Sabbath Reflections: Bamidbar


Okay, so it’s actually post-Shabbat, but I meant to write this yesterday, so we’ll just pretend this is a ‘Sabbath Reflection.’ 🙂

I haven’t done a great job of keeping up with the weekly Torah portion readings this past year. But occasionally, when I know I need to spend time reading my Bible and I don’t know what else to read, the Torah portion is a great place to start.

This past week, I was in that place of knowing I needed to spend some time meditating on His Word, but I didn’t want to just open it up to something random, so I decided to read the Torah portion. I’ll admit: when I realized it was Numbers 1-4:20, I wanted to find any excuse to pick something else…

“What could He possibly have to show me in the repetitive, monotonous passages reciting the numbering of the Israelites and the order of the tribes around the tabernacle in their wilderness encampment. This is gonna feel like reading a genealogy…” I thought to myself.

But I decided to read it anyway.

In addition to the Torah portion (Numbers 1-4:20), the corresponding readings from the Prophets and the Gospels were:

  • Hosea 2:1-22
  • Matthew 4: 1-17

I’m including those for reference, because I managed to draw a few connections from them to the Torah portion as well. Below is a stream of consciousness that I wrote down in my journal after last week’s reading. I don’t normally share my thoughts on these (usually because I don’t read them consistently), and I definitely didn’t expect to have much of anything to share from this one, but Yah surprised me (as He often does!) So I thought I’d share.

Here’s what stood out to me from last week’s reading:

Counting the Israelites: Each person had a purpose, down to the appointment of the Levites for tabernacle service. It’s very detailed, yet specific, and when reading, it feels monotonous because of the repetition. This is why people often skip over these chapters in the Bible (like the genealogies or the instructions for building the tabernacle); they aren’t the most exciting to read. But in this case, I believe the repetition and the seemingly trivial details are what make it so significant. Yahweh takes the time to number/count them all, which implies that each one counts.

Levites appointed for tabernacle service: Again, each one has a specific role. This made me think of how we all have our unique roles within the body, and specifically within each of our communities/churches. We are not simply to show up, enjoy a nice message and leave. It’s exciting and encouraging to think about what our roles are — what He has called us out for within our communities.

I used to show up to a church service every week, absorb a message and leave. There was hardly any real fellowship outside of that, and I was sort of ok with it, because it allowed me to stay in my comfortable little bubble. In my mind, it was all about me and what I got out of it, when in reality, it’s not about us at all. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still struggle with this today, because I do. There are days when I want to show up, soak up the Spirit like a sponge, and retreat home into my comfy bed and sleep. But I know He has me showing up week after week for something greater than that.

Family: It’s interesting to note that the relationships among tribes in the specifications regarding how they were to set up camp with the tabernacle in their midst. The tabernacle was in the center and each tribe had a specific, appointed place around it. The tabernacle was the place of Yah’s dwelling; He was at the center of their relationships to each other, physically. In the same way, today He is the spiritual center of our own relationships.

Father, show me where I am to pitch my tent and what role(s) I am to play in this journey through the wilderness…

Yahshua (Jesus) tempted by Satan: In Matthew 4, after being tempted by Satan in the wilderness, it says that “Yahshua left Nazareth and dwelt in Capernaum, in the borders of Zabulon and Naphthalim.” In doing so, he fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah 9:1-2: “the people, which sat in darkness saw great light.”

He left the wilderness, after having endured several trials…

After that, he began to preach repentance, “for the kingdom is at hand.”

He was/is that “great light” — the tabernacle among men — dwelling in our midst as our borders and spaces are being re-established on our modern-day journey through the wilderness…

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. And I will give her her vineyard from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.” Hosea 2:14-15

  • Where will we be instructed to pitch our tents?
  • Which tribes will be situated to our right and to our left? (Who is our neighbor?)
  • What is our role in this kingdom, now being established here on earth?

We are still enduring trials in this place, but as we come out — and even in the midst — of each one, we are to be His image bearers. Preaching repentance, just like Yahshua did, and reflecting His light so our neighbors can see and experience the kingdom of Yahweh…

on earth, as it is in heaven.


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