12 Sivan 5778 \ May 26, 2018
By Bob Barrett
This Week’s Readings:
Torah: Numbers 4:21-7:89
Haftarah: Judges 13:2-25
Brit Chadashah: Acts 21:20-24
I once heard Oprah Winfrey explain why she did not believe in the Biblical G-d. She said she once heard a sermon in which the pastor said G-d was a jealous G-d and thought, “Why would G-d be jealous of me?” It was a terrible misunderstanding. G-d is not jealous of us but for our love that we place elsewhere. There are at least six verses in the Torah alone that mention that G-d is a jealous G-d. This is not an envious jealousy such as we might have over someone’s money, or car, or house, or athletic ability or popularity. It is a desire for the love that is rightfully His that we place on false idols, whatever we make them to be.
In the Torah Portion we see the jealousy a husband feels over his unfaithful wife, a fitting representation of Adonai’s jealousy since we are the bride of The Messiah. I find it interesting that this chapter comes just before a chapter on the Nazirite vow. This is a special vow that consecrates—or separates—a person of devotion to the L-RD, just as a bride takes a vow to her groom. The Nazirite vow is usually voluntary, done publicly and is for a specific duration of time.
The Haftarah Portion tells of a special Nazarite—Sampson. His parents are told that he will be a Nazirite for life, even before he is born. His mother was barren when the Angel of the L-RD appeared to her and told her she would have a son. This appearance was Adonai physically showing up to talk with Sampson’s parents! Manoah, Sampson’s father, says to his wife, “Surely we shall die for we have seen G-d.” She notes that if they were to die, they would not have had this visitation.
The Brit Chadashah Portion tells of another Nazirite vow and its rituals, this one taken by Paul. Paul was accused of teaching Jewish believers to forsake Torah. He takes the vow, along with several other men, to demonstrate his faithfulness to Torah and its customs. The Nazirite vow is used to show believers that although Paul is a follower of Yeshua HaMashiach, he is still a Jew and that he teaches Jews to faithfully set themselves apart as Jews.
As Messianic Jews, we are called to set ourselves apart from the world. We have a responsibility to identify the areas of our thoughts and actions that would make G-d jealous and to rid ourselves of them.