Friday, May 18, 2018

The Long Walk Home | Parashat Bamidbar | By His EVERY Word

Bamidbar  במדבר
“In the Wilderness”
Torah: Numbers 1:1-4:20
Haftarah: Hosea 2:1-23
B’rit Chadashah/New Covenant: Romans 9:22-33

Shabbat | 19 May 2018 | 5 Sivan 5778
49th day of the Omer

The LORD's Appointed Times
Shavuot שבועות (Pentecost) 
Shavuot is observed in 2018
From Saturday, May 19 through Twilight Sunday, May 20
Read about Shavuot, a shared celebration
 for both Jews and the Nations below!

We now begin the fourth book of the Pentateuch, known in Hebrew as Bamidbar,
although it is commonly called the book of Numbers, derived from the Greek Septuagint. 

Although Bamidbar is literally translated, “In the wilderness,” it means anything but the common picture of legions of people wandering aimlessly for forty years in the desert, only to fail God. 
The word midbar also means pasture and mouth. In actuality, the Congregation of Israel spent forty years pastured by the LORD where He could speak to them and they could learn of Him. And it is recorded for us for a reason. 
The triumphs, trials, and tragedies of Israel spring from that which is common
 to all flesh. Israel is a microcosm of mankind. 
Within her families are found the very best attributes to the most dismal character flaws—through which Adonai will reveal His holy standards;
 His severity in judgment, His extraordinary grace, 
His faithfulness, and lovingkindness. 

We find universal themes in these ancient accounts that provide insight to our own lives. Adonai brings order to life. People inevitably defile everything they touch, and life often degenerates back to chaos. Hopelessness sets in. Then we remember God... One more time around the mountain! And so it goes with Israel ... over and over ... 

Make no mistake, Adonai is mustering His troops. A generation will pass in the preparation while the battle rages for the heart of man, for the Promised Land, for the Glory of God!
A quick intro for some of our newer readers: What’s a Torah Portion, why are we commenting on it, and what relevance does it have to anything?
In a nutshell ... Luke 24:27 tells us that Yeshua (Jesus) revealed Himself through the Old Testament Scriptures, beginning with Moses and the Prophets.  From the time of Ezra, the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) has been read in a yearly rotation by Israel, and this tradition is still observed today. 
In Yeshua’s time, a complimentary portion from the Prophetsthe Haftarah portionwas added to the weekly rotation of readings. Thus, for over two millennia, the children of Abraham have kept this unifying rhythm of studying the same Scriptures throughout the yearalong with commentaries from the sages, including those who influenced the Apostle Paul, such as Hillel. It is therefore enriching and enlightening to delve into these foundational treasures, unearthing the riches of hidden insights revealed in the original Hebrew language or “listening” through the ears of Yeshua’s contemporaries to gain a fresh understanding of this faith sprung from Hebraic soil, and purchased with Jewish blood, by a Son of Israel, the King of the Jews
Join us now at the Father’s table as we keep the rhythm of Israel for more than two millennia, anticipating fresh manna from our God and King. As followers of Messiah we have added a corresponding New Covenant portion reflecting the fulfillment and crown of the Torah. 

Shavuot שבועות (Pentecost) 

A Shared Celebration for Jews and Gentiles
As the sun sets on Saturday, May 19, we celebrate the last of the Spring Feasts on the biblical calendar

The Feast of Weeks—Shavuot in Hebrew, or Pentecost in Greek, is one of the biblical "mo'ed," special appointed times Adonai set apart to meet with His People. As one of the three annual pilgrimage festivals, it is a time when all the men of Israel were called to “go up” to Jerusalem and celebrate this prophetic and meaningful feast before the LORD.

“You shall count seven weeks for yourself; you shall begin to count seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. Then you shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God with a tribute of a freewill offering of your hand, which you shall give just as the LORD your God blesses you; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite who is in your town, and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your midst, in the place where the LORD your God chooses to establish His name. You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes. Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread and at the Feast of Weeks and at the Feast of Booths, and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed. Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.” Deuteronomy 16:9-12, 16-17

The seven-week count is to begin on the day after Passover, when the Priest cuts the first sheaf for the Celebration of Firstfruits. These seven weeks, known as the Counting of the Omer, are filled with special blessings, selected readings, and portions from the Psalms. (Have you noticed the handy counter on the top right corner of our blog counting the days until Shavuot/Pentecost?)

