Light from the Sidra


Numbers 4:21 - 7:89

The very last words of this Sidra assure us of the truth of the Torah, that it does not consist of the ideas of men or the accumulated insights of sages over many centuries. Rather, the LORD spoke the words of the Torah directly to Moses in the tabernacle, and Moses wrote them down. The Jewish scribes have faithfully preserved God’s words so that when we read the Pentateuch today we should be in no doubt that we have before us God’s words to Israel and mankind. How we should thank him for that! So many people today are in spiritual darkness. Their ideas of God are so off-beam as they struggle to understand what he is like. But in the five books of Moses we are told exactly what God wants us to know about himself.

As well as the Torah, we also have the words of the prophets. Although God’s revelation was not made to the prophets in the same way as to Moses, the LORD made it clear to Aaron and Miriam, when he rebuked them in Numbers 12:6-8, that he did speakto prophets, although in a vision or a dream. So the rest of the Bible is also God’s word. The whole Tanakh is the word of God, because it consists of the words of God.

However, it is one thing to know about God and his ways, and another to know him. Of course, we cannot know him unless we know about him, but it is terrifyingly possible to know about him without knowing him personally. For example, by reading books we might know all there is to know about the Queen and the royal family, but that would not be the same as knowing them personally. For that to happen they would have to invite us to meet them; they would have to graciously make themselves known to us on a personal level. Though we might request to meet them, we could not demand it of them. It is similar with the Almighty. We can know about him from the Bible, but we must go on to know him in a personal relationship.

This happened to Samuel when he was a young man serving in the tabernacle with Eli. In 1 Samuel 3 we read that when Samuel first heard the voice of the LORD, he did not know God was speaking to him. The explanation in verse 7 is that, “Samuel did not yet know the LORD”. He obviously knew a great deal about the LORD because he served in the tabernacle day and night, but 1 Samuel 3:7 reveals that he did not “know the LORD”, in the sense of a personal relationship. However, after the LORD chose to reveal himself, Samuel came to know God.

The words in our Sidra which describe this personal relationship are found in the blessing of Aaron at the end of chapter 6. There we read of God making “his face shine” on us, or “lifting his face” upon us. The face reveals the person. A person may do many good things for us without us knowing him, or her, personally. But if that person shows us their face, communicating a sense of well-being towards us - shining, as it were - then we begin to know them as a person. Such is possible with God.

The words of the blessing also make it clear that God must take the initiative to come to us; we cannot demand that he do so. And when he does shine upon us, he is being “gracious” to us. We do not deserve such a blessing from the Almighty, for we have sinned.

But how can we know that God has blessed us in this way? Well, if we know someone as a friend then we know, we don’t need to prove it scientifically! If we know God personally, then we know. If a dignitary turns to us and smiles broadly, we know they are well-disposed to us. So we can know God and be assured that he loves us. The last words of the Aaronic benediction point to the spiritual emotion produced by this relationship with God “Shalom”. If God makes himself known to us personally, it is because he is at peace with us; it is because he has forgiven our sins, and so we can know his peace.

Do you know such peace? Do you know your sins are forgiven? Do you know the LORD? Are you aware that his face is shining upon you? These things are possible; and many of us have experienced their reality. Have you?

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