We have been studying the fourth Book of Moses called B'midbar (Numbers). It covers the time the Israelites wandered in the Wilderness for forty years. This could make us think of Yeshua in the wildernsess for 40 days (Matthew 4:1-11). We have reached the Parasha (portion) that covers the Red Heifer, Moses striking the rock and the snake on the pole in chapters 19 to 21 respectively.
These chapters are fascinating to unpack and to find that they all point to Yeshua in such a deep way. Yeshua is hidden in the Torah waiting to be revealed to those who are seeking Him so He can bring us not only to salvation and healing, but into holiness through sanctification. In this article we shall only consider the significance of the ceremony of the Red (adumah) Heifer in Numbers 19 but I would encourage you to study the rest of this portion in which more of Yeshua is revealed.
The Gospel According to the Red Heifer
On the Emmaus Road
In Luke 24:27 Yeshua then explained everything written about himself in the Scriptures, beginning with the Law of Moses (Torah) and the Books of the Prophets. Have you ever wondered what He shared with the two disciples that made their hearts burn?
In this series on Understanding the Torah we will start to look into the Five Books of Moses starting with Genesis, called Bereshit in the Hebrew to find Yeshua hidden in the Torah.
Jewish people have studied the Torah for centuries but only a few have seen Yeshua their Messiah revealed in Torah and the Prophets. Something changed in 1967 when the Messianic movement started to grow and more Jewish people began to find their Messiah in a significant way since the early days of Christianity.
What is the significance of Israel?
The Five Books of Moses covers the beginnings of the nation of Israel from Abram leaving Ur in Genesis 12 and becoming the Father of many Nations, Abraham, to the Israelites about to enter into the Promised Land at the end of Deuteronomy. The birth of the nation of Israel takes up most of the Torah and covers the key covenants God made with Israel that still stand today. Refer to the blog covering The Covenants in the Rainbow for a better understanding of these covenants.
The People of Israel
Most of the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Tanach continues the story of the people of Israel in the Promised Land. Their exile first from the northern territory of Israel followed by the exile to Babylon from Judea. Just as He brought them back to the Land at the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, God is now bringing Israelites back to the Land of Israel in this present day. Israel is going through a time of preparation so that, in the coming days they will learn to walk with the Lord as never before since the time of Jacob. This has consequences for for all who are called according to the Covenant promises. The Lord God chose Israel and has put the nation into the centre of His teaching programme so that we may understand the Covenant promises through them. By studying the history of Israel, we learn of mankind's inability to obey all that YHVH gave them through Moses and the need for a Saviour.
The Land of Israel
The Promised Land was a Covenant promise to the descendants of Jacob who became Israel after he battled with God, Yeshua. One can only understand the conflict over the land of Israel when one sees it as a spiritual conflict between the sons of Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael (as well as Jacob and Esau). The false land claims of the descendants of Ishmael, the Arab nations and the descendants of Esau, the Edomites now the Palestinians is to prevent the descendants of Jacob, the Jewish people staying in the Land. In a deeper sense it is HaSatan trying to prevent the return of Messiah to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
The Place of Israel and the Church
Covenant history is not ancient history but living . What is happening in the land of Israel today is preparation for the fulfillment of the Covenant promises given to Abraham and confirmed through Moses. So we are witnessing the outworking of the Covenant today. In particular, we know that when the nation of Israel is given possession of the Land of Israel they must study the terms of the Covenant and live according to all the Lord expects of His Covenant people as given in the Torah. This happened with their entry into the Promised Land with Joshua and again with their return from captivity at the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. Now the second exile is coming to an end as Israel gathers in the Land once more. Even when the Torah of Moses was read by Ezra the people did not fully comprehend it. Torah is fulfilled in Yeshua and Torah can only be fulfilled when there is faith in Yeshua (Rom 10:5-13). This applies to both Israel and all the nations. To date Israels eyes have been blinded (Rom 11:7-11) to Yeshua. In like manner the gentile Church has been blinded to the truth of Torah. It has largely accepted the lies that we are not under the 'Law' and the Torah is obsolete. This has led it to the belief that the church has replacement Israel i.e. Replacement Theology.
We live in prophetic times with the people of Israel returning to the Land and the largely gentile church starting to return to the truth of the Torah as the Hebraic Roots restoration grows. The Lord is preparing both Israel and the church for His return as King of kings as one flock under one Shepherd, Yeshua and His Torah.
What is holiness?
The word holy in Hebrew is kadosh and it has the primary idea of cutting off, separation or set apart. In the New Testament the Greek word hagios has come to include purity, especially relating to ethical holiness. Just as a man is a triune being, holiness can be manifest in the physical/ceremonial, ethical/emotional and spiritual holiness.
Physical and Ceremonial Holiness
In the previous article 'Are Christians required to keep Kosher?' holiness and food seem to be linked in Leviticus 11. “Be holy for I am holy” as quoted (Lev 11: ;19:1; 20:7; 1Pet 1:16) is a call by God for man to reflect the Divine nature. The Hebrew language is very down to earth and concrete, taking what is physical and giving it deeper meaning and significance. The most basic physical human need is food. Here God separates what animals are clean from those which bring defilement and the loss of holiness. As we are obedient in this most basic drive we learn to be obedient in controlling other basic drives like the sexual drive to keep holy!