For Israel, this has always been a time of anticipation, expectation, and tension. When Israel was an agricultural society, these were days of apprehension. Do we have the favor of Adonai? Will the harvest be plenteous?

A Wedding Anniversary for a Lonely Bride

Throughout the ages Shavuot has been a bittersweet celebration for the Jewish People. Compared to a wedding anniversary, Jewish commentaries reflect on the first Shavuot celebrated at the foot of Mount Sinai. More than three thousand years ago Israel was wed to her Divine Bridegroom, Master, and King, under the chuppah—a wedding canopy of fire, smoke, and thunder. The Torah served as the ketubah—the wedding contract, ratifying the manifold covenantal promises repeated to the Patriarchs. 

Commentaries note that Israel is much like a lonely bride who awaits the promised return of her King. No matter how long her King tarries, she won’t forget Him. The Torah is a daily reminder that the covenant is real, stretching from generation to generation. With each year, she is reminded of the promise by the celebration of the marriage; her hope and expectation renewed in the weeks approaching the anniversary—Shavuot

...So Israel waits the return of her King...

The Gentile Connection

“...and the stranger...” Deuteronomy 16:11

Fifty days after the Feast of Unleavened Bread, on Shavuot, a bread offering to celebrate the harvest is now called for—specifically baked with leaven. (Leviticus 23:17) This is seen as symbolic of the harvest of the Nations, or Gentiles, promised to Abram in Genesis 12:3.

The Book of Ruth is a standard reading for Shavuot, which is extremely interesting. Messianic and prophetic, the story of Ruth is a picture of the Gentiles coming to faith in the God of Israel. This would take place in its fullness on Shavuot following Yeshua’s death and resurrection (called Pentecost  in Greek) in Acts 2. 
Ruth, a Gentile—worse yeta Moabite, is the widowed daughter-in-law of Naomi. Naomi, a Hebrew widow, is broken-hearted as she returns to her kinsmen in Israel, and releases Ruth to return to her own people as well. Ruth responds with the immortal line, 
“Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Ruth 1:16
Because of this demonstration of faith, Ruth was "grafted into the Vine." Together Ruth and Naomi went to Bethlehem—which in Hebrew means, “House of Bread,” where Ruth would providentially marry Boaz. It would be through their lineage that Israel's illustrious King David would come forth. Ruth is honored once again in the lineage of the Messiah, Yeshua—Son of David, the bread of life, born in Bethlehem, the House of Bread.
After Yeshua’s death and resurrection, He was with His apostles during the seven-week season of expectation leading up to Shavuot. “Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, ‘Which,’ He said, ‘you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’” Acts 1:4-5 

And this expectation was fulfilled on Shavuot—called Pentecost in the New Covenant. Acts 2

Many see this event as the beginning of the New Covenant promised in Jeremiah 31:31-33, different from the Law of Moses, which was given that first Shavuot, written on tablets of stone.

Those who take this view, see Yeshua’s words at His last supper, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood, (Luke 22:20) as being realized at the miraculous event in Acts. Through the Holy Spirit, the LORD has written the Law within us—on our hearts—accomplished through this miraculous event recorded in Acts 2 on another Shavuot that changed the worldWhat a harvest!

...And now the Church, the Body of Messiah
waits and anticipates the return of her King...

The Feasts of Israel are a prophetic picture of God’s redemptive plan. After the richly prophetic Spring Festivals, the summer lingers, the ground grows brittle and parched for want of moisture. Hope may wane...  

As the sons of Israel waited for Moses to come down from the mountain, they grew impatient and turned back to the familiar ways of Egypt. It is not in man’s nature to be faithful, to “endure to the end.” 

But if we wait, we will all rejoice in the return of our God and King!  

“For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear, nor has the eye seen a God besides You, who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.” Isaiah 64:4

Numbers 1:1-54  Meeting with God in the Wilderness
“Then the LORD spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying, ‘Take a census of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, by their families, by their fathers' households, according to the number of names, every male, head by head from twenty years old and upward, whoever is able to go out to war in Israel, you and Aaron shall number them by their armies.’” vs. 1-3
Wilderness in Hebrew is midbar, מדבר. It can mean wilderness, desert, pasture, or mouth.

