Dogs and Politicians
Behaalotkha "in your going up"
Psalm 68 (Traditional) & 78:17-31
John 6:41-63; Phillipians 2:13-16
Okay, so here's what happened. Three feet of snow fell one night. The dogs NEVER get to go out the front door because they might run into the road. On this particular morning, there was no danger because you couldn't even see the road for all the snow. No traffic. So I let the dogs out the front door just to see what they'd do. They ran as hard as they could in the tractor track, and then they stopped. They looked around like "What do we do now? Our only hope was to go out the front door. Now what?" They turned around and come racing back to me faster than they ran away. Whatever happened next, I was the one who would decide. Will we play in the snow or go back inside where it's warm?
The Torah portion said it would happen. After all, dogs are like politicians. They're not going to go too far if they don't have the votes. They only appear to be leaders, but they're really followers. So let me explain.
The recurring theme in
Behaalotkha is grumbling. The edges of the camp grumble. There's grumbling for flesh to supplement the manna. There's grumbling about the Cushite woman. The common theme? Failed leadership. There were 70 elders who should have stood between the grumblers and Moses, as the text says "take their stand with you [Moses]." Instead, the chosen men became part of the problem. They agreed with the grumblers.
Each case is one of the Israelites seeking "normal and natural" in a clearly supernatural situation.
thought Moses' relations with his wife should be normal*, yet he had to remain in a heightened state of holiness, ready to hear the Voice at any time. There are levels of holiness, and they failed to discern theirs relative to his. To set the example, though, the beginning of the portion says this:
Aaron therefore did so
its lamps at the front of the lampstand,
just as the LORD had commanded Moses
." (Nu 8:3)
At the family reunion when they were tossing back manna sliders, Aaron could be big brother. In the service of the Mishkan, he was under Moses' authority, and the text praises Aharon for doing so, knowing his role.
The subtext is obedience to higher authority, even when the
is an authority himself. He kindles the lights so that they face toward the central pillar of the Menorah from which the branches were formed. This authoritative middle light is Messiah:
of the seven lamp-stands, one like to a son of man, clothed to the foot, and girt round at the breast with a golden girdle
," (Re 1:13)
the messenger of the Ephesian assembly write:
he who is holding the seven stars in his right hand,
who is walking in the
of the seven lamp-stands -- the
The innermost River of Eden "walked," around its center, the Tree of Life, and Eden was inhabited by Good Gold (Ge 2). From the beginning, "overcoming" has consisted of walking within and obeying the Word of Life. Four is the number of authority.
tells the FOURTH assembly, Thyatira: "He
who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne
Re 3:21) An overcomer recognizes the authority of the Word.
The people who lusted after earthly flesh/
(also a metaphor of excessive sexual lust) rejected the manna as the perfect food. They wanted to normalize their diet with the things they knew in Egypt: fish, vegetables, fruits, and palate-pleasing spices and aromatics. Yes, this supernatural stuff is okay, they said, but why can't we be like normal people? Why can't we go back to the way things were before we had this Revelation of the Word at Sinai?
Ironically, the sages say that the manna could taste like whatever the eater desired if he/she were righteous, just as He turned even the quail into the taste they craved (
). (Ps 106:15; 78:29) To this day, you bless someone who is eating with "
," or "Good appetite." "May your craving be satisfied." The truth is that natural food can never satisfy a human being. He is both natural and spiritual. We eat fish and fruit thinking that we must eat it to live, but we will die. We treat the spiritual food, manna from Heaven, the Word, casually, but it is only with that food that we will live forever.
If the grumblers' taste had actually been for flesh, there was a way to eat it. They had been prescribed sacrifices, but there were rules, a process, an inconvenience. It was a lot of trouble to follow the rules and bring the goat or sheep to the Tent of Meeting to slaughter it. What they wanted was normal and easy. The way it used to be. Can't you just stream the Tabernacle service live?
The complainers lied and said the food in Egypt was free. The truth? Not even the straw was free. The food in Egypt was "normal" food, though. You didn't pay with obedience to the blood-sprinkled Covenant, which it turns out, they thought was a higher price to pay.
So it wasn't that the manna didn't taste good. It
just wasn't "normal," like what everyone else ate and the way it was before.
This gives a clue linking the problem back to the revelation on the Mountain at Sinai. Did Moses eat and drink and behold YHVH?
No. No. Moses knew his role was to fast.
said that no one has seen God except for him. You had to see him to see the Father.
he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and
we will be obedient
o Moses took
the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, "Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words
Authority, Obedience, Blood, Words. Yeshua said to see the Father, drink his blood and eat his flesh. Crave the spiritual Word and obey the blood covenant. Take it into your inner being, not just the basar (flesh) that craves, but the inner flesh (she'er) that forms a relationship. Let's continue:
Then Moses went up with Aaron,
, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they saw God, and they ate and drank
The seventy elders and
"ate and drank" as they "saw." This sounds wondrous, miraculous. Yet was it a good thing? Verse 11 implies that they could have died for eating and drinking while beholding even though
implies that who they saw was him!
