Updated: Oct 11
[28 July - 2 Aug 2024]
Theme of the Book of Numbers:
Desert life whilst here on earth. Between Egypt & Promised Land. Faith is the key.
Meaning of "matot" = "tribes"
Meaning of "masei" = "travels / journeys of"
This week's Torah portions:
Sunday: Numbers 30:2-31:12
Monday: Numbers 31:13-54
Tuesday: Numbers 32:1-19
Wednesday: Numbers 32:20-33:49
Thursday: Numbers 33:50-34:15
Friday: Numbers 34:16-35:8
Shabbat: Numbers 35:9-36:13 & Jeremiah 2:4-28 & 3:4
Daily Bread for Busy Moms portions:
1 Chronicles 1
This is the 37th portion in this year's reading cycle. This is the 6th / second last of the 7 double portions we have in the reading cycle. This is also our very last week in the book of Numbers. Deuteronomy is the last book of the Torah which remains.
We'll first look at parashat Matot... The word "matot" means "tribes." This is a short parashat but important aspects are discussed in it. In this portion we read about the annulment of vows. Thus, when someone made a vow which they can no longer keep - how they had to handle it.
We also read about a war against Midian - because they plotted the moral destruction of Israel - as we read in parashat Balak. After the Israelites gained victory, the spoils were distributed between the tribes and the law was set in place which stated that it had to be divided.
In parashat Matot, the tribes of Reuben and Gad asked for the land on the east side of the Jordan River. The land was great grazing land and the tribes of Reuben and Gad had lots of cattle, hence they were looking for good ground. We also see later on that part of the tribe of Manasseh joins Reuben and Gad.
Moses agreed to give them the land which they requested - subject to a condition. He said that they could get the land which they requested but they first had to go to war with the rest of the tribes until all of the land was conquered. Moses did not allow them to leave the 9 other tribes plus halve of the tribe of Manasseh which remained - to fight and go to war on their own.
From this parashat we can learn / are reminded about the importance of keeping our word. When we give our word to someone, we cannot underestimate the importance of sticking to what we said! Even moreso, we always expect God to keep His Word (which He does!), yet we are not willing to do our part!
How often do we say things in the spur of the moment - commit to things without thinking... And then - at the end - we cannot keep our word. Whenever that happens it's our responsibility to go to whomever you gave your word to and tell them that you are sorry and ask to be released from keeping your word in this specific aspect.
Nothing in Scripture is there without reason. We read in Matthew 5:37 "But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one."
In Psalms 15 we read “O Lord, who may lodge [as a guest] in Your tent? Who may dwell [continually] on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity and strength of character, and works righteousness, And speaks and holds truth in his heart. He does not slander with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor takes up a reproach against his friend; In his eyes an evil person is despised, But he honors those who fear the Lord [and obediently worship Him with awe-inspired reverence and submissive wonder]. He keeps his word even to his own disadvantage and does not change it [for his own benefit]; He does not put out his money at interest [to a fellow Israelite], And does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.
In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 we read “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Which confirms that nothing in Scripture is there without a reason! Thus, when Abba says that it's important for us to keep our word, we shouldn't just brush it off.
Abba honours our word - therefore we have to do what we said we'll do!
It's easy for us to make commitments, but then when things turn out different than we thought it would - it's easy to feel defeated. Or to feel like the effort which you are putting in bears no fruit. But God wants us to continue doing what we said we would - BECAUSE we said we would - and He will reward us.
Abba does not require from us to produce a harvest in other people's lives. He does however require from us to plant seeds. Whether that person waters the ground for the seed to grow, is up to them. However, we will never know in advance the impact we might have on someone's life. Despite not seeing any visible fruit!
When we do it for our own reward, that's when we focus on the presence / absence of visible fruit. But when we rest in Yeshua, we know that we do not carry the burden to produce fruit in someone else's life. We have to produce fruit in our own lives and then with the seeds which that fruit brought forth - we have to go plant!
