This week’s Torah portion is from Numbers 19:1 - 22:1 and is called Chukat,which means decree. it is an obligation upon those who follow the ways of HaShem. The leading part of the reading deals with a very hot topic these days, the Red Heifer. In Israel there is a Christian man from Mississippi who successfully bred a Red Heifer. He first did so at his farm, but the Rabbis in Israel insisted that to “qualify” it must be born in Israel. So, he moved to the Galilee and has done it there! When we lived in the Land, we met him and his wife. Unfortunately, before the calf reached the required age of two years, a white hair grew in tis tail and the Rabbi's were quick to disqualify her. They were more than a little leery of a "Gentile Cow" being used in this most holy service!!!
In all truth, I believe that there is little significance in this matter at all; at least not yet. The ashes of the Red Heifer are to be added to water and with it; anyone who touches a dead body and is made unclean is to be “purified” with this water and ash mixture before entering into the Tent of Meeting. This practice was followed in the days of the Temple as well. But, since we have neither the Tent of Meeting nor the Temple, there is no use for the water of cleansing. Not to mention that we are made clean, not by the sprinkling of water with ash, but by the blood of the Perfect Lamb of G-d.
But, an even more interesting point follows shortly in the passage. In Numbers 20, we read of the people fussing at Moses again! This time, it is because they have run out of water. Moses went to the L-rd and asked what he could do. Beginning in verse 7 we find His instruction. The L-rd said to Moshe, “Take the staff, assemble the community, you and Aaron your brother; and before their eyes, tell the rock to produce its water. You will bring them water out of the rock and thus enable the community and their livestock to drink.” Moshe took the staff from the presence of the L-rd, as he had ordered him. But after Moshe and Aaron had assembled the community in front of the rock, he said to them, “Listen here, you rebels! Are we supposed to bring you water from this rock?” Then Moshe raised his hand and hit the rock twice with his staff. Water flowed out in abundance, and the community and their livestock drank.” From this, we learn why Moses was not allowed to enter into the Promised Land.
You have probably heard, as I have, many sermons about how Moses struck the rock and released his claim to the promise. Some even teach that since Y’shua is “the Rock” that Moses struck Him! I think the passage does contain some truth that is certainly more clear than such a stretch!
The sin for which Moses lost his inheritance was quite serious, but had nothing to do with striking a rock. Read verse 10 again. Moses said to the children of Israel, “Listen here, you rebels! Are we supposed to bring you water from this rock?” Moses sinned by placing himself in the place of the provider of Israel. G-d is our provider as well as theirs. I remember a great preacher once saying that the downfall of men of G-d was for them to touch “the gold, the glory or the girls.” Moses usurped the glory of G-d when he asked if the people wanted him to bring forth water from the rock. Only G-d can do that and the children of Israel had been taught this over and over again.
Sometimes, we are taught the same things over and over too. Sometimes, we think that we can do something to get what we want and what we need. Too often we put ourselves in the place of being the provider for our family, and we get in the way of what G-d wants to do for us and to teach us.
My prayer for each of you is that you learn to stay out of the way of G-d's plan and to always remember that He is G-d and we are not!