After the jasper, the sapphire is the second foundation stone of New
Jerusalem. Jasper is the appearance of the One on the Throne, the Holy One Himself (Re 4:1-3; 21:19)
The Word in the Ten Commandments was said to have first been written by the very finger of YHVH on sapphire stone. The sapphire brickwork underneath the Throne was what the elders,
saw. They ate and drank, perhaps thinking that because the sapphire was "below" the Throne that it was on the same level as they were? Hardly.
Did the elders fail to discern between the authoritative work of
resurrection and their own rising position relative to him, and therefore, to the Father? The eating and drinking of the natural world was not the eating and drinking of Bread of Heaven. Their eating and drinking should have taken place at the prescribed place of worship obediently, not normally.
sapphire word is the Father's exact image. Obey.
Then I looked, and behold, in the
over the heads of the cherubim something like a sapphire stone, in appearance resembling a throne, appeared above them
. (Ezekiel 10:1)
Sapphire is "over" the heads of the
guarding the Garden, resembling" a throne. Perhaps
throne is the exact representation of the Holy One's Throne above it? Having escaped the fire that could have broken out on them, the elders didn't learn from the experience.
The 70 elders who ate and drank presumptuously should have stepped in at both Israelite "fire" rebellions. They should have operated in their authority under Moses, under Yeshua, under the Holy One. Didn't Nadav and Avihu's fires clue them in that anyone who transgressed authority of the Throne could be next?
Maybe the 70 elders had already joined
by the time the hunger fire broke out. Maybe they died in the pickup-sticks people fire. I call those who meander around the outskirts of the camp "pickup-sticks people" because they are more tempted to pick up sticks to kindle a fire on Shabbat. The text indicates that the original 70 elders were missing at the hunger fire because they didn't "stand up" with Moses at the Tent of Meeting:
The LORD therefore said to Moses, "Gather (efsah)
seventy men from the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and their officers and bring them to the tent of meeting, and
let them take their stand there with you
." (Ex 11:16)
When the leadership is for YHVH, then they are also for those placed in leadership over them.
The first 70 elders were for the people, not examples for the people. Politicians. Dogs.
A politician panders to his constituents, not to the rule of law or the Word of God. He cannot go forward or even take a stand without looking backward to see what the voters are saying. What he was for yesterday is what he's against today if the voting majority changes; he doesn't respect the authority of the One who doesn't change and is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Very few modern-day politicians are actual leaders who will take their stand with Moses if it would cost them an election. They are more likely to disobey Moses if it will WIN them an election. If you do find a leader who is a politician, vote for him. The rest are those who are
, the "scrapings" on the outskirts of the Camp sniffing the political winds of "normal" in the natural world, but not normal in Heaven. The "outskirts" is from the Hebrew root katzeh, something scraped or cut off. A forbidden burden to carry on Shabbat is muktzeh. It is something to scrape off of the Shabbat experience.
The Psalm clarifies who some of the scraped-off ones in the camp were:
Before they had satisfied their
their food was in their
anger of God rose against
of their stoutest
the choice men of Israel
. (Ps 78:30-31)
= chosen of Israel
Rashi says that the grumblers were the
erev rav, or mixed multitude that left Egypt with Israel. They are seen as the troublemakers, yet he also says it was the choicest men, the 70 elders of Israel. Which is it?
Just as the Sanhedrin represented the 70 nations of the earth, so the 70 elders of Israel represented the righteous from the whole earth.
Israel was to be a light to the nations, pointing them toward its "face,"
, to behold him as the only begotten of the Father who could transact their resurrection.
When the leaders of Israel fail, the nations fail. Israel cannot look to the nations, but to the Word of obedience. It cannot keep looking behind to see if there will be votes in the next election.
it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure
Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appearas lights in the world
: holding fast
the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain
Do you find yourself grumbling? Think about this: what is the normal you're seeking? A normal family? Normal friends? Praise and worship like it used to be? Church fellowship and pastoring like it used to be? A synagogue service schedule like it used to be? Grumbling happens when we look back instead of forward. It happens when we fail to acknowledge the authority of the One who gave us a new vision of the Word, a new vision of Him in Messiah. Spiritual food.
Yeshua's disciples and the Jews grumbled because he ate with sinners and tax collectors. It wasn't normal. It wasn't the way life used to be when we could hate people who weren't like us and love only people who were like us.
Yeshua came to conform the sinner and tax collector to his image, not to conform to their normal. Yeshua's sapphire image is the Father's image.
When you eat that flesh and drink that blood, then you'll stop grumbling.
You'll lead, because you'll acknowledge the authority of the Word over your life and quit lusting for the world's "normal," which is actually abnormal.
You won't wait around to see who's following because you'll stand with Moses. You're no dog. Dogs prefer that human beings be human beings and let them to the politicking for votes.
Crave the Word, and you'll be satisfied and resurrected to the real normal for eternity.
*Tradition says that Miriam and Aharon rebuked Moses for withdrawing from his wife, which was not normal and contrary to the Torah obligations of a husband to a wife, but nevertheless, Moses needed to because even the average Israelite had to abstain for three days before the giving of the Torah. Because Moses had to always be ready to hear, he permanently withdrew.
New Class: Learn Introductory Biblical Hebrew
Rabbi Shlomo Eitan, who lives in Israel, is gathering new students for another Introductory class of four 55-minute classes that will meet online on Sundays.
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Sukkot in Israel 2019
October 10-22, 2019
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