Who's Gonna Fix Your Wagon? (Naso-"Lift up")
an excerpt from CG Workbook 5 Vol IV
Although packed with seemingly unrelated instructions, the common thread that runs through Naso is individual accountability to manage emotions and desires, whether of jealousy, love, wine, ambition, praise, worship, and even grief. Naso means to lift up, and when emotions are elevated over the ruach (spirit), they become excessive instead of expressive of truth. Humans can love, drink, work, and grieve to excess. Even praise and worship may be experienced as something self-serving, not God-serving.
Naso teaches Israel to bring emotions and desires into check. It is yet another example of self-discipline that grows from gratefulness and humility. It helps each person to assess himself or herself first, gain a balanced personal view, and then to use that self-control to aid and benefit the community. The blessing of the Kohanim is part of this portion. In Hebrew, the blessing is given to "you" in singular instead of plural. First be at shalom in your own heart, mind, and body, and then serve and edify the hearts, minds, and bodies of the congregation of Israel. Part of the blessing is:
The Lord shall make His face shine upon you. (Numbers 6:25)
One of the 613 commandments is to "Emulate the Almighty." The great sage Shammai said: "Greet every man with a pleasant expression of countenance" (Pirkei Avot, 1:15). There are three parts to this statement that parallel the priestly blessing:
Countenance - The minimum is to turn your face towards your fellow man; don't greet anyone with the side of the face. Turn your full countenance towards him. This is the pattern of the camps of Bamidbar. By facing the Mishkan, the tribes turn their countenance toward one another.
Expression - Your face must denote interest in the individual, not mere formality.
Pleasant - Your countenance should also be pleasant.
Since Adonai deals with humans measure for measure, He makes His face shine upon those whose faces shine to their fellow human beings! A pleasant countenance is as contagious as the emotional viruses we so freely spread when our countenance is downcast. However, if we are despondent, it is almost impossible to paste on a cheerful countenance. It is difficult to show interest in someone else when we are seething or grieving inwardly. We can smile, but our spirits will radiate tension or sorrow.
This Torah portion gives several illustrations that call the individual into balance with these emotions before they dominate his attitude, which is a predisposition to act, as well as his actions. No rational person wants out-of-balance emotions to characterize him or her. A person who desires to control others with emotions is under control of the beast, who uses the nefesh (soul: appetite, emotion, desire, intellect) to manipulate and enlarge his territory. Isn't it ironic that we connect on a site called "Facebook"? I've never seen so much disparagement, self-promotion, and territory marking. It is really difficult to control the boundaries and make it a safe place for believers to connect for an encouraging word. It is a disciplined few who actually turn their countenances toward one another.
Emotions are to be experienced at appropriate times in appropriate places, but when those who know us are asked to pick one word that describes us, it should not be such words as depressed, resentful, sad, unhappy, driven, bitter, ready-to-snap, gasoline-waiting-for-a-match (okay, more than one word). One word, however, will unlock the key of understanding to out-of-control emotions: stewardship. Like Adam and Eve, Kain and Abel, when thoughts turn to ownership instead of stewardship, we err.
In Naso, two of the Levite families were allotted wagons to assist them in carrying heavy parts of the Tabernacle. The family that carried the Holy Ark was not to use a wagon, but to carry and balance it on their shoulders. The Hebrew word for shoulder is katef, and it also is the shoulder-piece for the high priest's ephod, each shoulder bearing an onyx stone engraved with half of the names of the twelve tribes so that the high priest bore the burden of Israel in perfect balance. It was also on the katef that the holiest objects of the Tabernacle were carried. It would take at least four priests to transport a holy article in balance.
Balance within the holy community is a challenge when duties and obligations are not clearly delineated and assigned as they were in the Torah portion. Today we often do more than step on one another's toes; we actually run over one another. There's a saying, "Stay in your lane." This is exactly what order and an authority structure lends to a holy community.
While many within the Torah-believing communities are justifiably suspicious of any authority, this is not always a positive characteristic. We might say that so were the Israelites in the wilderness! They had real difficulty staying in their lanes of responsibility. Look at the great miracles and judgments visited upon Israel by the Holy One in order to inspire them to walk orderly, yet what does the Torah record?
