Lifted on a Miracle

Yeshua told Nicodemus, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.”

 

CHUKAT-BALAK

Portion Summary

Chukat

Chukat is the thirty-ninth reading from the Torah. The word chukat (חוקת) means “statute.” The name is derived from the second verse of the reading: “This is the statute of the law which the LORD has commanded” (Numbers 19:2). Chukat presents the mysterious laws of the red-heifer ceremony for purification after contact with human death. This reading also contains the story of Moses striking the rock, the stories of the deaths of Aaron and Miriam and the wars with the Amorites. The portion concludes with the host of Israel encamping on the edge of the Promised Land.

Balak

Balak (Balak, בלק) was the name of a Moabite king in the days of Moses. It is also the name of the fortieth reading from the Torah. It comes from the second verse of this week’s reading, which says, “Now Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites” (Numbers 22:2). This week’s Torah reading tells the story of how Balak hires the occult prophet Balaam to lay a curse on Israel. Balaam meets resistance from God, has a conversation with his donkey and ends up blessing Israel instead of cursing them.

Regular Shabbat Readings

READ / LISTEN TO THESE PORTIONS

  • Chukat-Balak (חוקת/בלק | Statute/Balak)
  • Torah: Numbers 19:1-25:9
  • Haftarah: Micah 5:6-6:8
  • Gospel: John 19:38-42; Matthew 21:1-11

Note: The regular readings are often interrupted with special readings on Jewish holidays, special Sabbaths, and Rosh Chodesh. Refer to the annual Torah Portion schedule for these special portions.

Portion Outline

  • TORAH
    • Numbers 19:1 | Ceremony of the Red Heifer
    • Numbers 20:1 | The Waters of Meribah
    • Numbers 20:14 | Passage through Edom Refused
    • Numbers 20:22 | The Death of Aaron
    • Numbers 21:1 | The Bronze Serpent
    • Numbers 21:10 | The Journey to Moab
    • Numbers 21:21 | King Sihon Defeated
    • Numbers 21:33 | King Og Defeated
    • Numbers 22:1 | Balak Summons Balaam to Curse Israel
    • Numbers 22:22 | Balaam, the Donkey, and the Angel
    • Numbers 22:41 | Balaam’s First Oracle
    • Numbers 23:13 | Balaam’s Second Oracle
    • Numbers 24:1 | Balaam’s Third Oracle
    • Numbers 24:15 | Balaam’s Fourth Oracle
    • Numbers 25:1 | Worship of Baal of Peor
  • PROPHETS
    • Mic 5:7 | The Future Role of the Remnant
    • Mic 6:1 | God Challenges Israel

Portion Summary

Chukat

Chukat is the thirty-ninth reading from the Torah. The word chukat (חוקת) means “statute.” The name is derived from the second verse of the reading: “This is the statute of the law which the LORD has commanded” (Numbers 19:2). Chukat presents the mysterious laws of the red-heifer ceremony for purification after contact with human death. This reading also contains the story of Moses striking the rock, the stories of the deaths of Aaron and Miriam and the wars with the Amorites. The portion concludes with the host of Israel encamping on the edge of the Promised Land.

Balak

Balak (Balak, בלק) was the name of a Moabite king in the days of Moses. It is also the name of the fortieth reading from the Torah. It comes from the second verse of this week’s reading, which says, “Now Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites” (Numbers 22:2). This week’s Torah reading tells the story of how Balak hires the occult prophet Balaam to lay a curse on Israel. Balaam meets resistance from God, has a conversation with his donkey and ends up blessing Israel instead of cursing them.


When Yeshua says, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up” (John 3:14), He was hinting about the kind of death He was going to die, but there is a second meaning to these words as well. He was speaking not only of His death, but also of His ascension forty days after the resurrection.God told Moses to “make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard.” (Numbers 21:8) A standard is a pole atop which an emblem is displayed. The Hebrew word nes (נס) may also be translated as “miracle.” God told Moses to “make a bronze serpent, and set it on a nes …” The sages wanted to know the particular “miracle” Moses was to set the serpent upon. By reading nes as “miracle” instead of “pole,” they explained that Moses set the serpent on a miracle by tossing it into the air where it remained hovering above the ground so that all Israel could look upon it:

“Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it on a miracle (nes, נס)” (Numbers 21:9). That means he cast it into the air and it stayed there.” (Numbers Rabbah 19:23)

This fanciful explanation of the Hebrew also fits the context of John 3. Yeshua was explaining to Nicodemus that the Son of Man must be “lifted up.” He had just told Nicodemus, “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man” (John 3:13). In a similar passage, He told the Galileans that He had descended from heaven. When they objected, He replied, “Does this cause you to stumble? What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?” (John 6:61-62).