To get back to the basic point of this portion it's that we have to continue doing what we said we would regardless of the circumstances.
All throughout the Bible we read about the sowing and reaping principle. It applies to this parashat as well. That which you sow is, what you will harvest! If your seeds are to break your word, you will harvest that others also break their word regarding their commitments towards you. You cannot plant pumpkin seeds and expect to harvest carrots. We cannot put those seeds (of not keeping your word) in the ground and expect a different harvest.
If I don't do what I've promised to do, I cannot expect Abba to give me the promises which He has in store for me. Yet we all do it so easily!
We all have made commitments / promises / vows before which we later on felt that we didn't think it through initially or later on you realise that you cannot keep up or do as you promised. That is not the problem. Abba does not require perfection from us. He just expects us to walk in truth! Thus, when we find ourselves in a position where we have committed to something that we no longer can / want to do - you have to go to the person whom you made a promise / commitment to. You have to share your heart with them and the fact that you can no longer keep you word and ask them to please release you from that commitment.
If you have done that, you are set free! Because you've walked in truth! However, if we simply let things go without being released from our commitments - that seed stays in the ground and we WILL reap the harvest thereof.
In summary, we should firstly not make any promises which we cannot keep. And when we have made a promise which we no longer can keep - we have to be released from it. Otherwise, we are cursing ourselves. We are the very reason then why our prayers are not answered. We are stealing from our own blessings and answers.
All throughout Scripture we see how important it is to live truthful lives. When I was still in high school, I once read a thing that said - God gave us two ears and only one mouth for a reason. We have to listen twice as much as we talk. And when I was busy with this week's portion the memory popped up with me. We should be slow to speak and slow to make promises and commitments - not because we are unwilling - but because we realise the impact it will have if we cannot keep our promises.
In this portion, we also read that the Israelites went to war against Midian. Remember from parashat Balak - that the Medianites attempted to get the Israelites to fall into idolatry and curse themselves. In essence, the Medianites plotted the downfall of the Israelites, and it did not end well for them. Which is a big lesson to all of us! We should never plan or even be involved in the downfall of someone else's life. By now we all know that the major overhanging theme of the Bible is about choosing life. When we plot someone else's downfall, it's just another way of taking away their life! Thus, we should never be involved in things which would have a negative impact on other people's lives - even when they have hurt you or you feel like they "deserve" it. In Exodus 14:14 we read that Abba is telling us to be still - He will fight for us!
When we take on this approach when someone has wronged us; it changes our entire perspective and will most definitely also change the outcome. In our fleshly mindsets and the world's approach, we are so quick to revert to revenge when someone goes back on their word / a promise they have made to us. However, we know that we are in this world but not of it! When we call ourselves believers, we are supposed to be set apart, and that requires that our reactions to situations would look different to the reactions of the rest of the world. When we grasp that the battle belongs to God, we can have complete peace that He will deal with the people who have wronged us.
This also brings us to another valuable lesson. Unpleasant circumstances leave an unpleasant taste in our mouths. Thus, when someone has wronged you, we shouldn't keep walking around with those feelings in our hearts. If we hold onto the wrongdoings of others who have hurt us, eventually we will (either stay mad) or build up resentment and bitterness against those persons. And bitterness is like poison to your soul - it will make you sick physically and emotionally. Therefore, as soon as someone has wronged us, we should go to that person directly and speak to them. Remember that when we talk behind someone's back (regardless of if what we are saying is the truth), we are taking away life from them! The faster you confront tough situations straight up, the faster you can solve the problem. God dit NOT call us to be peacekeepers, to be complacent and avoid conflict. People who avoid conflict are comfortable to accept compromise!!! God called us to be peacemakers. That requires that we confront tough situations, not to plot revenge or to create drama - but to get to solutions. Unless God tells you to not approach that person - then you obviously have to be obedient because Abba has another plan then. It might be that He wants to work on something in you too. It's important to realise that when we confront people, it's not an act of thinking that we don't make any mistakes ourselves or that we didn't have a role to play in the situation as well.
