Messianic Torah Portion Massei “Journeys”
Bamidbar (Numbers) 33:1-36:13
The land promised to the Children of Yisrael is like no other place on the earth. Unlike other countries the land of Yisrael is linked to the keeping of the Torah. When the inhabitants of the land are obedient to the Torah the land flourishes. When the inhabitants of the land are disobedient to the Torah the land withers and dies. We can see this in Vayikra 20:22-24 which states “Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spew you not out. And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them. But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that flows with milk and honey: I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people.” This link between obedience and prosperity exists because HaShem is preparing the Land of Yisrael to receive His sh'kinah. Before HaShem will glorify the land with His presence, the land must be sanctified. HaShem is very specific about how the Land should be prepared and sanctified to receive His sh'kinah. Therefore, He issued commandments dealing specifically with the preparation of the Land. In Mattot - Massei we can see that one of these commandments required the Yisraelites to purge the Land before they could dwell in it.
Purging the Land was required so that the Yisraelites would not be tempted by the pagan practices of the people they were displacing. We can see this in Bamidbar 33:50-52 which states “HaShem spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye are passed over Jordan into the land of Canaan; Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places” The Land had to be made Holy before the Children of Yisrael could claim it as their inheritance. No other land on the face of the earth was required to be purged and made Holy before the land was acceptable. D'Varim 7:1-6 states “When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land where you go to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; you shall smite them, and utterly destroy them; you shall make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them: Neither shall you make marriages with them; your daughter you shall not give unto his son, nor his daughter shall you take unto your son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire. For you are a holy people unto the LORD your God: the LORD your God hath chosen you to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.” HaShem was adamant that the Land be purged. The Children of Yisrael were not even allowed to make a covenant, keep the wealth, or marry into the nations of the former inhabitants. The Children of Yisrael were commanded to lay the land to waste before the Land would be acceptable. Laying the Land to waist included purging the land of all former inhabitants as Devarim 20:16-17 states. “of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breaths: But you shall utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee” HaShem even swore that if the Children of Yisrael failed to remove all the pagan influence and all the pagan symbols from the land they would experience constant turmoil. Bamidbar 33:55 states “But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.”
Unfortunately, the Children of Yisrael did not follow HaShem's instructions completely. They were deceived were deceived into making a covenant with the inhabitants of Gibeon as Yehoshua 9:3-7 states “when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai, They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up; And old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and moldy. And they went to Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal, and said unto him, and to the men of Israel, We be come from a far country: now therefore make ye a league with us. And the men of Israel said unto the Hivites, Peradventure ye dwell among us; and how shall we make a league with you?”
Once the covenant was made the Gibeonites came under Yisrael's protection. As a result, Yisrael could not destroy them or remove them from the Land. This inability to remove all the pagan influences in the land made Yisrael more susceptible to idolatry. The former inhabitants became the thorn in Yisrael's flesh that HaShem had warned about. Unfortunately, this thorn will remain until Mashiach returns and purges the land we can see in Yoel 2:1-3 “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand; A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. A fire devours before them; and behind them a flame burns: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.”
Purging the land of Yisrael is required, so that HaShem's sh'kinah can dwell in the midst of His people. However, because the land of Yisrael has never been completely purged, there will always be turmoil and struggle in the land. To fully posses the Land, the altars, high places, and abominations to HaShem must be removed. However, this will not happen until Mashiach returns and purges that and with his army. Therefore, the only promise for lasting peace in the land of Yisrael is Yeshua. Until Yeshua returns the land will not be united, or experience the peace that Yeshua's Davidic rule promises.
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