In John 3, He told Nicodemus that no one has ascended to heaven, but He will be lifted up because He descended from heaven. Then He explains, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up” (John 3:14). In this context, His words seem to point toward His ascension. It is the ascension of Yeshua—His return to His former station of glory with the Father—that holds the promise of salvation for everyone who believes.

How will this ascension be accomplished? Just as Moses tossed the serpent into the air and there it remained for all to look unto for salvation, so too, the Son of Man will ascend and remain “lifted up” for the salvation of all who will look to Him.

Yeshua’s words to Nicodemus imply both His cross and His ascension. The lifting of the Son of Man upon the pole (nes) will bring about the lifting of the Son of Man through the miracle (nes) of His ascension. (Click to Source)

This week there is a double portion. Click here for reading from parashat Balak.

 

The Plot Against Israel

Balaam found he could not curse Israel, but he had other tricks up his sleeve. Even today, the people of God must beware Balaam’s fiendish plot against Israel.

 

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BALAK

Portion Summary

Balak (Balak, בלק) was the name of a Moabite king in the days of Moses. It is also the name of the fortieth reading from the Torah. It comes from the second verse of this week’s reading, which says, “Now Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites” (Numbers 22:2). This week’s Torah reading tells the story of how Balak hires the occult prophet Balaam to lay a curse on Israel. Balaam meets resistance from God, has a conversation with his donkey and ends up blessing Israel instead of cursing them.

Regular Shabbat Readings

READ / LISTEN TO THESE PORTIONS

  • Balak (בלק | Balak)
  • Torah: Numbers 22:2-25:9
  • Haftarah: Micah 5:6-6:8
  • Gospel: Matthew 21:1-11

Note: The regular readings are often interrupted with special readings on Jewish holidays, special Sabbaths, and Rosh Chodesh. Refer to the annual Torah Portion schedule for these special portions.

Portion Outline

  • TORAH
    • Numbers 22:1 | Balak Summons Balaam to Curse Israel
    • Numbers 22:22 | Balaam, the Donkey, and the Angel
    • Numbers 22:41 | Balaam’s First Oracle
    • Numbers 23:13 | Balaam’s Second Oracle
    • Numbers 24:1 | Balaam’s Third Oracle
    • Numbers 24:15 | Balaam’s Fourth Oracle
    • Numbers 25:1 | Worship of Baal of Peor
  • PROPHETS
    • Mic 5:2 | The Ruler from Bethlehem
    • Mic 5:7 | The Future Role of the Remnant
    • Mic 6:1 | God Challenges Israel
    • Mic 6:6 | What God Requires

Portion Summary

Balak (Balak, בלק) was the name of a Moabite king in the days of Moses. It is also the name of the fortieth reading from the Torah. It comes from the second verse of this week’s reading, which says, “Now Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites” (Numbers 22:2). This week’s Torah reading tells the story of how Balak hires the occult prophet Balaam to lay a curse on Israel. Balaam meets resistance from God, has a conversation with his donkey and ends up blessing Israel instead of cursing them.


Balaam failed to curse Israel. Worse yet, he failed to win a large reward from Balak. Then a thought occurred to him. Perhaps he could not curse Israel, but he could induce Israel to curse themselves. In Numbers 31:16, we learn that he conspired with the Midianite and Moabite leaders and suggested a plan.He counseled them not to march out to make war against Israel. Instead, he advised them to invite the men of Israel to a party hosted by the daughters of the Midianites and Moabites. He told them to use their daughters as bait to lure the Israelite men to an idolatrous feast.

While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab. (Numbers 25:1)

Even the noblewomen of Midian participated in the plan to prostitute themselves to Israel. For example, the infamous Cozbi was the daughter of Zur, one of the five princes of Midian. When Moses saw the women of Midian, he declared, “Behold, these caused the sons of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, so the plague was among the congregation of the LORD” (Numbers 31:16).

The daughters of Moab “invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor” (Numbers 25:2-3). The choice of words intentionally evokes sexuality, a theme that the prophet Hosea picks up in his rebuke regarding the Israelite fertility cult.

They came to Baal-Peor and devoted themselves to shame, and they became as detestable as that which they loved. (Hosea 9:10)

Balaam’s wicked plan succeeded. He managed to finagle the nation into bringing a curse down on its own head. The LORD unleashed a plague among the tribes and 24,000 died.

In the book of the Revelation, Yeshua rebuked the assembly at Pergamum for eating food sacrificed to idols and engaging in sexual immorality under the influence of “the teaching of the Nicolaitans” (Revelation 2:15). The Master referred to sexual immorality and eating food tainted by idolatry as “the teaching of Balaam.”

But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. (Revelation 2:14-15)

The sexual allure and inherent idolatry of the heathen world continues to entice believers and draw us away from singular devotion to the LORD. To break free from the spell of sensuality and materialism takes a radical resolution on our part.

 

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