We think of the Israelites wandering in the desert, but in actuality, they spent forty years pastured by the LORD where He could speak to them and they could learn of Him. And it is recorded for us for a reason. 

The triumphs, trials, and tragedies of Israel spring from that which is common to all flesh. Israel is a microcosm of mankind—Within her families are found the very best attributes to the most dismal character flaws—through which Adonai will reveal His holy standards;
 His severity in judgment, His extraordinary grace, 
His faithfulness, and lovingkindness. 

We find universal themes in these ancient accounts that provide insight to our own lives. Adonai brings order to life. People inevitably defile everything they touch, and life often degenerates back to chaos. Hopelessness sets in. Then we remember God... One more time around the mountain! And so it goes with Israel ... over and over ... 
“Take a census of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, by their families, by their fathers' households, according to the number of names, every male, head by head from twenty years old and upward, whoever is able to go out to war in Israel, you and Aaron shall number them by their armies.” vv. 2-3
In Hebrew, “Take a census,” is literally, “Lift up the heads” (nasa נשא, rosh  ראש) of all the congregation of the sons of Israel...

This was to be a military mustering, to prepare the armies of Israel for the inevitable war with the Canaanites when Adonai brings them into the Promised Land. 

Leaders were chosen, or rather, “lifted up.” From each of the Tribes of Israel, able-bodied men over the age of twenty were numbered for service, with the exception of the Tribe of Levi which was sacred to the LORD.
“The Levites, however, were not numbered among them by their fathers' tribe. For the LORD had spoken to Moses, saying, ‘Only the tribe of Levi you shall not number, nor shall you take their census among the sons of Israel. But you shall appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of the testimony, and over all its furnishings and over all that belongs to it. They shall carry the tabernacle and all its furnishings, and they shall take care of it; they shall also camp around the tabernacle.’” vv. 47-50
Winning wars and producing warriors was not the endgame. A people who trust in and fear the LORD is the goal. A Priesthood and a Tabernacle at the center of communal life was to the be the strength of Israel. This army’s training was spiritual as well as physical.
The king is not saved by a mighty army; A warrior is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a false hope for victory; Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength. Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness, To deliver their soul from death And to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our heart rejoices in Him, Because we trust in His holy name. Let Your lovingkindness, O LORD, be upon us, According as we have hoped in You.” Psalm 33:16-22
“The sons of Israel shall camp, each man by his own camp, and each man by his own standard, according to their armies. But the Levites shall camp around the tabernacle of the testimony, so that there will be no wrath on the congregation of the sons of Israel. Thus the sons of Israel did; according to all which the LORD had commanded Moses, so they did. vv. 52-54

Numbers 2:1-34  The Encampment of Israel

Pictured above are the famous Jerusalem Windows created by Russian artist Marc Chagall. These windows are twelve in number, each depicting an individual tribe of Israel. They can be seen in the synagogue of the Hadassah Hebrew Medical Center in Jerusalem. They are considered among the most inspiring and beautiful pieces of 20th century art.
“Now the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, ‘The sons of Israel shall camp, each by his own standard, with the banners of their fathers' households; they shall camp around the tent of meeting at a distance.” vv.1-2
Here the Divine Master is arranging His People in encampments, in perfect order, under the banner of their Tribe. His Presence is at the center in the Tabernacle of Meeting. 
“Thus the sons of Israel did; according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so they camped by their standards, and so they set out, every one by his family according to his father's household.” v. 34

Numbers 3:1-51  The Sons of Aaron
“Now these are the records of the generations of Aaron and Moses at the time when the LORD spoke with Moses on Mount Sinai. These then are the names of the sons of Aaron: Nadab the firstborn, and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. These are the names of the sons of Aaron, the anointed priests, whom he ordained to serve as priests. But Nadab and Abihu died before the LORD when they offered strange fire before the LORD in the wilderness of Sinai; and they had no children. So Eleazar and Ithamar served as priest in the lifetime of their father Aaron. Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Bring the tribe of Levi near and set them before Aaron the priest, that they may serve him. They shall perform the duties for him and for the whole congregation before the tent of meeting, to do the service of the tabernacle.’” vv. 1-7
But Nadab and Abihu died before the LORD when they offered strange fire before the LORD...” 

