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Mattot-MasseiRead / Listen to Portion
In Bible times, oaths were taken in the names of the gods. The idea was that if the person taking the oath proved false, the gods would deal with him. Vows and oaths have not disappeared from the world. When a man and woman get married, they exchange vows. Vows are like extra-solemn promises.
Christians have been making pilgrimages to the Holy Land since the first century. We encourage all believers in Messiah to make at least one visit to Israel. In a spiritual sense, the land of Israel is the homeland of all believers. The presence of God permeates the land.
Messiah has not yet come; neither has all Israel yet returned. Despite that, the Jewish people are taking hold of the redemption as much as possible in this current era. The return of the Jewish people to the land and the modern State of Israel represents the first fruits of the final ingathering, the first glimmering of the dawn of redemption.
The “Anointed for War” alludes to King Messiah who will take the battlefield like David His father and fight the wars of the LORD. He fights with supernatural weapons: “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6). The Almighty anoints Him with the Spirit of power to overcome the enemies of Israel.
Moses issued a chilling order: to kill all the women, sparing only the virgin girls. The ancient Near East was a barbaric and ruthless place, and a story like this reminds us of that context. But how do we understand and reconcile these events within an ethical worldview and the spirit of Torah?
In an effort to ensnare the Israelites, the Midianites and Moabites had sent their daughters to use sexual seduction to entice the men of Israel into worshipping Baal of Peor. The plan worked. Many Israelite men were led away by the seductive allure of the Moabite and Midianite women. They committed fornication with them and worshipped idols. Their wickedness incited the wrath of the LORD, who struck Israel with a devastating plague. Pinchas (Phinehas), the son of Eleazar the priest, put a stop to the plague when he killed the degenerate Israelite Zimri and the Midianitess Cozbi with a single spear thrust.
The Messiah is the redeemer of Israel. Through His suffering and atoning death He has already accomplished a spiritual redemption, and when He returns, He will accomplish the physical redemption of His people. Just as Moses, the first redeemer, redeemed all Israel from slavery in Egypt, so too, the ultimate redeemer will redeem Israel from exile among the nations. He will gather the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob from the nations and restore them to the land of Israel.