Are You Cursable?

Numbers 22:11–12, Dealing with curses from the enemy. Make no mistake about it, false prophets are neither the friends of YHVH nor his people. They are grievous wolves who hate YHVH’s people and want their total destruction.

For example, in verse 11 Balak asks Balaam to pronounce a mild curse (arah) on Israel that would result simply in their being driven away, not on their being destroyed. But then notice in verse 17 how Balak employs a much stronger Hebrew expression (kavah) to curse Israel implying their total destruction, thus indicating Balaam’s hatred for Israel (and his contempt for YHVH).

In verse 12, YHVH uses the milder term to let Balaam know that even the mildest curse would not prevail against his people (The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash, p. 858).

Do you walk so closely to YHVH in relationship with Yeshua and in his righteousness that you are protected from even the mildest curse directed at you from the enemy? Do you stay under the blood of Yeshua so that no spiritual darts of Satan can pierce your spiritual armor (Eph 6:16; Rev 12:11)? Do you take refuge perpetually under the shadow of the wings of the Almighty (Ps 91:1, 4)? How does the child of YHVH do this every day?

Proverbs 26:2 states, “As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.” Do you have any “spiritual doors” open so that the Evil One has “legal” entrance into your life to attack you?

The solution to the problem is to repent by turning from sin and then turn to Yeshua! Obey his Word so that you do not open yourself up to the curses for disobedience as mentioned in Deuteronomy 28.

 

Two Kind of Christians: Which One Are YOU? A Balaam or a Hebrew?

Numbers 22:10ff, Crossing over. Many carnal people—especially those playing at religion—want to be like YHVH’s saints, and to be the recipients of the blessings of Israel, and to be numbered among YHVH’s chosen, but few want to walk the walk required to receive these blessings and privileges. Many will “court YHVH” by getting as close to him as possible without actually crossing over that spiritual river that divides the land of Israel from the rest of the world.

Those who actually cross over become an Ivrit or a Hebrew, which means “to cross over.” Abraham was one who crossed over. He forsook Babylon and crossed over the Euphrates and Jordan Rivers in his journey westward en route to the Promised Land as he followed YHVH’s leading. He was the first Hebrew (Ivrit) or “one who crossed over.”

Crossing over means going from being a worldly Babylonian to becoming the Israel of Elohim (Gal 6:16; Eph 2:11–13) and a child of Abraham (Gal 3:29) It also means surrendering one’s life totally to the Elohim of the Hebrews who is YHVH. The sacrifice of crossing over is too great for most people to make—too great of a price to pay. To leave the world or spiritual Babylon and to cross over the Jordan River to YHVH’s side and come into the land of Israel as a spiritual Hebrew means that the fame and fortune that this world has to offer must be laid aside and one must become a servant-slave of YHVH. Moreover, it means embracing YHVH’s Torah as the law of life—Elohim’s instructions in righteousness.

Balaam couldn’t cross over all the way. He still preferred the riches, fame and sinful “delights” that Babylon had to offer. He was willful, carnal and greedy (Jude 11).

Many religious game-players or cultural Christians in the mainstream church are like Balaam. They want the Savior part of Yeshua, but not the Lord or Master part. How serious are you about serving YHVH? The Scriptures say of the end-times saints that they loved not their lives unto death (Rev 12:11). Paul declares that followers of Yeshua must become “living sacrifices” in the service of YHVH (Rom 12:1).

Yeshua gave his very life for you. Are you holding back some of your life for him? Do the cares of this world, the desire for pleasures, material goods, money, entertainments or acclaim still have a grip on your heart? Are they preventing you from moving into your spiritual calling and destiny—to truly walk by faith in obedience to YHVH?

 

Food—A Gateway Drug to Sin?

Numbers 21:7, We have sinned, for we have spoken against YHVH. The Jewish sages teach that Israel was punished with serpents because they acted in the manner of the serpent who spoke slanderously against Elohim when deceiving Adam and Eve. Likewise, the Israelites spoke malicious slander against YHVH when they criticized the manna he had sent them.

