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Mattot-Massei (Tribes-Journeys)

The end of Numbers, or Bamidbar in Hebrew, recounts Israel’s journey from Egypt to Canaan. I can see the creation process unfolding for the Israelites over their life-long journey into a Promised Land. God is establishing His Kingdom and teaching the Israelites how to be subjects of this Kingdom.

Day One– The Israelites left Egypt the day after Passover. Passover fits the first-day pattern perfectly. It is new life for the Israelites. They were taken out of the Great House of bondage to sin, which leads to death, and into a covenant that ends in life.

Numbers 33:3: They departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the day after the Passover, the children of Israel went out with boldness in the sight of all the Egyptians.

Day Two- The Israelites leave Egypt and pass through the Red Sea or the Sea of Reeds. Paul tells us that they were immersed, or baptized, into Moses. God calls us to immerse ourselves in Yeshua. Immersion is dividing between what is unclean and what is clean. When we become immersed in Yeshua, we die to the things that separate us from intimacy with God and rise to righteousness which draws us near to God. Going underwater can symbolize birth, death, or both, death to one thing and life to another.

Numbers 33:8: They departed from before Hahiroth and passed through the midst of the sea into the wilderness, went three days journey in the Wilderness of Etham, and camped at Marah.

Romans 6:3: Therefore we were buried together with Him through immersion into death—in order that just as Messiah was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

1 Corinthians 10:1-2: For I do not want you to be ignorant, brothers and sisters, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea. They all were immersed into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.

Day Three– After a three-day journey from the Sea of Reeds into the wilderness, the Israelites find themselves at Marah, translated as “bitter” waters. The children of Israel complained against the Lord, which is a picture of bitter waters pouring out of their mouths. The Lord shows Moses a TREE. Once again, the Tree points us to God’s instructions, judgments, statutes, or Torah. 

Exodus 15:25-26: So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, it made the waters sweet. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them. There He tested them and said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord who heals you.

What was the tree that turned the bitter waters sweet? It was a shadow of Yeshua. He is the vine, the staff, or the branch that turns our bitter waters into sweet ones. Bitter waters do not sustain life, but the Israelites could quench their thirst once the Tree was in the waters. One of my dad’s favorite hymns is “Keep in touch with Jesus. He will keep you sweet.” I always think of this song when I read this Torah Portion. Israel began their journey of dividing between sweet and bitter words. In other words, they had to learn whether to plant seeds of praise rather than complaints and which seeds they would allow others to plant inside their hearts. 

Isaiah 11:1-2: There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord.

John 7:38: Whoever believes in Me (Yeshua), as the Scripture says, “out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”

Day Four– The next step after a lesson in dividing waters is to end up at twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees. I have learned before that there is an association between palm trees and justice (See Judges 4.5). I would connect the seventy palm trees to the seventy judges of Israel that I have previously mentioned on the fourth-day patterns. The seventy judges appointed came from the twelve tribes of Israel. Maybe the twelve springs point to the tribes. The fourth lesson the children of Israel learn is how to walk in mercy and justice. 

Numbers 33:9: They moved from Marah and came to Elim. At Elim were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, so they camped there.

Day Five– God fed the Israelites in the wilderness. They ate manna and quail from the shamayim or upper waters. God freely provides this food. However, they complained that they would rather have the food they labored for in Egypt. Rather than being grateful and content with this heavenly tortilla with honey (manna), the Israelites miss onions, leeks (said no one ever), and fish-all of the things they “ate freely” in Egypt. I doubt they freely ate anything as oppressed and enslaved people. They had to work hard to produce this food, which all comes from the lower waters. Just like Israel, we need to acquire the taste of heavenly food, and then we need to hunger for it. We must rely wholly on God to meet all our emotional, physical, and spiritual needs. Birds were created on the day five and dwell in the shamayim, meaning they are sustained by heavenly food.

Matthew 6:25-27: So I say to you, do not worry about your life—what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? “Look at the birds of the air. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your Father in heaven feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you, by worrying, can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field and how they grow. They neither toil nor spin.

Day Six– The sixth day is when we have a battle between firstborns. God created the Beasts of the Earth from the earth (Gn 1.24). Beasts can be humans without the Ruach HaKodesh, who only reflect the earthy part of their being. They tread down the earth and its’ subjects in tyranny. King Amalek (may his name be blotted out) is a Beast King, the firstborn of the nations, who attacked the weak and vulnerable parts of Israel and incurred an everlasting curse that Israelites destroy his memory forever (Dt 25.17-18). Israel, the firstborn of God, went head to head with the Firstborn of the nations and won (Nm 24.20). Remember, Beasts and Man (Adam) were born on the sixth day of creation. Israel is a renewed Adam, or a renewed humanity. This war took place at Rephidim. 

Numbers 33:14-15: They moved from Alush and camped at Rephidim, where there was no water for the people to drink. They departed from Rephidim and camped in the Wilderness of Sinai.

Day Seven– This is the day the King/Priest brings rest to the subjects of the Kingdom by defeating all of their enemies. It is the day He maintains order and peace in the land. Moses was not able to bring Israel into the promised land of Canaan. Joshua, a shadow of Yeshua in name and commission, leads Israel into the promised land. He is also a King and Priest. 

Joshua 23:1: And it came to pass a long time after that the Lord had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua waxed old [and] stricken in age. 

We are like the Israelites journeying through this world. Constantly failing, returning, learning, growing, trusting, fearing, wandering, thirsting, and so on. The end of every story is the faithfulness of God. He will do what He promised and be true to Himself-He is Love. He is Just.

Brianna Lehmann

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