Jealousy, foolish zeal, coveting of high position, blaming others, sense of entitlement, incredible ability to misidentify problems, hoarding...etc. Sounds pretty much like the state of America today, and sadly, much like those walking in Torah today. We should pray daily that the Father reveal these things in us so that we may repent of them. It's not worth it to ignore our own bad attitudes and beliefs, for we'll either abandon that soul baggage in the wilderness willingly, or we will leave it behind anyway as He refines His community from one dominated by the spirit of Kain to one inspired to worship like the spirit of Abel. Kain did not share his best with Abel, and someone died in the field when they spoke.
Are we really giving the first fruits of our best emotions to our congregations and fellowships, or are we trying to commandeer them and make them in our image and perception of "truth"? The most wicked abomination listed in Proverbs is one who separates brothers. Ironically, the spirit of the feasts is sometimes rejected in favor of personal correctness and interpretations, and some isolate themselves from brothers and sisters. There are better solutions.
Father, give us strong shoulders on which to balance Your holy words on this journey. Make us respectful of one another. May we order our steps with proper humility not only toward You, but those whom You have appointed as "wagon bosses" and balancers for seasons of our lives. May we not kill one another over the first fruits and feasts. May we not lift up our opinions so freely, but may we lift up our countenances to one another without measure.
 "Samson followed his eyes, therefore the Philistines pierced his eyes...Absalom glorified in his hair, therefore he was hung by his hair. And inasmuch as he cohabited with the ten concubines of his father, ten lances were thrust into him...And inasmuch as he stole three hearts - the heart of his father, the heart of the court, and the heart of Israel -as it is stated (2 Samuel 15:6): So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel, therefore, three darts were thrust ito him..." (Mishnah Nashim Sotah 1.8)
Israel Study Trip
For those of you looking for a unique study trip to Israel, we will be taking a limited number of people March 19-30, 2017. We anticipate the land price to be $2100 + your airfare. While we have an itinerary being assembled, I am also assembling a teaching theme: Standing With Israel: the Revelation.
An extra emphasis of this trip will be the Sabbath and Feasts of Israel, including the Jewish customs in place at the time that Yeshua walked the Land. This focus will provide a better understanding of Yeshua and his disciples in their First Century context. For instance, while Christians think of the last book of the Bible as "Revelation," what does an observant Jew think of when he or she hears the term "Revelation"?
The giving of the Torah is the Revelation in the Jewish context, and participants will learn how reliable Bible study tools, such as First Mention, Progressive Mention, Complete Mention, and Chiasms open understanding to many things in the New Covenant, especially John's Revelation. As it turns out, the Creator does reveal the end from the beginning, and John's Revelation should be viewed through the lens of the Torah.
Because this trip will occur before the first feast of Passover, the objective is that the experience will enrich each participant's celebration of the Biblical feasts and Shabbat.
Send us an email if you want more information.
BEKY Books and CG Workbooks
The next volume of BEKY Books will be ready any day now, and the third volume is ready for formatting immediately afterward. We expect a steady supply of the first season of BEKY Books until the end of 2016. In the pipeline are:
Introduction to the Jewish Sources
(What was nailed to the cross? What does it mean, "Let no man judge you..."?)
Messianic Shabbat Service
Don't forget to order a copy of
What is the Torah?
It is a great refresher on the prophetic importance of the Torah all the way to the four horseman of Revelation. Keep a copy in your desk for curious co-workers!
The newly revised edition of Creation Gospel Workbook Three is being printed! It will be available at REVIVE or at www.thecreationgospel.com. You may pre-order on the website, and it will be mailed after REVIVE (the first week of July). Additional material in the workbook is "The Cave of the Couples" and "Spirit-filled Singles." I will be giving an overview of The Cave of the Couples at REVIVE, and I think you'll like the insights of the new "rediscoveries" of spiritual patterns. This edition is no longer looseleaf, but bound like the rest of the series. It is $30 plus shipping.
LeMalah Children's Centre
We thank our donors for helping to fund Passover & Shavuot celebrations for our brothers and sisters in Kenya. This is the RUACH of the Torah! If you are able, consider sending a small monthly donation to help with the monthly expenses.
To donate for monthly expenses at the LeMalah Children's Centre, via PayPal,
and specify "Kenya" or send a personal check to:
The Creation Gospel
PO Box 846
East Bernstadt, KY 40729
From our home to yours,