Torah Portion: Massei. Torah Reading: Numbers. 33:1-36:13
This week’s Torah portion begins by summarizing the journeys of the Children of Israel from the Exodus until they were positioned by G-d to cross the Jordan River in order to take possession of their inheritance. During these forty years G-d was not pleased with the lack of faithfulness that the Children of Israel displayed. In fact, Paul writes in regard to the Israelites,
“But with many of them G-d was not well pleased, for they were slain in the wilderness.”
I Corinthians 10:5
Where was G-d’s grace? His grace was seen in how He manifested Himself over and over to the people. His grace was seen in the numerous times he forgave the people. The problem was not the lack of G-d’s grace, but the unwillingness of the Children of Israel to respond to His grace. Failure to do so will indeed lead to death, a death rooted in the L-rd’s judgment. Paul recounts the period when the Children of Israel were in the wilderness as an example to believers not to err and exploit Yeshua’s grace. The evidence that one has indeed received the grace of G-d is the fruits of repentance which manifest themselves after being saved. It is important to stress that such fruit are not what saves, but simply some of the signs that accompany a true salvation experience.
In this week’s Parashah Israel is commanded to drive out of the Land those who resided there previously. It seems like a harsh statement for a gracious G-d to make. What about justice and mercy and international standards of law? The sovereign G-d is able to give the Land of Israel to Whom He chooses! Not only does HaShem command to drive out the Canaanites, but He also warns what it will be like if the Children of Israel fail to do so.
“And if you do not dispossess the inhabitants of the Land from before you; it shall come about that those who remain from them (will be) for pins in your eyes and for thorns in your sides and they will trouble you concerning the Land in which you dwell. And it shall be just as I intended to do to them, I will do to you,” Numbers 33:55-56
I think these verses give an interesting perspective for how one should view the Middle East conflict today.