Thoughts on Beha’alotkha

This week’s parasha, Beha’alotekha (when you set up) Numbers 8:1 – 12:16,[i] specifically refers to the lamps which constitute the Menorah in the Mishkan. The haftarah is Zechariah 2:14 – 4:7, and the Besorah reading is Luke 18:1-17. It may well be that the seven lamps of Numbers 8:2 connects this week’s parasha to the haftarah as once again HaShem commands the use of seven lamps (Zechariah 4:2). Allegorically, we understand with the Psalmist that the Word of HaShem is the light that guides (or should guide) our paths, (Psalm 119:105). As believers in Yeshua, we understand that Yeshua is the light (Isaiah 9:2; Matthew 4:16) that illuminates the world, bringing those in darkness into His light.

Usually when one looks at this week’s haftarah, they focus upon the high priest Joshua in chapter three, where the angel of the LORD cleanses and restores him (Zechariah 3:3-5) and charges him to the service of the LORD (Zechariah 3:6-7). But this week, we’ll look at the beginning of the reading in Zechariah 2:14-17.

“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming, and I will live among you”—it is a declaration of ADONAI. “In that day many nations will join themselves to Adonai and they will be My people and I will dwell among you.” Then you will know that ADONAI-Tzva’ot has sent me to you.ADONAI will inherit Judah as His portion in the holy land and will once again choose Jerusalem. Be silent before ADONAI, all flesh, for He has aroused Himself from His holy dwelling.”

Not only is Israel and Jerusalem restored to their covenantal place before HaShem, but the nations, in fulfillment of HaShem’s promise to Abraham, are brought to ADONAI as well. The angel of the LORD told Abraham, in response to his obedience concerning the Akedah,

“I will richly bless you and bountifully multiply your seed like the stars of heaven, and like the sand that is on the seashore, and your seed will possess the gate of his enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth will be blessed—because you obeyed My voice.” (Genesis 22:17-18)

The pairing in this announcement is of utmost importance. Almost in the same breath HaShem is confirming His covenantal relationship with Israel, His chosen people, while acknowledging that many nations will join themselves to Adonai as well. Rav Shaul, recognizing this action, proclaimed to the believers in Ephesus, “…now in Messiah Yeshua, you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Messiah” (Ephesians 2:13) as well as to the believers in Colossae, that HaShem, though Yeshua, “reconciled to Himself all things” (Colossians 1:19-20). The restoration of creation and HaShem’s indwelling presence with His creation remains in the heart of God. If there were ever any doubt of HaShem’s love for Israel, Jerusalem and Zion, the words of the Psalmist puts such confusion to rest,

For ADONAI has chosen Zion, He has desired it for His dwelling: “This is My resting place forever. Here I dwell, for I have desired it. (Psalm 132:13-14)

And it is this desire to dwell among Bnei Yisrael that brought about HaShem’s command to Moshe concerning the building of the Mishkan

 “Have them make a Sanctuary for Me, so that I may dwell among them.” (Exodus 25:5)

Most commentators follow Abarbanel’s understanding that Zachariah’s proclamation looks to a future redemption in the Messianic Age, when “ADONAI will then be King over all the earth. In that day ADONAI will be Echad and His Name Echad,” (Zechariah 14:9). Others feel that the return from Babylonian exile satisfied this prophecy, however the second exile as well as present political instability would suggest that the future redemption idea is more accurate. It is unlikely that in today’s climate “many nations” or “all flesh” would come up to Jerusalem – least ways in an attitude of peace. However, just because a promise isn’t immediately realized, does not negate its validity. The prophet Habakkuk affirmed this fact

For the vision is yet for an appointed time. It hastens to the end and will not fail. If it should be slow in coming, wait for it, for it will surely come—it will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2:3)

Or as Peter wrote the Messianic believers in the Diaspora,

The LORD is not slow in keeping His promise, as some consider slowness. Rather, He is being patient toward you—not wanting anyone to perish, but for all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

This call to patiently wait on the promise of the LORD is the underlying focus of the first of Yeshua’s parables in this week’s Besorah. The situation of the woman in need and the unrighteous judge ends with said judge answering the woman because of her incessant pleading. Interestingly, the parable ends with Yeshua’s words, “but when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth” (Luke 18:8). While this seems to be a simple exhortation to exercise constant faith in our lives, the key is in the introduction to the parable, “Then Yeshua told them a parable to show that they should always pray and not be discouraged” (18:1). It takes faith, to pray and not be discouraged, especially if the answer does not immediately come or even worse if the answer that comes is not the one for which we are hoping. In seeking to try and understand why bad things sometimes happen to good people, Rabbi Harold Kushner once wrote,

God does not cause our misfortunes. Some are caused by bad luck, some are caused by bad people, and some are simply an inevitable consequence of our being human and being mortal. living in a world of inflexible natural laws. The painful things that happen to us are not punishments for our misbehavior, nor are they in any way part of some grand design on God’s part. Because the tragedy is not God’s will, we need not feel hurt or betrayed by God when tragedy strikes. We can turn to Him for help in overcoming it, precisely because we can tell ourselves that God is as outraged by it as we are.[ii]

Rabbi Kushner’s words have brought comfort to multitudes of people who have come to realize that while HaShem is not the author of our problems or situations, He is the author of our strength and comfort through whatever the situation and its conclusion are. In the roll call of faith, Hebrews 11, we read of situations that seemed to have accomplished their desired end and others that would seem to end as failures. But in the middle of the chapter we read these words of comfort,

These all died in faith without receiving the things promised—but they saw them and welcomed them from afar, and they confessed that they were strangers and sojourners on the earth. (Hebrews 11:13)

The immediate context was the promises to Abraham and Sarah, which they did not fully realize. We are each living proof of the faith for which they were credited. Today, may each of us stand in faith, without losing hope, so that in each and every situation in which we find ourselves, HaShem, though Messiah Yeshua, may provide the comfort and strength to transverse the situation. Then regardless of the eventual outcome, our faith in God and His goodness will remain firm, and in every situation, we can say yes, “when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth.”

Shabbat Shalom

[i] Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures are from the Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.

[ii] Harold S Kushner (2011). “When Bad Things Happen to Good People: 20th Anniversary Edition”, p.159, Pan Macmillan

This entry was posted in Haftarah, Weekly Parasha. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s