SHABBAT, 3 Iyar 5777 — יוֹם שַׁבָּת ג אִיָּר ה' תשעז Saturday, 29 April 2017
Chukat 5762
A Commentary

Passages for Chukat: Numbers 19:1-22:1, Judges 11:1-33, John 3:10-21, 1 Corinthians 10:1-9

Numbers 21:4-9 (JPS 1917)
"And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way to the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became impatient because of the way.

And the people spoke against God, and against Moses: 'Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, and there is no water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.'

And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

And the people came to Moses, and said: 'We have sinned, because we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that He take away the serpents from us.' And Moses prayed for the people.

And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole; and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he seeth it, shall live.'

And Moses made a serpent of brass, and set it upon the pole; and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he looked unto the serpent of brass, he lived."

1 Corinthians 10:1, 9

"For, brothers, I don't want you to miss the significance of what happened to our fathers. All of them were guided by the pillar of cloud, and they all passed through the sea, And let us not put the Messiah to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by snakes."

John 3:13-15a

"No one has gone up into heaven; there is only the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. Just as Moshe lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who trusts in him may have eternal life."
Yeshua said, No one has gone up into heaven;"

If Yeshua was only a man, who went up to heaven because he fulfilled the Torah, then that implies that there is not a need for a Messiah, because it would mean, first, that a man could live a life without sin through his knowledge of Torah! I will repeat this statement, if Yeshua was only a man, who went up to heaven because he fulfilled the Torah, then that implies that there is not a need for a Messiah! In other words, if a man could fulfill Torah by himself, it would imply that he could have eternal life through his own works; it would mean that the coming of the Messiah would not be necessary!

A person cannot follow Torah if they do not understand it!
It is clear that the age of reckoning for a Jewish boy is at Bar Mitzvah, around 12 to 13 years old. That implies that not until a boy has studied Torah will he have been able to know to follow it. In other words, someone can not truly follow something unless they understand it.

Now, it is true to expect that a Jewish boy should be guided by his parents, in order that he should follow Torah, i.e. not sin, even before he knows Torah in his heart. As parents we are admonished to train up a child in the way he should go (Proverbs 22:6). Thus, Rav Shaul (the Apostle Paul) says, in Romans 3:1,2, "Then what advantage has the Jew? What is the value of being circumcised? Much in every way! In the first place, the Jews were entrusted with the very words of God."

Romans 3:9-12 "So are we Jews better off? Not entirely; for I have already made the charge that all people, Jews and Gentiles alike, are controlled by sin. As the Torah puts it, there is no one righteous, not even one! ΠNo one understands, no one seeks God, all have turned away,..."

So, let's return to Yeshua's statement, "No one has gone up into heaven;" Isn't that the same as saying, All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)?

Perhaps now is a good time to interject a short discussion about Mashiach. If we approach the discussion by defining the concept based upon prevalent Jewish thought, then we will never discover the truth!

In his message last Shabbat, titled Raising the Bar of Our Devotion to Yeshua, David Rudolph pointed out about how the Hasidic community has embraced rabbi Menachem Schneerson as their Messiah; but in order to do so they must begin with their belief first and then fill in the blanks or holes through a subjective use of Scripture. Yet, they believe rabbi Schneerson is the Messiah and they try to support their faith with Scripture, not necessarily neo-modern philosophy.

Here's my point: prevalent Jewish thought would have you believe, first, that the Messiah will be a great Military leader. That automatically rules out rabbi Schneerson, but that thinking also rules out Yeshua! Yet, that doesn't stop the Hasidim from still believing that rabbi Schneerson is Mashiach, nor does it keep us from believing that Yeshua is the Mashiach either.

Rabbi Menachem Schneerson was born in Nikolaev, Russia! Scripture doesn't say anything about the Messiah being born in Russia! But it does say that the Messiah will be born in Ephrata of Judea (Micah 5:2)! We have a great testimony of witnesses that say that Yeshua was born in Bethlehem Ephrata!

Yeshua fulfilled Torah even before he was born! How could that be? "there is only one who has come down from Heaven, the Son of Man." (John 3:13b).

Let's put this into perspective: In 1 Corinthians 10:9, Rav Shaul says, "And let us not put the Messiah to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by snakes."

Rav Shaul sets the standard for how we should orient our thinking. In effect, he is saying that our forefathers put Yeshua to the test. He could easily have written, "put God to the test", but he didn't.

Taking this perspective, then, and returning to John 3:13-15, Yeshua says, "No one has gone up into heaven; there is only one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. Just as Moshe lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that everyone who trusts in him may have eternal life."

Who, then, is this Yeshua? He is the same person that Rav Shaul ascribes to being put to the test by our forefathers!

He is NOT the man who became GOD. He is God (Elohim).

He alone fulfilled Torah.

He was born in Israel (He came and lived among us as a man - John 1:14). His mother was a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). He died at the hands of the Torah teachers of his day (Acts 2:14-39, 3:11-26, 4:5-12). He was raised again to life after being truly dead for three days (Psalms 16:8-11; Acts 2:24-28; 3:15).

Yeshua is Elohim. He is alive. Put your trust in Him and He will raise you up from the dead (Acts 2:38-39, 4:12; John 3:1-15)!