The painful subject is once again brought up of Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s sons who offered profane fire before the Face of Adonai.

The Hebrew word müt מות in the text reveals they didn’t just die, but “died as a penalty, prematurely, were put to death, or executed.” For these brothers put “loathsome” fire before Adonai’s paniym, פנים His Divine Face. 

The Hebrew word zür  זור that is rendered as strange, means “loathsome, such as a harlot or prostitute.” It’s far more grievous than our English text reveals!

It must have been some comfort to Aaron that he had two other sons that were acceptable to minister before Adonai.

The Levites are the LORD’s
“Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, Now, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the sons of Israel instead of every firstborn, the first issue of the womb among the sons of Israel. So the Levites shall be Mine. For all the firstborn are Mine; on the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to Myself all the firstborn in Israel, from man to beast. They shall be Mine; I am the LORD.’” vv. 11-13

When the LORD spared the children of the Israelites on the terrifying night the firstborn of all Egypt were slain, He declared the firstborn of man and beast to be His.  “Sanctify to Me every firstborn, the first offspring of every womb among the sons of Israel, both of man and beast; it belongs to Me.” (Exodus 13:2) The firstborn son of every Hebrew family was to be set apart for service to Adonai.
Rabbi J.H. Hertz notes, “The sacredness of the first-born, and the priestly functions which they are enjoined to perform, date from the time of the slaying of the first-born in the land of Egypt. At the worship of the Golden Calf, the first-born forfeited their special priestly privilege through their participation in that idolatrous worship.

Now the firstborn of every generation would need to be redeemed. Adonai made an exchange—He consecrated the whole Tribe of Levi in the place of the firstborn of each of the families of Israel. 

They would now be “His.” So the Levites will be dedicated and charged with their duties of serving before the King of the Universe in His earthly habitation among the Congregation of Israel.

Numbers 4:1-20  Handle with Care~Living within the Bounds of God’s Protection
This is the work of the descendants of Kohath in the tent of meeting, concerning the most holy things. When the camp sets out, Aaron and his sons shall go in and they shall take down the veil of the screen and cover the ark of the testimony with it ... When Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy objects and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, when the camp is to set out, after that the sons of Kohath shall come to carry them, so that they will not touch the holy objects and die.vv. 4,5,15
God’s Extraordinary Order and Division of Duties

Parashat Bamidbar closes with Adonai’s instruction regarding the care and handling of the Holy Tabernacle. 
We are not surprised to find that He is very precise in His plan and designation of how the most holy things are to be handled and moved. 
“ that they will not touch the holy objects and die...”

It’s easy to dismiss such exactitude, believing God was overly demanding in Old Testament times, whereas now, under grace, He is more tolerant and easy-going. Is that really the case? When Adonai created the perfect Garden for the first man and woman to share with His Presence, it contained every good thing. 

There was but one danger and He warned them of it. This was a LAW, a restriction given for their well-being (and all mankind that would follow!). His creation has natural and spiritual laws. Our loving Creator desires the best for us, so He clues us in with signposts along the way. Like petulant children, unfortunately, we don’t always appreciate His advice. 
Have you ever stopped to consider what it is that is in the heart of man that causes us to resent the holy laws of our gracious and glorious God, while we understand and accept the laws of man? We readily recognize that every workplace, municipality, and government needs laws, rules, and statutes for safety and functionality. Yet we scorn the very idea that the Almighty would have authority over us or restrict our freedom.
A while back you may recall we spoke of the story of King David moving the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. In II Samuel 6 we have the account of God striking a man dead. While in the moving process he attempted to keep the Ark from falling to the ground, a seemingly worthy act. 

Why would God do this? Because David was not acting in accordance with the ways prescribed for safely living within God’s Holy Kingdom.

