Parashat Naso (“Take”) ~ Numbers 4:21-7:89.
The weekly Torah portion (Hebrew: פָּרָשַׁת הַשָּׁבוּעַ Parashat ha-Shavua, popularly just parasha) is a section of the Torah read publicly and aloud in weekly Jewish prayer services, usually in full during the Shabbat (Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath). Each week, the ECI Young Adults are providing us with a commentary on the week’s parasha.
The first part (the end of chapter 4) of this week’s parasha is a continuation of the previous parasha and continues with the theme of censuses. In the chapter 5 God gives orders regarding impurity and sin among the camp of Israel so that they wouldn’t defile the camp where God himself lives. These instructions are followed by the instructions for the men and women who want to consecrate themselves for the Lord and become holy in His eyes: that is the vow of the Nazir. This chapter also includes one of the most important and most quoted prayers taught in the Bible: the Lord’s blessing over Israel. In the seventh chapter there is a listing of the offerings that the leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel brought to the tabernacle for the dedication of the altar on the day the Tabernacle was anointed.
We read from the previous parasha in Numbers 1-4 how God ordered Israel to take censuses from all the tribes and how He placed all tribes to camp around the Tabernacle each one on one side of the Tabernacle: three tribes on the north side, three on the south side, three on the east side and three on the west side and Aaron with his sons in front of the tabernacle. At the end of chapter four, God gives each one of the tribes a special assignment in the Tabernacle and places Aaron and his sons to supervise them in their duties. Like in the previous chapters there were specific places to camp for each tribe around the tabernacle so there was a specific task for each tribe to work on and even specific tasks for each person. In this we can beautifully see the order God has meant to be among His people. This is also how God sees His people and congregation, the body of Christ, today.
We may think of it in the following way in order to understand God’s plan for His worldwide congregation. Each one of the God’s assemblies is placed around the same “tabernacle”, meaning they are looking at the same God but from different angles. God is so big and so amazing with so many different sides in Him that even if we spend our whole lives studying His character and His versatileness we would not have enough time to learn everything during our life time. Therefore, He has entrusted us with different understanding of Him and also different duties for each one of His churches so that this world would know in many different ways His great deeds, His love and mercy towards mankind. That way we also complete each other as Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27: we are one body but each one is a different part of it; making the body complete.
Yeshua is coming back soon and He is coming to pick up one bride who is pure and without any blame. That’s where we should aim at, that we may be one in Yeshua and each one completing the task entrusted to him. But God also sees us as individuals inside our own “tribes” (=congregations) and knows us by name. In verse 32 God tells Moses “You are to assign particular loads to specific persons by name”. God has a place for you in His kingdom that He had already prepared for you before you were born. When we seek His will whole-heartedly and with pure motives to only serve Almighty God, we will not stay fruitless but will find our calling and fill the purpose He has for our lives. This is like the people of Israel, each of whom had a specific task as part of the tribe; that is, we need to be part of a community in order to find our place to serve God. There is a protection and Godly order in the unity with other believers. If we are alone, we are easy targets for an enemy to attack. God has meant us to work for Him in unity with others.
Since the times of Moses God has searched for men and women willing to separate themselves in holiness for God as we can read from the chapter 6. For those who want to dedicate their lives for a period of time in holiness for Him, God gave specific instructions how to do that. How to make a vow of a nazir in practice. You were not allowed to drink wine or eat any products of grapevine, shave your head or beard and not allowed to approach a corpse. When the period of consecration was over you were to present an offering to the Lord. In Leviticus 19 God speaks to Moses and the people of Israel “You people are to be holy because I, Adonai your God, am holy.” Yeshua speaks the same thing in Matthew 5:48 and Luke 6:36. All of these verses are followed by instructions as to what it practically means to be holy, perfect and merciful. Holiness is not a feeling or an atmosphere we may feel in a specific congregational meeting. It is the way of life we live and how we represent God in our lives in a very practical way. God is very practical and He knows that the best way for us human beings to learn is in practice. For example in Leviticus God gives orders to revere our parents, not to turn to idols, to take care of the poor, not to steal,not to gossip and so on. Matthew 5:48 is followed by instructions how to practice charity, pray and fast in a way that pleases our Heavenly Father. Luke 6:36 is followed by instructions of Yeshua not to judge others and to give abundantly.
Even today God is searching for men and women from the nations who are willing to consecrate their lives to our Lord, willing to live holy, willing to sacrifice their lives for the Lord as a living sacrifice so that as many people as possible in this world would be ready to receive our Lord when He is coming to pick us up to live with Him for ever and ever. Let’s be the righteous ones of our nations who dedicate our lives for God, who pray fervently for our nations and for Israel and who eagerly expect our Lord Yeshua to come back.
The European Coalition for Israel is a unique grassroots movement, which is seeking to promote better relations between Europe and Israel through advocacy and education. More information: www.ec4i.org