Sadly, most religious Christians love to stay in the "peacekeeper boat" and act all religious in doing so. We have to realise that peacekeeping is an act of dead religion! It's an outward display that you do NOT trust God enough that He will vindicate you, that He will fight for you and restore to you what the swarming locusts have stolen. Now I don't know about you. But knowing that Abba is fighting on my behalf when I do what He says - it's a no brainer for me! Here's to the peacemakers, may we all become that and step away from compromise!
From last week's portion we have learned that it won't take away from our anointing or our portion when we share it with others. We can learn a lot from David about this. David was appointed as king of Israel after Saul. He knew that he would succeed Saul, but he never went after Saul, so that he could become king. In fact, he even said that he would not touch God's anointed ones. Thus, he understood the importance of not taking away the anointing from someone else.
Saul wasn't following Abba's instructions, and it would have been easy to say that Saul deserved to lose his anointing, but David knew Abba's instructions. We can learn a lot from David even though he was also far from perfect. David never defended himself. Neither did Moses. They were so certain in their relationship with Abba, that they KNEW they didn't have to defend themselves - Abba would fight for them. We serve the same God as David & Moses. Yet we don't trust Abba the way they did.
When someone broke their word to us, or we have to ask someone to release us from the promises we have made but can no longer keep - it's important for us to never do it through defending ourselves. It should always be about sticking to Abba's principles. When we stick to Abba's principles - it means that we protect others but in effect also ourselves - so that no one would get hurt in the ordeal. This does however not mean that no one will ever get hurt, this is not what this parashat is about. We are fleshly and many areas of our lives are not in line with Abba's instructions and thus in those areas we do expose ourselves to hurt. Thus, the more we submit our lives and allow Him to transform us - the less hurt we will experience and the more we will see how He fights for us. We simply have to adhere to His instructions and then we can rest in Him - He will take care of it.
In the parashot (plural for parashat) leading up to this portion, the entire principle of having a servant's heart is clearly visible in all of the portions. Our lives are not our own - we belong to God. And thus, we should not be fighting our ways through life by defending ourselves. Then we only end up living in strife. However, when we submit our lives to Yeshua - we might (will) encounter conflict, but the way we handle it will be to the benefit of everyone in His Kingdom (even though the person whom you are in conflict with might disagree). We have to go to war according to Kingdom principles, then we will experience how Abba will fight for us!
In this portion, Reuben and Gad had to make a promise / give their word that they would continue to go to war with the rest of the Israelites. Like we spiritually have to go to war for Abba's Kingdom - not necessarily for our own benefit. Reuben and Gad already knew where they wanted to stay, and the land was conquered. Thus, continuing in war would not bring more benefit to them. Not only would they gain no benefit, but they also knew that going into war might mean that they might lose some of their men in battle. Regardless if there's benefit to you or not, we have to stick to our word. Even if it is to our disadvantage like we read in Scripture.
The Israelites had a common goal to pursue the Promised Land. Just like many of us these days have. It's easy to have a common goal / vision in mind. But how often do people (including myself and you) tend to back out of the pursuit when things become hard or unpleasant or when we feel like it's becoming too much for ourselves.
When we commit to a life of faith, we have to walk in Spirit and in Truth. Walking in faith means that we always keep our word and when we cannot, we have to go to the relevant parties involved and asked to be released from that obligation.
This is also a reminder to us to be slow to speak and consider whom we give our word to and to what extent. We should be careful to overcommit ourselves, because when we do - we'll end up having to break our promises.
This brings us to parashat Masei. The word "masei" means "journeys." This is the last portion in the book of Numbers. By now we know that every book of the Torah has an overhanging "theme" and the theme of Numbers is about "life in the desert." The phase between Exodus (slavery & bondage) and Deuteronomy (the Promised Land). And to make it through this phase, we have to live through faith - through abiding in the principles which we have learned in each of the portions of Numbers.
