Bamidbar (Numbers) 25:10–30:1
Haftarah: I Kings 18:46–19:21
As I was reading this week’s Parashah and Haftarah portions, I saw an incredible connection between God’s call, His Promises, His faithfulness, Moses, Elijah, and a remnant. As I spoke to my amazing wife about what connects all of these, she told me that she sees a theme of promises fulfilled in both a Land and a Redeemer.
I chose to include longer parts of the Scripture in this commentary since I believe it is important for us to see the full connection between the pieces. So, bear with me as this week requires a little more reading than usual.
In the Parashah, we find God calling Moses to go to a high mountain and see the Land of Promise. We see Moses’s concern about the future of Israel and who will lead the people to the Land of Promise. We also that God commissions Joshua with the task of leading Israel into the Land. In short, what God is doing here is that He is providing for a remnant that will continue to carry His name, His glory, and His story:
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go up to this mountain of Abarim, and see the land which I have given to the sons of Israel. When you have seen it, you too will be gathered to your people, just as Aaron your brother was; for in the wilderness of Zin, during the strife of the congregation, you rebelled against My command to treat Me as holy before their eyes at the water.” (These are the waters of Meribah of Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.) Then Moses spoke to the Lord, saying, “May the LORD, the God of the spirits of humanity, appoint a man over the congregation, who will go out and come in before them, and lead them out and bring them in, so that the congregation of the LORD will not be like sheep that have no shepherd.” So the LORD said to Moses, “Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; and have him stand before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and commission him in their sight. And you shall put some of your authority on him, so that all the congregation of the sons of Israel will obey him. Moreover, he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire for him by the judgment of the Urim before the LORD. At his command they shall go out, and at his command they shall come in, both he and all the sons of Israel with him, all the congregation.” Then Moses did just as the LORD commanded him; he took Joshua and had him stand before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation. Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, just as the LORD had spoken through Moses.
In the Haftarah, we read of Elijah going to Horeb, which is the mountain of God, the mountain that God revealed Himself to Moses (Exodus 3) and commissioned him to lead Israel out of Egypt to the Land of Promise. I believe it is not coincidental that God brought Elijah to this specific mountain. Horeb was the place from which God initially set forth His plan to create a people unto Himself, through whom He would fulfill His promise to the forefathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) and ultimately bring redemption. In this passage, we learn of Elijah’s concern about the continuation of Israel and its leadership. Yet, once again, we see that God had already set aside a remnant of those who would carry His name, His glory, and His story:
So he arose and ate and drank, and he journeyed in the strength of that food for forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God. Then he came there to a cave and spent the night there; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” And he said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of armies; for the sons of Israel have abandoned Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they have sought to take my life.”
So He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD was passing by! And a great and powerful wind was tearing out the mountains and breaking the rocks in pieces before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.And after the earthquake, a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire, a sound of a gentle blowing.When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Then he said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of armies; for the sons of Israel have abandoned Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they have sought to take my life.” The LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; and when you have arrived, you shall anoint Hazael king over Aram. You shall also anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place. And it shall come about that the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall put to death. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
1 Kings 19:8–18
As I read both accounts, I was reminded by yet another story that connects a high mountain to God’s call, His Promises, His faithfulness, Moses, Elijah, and a remnant. As we read from Matthew 17:1–8:
Six days later, Yeshua took with Him Peter and James, and his brother John, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Peter responded and said to Yeshua, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If You want, I will make three tabernacles here: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice from the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. And Yeshua came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” And raising their eyes, they saw no one except Yeshua Himself alone.
I believe that the other two accounts may shed a greater light on this amazing account from Matthew. Both Moses and Elijah were forerunners of the Messiah. They were both commissioned by God to fulfill His promises to Israel, which included both a Land and a people; both Moses and Elijah had a heart for continuing God’s story through His remnant. And ultimately, they both point to our ultimate Redeemer, Yeshua.
What is even more amazing is that Yeshua commissioned us to this very same task. Today, we can choose to be set apart for God and bring glory to His name and His story. It is each person’s choice – it is not our job to choose for anyone else.
What will you choose today?
Check out previous blogs on this parashah!
Did you know? — Lone Soldier
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