Both incidents involved food, which is a great area of human weakness and one to which humans are subject to temptation (The ArtScroll Baal haTurim Chumash/Bamidbar, p. 1608). Can you see the parallels here? Who created Adam and Eve and gave them instructions concerning the tree of knowledge? Likewise, who gave them the manna in the wilderness and later identified himself as the spiritual manna in the Gospel of John (see John 6:51)? Satan spoke evil against YHVH-Yeshua (in his pre-incarnate state), and later incited Israel to speak against the manna (a type of Yeshua, the Bread of Life). Satan also tempted Yeshua over the issue of food and manna in Matthew 4. What are the implications here? Consider the relationship between physical and spiritual food, physical and spiritual food that is forbidden of YHVH versus that which is permitted, and how Satan uses the issue of food to try to turn us away from the path of righteousness and obedience to YHVH.

Samson Hirsch in his commentary on the fiery serpents notes that the serpents had been there all along dogging the Israelites, but had been held back by the gracious hand of YHVH such that the Israelites were unaware of the serpents’ presence (The Pentateuch/Numbers, p. 381). The sin of doubt, unbelief and malicious slander against YHVH and his anointed servant, Moses, caused YHVH to remove his protective hand of grace—as a judgment to bring Israel unto repentance—allowing the serpents, who had been there all along, access to the malcontents. The same situation occurred when Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Set-Apart Spirit and they were struck dead (Acts 5). 

What are the implications here? 

When we have so grieved the Spirit of YHVH and resisted the Ruach’s entreaties to walk in right relationship with and obedience to Elohim, so that he can bless us, does he not sometimes withhold his hand of grace and allow the evil one to attack us to bring us to repentance? Are you repeatedly dogged by (demonic?) attacks in a certain area of your life? Is YHVH calling you to repent? On the other hand, how many would-be attackers are lurking in the shadows of your life waiting for you to sin, or waiting for you to step out from under the blood of Yeshua and to put down the shield of faith by which the fiery darts of the Evil One against you are quenched (Eph 6:16)? How often do you think that the gracious and merciful hand of YHVH protects you from the attacks of the fiery serpents in your life? Probably more than you realize. Give him praise and rejoice.

 

Victoriously Overcoming the Wilderness’ “Fiery Serpents”

Numbers 21: The Process of Overcoming­—From Sin to Victory and Salvation!

  • 21:4–9, The bronze serpent on the pole is a prophetic picture of salvation at the cross of Yeshua from the sting of death brought on by sin (John 3:14–15; 1 Cor 15:55–57). This is a picture of the believer’s initial salvation.
  • 21:10–22:1, Here is a recounting of the Israelites’ wilderness trek before entering the Promised Land. It was a time of testing, refining, building of faith, and learning obedience for the Israelites. This is a picture of the spiritual walk of the believer through the wilderness of this physical life.
  • 21:14–35, While crossing the wilderness, the Israelites had to fight and overcome the enemy—that is, those who would keep them from fulfilling their YHVH-ordained destiny to possess the land and inheritance he had promised them. First came the fighting and overcoming, followed by the victories. The life of the believer is one of spiritual struggle, as well, against the world, the flesh and the devil. (See Rom 7:14–25; 2 Cor 10:3–5; Eph 6:10–18.)
  • 21:10, 14–18, Here we read how Israel was refreshed with water from the rock. Isaiah speaks about the wells of salvation (Isa 12:3). There is a springing up of joy and praise (verse 17) that comes as victory is experienced, and as YHVH makes rivers to flow out of seemingly dry and barren situations (verse 18). We, too, are called to come to the rivers of salvation, the river of life and to become a river of life ourselves to all those with whom we come into contact (John 7:37–39). Yeshua is the source of that living water; he is the spiritual Rock and source of water that never runs dry (John 4:10, 13–14; 1 Cor 10:4).