Faith is not about adhering to certain steps. There's no 10-point step to get to salvation or to go from Exodus to the Promise Land. However, the Bible is written for our instruction - and in it is a vast number of principles which Abba has set in place because He is a God of order. When we apply His principles to our lives, we will live in the harvest of our obedience.
In this portion, we read about the 42 places / encampments of the Israelites - moving out of Egypt to finally getting to the Promised Land. They moved FOURTY TWO times! (Without a moving truck might I add). What's interesting to take note of, that I've learned / was reminded of from Gerrit Nel's teachings, is that there was 42 generations from Abraham to Yeshua.
I have said it many times and I will continue to do so: NOTHING in Scripture is written without reason. And many, if not all of the Old Testament - especially the Torah - is written as a shadow of things to come. The things we read about in the physical also carry a spiritual connotation. Abraham was the one which whom Abba made the covenant and it's through Yeshua that we are grafted in and have part of that covenant. The 42 generations from Abraham to Yeshua, thus links to the 42 places where the Israelites had camped on their journey through the desert.
Our faith walk is not about adhering to a list of steps, jumping through hoops. Our faith walk is based on a relationship with the King of kings! Just like the Israelites journeyed through the desert, the same applies to our faith life. It's not a fast food, one stop shop - it's a journey. The Israelites didn't just move through the entire desert in one shot. They stayed in some places longer than in others. The same applies to our lives today! In our walk of faith, we'll travel through the desert and we'll "camp" in different places - as Abba works in our lives and in our hearts to deal with different things in our lives. We have to by purified and in line with His instructions if we want to enter into the promised land (the promises which He has in store for us).
Throughout our journey in the desert, Abba reveals to us different areas of our lives that needs change and purification. In those areas, He teaches us about His instructions and His principles. His instructions and principles ALWAYS leads to life! It's impossible to become bored when you are walking with Yeshua! He will always teach us more, always reveal more to us, always lead us to more purification and more sanctification so that we can go closer and closer to Him. We will never be perfect and therefore the journey will continue forever, the faith walk will continue, and we'll continue to move and set up temporary camps all through our lives as Yeshua guides us. On this journey (masei) of faith, Abba is strengthening us, He's growing our faith muscles.
This portion is a reminder to us that we should be growing. We should grow in our walk of faith; we cannot simply accept Yeshua as our Saviour and then that's where it stops. There is SO much more in store for us! We cannot afford to stagnate - then we'll never reach the promised land. This is such an important reminder to each one of us, but this portion holds even more truth! It also serves as a reminder for us to not run ahead of time, only focusing on getting to the final destination as soon as possible. We have to trust in Abba's timing and allow Him to work in us on this journey. We have to live within Abba's instructions if we want to live in His provision and enter the promised land. If we move outside of the parameters which Abba has set in place, we are no longer under the covering of His protection. We'll end up in unprotected territory - and then we cannot ask Abba why certain things happen in our lives - when we are the ones who are not in the place where we were supposed to be.
That's what happens when we get involved in things in this life which Abba has not ordained us for. When we get involved in things which Abba didn't call us for, we end up exposed and uncovered - an open field for the enemy to come steal, kill and destroy. We can't then turn back to Abba and as Him "why?" when we were the ones who were out of place. If the Israelites moved through the desert whenever and wherever they wanted to - they would have encountered a whole lot of trouble and entered into a whole lot of battles which they would not have been prepared for. They would have been defeated. The exact same thing applies to us today!
Each one of us have a very specific calling on our lives. It's our responsibility to pursue our calling and to walk into it as Abba leads us. Trying to walk into someone else's calling or skipping important encampments in your own journey will only lead to destruction. Abba does not expect perfection from us. He knows that we'll make mistakes and fall short - that's what His grace is for. What He expects from us is simply to pursue Him and walk in His ways. When we do that, we will not only enter into our own promised land - but we will also impact those around us - so that they might also come to know the Truth!