Before you continue reading I would suggest you read my blogs on 'The Torah Its Place in Scripture' and 'The Torah Its Place in our Lives' and especially 'Two Laws or One Torah'. This is a very controversial topic for those who have major misconceptions of Torah and in particular have misinterpreted the Jerusalem Council's decrees in Acts 15. These decrees were all about 'sacrificial sexual idolatry' causing a loss of salvation, not about food or table manners. Most Christians tend not even take notice or even attempt to unpack Acts 15:21 that gives the reason for these four minimum rulings as discussed in the article 'Two Laws or One Torah?'
What is Kosher?
What is a covenant and how are they covered in Scripture?
The most well known covenant is the 'marriage covenant' where two people become one - echad just as Adam and Eve were echad in the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:24). This takes us to the very first covenant that Elohim- God made, the Adamic Covenant. God's desire was to have Adam and Eve in intimate communion 'marriage covenant' with Him, but when they disobeyed Him He shed blood to cover their nakedness with the skin of animals (Gen 3:21). After wickedness came on all mankind, Noah was the only faithful servant of Yehovah, who walked with God and through whom He established His covenant (Gen 6:18). The sign of this everlasting covenant between God and all flesh is a rainbow (Gen 9:16).
From a traditional Jewish perspective there are two Laws, one for the Gentile nations and one for the Jewish people. According to the Talmud, the seven laws of Noah apply to all humanity as sons of Noah (B’nei Noah), whilst the Torah and its 613 commandments is are only applicable to the descendants of Jacob (Am Isra’el). Christianity has generally accepted this understanding and has used this to interpret the Jerusalem council’s (Apostolic) decree in Acts 15 and to affirm that Gentile believers do not have to comply with the Torah. The four requirements given in Acts15:20 are then taken to be part of the Noachide laws that are only for the Gentile believers as follows:-
"And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (Gen 2:2-3)
If God Himself rested on the seventh day and we are created in His image and likeness, then surely we need to do likewise? God declares this Sabbath day as holy, set apart from the other six days. So this day is all about being set apart to be a holy people. It is not surprising then that this seventh day has been and is such a major stumbling stone to people in the mainline Christian denominations who have taken on the lie that the Torah is done away with and has been replaced by Grace. The enemy, the Anti-Christ supports those who are anti-Torah as he is the Lawless One, the 'Torahless' One! We who are call Christians, the followers of Messiah are meant to be 'called out', ecclesia from the world. Set apart to be holy and righteous under a Holy God who hates sin but loves the sinner.
In Matthew 22:36 Yeshua is challenged by the Pharisees; "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Torah?" And Yeshua said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." (Deut. 6:5) This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Lev. 19:18) On these two commandments all the Torah and the Prophets hang."
Our Heavenly Father cannot love us any more than He already does. The closeness of our relationship with Him is how much we love Him and by how much we love others. Yeshua said in John 14:15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments" .So a measure of how much we love Yeshua is how much do we desire to be obedient to His Word (Logos), the Living Torah as quoted in verse 24 "He who does not love Me does not keep My Words, and the Word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me.. that needs to be written on our hearts."
The first five Books of the Bible - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy - are the books of Moses and are called the 'Pentateuch' or in Hebrew 'Torah'. The word Torah occurs over two hundred times in the Hebrew Scriptures and its equivalent word in the Greek – nomos - occurs also over two hundred times in the 'New Testament'. In most English translations of the Bible, translators have tended to mistranslate the words 'Torah' and 'Nomos' as 'law'. However, Torah is derived from the verb yarah which means 'to teach' or 'to instruct'. Hence Torah means the 'Teaching or Instructions of God'. It is an archery term that means 'to hit the mark'. So the picture employed is of an archery target with the Torah forming the bulls-eye with the arrow hitting the bulls-eye representing the keeping of the Torah. Unsurprisingly then, the Hebrew word for sin - 'chatah' – means to fall short, that is, to miss the mark, the bull's-eye. It is only with much practice that we are able to hit the bulls-eye with the help of the Holy Spirit, Ruach HaKodesh. More on this in the next newsletter.
The picture can also be used to come to a better understanding of the place of the Torah in Scripture. The Torah forms the centre of the Bible and in the diagram is pictured in yellow with the red and the blue concentric circles representing the Prophets (Nevi'im) and Writings (K'tuvim) respectively making up the Hebrew Scriptures, the Tanach. Finally the 'B'rit Hadashah', the New Testament forms the outer circle to the complete Bible.
Hebrew is one of the few languages that is not only phonetic, but numerical and pictorial. The four letters תורה that spell Torah represent the numbers 5+200+6+400=611! Now traditionally there are 613 commandments that are contained in the Torah, so what about the two missing commandments. As recorded in Matthew 22:36, Yeshua was asked which is the greatest commandment in the Torah and the Prophets and He states 'to love God and to love your neighbour as yourself on these two commandments depend all the (611) commandments'. For as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:1 "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal." The commandments of Torah hang on these two commandments of love. Hence love is the way for Torah to be written on our hearts! It is not about salvation but about righteousness and holiness.
To bring about the One New Man the Jewish people need to accept their Messiah, Yeshua HaMashiach and return to Torah to be sanctified. While the Gentiles, once they have accepted the Jewish Messiah need to start walking in the truth of the Torah in preparation for the return of Messiah who is the living Torah (Word made flesh).
Psa 119:29 Keep me from being deceitful, and be kind enough to teach me your Torah.
Articles on Torah