Numbers 21:4–9, Fiery serpent. The plague of fiery serpents was a righteous judgment Elohim brought upon Israel for murmuring and unbelief. Israel had “sharpened their tongues like a serpent” (Ps 140:3) and “their throat [was] an open sepulcher; with their tongues have … used deceit; the poison of asps [was] under their lips” (Rom 3:13). All this was directed at Elohim and Moses. As a result of their sin, they reaped what they had sown. Elohim loosed fiery serpents upon the Israelites to bite and sting to death the unbelieving murmurers.

The wilderness Elohim led the Israelites through was full of fiery serpents and scorpions (Deut 8:15), yet this is the only account in the Torah of these creatures ever attacking Israel. YHVH had protected them to this point, but this one time he pulled back his hand of providential protection and grace allowing them to experience the due recompense of their sinful actions. How often has our merciful Father withheld the just desserts of our faithless, rebellious and abominable action against him and graciously protected us from the full consequences of our sin? If we fail to hear his soft voice of correction he will deal more harshly with us until our attention is gained (Ps 32:8–9). All he has to do is withdraw his hand of protection that restrains the judgments we all deserve and the “fiery serpents” will likewise attack us. Remember what happened to Ananias and Sapphira in the book of Acts is an example of this (Acts 5:1–11). Job experienced a similar situation as well.

Israel’s Murmuring. Israel complained for lack of food and water. In unbelief they concluded and confessed (literally prophesied upon themselves a curse) that they would die in the wilderness. Elohim gave them the fulfillment of their faithless delusions—serpents to sting them and leave them physiologically in a parched and burning condition. (The poison of these snakes actually leaves the victim burning with a fiery pain in his body and a desperately dry and thirsty condition [See Adam Clarke’s Commentary, vol. 1, p. 684]). This occurred with the quail also. They complained with their mouths and lusted for meat and Elohim gave them so much quail that it “came out of their nostrils” (Num 11:20). Many were struck dead in judgment. What is the lesson of this story? That for which we lust or that which we fear will come upon us, for Elohim allows those very things to rise up, attack us and judge us. Why? So that the false gods of our hearts will be exposed and we will, as a result, see the error of our ways, repent and turn back to obedient faith to the one true Elohim. Few understand this method of operation of Elohim, but the Scriptures reveals this as one of the ways he deals with his people to help them to grow up spiritually.

Salvation. Israel repented and received salvation from the sting of death by looking upward toward the brass or bronze (bronze representing judgment) serpent on the pole. Of course, no less than Yeshua himself reveals to us that this serpent is a pictures himself dying on the tree as a sin offering and source of our salvation (John 3:14–15 and 12:32).

Even the Jewish sages admit that the serpent did not heal the afflicted Israelites, but looking upward unto heaven granted them salvation and healing. (See Wisdom 16:4–12)

Parallels between the bronze serpent and Yeshua 

Yeshua likened his death on the cross to the bronze serpent that Moses lifted up in the wilderness (John 3:14–15). Let’s explore the spiritual implications of the bronze serpent as it prophetically pointed to Yeshua the Messiah.

  • Both the serpent and Messiah were lifted up on a pole.
  • Israel was to look up to the brass serpent to be healed physically; sinners are to look up to Messiah to be saved.
  • YHVH provided salvation from the sting of death from no other source but the serpent. Similarly, there is salvation in no other name but Yeshua (Acts 4:12).
  • If the Israelites looked at bronze serpent they were healed and lived; if sinful man looks at Messiah he will live.
  • Both the serpent and the cross are merely symbols of Elohim’s grace and mercy. They simply point one to YHVH in heaven who heals those who believe him and have faith in him.

A Type of the Devil. The Bible calls the devil a great red dragon or serpent (Rev 12:3) whose venom inflames men’s sinful passions through his fiery darts aimed at humans (Eph 6:16). Fiery serpent is the Hebrew word saraph the plural of which is seraphim, which is a type of an angelic, flaming spirit (Heb 1:7). Though physical snakes bit the Israelites, this is nevertheless a picture of Satan, the fallen angelic being who is now the serpent and enemy of both YHVH and man.

