and I will face until the day of His return.

In this week’s Parashah, we see that Israel needed an army to inherit and protect the Land of Promise:

Now the LORD spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying, “Take a census of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, by their families, by their fathers’ households, according to the number of names, every male, head by head from twenty years old and upward, whoever is able to go to war in Israel. You and Aaron shall count them by their armies.
Numbers 1:1-3

God’s instruction to Israel was to count every male from the age of 20 and above. This is important because these men were the ones who would lead Israel into the Promised Land as an army. We understand from this that Israel’s entrance to inherit the Land that God would entrust them with, would most likely require military action. This may be as a surprise to some, but that is part of the truth of God’s Word, and we cannot water it down.

Further in Chapter 1:44-46, we read of the total number of these men:

These are the ones who were numbered, whom Moses and Aaron counted, with the leaders of Israel, twelve men, each of whom was of his father’s household. So all the numbered men of the sons of Israel by their fathers’ households, from twenty years old and upward, whoever was able to go to war in Israel,all the numbered men were 603,550.

As I read this account, I started to think about how many people — men, women, & children — were in the camp. The Scriptures tell us that there were 603,550 men over the age of 20, and most commentaries I readestimate that there were probably 2,000,000 people in all!

While we can count or estimate the number of people in the Parashah, in the Haftarah reading from Hosea 1:10 (English Bible), we find a repeat of the great promise that was originally given to Abraham in Genesis 22:17 and to Jacob in Genesis 32:13:

Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or counted.

When one considers the turbulent history of the Jewish people since time immemorial, one might wonder about this promise. How many millions of Jewish people have been killed over the millennia? How many dictators and empires have sought to wipe out the Jews and erase our history in the land of Israel? When one looks at Israel today, this reality is even more apparent since the horrific demonic attack that took place on October 7th and the bloody war that ensued. We are surrounded by enemies that attack us daily, such as Hezbollah from Lebanon, Iranian militants from Syria and Iraq, and the Houthi rebels from Yemen, just to name a few. We even have enemies who live within Israel, who vow to destroy us and throw us into the sea, as well as the nations that gather against us and blame Israel for everything that happens in the world. And let’s not forget the division that Israel suffers from within, from the different ethnic groups and political parties, one may wonder if God has forgotten His promises?

When one looks at history from a human perspective, one can get very frustrated and even angry. If I’m honest, I too get angry and sad at times. It’s disheartening to see this fallen world, and even people who identify as followers of God, turn against Israel with such hatred and disdain, blaming us for a war that was forced upon us. And it does not stop there…they even support the same demonic powers that started this war, who daily hold their own people hostage and as human shields in this conflict, and who vow to do it again and again.

While it is natural to feel angry, sad, and frustrated, we cannot forget the importance of keeping our eyes on God and His promises. I find a great deal of hope as I look at God’s promises from Hosea 1:10, beyond just the numbers of the children of Israel:

Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or counted; and in the place where it is said to them, “You are not My people,” It will be said to them, “You are the sons of the living God.” And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together, and they will appoint for themselves one leader, and they will go up from the land, for the day of Jezreel will be great.”
Hosea 1:10-11 (2:1-2 in the Hebrew Bible)

Dear reader, I am comforted knowing that God is not slow in keeping His promises. He will fulfill His word in His time. A great day is coming when the number of God’s children will be immeasurable, where from His people, we will acknowledge that we are sons of the living God and will be united around the same leader. This leader, I believe, is Yeshua our promised Messiah. Is it possible that this will be the time that Rav Shaul (Apostle Paul) wrote about when all of Israel will be saved (Romans 11: 25-26)?

My hope is in a day when God will bring the last two verses from our Haftarah into a reality:

I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In favor and in compassion, And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD.
Hosea 2: 21-22

To follow God is not to pick and choose what we like about Him, His Word, His promises and His Plan, but rather to make a daily choice to trust Him as we follow Him with all our hearts, minds, and souls.

Shabbat Shalom,

Check out previous blogs on this parashah!

Did you know? — Lone Soldier

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One Comment on “Holding to His Promises”

  1. This is so full of important truths. Thank you. These are some of the things I’ve been thinking and saying – there is evil in the world and there are people bent on evil. If evil is not confronted, there will be only evil left.

    I think there must have been more than 2 million Israelites at the time of the census. If each of those 603,550 men had a wife (which is likely), that would have been 1,207,100. It is unlikely that each family had only 1-2 (average 1.3) children under the age of 20, which is what would put the total at 2,000,000. I think the number was probably closer to 3,000,000 … or more. 🙂

    I, too, am saddened by those who claim to believe in God, yet refuse to recognize God’s plan for His land and His people.

    I know of people who claim to be anarchists. One who I know, claims to believe in God and the Bible. Well… what happened on October 7 is the result of anarchy – people doing what is right in their own eyes instead of acknowledging there is a standard outside themselves set by the God who created this world and all that is in it. I am convinced that anarchists are viewing the world through rose-colored glasses, ignoring the reality of evil and evil people, assuming that people will do what’s right and treat other people fairly and decently without a formal governmental system. I agree most (all?) modern governments are corrupt, but I disagree that most people will be kind and decent and honest and good and considerate … and that the world would be a wonderfully peaceful place if only we could eliminate corrupt governments. The problem is that even “good” people sin, and even worse, there are actually people in the world that thrive on evil, who find pleasure in wickedness, and who glory in destruction and death.

    My answer to people who think all war is wrong, any time, for any reason, is that God, who is love and wants peace, is a God of justice and righteousness. There are times when justice takes precedence over peace.

    And to a man I know who believes that God is always opposed to war and would not approve of Israel defending her people and land, I say… when Messiah returns to rescue Israel, He will be the leader of the war that will be fought. To claim God never thinks war is appropriate is not only oblivious, but also entirely unbiblical.

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