Naso – “Take Up”

Today’s Torah portion is entitled Naso and is translated as Take Up. It covers Numbers 4:21-7:89.

Moses is instructed by Adonai to conduct a census of the men who were between the ages of 30-50 years-old from the Levitical families of Gershon and Merari, along with the Kohathites, in order to perform service in the Tabernacle and the Tent of Meeting. The men from Gershon were charged with the care of the outer Tabernacle including components such as the Tent and its covering, the screens, doors and hangings. They were to transport them from place to place and then assist with setting up and breaking down the tent of meeting according to the instructions given by Adonai.

Chapter 5 continues with what’s called the sotah, or a situation when a wife is suspected by her husband of being unfaithful, but there are no witnesses. These verses outline a solemn and unusual legal procedure that a woman underwent to establish her guilt or innocence. The woman was to drink what Scripture refers to as ‘holy water’ while accepting a solemn and earnest appeal from the high priest, stating that if, in fact, she was guilty, the potion would cause her grim and visible injury. This very unusual ritual was intended to remove suspicion of marital unfaithfulness from the midst of Israel. At the same time, it was designed to provide significant protection to the innocent wife in case of untrue allegations on the part of the husband.

The wisdom of this ceremony was that it took judgment out of the hands of a possibly unreasonable and jealous husband, or the hands of an angry, murderous mob (as frequently happens in Islamic countries), or even a potentially corrupt judge, and put her fate squarely in the hands of the just and wise God. In fact, by means of this procedure the wife is placed in a very direct and intimate relationship with the One True God, who alone would have the final word.

Chapter 6 begins by presenting the laws of the Nazirite, an individual who has, by means of a voluntary vow, taken on a special sacred status. For the period of this vow, the Nazirite could not have contact with any dead body, not even that of his parents; nor was he permitted to consume any product of the vine, such as wine or grapes, or even grape juice, nor were they allowed to cut their hair.

The Nazirite’s restrictions were even greater than those of the kohanim. For example, a priest was permitted contact with the dead if it concerned his immediate family. Also, while priests were prohibited from drinking alcohol while “on duty,” in the sanctuary, it was permitted at other times, and they certainly were not forbidden to consume other grape products. Priests were allowed to trim their hair. But for the period of the vow, the Nazirite would not be permitted to do so.

I’d like to conclude with Numbers 6:22-27 which describes the Aaronic blessing, a blessing that has been voiced countless times across thousands of years.

To ‘bless’ means to offer up something valuable or in abundance. Picture a beautiful fountain of water, giving life to all. When we connect the idea of a blessing to a pool or fountain, we may come to realize that God is the loving, overflowing, abundant source of life, fullness and wholeness. For example, the prophet Jeremiah rebuked the Jewish people for having abandoned God, who had described Himself as “The Fountain of Living Waters”.

Many people mistakenly believe that the “God of the Old Testament” was a vengeful, angry, uncaring God. But the blessing contained in the midst of the Torah shows how wrong this view is. On the contrary, Adonai’s kind intentions and love towards His creation is made obvious; He desires that each one of us be whole and complete in Him.

I noticed that the minimum age was thirty, which is the same age at which Yeshua began His ministry. I submit that we should be spiritually mature and ready to serve the Lord by the time we reach the age of thirty.  That’s not to say that you can’t start at an earlier age, or even at a later stage of life. But it would seem according to Yeshua’s example, thirty is the perfect age for full time service to the Lord.

When the Israelis left Egypt, they left with an abundance of gold, jewels and other valuables. Adonai had blessed the children of Israel richly through the Egyptians. But He didn’t really bless them just so that they could have a lot of stuff. He wanted them to use their resources to serve a much greater purpose; that purpose being the worship of the Creator of the Universe.

It reminds me of what I have read in the Book of Revelation. When we get to Heaven, we will be rewarded with crowns for our faithfulness during our stay here on Earth. But these crowns will not be given to us as a fashion statement or to compare who has the greatest collection of crowns; instead we are going to place these crowns at the feet of Messiah Yeshua in worship.

The Tabernacle was the most important article that the Israelis carried with them, because this was the very place that Adonai chose to personally meet with them. He would manifest His presence there within the Tent of Meeting.

How wonderful is the Lord our God, who has made it possible through Messiah Yeshua for the Tent of meeting to now be within our very being; and that at the deepest and most personal level we can enjoy friendship and communion with the Everlasting God? I trust that each one of you will discover that wholeness and completeness in our Lord and Redeemer, Yeshua the Messiah.