Whenever we run away from tough circumstances - for example like going back to someone to ask them to release you from your promise which you no longer can keep... When we run away from our circumstances, we are only delaying our journey. The Israelites couldn't move when someone was defiled / unclean. When we are not living according to Abba's instructions - we are living defiled / unclean / unrighteous - we prohibit Abba to do the work in us which He intends to do. Which in return mean that we'll have to stay in our current camping spot for longer. We shouldn't try to run ahead of Abba's plans for our lives.
Living in His instructions creates a sense of "boundaries." Many people immediately think about legalism when they hear the word boundaries. That is so far from the truth! Boundaries are set in place to keep us safe! Parents have boundaries in place to keep their children safe, marriages have boundaries to keep the covenant safe. We all can agree that it's a good thing and needed. Why then do we question it when we come to learn that Abba also has boundaries set in place? When we are in relationship with Him, we stand in a marriage covenant with Him, we are Yeshua's Bride. As His Bride we should desire to keep and stay within the boundaries of our covenant - to protect us and keep us safe - within His covering. It's only when we are stuck in dead religion that we see boundaries as a negative thing.
This portion can also serve as a reminder for us that the people whom we surround ourselves with, matters! We have to surround ourselves with people who have the same values we do. When we are surrounded with like-minded people - we will be able to keep one another accountable and ensure that we stay within Abba's parameters.
We have to often stop ourselves for a moment and honestly ask ourselves - am I living outside of Abba's parameters? Am I pushing His boundaries, never mind pushing it - completely destroying it and wondering why I don't get breakthrough?
When we live within Abba's parameters / boundaries (live according to His instructions) - that means no compromise - He WILL sustain us! If we stay within those guidelines and trust Him with the process, He will lead us through the desert like He did with the Israelites. It does not mean that we won't make any mistakes - the Israelites is proof that we most definitely will. But when we make mistakes or notice that we have moved beyond the borders of Abba's instructions - we have to repent. The original Hebrew word for the word "repent" is the word "teshuvah" - which means to turn around / to turn away / to go in the direct opposite direction. When we realise that we have moved beyond the borders of His instructions - we have to turn away from what we are busy with and turn back to God. We have to re-commit to follow and be obedient to His instructions!
Thus, parashat Masei links with parashat Matot - where we can make the connection of when we journey with Abba and live within His boundaries (instructions), He will fight on our behalf. We will never have to defend ourselves. He will do it for us, because we are keepers of our word and most importantly keepers of His Word!
Further on in parashat Masei, we read how Abba instructed the Israelites to set up camps outside of their camps. These camps were like refugee camps - where those who have become unclean / defiled and were no longer allowed to be within the camp, were able to go. They could then stay in those camps until they were deemed clean and were able to rejoin the camp again. In our faith walk, we have to do the same. Our lives should offer "refugee camps" to others who have lost their way - so that they could be restored and get back into Abba's parameters again, so that they too can live in His provision and walk out the calling which Abba has placed upon them.
The way we live our lives according to Abba's principles should be a safe haven for others to come and walk with us - so that they can learn and also start to walk according to His principles.
At the very last end of this portion, we read about the daughters of Zelophehad - who inherited land. Remember that in parashat Pinchas we read that they went to ask Moses if they will inherit land since they father died in the desert without having any sons. God then instructed Moses that they should indeed inherit. In this last portion of Numbers, the entire book ends of with those 5 sisters inheriting land. Which I personally think is such a beautiful ending to this theme. The theme of the life in the desert and the journey on which Abba will take us. With the gentle reminder that when we live according to His instructions - we WILL receive our inheritance! Even moreso, it will leave an inheritance for generations to come!
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Portion 37: Matot / Masei (The blog you are reading now)