Numbers 4:1-20 is specific that the sons of the descendants of Kohath are to be involved with the preparation and moving of the Ark as well as the rest of the Tabernacle, yet they are not to actually touch or look upon the most holy objects casually, lest they die. The descendants of Kohath were the great, great grandchildren of Levi, and thus Adonai said they are never to be “cut off from among the Levites.” (v. 18) For more insight and a bit of a recap please revisit our commentary on Parashat Emor, Leviticus 21:1-24:23. 

Going back to our II Samuel 6 account we see why God was so angry for what He identified as “irreverence” (v. 7) by Uzzah. Uzzah was never to touch the Ark. Indeed he was not even to be involved in moving it. He was not qualified by God’s standards—Uzzah was not a descendant of Kohath.
These first twenty verses of Numbers 4 point out the exactness of Adonai in dealing with His people. He had His way that things were to be done and there was to be no deviation from it. There may be wisdom for us here.
Obedience in this day seems to be a lost concept. Whether it is children to parents, or adults to the laws of the land, obedience seems to be a missing ingredient in our society as we move toward what the Bible terms “lawlessness.” 
Obedience to Adonai’s Law has always brought blessing and protection. Obedience to the principals of the New Covenant are God’s way for us today. So let’s do things God’s way, be protected and blessed, and avoid the consequences of lawlessness.
“...for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” II Corinthians 6:14
“For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.” Romans 6:19
Haftarah Bamidbar
Hosea 2:1-23

In our Torah portion we have made the leap from the giving of the Law to the living of the Law.  Leviticus laid it all out. The material in it told this now large family of Jacob just how God wanted everything—and God did cover it all—to be done. Now in the book of Numbers it is time to put the rubber to the road ... or maybe it’s the sandal leather to the path.

In short, the principal lesson seems to be that the people of God must walk by faith(fulness). This will get hammered in when the spies bring back from the promised land a bad report, saying there is just no way they can overcome the obstacles ahead. (Numbers 13 and 14) This book begins just one month after the close of Leviticus and will cover the next thirty-nine years.These years of wandering will teach the younger the lesson that faith in Adonai means they will prevail, and for young and old alike that a lack of faith means they will be punished.

As to why the sages chose Hosea 2:1-23 for the corresponding portion to the Torah portion of Numbers 1:1-4:20, the answer is a bit of an irony. There are times in Scripture when God wanted His people numbered and times when He clearly did not. And there are times when it didn’t seem to matter when considering the entire thrust of the passage. 

One of the times He wanted His people numbered  is found In Numbers 1:1-4:49 and again in chapter 26. There the Lord instructed Moses to, “Take a census of all the congregation of the sons of Israel.” (In his Study Bible Dr. Ryrie notes, “The total number of adult males had decreased by 1820 (v.51; cf.1:46) and during the years of wandering 1,200,000 people had died.” Note on Numbers 26:5-51) What a price to pay for an act of disobedience—almost 2,000 fewer warriors for the battles ahead and over 1,000,000 dead. Ever wonder what a demonstration of lack of faith in His leading in your life might bring?

An example of when He clearly did not want His people numbered can be found in II Samuel 24 and I Chronicles 21. It’s a story of King David in his latter years of life. He instructs Joab—the commander of his army—to, “...register the people that I may know the number of the people.” (II Samuel 24:1) And for this God “drops the hammer” on David. David’s LORD and God sees this as a lack of trust in the mighty arm of God and a demonstration of David’s greater trust in the arm of flesh—his numerical strength for possible battles ahead. 
There is an interesting nuance to this story revealed in the I Chronicles account. In 21:1 we read, “Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.” Anything we can learn from this? 
     --- Perhaps, that Satan tempts both world leaders and common folks alike to sin. I Peter 5:8 says, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 

     --- And how about this, that God not only knew of this impending temptation, but He allowed it. I think that this is the case with every Satanic or demon originated temptation anyone ever experiences. After all, doesn’t Satan have to report to God (Job 1:6), and actually ask permission to tempt us to sin (Job 1:12), and be given that permission by God to tempt us? “So the LORD said to Satan, ‘Behold he is in your power, only spare his life.’” Job 2:6