For Our Example. Israel experienced these things for our examples (1 Cor 10:1–12). What they went through and how they reacted to various situations is literally a mirror held up for our benefit for us to see ourselves as we really are, so that we will not repeat their mistakes. We owe them a debt of gratitude, for we are able to gain spiritually by their experience if we will lean from their mistakes by not repeating them.

 

Complaining or an Attitude of Gratitude?

Numbers 20:5, It [the wilderness] is not a place of seed and fig and grape and pomegranates; and there is no water to drink. This was the complaint of the people against YHVH. In Hebraic thought, water, the fig tree, wine from the grape, as well as oil, milk and honey (the two symbols of the Promised Land) are all metaphors for Torah (see Everyman’s Talmud, pp. 133–134). The Israelites were seeking physical food, but were missing the spiritual food (i.e. Torah, faith in his Word and promises) that YHVH was abundantly providing them during their wilderness walk. Additionally, the Hebrew word for wilderness is b’midbar (the Hebrew name for the book of Numbers), which means “in the wilderness, desert, uninhabited land or pasture.” The root word of midbar is the word dabar meaning “to speak, declare, command, promise or commune.” In a number of instances in the Scriptures, the terms word/dabar of God/Elohim or word /dabar of the LORD/YHVH is used to denote words coming directly from the mouth of YHVH. In the tabernacle (Heb. mishkan), the most set-apart place was called the d’veer (a cognate of the word debar) or oracle. It was there that Moses went to receive the word (d’bar) of YHVH. There he also met the Word of Elohim who later on became Yeshua the Messiah, the incarnated Word of Elohim (John 1:1, 14).

What is the point of this brief word study? While going through the wilderness of life, if we have an attitude of gratitude instead of one of complaining, murmuring, doubt, fear and unbelief in the Word and promises of YHVH, will we not be more likely to understand YHVH’s purposes, instructions, (i.e. Torah), his heart and his plans for our lives? If we have such an attitude, will our hearts not be more inclined to hear YHVH’s voice more clearly and understand his will for our lives thereby receiving hope for the future and strengthened faith? One can waste one’s energy on murmuring and never grow up spiritually, or one can determine to hear YHVH and to commune with him in the wilderness of life and seek spiritual enrichment out of that wilderness and view it as our training ground for entering the Promised Land. 

Let’s make a conscious effort to redirect our thoughts and attitude positively, while never forgetting the bitter lessons of our Israelite forefathers (1 Cor 10:11)? Murmuring produced nothing except death in the wilderness. If we have a grateful heart attitude, we will not only have a happier time in the wilderness of life, but we will be more likely to hear YHVH’s voice and understand the meaning and purpose of the experiences we have while en route to the Promised Land of our ultimate spiritual inheritance.

 

 

Are you a budding rod?

Numbers 17:1–13, Aaron’s rod. Aaron’s rod that budded is a picture of what? Who was the rod or Branch from the stem of Jesse that budded forth with spiritual life for all those who will place their faith in him? Spiritual life for you and me came from what dead tree? Can we not see that Yeshua and the message of the gospel is at the center of everything in the Bible from the beginning to the end? Can there be any doubt that Yeshua is the Messiah? Only he fulfilled all the prophetic types and shadows that we find in the Tanakh (Old Testament).

Aaron’s ministry was anointed of YHVH. The rod represented his authority and its budding represented the fruitfulness of his ministry. It points to the ministry of Yeshua. If we are disciples and imitators of Yeshua, aren’t we to be doing what Yeshua did—bearing fruit as he did? 

Is your ministry anointed of YHVH? What are the spiritual fruits being born from it? Are people’s lives being changed for the good because of your spiritual example, or are you living in delusion of your self-promoting ministry thinking that you are called and anointed of YHVH when in reality you are self appointed like the rebels who challenged Aaron? 

If we are to be pleasing to YHVH we must periodically ask ourselves these hard questions and stay accountable before YHVH.