“Pinchas, son of Elazar, son of Aaron the Kohen …
… Zimri son of Salu, chief of a Simeonite ancestral house.”
~ Numbers 25:11,13
God hates sexual-immorality. So when our enemies seduced us into a mass-orgy, the result was a plague which destroyed 24,000 lives.
One man stopped the epidemic by killing the leader of the mayhem. When identifying them, why trace their ancestry so far back?
Although both came from great stock, their actions were diametrically opposed: Pinchas pursued peace as Aaron would’ve, but Zimri debased himself.
What you get as a legacy isn’t in your hands. What you do with it is.
“How great are your tents, O Jacob, Your dwellings, O Israel!”
~ Numbers 24:5
In his attempt to curse us, the evil prophet Bilaam was instead forced to bless us.
Why is Jacob associated to tents and Israel to dwellings?
The name Jacob symbolises life before reaching one’s higher purpose, whilst Israel describes a life of meaning. Tents are by definition temporary, whilst dwellings are permanent.
The blessing is living the mundane aspects of life like you’re camping in a tent; but building that which is important and of value into a permanent fixture.
“They stood before Moses … leaders of the community, chosen in the assembly, men of renown..”
~ Numbers 16:2
Led by Korach, Moses’ leadership was challenged by a group of important people.
Why portray their prestigious stature with three different descriptions of greatness?
To emphasise that just because you’re a big-shot, it doesn’t mean you can’t make mistakes. On the contrary, because you’re a big-shot your mistakes will be even bigger.
Climbing another rung on the ladder of success doesn’t increase your resistance to falling. It just makes the potential fall longer.
So as you climb higher, hold tighter.
“Don’t follow after your heart and your eyes.”
~ Numbers 15:39
As spiritual beings living in a material world, we need to walk through life carefully without being led astray by our desires.
But shouldn’t the eyes come first in the verse; doesn’t the heart follow after them?
While it’s true we’re tempted by what we see, the eyes only see what the heart desires. Perception is formed long before we even open our eyes, so we see what we want.
For clarity’s sake – don’t clean your glasses – purify your heart.
“We remember the fish that we ate in Egypt for free.”
~ Numbers 11:5
Bored with eating manna twice a day, the Israelites complained.
But slaves work for their food, so what was free in Egypt?
Their nostalgia wasn’t on the fish but the lack of strings attached to it. As slaves in Egypt their work paid for their food, so they weren’t indebted to their masters. The manna, however, was given free so they became morally-obligated to God.
The desire to not feel indebted is so powerful that people prefer slavery over freedom!
“As they encamp so shall they journey.”
~ Numbers 2:17
Throughout Israel’s wandering in the Wilderness, they encamped at forty two different locations.
To relocate one must obviously move, so how could they journey like they encamp?
When encamped with the Temple functioning, there was a sense of stability and safety. Conversely, when relocating and travelling, there wasn’t.
Part of the human condition is to feel vulnerable when you’re in a state of transition. Unless you learn to travel through life’s journey knowing you’re always at home wherever you go.
“When you sacrifice a thanksgiving offering to God, sacrifice it for your own favour.”
~ Leviticus 22:29
The thanksgiving offering was brought by someone who survived a life-threatening experience, like a dangerous journey or a terminal illness.
Why did it need to be offered for his own favour and not God’s?
Because while gratitude is a natural response after being saved, you’ve missed the point if you don’t recognise that the potential disaster you survived was also through the hand of God.
Both the light in your life – and the darkness – should find favour in your eyes.