      --- But lastly we have this. Daunting as the above thoughts might be, we can take comfort in our Master’s provision for us. Despite Satan’s capabilities we don’t have to give in to his assaults. God didn’t allow David (by a different promise) and He won’t allow us, to be tempted beyond our capabilities to resist. We simply must use His manifested strength that is continually offered to us. “God is faithful.  He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” I Corinthians 10:13
No, David didn’t have to sin. He simply chose to give in to a temptation that he didn’t have to. And we don’t have to either. More on that later perhaps. But remember, the devil is now a toothless lion, since Christ defeated him on the cross. I Peter 5:8 and Hebrews 2:14-15
Another example of the numbering issue is in our Haftarah. In this text we have another case where the exact numbering of the children of Israel simply didn’t seem to matter to God.
“Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered; And in the place where it is said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ it will be said to them, ‘You are the sons of the living God.’ And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together. And they will appoint for themselves one leader. And they will go up from the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.”
This quote from Hosea 1:10-11 references the end of the seven year long “Great Tribulation,” or Daniel’s seventieth week. At this point in Israel’s history there will be no need for assessment of military capabilities as Moses (Numbers 1 and 26), or David (2 Samuel 24) might have thought. The fighting is over and Israel is being gathered to be taken into the Millennium or promised Kingdom now led by their one leader, King Messiah. There they are to have one thousand years of peace and prosperity. 

So, “numbering” is thought to be the Sages link between the Torah portion and our Hosea passage. The link between the two goes no further though, so lets take just a moment to to see what this numbering issue has opened up for us.

The book of Hosea is a story of both tragedy and triumph. It is tragic because it tells the tale of a nation that turns its back on its covenant responsibilities to God. It effectively commits spiritual adultery and suffers the consequences for that sin, spiritual divorce from Adonai. (Jeremiah 31:32 and 3:1,8) This tragedy is given a real life illustration by a faithful servant of God who at the direction of Adonai takes a harlot as his wife and suffers the consequences of her harlotry. Both God with Israel and Hosea with his wife rend their marriages to the point of divorce.   

The book of Hosea is as well the story of triumph. Hosea is told to remarry his divorced wife and so he does. (Hosea 3:1-3) The nation of Israel as well will be remarried to Adonai. (Hosea 3:4-5, Isaiah 54:4-6) The overriding picture in this book is one of forgiveness and re-establishment of broken marital covenants.

For those of us who may carry in our lives the real life burden of divorce or perhaps adultery, the book of Hosea, if allowed, can be the blue print for the ultimate release from the crushing emotions that accompany these terrible issues. Hosea not only lived these tragedies, he went into his marriage knowing in advance the pain that was to be felt. (Realistically, he didn’t even know if he was the father of Gomer’s three children.) In this story we see the forgiveness of a spouse in spite of great sin and the restoration of the offending marital partner. God is able if hearts are wiling. Not by anything within the believer’s own resources can this be done. But by His grace alone, can any work of God be accomplished.

The story of Israel is the story of marital redemption as well. Hosea and Gomer are its picture. God knew that Israel would play the harlot, and yet He married her, but later divorced her for that sin. His promise is that of future restoration. Something interesting to note though is that this future restoration is unconditional. In other words it depends NOT A BIT on Israel’s love or lack of it for Him. It is solely dependent on God’s love for them, His reaching out to a nation that has rejected Him, and drawing them back. Then He will write upon their hearts the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-37, a covenant not to be instituted until the end of the Tribulation, and by the Messiah, when He comes to establish His Millennial reign. (You’ll note my dear wife and I differ on the timing of this event. But the timing is not as important as the outcome and its message - that the offending marital partner is taken back unconditionally, and loved with a love that covers all their sins. I Peter 4:8
Oh that the love of God might fill our hearts, that whatever the circumstance, we might reach out unconditionally to the unloving and by this so express God’s love thru us. This truly is a love that is, Beyond Love
 "Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; 
Whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right, And the righteous will walk in them..."                                
Hosea 14:9a

