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Weekly D'rash Chukat Balak

This week's Torah portion contains the constant theme of the failure of the people and their leaders in contrast to the love of God. In Numbers chapter 20, we read about the failure of Moses "to treat God as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel." We also read about the failure of the people as they continue to complain and distrust. One might think that after a while of dwelling in the wilderness, the children of Israel might have cultivated a faithfulness and trust in God. However, it is clear that from the journey out of Egypt to Sinai the people complained and rebelled. At Sinai they rebelled. And, from Kadesh to the Plains of Moab at the shore of the Jordan River the people complained and rebelled! Over and over there is complaining, distrust, and rebellion.

This brings us to the long story of Balaam, the pagan prophet, and his interaction with the God of Israel. We learn that even with the sin and rebellion of the leaders and the people of Israel, God remains faithful. He will not allow this pagan prophet to curse Israel. In fact, he forces him to bless Israel! What a demonstration of the love of God! He continually provides deliverance for our rebellious people.

We are still on the journey to the consummation. God continues to show grace and mercy to the Jewish people and to the world by delivering us from the hands of oppressors. Today, we need to heed the call and be a blessing to the Jewish people in word and deed. We need to bring the good news of Yeshua to Israel and all peoples. If God would use a pagan prophet to speak blessing to Israel, how much more should we do so? One of the things we learn about the love of God when we read the Bible is that his unconditional love is demonstrated in action. We can likewise demonstrate love in action in all of our relationships. When people rebel, complain, or even speak against us—we are called to demonstrate the love of God in our words and actions toward them.

With all the rebellion and sin in the world, it is amazing that God continually moves history forward to the day when the entire world will be redeemed by the Messiah, the king of Israel. In fact, in Numbers 24, God speaks a fantastic messianic prophecy out of the mouth of Balaam about the messianic king: "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star shall come forth from Jacob, a scepter shall rise from Israel, and shall crush through the forehead of Moab, and tear down all the sons of Sheth. Edom shall be a possession, Seir, its enemies, also will be a possession, while Israel performs valiantly. One from Jacob shall have dominion, and will destroy the remnant from the city" (Num. 24:17–19 NAU). This is king Messiah Yeshua, who reigns today and will one day appear again to be king of the world! In whatever our trial or difficulty—our wilderness wandering—let us remember the unfailing love of God who provides for us today and gives us a hope for the future.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Howard

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