Torah: Numbers 30:1 [2 HEB]–32:42
PROPHETS: Jeremiah 1:1–2:3
APOSTOLIC WRITINGS: Acts 9:1–22
These devotionals are designed to supplement, not replace, your Bible reading.
This week’s study includes a double portion. This means that the scripture readings and commentary will cover material from two parshiot: Matot and Mas’ei. Each day’s assigned readings are approximately doubled. [This is one of the few remaining commentaries I still need to write. Please consider partnering with us to see this project completed. The goal is to equip God’s people to follow Yeshua in the power of the Holy Spirit by promoting a Tanachian worldview!]
To learn more about how the Parashah Project is structured, visit the links below.
Honor God By Keeping Your Word
Numbers 30:1–16 [2–17 Heb]
Moses leads the nation by instructing its leaders regarding vows, oaths and obligations. Breaking one’s word amounts to blasphemy and defiles God’s holiness.
A man’s vow and the vow of a widowed or divorced woman are binding (vv. 2, 9).
A woman living under her father’s roof, however, is subject to the authority of her father.
The covenant of marriage transfers authority from father to husband, and so a woman’s vow made before (vv. 6–8) or during marriage (vv. 10–15) is subject to the authority of the husband. Do you see this principle of male headship with all of its authority and responsibility as oppressive or protective? Apply your answer to both halves of Ephesians 5:23.
Honor God By Obeying Him Completely
Moses receives (vv. 1–2) and then gives (vv. 3–4) instructions regarding executing God’s judgment on Midian. Why is Midian targeted (cf. 22:4 and 7)?
Israel obeys and while Aaron’s son, Eleazar, stays in the camp with Moses, Aaron’s grandson, Pinchas (Phinehas), provides priestly leadership for military victory (vv. 5–12).
Consider Yeshua’s instruction in Matthew 5:33–37. Our Messiah is not contradicting Torah but is addressing the deeper heart level of why we say what we say. Do you let words pass over your lips that are not totally true? How can you apply the truth of James 3:1:1–10 to your own walk with God, in this regard?
Correcting Military Mistakes
Community leaders go to meet with military leaders outside the camp. Why must those returning from battle remain outside the camp for a time (cf. Numbers 19:11–13 and 5:1–3)?
Moses explains why he is so angry (vv. 14–16; cf. 25:1–18, esp. vv. 17–18) and then gives his solution for the military blunder (vv. 17–18).
Moses and Eleazar then remind the people how to cleanse both people and plunder so that they can re-enter the holy community.
Tithing To The Kohanim (Anointed Priests)
Spoils of war are to be divided equally between returning soldiers and the rest of the Israelite community.
The soldiers must tithe 1/500th of their share as the LORD’s portion to be used by the kohanim (priests).
The Israelites must tithe 1/50th of their share to the Levites.
The nation obeys (v. 31), war spoils are totaled (vv. 32–35) and the soldiers receive and tithe from their share (vv. 36–41).
Sharing the fruit of their labors and tithing to God served to cultivate an “other-mindedness” within the soldiers that inevitably challenged their self-centered natures. What do you do out of faith-based obedience that cultivates an “other-mindedness,” caring more about God’s honor and others’ needs than your own needs and wants (cf. Matthew 6:33)?
Tithing To The Levites
The Israelites also receive and tithe from their half of the war spoils.
Faith-based obedience yields not only provision in the form of spoils but also protection in the form of no casualties!
In response, the soldiers give to the LORD the gold they had collected from the defeated Midianite.
With newly acquired possessions and newly conquered land, two firstborns (cf. Genesis 29:31–30:11 and 46:8, 16) devise a plan: “Let’s stay here and make our home!”
Moses responds sternly with a history lesson that contrasts faithless rebellion with whole-hearted devotion.
The result is a compromise whereby the tribes seeking their inheritance east of the Jordan will provide for their own households yet also provide leadership for the rest of the nation to go into the Land.
Were the tribes seeking an inheritance east of the Jordan pursuing God’s will or their own? Do you ever settle on fulfilling your own desires first before pressing on to see how God wants to use that desire for His glory (cf. Romans 8:28 and Proverbs 19:21)?
Moses lays out the terms for the compromise. With whom are these tribes entering an agreement: Moses or God? Before whom will they “arm” themselves, “go” into battle first, continue until the land is “subdued,” and then “receive” their own possession?
The Gadites and Reubenites agree.
Moses then makes the arrangement known publicly (vv. 28–30), followed by the Gadites and Reubenites publicly vowing to keep their word (vv. 31–32; cf. Joshua 4:12 [but Who is really leading, cf. 3:3?] and 22:1–6).
The land is thus apportioned (vv. 33–38), with half of Manassah’s tribe joining in by conquering trans-Jordanian land (vv. 39–42).
Conquering the land is impossible apart from God’s direct involvement. God’s will is accomplished, His holiness upheld, and His glory spread when His people step out in courageous obedience. This step of faith will inevitably lead us into circumstances that, apart from God’s provision, our failure is certain. What does God want you to trust Him for today?
While our Torah portion ends with the nation about to enter into the land, our haftarah portion reflects a time when the nation is about to be exiled from that land (northern Israel has already been exiled by Assyria).
God prepares Jeremiah for a ministry where he will be utterly rejected as He calls the nation to repentance and faith, while at the same time preparing them for the day of Babylon’s onslaught.
His first message, however, reminds the people of their time b’midbar (in the wilderness), when they were God’s “holy firstfruits” from His soon to be harvested creation.
If you belong to Messiah, then you are part of this harvest! To whom might God want you to preach, to call to repentance and faith while also preparing them for the “day of the LORD” (cf. Joel 3:14 and 1 Corinthians 15:51–57)?
Our B’rit Chadashah portion reflects a time when the nation of Israel, and all nations, begin to enter the promise of God’s Kingdom. While Jeremiah is “a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5), Paul is “an apostle to the nations” (Galatians 2:8). Like the nation b’midbar, Paul stumbles in unbelief before stepping out in faithful obedience to God’s glory, revealed in Messiah. After Paul meets Yeshua, he goes on to call all people to repentance and faith through knowing and obeying Yeshua. God also taught Paul how much he was going to suffer for God’s Name (v. 16).
Do you follow a gospel of grace that leads to suffering first, for the glory to come? Or is the “gospel” we follow and spread one that invites people into only glory?