B'rit Chadashah | New Covenant Bamidbar
Romans 9:22-33

The B’rit Chadashah portion selected for us is Romans 9:22-33. This is found in a section of Romans where the Apostle Paul opens his heart and discusses the Jewish nation he so greatly loves. Specifically he covers what God has done in their election (9:1-29), is doing in regards to their rejection (9:30-10:21), and will do as it relates to their future (11:1-36). This is a hotly debated section of Scripture as it opens up such topics as election verses free will, replacement theology (discussed last week and unequivocally rejected), views regarding the Church and Israel being one in the same, and the vine and the branches as they relate to Israel and the Church. This is truly “meat of the Word.” 
Study it and feast!
Verses 22-33 were no doubt selected for this weeks New Covenant study because they deal with quantities. You’ll recall in the Haftarah section above our discussion on the numbering of God’s people, the Jews. This was one of those times when an exact total did not fit in the passages’ context so, it simply didn’t seem to matter to God. Here is just one more example of that occasion. Note verse 27. 
We have two groups of people in this verse, the non-remnant (unbelievers) and the remnant (believers). The first group is that of the unbelieving Jew. Their numbers will be like the sand of the sea. In other words there’s gonna be a huge quantity of them, but the exact number is not the point here. It is just gonna be a really BIG number. The second group speaks of the believing Jew. Their will only be that of a remnant, or in other words a much, much smaller number.

To get a little bit better understanding of this truth let’s go back to verse 19. “You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?’" God’s answer to this  is illustrated in vs. 20-21. 

“On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it?  Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?”
So what is His answer? It is that if God did not “elect” or make some vessels for honorable use then no one, ever, would be saved because none seek God. Romans 3:11

But you’ll probably respond that, He makes, “some for common use.” Doesn’t that mean that the potter, or God, chooses who will go to hell, and that according to verse 27 is a BIG number of His chosen people, the Jews. The answer to that is an unequivocal ...  no. God does not choose anyone to go to hell. II Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is...patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

Consider now verses 22 and 23. “(22) What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? (23) And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,” 
In verse 22 the original Greek language uses what is called a middle voice for its verb, “prepared.” This means that these vessels of wrath made themselves fit or ready for destruction. It is they that were responsible for making themselves ready for their end, not God.  
On the other hand in verse 23 the original Greek language uses what is called a passive voice for its verb, “prepared.” This means that these vessels of mercy, apart from anything they do themselves and wholly by the hand of the potter, or God, are prepared beforehand for glory. It is God that is responsible for preparing them for glory, not themselves. 
Put another way then, it is unbelievers that make themselves fit for judgement. It is their due for being born in sin, living in sin, and being totally dead to the things of God. (Ephesians 2:5; Colossians 2:13) And conversely, it is only God who can make anyone fit for salvation. Based on His mercy (not giving what is truly deserved) and His grace (giving what is truly not deserved) God prepares the “vessels of mercy.”  
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8,9
Verses 24,25,and 26 speak of the Gentile being among the “called” of God.
So as we consider verse 27 again we can see that the non-remnant Jews are large in number. They are not saved, but it is not God who has placed them in this circumstance. It is they that have prepared themselves for destruction. (Remember what that middle voice does to this thought.) 

On the other hand the remnant, though few in number, are saved or to be saved. It is the Potter, or God, who has prepared them beforehand for glory.(Let’s not forget what that passive voice does here to this thought.)
Have you ever considered who might be among that few and your part in bringing them to a saving knowledge of their Messiah?  Consider Paul’s heart for his  fellow Jew. His love for them was so great that had it been possible he would have given up his salvation for the sake of his brethren, his kinsmen according to the flesh. Romans 9:1-3
Paul’s priority in ministry was to the Jew first. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16) How about you and your priority list for witnessing? Just where do Adonai’s beloved people rank with you?
"WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED."  How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?”  Romans 10:13-14

Wishing you a blessed Shabbat, and Chag Shavuot Sameach (a joyous Feast of Shavuot!) 
Celebrating the faithfulness of Adonai in giving the Torah on Mount Sinai over 3,000 years ago to His redeemed out of Egypt, creating a People unto himself...  
...and in the fullness of time, He inscribed the Word on tablets of flesh (Jer. 31) as He fulfilled his promise to abram Gen. 12:3   
and opened the wells of salvation to the Nations on a Shavuot attended once again by voices and fire! Acts 2  
Blessed be the LORD!
In Messiah's Love,
His EVERY Word Ministries